Prompt: Sam takes a Zumba class. Dean's horror leads him to...? / Dean loses his memory on a hunt and takes a job in a diner.
Genre: Gen / Humour
Characters: Sam and Dean Winchester
Pairing: Only conjectured!
Word count: ~4400
Warning/Spoilers: Identity confusion
Disclaimer: I don't own Supernatural or its characters - these were created by Eric Kripke - I'm just borrowing them. I'm not making any commercial gain. No harm or infringement intended.
Summary: After trying to keep up with his brother, a Zumba-related accident leads to an amnesiac Dean finding work in a diner. There he discovers that if people keep telling you something, eventual you might just start to believe it.Thank you mods for running this challenge, candygramme for some super prompts, and dizzojay for the amazing artwork!
Not for the first time, Dean found himself wondering how being the eldest meant he seemed to end up traipsing around, following after Sam everywhere. If he wasn't picking up after his not-so-little brother, he was picking him up. From his regular twice-weekly Zumba class, in this case.
He guessed that technically, Sam could drive himself to the exercise class -- yeah, right! -- but then that would leave Dean on his own, pacing up and down the long, cold, lonely corridors of the bunker waiting for (dreading) the inevitable phone call that his younger brother had been hurt. Or even worse... that Baby had been in a fender bender.
Dean shuddered, a chill frisson of horror darting down his spine. Instinctively he crossed himself and muttered an apology under his breath for even imagining such a thing.
It didn't bear thinking about. Now, where was I? Oh yes, freezing my ass off, waiting in the car while my brother gets his freak on like the great big, sugar plum fairy he really is. Although...
Cogs turned in his mind as he mentally processed his way through his thoughts. Chicks like music and dancing and shit, and -- if they exercise half as much as Sam does -- that means they'll be all firm and toned... and that means tight-fitting Lycra.
He barely finished the thought before he was out of the car and through the door into the dance studio.
Dean paused in the doorway and watched. Not being weird, or objectifying, or whatever else it was he wasn't supposed to do, but he had to admit that his brother cut a damn fine figure of a man. He felt a warm glow of familial pride and barely restrained from telling all those in earshot around him: "That's my brother!"
Still too tall, mind, he conceded.
The music was awful; that duh-duh-duh noise that seemed to be everywhere now, and not a sniff of even a half-decent guitar riff. It certainly was energetic though, and Sammy was sure throwing himself into it. It was all very... bouncy.
He'd definitely guessed right about the appearance of the other participants, he noted with a self-satisfied smirk.
The music faded to an upbeat end and the dancers broke rank to gasp for air, grab water, and congratulate each other. Presumably for not expiring from heat exhaustion, Dean supposed.
Sam, meanwhile, was now accepting a -- rather longer than appropriate -- pat on the back from the instructor. Dean's eyes rolled as his brother nodded his acceptance of the praise with his usual intense stoicism. He's so used to reading and writing on lines that he forgets there could actually be something between them, thought Dean ruefully.
Sam spotted him and waved a greeting. "Hey Dean, there's just one more routine to go," he called.
It's not paranoia if they're all actually out to get you, thought Dean, as all eyes in the room turned as one towards him. He raised his own hand in a weak gesture in response. He had a horrible, terrible premonition of what was coming that wasn't eased by the barrage of comments and questions provoked by his appearance.
"Aw, is this your Dean?"
"Why doesn't he join in?"
Dean's heart sank. Perhaps he was the psychic one after all.
"Yeah, no, I'm not really dressed for it," he answered, making a pitch for nonchalance while pointing down to the evidence of his tattered jeans and boots.
"That's okay, we're doing a cool-down routine now, anyway," replied Sam helpfully.
Dean sighed, deciding there was no graceful way he could win this battle. Besides, how bad could it be?
Sweat poured down his face and his lungs burned with the effort to keep up.
He had always eschewed exercise, on the assumption that he'd kept his fitness levels up with all the grave digging, but he guessed it had been quite a while now since their last simple salt and burn. Plus, he suspected over the years he'd taken on a more managerial role. Someone had to keep look-out, after all.
He had hoped the routine would be fairly easy, but it was actually proving to be wickedly difficult. It turned out he was apparently an uncoordinated mess with knees and elbows flying off in all directions. He zigged when he should have zagged and it had become quite clear that while he might know the difference between left and right, his body had its own unique interpretation.
He decided to give it a rest after the third time he collided with the woman to his right and managed to stomp twice in quick succession on the foot of the woman to his left.
"Don't worry about it, not everyone takes to it their first time," smiled Sam, slapping him on the shoulder in a bone-jarringly, friendly thump, before striding over to collect his things.
Dean sighed, aware of the combination of annoyed and pitying looks he was garnering in comparison to the awe-struck gaze that seemed reserved for his brother.
"I run a beginners class on Mondays," said the instructor pointedly, while taking a slug of water. She didn't have to say anything about brotherly rivalry, her perfectly sculpted, arched eyebrow said it plainly enough.
Dean sighed, more heavily than before. "What time's it start?"
The clientele at the class on the following Monday were not quite so lithe as before, although Dean thought he recognized one or two faces from the previous session.
"Oh cool, you made it," commented the instructor as she started setting up. "Sam said you probably wouldn't. What made you change your mind?"
Dean tugged self-consciously at the hem of the too-large sports T-shirt he'd liberated from his brother as once again he found himself the focus of intense female scrutiny.
"Sam's been saying for a while now that I eat too much and I need to take better care of myself," he admitted sadly, although the force of the immediate rallying cry of denial from the ladies who'd heard his comment was very much an ego boost.
"No, no," he insisted, as he ruefully rubbed his tummy that was no longer as flat as it had once been. "I guess he's right."
Dean knew he wasn't a complete slouch, but Sam had cobblestone-like abs that rippled. He was sure he had almost as equally impressive muscles -- they just happened to be hidden under an insulating layer of double bacon cheeseburger and onion ring generated flab. A sad, distant look took hold in his eye at just the thought of restricting his diet.
"I'm not getting any younger and, you know, I don't want Sam to go off with someone else instead," admitted Dean, realizing with a sense of shock that he did actually have some anxiety about his brother preferring to go hunting without him.
When Dean thought about it, Sam had really thrown himself into the hunter lifestyle once finally abandoning any hope of ever going back to school. To the point that sometimes there were scary reminders of the time his brother had lost his soul. Dean knew that Sammy worried about his health -- mainly because he didn't himself -- but for the first time he wondered if there was an underlying, ulterior motive of just wanting a better hunting buddy.
He looked up from his wool gathering to find the rest of the class lapping it up.
"Man, he sounds like my ex," said a woman with bright, shocking-pink hair. "He was an asshole too,"
"No, Sam's a nice guy," argued a second, older lady. She turned to Dean with a reassuring expression. "You should hear how he's always talking about you."
"Hmm, well he could be more supportive," grumbled the first woman. She leaned forward and patted Dean gently on the arm. "I'll have to introduce you to my nephew."
Dean was wondering what he was supposed to make of that when they were interrupted by a sudden loud clapping to gain their attention.
"Okay, enough talk, time to get moving," shouted the instructor, obviously taking pity on Dean. She started the music and drowned out any further attempt at conversation.
Jill had been a Zumba instructor for almost ten years. It had proved a good way to meet people, make a little cash, and keep up the momentum of regular exercise when her normal motivation wore thin. She enjoyed the focus of it, the way she could clear her mind of all her other thoughts and worries and just exist in the music and the burn of her muscles.
Having said that, she was a little distracted by the new addition to the class. He was obviously more physically fit than the usual, if somewhat less coordinated.
Boy, but he's nice to look at, though. All the good ones..., she sighed to herself.
She kept the movements simple to start, trying not to build up the complexity too much. He seemed to be coping... in the main.
"Okay, well done. Take a quick breath and get some water," she called to the class, once the music track came to an end.
She chuckled as Dean made a show of goofily jumping for joy at making it through his first real workout, only for her smile to instantly fade a moment later.
Ouch! I knew the ceilings in here were too low.
The world swirled and swayed in an alarming rush of sights and sounds until it gradually coalesced into a circle of women staring down at him with concerned expressions. He blinked stupidly at them for several long minutes until he realized that explanations were not going to be forthcoming.
"What's going on?" he groaned, rubbing gingerly at the pounding pain emanating from the top of his head. The response was a burst of concerned chatter that pierced through his brain like an ice pick.
He noted the surroundings and the way they were all dressed. "Are we dancers?" He had a vague recollection of a particularly compelling pair of ballet shoes and a need to dance. He subconsciously moved his legs into a plié position, but was disappointed to note his feet were clad in a cheap pair of running shoes. And what on earth was he wearing? He inspected his threadbare clothing with contempt -- it was far from the unrestricting, figure-hugging leotard of his imagination.
One particular woman stepped forward with natural authority, shaking him from his fantasies; it was clear she was their leader.
"Do you know who you are?" she asked, with just a hint of trepidation in her voice. She had no trace of a foreign accent, which didn't make any sense. Aren't all the greatest dance instructors French or Russian?
"Of course I do," he responded immediately. "I'm..." He trailed off as the words died on his tongue.
"Dean. You're Dean," she supplied after what felt like a thousand, horrifying years of him straining to remember his own name.
"Dean, what?" apparently-Dean asked, simultaneously hating both the name and how small and wavering he sounded. 'Dean' sounds like an authoritarian asshole, he decided. Besides, he felt more like a Rudolph or a Valentino.
The women looked expectantly at one another. "I don't know," said the leader defensively to the others. "He's new and he paid in cash."
Dean patted himself down. His audience looked on enraptured, but ultimately disappointed, as all he produced was a money clip containing $27 made up of various small bills and a car key.
"No car remote," supplied a woman with pink hair, pointing at the plain key fob. "You'll have to try the lock for each car."
"Oh! What about Sam?" cried another woman.
Something nameless and warm shifted in his chest. He swallowed past a sudden lump in his throat. "Who's she?" he asked hopefully.
There was a sudden titter of laughter, more a release of tension than due to any actual humor.
"She's a he," chuckled an attractive redhead. Dean had a fleeting impression of some great big, giant, hairy guy in fishnets, suspenders and high heels, before he realized they just meant he'd assumed the wrong gender of this mysterious Sam.
"He's your..." The woman trailed off uncertainly, unknowing of the complex depths of Dean's cross-dressing imagination.
The women consulted one another.
"Special friend," smirked a blonde woman from the back.
"Yep, I have a sixth sense for these things," added the woman with a smug grin.
"Just because Sam turned you down," muttered pink-hair.
"Well, we shouldn't read too much into it, but they're certainly a nice couple of boys and respectful of the women in the group," added an older woman, trying to maintain the peace. From her long suffering glances at those around her, Dean suspected this was a role she often played.
"Yeah, Dolores, they're so gay," snorted the blonde, brooking no dissent.
"Am I?" asked Dean, more to himself than anything, not even fully aware he'd spoken the words aloud.
"Oh darlin', you're a good looking, near-middle aged man with your own hair and teeth, not wearing a wedding ring, and you're signed on to a Zumba class," said Dolores gently, patting him on the shoulder as she clearly succumbed to peer pressure.
"What's he like?" asked Dean curiously, hopefully.
"The way you look at each other," sighed another.
Dean actually felt quite good about himself. He might not know anything about who he was, but it sounded like his other half was quite a catch.
"So, surely he'll come back looking for me at some point. Won't he?" asked Dean in a plaintive voice.
The hours dragged on and yet there was still no sign of Sam. Dean had been dragged by Dolores, one of the older women in the group, along to the nearest public health clinic.
A couple of hundred dollars later and he knew he had retrograde amnesia, not concussion, but that his memory would most likely just come back on its own. Eschewing the cost of any further treatment, Dean turned to Dolores. "Thank you, I don't know how yet, but somehow I'll pay you back."
Dolores waved off the offer. "What kind of good Christian would I be, if I didn't stop and help a person in need?" she complained, before pausing and giving him a shrewd look. "Besides, maybe there is a way we could both help each other out."
"Anything," Dean proclaimed, throwing his arms open wide.
Dolores watched with a strange sense of pride, as Dean moved from table to table, chatting with customers, taking orders, refilling coffee, and clearing plates like he'd been born for the job.
He was quite flirty, almost innocently so, she decided, but it seemed to go down well with all the customers: male and female. With his angelic good looks, combined with a slightly cheeky tongue, she suspected his patter was something he'd picked up and developed from an early age. She could imagine as a child he'd been quite adept at twisting adults around his little finger when he put his mind to it.
"Well, you sure seem to know your way around a diner," she commented as, unprompted, he set to work checking the table settings in preparation for the early evening rush.
"Yeah, I guess," said Dean with a slow smile, as he refilled the salt cellars. "There's something very familiar about it. It almost seems like a home from home."
"Just don't forget to replace the ketchup and pepper too. Salt's not the only condiment," she chuckled.
Dean shrugged; not unaware he was refilling the salt for the third time that day. "It always seems like the most important one," he added thoughtfully.
"Not good for your blood pressure," Dolores offered absently, amused when Dean nodded seriously, as if there were some earth-shattering grain of truth there.
He seems like such a nice young man, she just hoped and prayed he wouldn't end up like all the others.
"How did you sleep?" asked Dolores, seeming to be surprised to see him. The tiny apartment out back of the diner might be decorated in a dated style, but it was homely. Still, Dean guessed she'd had a lot of staff skip out overnight from being driven to distraction by the fifties decor.
"Like the dead," he replied cheerfully. "Although, I think you might need to call a plumber; there was a terrible banging in the pipes."
He noticed her features suddenly go pale at his words. "Or, I could take a look? Nothing to concern yourself about, I'm sure," he added reassuringly. The last thing he needed was her to worry about costs and kick him out.
He turned back to sweeping the floor and hoped she wouldn't pay too much attention; he'd already re-filled the salt shakers from last night's sudden emptying. It appeared he had a strange condiment-based, littering compulsion before he could bring himself to relax enough to sleep.
"So how come you have so much of a problem keeping staff?" he blurted, as he noticed Dolores starting to frown at the amount of salt he'd got through.
Dolores turned an alarming shade of crimson. "I guess we were just waiting for the right person to come along," she stuttered out at last. And with that a perfect working relationship, based on 'don't ask; don't tell' and avoiding inconvenient truths, was born.
Dean settled into his new life with a strange sort of ease, but both he and Dolores were aware it was more a holding pattern than a long-term arrangement. It was oddly soothing; as if he were on some sort of working vacation. He wondered what he must do for a living to find all day on his feet in a diner almost relaxing. On the plus side it kept him busy and stopped him from worrying too much about the future.
The number and variety of scars on his body, which he'd discovered while showering, told their own frightening story. He couldn't help wonder if perhaps he was better off not knowing the truth.
As he wiped the counter he looked down at his hands and pondered at the absence of a wedding band. It was funny; he felt like he might be the settling down type.
He smiled over at Lucy, sitting in the corner, as she left a decent-sized tip with a lascivious wink. So maybe there might be a bit of shopping around first. Dolores had been scandalized to discover he'd hooked up, given the mythical Sam she kept going on about, but the heart wanted what the heart wanted. Okay, maybe not the heart.
Dean's lecherous thoughts were interrupted by the bell as Lucy reached the door of the diner. There was a tall dude already there who held the door open and, with a polite smile, stepped to the side to allow her to pass.
A real gentleman, a sadly dying breed, Dean concluded given the number of customers he'd encountered who didn't tip, let alone say 'please' or 'thank you'.
But by God, that guy is tall. He was dressed in a cheap black suit, his shirt crumpled like he'd slept in it, and with a tie hanging loose and crooked around his neck, but he still somehow managed to look good.
Dean felt a warm glow in his chest. That was interesting, if confusing. Even Lucy hadn't got that reaction.
Perhaps the ladies at Zumba were right about me after all.
He watched the fellow walk into the diner and sit in one of Dean's favorite seat positions for when he took a meal break. It was at the counter but gave an easy, unobstructed view of the whole diner, including all the exits as well as the kitchen hatch.
Having said that, the guy had wandered to the seat with his despondent gaze barely lifting from the floor. Now he sat flicking through the menu as if food was the last thing on his mind. It didn't take an expert at human nature to read he was upset about something.
Without prompting, Dean filled him a fresh glass of water. The man thanked him and took a sip, all without looking up. Dean felt a strange compulsion to try and cheer this person up.
"So, hey there, handsome. What can I getcha?" he asked, giving his widest, cheekiest smile.
Surprised, the guy looked up mid-sip from his perusal of the menu. His eyes widened dramatically on seeing Dean and he proceeded to spray water across the counter and Dean.
This wasn't the sort of reaction Dean was expecting, although he guessed it was better than an immediate threat of violence. This wasn't the big city, or a health club, or whatever other excuse it was that the 'phobes trotted out.
"Dean?" the man squawked, while Dean patted himself and the surroundings dry with a handful of hastily gathered napkins.
"Oh hey, big stuff, so do you know me?"
"Sam. It's Sam," the guy babbled, rising to his feet and leaning forward. Dean scooted back in alarm, barely avoiding the long arms.
"You're Sam?" Dean asked suspiciously.
Dolores appeared in the doorway from the kitchen, drawn by the noise of the reunion and screeched in excitement.
Dean acknowledged her with a nod of agreement and squinted back at this so-called Sam. "You're not what I expected," he added. Younger and better looking for a start. It seemed too good to be true, his skeptical mind was telling him.
He gave Sam an assessing look. The guy was seriously built, all lean muscle and clearly looked like he could take care of himself in a scrap. Dean couldn't help but idly wonder who went on top. Idly, he mocked himself. Shit. He shivered. Still, at least I'm probably still the bossy one in bed.
"He hit his head and can't remember anything, we've been trying to track you down," interjected Dolores, giving Dean time to escape the maelstrom of his thoughts.
Sam gave Dolores a puzzled look. "I know you from somewhere."
Dolores chuckled. "From Zumba, although you've not gone to the easier lessons for some time."
Sam turned back to Dean and laughed, more in relief than humor. "I can't believe you actually do Zumba."
Dean bristled. "Dancing's in my blood," he vowed.
Sam snorted and shook his head at that. "My brother, doing Zumba!"
"Brother?" said Dolores, with sick realization.
"I knew it!" breathed Dean, before his mind caught up with his more recent thoughts. He caught an apologetic look from Dolores, while he widened his eyes and tried to discretely indicate for her not to reveal the nature of their confusion to Sam.
Memories of film and TV was pretty much all he had left, and he'd imagined himself as someone dashingly roguish like Han Solo; turns out he was more like Princess Leia.
"I think I need a shower," he muttered, turning tail and fleeing.
Sam followed him along like a puppy. A big, enthusiastic puppy that Dean definitely hadn't been having speculative dirty thoughts about earlier. "Damn peer pressure," he muttered under his breath as he stomped to the small back room he'd called home for the last couple of weeks.
"Huh?" asked Sam, unaware of the turbulence of his brother's thoughts.
"Nothing," snapped Dean, deciding under the circumstances to just wash his hands and face. There'd be time for a full decontamination and mental scouring later.
Sam looked on the verge of arguing when they were interrupted by a loud, piercing, electronic wail coming from inside his suit jacket. Frowning, he pulled a strange jerry-rigged device from his pocket that was all flashing red lights and twitching dials. He stared at it intently in the palm of his hand before switching it off.
"Dude, are you haunted?"
Dean rubbed his still ringing ears. "Man, you don't know the half of it."
Dolores looked on in interest at the strange ingredients that Sam had spread out across the diner counter, although she was sure it must be some sort of health code violation.
"Angelica Root, Van Van oil, crossroad dirt, a few other odds and ends..." recited Sam as he combined the items ready to put in small cloth pouches.
Dean frowned and slapped Sam's hand away from one ingredient. "No doofus, that's cow parsnip, the angelica root's over there. Sheesh, Missouri would kick your ass if she was here."
Sam stared at him open mouthed. "Dean? Are you back?"
Dean blinked. "Ghosts, demons, underground bunker, and crappy future prospects," he counted off on his fingers. "Yep, seems like it," he sighed.
The poltergeist hadn't stood a chance and it wasn't long before they were back sitting down at the diner counter. While Dolores was sad to be losing great wait staff, she was overjoyed that the diner's dark secret was now out of the closet and had been sent packing into the light.
"It was nothing," smiled Dean in thanks, as he accepted an extra-large slice of celebratory apple pie. "Although it was nice to have something simple to help me ease back into hunting."
Sam raised a silent, accusatory eyebrow at Dean's absentminded rubbing at the impressive bruising on his upper arm.
"Shut up," said Dean, without heat. "It was just a lucky shot, or two, that's all."
Sam tactfully took a sip of his coffee in lieu of answering, plus the distraction made it easier for him to keep a straight face. "So, I couldn't help but notice you were a bit different when you didn't know who you were," he prompted gently after a short period of companionable silence.
Dean's shoulders dropped almost imperceptibly, but he put on a brave front. "I don't know what you mean," he scowled, shoveling a large forkful of pie into his mouth and chewing noisily.
"Well, when I found you here, you were quite... What's the word?" Sam tapped his index finger on his chin while he pretended he didn't know exactly the term he was going to say next. "Flirty. And talking to Dolores earlier, apparently you were like that with all your customers."
Dean bristled at the accusation and sat up straighter in his seat while pushing his empty plate away from him. "What are you trying to say?"
"Just if there was something you wanted to tell me..." said Sam, his voice turning lighter and more earnest.
"Nah, man," said Dean, quickly cutting his brother off. "It was just about the tips."
"Oh," breathed Sam, hamming it up for maximum effect. "I get it; you're just gay for pay." With a satisfied smirk he ignored Dean's stunned choking and turned and walked out to the car, confident that he now finally knew exactly where his brother was.