I'd like to share my Summergen offering to the community which made it possible for me to write something so silly.
Also, the absolutely awesome tari_roo deserves chocolate and roses for being such a talented and creative beta and co-author. Her Lutheran ladies scene is the heart of this fic. Thank you so much for your generosity.
Title: The Way to a Man’s Heart or Love’s Labor Revenged
Rating: PG-13 for language
Warnings: Humor fic with a side of crack. Spoilers through My Bloody Valentine, season 5.
Summary: Dean finds himself on the receiving end of Cupid’s arrows. Chaos, and baked goods, ensues.
The Way to a Man’s Heart or Love’s Labor Revenged
“I love my job. I’m good at my job. I make people happy.” Cupid fanned back tears which threatened to spill over his rosy cheeks. “I wasn’t going to cry!”
“There, there….oomph!” Joshua gasped when the cherub caught him in an air-tight embrace. “Please… don’t make yourself unhappy.”
The cooing of a pair of doves played counterpoint to Cupid’s whimpering, and Joshua, the most patient of Heaven’s servants, sighed. He glanced over Cupid’s personal Eden crowded with pungent roses in every imaginable shade. The gardener’s nose twitched as he fought back a very human desire to sneeze. “Perhaps,” he sniffed, “sharing what happened will alleviate your pain.”
Joshua gently extracted himself from Cupid’s pinioning bear hug and beckoned the lesser angel to a pink gazebo festooned with garlands of fairy lights. After a great deal of flailing and subsequent cajoling, the unhappy angel summed up his grievance: “One billion happily-ever-after couples and one big bully named Dean!”
“Ah, the eldest Winchester brother.” Joshua nodded, aware that the future of the world rested on the brothers’ broad shoulders. “Some humans are troubled beyond our capacity to intercede.”
“But I was only trying to help!” Cupid wailed with a self-pitying hiccup and threw himself onto the heart-shaped pillow provided for him in the Valentine-themed Garden. Joshua looked away discreetly and counted to one hundred. Indulging a certain degree of melodrama was in his job description; enabling a temper tantrum was not.
Coughing gently, Joshua attempted a new tactic. “God knows you were only trying to do your best.”
“He does?” Cupid sat up and fisted tears from his eyes. “Are you sure He does?”
“Of course!” Joshua handed the cherub a perfumed hanky.
The lesser angel’s lower lip quivered. “But the mean man socked me!”
“Come now, Cupid!” Joshua said, sternly. “Wallowing in hurt feelings does no good. Think of all the people on Earth who are counting on your gifts. Even someone like Dean Winchester needs your compassion and understanding. After all, ‘the best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer someone else up’.”
Nodding bravely, he sniffed. “You’re right. I have a job to do.” With that, Cupid dabbed his teary eyes, blew his ruddy nose, and beamed at Joshua. “Thanks for listening.”
“I’m glad I could offer some insight.” Joshua waved off the rather damp hankie Cupid thrust back at him.
“Oh, you have. You really, really have.” Cupid smiled, radiating enthusiasm.
“Take time to collect yourself, my friend,” Joshua picked up an ornate box of chocolates and handed it to the cherub, “and enjoy the amenities the Garden has provided you.”
“Give my love to the Big Guy.” Cupid blew a kiss as Joshua walked through the heart-shaped arbor and closed the gate behind him. “It’s time to pick up my bow and arrows and get back in the game,” he told himself while sorting through the crèmes and caramel-coated goodies. When he had satisfied his sweet-tooth, several dozen boxes later, Cupid reclined amongst the heart-shaped pink satin pillows and took a long nap. Through the candy-coated haze of his sugar-induced coma, Cupid heard a whispered prayer and his puffy eyes opened.
“Please…I can’t…I need some help. Please?”
Despite his hurt feelings, Cupid’s big heart broke for the eldest Winchester. Picking up his bow and arrows with new determination, he repeated, “’The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer someone else up,’” and flew to the rescue.
“Hey,” Sam nodded over the top of the Impala.
“Why’d you let me sleep so long?” Dean scrubbed his hands across his eyes and yawned.
“You were wiped.” Sam sloshed suds across the Impala’s hood and smiled at his brother. “You deserved some shut eye.”
“No more than you,” Dean sighed and wished for a warmer jacket. Despite the bright sunshine, the South Dakota morning was crisp with frost. Patches of a late February snow storm were still evident in rock-hard hillocks littered like tomb stones in the shadier spots around the salvage yard. Yeah, a nice vacation somewhere warm, somewhere not Hell-warm, was the ticket.
“Coffee’s in the front.” Sam chin-bobbed towards a thermos wedged against the passenger side door. “Thought you’d need a morning pick-me-up.”
Dean grunted his thanks and retrieved the container. “You want?” He offered, but Sam shook him off.
“I’m good.” Sam retrieved the sheepskin washing mitt and attacked the collection of bugs on Baby’s license plate.
Dean poured a cup full and breathed in the warm vapor. The bitter liquid, pungent with the added kick of hard liquor, was a surprise. Not like Sam to cater to big brother’s vices. “Dude, you trying to knock me out?”
“Is that all it takes nowadays?”
Dean snorted in outraged denial, ready for a fight, but Sam was benignly detailing Baby’s rims, oblivious to any intended insult.
Relieved to be spared another round in the on-going debate on his liquid libations, Dean ambled around the front of the Impala, unconsciously checking for missed patches of grime. “I’m not complaining Sammy, but freezing your jewels off to give Baby a bath is above and beyond in my book.”
“I think my jewels will survive,” Sam smirked and stooped to pick up the hose at his feet. “Stand back, man. I’m ready to rinse.” He gave the hood a quick spray of chilly water.
“Watch it!” Dean took several hasty steps out of the line of fire and stumbled into a bucket of soapy water. “Son of a bitch!” He yowled as coffee spilled over his fingers.
Sam’s smirk bloomed into a full-fledged smile, while still determinedly hosing down the Impala. As Dean attempted to regain his equilibrium and his dignity, Sam masked his grin with a patented look of puppy-dog concern. “You good?”
Dean followed his brother’s gaze: a hand-sized coffee stain was imprinted on the fly of his jeans. “You think that’s funny, smart ass?”
“No, Dean.” Sam’s dimples contorted and any pretense of concern evaporated. “I think that’s hysterical!”
Sam’s laughter was the best sound Dean’d heard in months. After the nightmarish vigil outside Bobby’s panic room, Dean could have sworn he’d never hear it again. He had the sudden and embarrassing urge to hug the stuffing out of the kid. He was seriously close to breaking his “no chick flick moments” credo right there in the middle of Singer Salvage.
“Is she good?” Sam’s voice broke his reverie, and Dean realized he’d been staring. The Impala was gleaming in the early morning light, a picture of beauty. An impatient frown crossed Sam’s face. “What?” he asked, arms opened. “Did I grow an extra set of something?”
To preserve his macho man cred, Dean bent to right the overturned pail and found a convenient diversion. “Dude!” He scooped up the soapy washing mitt still sloshing in the bottom of the bucket. “You missed a spot.”
Ever the perfectionist, Sam knelt to inspect his work. “I don’t see anything,” he muttered, and Dean pied the soppy mitt into his brother’s face.
“See if I ever wash your car again, jerk!” Sam sputtered and chucked the mitt at his brother.
“It’s the least you deserve for laughing at me, bitch!”
“What are you idjits up to now?” Bobby hollered from his front porch. “Quit actin’ like a bunch of four-year-olds and get your butts in here for breakfast!”
Dean rubbed his full belly in contentment and pushed his chair away from the kitchen table. Bobby had laid out a spread of food that made the folks at Biggerson’s look like amateurs: country fried steak with sausage gravy, flaky biscuits, crispy hash browns, and orange juice so fresh Bobby must have squeezed it himself. Dean, whose appetite had been tetchy since before Famine arrived on scene, had eaten with relish goaded on by Sam who matched him bite-for-bite and then some.
“Man, Bobby, you should have been a short-order cook!”
“And miss out on all the fun I’ve had dealing with you Winchesters?” Bobby responded.
Dean threw a towel at the older man and turned his attention to the breakfast dishes stacked in the sink.
“Looks like Sam’s getting his sea legs back.” Bobby joined Dean at the sink. From the kitchen window, Dean watched as Sam tied up his running shoes and completed some tentative stretches. Strangely, the sight made him feel recklessly optimistic. Sam doing mundane, ordinary things meant all was right in Winchesterland.
“I don’t know what’s going on with him, Bobby. It’s like I have the old Sam back.” Dean shook his head and picked up the dish soap. “It can’t last.”
“Count your blessings.” Bobby reached under the sink for the dish rack
“We’ll be back on the road as soon as he gives me a go.”
Bobby huffed out a breath and banged the dish rack on the counter top. “I wasn’t implying I wanted you boys out of my house.”
“We’ve been out of the game since Famine, Bobby. I’m sure Luci’s not sitting back twiddling his thumbs waiting for us to make a move.”
“No use going out there before you’re ready, son.” Bobby paused. “God knows you deserve time to re-charge your batteries.”
Dean put the dish rag down and turned to the older man. “Seriously, Bobby? We started this mess; we got to make it right. Keeping my butt warm riding the bench in South Dakota ain’t going to fix the world.”
“I’m just saying…,” Bobby sputtered to a stop. “Hell, boy, giving you a compliment’s like trying to cuddle a feral cat.”
Dean squirmed like a little boy in a Sunday suit. “Leave it, Bobby. I’m not the one who deserves a gold star.”
“Wait your turn. I’m not done!” Bobby glowered up at him. “You done good by your brother. Nobody could have done a better job. If Sam’s back to his old self, you had a big part in that.”
“He’s my blood, Bobby. What else am I supposed to do?”
Bobby rummaged in his pocket and pulled out a crumpled handkerchief. Horrified, Dean noticed that the older man’s eyes were misty. “You stand by me when I get weighed down by this chair, when all I want to do is lock myself in my own panic room and never come out.”
“Thanks, Bobby, but….”
“Come here!” Bobby beckoned Dean closer.
“I said, come here, dammit!” Bobby locked the brakes on the wheelchair and braced himself. Dean bent into Bobby’s personal space and the older hunter caught him in a tight bear hug. “I’m proud of you, boy!”
Dean patted the man’s back awkwardly and attempted to pull away. “We done, Bobby?”
The older hunter nodded and released his vise grip on Dean’s ribs. “Wouldn’t want Sam getting the wrong idea.” Bobby blew his nose, noisily. “Might think I liked you best.”
The morning sun was warming the air, and Dean took his third cup of coffee out onto the porch. Bobby was grumbling in his study, searching through several large tomes for something or other. Dean leaned against the railing nearest the stairs, waiting for his brother to get back from his run. He sipped his coffee, admiring the Impala’s gleam.
Sam had done a good job.
The peaceful South Dakota morning was disturbed by the muffled sound of a phone ringing. Dean twisted to scan the room behind him, watching for Bobby. When the ringing abruptly cut off, Dean turned back to his cup and the view. Thick beams of sunlight filtered through the trees near the road and ridiculously chirpy birds chattered a chorus of happy noise. Dean chuckled. Bobby was also doing his share of chirping, the rumble of his muffled voice both familiar and comforting.
Wondering just how far Sam planned on going on his morning run, Dean leaned back and yawned. An itch was tickling his shoulder blades. Maybe it was time to move on and get back on the road. Sam seemed ok. Right?
Despite Bobby’s consistent business, the neighborhood tended to be quiet, so Dean straightened as a speeding car hurtled down the road, tires screeching. The mini-van’s brakes squealed in protest as it fish-tailed into Singer Salvage and trundled down the drive, kicking up a fair cloud of dust. Dean shot a glance over his shoulder for Bobby, wondering if they should arm up for an impending onslaught of angels and demons.
The slamming car door drew Dean’s attention back to the idling mini-van. A tall, bushy-haired woman hurried towards him, shooting looks behind her, her expression intense. Dean set his cup aside and met her half-way down the stairs. “Everything all....?”
“You’re still here!” The bushy-haired lady beamed at him and laughed. “Here you go!” Startled, Dean blinked as a large pastry box was shoved at him. “It’s my famous triple lemon meringue pie. Double yolks. Graham cracker base.”
“Uh, ok? Thanks? This for Bobby?”
“No, silly.” Checking over her shoulder, she laughed again. “Am I first?”
“I beat them! I beat all of them!” The woman fisted the air and cheered. “Hoorah!”
“All of who?” Dean asked.
“Enjoy that lemon meringue! See you!” But the bushy-haired lady didn’t move. She stared at Dean for a long, awkward moment until she abruptly turned and trotted back to the car. With a tail-spin turn worthy of the Italian Job, the mini-van peeled down the drive.
“Hey, Bobby?” Dean yelled, his focus flicking between the massive box and the disappearing car.
“Yoohoo!” The voice sounded a heck of a lot closer than it should and Dean turned on his heel, his hunter’s reflexes at the ready. Another lady with short brown hair was clambering over the fence, waving cheerfully. Her colorful shawl fluttered like a Superhero cape as she hurried over, ducking around several cars. “Yoohoo!”
She trotted up the steps to Dean, who was frozen in place, his gaze locked on the towel-covered plate in her hands. “Hello!” the woman cried and plopped her offering on top of the box. “I see Joyce cheated and got here first. But you try my chocolate fudge brownies right now, you hear? Chocolate is always better than lemon in my book.”
“Ahhhh,” Dean stammered. “Who’s Joyce? Who’re you?”
“Members of the Lutheran Ladies Prayer Group, honey. We’ve had Bobby on the prayer chain since, well, you know...,” her cheerful expression sobered. “Joyce checks in with him every few days to make sure he doesn’t get too discouraged. Last time she checked in, Bobby mentioned that Dean was back in town, and the rest is baking history.” The woman grinned at him and patted his hand affectionately. “Such a strong profile. And those freckles. Chocolate, young man, chocolate!”
As speedily as she had arrived, her cape trailing her like the colorful wake of a ship, the lady retraced her steps back through the yard and over the fence.
Bobby’s voice sounded distant, heck, Bobby sounded distracted, but Dean needed to put something down, preferably the pie, so that he could check out the brownies. The aroma wafting through the embroidered dish cloth was tantalizing.
Movement near the driveway drew his attention from his task; for a second Dean thought it was Sam coming back. The running figure was too small and too slight and had a smaller shadow: another runner close on its... her heels.
Dean did a 360, trying to find a flat surface large enough for his baked goods, backing up the steps as he did. With nothing instantly available and running footsteps closing in, Dean gave up and turned to meet the newest arrivals.
Mother and daughter, definitely, wearing matching running outfits, purple track suits, white sneakers and packing... macaroons?
“Hey, hey,” Mom smiled, flicking her blonde pony tail, energetically. “Candice, dear why don’t you take those ....things from this young man so that he can try one of my... our lovely, light, fresh from the oven macaroons.”
Her daughter was staring at Dean, mouth open, one hand fisted in her own blonde ponytail. Dean clutched his pie and brownies possessively, and Mom beamed. “Oh, you’re an angel to accept Joyce and Veronica’s humble gifts. Trust me, Candice’s macaroons are simply heavenly, heavenly!”
A large Ziploc bag of cookies landed on top of the brownies containing three dozen or more appetizing little golden stars.
“Ahhhhhhhh... thanks?” Dean stammered into her eager face. He wanted to follow that sound of confusion with a ‘What the Hell?’
Before he could protest, Candice regained her voice and blurted out, “Wannagotothepromwithme?”
Eyebrows crawling up into his hairline, Dean spluttered, “What?”
Mom grabbed her daughter’s hand. “Oh, that would be simply wonderful. You’d make such an adorable couple. Come on, dear, our next batch of chocolate chip macaroons will ready to come out of the oven.” She turned her determined gaze back on Dean. “You think about it, hon. I’ll phone Bobby to arrange it all. Her dress is blue satin with a soft chiffon overlay. Bluebell blue. It’ll go with your eyes.”
Battered by the delicious aromas of fine baked goods, motherly onslaught, and the certainty he was dreaming or hallucinating, Dean nodded mutely. Mom dragged the girl down the drive, and Candice turned and mouthed “I love you” as their white sneakers crunched the gravel.
“Don’t forget the corsage!” Mom yelled as they trotted down the drive.
Dean gulped and belatedly muttered, “My eyes aren’t blue.”
Pie, brownies, and cookies were carefully placed on the step next to him, because one did not throw away free baked goods until one was certain that they were poisoned, cursed, or made with that crappy fake sugar. Dean scanned the surroundings carefully, alert for other mothers packing pastry and sighed when he found the coast was clear.
The voice was old, firm, and full of the determination a sensible young man did not ignore. Dean whirled: a little old lady stood in the middle of the yard not too far from the Impala, bent over like she was a hundred and two in the shade.
“How....” Dean gasped, but the old lady bashed her cane into the ground (making a surprisingly loud noise). “Get down here right now and take this, young man!”
Obediently, Dean trotted down the stairs, drawn as if by an invisible string. The old lady held out a shiny biscuit tin and thrust it into his hands. Her voice was rich with pride and certainty. “Forget those frivolous dainties over there. Try this, young man. It’ll knock your socks off. Vodka fudge with a twist.” She leaned close, her flowery perfume hardly denting the stiff reek of alcohol from the tin. “The twist is the rum.”
Frozen in place, Dean blinked, eyes watering from the fumes and the spritely granny patted his available cheek. “Be sure to remember to shave, dear. No one likes a ragamuffin.”
Perhaps the old lady heard the subtle sarcasm because she rapped him on the knees with her cane, sharp and hard.
Muttering to herself, the old lady tottered down the drive and a wave of ‘you should help her, moron’ washed over Dean. He turned to put the fudge down, but when he looked back, she was gone.
“What in the hell is going on, Dean?” Bobby pushed through the screen door. “You’ve been yelling non- stop!”
Dean turned, beginning to feel like he was on a merry- go- around and stared. Bobby wore a “Kiss the Cook” apron, oven mitts, and carried a tray of .... bearclaws?
“You baked?” Dean barked.
Bobby shrugged and growled, “So what if I did?”
More running footsteps behind him made Dean whirl for the umpteenth time. He gritted his teeth, hoping it wasn’t another woman bearing baked goods, and it was very sad that he felt that way, because... he loved baked goods.
Fortunately, it was Sam looking happy and well-run, his face red and shiny with perspiration. “Hey, I brought donuts.”
To Be Continued...