The cop car was old, thin leather seats covered in holes. The cop, Mr. Jackson, hummed along to the radio he had turned up far too loud. Sam was tucked away in the back, his worn out clothes falling off of his body. He couldn't believe he had been dumb enough to fall for a fake costumer. There was no way for the police to even know what he did. Sam never told anyone and he did all of it on his own. There were no other boys and no person in charge.
Two days ago, a man in a fancy suit walked up to Sam. He was shivering and leaning against a brick wall, saying a silent prayer when the man walked towards him. It was impossible to know who actually wanted to take him to the motel and who wanted him dead. Over the years of doing this, Sam slowly figured out how to hide under the radar. He must have slipped up, though, because as soon as the man got him into the motel room and paid him, cops rushed out. Sam was half naked and shaking as they pinned him down and handcuffed him.
Prostitution. Sam thought that was an ugly word. It was work, a chore. Being a sex worker was nowhere near easy and sometimes it didn't even feel worth it. The men that paid felt entitled and loved to push it. Ignore all of his rules and all of his rejections. Sam had to fight his way out more than once, then skip town. The men Sam dealt with weren't like other men. Sam was a dirty secret. Some men had wives, some men had careers that could be ruined, and some men couldn't admit they liked boys. No matter the story, the men all had one thing in common. They were dangerous.
“You're lucky the judge had a soft spot.” The cop shouted, not bothering to turn down the music. “Maybe he just wanted to screw you.”
Sam smirked, sinking back in his seat. “Wouldn't be the first, won't be the last.” He crossed his legs and looked out the window, sucking on his lip. “As long as he pays we won't have a problem.”
The cop scoffed, like he was better than Sam. “Didn't know seventeen year olds could be such whores. And you got a record of this shit starting at fourteen. Sick.”
“I'm not the sick one.” Sam rolled his eyes. Did he hear himself? “I just stood there until they approached me. They were the ones that asked. They were the ones who were into me. I just said yes.” He looked at his nails. “You're paying attention to the wrong person.”
“No, I'm not.” The cop was glaring at him. Sam swore if there weren't bars in the way he would be beating the man to death. “You are in just as much trouble as those men. Selling your body? That's sick. Have some respect for yourself.”
Sam glanced at the door. Jumping out of the car didn't sound like such a bad idea. “I do have self respect. My prices are high.” He looked at the gun in the cops tool belt. “At least my job revolves around making people feel good. All you do is shoot people.”
“I keep the people in this town safe!”
Sam had to bite back a laugh. Men like him were so easy to offend. Men who had it easy. Men who hadn't lost their mother at twelve and been on the streets since thirteen. “Then arrest the pedophiles, not the victim. I'm not violent.”
“You punched me!” The cop shouted. God was it easy to get under his skin. Sam couldn't help himself. “Multiple times!’
“You gave me a reason.” Sam picked at the skin around his nails. “And just a tip, yelling at someone will not make them back down nor listen. It'll only piss them off more.” He flashed a smile into the rearview mirror.
The cop pulled off the road and onto a gravel driveway. It was long and bumpy and Sam was still debating on jumping out when they came to a grinding halt. In front of them stood a large house that was painted bright yellow like an Easter egg. Boys of all ages wandered around the yard, some going into the barn while others went inside. There were no adults around, just teenagers and a few middle schoolers running around. Sam rolled his eyes. Another foster home.
“Dean has the patience of God himself. Hopefully he can handle you.” The cop climbed out and slammed the door hard enough that the car shook. He pulled Sam's door open and grabbed him by the arm, yanking him out so hard that Sam fell. He grabbed Sam's three bags and dropped them on the ground. “Hey! One of you! Come get these and follow me inside.”
“No one's gonna listen.” Sam grumbled, pushing himself to his feet and dusting himself off. “The navy colored uniform isn't gonna make anyone submit. If anything they'll avoid you.” Sam kicked the car door shut. “Cops suck.”
“Is this the new kid?!” Asked a boy with blonde, curly hair. Freckles littered his face and he wore a hoodie despite it being hot Texas weather. “Samuel?”
Sam smirked. “Didn't know I had fans already.” As he walked up the front porch, he began to plan his ways go escape. There were too many boys in the front to just walk out, he would either have to make friends, leave at night, or run off into the woods behind the house. “It's Sam by the way.”
“I'm Jason!” The boy replied happily. “Welcome to the boys home. I know it looks kinda bad but it's real nice here. Dean runs the place, you'll love him. I don't think anyone doesn't love him.” Jason lugged the backpacks around, following Sam up and into the house. “Nineteen boys live here, along with a few that come and go with the cops. Some run. Some don't behave and get sent away.”
“We’ll see which one I end up being.” Sam looked behind him and smiled at Jason. The boy was cute, but Sam didn't bother thinking about him. Normal people would think he was sick or cheap or diseased. Heartbreak wasn't worth it, Sam learned that when he was fifteen and fell in love for the first and hopefully last time. The boy was sweet until he found out what Sam did for money. Then he beat him and dumped him. “Thanks for carrying those.”
“Oh, it's nothing. I love to help the new boys get settled in. I've been here since I was ten and got sent here for robbing. I'm seventeen now, but I plan on helping Dean around the boys home once I age out.” Jason smiled at Sam once more. How was it possible to be so happy? “I'll take your stuff to your new bedroom. It'll be safe there and you'll be sharing it with other boys-” He laughed when he saw Sam's face. Sam didn't react. Stealing wasn't funny, especially when he barely had anything. “It'll be safe.” He repeated. “I promise.”
“Dean!” The cop shouted from behind Sam. “I got your new problem. A project-”
“Rude.” Sam grumbled, tugging at the handcuffs around his wrists. “You mad cuz a seventeen year old beat your ass?” He laughed, shaking his head. It was far too easy to piss the guy off. Sam couldn't stop himself. The cop deserved it anyway, he was a dick.
“You know we don't call them projects or problems.” A man walked out with a clean white t-shirt on and a blue button down hanging from his shoulders and unbuttoned. He was wiping his hands on a towel before setting it down on a table. “They are our boys and that's it. We love them and care about them-”
The cop rolled his eyes. So far he was the only person who wasn't kissing Dean's ass. Sam was thankful for that. Jason talked about Dean like he was a god or something. “Even when they don't deserve it.” He sighed.
The man stared at him before sighing as well. “Even when they can't love themselves.” He extended a hand towards Sam before stopping. “Get him out of those handcuffs. He is just a kid.”
“He’s been seventeen for a week, he's just as dangerous as anyone else.” The cop grumbled. “He attacked me! Gave me this black eye and split lip! Nearly broke my nose!”
“He was fighting for his life. The boys you bring me are scared and alone-”
Sam cut the man off. “Mostly just annoyed. I was doing my job. Making sure I could feed myself. But apparently that's illegal now.”
“Get him out of the handcuffs.” The man repeated before smiling at Sam. “Hey, Samuel, I'm Dean. I kinda run this place. When I was younger I even came here and got help. Sonny was the man who helped me. He comes by sometimes.”
“Yeah, well-” Sam pulled his wrists out of the handcuffs as soon as they were unlocked. He rubbed his wrists, smiling up at Dean. “As handsome as you are, I don't plan on staying. I’m getting out as soon as I can. I don't do settling down.”
The cop looked at Dean. “You see what I mean? He's a brat, he doesn't want help, the real world isn't going to baby him like this so neither should we.” He pulled his baseball cap off and rubbed his head. “He's been to places like this before and he's ran. Give his bed to a kid that deserves it.”
“It's Sam.” Sam replied, pushing past Dean and stepping into a small living room. There were two couches and a loveseat, along with several wooden chairs. The room was cramped and a T.V. hung up on the wall, a table stood below it, the cabinets filled with movies. It had been years since Sam had watched T.V. and even longer since he had been in a house. Most foster homes that kept the boys before a family was open were just giant rooms filled with bunk beds. This was a real house.
“Sam deserves this place. He needs it. He is a kid and kids like him make hard choices.” Dean looked back at Sam. Sam could feel his eyes on him. “Choices you wouldn't ever understand. So please, be nice to these kids. They don't want to be doing the things they do. They survive.”
The cop waved Dean off. “Cool it with the preaching. I get it. You used to sell yourself-” He made a face. “Don't remind me. I'll see you around, Dean. And hopefully I'll be taking that thing away when I do.”
“Bye!” Dean called happily, shutting the door behind the cop. “Sorry about him. He is… a little moody. But I mean, what cops are nice?” He chuckled, slipping his hands into his pockets. “I'll give you a tour and explain some things, then we can eat some dinner and go to bed.”
“So… you guys are on a schedule?” It was hard for Sam to not roll his eyes. This man was insane. He wasn't fixing these boys by making sure they eat at the same time every day and have bedtimes. He was just locking them down. And if these boys were anything like Sam, they would be snapping sooner or later. “Weird.”
“It gives them something familiar. This becomes their home and the schedule helps get them on track. I know it sounds dumb but the boys in here… well, most of them haven't had anything like this. They ate when they could and lacked a supportive family or friend group.” Dean shrugged, looking down at the floor. “It worked for me and it worked for Sonny, so I'm just… doing what works.”
Sam nodded. “So… that Jason kid said that nineteen boys live here. How do you manage all that? This house is small, no offense, and I've only seen one bedroom on this floor.”
“That's my room and there's a guest bedroom near the back door for when Sonny visits, but it's also used as a bedroom if there's more boys coming.” Dean smiled at Sam. Was he ever sick of being happy? “I'll show you the upstairs, come on.” He walked up the stairs, sliding his hands up the railing. “Each room up here has three beds. There's four rooms. The rest of the boys sleep in the basement, which isn't as terrible as it sounds.”
“Why do you do this?” Sam asked, looking around. No boys were in their rooms. “Do you do it so you can just give yourself a pat on the back and call it a day? You want people to just tell you how much of a great guy you are?” People never did good things just to be good. They did it so they could brag and look like an amazing person. Whenever families tried to take Sam in, it was all about how damaged Sam was and how they loved him anyway, like his existence was inconveniencing.
Dean stared at him. He seemed to do that a lot. “I do it for the boys. They need someone who understands and supports them.” He took a deep breath. “The room at the end of the hall will be where you sleep. Alex and Jordan live in there and they are both very sweet. Hopefully they can rub off on you.” Dean turned around and walked back towards the stairs.
“Hopefully.” Sam smirked. Dean was funny, Sam could give him that. “In more ways than one.” He followed Dean down the stairs, chewing on his cheek. Boys rushed up and down the halls, a few crowding into the kitchen. “What are they doing? Getting dinner?”
“Making it.” Dean walked in front of the doorway and watched them. “Six boys are on cooking duty while two are on dishes. Every boy here has certain chores until they finally start getting a job. It teaches them life skills and gets them ready for a real job.” He nudged Sam. “Helps them learn responsibility.”
“Shouldn't parents be the ones teaching them that?” Sam continued down the hall, stopping in front of the basement door. Sleeping in the basement would be the easiest place to sneak out from. All he had to do was walk up stairs and head out the back or climb out one of the windows.
“Well…” Dean stuffed his hands in his pockets and turned around. “I don't know about you, but a lot of these boys didn't have parents or didn't have good ones. This environment helps them learn how to behave and to live and it gives them love and support.” He stepped next to Sam, looking down at him. “This really is for the boys, Sam. There isn't any catch. I just want to give them the tools that helped me.”
“Did you really used to do this stuff?” Sam faced him, looking him in the eye. “Selling yourself, I mean. Were you a prostitute?”
Dean took a sharp breath and nodded. “Uh… yeah. I was. When I was fourteen and fifteen. Then I got arrested because I swiped the guys wallet. He called and told on me and I got sent here.” He looked all around them. “It helped me learn how to take care of myself.”
“Whatever.” Sam turned around and walked down the hallway. “Since you used to be where I am, you should understand why I can't leave. I have a life to live, Dean. I know how to be responsible and how to make money. I don't need this-”
“This isn't the right way to make money.” Dean followed him, his voice still calm. The man must do yoga or something, because Sam would already be snapping. No one had ever been this patient with Sam. It sucked. Normally, Sam could annoy them and run away. Dean kept giving him chances and trying to understand him. Sam didn't want or need the kindness. He wanted to be alone. Rely on himself. That was the only person he could trust.
Sam whipped around, his hands balled into fists. He laughed. “What? You think I'm dirty or something? You think you're better than me because you take care of kids now?” He scoffed, shaking his head. “Sex work is just as much of a job as anything else. It is not dirty. It is not sick. It does not mean I have low self esteem and don't know my worth. It just means I know how to make money and own my own business.”
Sam couldn't stand the way people talked about sex workers. Strippers. Prostitutes. Porn stars. They all worked hard for the money they earned. Making money was never easy considering how many people felt entitled to their bodies. And the clients were rarely even nice. Instead of a person, they see a body or an object to use then dump. Half the time they try to skip out on paying. Not only is sex work hard but no one respects the worker.
Daily, Sam was reminded how dirty the world thought he was. People asked if he had diseases or if he had daddy issues. They assumed he hated himself and craved other people's attention. Like his existence was some cry for help. It was annoying, how people just assumed Sam lived a horrible life that drove him to this. He did have a bad life, but this kept him alive and there was no shame in surviving.
“I don't doubt that. I'm not saying the job you do is shameful, I'm just saying you're young. Sex work should not be illegal but Sam, you are underage. You are just a child and no man or woman should be touching you. I want you here because I want you to have to stop relying on yourself. I want you to relax and to breathe and to take a break.” Dean shook his head. “The only thing wrong with the job you were doing was that you were too young. Those people… that's traumatic. Having people years and years older than you touch you. I don't want you having to live like that. I don't want that to be your life until you're older and it's not about surviving but it's about living.”
Sam shook his head, clenching his jaw. “Give it up. I don't want your fucking help. I want to go back to being normal and doing my fucking job. I don't need a babysitter, I need the cops to leave me alone and start going after the pedophiles touching me and not the victim. I need a lot of shit, but what I don't need is this fucking place.” Sam turned around and walked out the back door, wiping his eyes. He couldn't leave right now. All of his stuff was upstairs. He had to stay.
Sam hated Dean. He hated that Dean just couldn't give up on him. That Dean made him feel special and important and deserving of better things. Sam shook his head and continued to rub at his eyes, his nose running. He hated that Dean was such a good man and that Dean was wasting his time on Sam, a kid who just wanted to be alone. His mother always told him he was hard to love, that he would never find anyone that way. After a while, Sam decided that was easier. Being tough and angry and alone. When he was alone, everything he needed was his job to get. There was no one to let him down or hurt him.
He wanted a home and he wanted a family and he wanted to work a boring nine to five job, but he couldn't. He was too far gone. A homeless drop out. Selling himself was the only way he could make money without being paid nearly nothing. His prices were high and he was able to eat and find motels to sleep in on most days. When he wasn't sleeping or working he was on the run. Sam never stayed in the same area longer than a week. People would start to remember him and maybe even notice him as one of the old runaways.
There was also the risk of violence. Killers loved to target people like Sam. They viewed them as scum and dirt. When it wasn't killers, it was the customers. Some couldn't stand that they actually paid someone, some couldn't stand that they paid someone of a certain gender. Sam had had many men snap and try to hurt him once it was over. Others tried to find him and kill him just to make sure he would stay quiet. Sam never even wanted to do such a thing. He had more important things to do than to ruin some assholes life.
There was also the police. Police had never helped Sam. Not when his mother was being abused by her drug addict of a boyfriend or when said boyfriend molested Sam. Once Sam was older they just became more annoying. He never relied on them, but now he ran from them. Cops loved to arrest Sam and even touch him. When they were not abusing their power over him they were beating him. Sam learned how to pick locks in cells at that point. There was no way be was going to stay in a police station longer than a few hours.
Being hated was so much easier than people trying to love him. When people found him disgusting, it hurt, but it was better than being rejected. Sam had tried after his first boyfriend, but no one ever wanted him the same. At first it made him sad, but now it only made him lonely. A family sounded so nice, but all Dean felt was pity. He saw himself in Sam and there was no way he was going to let Sam go, but that was what Sam really needed.
Getting a taste of the normal, the happiness and safety of a home, was only going to damage Sam. Remind him how pathetic and alone he was. Sam didn't need that. He needed to keep his walls up and be on his own, making money and surviving. The normal life was Sam's dream, but that was all it would ever be. Sam would never get a home or a family. He had himself and that had to be good enough. Sam didn't have time for worrying or crying over the things he missed out on. He had to keep going or else he would drown.
Sam turned back and looked at Dean, who was standing in the doorway of the house. “Show me the rest of the property.” Sam turned back around and walked into the grass, taking deep breaths. He couldn't let Dean see his moments of weakness. Dean already saw Sam as a charity case. “I'm hungry.”
Dean walked out, following Sam. “We're having chicken with carrots and macaroni and cheese. Then maybe some cake. You can have as much as you like, too. We try to make enough for everyone to have seconds, then we pack up all the leftovers for school lunches and snacks.” He stepped ahead of Sam, pointing at a barn. “We teach mechanics over there, along with other hands on tool things. We have a few animals in the smaller barn that we take care of but don't kill. Cows only get milked and the chickens are used for eggs-”
“To teach responsibility. I get it. You want to give them structure.” Sam rolled his eyes. “I'm not going to school and I'm not doing chores because both things are pointless. I'm not staying here either because staying is pointless if I'm just going to leave in a year.” There was no need to get comfortable just to be kicked out. This was not a real family. This was basically another foster home for kids to be dumped when they keep screwing up.
“Sam.” Dean replied, looking down at him. “Here, it is either school or a job. You can work at a diner or a store or a repair shop, anything you want as long as you have a job and are applying yourself. I'm not a daycare center, I'm here to give foundation to at risk boys.”
“The only time anyone's at risk is when cops fuck with me. I mind my own business and I get my job done, everyone just seems to have a problem with it.” Sam crossed his arms and looked around the area. Dean owned a lot of land, but most of it wasn't occupied. There was a small lake near the back that was surrounded by the forest. “I'm not staying. I'll be gone in a week, easily, and you can't fucking stop me.” He stared at Dean. “You don't even want me here.”
“What makes you think that?” Dean asked, crossing his arms over his chest.
“The cops sent me here because this is where you fix the poor broken boys.” Sam replied. “This is your job, this isn't out of the kindness in your heart it's out of pity. Stop trying to act like it isn't and stop wasting my time.” Sam started to walk back to the house, wincing when Dean grabbed his wrist and gripped it tight.
Dean dug his nails into his skin, looking down at him. “Sam, they do not ship boys into here. I listen to the cases of all the boys they arrest or find and I choose if this will be a good place for them. I do this for you kids. I could easily work nine to five but I rather be here, helping the boys that no one wants to help.” He let go and backed away. “So, go ahead and be angry and hate me all you want, but I am sick of you acting like everyone's out to get you. Not everyone is like the people that you.” He turned away and looked back at the barns. “I'm going to get everyone for dinner. Go wash up.” When Sam didn't move he spoke again. “I'm not asking, I'm telling.”
The house was crowded by the time Sam got back inside. Boys rushed around and filled their plates before going into the dining room and sitting down in two different tables. Each boy passed by a seat at the end of one of the tables which must have been where Dean sat. Sam didn't understand the blind faith they had in that man. How desperate were they? The boys avoided Sam, not even looking in his direction. Sam liked it that way. He wasn't there to make friends, he didn't want to be there to begin with. The food smelled good and Sam's stomach rumbled. It had been so long since Sam had eaten real food. Most of it was canned or fast food or all around unhealthy, but tonight he got real food. Staying one night wouldn't hurt. Besides, Dean would be on high alert to make sure Sam wouldn’t run away.
Sam hated how happy he was as he got as many servings as he wanted and sat down at the far end of the table. He hated that being here wasn't miserable and that Dean did care. The happiness confused him. He couldn't stay but he wanted to for once. He felt safe, even though it may be false, and people cared and there were beds and food and Dean. Dean was making this so hard. He was sweet and kind and patient. It would be so much easier if Dean just hated him. Why couldn't he? Sam was a brat and he was hard headed. Not being loved at all was better than having people stop loving him.
The room fell silent when Dean walked in. He made his own plate and sat down at the seat at the end of the table. He smiled at the boys before clearing his throat. “Come on, hands together. You know we pray before meals-”
“Of course.” Sam laughed to himself. He gave up on religion a long time ago. If God was real and he really loved Sam, he wouldn't have left Sam all alone when he could barely read or write. Sam was behind when he was in school, reading and writing was nearly impossible for him and his mother was too poor to get him the help he needed. That was why Sam couldn't go back to school. He just couldn't.
“I'm not forcing you to pray, but most of the boys here enjoy it. If you aren't going to pray, you can sit silently and wait for the prayer to end.” Dean folded his hands together and looked around the table. “I think I'll lead the prayer tonight.” He bowed his head with the rest of the boys. “Dear God, thank you for giving us not only a house, but a home and these amazingly smart and strong boys to be around. Thank you for blessing me and all these boys every day and thank you for giving them a second home up in heaven. Thank you for the food and the company we share tonight. Amen.”
Sam began to eat before the rest of the boys could echo out an “amen” in reply. Conversations surrounded him, but not one included him. The only thing he got was stares. Dean asked about grades and sports and talked about how he was hoping to take all the boys to a movie since it had been a while since they did something fun. This house seemed like a prison. Three meals a day, chores, school or a job, and a constant schedule. How did these boys not go mad? Constantly being bossed around and controlled sounded miserable to Sam. He wasn't desperate enough to give up his freedom.
“So…” A boy with blonde hair sighed, looking up at Sam. “Rumor has it that you were a prostitute. Is that true?”
Sam froze, staring at his plate. How did the boys know that? Was he on the news? Did Dean tell them? Or did they overhear? Sam tensed up, chewing on his lip.
“Jake!” Another boy hissed. “You don't just ask people that. It's rude.”
Jake rolled his eyes. “It isn’t rude. He chose to do that. It was his job.” He looked back at Sam. “And a bad one at that. Who wants to make money by letting old men grope them?”
“Beats being babysat by some Bible thumper.” Sam replied, playing with his food. The words hurt, but Jake didn't need to know that. “I made money and took care of myself. There is no shame in that.”
“Dude, you sold your body. That's gross. Like… do you hate yourself or something-” Jake gasped. “Or did you like it?” He stared at Sam. “You liked it. You liked when the old men touched you and you hated that they didn't even stay the night.”
“They were the ones that paid me.”
“But you-” Jake pointed his fork at Sam. “Loved the company. It's sad that the only time you had anyone was when they wanted a good lay.”
Sam looked around him. No one was stopping him. Not even the boys that sat directly next to them. No one cared. Sam swallowed and clenched his jaw. He always hated how these kinds of things upset him. Sam knew he was a freak, he didn't need to be reminded. “At least I've been laid.”
“By pedophiles who thought you were some sex toy. By closeted fags who couldn't go to gay bars.” Jake shook his head. “There is no way that being some call boy has its perks. You're a glorified come dump!”
Sam grabbed his fork and stabbed Jake in the hand, standing up. “You wanna keep talking?” He asked, gripping the fork and digging it deeper into his skin. “I see your arms, your daddy used you like an ashtray. You ain't better than me, so stop acting like you are.” Sam twisted the knife. “Punching bag.”
Suddenly, Sam was ripped away and slammed against the wall. Dean stood between the table and him, blocking Sam's view of Jake and his bloody hand. Dean glared at him, like he was the problem. Everyone around him always blamed him. His fault men paid him. His fault Jake bullied him. Sam didn't bother speaking. He shook his head and walked down the hall, shoving the back door open and walking out. Running away would be easy, but Sam wasn’t thinking straight. He was being emotional and he needed to stop.
“Sam attacked him!”
“No!” A boy shouted. “Jake kept insulting him!”
“Jake-” Dean sighed. “This is the third boy you've had a problem with.”
“He needs a doctor!”
“No!” Dean snapped. “He needs to learn his damn lesson.”
The voices were loud from where Sam stood on the back porch. Thin walls. Thin doors. Sam needed to know what was going to happen. Would Dean be like the police and blame him? Sam hoped so. If Dean took his side that meant he owed Dean.
“You got a problem with prostitutes?”
Jake cried out in pain.
“You know I used to do that shit. Back when I ran away. You got a problem with me too? You think I'm dirty? You think I'm some faggot?”
“No.” He sobbed. “Please, let go! It hurts so bad!”
“Take him upstairs and clean him up. Leave his food in the hallway.” Dean's orders rolled off his tongue.
Sam shook his head to himself, walking off of the porch and onto the grass. He stuffed his hands in his pockets and took a deep breath. He should have known better than to get his hopes up. This wasn't a home. It never could be. The people here weren't like Sam.
Sam sighed. “I'm fine!” He wasn't in the mood to deal with more pity.
Jason sat down next to him, pulling his knees to his chest. “I heard about what happened and I just… I don't… you aren't what he said you were. And he is a dick.” Jason smiled. “So he doesn't matter.”
“Everyone is a dick.” Sam leaned back on the palms of his hands. “He just said what all of you were thinking. That I'm gross and have diseases and am some freak.”
“But you aren't.” Jason replied, wrapping his arms around Sam. “You were surviving. And there is no shame in that.”
Sam felt tears drip down his cheeks.
“Not one fucking bit of shame.” Jason held him tighter. “So fuck Jason and fuck anyone else who has been a dick to you because you… you are so strong.”
Sam cried, curled up against a strangers chest. “I'm pathetic.” Sam felt like he was suffocating. All the bad that he had pushed down was now coming back. The loneliness, the fear, the insecurity. It didn't drive Sam anymore. It was breaking him.
Jason combed his fingers through Sam's hair, slowly rocking them back and forth. “You aren't, Sam. Life has been hard on you but this place…” He rubbed his back. “This is your second chance. Don't let Jake ruin that.”
“He isn't the one ruining it.” Sam whispered. “I am. I don't want to be here.” Because as soon as he felt safe and settled down, it would all be ruined again. There was no point in having highs, when inevitably, the lows would always be there. Having a home was just a pipe dream. This was his life now. Running.
“Don’t.” Jason whispered, kissing the top of Sam's head. “Just give it a week. Try doing the chores and sleeping in a real bed and eating real food. I know how tough it can be, Sam.” He took a deep breath. “You don't have to torture yourself anymore, you can breathe now.” He pressed his forehead to Sam’s. “You’re safe now.”
Sam pulled away and wiped his eyes. “You don't know that.”
“I don't… but you can't spend your life building your walls up and running away. You can’t spend your life hiding.” Jason wiped some of Sam's tears away. “You’ll be miserable if you never let anyone in.”
Sam laughed softly. “I'm already miserable.
“Then let me in.” Jason replied. “I won't hurt you. You can trust me. I know it's against every fiber in your being but you gotta give me a chance.”
Sam nodded, taking a deep breath. “One week. And then I'm gone.”
“Or…” Jason slid his hand up Sam's arm. “You can stay.”
Without thinking, Sam smiled at him, leaning in and kissing him. He pulled away and stared at him. “I'm sorry.” He wasn't. “I just…”
“You let me in.” Jason whispered, pecking his lips. “That wasn't so hard.”
“I didn’t let you in.” Sam lied. “I just… thought you were very handsome.” He was digging himself into a hole. Jason was nice, but Sam didn't want him. He kissed him because that was the only thing he knew how to do. Distract people with his body.
“Yeah?” Jason was smiling wide. The way he did when they met. “Well… I think you're handsome too.” He whispered, cupping his cheek. “Very handsome.”
Sam blushed, shaking his head. “I never kissed anyone on the lips before.”
“Never?” Jason asked. “But your job-”
Sam felt his stomach drop.
“You have sex with all those men every day. You have to have had kissed one of them. I mean… some had to be hot.”
There was nothing hot about the men that touched him. It was a job. No strings attached. Sam really needed to stop getting his hopes up. “It's sex.” He whispered. “And I have standards, ya know.” He stood up and walked back towards the house. “Despite what most people think, this isn't fun or easy. It isn't a hobby.” It was survival.
“Sam.” Jason called. “I didn't mean it like that.”
“Of course not.” Sam scoffed. “No one does.”
The boys were eating dinner when Sam walked back in. Jason was nowhere to be seen and the boys talked as if nothing had happened. Sam was invisible again. He liked it.
“Not now.” Sam replied. “I'm going to bed, Dean.”
“I didn't know what was happening.” Dean reached out to touch him. “I don't let that stuff fly here. I shut it down as soon as I can. You aren't in trouble.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Really? That's a first.”
“I’m sorry.” Dean whispered. “About your life and Jake and the police. I'm sorry that you are just a child and that the world is against you.”
“I don't want your pity.”
Dean stared at him. “I just know how it feels.”
“Then you should know to leave me alone.”
Sam's room was small, but his bags were there just like Jason promised. He didn't bother unpacking. Instead he just changed his clothes and stuffed his bags beneath the bed. Sam didn't turn the light on either. He moved through the darkness with a sense of comfort. No one could see him in the darkness. No one could judge him, either.
He wished the bed wasn't as comfortable as it was, that would make it easier to be angry. There was food and a bed and a house. Sure, Jason messed up, but he was another reason to stay. So was Dean. Dean knew how it felt, but there was no helping Sam. He didn't want the help. Living alone and on the run was easiest. This house was only slowing him down.
Sam wrapped the blankets around him and stared out the window. The moon was out and so were the stars. The moon never left him, neither did the stars. No matter the city. No matter how hard his day was. The universe was always there. Sam fell asleep counting the stars every night. This night was just the same. He fell asleep, curled up in a bed that belonged to countless boys before. This wasn't a home, he told himself as he drifted to sleep, this place was not his.
Sam woke up shaking. He was covered in sweat and his ears were ringing. It took a few seconds for him to realize he was screaming and a few more after that for him to notice the other two beds had been filled. Each boy looked confused and scared, their bodies tucked beneath the blanket as if the thin cloth could protect them. Sam was crying, too, tears streaming his cheeks. He couldn't breathe and his throat was sore. Sam didn't try to think about what his nightmare was, it was pointless. He never remembered.
“Is everyone okay?” Dean was in the doorway. His sweats were a size too big, unlike his shirt which was too tight. His hair was messy and his chest was heaving as he breathed. He made his way towards Sam, kneeling down. “What happened?”
Sam struggled to swallow. “Bad dream.” He felt like a child again. “I'm okay. I just…” He looked around the room. “I’m fine.”
“Why don't we go downstairs?” Dean whispered. “You can get some water and I cam give you some new clothes to change into.” Sam was happy Dean was giving him clothes. He hardly had any more left.
Sam hardly remembered going down the steps. His body was on autopilot and the entire house was dark. Dean guided Sam to the kitchen and got him a glass of water, rubbing his back and talking to Sam. Sam didn't listen. He just sipped at his water and stared forward. It had been a long time since anyone was around for nightmares. He used to scream into the dark, empty motel room, now he screamed into the crowded bedroom of a house he didn't belong in. Motel rooms felt like home and running was second nature. He couldn't stay.
“Do you want to sleep in my room? We can change the sheets in your room tomorrow. Sweaty sheets are always gross.” Dean made a face like he was talking to a kid. He would be a good dad. “I'll sleep in the living room.”
“I don't want to sleep alone.” Sam whispered. He didn’t even think about it. He was far too tired to keep his walls up. “I… I ca-”
“Let's get you to bed.” Dean helped Sam to his feet and walked him down the hall. “I got a T.V. in my room, so if you can't fall asleep to silence I can turn it on. And I know it sounds childish but if you need a nightlight I can get you one.”
Sam could feel the aftershock of his dream drowning him. He knew what the nightmare was. Well, he had an idea. It was either his mom or her boyfriend. Sam couldn't remember the first time he touched Sam, but Sam could feel it. Each nightmare he had wasn't really a nightmare. They were memories. Memories that rendered Sam afraid and nauseous. “He… he touched me.” Sam was afraid, half asleep and half awake. His mind tried to make his mouth speak but he couldn't. The stuff he wanted to say wouldn't come out. Sam never had anyone to tell, now it was all spilling out.
“I am so sorry.” Dean whispered. “God, Sam, I am so sorry.” He walked him towards the bed, backing away from him and waiting for him to get into the bed.
Sam didn't know how Dean could do it. Be surrounded by all this depression and misery. Sam could hardly stay alive with his own demons. “I am too.”
Dean tucked Sam into bed and kissed his forehead. “If you need anything, tell me. I… I'm here and he can't hurt you anymore. I promise.” He cupped Sam's cheek and Sam found himself pressing into his touch.
Sam blinked away tears and pulled away, slowly coming to. He pushed away the sadness that was looming over him. He couldn't get too close. Not again. The last man he trusted that was like Dean touched him. Sam took a deep breath, feeling his body become hyperaware. “Thank you.”
“You should go to bed.” Sam missed his touch when he pulled away. He missed the innocent touches, the touches that weren't filled with lust. “I'm fine.”
Dean swallowed. “You can talk to me.”
“Goodnight, Dean.” Sam whispered.
“You said you didn't want to be alone.” Dean pulled a chair towards the bed and sat down next to him. “I will stay unless you really want me to leave.”
Sam didn't reply. He rolled over, his back to Dean. He put his hand on his cheek, closing his eyes and thinking about the way Dean touched him. “Don't think this changes anything. We aren’t closer and I am not staying.”
Dean did not reply.