Despite being there for a week, Sam still couldn't believe he was in a bed. Each morning Sam would wake up and feel panicked. It had been years since he had a good bed and not a cheap motel bed that probably had a million disgusting stains. Despite the panic, Sam sort of liked it there. Three warm meals a day and snacks. Guys that weren't all assholes, including his roommates Jordan and Alex. Sam was building a life for himself slowly. He was even thankful that he had chores. The boring normalcy of it all was amazing. Sam was falling in love with his new life.
Still, part of Sam believed it would not last. He was seventeen and eighteen he would be kicked out. Soon he would have to go to school or get a job when he couldn't do both. Years had passed since Sam stepped foot in a school and even when he went daily he still couldn't keep up. Reading and writing was hard for him. He was far behind the other kids. He wasn't going to tell Dean that, though. He was already a prostitute, he didn't need another reason for anyone in the house to look down upon him.
For the most part things had calmed down. Jake had been kept away from Sam and Jason had apologized and they made up. Sam felt bad for being so upset, but he always had his guard up. In his line of work there was no trusting or seeing the good in people. Sam learned to protect himself because no one else would. Sam even made friends with his roommates. They were both really sweet and Sam was sure that he was partly in love with them. Only partly.
Feelings were too much. Sam had loved once or twice and it had yet to end good. Jason and him still made out behind the barn and would grind if it got heated enough, but nothing more than that. Sam made sure to make that clear. Jason still was falling for him. Sam liked to say that it was his fault. That Sam warned him. Sam still felt guilt creep over him when Jason looked at him with soft eyes and swollen lips. Lust did not exist with Jason. Only love. Wholehearted, scraped knee and blushing cheeks love. The kind of love every relationship in high school feels like. The far too fast kind.
Dean was another story. Sam had been nicer, but he still wasn't sweet. The idea of giving up and handing over all the power to Dean made Sam feel uneasy. Dean seemed perfect. Caring. Gentle. Supportive. He was everyone's dream guy. Most would chase after him, but Sam knew that Dean was most likely too good to be true. Still, Sam let himself have little moments of pleasure. Pressing his arm to Dean's or looking at Dean when he's busy. Any second Sam got to bask in Dean's company was a second Sam used. It may not last, but he could at least enjoy it.
The rays of sunlight lit up the small room, specks of dust drifting throughout the air. Warmth was wrapped around Sam, layer after layer of blankets covering him. This was the best part of the morning. Waking up and pressing deeper against the mattress, burying oneself further into the warmth. The two boys were still asleep, snoring softly. Sam rolled onto his stomach and pressed his face to his pillow, sighing. The bed was enough to convince Sam to stay. That and the real meals. Sam was thankful none of his chores included cooking, only cleaning. Dean gave him the easy stuff.
Jordan rolling around in his bed startled Sam from his thoughts. The tip top of his black curls peeked out from beneath his blanket while the rest of him was tucked beneath the sheets. Jordan was about the same height as Sam and he was put in the home because he beat up a few boys in his foster home. Jordan enjoyed baking and any chance he got forced Sam and Alex to try his foods. Jordan was a junior in high school and planned on going to school to be a lawyer. Sam admired him and teased him about being good at arguing. The boy never backed down.
Jordan was the first roommate he talked to. Jordan came up to him his second day and asked if he was okay. When Sam didn't want to talk, he didn’t pry. By the end of the day Sam and him were friends. It felt childish, making friends, but it was nice having a few people he could trust. Jake still kept him on edge, but Jordan reminded Sam that he didn't need to always watch his back. People will protect him.
Alex was harder to get to know, only because he wasn't much for talking. He spoke to Dean and Jordan, along with a few more boys, but that was it. He would say small things, like greetings and goodbyes, but other than that he kept to himself. Within two days Sam found out why. When Alex was a child his family was murdered in front of him while he hid. He was only six. By seven he was in foster care and by twelve he was sent to the boys home. Alex was dubbed a problem child. He had several psychosocial issues which caused him to need therapy and extra help in school. No one was willing to pay for it. Well, Dean was.
By Sam's fourth day, Alex and him were able to have real conversations. Not the polite, bare minimum conversations they had been having. Alex was sweet and soft spoken, his blonde curls covering most of his face. Sam figured he used his hair to hide. He did the same. Alex was quirky, but Sam found it adorable. He was gentle. Alex was everything Sam wanted to be. He was the soft kind of victim everyone talked about. Sam was the angry kind. The one everyone ignores.
Alex was easily a foot shorter than Sam and barely sixteen. Sam and Jordan felt protective of him. Almost everyone did once he opened up. Some people deserve the terrible things they go through, while others are so innocent and so pure it's a tragedy that they ever knew pain. Alex was one that didn't deserve it.
“Jordan…” Alex whispered, peeking out from beneath his covers. “We need to get up and do our morning chores. We have breakfast duty.”
Jordan grunted in reply. Sam smiled. Jordan was always hard to wake up in the morning while Alex was like Sam. Always awake before nine. Sleeping was hard for Sam. Being relaxed was a foreign feeling for him. Jordan pulled the sheets over him, his curls disappearing as he hid from Alex.
“Dean will get mad.” Alex whispered. That was exaggerated. Dean was a modern day saint and hardly ever got angry. He got disappointed which was more upsetting than ever being angry. “We need to go and start helping the other boys prep and set the tables.”
“I'm suddenly sick.” Jordan mumbled beneath his mound of covers. He faked a cough and rolled around once more. “Go down if you're so worried about what your husband thinks.”
Alex blushed dark pink. He was painfully in love with Dean then again most of the boys were. Dean was their savior, their home, and their second chance. He was kind and funny and understanding. Sam could hardly believe he man was even real. “He is not my husband!”
“I'll go down, okay?” Sam sat up, wincing as the cool air ghosted across his skin. “Jordan can stay up here and get stuck on dish duty if he wants.” Sam swung his legs over the edge of the bed, standing up and walking over to his bags.
“God…” Jordan threw the covers off of himself. “You two are useless. All you wanna do is please Dean.”
“He gave us a home.” Alex mumbled, slipping out of the bed. He slipped his shirt off and pulled on a sweater, slipping jeans on next. “I just want to give back the same support he gives us.”
“You wanna get in his pants!” Jordan teased. “Ah! Hey! Did you just throw your shoe at me?!”
“Guys-” Sam laughed. Having a family was nice. If this could count as a family. They supported him. Cared for him. Listened to him. “Calm down, alright?”
“You said you wouldn't tell.” Alex mumbled, a small pout on his lips. Sam didn't point out that everyone knew he had a thing for Dean. Even Dean knew. No one really teased him for it. Alex was Alex. Sweet. Innocent. And oh so broken. No one messed with him. If they did, they were an asshole. Even worse than that. Alex tugged on his boots, walking around his bed. “It's not like that.”
Jordan looked at him, his face soft. “I know, buddy. You love him a lot.” He picked up the shoe that slammed into his rib cage and set it on Alex’s bed. “You guys can head down. I'll be down in a little while, okay? I'm gonna take a shower.”
“It isn't our time to. It's later.” There were certain times for each room to take showers. Sure, people could ignore it, but the schedule worked for the most part. Jordan was just stubborn, like Sam. He loved being at the home, but the idea of bending to every rule made him roll his eyes.
“Since when do I care?” Jordan flashed a loving smile at Alex. “Go down and do your chores. My shower will be quick.” Jordan was a lot like Alex's big brother. It was sweet to watch them interact. Each night Jordan would kiss the top of Alex’s head before bed. “I'll be in and out.”
Sam nodded, walking around the beds. “We’ll see you at breakfast.” Jordan understood him the most. Giving over full submission and obeying all the rules made them weak. They needed to still do things their way. Jordan lost his parents when he was younger, too. He knew what it was like to only rely on himself. Sam closed the door behind them, stuffing his hands in his pockets. Jordan didn't deserve what the world had given him either. Most of the boys there didn’t.
A soft tug at the end of his shirt pulled Sam's attention away from his thoughts. Next to him stood Alex, wide eyed and nervous. He was always nervous. That boy broke Sam's heart on a daily basis. “Yeah?” Sam asked, putting his hand on his upper back.
“Don't tell Dean I like him, please. I don't want him knowing.” It was too late for that. “He would think it's dumb. I know I don't have a chance, but I don't want everyone to find out and make fun of me.” He took a deep breath. “I don't want Dean looking at me different.”
Sam nodded. “I won't tell. I promise.” He grinned. The crush was sweet. Soft and innocent. Seeing the way Alex followed him around and thrived to make him happy was cute to watch. The love was total and hopeless.
Dean had grown on Sam a lot. He was still distant and slightly snappy at Dean, but Dean was nothing but sweet to him. Sam needed to keep his distance so he didn't get attached. Time at the home was amazing, but that could end any second. Sam rather cut it short by choice than have it ripped away. In a perfect world Sam could stay. Go to school and graduate. Marry a sweet boy. Keep in touch with the boys. Have his own life. A new life. But the world Sam lived in was far from perfect. He was not going to get his hopes up only to have them be crushed.
“Thank you.” Alex pushed up on his toes and kissed his cheek, smiling. “He just… is all I really have. Boys can come and go in here, but Dean never leaves us. He's my constant.” Alex leaned against Sam. The touch felt good. God, Sam had missed the simple touches. The innocent ones. Those touches made his heart race.
“I get it.” Sam wished this place could be his constant. “I just… don't get what you see in him.” Sam did. Partly. He had pretty eyes and supermodel looks. His voice could make any girls panties drop and any boys legs shake. But he wasn't just hot. He was beautiful. Inside and out. Dean was the kind of boy everyone dreamed of. Even Sam. He just didn't want to admit that Dean was… amazing to put it simply.
“C'mon…” Alex smiled. His cheeks grew even more pink. “Have you not seen him?”
Sam laughed and nodded. “I have.” He walked down the steps, Alex following close behind and nearly stepping on Sam's heels.
“He is beautiful.” Alex rambled. “So beautiful. Those eyes. And his freckles! Have you seen his freckles?”
“I have.” Sam repeated. He could feel Alex staring at him. “Okay, he is kinda hot. And beautiful, if you wanna use that word.” Sam did. Dean was beautiful. An unreal kind of beauty. A beauty that cannot be captured. That's why Sam needed to leave. To get away before he got hurt. “And those hands-”
“Stop.” Alex laughed. “He is hot but that's just gross.” He slapped Sam's arm playfully, still leaning against him. “And he is so nice.”
Alex was right. Dean was selfless. He worked his ass off to give the boys opportunities. Pay for tutors and get them through school. Learn their favorite meals and buy them one gift a week. To him, this wasn't a job. This was a family. His family. And he was going to take care of each and every one of them.
“Yeah…” Sam wished his kindness was fake. But it wasn't. Dean put his heart into this home. “He is great, huh?” Sam had been trying to ignore the thoughts he had. The ones about kissing Dean and holding him. The ones where the world was okay and Sam could have a chance with him. Sam knew it wouldn’t happen and he wasn’t sure if he really did want it to happen. Part of him wanted to leave. Then again, a week ago all of him wanted to leave. Things were changing.
Alex nodded. He was so in love. “He is. You can like him, too. I won't be jealous.” His innocence was somewhat startling. After the hell he had been through, he was still a child. Sam rather him be innocent, though. He didn't want Alex to ever feel the pain he felt.
“Good morning.” Dean smiled. He was so beautiful.“So far, you two are the only ones who have got up to cook. Guess I'm helping.” Dean rubbed Alex’s head before smiling at Sam. “Alex, get out the pancake mix and the eggs. I'm gonna get out the pans.”
“What do you need me to do?” Sam asked, checking Dean out once he turned around.He leaned back against the counter, studying him.He was only in a thin, black shirt and gray sweatpants. Sam bit his lip. Alex was right. He was a hell of a man. “I could sit here and look pretty.” He hopped up on the counter and swung his legs back and forth. “It’s a talent I have.”
Dean smirked. “I am sure it is.” Dean stood up, clutching some pans. He looked over at Sam. “I would love that.” He winked. “But I need you to set the table and look pretty. Think you can do that?” He shot Sam a look. “Or is it too hard?”
Sam felt his cheeks turn pink. He shot Dean a glare and flipped him off. They were able to joke about things now. “Bite me.”
Dean took a deep breath and whispered to himself, “Only if you ask.”
Sam knew he wasn't supposed to hear it, but the red on his cheeks told both Alex and Dean that he did. In his mind Sam repeated that it was a joke over and over. Still, he was hung up on th words.
Next, he went back and got plates and glasses. The words Dean said to him turned through his mind. He was only teasing, but boys never flirted with him like that. It was never a compliment. They were always sexual and demanding. It had been years since Sam had someone be nice to him with no strings attached. Dean was sweet, though. Sam couldn’t get hung up on him. There was no chance they could ever be together. Plus, Dean was only being polite. The compliments meant nothing and were most likely just a joke. Especially, the last thing Dean said. He set the table while Alex and Dean stayed in the kitchen, Dean making terrible jokes and Alex laughing like Dean was the funniest man alive.
Sam walked back into the kitchen, pushing up between them. On the pans were eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes. Dean was the only one cooking while Alex just leaned against the counter and looked at him. “Smells good.” Sam mumbled, looking over Dean’s shoulder. Part of him felt left out. It was childish.
“Thanks.” Dean muttered. “I’m not the best but the boys are real nice to me about it. Real patient.”
Sam was sure anyone could be patient around Dean. “Well, you’re pretty so we can’t expect much else from you.” He nudged Dean, smirking.
A corner of Dean’s mouth curled upward. “Mean.”
“I think your cooking is amazing.” Alex whispered, his arms curling around Dean’s arms. “Sam’s just jealous.”
Sam smirked to himself. “Sure.”
“I could always teach you. Outside of chores and jobs and school. I am here to teach you boys how to live. Give you the second chance you deserve.” Dean smiled down at Sam.
Sam couldn’t breathe. “Yeah. I would love to.” Memories of cooking with his mom seemed too far away. Before she was bad, they used to cook together every day. Then she became an addict. Not only to drugs, but to the toxic men who got a hold of her and Sam. It wasn’t her fault that she needed the drugs to be happy. It's not her fault that toxic men flocked around her. Not once did Sam blame her. He only blamed himself. He was never enough to make her happy. Sam took a deep breath at the thought, the happy breathlessness being replaced with a suffocating weight.
Dean gave Alex a look. “Go start waking the boys up. And remind them that it’s Sunday so when I go shopping I can bring a present back.” He turned back to the food, continuing to flip the pancakes and monitor the eggs. “Those boys are lucky that they get to sleep in late on Sundays.” Once Alex was gone Dean turned his attention to Sam. “Speaking of school, we need to get you enrolled.”
The one sentence rebuilt Sam’s walls in seconds. Sam stared at him. He hadn’t been to school since he was twelve and even then he was struggling. He needed tutors, but his mom refused the help or couldn’t pay. Sam continued to go up grades while he still struggled with reading and math. There was no way he could go to school now. His growth was too stunted. Catching up would be impossible. “No.”
Dean seemed surprised at Sam’s quick and blunt reply. “Sam, the rules here is that you either work or go to school. The police say any record of you going to school stopped at age twelve. Seventh grade. Now, it’s illegal for you to not be in school up to sophomore year. Then, you can drop out. I will have to look into all the information about getting a GED, but without a high school education or a GED, no places will hire you.”
Why was everything about school? Sam felt stupid. School made him feel stupid. “No.” He replied, his voice not wavering. Neither was his stance on the matter. “I am not going back to school.” His insecurities turned into a burning anger inside him. Now Dean thought he was stupid. Dean, the kindest man alive, now looked down upon him. Sam was sure of it. And that only made him angrier. “And you aren't fucking changing my mind.”
“No!” Sam snapped. “How many times do I have to say it?” He couldn't do it. “I'm not going to fucking school again.” Sam looked at Dean for a few seconds before rushing out of the kitchen.
Dean took a deep breath. “Sam, can we just talk about this? I want you to succeed but that can't happen if you won’t talk to me.” He sighed when Sam didn't reply. “I'll bring up some breakfast for you for whenever you want to eat.”
Sam ignored it, storming into his room. Jordan and Alex were walking out of it, but he only shoved past them and slammed the door behind him. He rubbed his face, sitting down on the edge of his bed. Sam didn't know he was crying until warm tears fell onto his hand. He took a deep breath and pulled his legs to his chest.
There was no way he could go back to school. He was so far behind, still struggling with reading and math at seventeen. It had been five years since Sam even attended a school, adapting now would be impossible. He was too far behind. Going back to the streets and making money that way was a lot better than going to school. On the streets Sam could make money and focus on himself. Now he was surrounded by people and getting everything handed to him. Going back to the streets sounded amazing. It was hard and painful and tiring, but it was also his normal. He knew how to live like that. Sam didn't know how to live like this.
Sam's normal was being on the streets and barely scraping by. He knew how to live and carry on. There was no one he had to depend on. When things got dirty he would just steal. But here? Everything was planned. School. Chores. Learning. Studying. Even free time was planned. Other people had control over his life and Sam hated it. He couldn't give up his freedom like that. Sam's life had been toyed with too many times. There was no way he would hand over his freedom. That was all he had left.
Sam hated himself for getting attached. Jordan. Jason. Alex. Even Dean. Within a week he had become comfortable. Laughing with Alex and Jordan. Kissing Jason whenever he needed to be reminded on why he stayed. And Dean. Handsome. Funny. Sweet. Patient. He and Sam grew closer, joking with each other and talking any chance they could. He didn't want to leave these boys. It had been years since he had friends. A family. It was rushed, but a part of Sam was so eager to have a family.
Having two best friends felt amazing. Alex and Jordan were both so sweet and they knew how it felt. The running. The fear. The loneliness. Sam felt so much comfort when they were around. Jordan was so much like him. He still kept a few walls up and didn't give up all of his freedom. And Alex? Alex was like him too. He wanted nothing more than to be protected and loved so he clung to it any chance he got. Sam was like that. He just shoved it down. Feelings had never done anything good for him.
Dean made things complicated. Staying angry at him felt impossible. He was selfless and loving. Dean checked on each and every boy and knew them like the back of his hand. Despite how difficult Sam was, Dean still continued to try with him. Dean cared about everyone under that roof. It sucked.
Sam was falling for him. It was easy, honestly. His forest green eyes were always so soft and his lips moved beautifully as he talked. Dean was hard working, too. Dean had complimented Sam a handful of times and Sam found himself repeating each one over and over, worried that he would forget. Dean made him feel special. He hugged him and winked at him. Just being close to Dean made his heart race. It wasn't fair. Dean was becoming the world to Sam. And Sam was just another boy.
Breakfast went by fast. Sam listened to the mumbling beneath the floorboards while he was curled up in his bed. After breakfast, everyone split up to do chores. Sam was supposed to, but he didn't. Getting up felt like too much work and he was far too sad to want to be around anyone. Sam only moved when he heard the floorboards outside his door groan and shift.
Then a soft knock.
Dean peeked into the room, smiling. “Hey.” Dean whispered. “I brought you some breakfast.”
Sam turned away from him. “Don't want it.”
“Well… I’m going to leave it in here in case you are later.” Dean walked across his room and set the plate down. “I also want to talk to you about something else.”
“If it's about school-” Sam closed his eyes. “Fuck off.” Why won't Dean give up on him?
“No.” Dean chuckled. “You have a way with words, kid.” Was it even possible for him to be angry? “You only have a few shirts and pants. I want to take you out and buy you some new clothes. Whatever you want.” He sat down next to Sam. “Every boy gets a little spree.”
Sam rolled over and looked up at Dean. He wanted to kiss him. Dean was annoyingly cute. He pushed up on his elbows. “Anything?”
Dean smiled. “Anything. Even if I think it's ugly.” He ran a hand down Sam's arm. “It'll just be you and me. And two hundred dollars.”
Sam cracked a smile. “I'm in.”
Dean didn't move to get up. He didn't move his hand either. It was burning into Sam's skin. In the best way possible. He squeezed Sam's arm. “Meet you at the car.”
Dean drove an old car. It was black and sleek. Kind of like him. Whenever Dean wasn’t helping the boys out he was outside and working on this car. He called it “Baby” and got very mad if someone referred to it as a car or an “it.” Dean said it was rude and that you don't disrespect a lady like that.
It smelled of leather and whiskey. Dean wasn't a drunk, though. Not like Sam's mother and her boyfriends. Dean only drank a little bit and never became incoherent. He said he was the adult. He needed to act like one. Sam admired Dean. The way he carried himself but also carried everyone else. Dean gave the boys a second chance the world didn't want them to have.
“Old cars look cooler.” Sam mumbled, looking out the window as they drove. “The new ones all look the same.”
Dean nodded. Everyone said it was a mistake to talk cars with Dean. Sam disagreed. Dean looked beautiful when he rambled about cars. He looked happy. “She isn't old. But vintage cars have personality.”
“My mom used to say vintage was the nice way of saying old.” Sam smirked at Dean. “So… I guess you're vintage.”
Dean gasped, pretending to be offended. “Are you saying I’m old?”
Sam smiled at him. “Yeah, I am.”
“Jerk.” Sam looked at the backseat. “You ever fuck anyone in here?”
Dean swerved, startled by the question. “I shouldn't be talking to you about that.”
“Cut the bullshit.” Sam muttered. “You and I both know I'm not a kid. I ain't been a kid since I was four or five.” He looked at Dean. “So stop acting like I'm innocent.” The world ripped Sam's innocence away long ago.
“Yes.” Dean mumbled. “I have. Several times. Believe it or not, Baby makes me look a lot hotter.”
Sam snorted. “You're kidding. As soon as you call the car “Baby” you stop being hot.”
“Well, the several hook ups I've had in the backseat disagree.”
“Who was the lucky lady?”
“He was very sweet.” Dean smirked when Sam stared. “All of them were sweet. I haven’t had a girlfriend since my sophomore year.”
Sam nodded. “So… you're gay?”
“Me too.” Sam mumbled. “But you already knew that.”
“I'm sorry.” Dean had stopped listening to what Sam was saying. “I'm sorry you didn't get to be a kid.”
“It’s fine. There's no use in crying over it.” Sam looked out the window once more. “Just wish people would stop acting like me being seventeen means I'm a child. I’m not. I've been through more than most adults have.”
Dean nodded. “I know, Sam.” He offered Sam a small smile. “I hope the world acts more kind to you.”
Sam looked at Dean and he smiled. “Thanks… but I think the world already is.”
Dean took Sam to a mall and Sam felt out of place. Spending money was never something he was allowed to do. He found himself only eyeing the cheapest of items despite how uncomfortable or ugly they were. Sam's brain was hardwired on survival. Not on happiness.
“Get anything you want. I want you to buy at least four new pairs of pants and four new shirts and more boxers. Then you can spend the rest however you want.” Dean walked behind Sam, his hand pressed against the small of his back.
Sam looked around, eyes wide. “I… I want to. But I don't…” Sam felt ashamed. His throat closed up. “I don't know my size. I just… stole clothes and found ones at Good Will that would fit.”
“Oh,” Dean mumbled. Without missing a beat, he began to speak again. “I can help you find your size. So can the workers. Just point out what you like and I can figure it out.” He kissed the top of his head. “I got you.”
Sam ignored the butterflies in his stomach and the warmth on his cheeks. He walked towards a display that had black jeans, some were torn up but others were normal. “I… like these, I guess.” Sam didn’t really know what he liked.
“Okay, so, now we need to pick out a size.” Dean picked up a pair and held it in front of Sam before shaking his head. “You got long legs-”
“Sorry?” Sam smiled some. “Just give me some to try on.” He grabbed a random pair and walked past Dean, making his way into the dressing room. He slipped his pants off and tugged the jeans on. He looked at himself in the mirror. “Dean!”
“Too big.” Sam called. “Can you get me a different pair? A size down, please.”
“Yeah, okay. I'm gonna grab a few more pairs just for you to try on. If you don't like them we don't have to get them.”
Minutes later a soft knock tapped against Sam's dressing room door. He opened the door to find Dean with an armful of clothes. He stepped inside, closing the door behind him.
“I got sweats, shorts, blue jeans, black jeans, some with holes and some without. Some jeans look the same but are different styles.” Dean set them down before turning around. “I'll be outside-”
Sam grabbed his wrist. “Stay.” Sam whispered.
And Dean did. He sat down and he watched Sam as he stripped. Sam loved it. Having Dean's eyes on him felt good. They weren't hungry, though. They were soft. He didn't feel insecure. Sam knew how to put on a show. How to keep men interested.
“What do you think of these?” Sam asked after he pulled on a new pair.
Dean studied him. “Good.” He whispered. He reached out to touch Sam, but stopped. “I need to go.”
“You don't.” Sam muttered. “You can stay…”
“You are a kid.”
“I am far from it.” Sam felt ashamed again, but this time was worse. He felt like an idiot. “Stop acting like I am a kid.”
Dean looked anywhere but Sam. “You are underage.”
“I won't tell.” Sam whispered. “Thoughts aren't illegal… I want i-”
Dean jerked the door open and walked out. “You're seventeen.”
Shopping was painful the rest of the day. No one talked. Sam walked away with eight pairs of pants and five shirts, along with four hoodies and a new pair of shoes. That was his treat. Dean picked out all the treats the boys asked for, too, which only made the day and the painful silence even worse. They packed up the car and climbed inside, Dean starting to drive as soon as they were buckled.
Sam felt sick in his stomach. Humiliated. Men never said no to him. But Dean wasn't like the freaks that touched him. Dean was good. Sam wasn't used to it.
“So…” Dean looked over at Sam. “School.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “Come on.”
“What is the big deal?” Dean asked. “It upsets you. I want to know why.”
“I'm an idiot.”
Dean scoffed. “No. You aren't. Why is going back to school such a bad thing?”
Sam looked down at his hands. “Fuck off.”
“I want to know, Sam. I need to know. I can't help you if I don't know.” Dean looked at him. “Please, just be honest and tell me what is going on.” He took a deep breath. “I want to make this bette-”
“I haven't been to school since I was twelve.” Sam mumbled. “But you know that.” Dean was silent. So Sam kept talking. “I was bad at reading and math by first grade, but my mom never let me get help. I still have a hard time reading.” He sighed. “I only know how to speak good because of T.V.”
“I was bullied a lot. And teachers thought I was kidding or fooling around when I got bad grades on tests and assignments.” Sam laughed dryly. “They stopped helping me after a while. I was a lost cause.”
“Sam. I'm sorry.”
“I got called an idiot a lot. And they always threatened to hold me back. Like that would make me learn.” Sam shook his head. Tears dripped down his cheeks and landed on his too big jeans. “They gave up on me… so I did too.”
Sam wiped his eyes. He hadn't noticed Dean pulled over and stopped the car until then. “What?”
“I won't give up on you.” Dean whispered. “Ever.”
Sam shook his head. “I've heard that from a lot of people.” He played with his hands. “And they gave up. Fast.”
“I won’t. I know you are strong and brave.”
“I’m a lot of work.”
“You aren't.” Dean replied. “You have been hurt and you have been through hell. The way you act is self defense.”
Sam looked up at Dean. “Why won't you give up on me?”
“Because I know you will be amazing.” Dean put his hand over Sam's. “Besides… I know you don't want me to give up. Not for real.”
Sam felt like a child. He was still crying.
“We can figure out school.” Dean whispered. “If you want to stay, I can figure something out.” He took a deep breath. For a moment, the car was still. “Do you want to stay?”
Sam nodded stiffly.
“Good.” Dean was grinning. “I was hoping you would. I like you a lot, Sam.”
Sam smiled. “I… I like you, too.” Before Dean could reply, Sam kissed him. He cupped his cheek as if one wrong move would make Dean break. He kissed him softly. And Dean kissed back. Things were perfect. Then reality hit.
Dean pulled away. Eyes wide. “Sam. I… I can't. I won't. You are underage and I just can't. You're one of my boys. You don't really want me.”
“I do.” Sam mumbled. He was crying again. The rejection hurt. “I do, Dean. You don't know how I feel.”
“I’m sorry. Maybe when you are older-”
“This has nothing to do with you, Sam. You are amazing. And I want to. But I refuse-” Dean shook his head.
“I don't care!” Sam shouted. “Just fucking drive. I want to go home.” It sucked that Sam’s home involved Dean.
The drive was almost completely silent, Dean's rock music playing so low neither of them could hear it. Neither of them talked or moved, really. The air trapped between them was tense. Sam cried silently. He was angry and hurt and frustrated. All he wanted to do was go home and curl up in bed. He felt anxious and panicked. Sam really messed up today. Dean probably hated him. Saw him as some whore. Sam cried harder.
When Dean pulled into the driveway, Sam climbed out and rushed into the house. He shoved past boys and let out a sigh of relief when no one was in his room. He closed the door and tucked himself beneath the sheets, his face buried in the pillows. Sam cried softly, replaying every moment of that day through his mind.
Sam felt insecure. Like he was ugly and annoying. Dean must have been sick of him. Sam made an idiot of himself. Dean would never want him that way. He lied when he said he did. If Dean wanted Sam he wouldn’t keep rejecting him. He looked pathetic, chasing Dean the way he did today. It was obvious. Sam always made fun of the people that chased after others. Now he was one of them. And it hurt.
Sam wasn't sure when he fell asleep, but when he woke up his head was throbbing. The sun tucked itself beneath the trees and the boys were downstairs talking. They must be making dinner. Sam rubbed his face and climbed out of bed, stumbling towards the door. He ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath. He needed to say sorry to Dean. Sorry for yelling. For kissing him. For chasing after him like a child. He was still hurt, but it wasn’t Dean's fault.
Sam made his way down the stairs. He rounded the corner and stuffed his hands in his pockets. Dean was in Sonny’s room which meant Sonny must be visiting. Sam just had to get him alone and say sorry. Then maybe things would be okay again. Hopefully.
Sam's stomach tied itself in knots as he crept closer. Talking about feelings was never something he was good at. Then again, Dean probably noticed. Dean was talking to Sonny, his voice slightly muffled by the door he was behind.
“So… how is the new kid?” Sonny asked.
“Confusing.” Dean mumbled. “Sam is definitely one of the more difficult boys I have had-”
Sam's heart broke. Tears welled up in his eyes. Had he been that bad? His legs felt weak beneath him. It was foolish of him to be upset, but Dean was one of the good things Sam had gotten in his life. He didn’t want things to end bad. Though, they did.
Sam turned away from the door and rushed out, ignoring the door opening and Dean calling his name. Sam ran towards the lake, his legs burning from how fast he moved. He was nothing but a project to Dean. The kindness was fake. Sam sat down at the edge of the lake, pulling his knees to his chest. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hands and watched the small waves in the water.
Sam closed his eyes, burying his face in his knees. “Go away!”
“Sam.” Dean was behind him. “You… I know what you heard-”
“It wasn't like that.” Dean sat down next to him. “You aren't difficult. I was just telling him how it's hard to figure you out. I promise-”
Sam shook his head. “I'm just a chore.”
“You aren’t.” Dean wrapped his arms around Sam and pulled Sam into his side. “You aren't a burden either. You're just having a hard time.” He kissed the top of Sam's head. “It's okay.”
Sam buried his face in Dean’s shoulder. “Stop.”
Dean frowned. “Stop what?”
“Being nice to me.” Sam whispered. “It's making everything complicated.” He pulled away and wiped his eyes. “I wanted to leave. I should have left.” He looked down at his lap. “I don't deserve it.”
“You do, Sam.” Dean held him close. “Trust me. You deserve love and kindness and support.” He rested his chin on Sam's head. “I want to give you all of that, too.”
“You're making me fall in love with you.” Sam whispered. “It sucks.”
“I know… I'm sorry.” Dean ran his fingers through Sam's hair.. He cupped his cheek and wiped Sam's tears away. “Is there anything I can do to make it better?”
Sam smiled up at him. His heart ached. “Stop being obnoxiously amazing.”
“Oh, yeah?” Dean chuckled.
Sam curled up against his side and nodded. “Yeah.” He looked back at the house, frowning. “You're missing dinner.”
“So are you.”
“Yeah, but…” Sam turned and looked at him. “They'll actually miss you. Not me.”
“I would miss you.” Dean mumbled.
Sam's cheeks flushed pink. “You need to stop.” Sam was smiling now.
Dean cupped Sam's cheek and held him close, looking at Sam's eyes then his lips. “What if I don't want to?”
“I'm seventeen.” Sam knew if he made a move Dean would use that excuse on him again. Sam wasn't a child and he knew how to consent. Dean wasn't forcing him. “You can't keep breaking my heart, Dean.”
Dean smiled at him. This shit was so complicated but his smile made it all worth it. “I won't break it. I promise.”
For once, a small part of Sam had faith. He believed that maybe, just maybe, someone would keep their promise to him.
Sam smiled back and nodded. “You better not.” Sam wasn't sure if his heart could take much more.