The hand that combed through Tommy’s hair was impossibly gentle. He didn’t pull or snag, only ran rough leathery fingers through the mess of blond. The fingers scratched gently at his scalp and Tommy leaned into the touch, he pushed his head up just a little like a cat. It's so… soft. It's so soft and soothing, comforting the headache that threatens to crack his skull open. His brain pounds relentlessly against his head, but the hand in his hair made it feel better.
The grass was itchy, it rubs against his arms and legs weird. It tickled the side of his face that was resting on the ground. But it wasn't like he could get up if he wanted. This was the worst punishment he’d had in a while, his rib cage aches and his forearms hurt too much to even think about pushing himself up. But maybe he could just take a nap. A nap sounds nice. Between how fucking tired he feels, the gentle hand in his hair, the way his body aches, and the post-crying exhaustion Tommy thinks he could fall asleep in seconds. He almost does.
The hand stops combing and starts to pull away.
Tommy really didn’t mean for the noise to leave his throat but it does. A little high pitched whimper at the loss of warmth and touch. Wrong move. Suddenly the hand in his hair wasn’t petting him gently, it was gripping. His fingers were tugging harshly at the tuffs of blond hair. He pulled a little, Tommy took in a sharp breath, it made his ribs burn.
“Don’t be like that Tommy.” Dream said, he sounds annoyed. Tommy really didn’t want to annoy him, he didn’t dare speak, worried he’d just fuck up again. Dream scoffed and tugged at his hair again. “Not only do I go easy on you but I spend time out of my day to sit and comfort you. Even after you fucked up, I sit and comfort you. But noooo you have to cry about it the second I stop.” Fuck. Fuck, fuck fuckfuckfuck. He’s angry. Just apologize. “‘m s’rry I didn’ mean too.” His voice sounded pathetic, even to his own ears. His head and body throb softly, it hurts too much to speak properly.
“You should be grateful I stayed at all. That I bother coming here in the first place.”
Dream humed disapprovingly and tugged on his hair again.
“I r’lly am. I-I p-promise ‘m grateful. ‘m s-s’rry ‘m s’rry,” his throat hurt. It fucking burned and every word painfully stratched it’s way out. It hurt to speak.
“I appreciate the apology Tommy. It’s a nice thing to say, especially after you talked back earlier. That wasn’t very nice.” Tears burned in the back of his eyes, he kept them in by sheer will alone. His chest and throat tightened up. He knew. He knew it wasn't nice, he’d just been so sick of the same old bullshit. Waking up drowning not knowing if he’ll make it back to shore, fighting for the bare minimum only for it to be taken away, he was fucking sick of it. So he snapped. He snapped at his only friend and he paid the price. Gods he was such an idiot. Snapping at the one person- the only person who gives a shit about him.
Stupid. Selfish. Childish. Worthless. Useless. Selfish. Selfish. Selfishselfishselfish.
He should’ve thanked Dream, for being so nice and staying. But he didn't. Of course he didn't. Selfish.
Dream sighed heavily and Tommy flinched on instinct. Dream pulled his hand away and Tommy thanks every god he can think of that he let go. (Part of him just wants to be held, even if it hurts a little. He doesn't know what made him so repulsive. A hug. A hug would be nice. Tubbo gave good hugs.)
“I’m your friend Tommy. I want to help you be a better person.” Tommy nodded desperately, it made his headache worse but he paid no mind to it. He deserved the pain. “I’m gracious to you because I care about you. But when someone is nice to you, when they give and give to you, you don't ask for more. You’re grateful for what you get. Understand?”
“Words Tommy,” Dream growled.
Tommy woke up slowly.
He felt before he opened his eyes. He’s laying somewhere soft, much softer than the grass from his dream (though technically it was a memory.) Something heavy and warm covered his body. It’s quiet, dark, and warm, if it wasn’t for the hellish memory, Tommy thinks he’d would’ve been very peaceful, he would’ve fallen back asleep.
But of course, he didn’t. He opened his eyes instead. He’s in a bed, thick blankets covered him up to his chin. He slowly looked around the dark room, he stared for a second at the stone walls.
He shot upright, his brain felt like it was stuffed full of cotton. Regardless of the mindless fuzz he still felt the panic, he wasn’t in his little dirt shack. Where the hell was he? He tried to remember the night before. A bark, the sound of fire, a loud laugh, hot food, a gentle goodnight. Sams. He’s at Sam’s house. Sam invited him over… again.
He’d been spending most of his time over at Sams, in fact he barely went home anymore. Maybe once or twice a week to check up on the carrot farm. Sam had a guest room and even though it had almost everything Tommy owned, he wouldn't say he had ‘officially’ moved in.
Did he look up to Sam and love to spend every second of the day with him? Yes. If Sam asked him to move in would he even hesitate? No. But he didn't live there.
And he never would.
He was going to leave.
It was probably the fuzziness in his brain or the darkness of the room, but as Tommy clumsily got out of bed he nearly fell flat on his face. He swayed a little side to side as he went out the door and across Sams base.
He knew Dream abused and manipulated him. He knows that. He isn’t stupid. Even if it was hard to remember sometimes, he had Sam, Puffy, Tubbo, and Ranboo to remind him. He knows Dream is a right bastard but sometimes… sometimes Tommy remembered things he did and it just… made sense. The things he used to do and say made sense. He felt the phantom touch of Dreams fingers in his hair and he remembered the words. Sam gave him so much. Sam gave him a place to stay, food, someone to hangout with, tools, armour. To spend the night and expect breakfast in the morning made Tommy nauseous. He was being selfish. That much knew . He should be thankful and stop demanding so much of the creeper hybrid.
His sleep deprived brain knew one thing as he stumbled through the base trying to leave: Sam had already given you enough. Leave before you take more.
His escape was cut off when the lights turned on.
Sam’s base was huge. The complicated redstone door opened up into a stone fortress lit by blue torches holding enchanted armor and masterly crafted tools. Down the hallway near the back wall was a wooden door. Behind that door was Sam’s home. There was a big living room with plush couches, a soft rug, and a roaring fireplace that never seemed to be out. Off the back of the living room was a kitchen, marble counters, a kitchen island, and a big wooden table. The whole place was light with warm torches, it always smelt of redstone and pine needles. It smelt like Sam did. Even further into the home was bedrooms.
Tommy got caught right next to the door that led out of the living room. Sam’s workshop was something he had completely forgotten about, on the side of the wall there was a large room where Sam spent most of his time. He’d tinker with little bits of metal, draw up blueprints, experiment with redstone, and whatever his genius mind came up with.
Caught dead in his tracks Tommy very slowly turns to where the creeper hybrid stood in the workshop door way. His gas mask was gone and his goggles were pushed up to his green hair. His eyes were red (soft and comforting unlike Techno’s whose red eyes gave Tommy chills), he had little green scales that looked like freckles, and he was insanely tall. He towered over Tommy easily, it should've made him scared but he always felt protected instead.
Sam looked worried, Tommy duly noted.
The cloudiness in Tommy’s head cleared instantly, he had to focus. He had to get out of here without upsetting Sam further.
“What are you doing up?” Sam asked, leaning into the doorway. He didn't sound angry, only worried. Tommy, ever the master at distraction and subject changing, instantly deflected. “What are you doing up Sammy boy?” Sam studied him for a moment before shrugging. “Sam Nook got caught in the rain, I was just looking him over to make sure the water didn’t mess with his machinery.”
Tommy's heart hurt a little at the mention of Sam Nook. Another thing to add to the very long list of things Sam has done for him, he built Tommy a robot. A whole ass robot. Just for him and his stupid hotel. Technically Sam had too, because of the contract, but Tommy better. Sam did it because he wanted to. Sam was nice like that. It was that exact niceness Tommy was desperate to stop using (he didn't deserve it anyways).
“It’s nearly 3am,” Sam says, rubbing his eyes and Tommy realizes he looks very tired. A cozy kind of tired, he’s wearing a (dark) green hoodie and sweatpants. Tommy tried to brush it off as casual as possible. “Well Sammuel you know me. Got shit to do, women to see, nothing stops TommyInnit from the grind,” Tommy thinks that if Sam hadn’t caught him trying to sneak out in the middle of the night the excuse might have been more effective.
His hands were shaking, whether it was from his nerves now or the memory earlier didn't matter, he quickly tucked his hands into his pockets praying Sam didn't notice. Sam noticed, his eyes flicked down and up quickly but Tommy knew he noticed. Sam was the Warden, it was his job to be observant.
Sam hums softly. “You’re not wearing shoes,” he notes. Tommy looks down at his feet and shrugs, “Don’t need ‘em.” Sam tilts his head and stares for a while, he sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose. Tommy holds back a flinch, the memories of Dream are still too fresh in his mind. “Tommy,” Sam starts quietly, “where are you going?”
“I-” Tommy stopped himself. He didn’t know why he stopped himself, it'd be easy to lie and say he just had to go. Sam wouldn't push it, even if he saw through the lie Sam would never push it if Tommy didn’t want to talk about it.
But it’s so hard to lie to Sam. Sam is kind and patient and is letting him stay at his home. It’s that exact kindness that Tommy has to stop abusing, he’s using Sam for his own selfish gain. A voice in his head that sounds like Puffy tells him it’s okay to want things. To want to live with Sam. He pushes it in a very, very dark far corner of his brain. He has to go. Be grateful for what he’s been giving and stop asking for more.
“If you want to leave you can, just message me when you get home, okay?” Sam's voice was gentle and soft. Tommy secretly hated Sam’s ability to tell that something's wrong, it made this whole thing harder.
“I don’t-” I don’t want to leave. He almost let the words slip. He wants to sleep in and be woken up by Fran licking his face. He wants Sam to make him breakfast and laugh when Tommy downs a dozen pancakes. He wants to collect materials with Sam for the hotel. He wants to go to Snowchester and hangout with Tubbo and Ranboo. He wants to fall asleep on Sams’ couch to the quiet noise of the fireplace.
But he doesn’t deserve that.
“I have to go, Sam.”
Sam looks confused and almost sad for a moment before his face settles on a warm understanding. “Want me to walk you home? Just so you get there safe?” Tommy hated him. He hated how Sam threw around kindness like it was nothing. Like selfish Tommy wasn’t asking him to leave the comfort of his home at who knows that hour in the night. “You don’t have to,” Tommy was a moment away from snapping. Couldn’t Sam just leave him alone? He liked Sam. He liked him a lot but Tommy was done using him. He was done using other people's kindness.
“I don’t have to. I want to.”
Sam was fucking weird. “Really, I can do it. I don’t want to make you walk me home. ‘M not a bitch, I can take care of myself.”
Sam nods. “Yes you can, but like I said, you aren’t making me,” he pauses for a minute before his face softened, “I’m sorry kiddo. I don’t mean to push it, I'm just tired. Get home safe, okay?”
Tommy doesn’t know why tears burn in the back of his eyes. He doesn’t know why Sam makes him feel like this. Sam makes him angry, confused, sad, but… Sam makes him feel loved. Sam makes him feel like maybe he’s worth enough to be walked home in the dead of night. Tommy knew Sam never pushes him to talk. Why did that make him so fucking emotional? Why does it matter that Sam cares enough to make sure he gets home safe?
“O-okay,” Tommy turned toward the door and took two steps towards it. His legs stopped. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t fucking move no matter how loud he yelled at himself.
Maybe instead of just leaving he could thank Sam. That way he could show how grateful he was and he wouldn't have to be alone-
“...But when someone is nice to you, when they give and give to you, you don't ask for more. You’re grateful for what you get. Understand?”
He can feel Dream’s fingers running through his hair. He hates it. He hates that he can feel his hands. It’s been months. Why can he still feel it? (Why does he still crave Dream’s praise?)
“Tommy?” Sam's voice is the softest Tommy thinks he’s ever heard. “You okay?”
Tommy sniffs, his face is wet… huh, he’s crying. He quickly rubbed his eyes in an attempt to hide the tears. “Y-yeah, I’m fine,” Tommy doesn’t know why he bothers lying. Sam slowly walked so he could stand in front of Tommy. Tommy looked everywhere but Sam's face, he didn’t want Sam to see him like this. “Do you want to talk about it? Or do you need to get home?” His voice was still gentle, it was understanding and patient in a way only he could be.
Tommy shakes his head, he doesn’t know why he’s getting so emotional over nothing. It’s fine. He just needs to leave.
“Okay,” Sam whispers, “Let's sit down, hmm? You leave once you’ve calmed a little,” he keeps his voice quiet, like trying to tame a scared animal. Tommy’s frustration only grows and he shakes his head again. “I’m f-fine, Sam. I-I just want- just want to leave.” Gods he’s crying harder, why is he such a cry baby? Why is it so hard to brush Sam off and just leave?
He let out a sob.
Sam’s eyebrows furrow deeply, his body posture is relaxed and his eyes shine with concern. He reaches a hand out, “Can I touch you?” Sam asks quietly.
Tommy wants to say yes. He could really use a Sam hug right now. Sam’s hugs are warm but they never burn him. His hugs make him feel untouchable, like if someone tried to hurt him, Sam’s arms would protect him. Tommy thinks if Sam hugged him he would melt into his chest, he wants a Sam hug so bad.
But Tommy can still feel Dream’s hand in his hair. The thought of anyone… anyone touching him makes him feel nauseous, touch might burn him. It makes his skin feel hot and itchy, like sparks running down his veins. Just the idea of it. He shakes his head.
“Okay, I won’t,”
Tommy let out another sob, his shoulders started to shake and his vision blurred. He needs to stop crying. He tries to wipe at his eyes but it doesn't help, the tears are hot as they run down his face. He hiccups trying to breathe, trying to make it stop. Dream didn’t like it when he cried. He always asked why Tommy was being so pathetic.
No. This was Sam. Sam always said it was okay to cry, that it was healthy and normal. Sam wouldn’t yell at him over this. (Tommy hoped Sam won’t yell at him over this.)
“Nookling? Can you take some deep breaths for me?”
Tommy lets out another sob at the name. He wraps his hands around his arms trying to hold himself, the only touch he thinks won’t hurt him. He digs his fingernails into his skin, it’s grounding.
He tries to breathe but it's cut off by another cry. It’s starting to get hard to get oxygen. It’s starting to get really hard to get oxygen. His vision blurs again and he starts gasping for breath. He can’t breathe. His face feels hot. His chest and lungs start to ache. He wonders how pathetic he looks, unable to breathe, crying his eyes out.
Sam is speaking to him, but Tommy can’t make out the words, it’s like the words are coming from above water. Tommy is drowning. There’s a distant ringing in his ears, the world is too fuzzy and too bright for Tommy to see properly. He feels like someone punched him in the gut, no matter how hard he tries to breathe there isn’t any air to be given. He’s still underwater. Hyperventilating makes his lungs feel like they’ve been stabbed. There’s so much noise and light, Tommy thinks dying would be less painful than this. It hurts. Everything. His eyes and head from the tears, his arms and fingers from the grip, his ears from the noise, his chest from the stress of just trying to get a wisp of air.
It’s horribly blurry.
His vision fills with black spots.
Maybe he’ll fall asleep.
There’s something heavy on his lap. It scares him, so he touches it. It’s soft. It’s very, very soft. He puts both hands on it and runs his fingers through it.
There’s something wet on his chin.
He pushes it away.
Fran was a service dog. When Tommy and Puffy had dragged a bleeding delirious Sam back from the Egg, Puffy insisted that Fran could take care of him. Tommy didn’t understand at the time. She explained that Sam had trained Fran to be able to feed him, herself, contact people for help, start a bath, open doors, hunt mobs, and provide comfort. She was one hell of a dog. She was also the soft heavy thing on Tommys lap.
She stuck her face right back on his neck when he pushed her away.
He pushes her again.
He isn’t sure why he does.
She licks him.
He puts both his arms on her back.
He’s still crying. His voice still burns like hell. His breathing is ragged and uneven. On the bright side: he isn’t actively hyperventilating and on the verge of passing out.
He’s on the couch, he isn’t sure how he got there in the first place, but he sinks back into it. It’s more comfortable to cry here, especially with Fran on him.
“Are you back with me kiddo?” Sam’s voice softly asked somewhere to the side of him. He looks slowly to his right, Sam is sitting there, keeping his distance on the other side of the couch. His vision is blurry but he can see and hear so he takes it as a win.
“I-I think- I think so.”
Sam smiles gently and lets out a quiet breath. Tommy sniffs and hiccups still trying to control his crying. Any thoughts of leaving as soon as possible leave his mind, Sam isn’t the kind to push him to talk but he wouldn’t let Tommy just leave after his little ‘episode’. Tommy is glad for Fran, she’s soft and warm and her breathing is much more stable than Tommys. He can feel her chest rise and fall on his legs, it’s grounding. It also hurts a lot less than digging his fingernails into his arms.
“Do you know where you are?”
“Y-yeah. I’m- I’m at Sam’s,”
“Perfect, do you know who I am?”
If it was physically possible, Sam’s face softens even more, his smile is gentle and his eyes crinkle every so slightly. “Hey nookling.” Tommy sniffs, “H-hey Sam,”
They sit in quiet listening to the fire for a few minutes. Tommy is still trying to regain his breath, petting Fran’s soft fur, and relaxing more and more into the couch. Sam’s worried eyes flicker over to him a few times but for the most part he seems content watching the fire crack and pop. Tommy takes one deep breath, it feels like the first one he’s ever taken, like he’d been pulled out of the water.
“Is this the part where you interrogate me?” it was meant to be a joke, because Tommy may be annoying and selfish but he was funny as hell. Sam does not laugh. Yikes. Rough crowd.
“I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. We can talk, but only if you want to.”
Tommy very much does not want to talk but he feels like he owes it to Sam. For having a panic attack at nearly 3:30 in the morning.
“I-I had a bad dr- nightmare. Well it was a memory…” his throat suddenly feels closed off and tight, like speaking was a chore. He keeps his eyes firmly on Fran, he doesn’t want to see the pitying look Sam is giving him.
“Okay… what was it about?”
Tommy’s chest closed along with throat. Gods, he didn’t want to tell Sam how badly he fucked up. He didn’t want to tell Sam how rude he has been, how selfish he currently was. What if Sam agreed and kicked him out? Isn’t that what he wanted? Why was this so fucking confusing?
“If you feel like you’re about to panic, point out things in the room that can calm you down. If it’s getting really bad, point out things about your surroundings or about the person that separates them from what you’re scared of,” Puffy had said.
Tommy throws a quick glance at Sam. Sam was significantly taller than Dream, he had green hair, green scales on his arms and face, no mask, and currently no shoes. He looks down at Fran, she’s peaceful and her breathing is steady. Tommy takes a deep breath. He can do this. He owes it to Sam.
“It was about e-exile. It- I-“
“Deep breath, it’s okay,”
“I really pissed him off,” Tommy whispers. The words scare him a bit. The idea of pissing Dream off scares him. Pathetic. He’s scared of his own words. He feels his stomach start to twist painfully, like someone tied a knot. He feels tears burn in his eyes. He hasn’t even gotten to the important part of the story.
“When I woke up I wanted to leave,” he rushes. It’s not a good explanation, he knows that but he can’t talk through the pit in his stomach or the tightness in his throat. “That’s understandable, is there anything else you want to say?” Sam asked like it was a reasonable explanation and not Tommy being too much of a coward to actually say anything.
He thinks. He lets himself actually think about everything. He thinks about how much Sam has done for him, how much the man had given him without asking for anything in return. He thinks about how Dream always chastised him for being ungrateful. He thinks of all the times he thanked Dream for everything he did. It makes him a little sick. If anyone deserved to be thanked it was Sam not that green bastard.
“Thank you,” the words took a weight off his chest he didn’t know was there. “For what nookling?” Sam sounds confused but soft as ever. Tommy feels his face burn a little at the nickname. “For- For everything really. I just- I don’t deserve it. I’ve never thanked you before and I feel like a right dickhead for it. You give me so much and I just- I just constantly ask for more...” there’s more to it. There is so much more to it, but he hopes Sam gets the message. Tommy has yet to look up at him, keeping his eyes firmly on Fran’s snow white pelt.
“Tommy,” Sam breathes and he sounds… sad? Tommy looked up at him. His quiet red eyes are shining with concern and his eyebrows are pushed together like he’s desperately trying to understand a different language.
Tommy feels guilt eating him alive and tries to make up for it, “It’s okay big man. I just- I just wanted to leave. I keep using you. I keep using your kindness for my own gain. I never give you anything in return. Hell I even-” he laughs and it sounds desperate, “I even expected you to make breakfast for me in the morning. What kind of friend does that?” He’s crying again. He feels the tears on his face but he’s too tired to wipe them away.
He just wants to go to sleep. Even if his little dirt hut is cold and doesn’t keep out bugs or water well, he really, really just wants to go to sleep. That was one thing he could always count on. No matter who he was with, where he was, what war he was fighting, sleep always dulled the pain.
“Is that what this is about? Dream?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said friend. Is that something he used to say to you? That you were only allowed a certain amount of kindness and if you tried to exceed your limit you were undeserving of it?”
Tommy’s throat finally completely closes. Under different circumstances he would have laughed, loud and wheezing. He would have laughed because Sam sounds so much like Puffy right now. That's such a Puffy thing for him to say. Infact, he thinks he’s heard Puffy say that sentence word for word. He can’t manage to even smile though.
“You sound like Puffy,” he whispers because if he talks any louder he thinks he’ll have another panic attack.
Sam smiles and lets out an air laugh. “I do, don’t I?” All Tommy can do is nod.
“That’s what the memory was,” he doesn’t know if he’s talking or if he’s just imagining the words. He sees Sam slightly lean towards him, he probably said it out loud then. “I really pissed him off,” he repeats, “I-I can’t remember what I said, something rude probably. He beat the shit out of me for it, bruised a rib or some other fucked thing. Normally after bad ‘lessons’ like that he would leave. He would say things like he couldn’t bother staying if I was going to act ‘selfish’ or ‘childish’ or ‘ungrateful’ or what ever fucking adjative he could pull out of his ass.” Tommy’s hands are shaking again, he notices this and goes back to petting Fran with a much higher intensity. He’s worried his hands will fall off or go numb, so it was a better option to pet the dog.
“But this time… I don’t know what it was, if I had done something right but he… he stayed.” Tommy lets out a weak wet laugh. “He stayed. He never stayed.” He let out a sob, his lip started quivering. “I was so h-happy that he-he stayed with me.” His head hurts and his eyes sting. Fuck he was so alone. It didn’t matter that Dream was mean or that he hit him sometimes. It didn’t matter because Dream was there. That was more than he could say for a single person he knew. Dream picked flowers with him, chopped down trees for him, laughed, talked, joked, they used to look at the clouds and stars.
Sometimes Tommy thinks the abuse was worth it.
It was a bad thought. He told Puffy that same thing before. Her eyes got watery when he said it. She told him that that was something hard for her to understand. She was honest with him, she said that she personally would rather be alone than be abused and manipulated. Tommy had laughed.
“You’re right, you don’t understand.”
“And I don’t think I ever will. But I want you to know that it’s okay. I may not personally get it, but you were alone, company was company. It shouldn't have been like that, but it was. You had to choose between dying alone or living in pain. You chose what you chose to survive. I am so sorry Tommy. But it’s okay to feel something, even if no one gets it, it’s okay. Some feelings are so personal they can only be experienced by one person.”
Good gods he was getting side tracked.
“He-he sat by me while I cried,” Tommy hiccups, he was crying a lot tonight. “He j-just sat and pet my hair. It was so-so fucking nice,” gods he’s full on sobbing now. “He was so n-nice and just kept- just kept sitting by me. I-I was so happy Sam. I was so happy he didn’t-he didn’t leave. He was being so-so gentle with me and-” he pauses to sob for a second and catches his breath. “He was petting my hair for fucking- for fucking h-hours.”
“He went to-to pull away and I- I think I w-whined or something b-because he suddenly started-started- '' It hurt. It still did, after months, the hand in his hair hurt. “He started pulling at it- p-pulling my hair. H-He got mad again. He said I was being-being ungrateful. He spent his time comforting me and I still- I still had the n-nerve to complain when-when he stopped. He said-said I should t-thank him f-for bothering to s-stay in the first place. I-I shouldn't be asking for more Sam. N-Not after everything you-you’ve given me. I need to stop being so needy and d-demanding so much of you. I’m sorry- please Sam i’m so s-sorry- please- i’m sorry- i’m-“
He can’t speak, he’s sobbing too hard, his hands and shoulders shake. There is so much more he wants to say. So much. He wants to beg on his knees for Sam’s forgiveness. For Sam to still look at him and care about him. But he knows that can’t happen. Sam has seen how selfish he is. How needy he is. How much comfort and care he needs. Sam will be nice about it but Tommy already knows where this is going. He doesn’t get more. He shouldn’t expect more.
There is still in the living room for a moment. The fire cackles, Tommy sobs, Fran breathes, it seems at first glance almost okay. Then Sam speaks.
Tommy lets out a hum that sounds more like a cry in response.
“Kiddo, there is a lot I want to say, but I don’t want to overwhelm you,”
“It’s-It’s okay Sam.”
Just get it over with.
“Tommy…” Sam sounds heartbroken.
Tommy finds it somewhere deep within him to look up at Sam through blurry sad blue eyes. “You wanted to leave because you felt like you were abusing my hospitality- using me?” Tommy nods. Sam looks very sad, like someone died. He’s frowning and his eyebrows create upset creases on his face. “Nookling, you aren’t making me be nice to you. I don’t care for you only when you've been ‘good’. Does that make sense?” He doesn't wait for an answer. “Even if you were selfish, which you aren’t, I would still take care of you. You don’t need to ‘deserve’ a place to stay or food to eat. My love doesn’t have a cap Tommy, it’s not a ‘you receive this much if you’re nice’ it’s- it’s unconditional. You have never once asked me to do something I wasn’t willing to do already.”
“Even if you didn’t ask. I am going to take care of you. You aren’t being ungrateful or childish. It’s been a really, really long time since someone has taken care of you. Taken good care of you. I want to do that. Even if you ask and ask for more and more. I’ll find a way to give it to you because regardless of what you think, regardless of what you’ve been taught, you deserve love.”
Sam looks at him for a long, long time before letting out a wet chuckle. “You aren’t ‘using me’ for your own gain. I know that. You care about me and that’s more than enough. It’s okay to want things. To want to be comforted when you hurt. You never ask for more than I can give and you never complain. You’re a good kid Tommy. The best one I’ve met.”
Tommy, with shaking hands, moves Fran off of him.
He looks up at Sam, he’s crying, he probably looks like a kid, with snot on his face. He reaches his arms out towards Sam.
Tommy doesn’t catch the way Sam freezes and relaxes almost instantly.
“Yes my nookling?”
“Can I have a hug?”
Sam’s face melts instantly.
Sam pulls Tommy in and it’s perfect. It’s the perfect Sam hug, like the one he had wanted earlier. Tommy notices the way Sam doesn’t stoke his hair like he normally does and Tommy doesn't think he could be more thankful for it. Tommy wraps his arm across Sam’s torso and puts his face in his shoulder. Sam holds him when he starts crying harder and harder. He rubs Tommy’s back and his arm. Tommy burrows his face into Sam’s neck and collarbone, Sam smells like redstone and pine, it calms him because it smells like home. Sam whispers softly about how much he cares, about how it’s okay, about how Tommy deserves the world, about how he’ll sit here as long as he needs to.
Eventually Tommy’s eyes start to feel heavy, his head pounds relentlessly against his head. It’s enough to make him nearly pass out. The fire is warm, Sam’s arms are protecting him, he can hear Sam’s voice, he can snuggle into his chest and feel safe. He is safe. He’s safe because Sam said that he’s okay with giving Tommy whatever he needs. He’s safe because when he asks for comfort he isn’t yelled at or hurt, he’s hugged.
But there’s a lot of what Sam said that Tommy still doesn’t believe.
Sam carries him to bed once he’s stopped crying, obviously thinking he had fallen asleep. Sam tucks him in and kisses his head (not his hair, his forehead). Before he can leave Tommy grabs his wrist. It terrifies him, to ask for more, but when Sam turns and looks at him Tommy doesn’t feel afraid.
“Need me to stay?”
Sam crawls into bed with him, Tommy instantly latches to him, Sam pulls the covers over them and slowly starts to rub his back.
“Eggs in the morning?”
There’s a lot of what Sam said that Tommy still doesn’t believe. But Sam promising to stay the night in his room? Eggs in the morning?
He believes that.