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If You Love Me, You Don't Love Me in a Way I Understand

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      "Do you want it? Do you want anything I have?
      Will you throw me to the ground like you mean it, reach inside and wrestle it out with your bare hands?"
      -Richard Siken

 

 

"Dean, I'm going to go out tonight. Play some pool, get some money. We're running low." John pats his gun at his side, his knife at his waist and his wallet in his back pocket. He grabs the keys from the table.

"’Kay, good. We've only had bread and peanut butter for the last three days, I think Sammy’s gonna go nuts on me if I send him to school with that for lunch again.” Dean smirks, remembering Sam’s earlier outburst over his repetitive meals.

John’s smile is sympathetic. "That boy...I swear. But this money is to restock our weapons supply. Running low on bullets, among other things."

"Okay..." Dean says slowly.

"Sam is sleeping over at his friends tonight. I'll get money for weapons, you get money for food."

Dean stares at his history paper due in the morning and pushes it away. He anxiously rubs the back of his neck. "Dad I-,"

"Dean," John interrupts. "I only have so much time. Help me out here, get Sam something to fill his mouth with other than complaints."

"Yes sir. 'Course." Dean says quietly.

"Good boy." He ruffles Dean's hair; Dean ducks away with flinch. John doesn't notice.

 

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"Same as last time."

The man grunts and hands over an ancient, crinkled fifty. "Thought last time was the last time." He raises an eyebrow.

"Stuck around longer than I thought." Dean pockets the bill. He doesn't look up until the man pushes his chin up with two fat, calloused fingers.

"I like you kid. Obviously. But I don’t mean it like that, was hopin' I wouldn't see you again, for your own sorry sake."

Dean shrugs. He can't say what he's thinking. That makes two of us. That wouldn’t be much a mood setter. He tries to look down again, but the fingers don’t budge. The guy looks too much like his dad for his comfort. Not that a thing about this is comfortable, but he kind of sounds like him too; likes to be called "Sir". But then there’s the part of him that seems to give at least a bit of a fuck about Dean. And isn’t that just twisted? But it’s something. Something more than Dean gets from John. The guy in front of him smiles, a little sad or maybe pitying is a better word. But it doesn’t stop him from unbuckling his belt and pushing his pants down. Dean goes to his knees.

"Sure you wanna do this?" The guy stalls for a second.

Dean thinks he must look really miserable to elicit this kind of response from a john. He almost opens his mouth to say Hell no, I'm outta here, asshole., but then he thinks of Sammy and the barren pantry with a half eaten loaf of bread and jar of peanut butter; so he opens his mouth, says “Yes sir.” instead.

 

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It's somewhere in the neighborhood of three in the morning when he stumbles into the rundown apartment they're staying in for who knows how long. A day, a week. Not that it matters; every place is the same as the last. Used up, smelly, old. He's sore and exhausted, sticky and dirty. He doesn't want to think about what he looks like right about now and he’s relieved that John isn't home yet. There’s no one here to see. Pulling the bills from his pocket, he stares at them for a moment. Two hundred-fifty dollars. That's what he's worth. Four times over, that is. He crumples the bills in his hand and drops them in the middle of the dining table. With a sigh his eyes fall on his unfinished history paper on the table. He doesn’t have much energy left and so between the paper and a shower, shower wins.

Hissing quietly as he removes his t-shirt, he inspects the large bruise forming over his ribs. He's glad it's not his throat or his face this time. Though he wasn't so lucky as to escape with his face completely unscathed. He hisses again as he taps his finger to the tacky split on his lower lip. Despite what he was doing tonight, he does have limits and some johns don't appreciate that. He snorts bitterly at the name given to men that want boys like himself; finds himself thinking back to the first one of the night, the one that could be John if you don't look too closely. Suddenly sick to his stomach, he drops to his knees for the fourth time of the night and retches into the toilet with a groan. After painfully expelling bile and booze and come, he flushes and wipes away the tears from his cheeks, tears which are there only because he was throwing up. At least that’s what he tells himself. He slips his jeans off and pointedly ignores the mirror as he steps into the shower.

The water is hot and his skin is red and tingling. It's painful by the time he gets out, but he'd rather the burn than what he was feeling before. In his head, he starts working on a convincing story for Sam tomorrow; the kid is like a human lie detector when it comes to Dean's bullshit. Sometimes Dean wishes he was as oblivious as John, but never for very long. Sam may bitch and whine at Dean and sure, ninety percent of the time Sam has to share a room with John, he spends it huffing, mumbling under his breath and glaring in John's general direction, but he genuinely cares about Dean, too much, if you ask Dean. And since the last thing Dean wants is to be a distraction or a problem for Sam, he takes care to perfect the web of lies he'll spin tomorrow.

He dresses quickly, old sweatpants and a t-shirt. One that actually fits this time. He looks guiltily at Sammy's shirt that he wore earlier. It makes him feel even dirtier, doing what he does in his brother's clothes, but tight clothing speeds the night along. And anyway, the shirt was his a couple of years ago, when he was still a kid. Like Sammy still is. Just how Dean intends to keep him.

The front door swings opens and slams shut. John’s home. Hastily he stuffs his dirty clothes in the laundry and makes his way to the living room. He pauses in the doorway, trying to gauge what kind of state his dad is in this time around.

"Dean." John says roughly. He pats his pockets and pulls out his own wad of bills. "Did good t'night." He says.

His voice is almost his own, which tells Dean that he isn't really drunk, or is at least coming off of it. He forces himself to loosen the bunched up muscles in his shoulders.

"What about you? Got what you needed?" John asks.

Dean chews on his lip and clenches his jaw. That's always what John says. "Got what you needed?" As if it's Dean’s responsibility to provide for them. As if what he does is something he actually wants. He nods toward the table where he left the money.

John picks it up. Raises his brow. Just like the other john. Dean looks away. "Didn't spend a lot of time out, then?" He asks as he folds the bills into his own. Dean knows there's a good chance most of what he made is going towards bullets or gas, no matter what John implied earlier. Next time he’s going to stop at the grocery store before he comes back. He'll make sure it’s spent on what it’s supposed to be spent on.

"No point in going earlier or in stayin' later. No one's around. And I still have homework." He adds despondently.

"Well, better get to it. I left the car at the bar so you gotta get up early, walk to school." John collapses onto the couch and toes off his boots.

Dean takes a deep breath and stamps down the anger he feels building in his chest.

"Get me some water and tylenol, will you?"

Dean hands it over a moment later, wincing a little as he sits on the other end of the couch, as far from his father as possible.

John gulps the water down and closes his eyes. After a moment, just when Dean thinks he’s fallen asleep, he says, "Put some salve on that lip before it crusts up. Anywhere else that might need it, too."

Dean stares across the room at nothing. Wondering when his father turned into this man he's sitting next to.

"Dean, you hear me, boy?"

He turns and looks at John. Nods. Says "Yes." but leaves off the “sir”.