A/N: Okay, and now we're up to date. Next chapter will be out by the end of tomorrow.

Warning: This chapter contains sexual assault.

What he saw nearly stopped his heart.


Sam absently pushed his largely uneaten cereal around the bowl, left hand supporting his face as he stared sullenly into the milk. He had no choice; there was no way out of this. And the way Brendan had told him he didn't want to have to go looking for him… He had heard the underlying threat, and he didn't particularly want Brendan to come looking for him either.

At least that was one thing they had both silently agreed on.

But what did he want? Brendan wasn't feeling bad about what had happened last time, Sam was sure of it. So what was he really after? He never loved him, he never cared about him, and Sam couldn't think of any reason at all that Brendan would want to see him again.

Unless it was simply that Brendan realized that one of his possessions was not going to come running back to him. He supposed that it must have been a fair shock to the man's flawless ego.

He was still feeling the multitude of emotions that Brendan's mistreatment of him that night in the apartment had forced on him. The pain, fear, and still, the realization that the love he felt for Brendan had always been a one-sided feeling, and had blinded him of everything Brendan had done to him, still hurt.

It hurt more than he wanted to admit. He had hoped that he would just be able to put it all behind him and move on, but with Brendan barging back in on him like this, he did not think he would be able to do it.

The spoon slipped from his numb fingers and clattered into the bowl, jerking him from his contemplation. Sam shook his head slowly, fighting back the tears that, since yesterday, had been lying in wait behind his eyes, and collected his bowl, walking into the kitchen and putting it beside the sink. He heard Jake walk past behind him but didn't turn, instead clutching the edge of the bench and hunching his shoulders, shutting his eyes for the moment and trying to get a hold of himself.

Jake leant back against the bench and folded his arms, looking over to Sam. "What time will you be back tonight, after this…? What did you say it was?" The way Jake spoke set him immediately on edge and he glanced over to see that Jake wasn't really looking at him, just waiting.

"It's the manager's birthday dinner." Sam said, hesitating. "I don't know what time it finishes. I'm going straight there after work." He said and pulled his jumper tighter around himself. Jake nodded, and leant back against the bench, watching Sam closely.

"You alright? You still look sick. Maybe you shouldn't go. I don't think they'll mind."

Sam felt the sudden weight of dread pull at him, and fought it off, smiling wearily at Jake. He had already made up his mind to not tell him what was going on, and he wasn't about to back out of it, but it was one of the hardest things he had ever done. He didn't need to know, it wasn't as if Brendan was going to hurt him in public.

"I'm alright, just a bit tired." He said, shaking his head and keeping the lying smile firmly on his face as he turned away. "Nothing to worry about." Jake just nodded, but Sam knew that he hadn't bought it, and so quickly changed the subject.

"What are you doing tonight then?" Sam asked, glancing over and smiling. "Going to go out?"

"Maybe," Jake said, not shifting his careful gaze from Sam, who quickly looked away again. "I might go out, if you'll be out." Sam heard him say, and he smiled slightly over to his friend, slipping past him and out of the kitchen.

"You sure you're okay?" Jake asked softly, reaching out to catch Sam's arm as he walked past. He started, eyes uncertainly flicking up to Jake's face as he stopped still, not trying to move free of Jake's gentle hold on his wrist.

"Really, I'm fine." He said and smiled. Jake nodded but didn't let go of Sam's arm. After a moment, his hand lifted and tucked a strand of Sam's hair that had drifted over his eyes behind his ear, thumb stroking Sam's skin. Colour touched Sam's face and their eyes met, and Jake looked suddenly unsure.

Then he was leaning in, eyes closed and fingers tracing along the blonde's jaw line. Sam took a sharp breath, eyes widening, and Jake paused. For a moment, neither of them moved.

Jake slowly released a breath and then opened his eyes and stepped away. "I've got to get to work." Jake said, not looking back. Sam nodded from where he still stood, heart pounding in his chest and confusion bright in his eyes. "Call me if you need to. I'll make sure to keep my phone on me." Jake added, turning around and giving Sam a quick smile before he walked out.

The door clicked shut and Sam lifted an unsteady hand to his cheek, watching the place that Jake had stood only moments ago.

He didn't know what to think, didn't know what had been happening then. All he could think of was the feeling of Jake's hand on his face, the warmth of their proximity. He shook his head and walked away, trying to dismiss it as he looked for his work clothes and the change of clothes he was going to bring for tonight.

It was only a short walk to get to work, but if he didn't leave soon he would be late, and as miserable as he felt, he didn't want to leave Kate to do the open by herself.

"Hey Kate!" He called, walking into the café with a cheery smile.

"Morning Sam." She said brightly. "You're looking a little better." Sam nodded and lifted a hand to neaten his hair. "I am feeling better. Sorry about yesterday. Strange day."

"No, nothing to apologize for." She said quickly, waving her hands. "Quick, I've got to show you the new menu me and Sarah have been working on!" She said, taking him by the elbow and pulling him along to the bench. Sam gave a laugh at her enthusiasm, and she smiled as she passed him the menu.

"It looks wonderful."

Sam really tried to seem engaged, but couldn't stop his mind from wandering. There were only a few customers in the café, as the lunch rush had not yet begun. He could hear Kate chatting away with one of the casual workers in the kitchen, and he was cleaning the already spotless coffee machine, not having anything else to do for the moment.

All he could do was watch as the clock slowly ticked on, silently begging for a disaster, a workplace accident, a fire, anything at all that could interrupt the dinner with Brendan.

Jake was driving far too quickly, one hand on the wheel and the other covering his mouth. What was he thinking? Sam was going through too much already without him going and acting like that. He hadn't even thought about it when it happened; every coherent thought he had completely fled his mind.

In that moment all he had been able to focus on was the feel of Sam's skin, of his scent that filled his nostrils.

Sam is a man. A man! Far out, what am I doing?

Jake ran a hand over his face and then placed both hands back on wheel, tapping his fingers in agitation and sighing heavily. He didn't know what to think anymore, but he'd be damned if he acted like that again. It wasn't going to happen. Sam needed a break, not more confusion, and until he had managed to figure out just what was going through his head, he would just have to keep his distance.

By the end of the day, Sam felt unquestionably ill. He had changed into the clothes he had brought, and was studying himself in the poorly lit staff room mirror, shutting out the sound of Kate's singing from the kitchen where she was cleaning up.

He didn't know what he was meant to wear, and had ended up with a pair of black pants, a long-sleeved light blue shirt and a coat, the shirt was creased from spending the day in a bag, but it would have to do.

He didn't have any other shoes, so he had ended up keeping his work shoes on. Brendan liked formal places, and this new restaurant was no exception, so it wouldn't hurt in any case. He was pale though, and his eyes were shadowed, and even in the solace of his reflection he could see how frightened he looked, and so summoned up a smile. It was a weak effort, but it worked.

If he just played along with Brendan's games, just for tonight, then everything would be fine. He could calmly explain he didn't want to see him again, and then they could say goodbye and he would just go home with no problems. It was a public place too, so it would be fine if he could just keep in control of the situation.

Even so, he did not feel any better about it as he walked down the street. At least Jake wasn't aware of what was happening. He didn't need to cause him any more trouble than he already had, and by removing him from this entire thing, that was completely taken care of.

"Off to dinner?" Sam nodded, smiling despite his slowly building dismay. He pulled the bag of his work clothes over his shoulder and opened the door. "I'll see you tomorrow." He said, waving a hand at Kate as he walked out. The glass door swung shut behind him, and he had to force himself to start down the street.

Sam found the restaurant that he knew Brendan wanted to go to and pushed open the door, feeling the wave of warm air and hearing the serene background music as he stepped inside. It really was a beautiful place.

The tables were spaciously set around the large room, split over two levels, there was a timber dance-floor in the centre of the room and the sound of quiet conversations and the occasional chink of cutlery nearly lulled his frayed nerves. Soft reds, whites and the brown of the timber contrasted wonderfully, and he realized with an unpleasant sensation that he was purposefully avoiding the issue at hand.

Then he spotted Brendan and felt the all too familiar spike of fear as the man smiled over to him, and still, even with everything he had been through, and everything that Brendan had done to him, alongside the fear, hate and anguish was something else. He set his jaw when he realized that his fascination with the man was still present, was still filtering through everything else, even though he wanted it gone with his entire being.

As always, Brendan was the stunning picture of success. He was well dressed, and his hair was loose, cascading silkily around his shoulders. As Sam watched, he straightened out the cuff of a sleeve and looked up to the reception, watching Sam with his usual cold smile.

He pointed out Brendan's table to the woman at the desk and then walked over. Each step was forced, and he felt horribly unstable. He pulled back his chair and sat down, making the effort to smile over at the ever-calculating man as he tucked his hair behind his ears. Self-conscious and well aware of Brendan's judging gaze, Sam found himself barely able to look up to his tormentor.

Somehow, he managed, and then could not look away.

"You look nice." Brendan said, smiling approvingly, pushing one of the two glasses of red wine in Sam's direction. "I'm glad that you remembered." Sam nodded in response, and took a slow breath. The once calming atmosphere felt crushing, and all he could do was wonder why had he let this go on for so long in the first place. Why hadn't he seen it before?

"Why did you want to see me, really?" He asked after a moment, watching as Brendan took a sip of his drink and smiled over the rim of the wine glass. "I've told you already; I wanted to make everything up to you."

Nothing like a nice dinner to apologize for abusing someone.

Sam nodded regardless and took another look around. "It's a nice place." He said, looking at the bottle of wine in the cooler in the middle of the table. It was his favourite type of wine; one of the few types he actually enjoyed on the rare occasions that he did drink, and Brendan knew it. Sam finally accepted the glass and took a small drink, unable to enjoy the flavour through the tension of fear.

"I've ordered us the banquet." Brendan said pleasantly, folding his arms on the table, dark hair slipping out from behind his ears and spilling forwards. Like an ornate poisonous spider sitting in its web, stunning and alluring, but deadly in its territory, and in this restaurant, the spider was right at home. Sam had to wonder what the spider analogy made him.

"How was work?" Sam asked, not really wanting to speak, but hating the silence more than anything.

"Business as usual." Brendan said, folding his arms on the table and leaning forwards, ruthless eyes locking onto Sam's. "Only, I had seeing you to look forwards to." He said with a small smirk. "I really did miss our chats."

Sam responded with a small 'oh,' and then fell silent again, looking down to the table. He really didn't know what to do, say, anything. He was spared, however, of having to strike up a conversation when Brendan began to talk once more. The conversation was meaningless, never touching the topics that Brendan didn't want to go near. It was always like this.

Every time Brendan hit him, the next day he would be kind and attentive, but it would never come up in conversation, always overlooked and put aside. He wasn't going to let himself fall back into it. He had made up his mind and that was final. He was not going to go back to a man that he did not love.

Once dinner seemed finally to be over, Sam's food hardly touched, Brendan reached over the table and touched Sam's hand, something akin to sincerity in his eyes, only, Sam knew that it wasn't real. "What do I have to do to make it up to you?" He asked, and Sam tried to pull his arm away, but Brendan gripped Sam's arm, pulling him closer over the small table.

"I want you back, Sam." He said lowly, eyes flicking from their hands to Sam's wide, frightened eyes. "I would do anything."

Sam shook his head, eyes blurring with unwanted tears. He opened his mouth to speak but Brendan interrupted him, tightening his grip. "Listen to me." Brendan said his voice suddenly sharp and threatening as he dismissed his charade. "You and I will go back to my place, and we will-"

"No, I'm not going to-"

"We will discuss things like adults." Brendan said lowly, driving his nails into Sam's arm but keeping his voice calm.

"There's nothing to talk about." Sam whispered shakily, trying and failing to free his arm. Brendan did nothing but watch, but eventually let go of Sam's arm, sitting back in his chair. "There is a lot to talk about, and I would highly appreciate it if you would come back with me, just for a few minutes even, so we can talk in private." He said, composure returning as he examined his nails, ignoring Sam as he fought to calm his panicked breaths.

He wrapped his arms tightly around himself, eyes darting from Brendan to the doorway behind him. "We really do need to have a proper talk." Brendan said with an air of finality, and rose from his chair, reaching out to take hold of Sam's arm once more, pulling him along and ignoring his feeble protests.

He paid the bill and thanked the woman at the counter who smiled in return even as she glanced at the frightened blonde in confusion.

Sam tried again to free himself from Brendan's grasp as the man led him outside, but Brendan spun around and backhanded him across the face, leaving Sam swaying with a hand to his stinging cheek, tears already welling in his eyes. Brendan didn't spare him another second, and pulled him along, ignoring Sam as he began to struggle.

"Just get in the car." Brendan snapped and shoved him into the passenger seat.
"Let me go home." Sam pleaded through tears, but Brendan said nothing. He sat down in the driver seat and slammed the door, starting the car.

"Don't do anything stupid, I'd hate to see you get hurt." He said scathingly when Sam pried at the handle of the door. His shaking hands fell back into his lap and he tried to fight back the tears, looking anywhere but at Brendan.

Eventually, Brendan pulled up at his apartment. Entire body numb, Sam let Brendan lead him up the stairs, the very stairs that not all that long ago he had stumbled down, trying not to fall as pain wracked his body. Brendan unlocked the door and stepped back as he pushed it open, nodding at Sam to walk in, and, sick to his stomach, Sam did. Brendan shut the door behind him and leant back against the timber. "Was that so hard?" He asked, eyes traveling over the slender blonde.

Frozen in place and breaths ringing in his ears, Sam did nothing as Brendan slowly walked over, not moving an inch as Brendan reached out and placed his fingers under Sam's jaw, forcing him to look up and into Brendan's eyes.

"I'm the only one who could ever love someone like you." Brendan whispered, and moved forwards suddenly. "Why can't you understand? I'm just trying to do what's best for you."

Sam's back met the wall and Brendan firmly took hold of Sam's wrists, pinning him back against the wall. Sam's breath hitched in his throat and he tried to wrench his arms free from Brendan's iron grip. The man just laughed callously at his attempts to get away and leant in closer, locking eyes with the young adult through the curtain of blonde hair that had fallen over his face.

He smirked and leant even closer, until his lips were brushing against Sam's neck.

"Throwing yourself around like some common whore, it's disgusting." Sam cringed away from the hot breath on his neck, squeezing his eyes closed.

"Let me go." He said, voice shaking as fear soared through him, tears clinging to his eyelashes. "Brendan, let me go." The man gave a single, low laugh, and then did let go, but didn't move back.

His hands dropped to Sam's waist and pushed up under Sam's shirt, stepping even closer to stop him from moving, keeping Sam's back jammed against the wall. Sam's eyes widened in horror and he grabbed Brendan's wrists, twisting away. He managed to get out from under Brendan's hands and slapped the man as hard as he could.

It only bought him about a second before he retaliated.

Sam cried out softly as Brendan's fist connected with his head and then he was falling backwards. He hit the floor heavily and tried to roll away, holding his head and groaning.

Hands were at his shirt, and then he felt them run up his chest, a weight pinning down his legs. He looked up in dazed terror and saw Brendan's eyes, blazing with anger as the man shifted his weight over him, long black hair falling down like a curtain as he lowered his head so his lips were only millimetres from Sam's own.

In the next second, Brendan had smashed their lips together in a forceful kiss, biting down hard of Sam's lip and giving a muffled laugh when the blonde yelped and tried in vain to escape. Sam sobbed and managed to free a hand, shoving Brendan as hard as he could but barely managed to shift the much stronger man in the slightest. "Let me go, let me go," He choked out between hysterical sobs.

The next blow to the head nearly knocked him out, and he very slowly regained his senses, becoming aware that, for the moment, Brendan was no longer holding him down. He felt movement by his legs and realised with a surge of sickness that the man was tugging off his pants, and Sam, unable to fight back, couldn't stop him.

"You are mine."

Jake growled in exasperation when Sam's phone started to ring from the idiot's room. He irritably opened the door and strode in, easily finding the forgotten piece of technology on the cluttered bedside where it continued to play that annoying as all hell ring tone Sam had attached to Jake's number.

"Damn it." He had tried to ring him from work, and again on his way home, but still Sam hadn't picked up. And now he knew why. So how the hell was Sam meant to ring him if something happened?

He did not trust him. There was something up, and Jake was only becoming more worried by the second. Sam was scared, and Jake was dead sure that there wasn't a birthday dinner on. He should have done or said something sooner, but he didn't did he?

"Fucking hell!"

If there were a dinner on, then he'd just look like a bit of an idiot. That he could deal with, but if something was happening, it would all be his fault for not pressing the idiot for answers when he could tell so clearly that something was wrong.

Jake sat down on the edge of Sam's hastily made bed and unlocked the phone, opening his contacts. Now, who did he work with? Kate? She was one of them right? He selected the girl's number, frowning at the smiley face next to her name, held the phone to his ear and waited, hoping she was actually one of the girls at the café.

Sam never really spoke that much about work, so it had been a while since he had heard one of their names. He was just about to hang up when the girl answered.

"Hey Sam, why are you calling so late?" He could hear cars and the sound of her footsteps, and realised that she definitely was not at this dinner thing.
"This is Jake, I'm Sam's friend,"
"Oh! Hi Jake, I know who you are." She giggled. "So, what's going on?"

"You work with Sam, right?" He heard her hum agreement, and quickly lurched into the next question. "Listen, is there a manager's birthday dinner on tonight, or something like that?"

"Um, no," She said after a moment. Jake's heart froze in his chest. "No staff birthdays tonight, but he did say he was going out to dinner with an old friend. Why?"
"I've got to go. Thanks,"

He was just about to hang up when something else struck him. "Wait!"
"Yes?" She asked, sounding positively confused now.
"Did someone come into the café looking for him, a tall guy with long black hair?"

"There was this one guy that just walked in yesterday that sounds like that, attractive looking, was waiting for Sam all morning, had lunch with him. He was pretty creepy really." She said, and Jake could hear the worry in her voice. "What's going on? Why are you calling on Sam's phone?"

"Never mind. Thanks."

He hung up before she could say anything and ran from the room, grabbing his own phone and his keys before sprinting down the stairs and into his car. He swore and punched the wheel when it didn't start, but he had it working in another two tries.

Not caring about the speed limit, he drove as quickly as he could towards Brendan's apartment. Possibilities were flooding through his mind, and he didn't even know if Sam would be there, but he had to try, it was the best bet he had.

Jake knew exactly where Brendan lived, and once there he slammed the car door closed and raced over to the door. He growled irritably when he saw that the apartment used the intercom system, but was relieved when a man came down the stairs and opened the door. He smiled and caught the door. "Evening," The man gave him a hassled smile and nodded, walking away. Jake stepped inside and went up the stairs at a run.

When he reached Brendan's door, he hesitated for a moment.

I can't just barge in if I'm not entirely sure that-

He heard a muffled cry, and the second Sam's voice reached his ears, fury crossed his features. He grabbed the handle of the door and slammed his shoulder into the timber, throwing it open and racing inside without a second thought.

What he saw nearly stopped his heart.

Brendan had Sam pinned down on his stomach on the timber floor, one hand holding the blonde's wrists twisted up against his bare back as his other hand pulled down his own trousers. The blonde's weak struggles were not nearly enough to stave off his attacker, heart-wrenching sobs stifled and face shoved into the floor.

Jake did not stop to think. He couldn't think. There was only rage, and he ran forwards and grabbed the repulsive man, tearing him away from Sam with a vicious cry. "I'll fucking kill you!"

Brendan was quick to raise his fists, eyes wild, as Jake threw a punch. For all of Brendan's attacks on Sam, he was not as good a fighter as Jake, and it didn't take long at all until he overpowered the man that had been so bent on hurting Sam. He grabbed the closest object to hand and brought it down on Brendan's head, watching in disgust as the man crumpled to the floor, eyes shut as he slipped into unconsciousness.

He was red in the face and panting from the exertion, but most of all Jake had never felt so furious before in his life, and it took everything in his power to stop himself from punching the downed man again, and again until he stopped drawing breath.

A single sob cut through his rage, and he quickly spun around, eyes filling with mortification as he dropped down in front of Sam. The blonde had pulled himself into the corner and was holding his bowed head with both hands, knees drawn up against his chest in what seemed an attempt to his half-naked body.

"Sam, I'm so sorry," He said softly, pulling off his coat and wrapping it around Sam's bare shoulders.

"It's nothing." He heard him whisper, and he was struck by how empty his voice sounded. "It's nothing. I'm fine… He… He didn't get a chance to…"

"It is not nothing!" Jake yelled, and Sam's head jerked up, eyes wide, tears streaming down his cheeks. "You idiot." He said, voice little above a whisper. He pulled Sam against him and held him gently, arms locking around Sam's thin back.

He felt Sam's fingers clutch at his shirt, and then the blonde was shaking in his arms as he cried.

It had been a whole two hours since they got back to the apartment, and Sam had still not spoken a word. Jake was sitting in the corner of the couch with one arm around Sam, who was leaning against him, eyes closed and a small frown unmoving on his face. He absently touched Sam's hair, and closed his own eyes for a moment, just focusing on the fact that Sam was right there beside him, safe.

He had called the police as soon as Sam had begun to calm, and then returned instantly to his side. It had taken such a long time to get everything sorted out. Brendan had just woken up when the police arrived, and had not resisted arrest. He had snarled and sworn at Jake, but then, as they led him outside, he had turned around and fixed the most chilling smile onto his tormented housemate before he had vanished around the doorway.

The time between then and the police dismissing them from the station had been the longest few hours of Jake's life. Sam had held his hand in a white-knuckled grip the entire time the police had questioned him, and the look that came over his face when they had asked to talk to them separately was still frozen in his mind. Somehow, though, they had come through, and then Jake could take him home.

"It's morning." Jake said quietly, and the only response Sam gave him was a soft exhalation of air and a tiny shake of his head.

Sunlight was beginning to creep through the open curtains; Jake had not closed them before he went looking for Sam and had not bothered to close them since. He was glad he did not, if he had arrived even another minute later than he did… His jaw tensed in anger, and to distract himself from the useless emotion he gently squeezed Sam's shoulder, resting his chin on top of the younger male's head.

"Do you want to go to bed?" Sam shook his head again, shifted slightly, and then relaxed against Jake again.
"I'm fine."

His voice was nothing more than a tiny whisper, but it was the first thing he had said since they got back. Why did it have to be a lie? Jake sighed softly and rubbed Sam's back. "Come on, I'll make you something to eat." Sam said nothing, but when Jake moved to stand up, he reached out and grabbed his hand, blue eyes opening and already filling with tears. "Don't go anywhere." Jake nodded and pulled the skinny blonde back into his arms, shutting his eyes and leaning back against the couch.

Jake still had no idea what exactly would happen next. He had told the police about Brendan's history of attacking Sam, the state that he saw Sam reduced to after visiting Brendan. He told them that the bastard had gone to Sam's workplace and then every single detail he remembered from the moment he had walked into the room, until Brendan had fallen to the floor.

From the little he knew about law, he still knew that there had to be something, some kind of charge that could go against Brendan's name. He had listened to Sam and kept it quiet before and look where that got them. He was going to do everything he could do to see that bastard in jail.

It took a while, but eventually Sam drifted off into a much-needed sleep, loosely holding the hem of Jake's shirt. He looked utterly exhausted, and Jake tenderly tucked some wayward strands of hair behind Sam's ear, touching his cheek. He would never let anyone hurt Sam again.

The moment that he saw Sam on the floor, pinned under Brendan, nothing else had mattered. He hadn't thought at all then, but now that he looked back he could see what he hadn't then. He had been ready to kill Brendan, but the need to comfort Sam had completely overwhelmed any other thought that he had. He really cared for the young man in his arms, more than he had ever admitted to himself.

He was going to be there throughout the ordeal that Sam was going to go through in court, because he was not going to let Brendan get away with all the things he had done to Sam, his Sam, and more than everything else, he was going to be there for him, no matter how this all turned out.

Moving as carefully as he could to avoid waking the sleeping blonde, Jake shifted from the couch, placing him down and draping the blanket that lived on the arm of the chair over him. He stirred slightly, but his eyes stayed closed. He stood there for a moment, just watching him before he turned around and walked away. He had a few phone calls to make.

After his explanation of last night, saying nothing but that Brendan had been arrested for physical abuse on Sam, Tara was quick to offer to take some of his shifts, and he smiled, looking out the window over the busy street. He had closed the curtains of the windows that were most likely to lead to waking Sam up, but he did not want to room to be pitch-black, and had left the rest open.

"Don't mention it. God, give him a hug from me, yeah?"

He rang the café too to tell them Sam wouldn't be able to come in for a while. He didn't recognize the woman's voice, but she was obviously not impressed. There was a sudden commotion in the background and then Kate had the phone. He didn't tell her exactly what had happened, he didn't want to tell Sam's friends anything more than he had to, but he did say that Sam had been through a lot and needed some time off. The woman in the background loudly stated that he didn't have any more leave, but Kate ignored her, saying that she would sort it out.

He hung up and placed Sam's phone down on the bench beside his own. Apart from the sounds of the street that invaded the worn walls of the apartment, it was again dreadfully silent. Running a hand through his messy hair, Jake sighed and leant back against the wall.

It was just past two in the afternoon when Sam woke up. He slowly sat up and wrapped the blanket around himself, holding it in place. He could hear Jake talking to someone over the phone in his room. He put his feet on the floor and sat forwards, closing his eyes.

He felt sick. He could still feel Brendan's hands on him, his breath on the back of his neck, the pain from the way Brendan had wrenched his arms, and the overwhelming realization that he couldn't do anything to stop what was going to happen - what would have happened if Jake hadn't found him. The worst part wasn't even what Brendan had tried to do; it was the fact that he hadn't been able to protect himself. He was weak.

Sam never had been as strong as the other men he knew; he was always that gay boy, the weak one, the effeminate one. Until he met Brendan, it had not mattered. His friends weren't the kind of people to judge him because of what he was like, but the fact that he hadn't been able to defend himself in the slightest when someone tried to…

What would Jake think of him now that he really knew just how weak he really was?

Jake had been right all along, but he had been too ignorant to see it. He had shouted at Jake, insulted him, lashed out, and from the very beginning, he'd been right. He was always right. How was Jake still putting up with him after all of the trouble he had caused him? How could Jake still look at him, knowing what Sam thought of him, and now seeing how defenceless he was?

"Hey, you alright?"

He looked up and smiled slightly as Jake walked back into the room, phone in hand. He just nodded, suddenly not trusting himself to speak. Jake sat down beside him and put an arm around him, pulling him close. "Sam, I'm sorry it took so long for me to get there," He said, and Sam quickly shook his head, tears welling in his eyes. Jake held up a hand to stop him and continued talking. "It's my fault. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't even think."

Sam's eyebrows were drawn, eyes serious even as they shone with unshed tears, and he took hold of Jake's shoulder, turning in his seat so that he was facing his friend. "If you didn't come in when you did-" His voice shook and he broke off, shaking his head as he fought for composure.

"I'm just sorry I never listened to you. I just... I didn't want to hear it. I'm sorry. I just didn't know he would…" He sighed, sitting back and looking away in an attempt to hide how distressed he was.

Jake gently touched his cheek and turned his head so he was facing him again. "None of it was your fault." Sam nodded, and his eyes flicked up once more. There was so much uncertainty in those perfect blue eyes, and so much guilt. Without knowing why, Jake brushed his fingers over Sam's cheek, catching the tear that had dropped from his lashes.

He wanted Sam to smile again, to laugh, make those horrible jokes, to be that person that walked down the street when it was pouring with rain, brilliant smile unaffected by the world around.

A light blush had settled over Sam's cheeks and Jake cleared his throat, leaning back. "I need to do the shopping, there's nothing in the cupboard." Sam nosed, absently reaching up to tuck his hair behind his ears and allowing a small smile to touch his lips. "I'll be back later." Jake said, and stood up, trying to ignore the warmth that had crept up his neck.

"Wait," Sam dropped the blanket onto the couch and got up. "I'm coming too. Don't want to be here by myself." He said, obviously trying to keep his voice light, and vanished into his room. A few moments later, he emerged in a plain pair of jeans and a white shirt, shoes in hand. Once he was finally fully dressed, they went down the stairs, got into the car and drove to the shops.

"Oh, we need this!"
"No we don't!"
"Do so!"
"Do not!"

Sam easily sidestepped Jake and deposited the box of cookies into the trolley. "You get your beer, I get my treats!" He proclaimed and leant forwards over the trolley with a sly smile.

"Sounds fair to me."
"We don't need them!"
"You don't need beer."
"That's different."
"No it's not."

"Oh, yes it is." Jake muttered, glaring solidly at Sam until he stepped away from the trolley. To his irritation, the biscuits remained.

They were running a little low on money, but his attempts at keeping unnecessary items from building up just weren't working out. First it was star fruits, because 'they look like stars when you cut them! Isn't it exciting?' then it was the bottle of wine that Jake strongly doubted Sam would drink any time soon, some type of fruit shaped rock candy, and now biscuits. Good to see Sam had covered all of the basic food groups.

He knew that it was mostly acting, but it was distraction enough for Sam to pretend that he was okay, and seeing the occasional real smiled that stole onto Sam's face meant that the light-hearted banter was doing its part to keep him steady.

"Anyway, I don't know how you can drink it, it's vile." Sam continued, pocketing his hands as they walked, pausing to find the cheapest loaf of bread. Jake snorted, and then objected to Sam's selection of whole-meal. "It's better than wine. And this type is cheaper." He added, grabbing the preferred loaf and dropping it unceremoniously into the cart.

"And we need more coffee."
"Only because you're having three a day."
"Can't let it think I don't care for it."

Jake didn't grace that comment with an answer and continued down the aisle. Sam gave a low whistle when the price came up at the register and Jake sighed, passing over his card. "Savings." Now they were cutting it real close. They stepped out of the shop, both laden with shopping bags, Sam talking away as they made for the car. Jake could tell that it was a more than a little forced, but then again Sam had never liked wallowing.

Sam froze suddenly, dropping his sentence mid-word, and Jake nearly walked straight into him. "Sam? Hey, Sam?" Sam gave a nervous laugh and shook his head, unsteadily moving forwards again.

"Sorry… It's nothing, just thought I saw someone." Jake set his jaw and nodded, walking alongside the shaken blonde. They dropped the bags in the boot and hopped into the car, Jake looking over to Sam when he sat down. He was running his hands over his face, head back against the headrest.

"Sam, you alright?"
"No. Let's just go home." Came the small voice, and Jake grimaced at the honesty, starting the car.
"Let's go then."

Sam went and curled up on the couch, and Jake let him be for the moment, putting away the shopping. Sam was a far better cook than he was, but he was sure Sam could deal with his cooking, he never really complained. He put some pasta on the stove to boil and, with that done, turned around to look at Sam from across the room.

"Want a drink?"

"Wine, please." Sam said, voice muffled through the pillow his face was against. Jake nodded and brought the drink over, sitting down beside Sam and passing it over once the younger male was sitting up properly. He took a small drink and then set it down on the little table in the corner beside the couch. "Sorry."
"Don't apologize." Jake said seriously. "You've done nothing wrong."

He reached over to touch Sam's shoulder, and the blonde trembled, and then dropped his head into his hands, sobs bursting through his lips. Shit. He rubbed his back, and then wrapped his arms around him, holding him close. "It's alright, it's okay." Sam turned slightly, taking hold of Jake's jumper and resting his head on one of Jake's shoulders as sobs shook his slender frame. A wave of protectiveness hit Jake, and he tightened his hold around Sam ever so slightly.

Eventually, Sam's tears slowed, and he smiled wearily, wiping his sleeve over his eyes. He gave a small laugh as he drew back slightly. "Sorry, I got your jumper wet." Jake shook his head and gave Sam a small smile.

"You okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm alright now."

Sam flicked Jake a grin and reached over to get his glass of wine. "Now even better." He declared, taking a sip and settling back against Jake's chest, smiling sadly to himself over the wine glass. Jake again placed his arm around Sam's shoulders, and all of a sudden, they were far too close to one another.

With Sam leaning back against him like that, he could feel each one of Sam's gentle breaths, could feel the steady thud of his heart, the topmost part of Sam's collarbone under his fingers.

Sam took a long drink of wine, finishing the glass and then set it down on the end table, and Jake caught sight of the flush creeping over Sam's cheeks. He took a slow breath, trying to figure out what was happening; trying to focus, but all he got out of it was the slight scent of the wine that clung to Sam's breath.

He shifted, arm slipping down from Sam's shoulder to around his waist and Sam looked up at him, eyes hesitant, lips slightly parted in an intake of breath, their faces only inches apart. Screw it. Jake leant forwards, watching for some sign of rejection or fright in those stunning blue eyes, but instead, a shy smile touched Sam's lips, and his gaze flicked over Jake's face.

Another soft, wine infused breath.

He hesitated only a moment longer before slowly leaning down and gently pressing their lips together.

Barely a kiss, just a touch, and still a thrill ran through him. The careful pecks deepened into something more, both becoming certain of the other's approval. Jake drew back for a moment and ran a finger along the curve of Sam's jaw before pulling him close and kissing him again, this time deeper, endeavouring to catch those perfect lips in his as the thin blonde wrapped his arms lightly around him.

The delicate taste of Moet lingered in each tender kiss, and Jake was lost in the heady sensation of exploring and tasting every feature of the younger male's lips, tongue, mouth. They broke off in a mutual need for air and Jake kissed the soft skin underneath Sam's jaw, then brushing his lips in feather-light kisses down his neck. Sam gave a breathy laugh, and Jake smiled, letting Sam push him down on the couch. He didn't want to loom over him, not so soon after Sam's experience.

He gently tugged the blonde down for a longer, more passionate kiss, and when they parted, Sam settled over him with a small sigh, eyes bright and carefree and on him. Jake reached a hand up to touch Sam's face, caressing his cheek, and he smiled.

Sam was beautiful. Yes, he was a man, but at the same time, he was beautiful. He said just that, and Sam laughed that musical laugh that he had missed for so long.

Jake let the fingers on Sam's cheek gently run to the nape of his neck and pulled him in for one more, gentle kiss. He was careful, so very careful, to make sure that Sam didn't feel cornered; that was the last thing he wanted. Jake was only going to give what Sam was ready to take, and now, having the man he truly cared for in his arms and knowing that the smile on his face was for him was all he could ever want.