Despite the fact it’s the summer holiday and it’s not going to get dark for a while yet, Jamie still picks up the pace as he walks home from Hugo’s shop. The bruises might have faded but the memories of getting beaten up are still fresh in his mind. He might not be going out of his way to provoke anyone these days but he’s well aware that his hair, died with multicolour streaks and the glitter still stuck on his face from the previous night’s show make him a sparkly target. Hell, even when he looks ‘normal’ he still gets threatening looks.
The hairs on the back of Jamie’s neck suddenly stand to attention and he makes a quick left turn. For the past few streets, he’s had the feeling someone’s following him but so far, he’s not been brave enough to look back. However, when the feeling still doesn’t dissipate he decides to bite the bullet. Steeling himself, he stops sharply and swivels around. He catches only a glimpse before the hood of a jacket flies around the corner.
“Dean?” Jamie calls, confused. He jogs around the bend but the action is unnecessary because standing against the wall, gaze down on the ground, is indeed Dean Paxton. It’s the first time Jamie has seen him since prom and actually, he’s not even heard about him since. He doesn’t know if anyone’s actually kept in contact with Dean, even after relenting to that dance with Jamie.
“Why were you following me?” Jamie asks, glad his voice doesn’t tremble like it had been threatening to. While Dean’s actions would make him assume that he wasn’t going to attack Jamie, the residual panic is hard to shake off.
Dean throws him a look of indifference. “Wasn’t following you,” he mutters, picking at the dirt behind his nails which, ew. Grim.
“And I’m the star of the football team,” Jamie says, rolling his eyes. “I know for a fact you don’t live round here so what were you doing, huh?”
“Nothin’,” Dean grunts, expression still sullen and when Jamie realises, he’s not going to get any more out of him, he takes the opportunity to look at Dean properly. Or, more specifically, his clothes. Dean might not be as into general hygiene as a normal, self-respecting human ought to be but the boy looks like he’s been rolling around on the ground. Grey and brown marks stain him head to toe.
“What’s going on with you then?” Jamie questions, making a point of rolling his gaze along Dean’s attire. In response, Dean’s face tightens.
“I already said nothing Jamie! God, just leave me alone.”
“After you were the one who was followin’ me?” Jamie says dryly. “If you just wanted a pretty view all you had to do was ask.” He flutters his eyelashes, stopping the moment Dean lets out a cry of frustration, his newly formed fist thankfully not hitting Jamie but the wall. Jamie winces at the impact and Dean curses.
“That looked painful,” Jamie says warily. “Is everything okay Dean? Be honest with me.”
This time, Dean kicks the wall and he ends up hobbling on one foot until his back is against the wall again. He ends up sliding down it, falling to a painful seat.
“No, it’s not fucking okay Jamie because you know what? I’m fucking homeless!” Dean grabs at his hair with both hands, displaying his bloody knuckle. Jamie, unsure what to do, crouches down so he’s at least not looming over the other boy.
“Homeless? What happened?”
“Me! I’m what happened. And that fucking video.” He tugs harder and Jamie instinctively raises a hand to try and get him to stop but he ends up dropping it before he can.
“Video? What…oh.” The video of the two of them dancing. It hadn’t been of just the two of them but Bex had definitely lingered on Jamie and, by extension, Dean.
“Yeah, ‘oh’. My mum saw it, asked me ‘bout it and I thought, fuck it. If I could dance with you I could bloody well tell the truth, so I did. I’m bi! Shocker, I know. Thought it wouldn’t matter that much since I’m still into birds but mum wasn’t too happy. Dad definitely wasn’t. Dunno why I was surprised. They assumed you was my boyfriend and said that was it, I should get out before I ‘infected my brother’ because you’d clearly fucking infected me.”
Jamie doesn’t know what to say, isn’t sure he could even say anything considering how dry his mouth has become. He knew some parents kicked their kids out because of their sexuality, his dad might even have tried it had things been different and the thought he could get away with it, but still, to be homeless at sixteen…
“What about the police?” Jamie asks gently. “Couldn’t they sort something out? Do you have any other family who could take you in?”
“None who’d want to,” Dean replies. “Only place for me would be a foster home and fuck that, I know what sort of shit goes down in those places and I ain’t going. I’d rather sleep with the rats, thanks.”
“Well that settles it then, you’re coming home with me.” Jamie hadn’t thought about those words before he’d said them but he knows with every fibre of his being he’s not letting a kid sleep on the streets just because of their ignorant parents. Not even Dean.
Dean’s grip loosens on his hair so that he can look up at Jamie with unconcealed bewilderment. “What?”
“I can’t, in good conscience, let you sleep on the streets. You know what kind of people hang about here at night? No, you’re coming with me, at least to get a good meal. We don’t have a spare bed but a sleeping bag has to be better than this.”
“Why would you help me? What do you want?” Dean asks suspiciously and Jamie lets out an exasperated sigh.
“Nothing Dean, apart from you not spending another night on the grimy ground. I know we’ve had our differences but no one deserves to be thrown out of their home, especially because of their sexuality. So, what do you say? We can even give those clothes of yours a wash. You can borrow some of mine.”
Dean stares at him for a few seconds, and Jamie thinks he’s going to refuse, but then he says, “’M not wearing a dress.”
Jamie laughs. “Please, like you could pull one off. Now c’mon, up you get.”
The barest hints of a smile on his lips, Dean takes Jamie’s hand and side by side, they walk home.