Thanks to everyone who has reviewed and read the story! i hope everyone enjoyed it as much as i loved writing it!
Two Years Later
"Dean, get in the picture with your brother," John waved, looking through the lens of his camera.
"Dad, your crossing the border to becoming an extreme dork," Dean laughed as he moved towards his brother, who was wearing a blue cap and gown.
John snapped the picture and smiled at his boys. Sam finally made it. After two years of hard work and determination, his Sammy had graduated Valedictorian of his high school class and got a free ride to Stanford.
"Ok, that's enough Kodak moments for me," Dean said with a laugh. HE turned towards his brother and clapped a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm really, really proud of you," he said.
"Thanks Dean, I'm proud of me too," Sam answered. Sam fought long and hard to be where he was. It had taken a lot not to relapse, and their were some days he almost did. But his ever faithful family helped him through it, and allowed him to achieve his goal with honors.
It was difficult returning to school, one because everyone knew you were a druggie, and two everyone knew you were HIV positive. When he walked down the hallway the first time, it was like the parting of the sea. Everyone was afraid to touch him, and Sam was beginning this whole school thing was a bad idea. But his ever faithful Larkin, along with Avery, ran to him in the hallway, gave him a hug, and Larkin gave him a kiss on the cheek. It seemed to break the ice, and everyone began to accept Sam.
Larkin and Sam no longer dated but were best friends. She was a constant in his life, and after she was involved with someone else, she never abandoned him, much to her boyfriend's chagrin.
Sam had two health scares his entire health career. He came down with pneumonia twice and the second time he nearly died. But Sam pulled trough and it took a long time for Dean and John to let him out of their sight.
"Sammy!" A voice yelled over the crowd, and Sam spun to see Larkin, her boyfriend Scott, and Avery coming to greet him.
"Hey guys," Sam said and hugged all his friends.
"Hey let's get a picture," John said from the back-round. The four friends linked arms and smiled wide at Sam's Dad. Everyone was going to college, and had a lot to look forward to in the future. While the friends celebrated, Adam's and Josh's parents came up to them.
"Congratulations everyone," they said quietly. Both families had little to celebrate for today; Adam had over dosed a few months back and Josh just lost it and hadn't been heard from since.
"Thank you," everyone said to their friend's families.
Adam's mom walked up to Sam and gathered his hand in hers. "I'm proud of you Sammy, you did what my baby couldn't. Go out into the world and save people like Adam," she said, kissing his cheek, and left.
Sam stood there and couldn't help to feel guilty about what happened with his friends. He had tried to get them help, but they refused, and his friend's death and disappearance had taken a toll on Sam.
"Sam, you did what you could," Larkin said quietly.
"I know," Sam said.
"Whose ready to party?" Scott said to his group of friends.
Everyone yelled, and Sam ran to his family to see if he could go out with his friends.
"Sure, just be careful, and don't be home past one o'clock, ok?" John said.
"I will Dad, later!"
Four Months Later
Sam was into his first year at Stanford and was loving every minute of it. John and Dean visited when they could, but they knew the importance of Sammy learning how to stand on his own feet. Sam found a great group of friends and had been turning down dates left and right. It wasn't that they weren't pretty or he wasn't interested, but he couldn't let himself be intimate with anyone.
There was one girl he just couldn't stop thinking about however hard he tried. Her name was Jessica and she was in his health psychology class. She was the most beautiful girl…well woman he had ever seen.
In October, they had to do a presentation on a disease or illness and was surprised when it was Jessica that she had chosen HIV. Her entire report was accurate and it surprised him that Jessica took the time to research the disease so profoundly. But at the end of her speech, Sam almost fell out of his seat with her conclusion.
"I'm hoping this report gave some insight to the disease that has caused fear in many and the deaths of so many more. I was diagnosed with HIV when I was seventeen, my boyfriend had been cheating on me, and gave the disease to me," she said, tears glistening her eyes.
"I don't know how long I'll live, but I intend to make the most out of the time I have," she said, and sat down.
After class, Sam walked after to Jessica, hoping for a chance to talk to her. She stopped for coffee in the campus center, and Sam felt like a stalker but got on line anyway. He was trying to work up the nerve to talk to her, but it seemed Jessica decided to make the first move.
"You're in my health psych class right?" Jessica said as everyone moved forward in the line.
"Yea I am. I wanted to talk to you actually, you're speech was amazing," Sam said.
"Thank you, I appreciate it," she said with a smile which made Sam forget how to breathe.
"It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of people and tell them something so personal," Sam said.
"Yes, but I've been speaking out to teens for a while now, so it gets easier," she said, ordering a cup of coffee.
Sam decided to bite the bullet and finally ask a girl out. "I …was…wondering…if I …we could…maybe grab a bite to eat?"
She turned to Sam with sympathetic eyes, "Sam, I like you a lot, but with me being HIV positive, I don't want to infect you, I'm sorry. Maybe under different circumstances…"she said, giving him a small smile.
"Listen, I have never told anyone this, especially a girl I just met in a coffee line. I try to keep this part of my life a secret because no one understands, but you do. I'm HIV positive, and have been for two years," Sam said, the words falling out of his mouth.
Jessica was shocked by his admission and grabbed her coffee. "Let's go sit for a while, is that ok with you?"
Sam nodded and followed her, forgetting all about his order. They talked for hours in the campus center, each telling personal stories of survival and how good it felt to meet someone with the same disease.
"I know it is dangerous being with someone who is still HIV positive, but I would really love to get to know you more," Jessica said with a smile.
"Really?" Sam asked.
"Yea, really," she said, and the two walked out of the campus center to meet up with their friends.
Sam breathed in a fresh breath and let it out happily. This was gonna work, all his hard work was gonna pay off, and he was dating the hottest girl he ever met….
He couldn't wait to tell Dean…