Modern AU where Anders is a queer country boy who gets shipped off to a “pray the gay away” boarding school/boot camp by his fundamentalist parents.
Everyone at the school is making out with everyone else behind the backs of the instructors and for a little while Anders thinks that’s really cool but he’d much rather have a steady relationship that he could be open about.
There’s all sorts of abuses going on there and he manages to dodge some of it but he frequently gets placed in the “pit” for defiance.
He really hates it at the school so he runs away like four times. The last time he makes it pretty far but gets lost in the woods for days and when the cops find him he’s nearly dead from exposure and dehydration.
He ends up in the hospital and the school kicks him out because he’s attracted a lot of attention to the school and how they run things there and they don’t like that.
So Anders has to go back to his abusive parents’ house but when he’s seventeen he runs away again and this time he stays gone.
Anders makes it into the city. He’s homeless for a while but eventually he gets a job and a place with some roommates. He ends up working at a treatment center for low-income addicts and he likes that because it’s useful work and he gets along with the patients but he doesn’t feel that it’s his calling.
His dream is to be a counselor for Queer kids who’ve survived abuse the way he has. He’ll help out almost anyone but there’s literally nothing he won’t do for another Queer person and sometimes that lands him on the hazy side of the law.
He probably starts going to school part time towards the end of getting a degree in social work or counseling but he feels rather alienated from the entire thing. He isn’t sure if his mental health is good enough for him to cut it and he can’t really relate to most of the students or professors.
He spends a lot of time thinking about going back to that “school” and burning it to the ground. Then he thinks about doing the same thing to every ex-gay facility in the country.
For a while this is just a coping mechanism and a fantasy, but after a certain point it starts to feel more like a plan.