Iambic Pentameter and Other Methods of Elizabethan Torture
Sam kept telling himself that he was writing the sonnet for those ten extra points on his Shakespeare project. Besides, it wasn't like anyone but Mr. Duran was going to read it, anyway.
This is a companion piece to The Square Root of Pi. It was written for the It Must Be Bunnies challenge at spn-het-love on Livejournal, based on the prompt: Wee!Sam (or Teenage!Sam, whichever) writes a poem for a girl in his class. True to cliche, she finds it.
Disclaimer: The Winchester boys aren't mine but I'd make Dean wear his boots all the time if they were.
Rating: T (Language, horny teenagers, Sam!angst)
Beta: embroiderama went above and beyond on this one. I didn't do much spamming but she was my own personal cheerleader, helping me keep my spirits up during a pretty difficult time that really had nothing to do with this story but every reason why I'm pleased as punch that she beta'd it for me. Everything in this story that rocks is because of her. The mistakes? Those are all me.
"You're gonna break your brain if you keep crossing your eyes so hard."
Sam looked up from his notebook, his legs shifting as he tightly pursed his lips. Dean's smirk was wrapped around a mouthful of mac and cheese, peppered with peas and chunks of Spam – and Dean chewed louder than all of those stupid Poughkeepsie cows he was always complaining about. "You're thinking way too hard about something," Dean continued casually, sitting back in the recliner and flicking on the television with the remote. "And I'm not sure how I'm gonna explain to Dad about the aneurysm."
"Yeah. The one you're gonna die from if you don't stop crossing your eyes like that."
"I'm writing a poem," Sam retorted.
The only thing that was going to give him an aneurysm was trying to figure out why Dean's brain didn't work like a normal person's.
"Winchesters don't need poems to get into a girl's pants, Sammy." Dean waggled his eyebrows.
"I'm not trying to get into anyone's pants." The end of his pencil shot across the paper, ending up somewhere in the ratty carpet. "It's a sonnet for school, moron." Sam's cheeks reddened and his voice shot up at the end with a crack. Dean didn't need to know that he was thinking about a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes and a piano; that'd only make Dean start laughing his ass off and Sam really didn't want to wash his hair after getting another noogie.
"You're preaching to the choir, Sam." Dean snorted and shoveled more mac and cheese into his mouth. "When I interrupted my little brother and some frizzy-haired chick getting ready to start the horizontal rumba a couple of days ago, I didn't hear anyone rhyming." He leaned as far back as the recliner would go, still scooping food into his mouth like he was some guy eating noodles in those Japanese cartoons Sally was always making Sam watch on the weekends when she wasn't dragging him out on walks to look at the leaves change colors.
The food couldn't hide Dean's goddamned grin.
Sam was hoping that he'd fall backwards but Dean just set the bowl down on the coffee table. "Sammy, you wanna go with one of the classics." Dean's voice was low and his eyes were full of secrets, more mysteries about chicks that only Dean seemed to know. Sam swallowed – Dean had the same look on his face on the first day of school, right before he pulled out the bananas and the condoms.
"You don't get more classic than a sonnet, Dean. Mr. Duran said that poets have been writing them since the thirteenth century."
"I was thinking more along the lines of AC/DC, dude. You're gonna be too busy tripping over all of those fancy words to even try and tangle tongues with Math Girl. She's a little magpie. I'm guessing you have to wait for her to take a breath before you can make your move."
"Shakespeare managed okay." But Sam returned Dean's grin, hoping Dean would ignore his cheeks going even redder than they had when his voice cracked. Sometimes, Sally kept right on talking no matter what he was doing. Sam coughed. "I mean, there's that Shakespeare in Love movie coming out in December…and I saw some kissing in the preview."
"No, Sam." Dean groaned loudly, shoulders slumping as he rolled his eyes.
"I'm not gonna get dragged to another freaking chick flick so you can impress Sally Friedman." Dean grunted, turning up the sound on the television. Sam recognized the movie right when Chunk started screaming about a stiff and Dean screamed it right along with him, swiveling in the chair so that he was facing the screen. The only talking in the room after that was the dialogue, punctuated by Dean slurping more mac and cheese while he laughed at the dumb jokes.
Sam tapped the pencil against his lip and sighed, clicking the end to get more lead. "This sucks," he muttered, staring down at his blank sheet of paper.
"There's a plus side." Dean's voice interrupted the thump of the eraser on Sam's cheek without turning around to look at him, concentrating on getting the last bits of food out of his bowl. "I mean, lots of words rhyme with frizzy," Dean continued, shoulders shaking as he swallowed up his laugh along with the last of his dinner. "Like dizzy and whizzy."
Sam wanted to hurl his notebook right at the top of Dean's crew cut but settled for hunkering back against the threadbare pillows. "Jerk!" he hissed.
"Don't forget tizzy, bitch."
The last time he had to write a poem for school, it was a haiku in the fifth grade on cultural exchange day but that haiku was nothing compared to writing a sonnet.
Even Dad would balk at how many rules there were, with quatrains that had an alternating rhyme scheme and a couplet at the end of the whole thing. And Sam still didn't understand how the volta moved the sonnet into its resolution phase. Mr. Duran spent more time talking about iambic pentameter and short and long syllables and the rules about rhyming schemes but he never explained how the damn volta was supposed to work – just read a bunch of different sonnets like that was supposed to illuminate them to the secrets of Petrarch.
That hadn't kept Mr. Duran from announcing to the class that anyone who wrote a sonnet would get ten extra points towards their big Shakespeare project. Sally was already turning to look at him, a small smile playing across her lips.
Don't you wanna do extra credit with me, Sam?
They had argued about it all during lunch, Franken-gummi bears in various stages of disassembly lined up in front of her. It's not like they needed the extra credit but Sally Friedman was addicted to anything that had to do with math – even if it was just adding ten extra points to her English grade. And she was so damned cute every time he tried to tell her he wasn't doing it, going on about iambic feet and saying that scansion was nothing more than seeing the patterns in things, that the only thing he could do was kiss her.
And even that never stopped her from mumbling about mathematical formulas being in everything.
It sure sounded easy when Sally told him to treat it like a song, as effortless as listening to her practice scales in the music room while he hummed along with the piano. A-B-A-B, C-D-C-D, E-F-E-F, G-G. She repeated the rhythm in a sing-song voice while they walked out the front doors after an hour in the library, one stray lock of hair brushing against his shoulder and smelling clean like her shampoo. She had to half-skip to stay in step with him on the way to the car.
Ten syllables to a line. We can do that.
The way she smiled up at him after he finally said 'yes' was better than ten measly points of extra credit, her hand slipping into his as they both piled into the back of the Impala. Sally hadn't even tried to hide their hands behind a backpack like she usually did, blue eyes daring Dean to say something stupid about his whipped baby brother when there was a redhead practically sitting in Dean's lap cleaning out his left ear canal with her tongue.
What Sally hadn't mentioned was that blank pieces of paper mocked you when you couldn't think of anything to write on them and it's not like he could go to Dean for help; he'd just laugh his ass off because Sam was writing some chick flick poem for extra credit and maybe even fling more cheese-covered peas at him.
No wonder Will Shakespeare was going bald in all those old paintings.
He probably had an older brother, too. Some jerk who hid out in the family kitchen, slurping down a leg of mutton and picking at his teeth while he cracked jokes about the poor neighbor girl Will had walked home from the market square – when he wasn't trying to bang the Shakespeares' maid or guzzle down all of the ale in the house.
Sam sighed and rolled over onto his back, staring at the long crack in the ceiling. Writing some half-assed sonnet about watching Dean eat food – any kind of food – would probably end up with him getting points removed from his grade on the general principle that you never turned in anything that would gross out your teacher. And getting all emo about ghosts and demons and the dead mother's face you would never remember was an ache that Sam Winchester wasn't about to put down on paper.
When you can't find your way, son, go back to the basics.
Of course, when Dad was talking about it, it had nothing to do with poetry; it was about finding the lost clue that put all the rest of the pieces into place – the thing you needed to take down whatever monster was hurting the girl and Winchesters might have fought like they had songs inside of them, all precision and pattern the way they moved in formations they could dance half-asleep, but it wasn't the same thing.
It wasn't the same thing at all.
But Sam started at the beginning anyway, remembering a freckled hand – her fingers topped with chipped green nail polish as they wrapped around the spine of a book.
Sally Friedman had made his voice crack like he was ten years old, grabbing his hand as she dragged him off to the copier, and she kept right on making his palms sweaty every time she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and breathed things into his ear about how dizzy he made her feel, nuzzling into his neck with flushed cheeks hot against his; how she'd bite her lip when she told him he looked good in green or that she liked the way his hair curled around his ears, fingers touching so lightly it was like she was burning from the brush of the pads against the curve of hair.
He'd never even dreamed that a girl would say those things to him and really mean it.
The pencil was already rushing across the paper, conjuring up images of stacks and dusty books and blonde-haired girls who came up out of nowhere and made him feel like he belonged with nothing more than a bottle of Yoohoo and half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That was something compared to all those girls Dean bragged about, always changing like the colors in a kaleidoscope – having one star behind the glass that never moved no matter how much you twisted it.
And it wasn't like anyone but Mr. Duran was going to read it, anyway.
Sam slid into his seat, hooking his backpack over the edge of his chair, and returned Sally's grin when she handed him a thick sheaf of pink paper covered with whorls of purple ink – both colors clashing with her yellow nail polish. She'd drawn what looked like smiling goldfish in the margins, bubbles going around the corners of each piece of paper.
"Mia's goldfish died last night," Sally began. "I thought I could cheer her – "
Whatever she was going to say was interrupted when a bunch of girls in the front of the room started squealing about an article in Bop. Mr. Duran stood up from his desk and rested his leather-patched elbows on his podium and the same group of girls giggled.
Sally rested her chin softly on her hand, her attentive gaze turned towards the front of the room. She'd used to sit in the front of the class, along with every other girl, furiously scribbling notes while the rest of them batted their eyes at Mr. Duran like he was Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. It wasn't as stupid as it could have been because Mr. Duran was cool – with the toe of one scuffed boot keeping time to everything he recited to the class and his fingers totally covered in chalk that he absentmindedly rubbed on thighs.
Like he didn't even care how he looked.
Dean always said that Sam was a big geek with an even bigger brain and that's why his forehead bulged out over his eyebrows but Sam was getting the last laugh. Sam was going to have long hair just like Mr. Duran's – and he was even going to look for an old tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows the next time they hit a thrift store. Chicks probably dug tweed as much as they dug leather. At least the kind of chicks that Sam wanted to spend time with, girls with functional brains who could use multi-syllabic words.
Mr. Duran didn't even crack open a book. He never did. He just bit his lip in a way that rumpled the scruff of his beard for a split second and started talking.
"That time of year thou mayst in me behold when yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang upon those boughs which shake against the cold – bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang." Mr. Duran's voice was low, full of the same secrets that Sam's father tried to teach – just turned around in a way where the truth was easier to see. "In me thou seest the twilight of such day as after sunset fadeth in the west, which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest."
"In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire that on the ashes of his youth doth lie, as the death-bed whereon it must expire consumed with that which it was nourish'd by." Mr. Duran dropped his voice to a whisper, but it was strong enough to be heard over thirty kids breathing as they listened to the words of a man dead for hundreds of years. "This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, to love that well which thou must leave ere long."
Even Dean's breath would have caught in his throat; Mr. Duran made Shakespeare personal, full of the rhythm of tires that whirred on the highway while Dad told them stories about what Mom was like when she was alive – about why Winchesters hunted instead of settling down.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, to love that well which thou must leave ere long.
Sam blinked. It made more sense than when Dean was explaining it to him in hushed whispers Dad was never supposed to hear.
Mr. Duran rocked back onto his heels, watching the class with a fierce stare, and waited for someone to start talking about the poem. One of the girls in the front row stumbled over what the trees meant without their leaves and a basketball player in the back joined her in working out some of the symbolism with the birds. Nothing could keep Sally from throwing in her two cents worth into any discussion and suddenly the room was in full debate – and not once did Mr. Duran ever tell them that what they were saying was wrong, that they didn't know anything because they were just kids.
"But it's more than just loss," some kid next to him was saying. "It's how grief gets inside of you and doesn't let – "
The ten minute warning bell rang and Mr. Duran rocked forward on his podium with a smile that made Sam feel like the whole class had passed some kind of test that only English teachers knew about. "We'll pick up tomorrow right there, Colin. Now it's time to talk extra credit. Remember that sonnet I challenged the class to write as part of your Shakespeare project last Friday? Only one of you turned a sonnet in by yesterday's deadline." And his smile turned into something else, eyes glancing towards where Sam and Sally were sitting with more than a little disappointment in his voice.
Sam's head whipped towards Sally – she was biting her lip and chipping polish off her thumbnail with a determined look on her face. "But Sam did such a good job using one of the classic themes of the sonneteers – idealized love of the perfect woman – that I was hoping he'd read it out loud for the class."
"Uh…" The flush started at the top of his head and spread out towards his toes faster than Sam could blink.
"Don't be shy, Sam." Mr. Duran winked at him, coming out from behind the podium and walking down the aisle. "It was an excellent piece," he added, slapping the poem down on the top of Sam's desk. "I think the class will really enjoy it."
He coughed, standing up slowly. Sally's shoulders were shaking, her ears red behind the frizzy curls, before he had even opened his mouth. And what right did she have to be upset, anyway? Sally hadn't turned in a goddamn sonnet after spending hours browbeating him into writing one and now Sam was going to look like the biggest jerk reading his poem about her out loud in front of the entire class. "But I'd r-r-rather…" he stammered.
Some asshole snorting made the hot pit in his stomach burn and Sam could see Dean's cocky grin whenever a jerk took a potshot at their thrift store clothes back in grade school.
"I…" Sam began. He shook his head sharply, remembering the cadence that Mr. Duran used whenever he was talking to the class. "I saw her first between old dusty books, with her tangled blonde hair and worn sandals – one rough diamond growing into her looks and a bright smile that shone like candles."
It went downhill from there.
One piercing stare from behind Mr. Duran's glasses was enough to shut up whoever started laughing during the second quatrain. By the time Sam was stuttering his way through the third quatrain, Sally was slamming her books back into her book bag with shiny eyes and a bite to her lip that only made Sam angrier – he was the one baring himself to a room full of idiots while she prepared for a quick getaway. The couplet at the end came out in a rush as the bell rang. "The soft and heady tinkle of her keys can bring this Winchester boy to his knees."
Sally was probably the only one who heard it because everyone else was scrambling to get their own books into bags, rushing out of the room through bursts of conversation and strange looks in his direction followed by hooting laughs that made Sam's cheeks feel like they were full of fire.
She swallowed, pulling the strap of her book bag over her shoulder. "Did…did you mean it?" Sally asked, voice breathy as their eyes met.
"What do you care," Sam retorted, the words pouring out before he could even think about taking them back. "You didn't even turn in anything."
Blue eyes widened like he'd slapped her and Sally turned on her heel, running out the back door of the classroom as fast as her worn sandals could take her. Sam already knew that it was a mean thing to say and that he should have known to keep his mouth shut – Winchesters were always cutting with words and Sally hadn't been around long enough to figure that out. Sam expected a lecture about it when Mr. Duran sighed but all he did was put one hand on Sam's shoulder like Dad did sometimes while Sam pulled his backpack off the chair.
"I'm really sorry about that, Sam. I didn't realize – "
"S'okay," Sam managed, shrugging the hand off of his shoulder as he trudged towards the front door.
Even heroes made mistakes and Mr. Duran was just an English teacher.
Sally didn't meet him at their table for lunch. She sat by herself, a huge Calculus book propped up in front of her food tray as she slowly chewed on what looked like a strip of dried fruit – brow furrowing while she flipped pages. She didn't even look in his direction and he tried to ignore the fact that his peanut butter and jelly sandwich tasted like ashes in his mouth when he wasn't washing it down with Sally's Yoohoo.
He threw his bag into the nearest trash can when he was done and headed towards a pay phone. The call to the apartment went straight to the answering machine. Sam fished the last quarter out of his pocket and dialed the gas station, sucking in a breath when Dean's voice bellowed 'Sinclair Gas' into his ear.
There was an exaggerated sigh when Sam didn't say anything. "Look, dude. There's no way you're gonna get me to ask those stupid questions out loud. You gotta get a life." Dean sounded amused, like it was something that happened every day.
"I…" Sam looked back at Sally. "I'm not feeling good so I'm going home early. Just in case the school calls or something, I wanted you to know."
"Have I taught you nothing, Sam? You coulda just ditched and I wouldn't have cared. Hell, I'd have slipped you your first beer for finally having the balls to misbehave." Dean chuckled. "Guess there has to be a boy scout in every family." He followed it up with another loud sigh. "Tell you what. I'm getting off in about ten minutes. I'll pick you up and make you some chicken soup."
"Thanks," Sam said softly, hanging up the phone in the middle of whatever Dean was saying next. He really didn't want to get into it over the phone, not when Ralph from English class was walking by making a joke about bringing boys to their knees in a high-pitched falsetto – some crap about how all the boys loved algebra. He clenched his hand into a fist, torn between kicking Ralph's ass and walking away.
Sally hadn't heard Ralph's crack so Sam walked away – and why her getting teased about the math stuff still mattered, after she left him hanging back in Mr. Duran's class, was the biggest mystery of all.
Dean was right.
Poughkeepsie sucked ass.
The truth followed him out of the cafeteria along with Ralph's laugh. When Sam turned down the hallway, he was already wishing that Dad would call and tell them to meet him wherever the hell he was because at least then a monster could pull out his guts and there'd be a reason for why it hurt so much. Mr. Duran looked up at him as Sam passed the open door into his classroom, frowning a little when Sam didn't return the half-raised hand meant to be a wave. A patter of footsteps down the hall and a girl's voice crying out his name as he barreled through the front doors didn't even stop him.
Dean was already waiting for him at the curb leading up to the front steps of the school, windshield wipers slowly flicking away the rain.
Sam whipped open the front door as a metallic clang rang out behind him. Sally was running through the front doors of the school, not even bothering to put on her jacket as she called out his name one more time. Dean looked at Sam with one raised eyebrow when he slammed the Impala door shut.
Dean whistled low. "You're the boss, Sammy." He turned the car, hazel eyes looking up into to the rearview mirror. "Math Girl's standing there looking like an idiot."
"I'm just returning the favor." But Sam turned to look at her over his shoulder. Her chest was heaving, cheeks flushed red and blonde hair getting frizzier in the steady drumbeat of the rain, and both hands were curled into her chest like she'd been burned. Sally's face went white when their eyes met, and she ran back into the school.
Sam leaned down and turned on the radio, going through the channels until he found the college station. Something loud and hard and angry barreled through the Impala but Dean made a face all the same. "You two have a fight or something?"
"She made me write a poem."
Dean's mouth twitched – Sam saw it out of the corner of his eye, leaning his elbow on the window. "That sonnet thing?" Dean asked, masking his laugh with a cough. "I thought it was for school."
"It was." Sam stared at the dead trees as they turned onto the road back to the apartment complex. "Extra credit towards our semester project on Shakespeare." He sucked in a breath, waiting for Dean to snort or say something about how geeks didn't need extra credit except when it came to getting laid, but Dean's hands just tightened on the steering wheel. "We were supposed to do it together." Don't you wanna do extra credit with me, Sam? "But she didn't do it," Sam added, folding his arms and leaning back against the leather. "And now I look like an ass in front my whole English class 'cause I had to read my sonnet out loud."
"If it was anything like that poem you wrote for Dad when you kept begging him for a kimono, I can see the problem." Dean snorted. "Come on, Sam. That haiku thing? It didn't even rhyme."
"Screw you, Dean! I should have just kept my mouth shut." Sam rolled his eyes. "It's got nothing to do with getting into a girl's pants, so what would you know anyway? It's not like a girl who thinks is important to you." And he didn't even know what Sally was thinking anyway and why he still cared, like she was the one the entire class had laughed at instead of him.
Girls sucked ass, too.
"That's 'cause it's impossible to know how chicks think," Dean returned with a raised eyebrow, followed up with his cocky grin.
"You do all right." It was Sam's turn to snort. "Between that whole tickling chicks like they're fish thing and all those different kinds of movies you take girls to when you wanna get laid." He frowned. "And it's not like any of those chicks made you do something stupid."
"Dressed up in tights once." Sam narrowed his eyes, mouth pursing automatically while he waited for the punch line, but Dean was watching the road with a casual tilt to his head and nothing like sarcasm seeping out from underneath the leather jacket. "Back when I was a junior in high school and we were in Florida," Dean continued. "I did it for a cheerleader."
"Right. Some chick made you dress up like a reject from Men in Tights?"
"Worse than that, Sam. I'm talking about those puffy pants and those dumb shirts with the frilly collars, like they wear on that stupid ass show you're always watching on freaking public television. The one about that black snake guy trying not to get killed by the queen.
"Look, Dean, it's not that I don't…" Sam couldn't figure out how to tell Dean to stop talking because it wasn't helping and it wasn't making him feel any better and Sam sure as hell didn't know what the fuck Black Adder had to do with anything.
"You think I'm making this shit up?" Dean snorted. "She was blonde and she was stacked and she had this thing for mascots. The football team was called The Fighting Privateers and the mascot dressed up like one of those idiots on that show." He shook his head, a smile flickering across his mouth. "Told me all the things I'd get to do to her one afternoon when we were under the bleachers if I showed up at halftime wearing the mascot costume."
The car turned into the parking lot of their apartment complex and Dean was shaking his head. "So I showed up dressed like a lunatic during halftime in those foofy pants and the tights and the frilly thing around my neck and the goddamn girl ends up in the backseat of a Camry with the quarterback." He twisted the key in the ignition. "Turns out the chick had a bigger thing for jocks. Of course, that drama girl who was in the costume room when I was sneaking it back in had the hots for boys in tights so I ended up getting some anyway." He winked at Sam before opening his door. "But I didn't know that when she started yelling at me for stealing the Romeo costume."
Sam didn't know what the story really said about girls but it explained something – that Dean was some kind of sex mutant. Hell, that was probably why his brain didn't work. Dean was spending so much time thinking about sex that normal things like personal hygiene and tact didn't matter.
"So a story about you wearing slops and still getting screwed is supposed to cheer me up?" Sam demanded.
"The foofy pants," Sam snapped. "They're called slops."
"I'm not sure, Sammy, but I'll tell you one thing. That cheerleader never chased after me calling my name. And that says something." Dean slammed the door and walked towards the stairwell, hands jammed in his pockets as he whistled off-key.
Sam followed him, his throat one giant ache as he remembered the way Sally bent over with her hands clutched to her chest. He didn't say anything as Dean opened the door, kicking off his wet shoes and throwing his slicker over the nearest kitchen chair before trudging down the hall to his bedroom. Sam slammed the door behind him, falling forward stiffly onto the mattress – getting a mouthful of comforter for his trouble.
Did…did you mean it?
Even Sam Winchester sucked ass.
The fourth time Dean knocked on his bedroom door, the smell of something that wasn't macaroni and cheese was wafting through the cracks between the wood and the doorjamb and Black Sabbath was wailing from the kitchen.
Sam had ignored Dean's knocks before but this time he rolled over onto his side and roared, "Go away!"
He had been dreaming about reading the sonnet again – only this time, he was stark naked while going on about Sally playing her piano and what her blonde hair looked like in the moonlight – and Sam really didn't want to have explain that after the whole conversation in the car.
But his yell didn't keep Dean from turning the doorknob. Sam sat up, bracing himself on one arm. "I said go away, Dean! Jesus…" He was going to say more but he realized that Dean was yowling in the background along with Black Sabbath and the door was still opening with a slow creak.
"It's me." Sally stepped into the room, closing the door behind her and leaning on it – looking down at her feet while she bit her lip. She must have been there awhile, because her jacket was off and she was wearing that old apron Dean found in the kitchen cupboard after they first moved in over the clothes she wore to school.
Sam nonchalantly tried to smooth down the cowlick near his left ear when she looked up at him suddenly, hoping she wouldn't see the dried drool flaking across his hand – or the bits that were gathered at the corner of his mouth.
"I'm such a big dummy," she said, her blue eyes sparkling behind her glasses. Sally brought her fingers up to rub hard against her eyes. It was like there was a hammer pounding in his chest, keeping time to the heel Sally was tapping against the door. "If I were you, I wouldn't wanna talk to me, either," she added, stepping towards the bed. Sally pulled out a piece of paper from her pocket and handed it to Sam.
It was a sonnet, written out in white ink on blue paper – loops and whorls in Sally's handwriting, flowers carefully etched out in the corners.
"I knew," she whispered when their fingers touched.
"That Mr. Duran was gonna make us read them out loud."
"You can read minds now?"
She shook her head. "He's been dating my mom since the summer and I heard him telling her when they were doing dishes after dinner on Sunday night. I guess they didn't realize their voices carried over the water and they thought I was helping Mia with her homework. She's just started fractions and I've been pretty good at those since I was her age so I thought I'd teach her the tricks of how they worked. And then I heard him say it. How he was gonna make us read the poems out loud." Sally looked over Sam's shoulder, eyes narrowing at the scratch of a dead branch against the window. "I got scared 'cause I didn't wanna sound stupid."
"But you didn't care about making me sound stupid," Sam said, voice low as he crumpled the paper in his hand. There was a smudge of chocolate cake batter on her left cheek when she looked away from his stare – a little bit of John Winchester in the way his nose flared at her.
"You didn't sound stupid, Sam." Sally had the grace to lower her eyes when he snorted, remembering the way the kids hooted as she ran out of the room. "Well, not to me." She gestured towards the paper curled in his fist. "Turns out that I'm not so good with words at all. Even Janice thought it sucked and her idea of literature is Cosmo. She said that if I had to write a poem to get myself out of a wet paper bag, I was gonna suffocate to death. And then I heard that we were gonna have to read them out loud to the class and then you'd know I sucked, too. I really do."
Her shoulders were shaking just like they did that one time in the car – when that brown-haired bitch was making fun of her.
The tightness in Sam's chest eased and he smiled, feeling his cheeks crease the way Dad's always did when they finally stopped yelling long enough to listen to each other. His heart was still thumping but that had nothing to do with being angry and everything to do with wanting to lick that stripe of chocolate off of Sally Friedman's cheek.
"Your sister couldn't breathe her way out of a wet paper bag," Sam retorted. Sally flashed him her lopsided grin, eyes suddenly going wide when Sam started unfolding the paper in his hand.
Sally tried to bull rush him, making a feeble grab for the paper – but she didn't have years of martial arts training and Sally ended up staring him in the face as Sam used her momentum to roll her over onto the mattress, keeping the poem right out of her reach as Sally squirmed underneath him. "I swear to God, Sam Winchester, if you read it I'm gonna – "
Sam brought his mouth down to her cheek, kissing right on the chocolate spot. "You're gonna what, Sally Friedman?" The question must have startled her because Sally's mouth opened quickly and shut just as fast with an audible click. It was enough of a distraction to scan the last words she'd scribbled across the paper before something galvanized Sally into moving again and she bucked underneath him. "I will never forget him, ere I die," Sam managed. "The boy who taught me the square root of pi."
"I warned you, Sam." Sally's fingers were underneath his arms, giggling when he hissed.
"Only you would stick math into a sonnet," Sam whispered against her ear, bringing out the big guns by sticking his hands up either side of her shirt and moving them up with his nails tickling against the skin. He kept waiting for the tug of elastic telling him he'd gone far enough but Sally trembled when he brought his hands around, skin coming into contact with curves – skin crinkling against his palms.
He waited one breath, and then another just in case, but Sally didn't tell him to stop or push him away or slap his face; she just hitched her arms around his neck and brought her mouth up to his, opening up with a sigh.
Sam Winchester had finally figured out how to make Sally Friedman shut up.
But the goddamn drumbeat on his bedroom door made her jump, smacking her forehead up into his as they pulled away from each other. "Hey, Math Girl," Dean bellowed outside the door. "The timer's gone off on the oven but the meringue doesn't look right."
"Probably cause you picked off all the cooked bits the first time we checked for browning," Sally retorted, her voice partially muffled by Sam's shoulder. "So now we've got a flat pie instead of one with…" Her cheeks turned bright red when she realized what was brushing against Sam's palms. "Peaks," she squeaked as Sam moved his hands back down to her waist.
"Peaks are the best part." Dean chuckled and rapped the door one last time. "You squirts better kiss and make up soon or I'm gonna burn that fancy tomato sauce you spent the last hour cooking." He coughed. "And there's not gonna be any frosting for the chocolate cake. Sam doesn't like cake without frosting."
Dean's footsteps were muffled by the music still blaring from the kitchen.
"You're cooking me dinner?" Sam asked softly.
"Janice always says that the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach and I figured she'd know given how many boys she goes out with. She says that it makes them feel like you really care even if you don't, which is kinda dumb because you shouldn't pretend to care." Sally's voice dropped to a whisper and she wrapped her arms around his waist, resting her forehead on his chest. "And you're my first everything, Sam. I'm sorry that I'm always making mistakes. I'm kinda new at this." Her breath hitched and Sam almost thought she was crying until she raised her head to look up at him. "But I think I'm always gonna want you to be my first everything."
Sam could barely swallow, remembering the cadence of Mr. Duran's voice, but he tightened his arms around her shoulders and pulled her in as close as he could.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong, to love that well which thou must leave ere long.
It wasn't about vengeance and it wasn't about loss – it was about making the most of every moment you were given, because you never knew when it was going to be taken away by a fire or a ghost creeping through an attic or even just some car hitting you from behind and throwing you into the road. It was too late for Dad, with his mission and his memories, and maybe it was too late for Dean – who made sure nothing ever scratched its way too deep past his smile.
But it wasn't too late for him.
Sam was still holding Sally tight when Dean opened the door with an exasperated sigh. There was an intake of breath, like Dean was getting ready to let loose, but his voice was soft.
Dean managed to sneak in a noogie as Sam walked past.
The title of this story is something I made up, based on my (gasp) dislike of writing sonnets. Not one song inspired it.
Yes, there's a Goonies' reference. Sue me. Chunk really is my hero.
The Shakespearian sonnet Mr. Duran recites is Sonnet 73. It just screamed "John Winchester" to me when I read it – what drove him, really, as a character. I think it was "In me thou seest the twilight of such day as after sunset fadeth in the west, which by and by black night doth take away, Death's second self, that seals up all in rest" that really hit it home for me – even more than the couplet at the end.
Dean in tights. I rest my case. Talk about methods of Elizabethan torture… ;-P
For those who have read "The Square Root of Pi," this occurs in Part Two after the make-out scene but before the conversation in the library.