"Dean, how much do a pair of sneakers cost?"
It'd been a week since Cedar Rapids, since those other kids made fun of Sam and his sneakers. He was fifteen now and he'd been having his first real growth spurt ever since April, but his sneakers were old and not quite keeping up with his feet. He hadn't said anything about it to Dean or Dad, about the kids and what they said to him, but he'd spent that week thinking of almost nothing else.
Dad was out at the trunk of the car, Sam could see him out the open door of the motel room. That was the only reason he was talking to Dean about this right now. He didn't want Dad to hear.
"Sneakers? Not much. I got these at the Amvets for three dollars and seventy nine cents." Dean gestured to the sneakers on his feet.
"I mean real sneakers."
"These aren't real? They're Skechers."
Sam grumbled and growled because he knew Dean knew what he was talking about.
"I mean new sneakers."
"Depends. I've seen sneakers for six bucks at Wal-Mart, but they wouldn't last you two months. The sneakers you're wearing, if you got 'em new, they'd cost you over a hundred dollars."
Sam twisted his feet around, looking at his sneakers. He'd had them nearly five months now, he got them at some thrift store or garage sale. They were a good brand but they were old and wearing out, and anyway he was outgrowing them.
"I'll save up."
"A hundred dollars? Forget that it'll take you two years to save that much - do you know what you could get a thrift store for a hundred dollars?"
"I don't care. I want new sneakers."
"Dad'll never let you."
"I don't care. If I save up my money, then it's my money. He can't tell me I can't spend it on sneakers."
Dean gave him a 'don't say I didn't warn you' look and went back to cleaning his gun. Sam shot him a dirty look and went back to the ancient book balanced on his knees.
"I want new sneakers."
He heard the trunk shut and Dad came into the room. He didn't shut the door behind him though; he hardly set foot over the threshold.
"I have to go check something out." He said. "You boys wait here, I'll bring supper back."
"Okay Dad." Dean said. Sam just nodded, thinking mostly of sneakers. New sneakers, brand spanking new sneakers that nobody ever wore but him, that he could break in, that nobody would make fun of.
"I'm gonna take a walk." He left the book and the room behind and walked around the squat motel building. In the flat landscape he could see the Impala driving down the highway and he couldn't even summon the energy to wonder where Dad was going, what he had to check out.
He followed the sidewalk to a low brick wall around the side of the building and he sat there to wallow in his misery a little bit longer. Was new sneakers too much to ask? Too much to want? Apparently, if he listened to Dean. Well, just add it to the list of things that were too much to ask.
He sat there a little while; he would've sat there longer but Dean came around the corner of the building and sat next to him.
"Something more than sneakers going on?"
"You know, I've got some money saved up. We won't be able to get you top of the line sneakers, but we'll do pretty good."
Sam narrowed his eyes, puzzled.
"You'd buy me sneakers? New sneakers?"
"Sure, why not?"
"'Cause you said - what you could get at a thrift store for a hundred dollars. You don't want to waste it on sneakers."
"I wouldn't be wasting it."
Sam smiled, a genuine smile. That Dean would buy him sneakers, would spend all of his money just to get Sam a new pair of sneakers brought Sam dangerously close to what Dean would call a chick flick moment.
And Dean smiled, like Sam had just given him a gift.
"I saw a mall down the expressway. After Dad gets back, after supper, we'll take a run to the store. Okay?"
"Great. C'mon, let's go back to the room and you can help me clean the guns."
They were just putting the guns and cleaning supplies away when Dad showed up with supper. He set the plastic bags on the table.
"Hey Sam - there's another bag in the car, you go get it?"
Sam walked out to the car and pulled the door open - and saw a bag from Sneaker Silo in the passenger seat of the car. He stared at it. Then he stared at it some more. That bag couldn't be for him. Or even if it was, there couldn't be sneakers in it.
Not new sneakers.
Sam turned to Dad standing in the doorway. Dad looked at Sam's hands.
"Didn't you find the bag?"
"I - yeah - what - is it - I mean -."
"Open it up. Have a look."
Dad had a look on his face that Sam didn't see very often - happy. Why would buying Sam sneakers make Dad happy?
"Really?" Sam asked.
Sam picked up the bag and sat sideways in the passenger seat to open it. He pulled the shoe box out and lifted the lid. There, there in his lap, in his hands, there in his life was a pair of good sneakers. New good sneakers.
"Aw Dad - awesome."
"Really?" Dad asked. Dad never asked if what he did was okay. He either took it for granted or he just didn't care.
Sam hugged the sneakers to his chest.
"I got 'em a size bigger, so they'll fit longer until you outgrow them."
"I'll take really good care of them. I'll try not to wear them out. Sam promised. New sneakers. Freaking new sneakers. He wasn't sure he could ever even wear them they were so perfect.
"Sammy - you're gonna outgrow them in six months. I want you to wear the hell out of them." Dad said it so happy, smiling still like Sam had never seen him that he almost really gave in to the urge to hug Dad like he used to when he was little. Almost. Instead though, he smiled like it felt he hadn't smiled in months.
"You're welcome. Now c'mon in and have some supper."
Sam nodded and hurried to put the sneakers back in their box and shut the car door before he went to Dad.
"How'd you know?" He asked. He had to ask.
"I heard you talking to Dean. Well, I heard the word 'sneaker' and I thought it maybe explained why you've been staring at your feet all week."
"Hey Sam!" Dean called from inside the room. "Look what Dad brought!"
"Thanks Dad." Sam said again as he hurried inside to see what Dad had gotten for Dean. For an instant he felt so much love for Dad that had nothing to do with sneakers at all. He had the best Dad in the whole world.