Sam Winchester narrowed his eyes as he struggled to read the words his teacher had written on the blackboard. He closed his eyes for a moment and opened them again but that didn't seem to make any difference. The white-on-black bled together into an indistinguishable blur. Maybe he was just tired. Sam had spent the better part of last night researching banshees for his father.
Sam closed his textbook and laid his head on his desk- he was sitting at the back of the class so he was sure his teacher wouldn't see him- and closed his eyes.
The final bell rang and Sam jumped a little in surprise, glancing around at his fellow classmates gathering up their notebooks and rushing towards the door. A cacophony of noise echoed around the hallway, the slamming of locker doors and shouting voices, announced the beginning of the weekend.
"Samuel?" The sixteen-year old looked up at his teacher. He hated it when people called him by his full name but he knew that the History teacher would keep calling him by it even if he corrected her.
"Yes?" He asked nervously. Mrs. Kent seemed like a nice woman, middle-aged and plump, she had a matronly way about her that her students actually seemed to like. She wasn't stern or strict like the Tenth Grade math teacher, Mr. Richards who demanded his students' undivided attention and nearly always had someone stay after class.
"Are you alright?" Mrs. Kent asked, her face a mask of concern.
Sam nodded as he tucked his notebook and textbook underneath his arm, "Yes, Ma'am."
"Okay, I'll see you on Monday then," she said, "Try and get some rest over the weekend, won't you?"
Sam nodded, knowing that he could be miles away from Glenview High if his Dad had his way. Sam slipped past his teacher and out into the hallway. It had emptied considerably in the minute it had taken Sam to speak to Mrs. Kent so he hurried to his locker, knowing that Dean was waiting for him.
Nearly running out the school's front doors, Sam smiled when he saw his brother leaning against the Impala, in the same spot he always was.
"Hey!" Sam called to Dean and his older brother smiled, pushing himself away from the car.
"How was school, Squirt?" Dean asked and Sam scowled.
"Don't call me that!" Sam demanded, slightly irritated but not really mad.
"Why not? You are a squirt," Dean chuckled and ruffled his brother's long, dark hair affectionately.
Sam sighed and flattened down his mussed locks, "And don't do that either!"
Dean, smirking, held his hands out in surrender, "Okay, okay, sheesh. I can tell you had a bad day."
"School was fine," Sam muttered, finally answering his brother's question, folding his arms over his chest.
Dean nodded and turned on the stereo, cranking the volume when Metallica's 'Eye of the Beholder' started playing.
Dean glanced up from the television when he heard Sam sigh and saw his younger pinch the bridge of his nose as though he had a headache.
"You okay there, Sammy?" Dean asked his brother and Sam nodded.
"I'm just a little tired," He muttered and pushed back from the table he was sitting at and grabbed a bottle of water from the kitchenette's tiny fridge.
Dean smirked, "Yeah, all that reading will do that to you."
Sam rolled his eyes but didn't reply. He drank some of the water from the bottle and sat back down.
"Why don't you call it a night," Dean suggested as Sam slumped forward slightly, clearly not in the mood to research anymore.
The younger Winchester shook his head and tried to focus on the printed words that were now black smudges on the pages, "Dad needs this for tomorrow."
"Pffft," Dean sighed, "Dad can do his own damn research for once, Sammy."
It was clear that the younger boy needed a break and Dean knew that Sam was stubborn enough to deny it.
"C'mon," Dean cajoled, "I'll even let you pick what show we watch."
Sam hesitated for only a moment before abandoning his books and sat down on the bed beside his brother, Dean handing over the TV remote control reverently.
Dean smiled at his younger brother, not even groaning when Sam found a documentary about sharks to watch.
"Sam! Shoot it!" John snapped at his youngest as the Black Dog ran straight for the sixteen-year old.
The father watched helplessly as his son squeezed off a shot, wincing when the bullet missed its mark, and the monster bowled the young man over.
John had had his own gun pointed on the creature but he couldn't get it at the correct angle to get the killing shot. He had expected Sam to be able to do it.
John pulled the trigger twice and the Black Dog screamed, tumbling off the young man and twitching in the leaf litter for a moment before growing still.
Sam sat up, dazed and wiped the sleeve of his shirt at his hairline where a gash was leaking blood down his forehead.
John stomped up to his youngest and pulled him up, "Damn it, Sam! I told you to shoot the friggin' thing! Didn't you hear me?"
Sam lowered his gaze, "I did… but with all the shadows… makes it hard to see… you know…"
John sighed and ran a hand over his face, "Whatever. It's dead now. Go back to the car and I'll take care of this."
Sam nodded and started off through the forest.
The father looked after his son. He knew he shouldn't have taken Sam with him on this hunt but he'd had no choice. Dean had sprained his ankle on their last case and could barely limp to the motel bathroom much less track a Black Dog through the woods at midnight.
John Winchester pulled a book of matches and a small container of salt from his jacket pockets and set about making sure there was no evidence of a Black Dog by the time the Park Rangers found arrived in the area.
Sam rubbed his temples, squinting his eyes in pain. The words on the blackboard swim in the teen's vision, completely illegible.
Sighing, Sam put his head on his desk to rest his eyes for a moment-
"Mr. Winchester! Is my lesson boring you?!" Ms. Warburton's high-pitched voice rang out and the students sitting around Sam smirked.
"No Ma'am," Sam replied and lifted his head, grimacing in pain.
"Since no one has volunteered to read from the blackboard, Mr. Winchester," Ms. Warburton continued, "I will ask you to do so."
Sam swallowed nervously. All eyes were on him. Of course they were, he was the 'new kid'. He'd only been at Grover Cleveland High School for three days. And with his luck he'd managed to piss off his very strict Geography teacher.
As Sam hesitated, he heard titters coming from his classmates and he blushed with embarrassment. It wasn't that he couldn't read, of course he could but the words refused to focus.
"I can't see the words," Sam muttered, staring down at his desk, cheeks burning.
"Don't mutter, Mr. Winchester," the old, spinster teacher crowed.
"I…uh… I can't see the board, Ms. Warburton," Sam said loudly, hoping that she would cut him some slack.
"Then come sit up here," she pointed to an empty desk in the front row.
Great, Sam thought as he gathered up his books, as if I wasn't already enough of a freak.
Sam sat down in the vacant seat but the shortened distance didn't improve Sam's sight. Irritated with the young man, the Geography teacher called on another student to read aloud while Sam struggled to make sense of the whitish blurs on the board.
"What do you mean Sam needs glasses?" John Winchester snapped at the optometrist. The doctor, to his credit, wasn't intimidated by the hunter. A bearish man himself, Dr. Ayers, simply repeats his prognosis.
"Sam's been experiencing blurred vision, headaches, exhaustion," he restated, "Those all point to eyestrain and after doing some tests, it's clear that your son needs glasses."
John folded his arms across his chest, "What if Sam just takes it easy for a while?"
The optometrist shook his head, "That will only help for a short time, Mr. Winchester."
John ran a hand through his salt-and-pepper hair and sighed, "How much do these things cost?"
Dr. Ayers shrugged, "Some frames are more expensive than others."
John didn't like the sound of that. He didn't have a lot of money to begin with- not for this sort of thing anyway- and he wasn't in the mood to shell out the big bucks so Sam could have some designer glasses.
"How long will it take the make the prescription?" John wanted to know. The hunt that had brought the small family to town was finished and John hated staying longer than necessary after a case was closed.
"Sam can pick out the frames he wants today and I'll call you in two to three days," Dr. Ayers answered amicably.
John follows the optometrist out of the office and down the hallway to a room that holds a wide selection of glasses and sunglasses sitting on clear plastic hangers. Dean and Sam are already there, playing around.
Dean is chuckling at himself in the mirror, a pair of hot pink frames with rhinestones on the arms, perched on his nose.
Sam's wearing a pair of deep blue, square-framed glasses and seemingly admiring himself alongside Dean's reflection.
John's eldest catches sigh of his father first and immediately takes the glasses off, nudging his brother as he does so.
Quickly sobering up, both Sam and Dean look to their father as John walks forward, eyeing the frames along the wall critically.
"Please take your time," Dr. Ayers says and seats himself behind the desk, "It's often a tough decision, especially for the first time."
Sam, clearly nervous, put the dark blue glasses back and shoves his hands in his pockets. The moment of camaraderie has all but dried up now. He didn't want glasses. Not at all. He was already a loser and having glasses would just make it worse. Dean had tried to cheer him up but now that reality was back in place with their father's arrival, Sam was reluctant to choose a pair of frames.
"I kind of liked these ones on you, Sammy," Dean spoke up, holding a pair of dark green frames.
"Yeah?" Sam asked and Dean nodded, "Show Dad."
John's youngest took the frames and placed them on his nose, turning, he glanced at his Dad, a hopeful expression on his face.
"How much?" John asked; no so much caring about what the glasses looked like as he did the price tag attached.
Dean told their father the price and John shook his head.
Sam put the glasses back and tried out another pair… and another… and another…
It wasn't fun anymore. John didn't say anything about how the frames looked, only concerning himself with the cost.
John couldn't believe it! How could something so flimsy, make out of some bent pieces of wire or plastic and glass cost and arm and a leg?
He scrutinized the glasses again and his gaze lit upon a pair at the end of the line. He strode away from his sons and snagged the frames, peering at the price and smiled.
"Here," John said and handed the pair of frames to Sam.
The sixteen-year-old's eyes widen and Dean suppresses a smirk.
"Oh, no Dad-" Sam begins to protest but John glowers down at him. Sam sighs and puts the glasses on and peers at his reflection.
The glasses are round-framed and made of black plastic. They looked ridiculous.
"There," John said and clapped Sam on the shoulder, "They're perfect."
Sam took the frames off, "Maybe in a different style-"
But his father interrupted, "Dr. Ayers, we'll take these ones!"
"Dad!" Sam exclaimed frustrated.
John glares at his youngest, his expression telling Sam to shut up and do as he's told.
The teen looks to his brother for help but all Dean can do is raise his hands in a 'what can I do?' gesture.
John gives the optometrist the frames and the doctor promises to call him as soon as Sam's glasses are ready.
Sam can't believe it.
He's going to look like an idiot in those glasses!
Doesn't his father care?
Sam said nothing when he got into the backseat of the Impala, just glared angrily out the window while Dean sang along to some rock song and John drove with a little triumphant smile on his face.
When they arrive at the motel room, Sam decides to plead his case. At least if John gets angry he won't crash the Impala. No, he'll probably throw something- a chair, a lamp or a punch- at Sam and then storm out and disappear for a few hours.
Dean promptly sits on the bed he and Sam have to share and turns on the television.
John fishes a beer from the bar fridge and cracks it open.
"Uh… Dad?" Sam mutters, feeling nervous. It isn't like he hasn't fought with his father before, but he's rarely asked John for anything and every time he get the same response.
Sam is the selfish one; Sam is the one who clearly doesn't care about the family, etc.
"Yeah?" John asks and takes a swig of beer.
"Um… about those glasses," Sam begins, "I… I don't really like them…"
John lowers his beer bottle and stares at his son, "So? You need them."
Sam sighs and runs a hand through his hair, "I know I need them but why does it have to be those ones?"
"They were the least expensive," John told him, "Money doesn't grow on trees, Sam!"
"I know that, but-" Sam argues but his father cuts him off, "But what? Just because they're not cool, you don't want them! Is that it? 'Cause let me tell you now; there are more important things in life than being popular!"
Sam narrowed his eyes, "They look ridiculous! Everyone's going to make fun of me!"
Dean had turned his attention from the TV and was staring at his father and brother. He didn't say anything though, didn't intercede. No, he knew better than to get in between those two when they went at it. All Dean did was pick up the pieces afterwards.
"Then don't go to school! Quit!" John shouted, "I don't know why you insist on going anyway! If you left it would make everything so much easier!"
Sam didn't know how to reply. How had this transformed into an argument about Sam's education?
"Fine! Buy the glasses but I'll be damned if I wear them!"
"I'm doing this for you, you ungrateful little shit!" John pointed an index finger at his youngest son.
Sam felt anger coming off him in waves. Ungrateful? He didn't have to stay, he could leave, emancipate but no, he stayed for Dean (and his father) and the man was calling him ungrateful?
"You know what?" John sneered, "I don't know why I'm even arguing with you, you are going to wear those glasses and this'll be the last time I hear about it!"
John shoved roughly past his youngest and slammed the door as he left the room.
Sam remained where he was for a long moment. He didn't know what to do, what to say.
He should have known his father would be angry. Why did he even bring it up?
Shaking his head, Sam feels all his rage seep out of him and exhaustion replaces it. Dean gets up, takes a step towards his brother but then stops.
"You can say it, Dean," Sam mutters and shuffles over to the bed, "I know you're thinking it."
"What?" his brother asks innocently.
"Why do I push Dad's buttons all the time?" Sam huffed a humorless laugh and pressed his back against the headboard.
"I wasn't going to say that," Dean answers quietly.
Sam raises an eyebrow inquisitively.
"I was going to say that… maybe you're right."
Sam grimaces, "No… It's stupid… I need glasses and Dad's buying them. I should be happy I don't have to pay for them myself."
Dean smiled and sat down on the bed beside his brother, "You don't have any money."
Somehow Dean always made even the worst moments bearable. Arguing with his father about a pair of glasses certainly wasn't one of Sam's proudest moments- and maybe he was acting childish- but at least he'd said what he wanted to. There was a strange sense of freedom in being able to speak his piece, even if he only ended up enraging his father because of it.
Sam sighed. He guessed it didn't really matter if he got made fun of for his new glasses. He'd been the target of bullies and teasing all his life- for his haircut, his hand-me-down clothes, his clumsiness and shyness- having glasses would just add to the list, not start one.
"If anyone picks on you," Dean said, almost as if he could read Sam's thoughts, "I'll kick their ass."
Sam smiled, knowing that however any times he argued with his father, Dean would always be there at the end of it to pick up the pieces.
Dean couldn't contain the smirk that crossed his face when he saw Sam wearing his new glasses.
Dr. Ayers had seen Sam's less-than-happy expression at his office and assured the teen that he 'would get used to them.'
Sam had been quiet on the drive back to the motel. He fiddled with the glasses- taking them off and putting them on again, closing and opening the arms- until John spoke up.
"You break them you are no getting another pair."
They only returned to the motel long enough to grab their bag- already packed before they had gone to the optometrist's- and check out.
"Hey, Sammy," Dean twisted in the front seat so he could see his brother, ignoring John's irritated look, "You're transformation into nerd is now complete!"
Sam burst out laughing
Dean grinned happily at his brother's carefree moment and settled back in his seat. Even though John had managed to get the ugliest, cheapest pair of glasses, Dean was glad that Sam wouldn't stay depressed about it for long. He would make sure of it.
Flopping down on the hard motel bed, Sam yawned loudly. They had been in the car all day and he was grateful for the rest.
"You want the bathroom first?" Dean asked, "I know how long it takes you to get ready for bed."
"Ha ha," Sam muttered and picked his duffel bag up from the floor. The motel had an exterior sink and Sam glanced for the nth time at his reflection.
Pushing the glasses farther up his nose, he couldn't help but smile, if only a little.
"Hurry up, Harry Potter!" Dean called, "Dad wants us to go down to the library with him!"
1. First of all, I'd like to give a shout out to my sister, BerserkerHellHound for coming up with the idea for this fic and who told me I should use the words 'vision orbs' so I didn't say 'eyes' too often while I wrote.
2. I don't own the boy wizard or the Winchester brothers. They belong to J.K. Rowling and Eric Kripe, respectively.
3. Please leave a review and let me know what you thought!