soundbite: glasses (di[e]ce)

He got his glasses the summer between middle school and high school. It was just a slight astigmatism in both eyes, but it was enough that his parents insisted, so two weeks after graduation, he found himself stuck with a pair: heavy black rims that felt too heavy and awkward on his face and threw the whole balance of it off.

You need to be able to see in order to do well, his mother scolded, when he complained. Seitokoh isn’t an easy school! What do you think will happen if you’re too careless with your grades? You can’t rely on Sion-kun to help you out every time.

Why not, he wanted to argue, but his father cut him off with a small cuff to the back of his head before he could, proposing Chinese for dinner, and that was the end of the argument.

Still, he tried to avoid the glasses as much as he could. They just felt uncomfortable, too much pressure behind his ears and against his temples, and they slid whenever he moved any faster than a slow walk. The first time he tried to play basketball with them was a disaster: the way they slid and slipped, he had a harder time seeing than without them entirely. Annoyed, he preferred to stuff them in his pocket whenever he could. It wasn’t as if his eyes were _that_ bad, after all. Maybe he could exercise them the same way he worked out, and then he wouldn’t need them any more.

And then, a month later, Sion’s family returned from their vacation from — whatever tropical paradise sort of place that the ridiculously rich visited when they were directed to spend their stupid amounts of money. Gara received the text shortly before midnight. All it said was: I’m back.

He snapped his book shut and tossed it aside on his bed and went to his window. In a moment he had it open and was climbing his way down: their apartment was only on the third floor, and there were enough ledges and a fire escape staircase that made it relatively easy — easier than going through the front and risking waking his father. The old man wasn’t unbearable, but he had the sort of temper that could turn something small into a big fight, and he wasn’t terribly interested in shifting through that.

Once on the ground, he stuffed his hands into his pockets and ambled towards the nearby park. It wasn’t “their” place — that sort of thing was stupid, more for childhood sweethearts than just old friends — but as he expected, he could see a pale-haired figure seated on one of the swings.

“Yo,” he called, lifting a hand in greeting. “Took you long enough. How sunburned are you?”

“Unlike you, I have mastered the concept of sunscreen,” Sion said. “And Mother insisted that I wear a hat.”

“Seriously? I would’ve paid money to see that.”

“And this is why you’re always broke.” Sion’s tone was long-suffering. He turned, then he frowned. “What on earth–?”

It took him a moment to realize, and then he thought: shit, the glasses. He’d been reading, and the text was blurry enough to give him a headache without them, so he hadn’t even thought about it … with a sigh, he rubbed the back of his neck.

“The old lady insisted,” he said. “Apparently thinks I really need ’em or something.”

Sion pressed his lips together, thoughtful. “Your eyes were really that bad?”

“Don’t say that like you noticed all along …”

“You weren’t exactly subtle about it.”

“Bastard, are you trying to make fun of me?!”

“If it’s the truth, there’s no changing that.” Sion sighed and rose up from the swings. “… They don’t look too bad.”

The retort died on his lips. He paused and automatically adjusted them up his nose. “–Uh?”

“They almost make you look civilized.” It was hard to tell exactly, but he knew too well what it was like when Sion was laughing: there was a slight tightening at the edges of his eyes and the corners of his mouth, and his voice sped up just a fraction. Someone who didn’t know him wouldn’t have even noticed, but he was too familiar with the bastard to live in that sort of blissful ignorance. “Maybe even stylish?”

“Ugh.” He covered his face with one hand. “In that case, I’m definitely getting rid of them as soon as possible.”

“That would be too bad,” Sion said. “What would you do when classes started?”

“Don’t say things like that, you sound like my ma.”

Sion leaned forward just a little, and this time he was the one who adjusted the glasses, settling them so they actually seemed to fit, like they were slotting finally into their proper place. “I like them,” he said, simply.

He ended up keeping them after all.

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