The next week passed by in a blur for Sam. His world was consumed by the effort to try and adapt to living at almost a twentieth of his size, and trying to keep up with Jacob while his family was on vacation.
Every minute was an adventure. The three humans didn’t take long to discover that raised voices-- even just raised in excitement-- could hurt Sam’s hearing. He was too small for it. His own voice had become a lot softer, hard to make out if he was too far away. Sam did his best to make sure at least one person in the family knew where he was at all times.
Mostly, that came down to Jacob. The two kids spent most of their time together, exploring Sam’s new world. Jacob had big, wide eyes as he watched Sam walk across the dresser, so tiny in front of the television that perched there. They tried out the room phone and discovered Sam had to press down really hard on the buttons, but he could press them if he needed to.
There were a few times where Sam found himself wondering after Walt and the tiny Mallory. When he woke up that first day from his nap, Sam contemplated the side of the bed one last time before choosing to stay on the pillow. Snuggling down into the flannel shirt, he reaffirmed his determination to find his big brother and get back to normal one day.
Now, Sam was sitting in a place he wouldn’t have imagined before his curse. Jacob’s hands were cupped under him and they were in the backseat of the Andris family car, on their way home.
They hadn’t found Dean and John yet, but Sam wouldn’t give up hope. His family was out there.
One day, he’d return to them.
Down in Jacob’s hands, Sam couldn’t see out the windows. He found himself shifting around impatiently, anxious to see where they were. “Are we almost there?” Sam asked, trying to resist the impulse to stand. He knew that was dangerous, and at his size he didn’t need to throw in any more danger.
Jacob grinned at Sam before looking up. Even after several days knowing Sam, he hadn't gotten tired of watching his miniature movements. He'd even gotten used to feeling that tiny weight shifting around on his hands. He hoped it would make him better at carrying Sam not-too-fast like he preferred. He didn't have a perfect record with that quite yet.
"Mama, are we close?" he asked.
She turned to look at him with a faint smile, her sunglasses glinting in the light. Her eyes flickered to Sam in his hands, making sure the smaller boy was alright. "Thirty more minutes, baby," she answered. Then, she pointed out his window. "You can almost see downtown Des Moines, though."
Jacob gasped and turned his head to look. After only a second, he remembered to slowly lift his hands enough for Sam to see too. A cluster of tall buildings was just barely visible in the distance. Panes of glass threw back the colors of steel and sky. "That's the city where papa works," he explained.
Sam leaned forward eagerly, peering past Jacob’s fingers. He could see the closer land speeding by the car, and found himself wondering just how big the buildings in the city would look from his new perspective. The motel itself when they’d left was big enough, and that was only one story, stretching out on both sides as the car pulled away.
His eyes flashed to Jacob’s dad in the front for a second. Sam still hadn’t come to terms with the man’s sheer size. Though Nicholas behaved himself perfectly if he was ever around the tiny child, keeping his voice low and listening carefully for Sam, he would always loom. There was no way to get around that. Nicholas Andris was six foot five inches tall, and Sam was lucky to top two and a half.
“Where’s he work?” Sam asked curiously. He could match Jacob question for question in his drive to know, and the concept of staying in one place to work and living in a house was completely new to him. It was something everyone else did, not him.
"Ummm," Jacob stalled, biting his bottom lip as he thought about it. "He builds stuff," he said cautiously, still unsure of the actual name of his father's workplace. He glanced over at Mariana again for help.
"Papa works with big machines in a factory," she reminded him gently. "They make parts for buildings."
"Yeah," Jacob recalled with a nod, grinning proudly. "Sometimes papa works so hard he sleeps on the couch right away when he comes home!"
"Are you telling stories on me back there?" Nicholas spoke up, glancing at the kids in the rearview mirror and flashing a grin.
Sam caught the look and flushed, ducking his head down. His nerves had a hard time with that deep bass rumble of a voice, but he still managed to reply “My dad falls asleep in front of the TV a lot when he comes home from work.” A memory of Thanksgiving day with their dad passed out on the couch came to mind, but Sam didn’t share that. He didn’t need the looks that he got in school when teachers found out his father wasn’t home much.
“He doesn’t work in a factory, though,” Sam continued on. “I’ve seen him work with machinery when he’s fixing the Impala, and he’s good at fixing things. Dean’s good at it too. He likes to help out.”
Jacob listened along eagerly. Something about hearing his small friend talk about his family, the few times he did, was fascinating. Part of Jacob kept imagining Dean and John at Sam's scale, since he'd never seen Sam at the proper size. He knew that couldn't be right, since the motel people had said that the man in room 142 left in a hurry; he couldn't drive a big car if he was small.
"Someday I might be strong enough to fix stuff or build stuff, too," he said hopefully. "Maybe. I could learn from papa and maybe even meet your brother and learn from him, too. We can both help out."
“It’s a lot of work!” Sam told Jacob. “Dean will be outside all day if he gets caught up with cars. He doesn’t even notice when I go exploring. I gotta be careful not to get lost, though. Dean gets worried if he can’t find me, and then dad gets mad at Dean.”
Quieting down, Sam turned to watch the fields pass out the window, wondering where his family might be. They might even be in the same city as Jacob’s family, and no one would ever know. Drifters, in for a night and gone in the morning. Just long enough to save who they could.
Sam didn’t know that Dean was sequestered at Bobby’s house at that very moment. He wasn’t allowed to cross the front door, and the two hunters were searching everywhere they could for the witch that had vanished.
She was gone, taking any trace of Sam with her.
Dean stared out the kitchen window of Bobby’s house, watching the junkyard that stretched out before him. Farther out, the fields and the trees separated the home from any neighbors, separating the hunter’s headquarters from a world that didn’t believe in curses or witches.
There would be no happy ending for them that day. Sam was gone, and his killer vanished.
Since the attack, Dean hadn’t said a word. Not to his father, not at the Gas ‘n Sip on the way home when he pointed out a sandwich from the clerk, and not to Bobby’s gentle prods.
He just watched the world pass him by, shadows under his eyes that hadn’t been there a few weeks ago.
It was impossible for either brother to know what the other was doing, but Sam at least had hope. He could cling to his memories and know that they were out there. He could search.
Dean had none of that.
Sam bounced back down in his seat and leaned against Jacob’s chest. It was strange to lean against a surface that swayed in and out with constant gusts of breath, but the constant pound of the other kid’s heart was a good anchor for Sam. He let out a small breath of his own, and let his eyes watch the clouds pass by outside.
Jacob rested his head against the back of his booster seat, slouching his shoulders a little as the car fell into easy silence again. The roaring of the road beneath the tires kept up a constant thrum in his ears and he counted the clouds and tried to make up animals out of their shapes.
He never could have expected his vacation to go like this. He was returning home with the smallest friend he ever made sitting right on his hands. His parents had talked him through things time and time again. It's not safe for other people to know about Sam. We have to keep him a secret or he could get really hurt.
Jacob was determined for that never to happen. He promised to look out for Sam as long as he needed to.
In the front seat, Mariana glanced back at the boys once every few minutes. Jacob was blinking slowly, his eyelids heavy as the ride lulled him into relaxation. Little Sam, resting on his hands, was so quiet and relaxed there, too. The two had really bonded over the last week.
It was a dangerous combination. At one point, Sam had contributed to Jacob's begging face with some puppy eyes of his own from inside Jacob's pocket. Mariana hadn't been able to say no to buying them a treat after that.
She shared a quick glance with Nicholas before facing front again. Things were definitely going to change in their home, until they somehow managed to hear about John Winchester. It wasn't right that Sam was separated from his family, but in the meantime Mariana was determined that they'd be his substitute family. He would be cared for.
When the first buildings on the outskirts of their little Iowa town came into view, she looked back again with a smile. "Almost to Carlisle, boys. Betcha can't wait to get to the house and stretch your legs a little after sitting for so long, huh?"
Sam bobbed his head, eager and excited and more than a little nervous for their trip to be over. He had no idea what was coming, but the thought of a giant house to see intrigued him. In the motel room, he only had two rooms to check out with Jacob. An entire house offered a wealth of opportunities, and he’d get to see where he was going to be staying while they searched for his family.
“Is it a big house?” Sam called up to her, leaning forward with Jacob’s fingers as support. He’d stayed at houses before with Dean while their dad was working. Bobby’s most often, but there were other friends of John Winchester around who offered the boys a roof over their head that they didn’t need to pay for. Those times were nice because Dean didn’t seem to worry as much. There was always food available.
"Big enough for us," she answered back with a smile. After Sam's initial nerves, Mariana was glad to see him eager about things whenever it happened. She didn't want him to be scared, though he had every right to be. Even without his size, life had thrown him quite a curveball.
"It's got a kitchen and a living room and a little office, and mama and papa's room, and my room," Jacob chimed in with a grin. For his part, he couldn't wait to show Sam around his house.
In a conspiratorial whisper, Jacob added "And there's a coat closet in the hall and it's the best spot for hide and seek. Papa never knows!"
Sam had to laugh at that. The thought of hiding in an entire closet at his size seemed silly now. He could hide behind an alarm clock if he wanted to, or a coffee mug. “I bet no one could find me if it was my turn to hide!” Sam declared.
The mention of bedrooms reminded Sam that he didn't have a place to call his own anymore. It used to be normal, and all he'd need was a bed to rest his head on, but now everyone else had their own room.
Clearly he wouldn't need an entire bedroom to himself, but…
“Where will I stay?” Sam asked, glancing between Jacob and Mariana.
"You can stay in my room!" Jacob volunteered, smiling wide at the thought. There would be plenty of room for him, after all, and that way they could even talk quietly before going to sleep. Jacob imagined it would be like having a sibling of his own around. He looked hopefully at his mother for confirmation.
"I was thinking about that, too," Mariana said. "Jacob's bed isn't as big as the motel room beds, so we'd need to set you up on the dresser next to it, maybe. Otherwise we could think of something else if you want. Our house is yours while you're with us, Sam."
Jacob pursed his lips and fixed Sam with a hopeful look. He wouldn't pressure the smaller boy if he didn't want to stay in his room, but he would welcome him there if that's where he chose to stay.
“Umm…” Sam’s voice trembled a bit once he was put on the spot. He was getting better, but he still got nervous to have the attention of so many giants on him at once. They were just so much bigger than he was. “Jacob’s room is fine.”
It would be easy to get used to staying in the same room as Jacob. During Sam’s entire life, he’d had Dean around at the very least, and Dean and John close by the rest of the time. Spending a night completely on his own was a foreign concept. None of the motels they stayed in would ever have separate rooms for the kids, and he’d bunk in the room with his brother if they stayed with friends of the family.
“It’ll be kinda like camping,” Sam decided. “The shirt’s like a sleeping bag, and we can look at the stars before we go to sleep. Dean taught me where Orion’s Belt is, I bet I can find it again without him.”
Jacob beamed, ecstatic to hear Sam's verdict. He nudged his little shoulder with a thumb in lieu of hugging him. After that first day, he'd learned that hugs could be overwhelming. Even so, he had to show he was happy with Sam somehow. He was already looking forward to sharing a room with his new friend, regardless of how long it might be. He'd be able to help look after Sam and make sure he was alright.
"I wanna know about Ryan's belt," he said eagerly, looking out the window at the sky as if he could see the stars in it if he tried hard enough. "A lot of the cons ... star pictures come from Greek stuff! I'm Greek!"
Jacob’s simple exuberance brought a grin to Sam’s face. Despite everything else, he was glad he’d met the kid. Though their first meeting hadn’t gone particularly smooth, considering how Sam was grabbed from the ground before he knew what was going on, Jacob had turned out to be a good friend. Young, excitable and helpful, determined to find a way to help his tiny friend regardless that he didn’t understand everything that was going on.
“How ‘bout I teach you everything I know about the stars and constellations, and you teach me everything you know about being Greek?” Sam offered. His family didn’t delve into their past at all. They were drifters, and even at Sam’s young age he recognized how out-of-the-ordinary that was. The closest they came to traditions was their dad passed out on the couch during the holidays, and that was if he was around.
"Okay, that'll be fun," Jacob decided with a nod. Other kids in preschool had never been very interested in Jacob's heritage, even though he could sort of speak a whole different language. Not that it bothered him- he would often get preoccupied with playing games, too. "I bet papa could tell us a lot, too. He's from Greece! He visited one time and brought me back a necklace, but mama didn't let me bring it on vacation."
"Didn't want you to lose it all the way out there, right?" Mariana chimed in with a smile. "We're on our street, boys."
Jacob perked up and his gaze whipped to the window. He lifted his hands a little more to make sure Sam could see as the family car pulled into a little driveway beside a tidy one-story house. "There it is! I wonder if we got any mail while we were gone."
Sam was on his feet the second he felt the car pull to a stop, peering out the window with wide eyes. This would be his home until they managed to track his father down. Sam wished he'd taken the time to memorize Bobby or pastor Jim's numbers, but he was always distracted by other things.
One day, hopefully soon, he'd be back with them. They could find him a cure and life would go back to normal.
Until then, at least he'd found a place to stay with a nice family.
Sam bounced eagerly on his heels. “I can't wait to see it!”