"Are you sure this will work?" Bowman asked, his expression thoroughly skeptical on top of the incredulous tone he'd already adopted.
Jacob rolled his eyes. "Jesus, Bowman. Yes, it will work, I've explained phones to you before. You've seen me use it before." Sometimes the sprite really dug his heels in about human technology. Sure, he'd only known humans existed for a short time, but it shouldn't be so hard to believe that telephones worked. And yet the sprite seemed convinced half the time that Jacob was talking to himself when he used the older flip phone.
Bowman flickered his wings in annoyance. "Alright but if it doesn't work then we're getting you closer to the village for safety," he determined. Standing across the open phone from Jacob, it was easy to see the resolve and concern in his bright green eyes and the slight furrow in his brow. In fact, it was a lot easier to see everything about Bowman's expression than Jacob was used to, and honestly it was all he could do not to freak out about that.
Jacob wasn't supposed to be the same height as the four-inch wood sprite, after all.
Sure, he was still just barely taller and far bulkier in build than the lean, willowy Bowman. But at the same time, Jacob was somehow sprite-sized. One minute he'd sat down well outside the village to relax and eat some of his lunch. The next, the grass was almost taller than him, his wallet and phone that he'd set beside him might as well be enormous statues, and Bowman had fluttered around high above Jacob's head in alarm and panic, wondering where his giant friend had vanished to.
Until he caught sight of Jacob down on the ground, of course. Then he'd both laughed and demanded to know what kind of new "human magic" was going on here. Jacob wished he knew.
Oh, how he wished he knew.
He'd become familiar with this area of the forest in the last several months. Ever since he'd met the wood sprite, Bowman, while on a case with Sam and Dean, Jacob had returned to Wellwood to visit a number of times. Sure, the case itself hadn't started off great; with Bowman trapped and under suspicion of the strange animal attacks happening in the woods, anything could have happened. With Bowman's iron willpower to snark at all comers, it was a wonder they got anything figured out in time to realize that Bowman was the target of the attacks, not their orchestrator.
Now, the familiar forest might as well be on a different planet. Tall, proud trees, kept healthy and well-groomed by the wood sprites, had become colossal, stretching unfathomably high into the air, their branches laden in rustling green leaves longer than Jacob was tall. The grass and foliage on the ground, usually a plush surface to walk on, was now a jungle of leaves and blades of grass as wide as his hands. The smell of the earth and the fallen plant debris filled the air this close to the ground, and the endless march of ants was much more visible. Birds that flitted by overhead might as well be pterodactyls, and even a squirrel chattering on a branch looked like it could throw its weight around.
The village on the other side of the stream (which had transformed into a swift river), looked as peaceful as ever. Only now, it was far away and high up on the branches. Jacob used to be able to stand in front of Bowman's house and have to kneel to look in the tiny, unevenly shaped windows. Now he'd have to climb several flights of stairs grown in an elegant spiral around the trunk of the tree to get to it.
After the initial shock of finding himself sprite-sized, Jacob had convinced Bowman to help him drag his phone onto some leaves they laid out flat. Getting the thing folded open was a battle with the old springs and the simple weight of the device compared to the two of them, but they managed. All that effort, and Jacob could usually do it with the simple motion of a thumb, flipping open his phone like it hardly weighed a thing. Now, he was positive, it weighed more than he did.
He remembered Dean's number at least. Jacob had to really lean into the buttons to get his pressure to register, but soon the digits were all listed on the phone screen, waiting demurely for him to send them to the cell tower.
Jacob hesitated before taking that last step and leaning on SEND; up until now, he'd merely had a view of trees and birds and squirrels at his new-- hopefully not permanent-- size. Calling Dean meant he'd be asking someone over six feet tall to come to his aid. With Jacob standing just over four inches, that would a huge shock.
But, he had to stop and remind himself, Dean was probably the best person to trust with this situation. Dean's younger brother, Sam, was this size, after all. Not from the same thing, as he understood it (thankfully, since they had never found any leads on getting Sam back to his natural size), but still. Dean knew how to deal with smaller people better than anyone else. The guy would probably give Jacob endless shit about it (especially since Jacob had finally passed him in height just recently), but if anyone in the world could help, it was Dean and Sam Winchester.
"Well? Prove that it works!" Bowman said, impatient as he stared at the device. Even when he'd seen Jacob using the phone, he never had a great angle on the object in action. He was convinced that Jacob was either joking with him, or that the device ran by magic. As Jacob pressed a button with a weird green symbol, Bowman watched the phone with eager curiosity. At least it was a momentary distraction from the fact that one of his best friends was almost a twentieth of his usual gigantic size.
The Winchesters were having a peaceful afternoon when the call came in.
Sam was sitting on the edge of the nightstand in the room of their most recent motel, The Wandering Sword (when they’d been searching for a motel in the area Dean’s eyes had just lit right up at the sound of the motel’s name and that was it; they were booking a room). His journal was held open in his lap and he was putting in some notes on their most recent case, a simple salt and burn that was an easy in, easy out case. The only snag that had happened was when the vengeful spirit appeared while Dean was digging up her grave. She’d gone straight for Sam, gigantic ghostly hands ready to slam into him with a wave of cold and anger, but his four inch tall stature didn’t mean he was unprepared for the dangers of such a case. A simple move with his iron screw sent her packing and gave Dean the time to finish.
Now they were between cases, searching out strange happenings in the towns they rolled through in Dean’s Impala. A few days spent catching up on some good movies and good beers wouldn’t go unappreciated. It felt like there were more monsters cropping up all the time.
Of course, they always had reliable backup they could call. Jacob, the reason they were even back together in this strange, mixed-up-size life, was always willing to help out. He was one of the few humans that Sam knew, and one of his and Dean’s closest friends. Sam would trust Jacob with his life any day, and considering he was smaller than a finger for Jacob, that was saying a lot.
A loud guitar riff cut through the room, startling Sam in his seat and nearly causing him to scribble across his current page. They rarely got any phone calls, so it was a shock to hear. Sam turned towards the bathroom, where Dean was brushing his teeth (or so Sam assumed from the noises he could hear). “Hey, Dean!” he hollered, working hard to project his soft voice across the gap between them. “Phone!”
After a muffled reply from Dean, Sam got up and wandered over to the phone, one of those new smartphones with a touch screen that made it easy for him to use at his size. He smiled when he saw it was Jacob, but before he could hit the button to answer, Dean was stomping noisily over, trying to wipe his face off with a towel. Sam made a face. His experience with motel cleaning crews didn’t make him eager to use any of the towels in the room.
Dean’s hand swept down, scooping up the phone while Sam was offered his other hand in a far more careful motion. Sam climbed on as his brother sat heavily down on the bed, managing his password with some difficulty. After a month, he was still trying to pick up how to use the smartphone. Sam had adapted to it far faster.
Finally in, Dean hit speakerphone and answered with a grin, holding Sam near the phone. “Hey, it’s the original Sasquatch,” he quipped. “What’s the occasion?”
Bowman flinched when the sound came through the phone, his eyes widening in astonishment at the voice coming through the speakers. Jacob smirked; his phone wasn't even that new, but Bowman might as well be looking at the most advanced, revolutionary thing in the world. He squinted at the device, his leafy green wings twitching with curiosity that he'd completely given up on concealing.
"That's really Dean?!" Bowman blurted, looking over at Jacob.
Jacob chuckled, still wondering how he'd broach the subject about not exactly living up to the Sasquatch name at the moment. "Yeah, that's Dean," he replied. Then, he decided to address the brothers on the phone, since they were his only hope of having someone that might be able to fix his very odd predicament.
"So, hey guys, I'm pretty sure I found you a case," he continued cautiously.
"There's no blasted way they actually hear you right now," Bowman chimed in again, looking for the gimmick. It had to be some kind of fake recording of Dean's voice and Jacob was just flying in circles here. He knew humans could record images and sounds perfectly.
But really, actually talking to someone who was far away? Instant communication across such vast distances didn't seem possible, no matter how much of the "electricity" stuff Jacob tried to explain to him was available.
"Bowman ..." Jacob sighed, shaking his head. "Okay, so yeah, our friend the sprite is here too. He can vouch for me."
“ ‘Vouch’ for you?” Sam repeated in confusion. “Why would he need to vouch for you?” He glanced up at Dean, meeting the worried green gaze above. Jacob’s voice seemed… off, from how it normally sounded over the phone lines. They’d talked to him on the phone enough. “Jacob, is your phone acting up? Your voice sounds a bit… quiet.” Even as he asked he had a bad feeling that wasn’t it. Bowman sounded normal. Usually he was scolding Jacob or declaring similar disbelief in the background, and his voice sounded the way it should.
Dean shifted impatiently, trying to keep the phone near Sam for the conversation. “And what kind of case did you find?” he asked, picking right up when Sam quieted down. “Did something happen to the sprites? Is that why Bowman’s with you?” After being welcomed so warmly in the village, Dean wasn’t about to let anyone try and take advantage of it. The sprites were such a peaceful community, far happier than the average human town, and he knew how easily even one human could ruin that if they discovered the peaceful haven. The sprites may have had a few stalwart defenders among them, but at heart they were still simple pacifists who weren't truly prepared for a fight. Not the kind of fight a determined human could bring them.
He knew that all too well after he’d almost lost his memory on a case in the forest, coming close to turning against Sam and Jacob and the others. It didn’t matter if he only got a second to attack, he could have demolished the entire community.
Jacob winced, still hesitant to reveal the real reason he had to call. For one, it had completely blindsided him. That by itself was embarrassing. "No, no, there's nothing wrong with the sprites here as far as I can tell," he reassured them. That would be the worst timing. He would be just as powerless as any of the wood sprites to stop anything that was threatening them, considering four inches was tall for them.
Bowman, it seemed, wasn't going to be patient with exposing the truth. "Jacob's sprite-sized," he announced, sounding both annoyed and amused at the same time. "I thought the blasted giant disappeared but he's still here. Not a giant."
There was a pause as Jacob just threw Bowman an exasperated look. The sprite just raised an eyebrow at him as if to dare him to argue. It was the truth, after all. Unfortunately.
"That's about it," Jacob finally confirmed. "So, to answer your first question ... the original sasquatch is not feeling like much of a sasquatch at the moment. Safe to say I could use some help figuring this one out."
Dean and Sam wore identical expressions of shock at that, eyebrows right up at their hairlines. "You're sprite-sized," Dean repeated carefully, staring down at his own 'sprite-sized' brother standing on his hand. It was almost impossible to imagine Jacob at the same scale after all the cases they'd been through together.
He had no idea if he should be worried or amused. After Jacob had smugly passed Dean in height by a few inches, he'd longed to be the tallest again (even though he knew that title would belong to Sam between the two brothers regardless; Dean wouldn't feel right trying to take that one victory from his pint-sized brother). He settled with a smirk for the moment. He'd decide whether or not to be worried once he got to Jacob's side.
Sam leaned over the row of Dean's casually curled fingers, trying to get closer to the phone. "You're trying to get the same run of luck as me, at this rate," he joked.
"So," Dean interrupted whatever else Sam was going to come up with, "are you near the sprite village? We're only..." he did some quick calculations in his head based on the Impala speeding as much as possible, "about three hours out from you. We can be at the forest edge by noon, and figure out this... size deficiency... you got going on."
Jacob definitely heard the tone in Dean's voice. There was a smirk bigger than Dallas on the hunter's face right now, and Jacob knew it. Not that he wouldn't expect it. Perhaps it could be considered funny, if he weren't the butt of the joke. He wouldn't say anything to offend the folks who were used to being this small, but... he definitely liked being tall better.
That damned shit-eating grin on Dean’s face was probably bigger than he was right now.
Bowman was over there trying not to smirk, too, and failing spectacularly. Jacob rolled his eyes. "Yeah, 'size deficiency.' That's what we'll call this," he said wryly.
"Of course he still has to be taller than me," Bowman complained, still baffled that Sam and Dean could really hear him talking. And they were three hours away in that speedy beast of an Impala!
"I guess it's official, then. You're taller than Sammy," Dean said as he stood to get ready. It was hard to forget seeing Bowman and Sam at the correct scale a year ago in the Spirit dream. He put Sam and the phone on the table by his laptop so he could shovel his scattered belongings into his bag.
Jacob had a turn to grin. "Only by a bit," he pointed out. Then, "I'm near the village, yeah. I'm guessing I'll have to get over there before Bowman freaks out about squirrels or something but ... well I probably won't miss your arrival."
"You know me," Dean quipped lightly. "I'm just the life of the party. You know you can't wait to see me arrive." Despite his words, he couldn't help but worry as well, a fact he was trying to keep hidden. Unlike Bowman, Jacob had no wings to use to escape any animals out there. And unlike Sam, he wasn't used to being small. At least Sam could put his expert climbing skills to use finding hand- and footholds to scramble up a tree if he had to. Dean doubted Jacob would fare any better than Dean himself at that type of venture.
"You get yourself to safety, alright? We need our hunting buddies all in one piece, downsized or not. That's what's important here." He moved on to packing up Sam's belongings, a small bed and desk Bobby had found for them after discovering the small Winchester was still alive. In fact, it had been Bobby's gentle prodding that had galvanized Dean into building a Sam-sized panic room under the seat of the Impala, so there was a safe haven for Sam and Bowman if they ever needed it. There was a variety of threats out there for guys their size, and Dean was determined to give his brother every advantage he could provide.
"Yeah, I'll... I'll do that," Jacob answered uncertainly. He glanced over at the stream. There were supposedly stepping stones for the flightless sprites to cross the stream safely, but he couldn't imagine them being easy. The sprites grew up with wings and judged their entire sense of balance on them. Jacob didn't have that kind of advantage.
If this is a party, then where's the beer?
"I'll get him to my house," Bowman said, recognizing that Jacob was at a loss for what to do. It was clear on his face and in the way he glanced around with both curiosity and trepidation. The human was used to being massive, after all, and this was well outside his comfort zone.
Once assured that they'd meet up soon, Jacob managed to mash the END button on his phone. There would be no carrying it over the stream, so he left it with his wallet and let Bowman lead him towards a safe spot to cross the stream. With the sprite curious and cautious and amazed at the turn of events, Jacob found himself relaxing bit by bit. At least he had his friends to help him out.
It was actually kind of fun to use all the same pathways the sprites did. They didn't have any sidewalks or anything that might disturb the growth of grass on the forest floor, but there were definite avenues that the sprites walked more often between the clumps of grass. And the stairs grown out of the trees, though winding and steep, were beyond cool to see this close and in such detail.
By the time he made it up to Bowman's home in the pine tree, the sharp aroma of the encompassing tree filling the air, he felt a bit better. They could figure out what happened. In the meantime, Jacob could see the inside of a sprite house for the first time while he waited for the brothers to arrive.
Dean shook his head in bemusement as he ended the call. "Jacob, downsized," he said dryly. "What could possibly do that?" He dropped a hand next to Sam out of habit, his belongings packed up and ready to go.
Sam shrugged as he scaled the easy slope. "For all we know, it could be the same witch that cursed me all those years ago," he pointed out. "She vanished, according to dad's journal. Maybe she knows he's connected to us somehow." If someone else faced the same curse that Sam did just for helping him ...
Dean pursed his lips as he walked to the door. The moment his hand was on the doorknob, Sam slipped down under his collar, very used to staying hidden after a year together. "You think she'd really be that interested in us?" he asked as he stepped outside. With Sam out of sight, he appeared to be talking to himself, but he couldn't care less.
"We don't know why she was so interested in us in the first place," Sam's voice piped up. "Mind if I check dad's journal out on the ride?"
The instinct to shrug was strong, but Dean held back. "Sure." Everything was dumped into the back seat of the car before Dean situated himself in the driver's seat, his place for years. Getting back on the road in the Impala felt more like home than the various motel rooms he chose.
Once Sam was settled on the middle part of the bench seat with the journal, Dean floored it towards the Wellwood.
They were on their way.