Their trip was taking much longer than he wanted.
Dawn was breaking over the outside world, dispelling the safe darkness of night and washing away the shadows. Scattered rays of warmth occasionally played across the room as the air conditioner roared to life and disturbed the curtains. Shadows passing by outside blocked those rays from time to time as someone walked by the room, and sent a shudder up Walt Watch’s back. Whether humans were close or not, they needed to press on. The situation was too dire to turn back.
Regardless, the older man kept watch on the towering door that provided an entrance into the room. They couldn’t afford anyone else getting caught, so the second it swept open they were all prepared to leap to safety.
Help was a phone call away, but only if they could reach the phone.
Worrying his lip, Walt watched with bated breath as the phone was at last wrested free of its cradle by teamwork from Christian and Mikael. Walt may be technically in charge of those that lived at the motel because of his long years of experience there, but that didn’t mean they listened to him, and there weren’t many that could match Mikael’s stubborn nature. Walt was on watch, and that was that.
‘Borrowers’ or ‘littles’ or whatever the hell else humans came up with to call them and differentiate them from humans had no direct hierarchy. Each did as they saw fit for survival.
Which was why they were in a motel room, preparing to call one of the largest humans they’d ever seen.
And one of the most dangerous.
Dean Winchester, the elder brother of Sam Winchester, Walt’s adopted son, was a hunter. Clearly a very capable one, demonstrated by his stubborn survival while he hunted on his own for nigh on ten years before discovering Sam and reuniting with his younger brother.
It was to their luck that the massive man had listened to Sam when he’d discovered him in his room. More than one hunter would have simply considered Sam not human and done away with him, or used him to track down others of his race-- despite the fact that Sam was once a human.
They would kill them, and then Sam after the hunter was certain he’d found them all.
Instead, the brothers were back together and on the road, hunting. Sam, a four inch hunter paired with Dean, who stood over six feet tall. The most unlikely team, yet a surprisingly effective one with their teamwork in everything they did.
And now they needed to actually call this hunter up and ask for his help, a situation that Walt would never have predicted. He never thought it was possible.
Out of the cradle, the phone fell to the surface of the nightstand with a loud clatter that made Walt flinch and glance at the door, praying no one would come investigate the noise in the ‘empty’ room. The edge of the phone clipped Christian in the side and sent the shorter man sprawling. Sean buried his face into Walt’s side with a shudder.
The former human boy had been through a lot that day and wouldn’t leave Walt's side, and Walt wasn’t about to make him. If Sean found comfort in his presence, he would keep him close. After Sean had gone through the same curse as Sam, he’d clung to Walt as a father figure, learning everything from him and looking up to the stern older man.
Mikael helped Christian back to his feet. The younger man had a slight limp as he moved out of the way for Walt. Hopefully it wouldn’t impede their trip home. They were only as fast as their slowest member, and would never consider leaving him behind.
Sean did his part and propped up the business card so Walt could see it as he worked. The cursed human’s large eyes were ready to overflow with tears as he watched Walt step onto the base of the phone. Each button was the size of his hand, and he put more force than was necessary as he dialed, making certain that the number he dialed was, in fact, Dean’s.
The last thing any of them needed was more humans involved.
The phone started to ring.
Everyone hushed, staring at the speaker with trepidation as Walt backed off to join Sean. The only person focused elsewhere was Mikael, and that was only because someone needed to keep an eye on the door, and no one was eager to be the person who talked to Dean. Just the thought of his size made them nervous.
The rings cut out and everyone held their breath.
The gruff voice that rumbled out of the phone was enough to freeze them where they stood. Dean sounded tired and grumpy. The call must have woken him from a deep sleep.
Apprehensive, Walt glanced out the expansive window across the room, staring at the rising sun. He cursed to himself. It was bad enough they had to call the hunter in the first place. Now they were making it worse with bad timing. Humans had such different schedules from Walt’s people, it was easy to forget Dean might not be up when they called him in their desperation.
Dean, of course, was oblivious to the subtleties on the other end of the call. He continued on. “Who is this? How did you get this number? ”
Little Sean had met the hunter the last time Dean was around, and even started to warm up to him, but the growl that came out of the speaker had the young kid burying his head against Walt all over again. Walt brushed the child’s hair for reassurance, mussing it up.
“It’s just Dean,” he chided lightly, knowing in his heart the truth of that statement as he reminded himself as much as the child. It was just Dean, and Dean would never hurt them. He might be a human, and a dangerous hunter at that, but he was just as much their family as much as Sam was.
With a swallow to steel himself, Walt spoke up at last. It had been so long since he’d talked to Dean. He’d forgotten what it was like. Like a raindrop telling a thundercloud what to do.
“Dean? It’s Walt.”
Dean’s voice cut out mid-complaint, quieting to listen to the soft voice trying to talk over his. Walt was thankful for that. He’d worried that the hunter would drown him out without even noticing his attempt. That would make for an awkward phone call. Trying to shout down a human wouldn’t go far considering how much louder his voice was naturally.
“Walt? ” The word was noticeably warmer than the complaints from before as the lazy drawl curled around it. “I’d say it’s good to hear from ya, but I have a feeling it’s really not.”
Walt nodded as everyone around him visibly relaxed. “You’re right about that.” Now that the hunter knew who was calling and wasn’t barking every word, it was easier to remember how the man had treated them while he was last at the motel, months ago.
Treating Kara and Sean as little siblings of his own. Letting the small family take over his laptop or the TV to watch movies of their own choosing. Graciously letting Walt stay for pizza, an unheard of treat before then, after the smaller man had tracked Kara down to the motel room to fetch her back home.
Going so far as to back off and let Sam recover from his trauma on his own time. Not once had Dean pressured Sam to come out from the walls before he was ready, and it was almost an entire month before Sam had even gone to see Dean. Walt remembered how lonely the man had looked the time he’d glanced into the room, and had watched how Dean would look forlornly towards the vents in the wall and down at the floor under his boots.
There was a reason Walt had dedicated so much time to making a leather anti-possession ring for the hunter. A human that treated them as his equals was a rare human indeed, and not one to be taken for granted.
“H’ng on.” Dean’s voice was still gruff from sleep, but it was growing in strength as they talked. “Lemme get Sam up for this. He’s gonna want to hear it.”
A click! sounded over the line as Dean likely placed the phone down. Walt took that moment to remind himself that the phone Dean was handling like it was nothing was likely heavier than any of them. Bigger, too. It was wise to remember respect for the human’s strength, no matter how kind he was.
A more-distant “Sam? ” sounded out of the speaker as Dean set to his task of waking his little brother.
Walt tried to imagine things from Sam’s point of view. It was likely Dean would nudge him awake with one of his Sam-sized fingers. It was amazing what the boy had grown used to in his time away from them.
They couldn’t completely make out Sam’s mumbled reply to his older brother. Dean responded. “Walt’s on the line.” Another pause. “What other Walt do we know? Him? Like hell I’d give him my number.”
The banter continued for a moment as Sam woke up until a sharp retort from Dean cut it off. “No, the phone is not going on the shelf with you. I’m not sticking my head under the nightstand for an entire phone call. Now c’mon.”
The longest pause yet came, and then a much softer companion to Dean’s rumble spoke up. “Walt? Is it really you? ”
Despite the dire circumstances, a rare smile crossed Walt’s face. It was good to hear Sam's voice. He may have accepted his adopted son’s reasons for leaving, but that didn’t mean they didn’t miss him, every damn day.
And Sam was easier to talk to, compared to his older brother.
“Hey, Sam,” Walt replied, his voice somber. “I wish this call was under better circumstances. We need your help.”
There it was. They had just asked a human for help. Walt didn’t bother deceiving himself. Sam might be doing the talking for the brothers, but without Dean’s help and support, he would have no way to help on his own. The distance between them alone would be insurmountable without Dean’s massive, rumbling car they called the Impala.
Walt took a deep breath to steel himself. For support, he rested an arm on Sean’s shoulder. The others were as still as statues, listening to every word.
“A few hours ago, Krissy and Bree were out getting supplies. They were taking advantage of a quiet night to show Sean and Kara some pointers.”
The two young women were best friends from childhood. They’d grown up together until the fateful day Bree was stolen from her family by the greed of humans. Without Dean and Sam, she’d still be gone, a captive and ‘pet’ of a girl named Beth, who Bree said was nicer than she sounded, but every time her name came up, Walt would scowl at the thought of his daughter being dressed up by a human girl and placed in a dollhouse to live, like a toy. Ever since reuniting, Bree and Krissy were hard to separate.
Walt forced himself to go on, his hand tightening on Sean’s shoulder. “Someone came into that room while they were there. The girls hid, but he knew where to look. He found them.” Walt squeezed his eyes shut. The phone was as silent as the grave as Sam and Dean digested the revelation.
The next time Walt went on, his voice wavered. “Sean and Krissy got away, but… Bree and Kara got caught. He has them in a cage, left out on its own like he’s luring us to it.”
It wasn’t hard to recognize a trap when he’d gone to rescue his daughter, and that hurt more than anything.
The brothers were silent for a moment, then Dean’s voice came, taking the call back over. “We’ll be there in five hours. Hang on, and don’t let anyone else get caught.”
Sam’s soft voice didn’t miss a beat after the rumble of Dean’s died off. “Be careful, dad.”
The waiting was the hardest part.
Krissy could feel a thrum of nervous energy filling her body. She fidgeted in place while she watched the goings on outside of the vent. There were humans out there.
Sean hunkered down next to her. With Walt out to round up the others, they’d elected that the child would stick with her. Up here, high on the wall in a vent, they were as safe as they could be in a motel, even with a human that knew about them lurking in the area.
The mere thought of that man had them all in a panic. It was the same as finding a notice for pest control to come to the motel sitting on the front desk. He knew they were there and he’d already captured some. It was only luck-- and the man’s twisted attempt to lure them out-- that kept the two girls alive in his cage.
It was only a matter of time.
Dean was their only hope. Without him, Bree and Kara might as well be dead for all the good they’d do trying to rescue them. Any attempt would end with others caught and joining them in that cage. The motel would need to be evacuated for the first time in living memory. Even back when the motel was a quaint bed and breakfast on the side of the road, they’d never had to leave.
It had come close, according to Walt, but they’d escaped back then with the help of a friendly human who’d freed Walt and somehow chased off all the other hunters around by convincing them he’d done the job.
Now, years later, they were once more relying on a friendly human.
Sean startled next to her with a light gasp as the door of the motel swung open and a new human in a leather jacket swaggered in, taller than any of the others they'd see so far that day. “It’s him--!”
Before he could finish his exclamation and alert anyone to their whereabouts, Krissy’s hand clamped over his mouth, and she stared out of the vent with wide eyes. Sean had come with her because he would recognize Dean, and he’d done his job well but now they needed to stay hidden.
The vent they were hiding in was perched right behind the front desk of the motel. It gave Krissy and Sean a bird’s eye view of Dean as he sauntered casually up to the desk to talk to the receptionist. It was her first time seeing him fully, not just peeking through the slits of a vent.
He was big.
Even high up in the vent, they could feel the rumble of his footsteps as the massive man strolled in. That feeling alone was enough to cast Krissy’s mind into the past.
She’d felt those footsteps and the unique cadence to them the day she’d taken Sean in. Sam had appeared at her door, as though summoned by magic, bare minutes after the trembles had died off.
Her mind had been in too much of a fright at the thought of a human so close by to piece things together at first. How those footsteps came and went irrevocably when Sam was out of sight. Dean, loyally waiting in the motel room while his little brother brought Sean to a safe home.
She’d told Walt after she’d dragged him out of the wreckage of his home. It had been three days after the attack he’d woken to the news, and he’d taken it in without a word of interruption. He wasn’t surprised.
It was after she’d told her tale that she was then treated to the story of how they’d actually found Sam, all those years back. He wasn’t just a lost child they’d found in the motel, abandoned the way she’d believed.
He’d once been a human, and though that seemed to be lost to him now, he still had a human brother.
Krissy shivered again in the vent and took her hand from Sean’s mouth. “Shh,” she cautioned the young boy. “Dean or no Dean, it’s not safe here. All we’re here to do is make sure he checks into the right room then run ahead to warn the others he’s coming. Okay?”
Sean nodded, his eyes bright. He’d spent time with the human before, after Walt had seen Dean and Kara interact and deemed it safe for children to be around the hunter. Despite what had happened earlier that day, he wasn’t afraid to see Dean again.
Krissy just couldn’t bring herself to officially meet the man. She had a deep seated fear of humans, extending from the time where she’d lost her father and been forced to grow up faster than a child should.
They both watched as the huge human leaned on the front desk. He had a cocky smirk on his face as he shamelessly flirted with the receptionist. It was a biting reminder of how different he really was. People she and Sean had to avoid at any cost, he could talk to like normal. They’d get captured while he was waved off.
The conversation drew out, and Krissy could hear the blush in the woman’s voice from where she was hiding. The conversation slowly slipped towards Dean wanting a specific room, one he’d stayed in before.
Krissy’s eyes grew ever wider as the woman didn’t question it. She went along with Dean completely, glancing down at her computer to check if the room that Krissy’s house was built under was empty. It was, naturally. There was a reason Krissy’s family had chosen to make their home there, much like Walt and Mallory had found a place to live under an out of the way room that rarely had guests.
While her head was bowed down to stare at the computer screen, there was a stirring in Dean’s pocket. An errant fold of fabric shifted and Krissy had to stifle a gasp as a familiar face peeked out of it.
Once, Krissy had a crush on Sam, back before his own world crumpled and twisted. He was always kind, and tall, and so handsome. They’d go out to the rooms together to gather supplies many times, and he’d help her support her mother and brother. Ever since losing her loving husband and the father of her children, Brennan, Katrine had lost her touch on the world around her. Krissy was the only person in the family able to gather supplies and food, though after losing Sam and Mallory as well, she’d begun to teach her younger brother Bennett the skills he’d need to survive. Walt had helped, while also taking on Sean as a pupil.
Now, with his older brother serving as a background, Sam looked tiny. Curious eyes she remembered as hazel peered around at their surroundings, Sam's hair hung askew from his time hiding in Dean's pocket. Dean didn’t flinch at the tiny shifts against his chest, apparently not bothered by his brother letting himself into view.
They were used to this.
Krissy leaned forward almost unconsciously, taking in the sight of her old best friend.
Almost on cue, Sam’s eyes snapped up to the vent, a place he’d spent time in before when checking on the front desk, and locked gazes with her.
Krissy froze in shock. Before she could react any further, the receptionist was moving. Sam dropped out of sight, once more becoming nothing more than a fold against Dean’s chest as the humans flirted, then the key for the room above Krissy’s home was handed over.
Just like that. It was that easy for Dean, or any random stranger off the street, to gain access to where they lived, yet another reason to hate the motel.
Tensing up, Krissy prepared herself to run. She placed a hand on Sean’s shoulder and he understood the signal. They would run quickly and quietly to alert the others of Dean’s arrival. Hopefully before the hunter pulled his car around the building and came into the room and startled everyone. All the occupants of that side of the motel were on edge. The world had become more dangerous for them, and there was nothing stopping that other man from breaking in and uprooting their home.
Before she could move a muscle, the gigantic hunter out in the reception hall glanced up at the vent. Those green eyes locked onto Krissy and the blood in her veins turned to ice. Recognition appeared in those eyes as she ducked down, shaking. Walt had once called it a ‘phobia,’ but it didn’t matter what they called it. Krissy was terrified of humans.
How?! her mind demanded. How does he know I’m here?!
There was no time for questions. The human’s eyes slid from the vent as though she’d imagined it all, yet still she shook.
He’d known and he’d seen her.
Sean tugged her sleeve, bringing her back to reality. Krissy stared down at him, wide-eyed. He had to drag her down the metallic passageway until her mind caught up and they both ran.