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First Interlude - Brotherly Bonding

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Sam Winchester shivered in the chill night air, pulling his little green jacket tighter around him.


He was standing at the edge of a grave his brother was digging up, well protected in a thick circle of salt along with the rest of their belongings. Because he couldn't exactly help Dean dig up the grave, he'd become the posted lookout, keeping his eyes peeled for any dangers. Whether it be the spirit they were putting to rest or cops come to stop them, Sam waited to give the alarm. While Sam kept watch Dean did all the digging. Since, ya know, digging up a corpse was a federal offense and it wasn't easy to keep watch at the same time as digging.

So far, the case had passed uneventfully. Dean had caught wind of it a few days after helping the small water sprite, Nixie, stop her obsessive brother Lityerses from turning everyone in the world to gold. A small news article had caught his eye about a house where man had died within a locked room. He'd owned the house for only a few days before his death, and before that the house had been abandoned for almost ten years.

Digging a little further back into the history, Sam had found the reason the house had been abandoned was because of what the last owner of the house had gone through. A young, vibrant woman, just starting her career in the business world had been assaulted in the house by a robber, there to steal her small fortune she had begun building in her twenties. In the end, she had been strung up, her death made to appear as a suicide and all her valuables taken.

The only reason he had been caught in the end was his carelessness. Bruised impressions of his fingers against her throat were visible under the rope when she was discovered, and fingerprints were found on the table near where she died.

Clearly, despite the fact that her murderer had been brought to justice, she was still not at rest. The man who had bought her house on a declining housing market in the area had wanted to flip it... it was a gorgeous property, a damn shame that it was being wasted. Unfortunately, he also bore a slight resemblance to her murderer...

And so here they were.

Sam found himself wondering if any of this would have happened if say... a woman had bought the house. Or a man with no resemblance to the killer. It was an unfortunate concatenation of events that had lead them to this end. She may have stayed sleeping, in that strange limbo ghosts went when they weren't haunting anyone... but also weren't fully at rest.

Pulling his arms in close, he peered over the edge of the hole Dean had dug so far. He couldn't help but be impressed... so far his brother had dug what was almost the Grand Canyon to Sam. From his minute four inch height, something as simple as a grave became overblown and impressive. When Dean stood to his full height, the edge of the ground reached to his chest. A giant pile of dirt was on the opposite side from Sam, looming over them both. And the fact that Dean had been able to do it all without any help was shocking to Sam.

For the last five minutes, all he'd heard was annoyed huffing from Dean. Deciding his brother could use a pick-me-up, Sam hollered over the edge, "Hey, pokey! You almost done down there or are we gonna spend all night at this 'simple salt-and-burn?'"

Two green eyes peeked up from the grave, a mock death glare sent in Sam's direction. Even though Sam knew he was perfectly safe with Dean, he couldn't stop a slight shiver of intimidation, which he tried to cover up as a chill in the air. Getting glared at by someone twenty times his size was not something he'd ever get used to. "Sure, you can take over and we'll finish up nice and quick. I'll just go grab a drink while you dig. Put my feet up, watch a movie." Dean snarked back at him, unable to hide the annoyance from his tone. After all, aside from the research, he was doing all the hard work on this case.

Sam snickered. "Yeah, go grab me a spoon. I'm sure I'll be done in time for winter."

The green eyes rolled at him and disappeared back into the hole. A few seconds later, a tiny clump of dirt was flung at Sam from Dean's general direction, hitting him full on in the face. He dashed towards the massive duffel bag in case anymore came at him, getting out of the line of fire. Ducking behind, he was fairly certain Dean wouldn't be able to reach him without climbing out of the grave. That would give him plenty of warning to find a better hiding spot from his brother. One of the few good things about this size was Dean couldn't sneak around him at all.

Grumbling where he was out of Dean's earshot, he attempted to brush all the dirt from his jacket, shaking his head to get it out of his hair. Dean had managed to cover him completely with that small toss. He even had to kick off his boots to empty out the dirt.

Thank God it hadn't got in his socks.

He made his way back over to the grave once he was feeling almost back to normal, keeping well inside the ring. The last thing he wanted was to give the vengeful spirit a free shot. He doubted the small amount of salt he had in a pouch in his jacket would do him much good against a giant vengeful spirit. But Dean had warned him to prepare for anything, just in case.

It was only about ten more minutes before Dean finished digging the rest of the hole. Sam watched while he smashed open a coffin below with the shovel, opening it up and revealing the corpse within. He grinned up at Sam once he was done. "You ready to deep-fry your first spirit, Sammy?"

"Been ready for most the night," Sam called back to his brother. He was far enough away it felt like he had to shout to be heard.

He took a few cautious steps back while Dean climbed out of the hole, knowing better than to get in the way of a giant when their attention was divided. Once Dean was out, his huge boots compressed the grass near Sam as he stood straight. Dean towered over everything while he stretched out the kinks in his arms and back from digging. Grassy shoots that stretched over Sam's head were crushed out of sight by the tall human.

Leaning over Sam, Dean dug through the duffel until he found a container of fire accelerant they'd got for just this type of occasion and the bag of salt they kept with them at all times. Once the corpse was thoroughly soaked and salted, Dean knelt down next to his tiny brother. Reaching towards Sam with a hand big enough to engulf his entire body, Dean held out the book of matches from their most recent motel stay.

Standing his ground, Sam managed to pull one off without help. It was longer than his arm, closer to a baton than a match to the small Winchester. With a swipe, he lit it up quickly. He stood near the edge of the grave, peering over into the dark. He could distantly make out the shattered remains of the coffin, but couldn't see anything else in the deep shadows. He'd just have to go on his brother's word the corpse was in there.

A huge hand hovered near him, in case he slipped over the edge. Considering how high up he was standing at the edge of this grave, he had no desire to complain about his brother's overprotectiveness. He was starting to get used to it, and it did come in handy sometimes. As long as Dean wasn't overbearing about it, which sometimes seemed a lot to ask.

With a hard toss, Sam threw the burning match into the grave, lighting it up into a blindingly bright flame that would put the girl’s spirit to rest. Sam shielded his face from the sudden rush of heat exploding outwards. Taking a few steps towards his brother, he put enough distance between himself and the grave so he didn't feel like his eyebrows would get scorched off. Dean put a hand down next to him, scooping him further from the fire when Sam stepped on, just be safe.

He wished he knew what happened to the spirits after being salted and burned. Whether they truly died forever the way their dad had taught them growing up, or if they moved on to the next life the way he wanted to believe. Especially for cases like this, where the ghost wasn't truly evil, just trapped and frustrated, taking out her pain on others.

Once the fire started to burn down, Dean stood back up, leaving Sam down on the ground again while he gave his arms another huge stretch. "Once this burns out, we'll cover up the hole and head back to the motel. I think we should have a little celebration. Your first official salt and burn, Sammy!"

Sam craned his head up, trying to see Dean's face from where he was on the ground. Unfortunately, he was standing too close to Dean's boots. His view was blocked by his brother’s arms, crossed over the broad chest while he waited for the fire to die down. "What did you have in mind?" He shouted, wishing he was bigger for the millionth time. It wasn't so bad until something happened to drive home to him that he was almost unnoticeable by a regular sized human unless they were paying attention to him. Like when he was standing next to his own brother's boots, outsized just by the laces.

Dean peered down at him, unaware of the turn Sam's thoughts had taken because of him. "Well, we haven't had a good drink since you been with me. Figured since you can't exactly go out to a bar with me for some drinks, we could grab a six pack and go watch a movie."

Sam shifted his weight consideringly. "Sounds like fun, I've never really had a chance to try any alcohol since we were kids and that one hunter snuck us a drink when dad wasn't paying attention."

Kneeling back down so he could see Sam better, Dean hit him with a face full of 'really?' "Never? You've never gotten drunk?"

"Dude, I've never drank. Do I look big enough to pop open a bottle of beer? Or drink from a can? They're taller than me, Dean," he said plaintively. Sam wished he could take that last statement back the moment it was out of his mouth. He sounded so pathetic. He really didn't have anything to complain about, it was just the way things were. And he hated reminding Dean of the differences between them. Dean always treated him like he was normal, something that still caught Sam by surprise on occasion. "And anytime we had any alcohol we saved it to sterilize wounds."

Dean rubbed the back of his neck, uncomfortable with the thought. "I never really thought about it," he mumbled. "You never even tried a bit when you found leftover beer in the motel rooms?"

Sam wrinkled his nose at the thought. "I'm not drinking from some glass full of warm beer and backwash!" He exclaimed.

Dean grunted to himself. Hard to admit, but he probably would have done the same. "Yeah, guess that doesn't sound like the best idea when you put it that way." Slapping his legs, he pushed himself to a stand, grabbing the shovel again. "Well Sammy, tonight we will right some wrongs!"

Sam stood back while Dean covered up the still-smoking grave, smiling at his brother's enthusiasm.

He even helped toss some of the dirt back into the hole, keeping cautiously away from the massive shovel his brother was wielding. Dean smirked when he saw his little brother trying to chip in.



A short while later, Sam was safely tucked away in one of the pockets on Dean's favorite leather jacket. It didn't have a chest pocket like the other jackets Dean owned, but the side pockets were nice and deep, enough so that he wouldn't fall out of them, and far safer than pants pockets. Those tended to be tighter, and if Dean sat down with Sam in them he'd get squished. So far, he'd only got stuck in the pants once, to hide him from a girl they'd never heard come up behind Dean. That had been a close call, and it hadn't been pleasant in any way, shape or form for either of them. Sam was in no hurry to repeat the experience.

For now, the constant swaying from Dean's thudding footsteps lulled Sam into a relaxed state of mind, feeling perfectly content where he was. No matter what else happened, he knew here at least, he was safe.

He was still adjusting to the sights and sounds of the human world Dean lived in. It was a far cry from the reassuringly closed confines of the tunnels and vents Sam had traveled for over a decade of his life, only leaving them to find necessities for living left behind by the enormous humans that had stayed at the motel he made his home at. Walls stretching up to ceilings that must be a mile away… huge lights illuminating the entire room. Such a change from dark tunnels and small areas even he had trouble slipping into sometimes. Hidden passages to safely navigate the human world when you’re barely a third of a foot tall - and he was one of the tallest people his size. His brother, standing over six feet tall, could never understand what that was like. Hell, Dean couldn't even fit his hand into the tunnels Sam used to travel through.

Thoughts like that made Sam feel more alone than ever. Even though Dean was technically right next to him the entire trip, he might as well have been worlds away. Dean would never understand what it was like to be small enough to be stepped on. How it felt when you had to run for cover because a human was approaching.

How it felt to be confined to a pocket that was almost taller than you.

On occasion Sam would stand up to check out his surroundings. He was cautious when he peeked out, not wanting to be seen by any other humans, but he couldn't stop from being curious about everything. There was so much for him to catch up on, so many years he’d been cut off from all this. And he hated being kept in the dark, even when it was for his own good. Plus, it sucked to have no say in where they went sometimes. When he traveled with Dean like this, he was simply along for the ride, with no good ways to even talk to Dean from the pocket. Never mind choose where to go. All he could do was peek out and see where they were going. And trust Dean.

But as strange as his life was now, he didn't want to change it at all. He had his brother again, a solid, dependable human who'd do anything for him. He had a purpose, saving people and helping get rid of monsters who preyed on the weak. And he was helping Dean search for their father. Even though he knew John Winchester could be dangerous to him, he felt a desperate need to see him again. To let his father know he was okay, and what happened to Sam was no-one's fault, no matter what Dean and John thought. Those thoughts consumed him most days, making him desperately search for any lead on their father.

In fact, the only part he regretted anymore was the fact that he hadn't been able to save his family. How he'd let them down. If they'd never helped him as a child, they would still be alive. His own personal well of guilt. Walt and Mallory... They didn't deserve anything that had happened to them. If only he'd been there... things might be different now.

Still, one way or the other, he had a feeling he'd’ve always left with Dean, no matter what else had happened. In the end, it was where he belonged, four inches tall or not. And… Dean needed him. He couldn’t let Dean down, not after everything his brother was doing, and had done for him.

Bells tinkled overhead as Dean opened the door to the convenience store. Unable to help himself, Sam stood cautiously in the swinging pocket and grabbed onto the lip of the opening. He was just tall enough to be able to reach without climbing. He peeked just the top of his head over, hoping to catch a glimpse of where they were. The last convenience store he'd been in, he'd only been ten years old. So long ago. Looking back now, it felt like he’d been living someone else’s life.

Past his brother's giant arm swinging next to him in time with the powerful thudding footsteps that echoed throughout the pocket, he could see huge aisles. They were lit up brighter than any motel room Sam had ever been in by the fluorescent lights above. Dean's stride carried them swiftly past aisles of food and candy bars in the ordered lines and rows that Sam recognized from his childhood. He fought back a pang of dismay when he recalled being bigger than the candy bars he was currently facing, being able to hold them in one hand. And now here he was, smaller than a Snickers. Smaller than his own hands used to be... How things had changed. He was being carried around in a pocket just like most of the candy bars he was staring at soon would be.

At least he didn't have to worry about being eaten like they did, he thought in a dry humor.

These thoughts went away when Dean finally reached the back of the store, pausing in front of huge glass doors. The pocket swung one last time before settling against Dean's side. Past the condensation fogging them, Sam could make out a few different types of beer, the labels unreadable from his spot. Dean knew exactly what he was there for, grabbing a door without hesitation. Sam dropped back down into the warm pocket when he was hit by a gust of cold, refrigerated air from the door swinging wide. He shivered slightly when some of the cold air followed him down, pushing himself against the side closest to Dean for warmth.

The pocket dropped down out of nowhere, suddenly tilting forward and sending Sam tumbling into the front corner with a yelp of surprise as Dean bent down to pick up a case. A brief moment later, a finger slipped into the top of the pocket, gently pulling it open. Dean peered in from above, barely visible from where Sam was stuck in the corner.

"You okay in here?" He asked, sounding guilty.

Digging himself out of the corner in the sudden light that poured in, Sam waved Dean off. He gripped the thick fabric so he didn't slip down again in the awkwardly-tilted pocket. "I'm fine, don't worry!" He called up, uncertain how well Dean would hear him. He knew Dean didn't mean to toss him about like this, it was because Sam was so tiny compared to him. Small, light... fragile. Any of a thousand words that came out to insignificant. The last thing he wanted to do was admit to his brother he still felt like that sometimes.

After all, it couldn't be helped.

And it wouldn't do either them any good if anyone overheard Dean talking to his pocket. Sam needed to stay under the radar for his own good. Last thing he wanted was for any grabby humans to figure out he was here. His world was dangerous enough without throwing anyone else into the mix.

Dean must have been able to make out his words. Letting the top of the pocket close, he stood back up. Sealed in darkness once more, Sam found himself sent tumbling once again with the fluid motion. He grumbled slightly this time, pulling himself back up one last time. With a sigh he brushed off the ever-present pocket lint that now coated his arms. It wasn't Dean's fault it kept happening, but it was still aggravating how he was knocked around by such simple movements. One slight motion from Dean could send him flying.

A door closed and the swaying started right up again. Distantly, he could hear the rattling of the beer bottles his brother had grabbed, far away on the opposite side of Dean. A few moments later, Sam could make out a voice talking to Dean, muffled by the pocket he was in so he couldn't make out the words. Dean responded a few times, purchasing the beer with one of the fake credit cards he had on hand.

Daringly, Sam peeked out again, just in time to see an unfamiliar hand handing the card back to Dean far overhead. He couldn't help ducking down reflexively when Dean's huge hand swooped past the pocket he was in, putting his wallet in the jeans pocket not far below.

Stuff like that was hard to get used to, knowing one wrong move, the slightest bump from Dean could easily injure Sam. Luckily Dean was always careful and had never forgotten about Sam so far, much to the relief of the tinier Winchester. It could be nerve wracking on occasion, having no control over his fate.

The pocket shifted slightly in the dark, Dean's arm nudging it lightly from the outside while he tucked his wallet away. Dean's voice called out a "thanks," before turning away from the counter, starting up his casual, ambling stride. It was a far cry from how he moved on a hunt, where each move was restrained and economical, prepared for anything.

The bells twinkled overhead one last time and a hand slipped into the pocket around Sam without warning, carefully gathering him up into a light hold while the car door creaked open outside. Aside from a slight jump of surprise when the hand first slipped in, Sam was used to this kind of thing happening. After all, it was Dean's pocket he was in - sometimes Dean would put his hand in without thinking. Sam had never gotten hurt, but it was always a shock to suddenly be surrounded by fingers more powerful than he was on all sides, especially when Dean didn't realize what he was doing. Still, watching Dean apologize for that had been entertaining. Seeing a huge, intimidating hunter completely abashed - extremely out of character.

Sam let himself be surrounded by the familiar, safe fingers that were as big as he was without a struggle, quickly lifted up out of the jacket. He was glad to be in the open air where he could see his surroundings, even if it was still cold outside.

"Hanging in there, shorty?" Dean asked with a grin as he dropped Sam into his other palm.

"Y-yeah," Sam managed, shivering in the sudden cold the moment he was released by the hand. Suddenly, staying in the pocket didn't seem like such a bad option.

Dean's smile faded when he saw his little brother shivering on his palm. Sam’s small size meant he got cold far easier than Dean, his skin and jacket far too thin to keep out any chill. "Here," he said quietly. He lifted the hand up to his shoulder, letting Sam slip on between the collar of the jacket and his neck. Dean put off enough body heat to warm Sam in the chill night, and he could feel the numbness in his hands start to fade away. Sam huddled against his brother’s thick neck while Dean started up the car, heading for the motel.



Dean reached the room without incident. Pulling the car into a spot right outside, he reached up a hand to his much smaller brother, letting him climb safely on. Sam's almost unnoticeable weight slipped onto his hand.

"It'll only be a few more minutes in the pocket," he rumbled quietly, knowing from experience how delicate Sam's hearing was this close up. Sam nodded up at him trustingly, small eyes wide. Dean felt something in him twist at the trust in Sam's eyes, hoping he had earned it. He was so afraid of letting Sam down.

Dean lowered Sam down, feeling a small pang at how easily his brother was concealed from sight. Sam didn't even complain about riding in the pocket anymore, he was resigned to it as much as Dean. And for better or worse, Sam trusted Dean implicitly. But it couldn't be easy, being tucked away out of sight ninety percent of the time they were outside. Not having anyone to talk to but Dean, avoiding all human contact. Once in a while he could feel Sam trying to peek out the top of his pocket, hoping to get a glimpse of where they were so he could sate his unending curiosity. Dean never mentioned it, letting Sam think he couldn't feel the slight movements against his side while his brother shifted around. Sam already had his big brother hovering around all the time, he deserved to have something to himself. As long as Dean knew Sam was being careful... and Sam knew better than anyone the cost of being spotted.

Once Sam was safe, he gathered up all their supplies from the back seat. Most of their things were already in the room from when they'd checked in the other day after arriving in town. That done, he locked up the car and headed inside, his swaying stride making the pocket Sam was in bump against his side. With any luck it wasn't too rough on the kid, since there was no way Dean could stop it with his hands full.

Unlocking the motel room, he shouldered it open, pushing into the room and tossing his bag in a corner. Once the beers and snacks he'd bought from the quickie shop were on the table, he reached into his pocket. Briefly, he wondered how it felt, having a hand bigger than you were unexpectedly wrap around your body. A hand so big you couldn't stop it if you tried...

Trying to move slow enough for Sam to brace himself, Dean coiled his fingers around the small body and carefully pulled him out. Sam didn't struggle at all while he was enveloped by the massive hand. Once free of the pocket, Dean placed his hand flat on the table to let Sam climb off on his own.

He settled down at the table he'd put Sam on. Pulling out a beer, he kicked his feet up on the other chair. "So, any movies you wanted to watch?"

Sam stared down at the table under his feet, sitting down on one of the books nearby. "Dunno," he said. "I haven't really kept up on movie releases, you know, running for my life whenever people were around."

Dean sighed, feeling guilty all over again. If only he'd been there for Sam. "Sam..."

Sam rolled his eyes and jumped back to his feet. "Dean, I'm just kidding! You take this too seriously sometimes." He nudged the thick arm near him. "I'm up for anything."

Dean kept himself from rolling his eyes at that. He couldn't help the guilt that washed over him at times like this. For years Sam had lived separate from Dean, trained to avoid humans for his own safety. He'd been pretty good at it too, surviving a full thirteen years without getting caught. At least until Dean had come across him hiding in his motel room.

Thinking something dangerous was in his room, Dean had grabbed Sam, practically crushing him in his hand before realizing what it was. But luckily, Sam had seen the amulet he'd given Dean when they were children, a short time before he'd been cursed and shrank by a sadistic witch. A tiny voice said Dean’s name, stopping him in his tracks with his fist around the little intruder. Dean had been too shocked to do anything but let him go. Lucky for him, Sam had given him a second chance, returning to the room after he'd recovered from the shock of being grabbed. Dean was afraid of what he could have done to Sam if he hadn't realized it was his own brother in his hand... completely helpless and trapped, unable to do anything to save himself.

So, maybe sometimes he had a hard time telling if Sam was joking when he talked about his life before. For some reason, Sam took it in stride that humans would want to catch him. Nothing out of the ordinary, just another day in the life. Something Dean didn't want Sam to worry about ever again.

Dean thought back over the movies he'd seen since losing Sam, hoping to pick one his brother would enjoy. Remembering back to their childhood days, he smiled when he thought of some books that he remembered Sam reading almost religiously. He pursed his lips in thought. "How about Lord of the Rings?" He said with a chuckle. "You used to read those books all the time when we got stuck waiting for Dad."

Sam grinned. "Because they were long enough to keep me busy and didn't take up to much space in the car, yeah. Dad never made me get rid of those like everything else he considered 'useless crap.' At least before I started hanging out at the libraries whenever we stopped and found more than enough reading material to keep busy. Sounds like a plan."

Dean grabbed the laptop, opening it up so the movie could start loading. Popping open the beer with his ring, he filled up the cap for Sam, handing it carefully down. "Well, here's to your first official angry spirit kill," he said, tapping the top of his beer lightly against the bottlecap in Sam's hands. They both drank. Dean smirked as he leaned back the chair. "Sam, the first borrower-sized hunter."

Sam groaned at that, "Dean, there's no such thing as borrowers."

"Sam, I think you need to take a good long look in the mirror and think about what you just said," Dean said, his tone almost serious. "If you're not what the borrower stories were based on, I don't know what is. The lore doesn't lie."

Sam rolled his eyes as he drank some more of the beer. "Lore. A series of children's books and a few movies. Not what I'd call reliable sources."

Dean just smirked in reply. He had no plans of ever dropping the subject after he saw how much it annoyed Sam.

Seeing the movie was ready to go on the laptop, he grabbed it, putting it over on the bed. He held a steady hand out for Sam, figuring his brother wouldn't want to waste the time he'd need to get to the bed on his own. "Ready to get this movie rolling?"

"Yeah, sure." Sam tried to hold his beer steady when he stepped onto the hand, managing to only spill a little on the palm under him. Dean took him over to the bed, letting him slide off on the pillow nearest the movie so he could have a front row seat.

Once Sam was set, Dean grabbed the rest of the beers, dropping them on the floor next to his side of the bed. He poured the rest of his beer in a cup, and topped off Sam's before tossing out the bottle. Once everything was ready, Dean joined Sam on the bed, starting up the movie.

For the next few hours, they didn't talk much, only the occasional comment on the movie.

"So, are the guys who played the hobbits actually that small?" Sam asked curiously when Frodo first came on the screen.

"Nah, they're all regular sized guys. Shorter than me of course," Dean smirked. "It's all part of the movie magic."

"Oh, Dean... that reminds me... I was thinkinnng..." Sam's voice slurred slightly while he talked. "I mean, without my curse, do you think I would be tall? Like - like how tall do you think I'm... how tall do you think I could, ya know, be?"

"I... I dunno." Dean switched position for a second, trying to get a better look at his little brother. "How tall are you next to people your own size?"

"Uhh, kinda tall, maybe?" Sam pulled himself to a stand, stumbling on the cushiony pillow. Dean caught him before he fell, helping Sam catch his balance before taking his hand back. "My adopted dad was like, here." Sam held a hand even with his eyes. "I didn't meet too many people at the motel, but I never met anyone taller than me."

Dean leaned in, seeing where Sam had his hand. "Hmm." He held a hand out over Sam's head to get a rough estimate of his size. "You shouldn't end up any shorter than me and dad. I mean, you LOOK tall to me." He put his hand back down on the bed. "Besides, you're a Winchester, like me." Dean winked. "We run tall."

"Yeah... we run tall." Sam unconsciously straightened his back, puffing out his chest. His eyes, though slightly glazed over from the alcohol, shone with pride. "I'm tall."

Dean's eyes softened at that, knowing how hard it must be for Sam at his size. He sat back up, leaning against the wall. He gave Sam a confident grin. "That's right Sammy, you're tall. Just like me and dad."

"Yeah..." Sam settled back onto his pillow. "Maybe I'll even be taller than dad..." his voice was tinged with longing.

Dean smirked at the thought of John Winchester actually looking up to one of his sons. Dean had been disappointed when he stopped growing an inch from passing his dad. "Maybe you will."

Sam snorted to himself. Dean arched his eyebrows in confusion, staring down at Sam. “Something funny?”

“Yeah.” Sam giggled. “You’re short.”

Dean cocked his head in confusion and stared at his tiny, four inch brother. “Come again?”

“I’m gonna be taller than dad, so you’re short.” Sam said it like it should be obvious.

“Whatever you say,” Dean shook his head in amusement. He let Sam have that one.

The movie went on. Sam watched the Fellowship come together with the look of a starved man with a feast laid before him. As though he hadn't watched a movie like that in a long time. Dean glanced over at his brother. There were a few things he couldn't get out of his mind after their conversation earlier. This kind of thing usually didn't occur to him, but... “Sam… I’ve been meaning to ask you something.”

Sam pulled his attention away from the screen he was riveted on. “What?” He asked, sounding slightly impatient. The Fellowship had just entered the Mines of Moria.

“All those years you spent in the motel… did you ever get to watch TV at all? Or did you spend the entire time out of sight?” Dean couldn’t help but be curious. He’d never even known people like Sam had existed, despite years of experience with the supernatural. His brother had an almost completely alien perspective on life compared to Dean. He couldn't imagine living the same way as Sam.

“Uhh… a few times. Whenever I was up in the vents and the people in the room were concentrating on the TV. It was just too dangerous most times to even try. And my adopted parents were against the entire thing… Dad got so mad this one time I tried to watch the new Godzilla...” he drifted off, staring blankly into the distance.

Guilt hit Dean like a brick at the accidental reminder of what Sam had lost, especially since Dean figured it had only happened because he’d come back. If he'd stayed away, they might still be alive. It was like pain and unhappiness hounded his every step. And this time, instead of hurting Dean it had gone after Sam. Leaning over, he grabbed another beer from the floor next to where he was sitting and topped off Sam’s small bottlecap. "That movie wasn't that good anyway..." He mumbled, hoping to distract Sam from his thoughts. The last thing he wanted to do was ruin the night for Sam.

By the time the Fellowship was leaving the Mines of Moria, Dean was running out of beers, and Sam had gone through more than enough bottlecaps for his size. He hadn’t been able to put the reminder of his parents out of his mind, either.

"My fault," he groaned, head in his hands. "Dean... It's all my fault..."

"Mmm?" Dean said, not really paying attention. He was still distracted by the appearance of the elves on screen.

"If only I'd told them... I could have saved them..." Sam buried his head in his arms.

"Sam?" Dean leaned down, finally realizing Sam was deadly serious. "Sammy, you okay? What are you talking about, ‘if you'd only told them?’"

"My family... they died because of me. They didn't need to die, it was all my fault!" He tried to stand up on the pillow, but lost his footing. "All they did was try to help me and look where it got them..." he moaned unhappily, rocking back. "My fault... my fault..." his voice drifted off, until he was mumbling too softly for Dean to make out.

Dean pushed the odd comments out of his mind for the moment, concern for Sam taking over once he took in his miniature brother's wobbly movements. "Okay, I think you've had enough, lightweight." Dean grabbed the bottlecap out of Sam's tiny hands before he spilled it all over the pillow. He tried to remember how many times he'd filled it that night. Two? Three? ...Maybe four... it all started to blend together during the movie. He hadn't been paying attention to how many times Sam had asked... Suddenly worried, he wondered how many beers worth of bottlecaps Sam had drank through during the long-ass extended cut. The last thing they needed was for Sam to get alcohol poisoning his first time drinking.

"Hey!" This got an instant rise out of Sam. He tried to bat at the large fingers taking away his drink. "That's mine!"

"I don't think so, ya lush." Dean said dryly, lifting it easily out of reach. Literally being the bigger brother had its perks on occasion. When it didn't feel like he would squish Sam by moving the wrong way. "It was yours. Now, it's mine, pint-size."

Sam glared as it sailed upwards out of reach, stumbling and making a fast grab for it. He missed completely. Off balance from the combination of drinks and the plushy surface he was standing on, he lost his balance, tumbling down the pillow head over heels.

And landed head first in Dean's beer.

Splashing to the surface, Sam sputtered for air, a bit of his mind clearing up from the unexpected dunking. He was barely tall enough to keep his head above the beer while standing. The beer lifted up as Dean brought it to eye-level in surprise, thick fingers tightening against the sides so he didn't accidentally drop Sam. Dean leaned over it, meeting Sam's shocked gaze as he floundered back from Dean's sudden approach with a small splash. "Hey, that's mine. What the hell?"

"This is what's known as karma for taking my drink away, jackass." Sam groused, attempting to splash beer up at his brother. Unfortunately Dean was too high up to reach from where he was standing... eh... floating, though. Sam took another long sip from the beer he was floating in, glaring up at Dean the entire time. Might as well take advantage of it until Dean let him out, especially since he’d lost his own drink. At his size, the sides were too high for him to climb on his own, unfortunately.

Dean arched an eyebrow at him, seeming to say Really? with his face. He lifted the beer up and stared in from the side, amused at the sudden thought of a beer-filled swimming pool. And though he would never admit it, slightly jealous. He casually swirled it around, sending Sam flying into a small whirlpool. "Having fun yet, short stuff?"

Sam groaned as the rotation came to a stop. "No thanks to you, asshat." He tried to brace himself again a side for balance, glaring out at Dean.

Dean snorted at that, and leaned back to grab another beer, holding the cup with Sam in it steady. There weren't any more. "Dude! That was my last one!"

Sam rolled his eyes, "Yeah, well serves you right, hoarder."

"Hey, at least I can hold my beer, lightweight." Dean raised his cup thoughtfully, cracking a grin at the thought that passed through his head. "And I've been sharing with you all night now. I'm hardly hoarding just 'cause I drink more than you, shortstop. You couldn't even finish one without help. Well, now, I think it's your turn to share."

"What do you mean?" Sam floundered in surprise when the cup was raised to Dean's lips. Stuck in the cup, he had no way to stop Dean. "Dean you sonovabitch!" He shouted as the cup tipped him helplessly towards the huge mouth. He didn't think he was in any danger, but still... The liquid sloshed him forward as Dean started to swallow down the wonderful drink, waves of it disappearing into the dark maw. Twisting around in the tight area, Sam managed to kick a boot against Dean's top lip, bracing himself to keep as far away from the huge mouth as possible.

This was way, way closer than he ever wanted to be to a mouth big enough for him to fit in, whether it be his brother's or not. Sam shivered briefly against the unrelenting current, helpless to stop it. The rush of liquid slowed down as the mouth pulled away with an annoyingly familiar and close smirk, leaving Sam sitting slouched in the last inch of beer at the bottom of the tilted cup. He glowered up at Dean through his drenched bangs.

Dean felt the edges of his lips quirk up into a smile when he felt the small kick against them, not feeling bad for Sam. He'd brought this on himself. And finding ways to mess with his miniature brother was one of the few entertainments he had these days. It was nowhere near as easy as it looked - Sam was too fragile for most things, and no matter what anyone else thought of him, Dean would never risk Sam's safety for a joke. His dignity, sure. But if anything was to happen to Sam because of Dean, he'd never forgive himself.

Pulling away, he glanced down into the bottom, where Sam was sitting slumped with the appearance of a shivering, drowned rat.

"This is what you get for using my beer as a dunk tank," Dean scolded. He went to scoop Sam out with a finger, letting Sam throw his arms over it and dangle as he was lifted up and out.

Sam sent him up a bitchface. "Like I did that on purpose. I blame you for taking away my drink."

Dean dropped him in his palm. "Last thing you need is more beer, trust me." He clicked off the movie. "And you are a mess, Goldilocks."

Stumbling off balance where he landed, Sam flopped backwards in the wide palm, the room spinning around him as Dean stood. He couldn't manage a response to Dean while the world spun. The air rushing past him threw his equilibrium completely off. "Ugg..." he groaned, staring up at the moving ceiling. His head rolled loosely on his shoulders. "Nggmm...."

Concerned, Dean held him up close to his face so he could get a good look. Light as possible, he held the tiny head pinched in place with two fingers, forcing Sam to focus on him. His heart thudded uneasily in his chest, knowing how easily one wrong move here could injure or kill Sam. Such a simple task, made almost impossible by their relative sizes. With every ounce of willpower he had, Dean forced away the pleasant buzz the drinks had given him. His fingers were huge compared to Sam's head, even with his hair scattered poofily about. He needed to focus.

For Sam.

"You okay, man?" He asked softly, squinting down at his brother. Held this close, he could actually see Sam's hazel eyes struggling to focus on him, normally too small for him to make out. Sam’s face started to turn green. "Hey, no pukin' on the hand, alright? Just hold on a second..." Dean hustled over to the sink, letting Sam slide down the basin. He landed next to the drain on his stomach. Thankfully, one thing Dean didn't have to worry about was his tiny, drunk brother slipping down the drain in this motel. There was a grate covering it. Small blessings.

Sam grumbled when the water started running over his head, drenching him to the bone and washing off the beer. The water slowly warmed up while he was collapsed there, taking the chill from his bones. A broad fingertip dropped down from the sky, rubbing his back supportively after the water shut off, extra careful between the tiny shoulder blades. "I hate you..." his voice echoed up from the drain.

"I know you do," Dean said with a smirk, pulling his hand away. "You feeling good enough to come out?"

"No..." Sam slumped down. Dean could hear him retching.

"Awesome." Dean muttered. "S'what I thought." He sat down, leaning his head back against the sink. Not about to leave Sam stranded by himself in the giant sink, he got as comfortable as the hard tile flooring would allow. He shut his eyes to the sounds of Sam puking in the background. They were both in for a long night.

FIN