They had been in that motel room for three days now. At first, Oscar thought it was just one guy. The really tall human that stomped around with a confident swagger. And who appeared to have more than a few weapons in that huge duffel bag he’d brought in. Oscar had checked it out one time, just to see if the guy kept any snacks in there.
He had looked like just another one of those rugged road-tripper types that came through all the time.
The revelation of the guns and a lot of salt (seriously, the guy was going to have serious blood pressure issues if he actually used that much salt) had been both horrifying and intriguing. So, in spite of himself, Oscar had gone back to scope out the room a few more times. That’s when he had seen him. Another tiny person, just like him. Though … he was pretty tall for one of their kind.
The pair had back-and-forth banter with each other. Sure, the big human sometimes teased the smaller fellow. He even put him in his pocket, a thought that made Oscar shudder. But, they talked like equals. Oscar was sure he was imagining it. He had to have gone delirious from the general lack of quality food that could be found in a motel. Because there was no way a human and a little guy would actually talk like brothers.
The pair—Sam and Dean, he had learned—also seemed to chat about some weird stuff. Witches and curses and missing kids weird. At one point, Dean, the huge human, had put on a cheap suit and gone out investigating. He had Sam stowed in his inside pocket. Oscar was pretty sure he heard Dean say something about impersonating the freaking FBI.
Once, Sam had come investigating in the walls. Oscar wasn’t sure what he hoped to find. But, if Sam was hanging around a human, Oscar didn’t want to be found by him. He made himself scarce before the guy could find a trace of him. He was intimidating enough as it was without being friends with a human of all things; he stood at a full four inches, compared to Oscar’s three and a quarter inches. Thankfully, after the first couple searches, Sam gave up.
By their third day there, the pair of them didn’t seem any closer to solving what they came to solve. Oscar was keeping tabs on them, wishing he could partake in the half-pizza sitting forgotten on the table. They both were swamped in research, but Oscar knew better than to make a try at it. They had an almost predatory awareness of everything around them, like hunters. Especially Dean.
No matter how inexplicably nice Dean was to that Sam guy, Oscar did not want those green eyes focused on him. Ever.
Oscar almost gave up. He’d been waiting just inside one of the vents near the floor. He was getting to his feet when a sound cut through the silence of the room, startling both of its occupants as well as the eavesdropper just inside the walls. Dean picked up his cellphone and answered it in one swift motion.
“Bobby. What do you have for me?” Dean grumbled. There was a pause. Sam watched Dean’s face from where he stood on the table, and Oscar watched the human’s profile from the vent. “No kidding? Guess we’ll have to check it out. Thanks.” Dean hung up.
Oscar couldn’t quite hear Sam’s question from where he hid. But, before answering, Dean pushed back from the table and got to his feet. Oscar cringed back a little. Seeing that tall human at his full height … it was a bit unnerving. But, Oscar had to watch as Dean carefully offered his palm to Sam. That was the weirdest thing.
“Bobby found a lead. Little old lady that was alive the last time this happened. We gotta get her story, see if she can point us in the right direction.”
Oscar had never once seen Dean grab Sam. Now, like all the other times, Dean moved his hand so carefully. As if he feared every second that he’d lose hold of his tiny companion. Oscar had always been taught that a human would only be interested in getting its hand on a little person for their own gain. But this dynamic was clearly much kinder than that. Safer. And it definitely wasn’t like Sam was some kind of favorite trained pet, either. Dean let Sam climb into his pocket and made sure he was secure before taking a single step.
Like he really was taking care of a little brother. But that was impossible.
And then, the pair had left. Oscar watched the room for several minutes. The silence settled like a weight upon the room, filling every corner. Oscar’s gaze drifted to the underside of the table. The pizza box was still up there, wedged between the thick old books that still lay open. Whatever project these guys were working on sure required a lot of reading.
After making sure that Dean wasn’t going to come tromping back in, Oscar decided to go for it. How many opportunities would he have at pizza?! He slipped out of the vent, his footsteps silent on the worn out carpeting with the outdated pattern. He crept along the wall, ever alert for any sound. Once he got to the adjacent wall, only the dresser stood between Oscar and the table. Easy pickings.
Of course, that was when a sound made Oscar nearly jump out of his skin. That was definitely a key in the lock, across the room. Oscar glanced back at the vent. If he ran over there, he’d definitely be seen. So, instead, he bolted towards the dresser. He managed to dive under its cover just as the door opened to admit two sets of sensible Mary Jane shoes. The maids were here.
Oscar breathed a sigh of relief. The maids were never very observant. It was part of what made living in this motel so choice. They didn’t notice him, and they did a shit job cleaning. It left him plenty of supplies.
Oscar edged forward, looking to see which maids were on duty. His eyes widened and he flinched back into the shadows. Those women don’t work here, he thought. For one thing, they were too young. Too pretty. For another, they didn’t have any cleaning supplies. Only the frumpy uniforms. Something was very wrong. Oscar wanted to just leave, but he had no exits under that dresser. Dammit.
“I told you this is where the hunter is staying,” one woman boasted.
“Sure, Celine. Want a medal? Let’s just drop the hexbag and go.” The second woman sounded far more nervous. Oscar could see her feet shifting anxiously. What the hell is a hexbag?!
“Now, now. This is a delicate bit of magic, little sister. If we want to curse this hunter properly, we have to make sure nothing can disrupt the spell. And that means placing the hexbag in a spot where it can’t be found.” Oscar felt ice running up his spine as the woman’s voice changed from sickly-sweet to deadly and threatening. “So, we aren’t here to drop this hexbag. We are here to place it carefully, so that hunter can feel the worst pain he’s ever felt, before his blood boils and his heart bursts. Understood, Megan?”
“Y-yes, Celine,” Megan squeaked, sounding fully cowed by her companion’s intensity.
Oscar covered his mouth with his hands. Anything to prevent them hearing his rapid breathing. Humans were terrifying already. But these women were psychopaths! Oscar couldn’t stop himself from shaking. What did they mean with all these hexbags and curses?! And all that about blood boiling … what did they mean? It couldn’t be literal. But, Dean must be in big trouble with these freaks.
Celine’s shoes approached where Megan stood. The floor shook faintly with each step. Oscar watched transfixed as she stopped in front of the other woman. Megan shifted her stance nervously, but didn’t back away from the other woman’s proximity. “I’m sorry, little sister,” Celine said quietly. “I didn’t mean to snap at you. But I want you to understand, that this hunter is very dangerous to us and our family. So we can’t take this lightly.”
“I know, Celine. I-I’m sorry,” Megan replied meekly. “I know we have to do this.”
Celine hummed approvingly. “Good girl. Would you like to do the honors? I think just behind the headboard ought to be a good spot, don’t you?”
“O-okay, Celine!” Megan replied, her voice brightening somewhat. Oscar’s brow dropped into a grim frown. What were they doing? He watched Megan walk over to the nightstand between the beds in the room. There was a shuffling sound with the sheets on one of the beds. Oscar heard Megan bump into the headboard once or twice before she stepped back, presumably to check her handiwork. “How’s that, sister?” she asked, turning back towards Celine.
“An excellent job, sister. Now, let’s leave before the hunter returns. Time to tell the others that dear little Megan has placed her first hexbag. The coven may even let you contribute your blood as the catalyst for the curse.”
“Oh! You think so?” Megan asked eagerly. Oscar remained frozen as those innocent-looking shoes carried the murderous, riddle-filled women out of the motel room once more. They continued chatting outside. Oscar waited until long after their voices had faded from hearing before he dared move.
He crept forward, wide eyes checking out the room from his low vantage point. What did I just overhear?! he asked himself, his heart still pounding. He suddenly wasn’t so keen on keeping tabs on Sam and Dean. He didn’t even want to stick around to get some of that pizza. Oscar made his way back to the wall. He walked briskly towards the vent, planning to leave this room alone until Dean moved on. This was just too weird.
He paused at the vent. Celine had talked about putting Dean through ‘the worst pain he’d ever felt’. She sounded serious. Oscar had no idea how this could be managed. But, he suddenly wondered if this “hexbag” thing was some kind of poison, or worse. He swallowed thickly at the thought. If a human died a gruesome death here, then Oscar could see humans swarming the place to investigate. And what would they find? What if they found evidence of little people living in the motel walls?
Even if they didn’t find any signs of the smaller folk, Oscar didn’t feel right. He knew something that Dean and Sam didn’t. There was a clear threat over their heads, and it seemed to center around whatever Megan had stashed behind the headboard. Whatever it was, it was bad news.
Oscar groaned in frustration. His stupid moral compass was pointing behind him, towards the nightstand. He couldn’t just leave them to that, not if he could prevent it. At least they’d be gone for a while. He pivoted and stomped across the floor. This time he didn’t stick close to the wall. He made a beeline for the nightstand, thinking that he’d need to get onto it before he could check out the headboard and find this “hexbag”.
“Dean, do you think this woman can tell us anything we haven’t already found out?” Sam asked from his perch on Dean’s shoulder. The Impala cruised down the highway towards the next town over, and he had jumped at the opportunity to travel outside the pocket for a while. He knew he was safe there, and he trusted Dean to make sure he wouldn’t be seen. But it could get pretty cramped sitting in there all the time while his brother smooth-talked his way through interviews and interrogations.
“She’s the only living lead we got, Sammy,” Dean answered. “Bobby said her sister was one of the first kids taken last time this was happening. We gotta find out what she knows, maybe track down the pattern.” He kept his eyes forward on the road. But, whenever he talked to Sam in the car like that, he always had to stop himself from glancing to the side. With Sammy right next to his ear, it was almost like he was normal size, slouching in the passenger seat. Somehow, that image just seemed right.
Sam nodded absently, but fell silent. He just wasn’t convinced that this Belinda Walters would be able to give them anything useful. After all, from what Dean had said, she was only six when her sister was taken. And her parents had sent her out of town to live with her aunt almost immediately after. But, a lead was a lead. And after all the dead ends in the research, Sam was as ready to grasp at straws as Dean was.
The faded sign for the retirement home greeted them with once-colorful lettering. The Impala rumbled to a stop in one of the parking stalls. Dean offered Sam his hand, waiting until he felt his brother’s tiny shoes on his palm. He was so damn small. Dean could barely feel the weight there. “Alright, Sammy. Let’s go see if old Belinda remembers anything useful for us,” he announced while he tilted his hand so Sam could slide into his pocket.
“Sure thing. Maybe if she’s batty enough, she’ll actually believe you’re her grandson,” Sammy quipped as he settled in.
“When have we ever been that lucky?” Dean retorted before exiting the car and making his way to the visitor’s entrance.
The girl at the front desk didn’t look to be any older than Dean. That was a stroke of good luck. He put on his most winning smile and sauntered up to the desk, leaning an elbow on it casually. “Hey there, miss,” he greeted her amicably. In his pocket, Sam put his hand over his face with a sigh. You’re here to work, not flirt, Dean, he thought, though he knew he would probably never talk that habit out of his brother.
She smiled slowly, the look of someone caught off guard. His smile had definitely disarmed her. Still got it, Dean thought. “Hello, sir. How can I help you? Are you here to visit someone, or are you a new volunteer?” She almost sounded hopeful.
“Visiting,” Dean answered. “I’m looking for Belinda Walters. Can ya tell me where her room is?”
The desk clerk’s face fell. “Oh. I’m very sorry to be giving you this news, but Mrs. Walters passed this morning. She had a heart attack.”
Dean’s eyes widened. He dragged a hand down his face and clenched his jaw, hoping to hide his frustration with the old bat’s timing. The woman behind the desk seemed to take his action as the shock of hearing about the death of a loved one. “Are you family?” she asked softly, a sympathetic lilt in her voice now.
Dean cleared his throat. “Yeah. Yeah. Did she, um, have anything in her room, like a diary, or…?” Dean asked. If he couldn’t get the woman’s story, there might have been something in her personal items that could help them out regardless.
The clerk nodded. She was already grabbing a simple form and attaching it to a clipboard for him. She stood and handed Dean the clipboard over the desk. “She didn’t have many personal effects, but I can get the box for you. I just need you to fill this out as proof of relation, okay?”
“A heart attack right when we find out about her, huh? That old lady couldn’t try to have worse timing,” Dean groused as he got back into the driver’s seat of the Impala. He set the shoebox of her personal items on the passenger seat. He offered Sam a hand before leaning over so they could look over its contents.
“It’s not her fault, Dean,” Sam chided gently, though he was frustrated too. As Dean lifted the lid of the shoebox, Sam leaned forward on his other hand. There were lots of photos in there, old and damaged by time. Some trinkets, and a few old crafts clearly made by some young grandkid. Sam took a moment to feel guilty that they’d stolen these things from Belinda’s family.
“What’s that?” Sam asked, when Dean’s other hand immediately grabbed a bundle of cloth tied with twine. It looked like one of those homemade perfume bags, though it was grubby and rather ugly.
“I’m not sure, but I’ve definitely seen something like this in dad’s journal. Like a hex-something-or-other,” Dean answered, turning the item over to view it from different angles. If it was featured in that journal, it could only be bad news.
“Great,” Sam answered. He was relieved that the trip hadn’t been a total waste. “Let’s go check it out.”
“Took the words outta my mouth, Sammy,” Dean replied. He tossed the bag back into the shoebox and held his other hand up next to his shoulder for Sam to get settled. Then, he started the engine and began the trip back to the motel. At least all the running back and forth wasn’t as monotonous with Sammy around.
Dammit, dammit, dammit, Oscar thought. He stood on the back corner of the nightstand, leaning slightly to view the space behind the headboard. Megan had wedged some kind of bundle between the cheap wooden bedframe and the box spring. There was no way for Oscar to get it or make it obvious for Dean to find on his own.
He’d climbed up there for nothing! Oscar debated what he should do. Sure, he didn’t know these guys at all. He owed them squat. And that Dean guy was terrifying anyway. Maybe he’d pissed off the wrong people and they would be tormenting him for what they thought was a good reason.
“Aw, hell, Oscar, what are ya trying to convince yourself of, huh?” he grumbled. He couldn’t do anything for Dean. As much as he wanted to help, out of a sense of comradery with his fellow tiny person, his hands were tied. Oscar was not about to wait around and reveal himself just to tell them about that weird hexbag. The last thing he needed was for a human to know about him, regardless of who he kept company with.
He sighed and knelt next to the edge of the nightstand. His grappling hook (fashioned out of a safety pin and a long length of sturdy thread) still rested there. He shifted, getting a good grip on the thread before lowering himself over the side to make the climb to the floor.
Oscar’s thoughts were distracted. He kept worrying about whether or not he should have tried harder. It was just so tough for him to write off someone’s fate like that, when he’d overheard the casual discussion of their painful murder. Stupid moral compass. He could get himself killed thinking that way! What human would show him the same level of concern? He got himself convinced again for a second.
But, then the guilt came creeping back, like fog after the wind has stopped blowing. He sighed and tried to crane his neck to look at the hexbag again. It was right at his eye level, but more than a foot away. He knew he lacked the strength to get to it. His only option would be to somehow make Dean aware of its location without revealing his own in the process. While he pondered his options, Oscar neglected to notice that his safety pin was slipping.
All thoughts halted when he suddenly fell. Oscar flailed his arms, trying to keep a grip on a thread that was no longer attached to anything. A cry of alarm died in his throat as he plunged towards the floor, still more than a foot away. He hit the carpet with a quiet whump, and the gasp he’d just sucked in was immediately forced back out of his lungs.
Oscar knew he should get up and move. He should grab his grappling pin and string and run back to his entrance into the walls. But, he lay there in the space between the bed and the nightstand, staring up at the ceiling. It was impossibly far away. He vaguely wondered if Dean, that gargantuan human, could reach it.
Oscar fell into a state of near unconsciousness, wondering if he’d regain the feeling in his limbs in time to get out of sight before Sam and Dean came back.