Sam waited in the bottom of Dean’s pocket. He’d gotten used to the general pitch and sway of his brother’s steps, though Dean seemed to be in a hurry. He walked more briskly than usual from the car to the motel room door. Sam barely had time to register the sound of the key fumbling into the lock before the door was slammed behind them. He might have griped about the noise, but Sam knew that Dean would probably just slam the door next time anyway.
The shoebox of Belinda’s old pictures and things made a soft scraping noise when Dean set it on the table. Sam looked up when Dean’s fingers entered the pocket, and he prepared himself to be lifted out. But, before the action could be completed, Dean’s hand disappeared abruptly. Sam could feel his brother’s stance change almost immediately. Even Dean’s pulse quickened, and Sam knew he was on the hunt. “What’s wrong, Dean?” he asked quietly, hazel eyes wide and fixed upward.
Dean didn’t answer. He took some careful steps to the side. Sam waited for his reply, a little frustrated that Dean ignored him and also a little worried that he couldn’t see what had him on edge. Finally, Dean stepped forward. Sam gasped when the brief sensation of falling left his stomach resting somewhere next to his heart.
Dean crouched on his knees in front of the nightstand. He peered intently at the books that he had set up there as a wall, creating a space for Sam. He could have sworn he saw movement darting behind those books. Old habits die hard, and his first instinct was to check it out. He knew that, if something really had gone back there, the only way back out was through him. But now that he was kneeling in front of the nightstand, staring at what was essentially a room for his tiny brother, he paused. What if it was another little guy like Sammy?
A faint jab of a miniscule elbow in his chest reminded Dean that Sam was still in his pocket. He retrieved him carefully and lifted him to eye level. Sam looked briefly surprised to see the hard look in Dean’s green eyes, but recovered to ask, “Dean? What’s going on?”
“Think you got a visitor, Sammy,” Dean replied, trying to keep his gruff voice down. If there was another tiny person hiding in the nightstand, he didn’t want to scare them any more than he probably already had. It had taken him long enough to earn Sam’s trust, and that was his little brother. He didn’t stand a chance with a complete stranger.
Sam’s jaw dropped slightly and he turned in Dean’s hand to peer at the space between the books that served as his doorway. “Well, put me down so I can check,” he answered. He couldn’t hide his eagerness at the prospect of talking to someone his own size. He glanced back and saw doubt written clearly in the furrows of Dean’s brow. “Dean, I’ll be fine,” he insisted. “Let me just check it out, okay? It’s not like you can’t move the book aside if you hear signs of trouble.”
Thankfully, Dean relented and lowered his hand. He bridged his fingers to the edge of the low shelf without a word. Sam glanced back up at him with a confident nod before walking between the books into his little space on the nightstand. His bed rested in one corner, and his bag of belongings sat next to it. But Sam’s eyes were drawn immediately to the opposite corner, as far away from the opening between the books as possible.
There was indeed another little person in here, pressing himself into the corner with a look of pure surprise on his face. Sam saw that in one hand the guy held a safety pin, and in the other he clutched the partially-coiled string that was attached to it. He must have been climbing the nightstand and been caught off guard by Dean coming in the room. Sam met the guy’s light brown eyes with his steady hazel ones and held up his hands in a calming gesture, trying to quell some of the fear and confusion on the little guy’s face.
He was kind of small even by Sam’s standards; he was nearly a full inch shorter, and much skinnier too. He reminded Sam that he was actually rather tall for a little person. The stranger had mousey hair to go with those brown eyes, and a thin face made even more gaunt by something Sam recognized all too well. This guy got by on whatever scraps he could find, and sometimes finding scraps was easier said than done.
“Hey, it’s alright. Calm down,” Sam said quietly, keeping his hands up to show he meant no harm while taking a few hesitant steps towards the guy.
The little guy didn’t seem inclined to trust him. “Why… why are you hanging around with a human?” he asked timidly. Judging from his voice, this kid was definitely a bit younger than Sam. His height wasn’t doing him any favors, either.
“That’s… a really long story,” Sam admitted with a weak, lopsided smile. “But I’d be glad to explain it to you. Just calm down, maybe? And be careful with that pin,” he added the last sentence as an afterthought. But, it felt necessary now that he realized he had basically cornered this guy. He didn’t want him taking drastic measures and getting someone hurt; Sam knew that what basic combat training he remembered would probably win out against the smaller person, but he didn’t want to have to resort to that.
“Y-you’re just crazy,” the little guy muttered, though he did almost seem to relax his shoulders. Almost. “That’s all it is. Get out of m-my way. I’m leaving,” he demanded, though he really didn’t seem at all convinced of himself.
Sam sighed and took another step forward. “Listen, it’s been a while since I’ve seen someone my size … can’t we just talk for a minute? The human out there is not gonna hurt you or me or anyone, alright? So maybe let’s just go out there and—“
“No way!” the younger man blurted. He rushed forward and caught Sam by surprise. The little guy tried to duck around him, but Sam threw an arm out to stop him. He wound up spinning on his heels as the other continued charging forward, and they both fell to the ground, with the safety pin thankfully clattering out of the little guy’s hand.
Sam didn’t have time to rise to a seated position before the other person scrambled to his knees and punched his gut. It wasn’t a very powerful punch; it was at a bad angle and the kid had clearly never hit anyone in his life. Even so, Sam let out an “Oof!” from surprise at the panicked action and from having some of the wind knocked out of him.
Before the other guy could decide whether he wanted to hit again or scramble to his feet, light flooded into the space. Sam couldn’t call a protest to Dean before his brother’s massive hand closed around the other little guy, dragging him away in a fist. The poor guy was completely engulfed in Dean’s fingers, and Sam knew quite well how terrifying that could be. He heard a few muffled pleas to be let go, but Dean ignored them.
“Dean, wait! Don’t hurt him,” Sam yelled, quickly getting to his feet. But he lost his footing again when Dean’s other hand scooped him up onto an open palm. Sam was lifted out too, but not restrained like the other guy. He got to his feet as soon as Dean held him close to his face, those green eyes checking him for injuries.
“You alright, Sammy?” Dean asked. He still had his hand closed around the other person, though he wasn’t squeezing him. Dean just figured a time out might be a good idea while he made sure Sammy hadn’t gotten hurt. Even so, he couldn’t stop the guilt that trickled into his mind as he felt the little person fighting against his grasp, pushing with limbs even tinier than Sam’s and trying desperately to get free. But, tiny or not, this guy had attacked Sammy. He wasn’t going to get a free pass after that.
“Yes, I’m fine,” Sam groused, glancing over at Dean’s other hand with worry and sympathy painted all over his face. “It’s all just a misunderstanding, so can we try not to make it worse?!” he added pointedly.
Oscar couldn’t breathe. Or rather, he could, but his lungs were drawing in air so quickly that he didn’t have time to get any oxygen before he was exhaling again. He vaguely remembered that that was called hyperventilating. Why was he thinking of useless information when a human hand was wrapped around him, ready to squeeze all the life out of him at any moment?!
“P-please, please let me go!” he cried, twisting and squirming against fingers that were bigger than his own body. Could Dean even hear him? Did he care? Would Oscar be kept captive until he was friendly like Sam? Or would he be exterminated for attacking Dean’s friend? He heard Sam and Dean talking, but couldn’t make out their words through the fog of his terror.
Then Dean was on the move. Oscar felt his organs drop into his feet as the human stood, carrying him along. Dean hadn’t yet squeezed him harshly or even threatened to do so. But, all the same, he kept Oscar trapped. Despite himself, Oscar felt some tears escape his eyes. He pleaded once more. “Let me go!”
And then, Oscar was released. He yelped in surprise when he dropped less than an inch from Dean’s open hand onto the surface of the cheap motel table. He scrambled backwards, but couldn’t get to his feet. He knew his knees would just collapse beneath him, the way they were shaking. Oscar dared to look up at the human’s face, and regretted it the minute he saw the frown in those green eyes. Sure, from what he’d seen, Dean was always a little intense. But now that intensity was aimed right at Oscar, and the little person shuddered.
He curled up with his arms protecting his head when Dean sat heavily in the chair at the table. “Hey,” Dean muttered, clearly trying to keep his voice down to sound less terrifying. It didn’t work, and Oscar kept right on cowering. “Relax, wouldja? I’m not gonna hurt you,” Dean continued, almost sounding confused, like he wasn’t sure what else to say.
“Dean, you just grabbed him without warning. Put me down and I'll do the talking here.” Sam’s steady voice chimed in, sounding both exasperated and concerned. There was a pause during which the pair must have stared each other down. And then Oscar heard footsteps coming slowly towards him.
Oscar peeked up in time for Sam to squat in front of him, arms resting on his knees. “Hey. You gonna be okay?” he asked gently. Oscar swallowed dryly, but didn’t answer. His eyes flicked from Sam up to Dean for just a moment before settling back on the person in front of him. Sam sighed, his brow pinching with concern. “I’m sorry that he scared you like that. He just thought you attacked me.”
“I-I-I’m sorry,” Oscar replied quietly. His voice was so soft that even Sam had to lean his head a little closer to hear the stammered apology.
Sam smiled encouragingly. “It’s okay. You really don’t have to worry about it, alright? What’s your name?”
Oscar hesitated to answer. But, he was already captured. He didn’t even have his climbing rope; the only ways to the floor involved a steep drop or help from a human. He lowered his arms from his head to hug his knees, making himself look even smaller in Dean’s looming shadow. The human had a cautious look on his huge face, and Oscar couldn’t look at it for more than a second before becoming intimidated and looking away.
“My name is Oscar,” he finally answered.
“It’s nice to meet you, Oscar,” Sam replied, offering him another encouraging smile. “I’m Sam. This is Dean,” he gestured to the human behind him. How did he manage to be so fearless when a human was looking right at him and could grab him at any second? Sam was no less vulnerable than Oscar was, no matter that he was a whole four inches tall.
“Howdy,” Dean grumbled above them. Oscar flinched and looked up at him in surprise. Sam turned his head to throw an absolutely scathing bitchface at the human for interrupting. Once again Oscar got the sense that these two were close, like brothers, despite the vast difference in size.
Sam turned back to Oscar. “So, Oscar, are you alright? You aren’t hurt, are you?” When Oscar shook his head, Sam smiled faintly. “Good to hear.” He held out a hand. Oscar stared at it, surprised and skeptical all at once. But, Sam didn’t waver. With a steeling breath, Oscar took Sam’s hand and let the taller man help him to his feet.
His first action upon standing was to shuffle back from Dean a little. Oscar was pretty sure this human would never cease to intimidate him. But he was willing to admit that maybe Dean just had one of those faces. It didn’t hurt that his eyes seemed to stare right through him, studying his every move. But, even so, Dean’s look appeared to soften just a bit when he saw Oscar’s fearful recoil.
Sam opened his mouth to speak again, but Oscar interrupted him with a blurted question. “S-so, why are you hanging around a human?”
Dean could hardly believe it, but he really was looking at another tiny person. It was still so surreal sometimes, to think that Sammy had been shrunk. But, next to this guy, he actually looked tall. His teeny, pocket-sized brother looked like a freaking moose next to Oscar. Dean shifted slightly in his seat. He knew he was looming over the pair of them, but he couldn’t figure out how to back off while still keeping an eye on Oscar in case he decided to jump at Sam again. Dean knew that Sam didn’t like him being so protective, but sometimes he really couldn’t help it.
Sam rubbed the back of his neck, screwing his face up as he thought about how to explain things to Oscar. The guy looked suspicious but curious. He was probably way too intelligent for glossing over the truth to work. “Well … like I said, it’s a really long story. Dean is ... actually my brother.”
Oscar balked, his eyes widening in disbelief. “Do I look like a dumbass?!” he asked.
Dean chuckled. “Believe me, Oz, there’re weirder things in this world than that,” he told him.
“It’s Oscar,” Oscar clarified, actually keeping eye contact with Dean for once. “But seriously. You gotta mean that you, like, adopted him or something, right?”
Sam sighed. Of course he’d expected disbelief. It would just be tough to explain the whole story quickly. And, in order to do so, he’d have to break it to Oscar that all kinds of scary things went bump in the night. “Look, Dean’s my real brother. I know it’s really hard to believe. It’s kind of a long story but we’re not making this up. Why would we?”
Dean could see that Oscar still didn’t quite believe it. But, Sammy had managed to get the little guy’s attention and hold it. Sam was good at talking to people, despite having met so few of them. Man, getting information out of people would be a lot easier if Sam could come along with Dean for investigations.
“Listen, Oz,” Dean interjected. He reached over their heads to pull one of the research books closer. He ignored the way Oscar backed away from his arm, a look of shock on his upturned face. “Why don’t ya sit down. I’ll heat up some of that pizza for you, and Sammy here can get storytime going.”
Oscar frowned. “My name isn’t Oz,” he insisted, only earning a faint smirk from Dean. It was just too entertaining to see him get so worked up over something so silly. But then, the little guy looked over his shoulder at the pizza box, and it looked like Dean’s offer finally made it through.
“It’s pretty good, Oscar,” Sam added with an encouraging smile. “Come on. Dean’ll get that ready and I’ll explain everything …”
“So, now you guys go around hunting these ghosts and witches and stuff,” Oscar muttered quietly, still a little disbelieving. He sat on the edge of a thick library book, his feet not quite reaching the tabletop. Sam sat next to him, and on his other side there was a torn piece of cardboard that had held his portion of the freaking delicious pizza that Dean had heated up in the microwave. It was Oscar’s first warm food ever, and boy was it good.
“Exactly right, Oz,” Dean answered. Oscar shot him a scathing look, but had long since given up on correcting him.
“We try to help people. A lot of the supernatural is really dangerous, and we try to find it before too many people get hurt or killed,” Sam explained with a shrug. “I’m still pretty rusty at it, but I’m getting back up to speed.”
Oscar nodded absently. Sam had explained how he was cursed when he was just a kid, shrunk down from human size. Oscar thought it was nerve-wracking enough to have been born this small. He couldn’t imagine having a taste of what it’s like to be big, and then lose that. And then, after getting adjusted to his new size, Sam had lost his family to one of the demons that wandered around pretending to be humans.
It was all quite a lot for Oscar to take in.
“That’s why we’re in town, actually,” Sam continued. “There have been some kids going missing, and it happened the exact same way decades ago. We think something supernatural might be the cause.”
Oscar turned his focus to Dean when the human reached over to a shoebox that sat on the table and reached in with one gargantuan hand. He set a bundle of ratty cloth tied with twine next to the book that Sam and Oscar sat on. “So far this is one of our only leads. It was found in the room of the last living witness of the last time this crap happened.” He dragged the closed laptop closer. Oscar looked at the tabletop in surprise, feeling every tremor of the action.
But then he stood and hesitantly stepped towards the bundle that Dean set down. He noticed that Sam stood too. They both walked around it curiously. Oscar swallowed thickly. Now that he got a good look at it, he knew that this thing was definitely identical to the hexbag that was still wedged behind Dean’s headboard. “Y-you found a hexbag?” he asked incredulously. “Aren’t these really dangerous?” They hunted the supernatural, and it sure sounded like these fell right into that category. Oscar could only assume they knew what it was.
“A what? A hexbag? Are you sure?” Sam asked. But, before Oscar could answer him, Dean had opened the laptop quickly and was typing something into it. The human stared at the screen for several silent seconds, a hard look returning to his green eyes. Oscar didn’t like the feeling he got.
Sam walked briskly over to stand right next to the laptop, reading the gigantic screen. Oscar stood awkwardly next to the hexbag, fretting silently. Did they really not know? But that meant they were wide open to the attack that Megan and Celine had set up! He opened his mouth to warn them, but both Sam and Dean turned their gazes to him in unison. Sam looked concerned, but Dean just looked suspicious as hell. That’s not good.
“W-what’s wrong?” Oscar asked tentatively, glancing between the two brothers.
“Oscar, a hexbag like this one is an item used to focus curses on people,” Sam explained steadily, his hazel eyes trailing to the hexbag resting on the table next to Oscar. Oscar gasped and looked at in surprise. All of the fake maids’ conversation started to make more sense. He backed away from it quickly, wondering if he’d be cursed just by standing so close.
“Which brings up some questions,” Dean’s voice growled over him. Oscar looked in that direction in time to see a hand rushing at him. He turned to dash away across the tabletop, but he didn’t take two steps before a finger and thumb that dwarfed his body pinched around the back of his shirt and yanked him backwards. Oscar flailed his arms and legs even as the table dropped out from beneath him.
“L-let me down!” Oscar cried, his voice several pitches higher than usual. But he fell silent and still when he was suspended right in front of Dean’s face. There was no escaping that suspicious glare. Oscar stared in shock at the green eyes that seemed to have made up their mind. He wished he knew what exactly Dean had decided about him.
He found out soon enough. “So, Oscar, why is it that you knew what that was without even thinking about it? This is some pretty dark stuff. Seems a little odd that a ‘harmless’ little guy would know what a hexbag is just by looking at it.” The accusatory tone in Dean’s voice was unmistakable. He suspected that Oscar had something to do with the accursed things! Oscar knew he should have just run!
Oscar glanced down. Far below him, the hard surface of the table waited, ready to break him even if he escaped Dean’s grasp. Sam stood there, looking like he wanted to tell Dean to back down, but he was suspicious, too. Oscar looked back up at Dean’s expectant glare. These guys kill whatever they think is a threat… He’s gonna kill me! Oscar realized.
“Oh, God,” Oscar blurted, covering his face with his hands and shivering uncontrollably. “I s-swear, I only found out about them today,” he insisted through his palms. “Please don’t squash me!”
“What do you mean, Oscar?” Sam’s voice called up from the table. “How did you find out about them? Are more people in danger?”
“Yeah, Oz. Is someone else in danger from this little hexbag scheme? I’d appreciate the help, seeing as it looks like you’re a couple steps ahead of us on this,” Dean chimed in derisively. “Who’s the next target?” he demanded.