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Second Interlude - Scarecrow

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Sam stared at the phone in shock. The last thing he'd expected was to hear his father's voice on the other line. He's alright, he's okay... Sam was amazed at the amount of relief he felt fill him. He'd been starting to believe John hadn't been in contact was because something had gotten to him... but here he was, talking to Sam.

"Dad?" He could barely get the word out in his shock.

Sam twitched away from the phone, torn. On one hand, the person on the other end of the phone was yet another hunter, huge and dangerous. On the other hand... "Dad? Are you hurt?"

It was his father.

His father that he hadn't seen in over ten years. Since he'd been hit with this damn curse. Sam closed his eyes, thankful that at last, one thing in his life had gone right. His human family was still in one piece.

A smile came across with John's answer. "I'm fine. Sammy... is it true? What Dean said about you?"

Sam brushed his hair out of his eyes, wishing Dean was awake for this. His eyes skated over the immense form of his sleeping brother. If only he could throw something at Dean, wake him up... Sam didn't want to do this alone.

"It's true." Sam said, almost mumbling. "Its all true. Dad..." his voice failed.

"Sam, I'm so sorry what you had to go through... that we left without knowing for sure what happened... that witch -"

Sam forced it away, cutting John off. "That doesn't matter. What happened, happened. It's no one's fault. Dad, we've been searching for you everywhere... why didn't you ever call us?"

Sam heard a huge shifting to the side. He gave a slight jolt of surprise before he saw it was just his brother, waking up at last. The noise from the phone call must have finally sunk into his thick skull. Blankets that could cover a mountain were pushed off effortlessly and Dean, rumpled and confused, blinked blearily at the nightstand, staring blankly at his little brother. Clearly the situation hadn't sunk in yet.

John had no idea what was happening in the room and continued on with the conversation. "Sam... I didn't want to put you in any danger. You're not..."

"Danger? Dad, I can take care of myself. I'm not a child," Sam argued back stubbornly.

Dean sat up to the side of the nightstand, flicking on the room light. "Is that Dad?" Dean asked in surprise, staring down at Sam and the phone. His voice was full of sudden hope. The volume of the voice, though easily understood by Sam, was too low for him to make out.

Sam stared up at him, letting the expression on his face do all the talking. Shock, fear, hope... a million feelings that he couldn't sort out.

Dean reached over with one of his huge hands, hitting the speakerphone button so he could hear the other half of the conversion. John's voice filled the room, making Sam jump from the sudden volume. "Sam, I know you think you can do everything the same as before, but you're not what..."

Dean's loud voice cut right through this, stopping John in his tracks before he could crush any more of Sam's confidence. "Dad? Where the hell are you? We've been searching for you everywhere!"

"Dean. I can't tell you that. Not yet. I can't be near you or Sam right now."

Dean glared down at the phone angrily. "Why the hell not?"

"You're just gonna have to trust me on this."

Sam's small voice jumped in, so soft after Dean's loud growls. He pushed through the doubt he felt after hearing his dad's opinion of him... that he was small and helpless. Useless. Sitting in the middle of a conversion between arguing two humans wasn't helping that impression. "Dad... are you after it? The demon that killed our families?"

"I am... listen, Sammy, I, uh…I heard what happened to your little family. I'm so sorry. No one should have to go through that once, never mind twice."

Sam shared a shocked glance with Dean, trying as hard as he could to ignore the condescending way John had said 'little' family. "You... know about people like me?"

"I've only heard stories and rumors... you're the first person your size I've ever talked to... look, its not safe for us to talk this way. There's no time and we're getting off topic. Dean, do you have a pen and paper?"

Shock passed over Sam's face. "What? No, Dad - where are you? I need to see you!" After thirteen years away from his Dad, to be so close now... especially after losing the rest of his family so recently.

"This is a direct order, Sam. Dean, you ready? I need you to take down names."

Dean dug around on the nightstand, grabbing a pen. He opened up the drawer below, making Sam stumble in surprise when the ground shook under him like an earthquake. Sam caught himself as Dean apologized. "Sorry, Sammy."

Sam focused back on the phone, ignoring all the movement around him. "Dad..."

John's voice firmed. "Sam, it's safer for you with Dean. You can't be any part of this."

"What? Why?!" Pissed, Sam glared at the phone. "Dad, I'm not a little kid! This is my life, not yours!"

Dean leaned forward, eclipsing the phone and Sam. "Dad? I'm ready."

"You need to take down these names..."

Sam glared up at Dean, angry he'd taken over the call. They were so close to finding their father's location... He stalked to the other side of the nightstand, using the bed to climb down to the floor.

Dean was still writing on the paper up above Sam's head as he climbed onto the shelf that had all his possessions, subtly shaking the wood around Sam. He sighed at the reminder of how small he was. Just so easily pushed aside...


SUPERNATURAL


Sam leaned back against the wall, arms around his legs. He was completely frustrated. He sent his best glare towards the massive boots sitting all the way at the other end of the seat, pissed at how easily Dean was continuing on like nothing had happened.

It was frustrating to be so small, now more than ever. Dean was refusing to listen to Sam. After all, they finally had a lead on their father. Sam had traced the call not long after Dean and John had hung up, all the way to California. With Dean driving, they could get there in under two days. An easy trip. Then all they'd need to do was hook into some traffic cams, try and track John's distinctive truck down.

Instead, here they were. Dean was off on another hunt like a good little soldier.

And here Sam was, stuck in the car with him.

It was one of the first times he wished so bad to be normal again. That way, he could just open up the car door, start walking. Humans were big enough for that, after all. They could walk miles and miles in a day. Sam was so small he'd be lucky to cross one mile in a day. Not to mention at a whopping four inches tall, it'd be a miracle if he managed to survive that day. There were all kinds of dangers to someone his size out in the wilderness alone. He could be spotted by a human, picked up by a wild animal for a snack - hell, he was too small to hitchhike for that matter. The world was a far more dangerous place at his size.

Those thoughts made him remember his time trying to hike through a forest with only a water sprite for company. From the moment Dean had dropped them to the ground to try and make it on their own Sam had had a rough time of it. Spiders, invisible pitfalls, hooting owls in the distance... it would have been terrifying without Nixie as company.

Because of this, he sat under the car seat, stewing in his own anger.

He knew intuitively that despite the way Dean refused to listen to him and go to California, Dean felt horrible about the entire situation. He could tell from the way the boot that wasn't in control of the car shifted uneasily on the ground, and the way Dean had hesitated when he turned on the car.

After Sam had stormed off the seat, angrily turning his back on his human brother.

Sam kept himself as far over on the passenger side as he could. Down here, even the slightest bump on the road could toss him across the floor. He didn't want to risk getting thrown out by Dean's feet. It would only take a second's mistake to get stepped on by the massive boots, one of Sam's greatest fears. No matter how much he trusted Dean, he couldn't grow complacent. Not at his size. Not to mention, while Dean was driving 80+ MPH down the road, he couldn't afford to take his attention away from driving for a second. It was a far cry from when Dean was walking in a motel room, where he was able to watch every step.

So for hours Sam just sat there, leaning against the passenger side door, glaring at a pair of boots each the size of a house. Wishing things could be different.

He'd managed to calm down a bit by the time the road under the car changed from smooth highway to rough, gravelly backroads. Watching the boots while they shifted expertly on the pedals was mesmerizing after a while, with nothing else to do.

He'd honestly never thought driving a car was that complicated. Dean had always handled it like he'd been born to it... expertise born of long practice. Sam had never considered the skill required to make it seem so effortless. Another skill Sam would never be able to learn because of his curse.

The Impala slowed to a stop, Dean switching it into park smoothly. Sam listened for a few moments as his brother gathered up his belongings from the backseat. The light darkened as Dean knelt down, trying to catch a glimpse of his teeny sibling hiding from him.

From his vantage point, Sam could only make out about half of Dean's face. It was painful to see the concern on it, even as Dean ignored everything Sam had said.

"You wanna come in with me? Or sulk under here some more?" Dean asked, his voice a soft rumble.

"I'm NOT sulking," Sam snipped angrily. He crossed his arms over his chest. "And I'm not going anywhere with you." He stood up, kicking a discarded bottlecap at Dean.

Dean rolled his eyes, pushing himself up out of sight. "Fine. Suit yourself."

The entire car shook as he slammed the door closed, leaving Sam small and alone and trapped in a situation of his own making.


Dean glanced behind himself, making sure he'd left the windows of the Impala open enough for Sam to get fresh air. He shook his head at the tiny hunter's stubbornness.

He couldn't understand why Sam didn't get it. Sure they had a lead on their dad. At the same time, if they went off to investigate that lead, people were going to die. Dean could never put himself or his needs in front of the lives of innocents. Sam was far too focused on the search for their father to see past that. It was an obsession that almost reminded Dean of their father, John. The same obsessed behavior their dad had shown tearing after this demon, cutting off all contact with his only son at the time.

He hated leaving Sam in the car alone like that, but at least if he was sitting under the seat no one would be able to see him. Sam knew better than anyone to be careful without Dean around. Especially out of his element like this, away from the dark, enclosed walls of the motel rooms Sam was used to slipping through. There were no hiding places for Sam to slip into in the car, past the belongings Dean had strewn across the backseat.

He'll be fine, Dean thought to himself.

There was nothing he could do about it, anyway.

Dean jumped up onto the sidewalk. He came up to a man sitting casually in a chair. "Let me guess... Scotty?"


It wasn't long before Dean made it back to the Impala. He climbed in, kneeling on the floor to check on his stubborn little brother. A smile cracked his face when he spotted Sam. The little guy was curled up on his side, snoozing away.

Dean was tempted to scoop him off the floor, put him somewhere he'd be safer, or at the very least more comfortable. But he restrained himself, knowing how much Sam hated to be grabbed without warning. Waking up in Dean's hands like that would crush any trust he had in Dean, especially after their argument.

Noticing his brother was shivering slightly in his sleep, Dean pulled a handkerchief out of his jacket. It was new, bought recently to replace the tattered remnants of one of his older handkerchiefs. All his older cloths were covered in blood stains from cleaning his various weapons after hunts. This one was clean and soft and would be a perfect warm blanket for the smaller Winchester. Dean carefully tucked it around his brother's small form, taking care to not wake him up. He smiled slightly as Sam snuggled sleepily into the cloth. There, Dean thought to himself, satisfied. At least he could give Sam that.

Sitting back up, Dean started up the car. He had a good direction to follow on where the last couple had vanished. Turning the Impala around, he headed that way.


Sam didn't wake up for hours, nestled under the warm blanket as he was. Even though he was sitting down on the floor of the Impala, he felt safe. More and more these days the Impala was feeling like home again. The same way it had when he was a child. As alien as it all seemed with him this small, he felt welcomed in the car. Like he belonged. Everything in there - the huge box of cassette tapes with Dean's old-school music in them, the smell of oil and leather that permeated the car, even the immense duffel resting on the back seat of the car behind him all added up to what Sam called home.

His childhood had been spent in this car, driving from motel to motel. John Winchester's blind quest to find the monster that had killed his wife had made him uproot his life and his sons. Dean had taken to the life of a hunter like a natural, unbothered by the continuous change of schools they'd gone through.

Sam had hated it. He'd always argued with his dad, wanting desperately to stay in one place. Even if it was just for a year, just long enough to stay in the same school... but they never had. He sighed at that thought. Karma had bit him in the ass there, cursing him and forcing him to stay in one place for the rest of his life... but completely unable to go to school or even read books. Cut off from the world he'd known.

Careful what you wish for. You might just get it.

His eyes slitted open as he woke, widening in surprise when he noticed the blanket wrapped around him. It hadn't been there before.

Dean, he thought ruefully. Even with Sam angry at him, he cared enough to check. As annoying as his brother could get, Sam smiled at the care shown him. He never expected it, especially from a human.

Most humans saw Sam's people as beneath them, more like pets than people. Or rodents to be exterminated. Dean, on the other hand, respected Sam, treated him like just another person, an equal. Stubborn bastard or not, he was lucky to have Dean in his life.

And the phone call with his dad was still bothering him. The tone of John's voice... like Sam needed the help. Like he couldn't handle himself out there. Dean had never acted like Sam was a child... sure, he was overprotective, but he'd never been condescending. At least Dean understood Sam could do things on his own. Independent.

He rubbed his eyes, sitting up. The world was dark around him, sealing him in the silence. Curious, Sam walked out from under the seat. Dean was nowhere in sight, but Sam spotted the huge duffel bag over his head on the seat now, strap hanging down to the floor. So Dean had moved it since Sam had fallen asleep. Using the strap of the bag, he scaled up to the seat. Standing up there on the bag, he was almost high enough to see out the windows of the car.

Darkness closed in on all sides, the night sky above full of tiny, glittering stars. The topmost branches of trees was all he could make out, leaves rustling in the wind.

Sam sat down on the bag with a small sigh. He felt lonely.

Another ten minutes passed without event. Then, Sam realized he could hear yelling in the distance, coming steadily closer. He tensed when he realized the voices didn't belong to Dean. A woman was screaming in the night. Gunshots fired in the distance. Dean... Sam thought, panicked. His brother was in trouble and Sam didn't even know what he was hunting. He tried to see over the edge of the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of his brother... please be okay... then dove off the bag when he saw two humans come into sight that weren't his brother.

"What the hell was that?" came a loud, male voice.

The next voice was Dean's, filling Sam with relief. "Don't ask!" The tone was full of determination.

Sam slipped off the seat, knowing it would be dangerous for him to be in sight around other humans. All they had to do was turn and see him on the seat, defenseless. Dean could only protect him from so much.

The door of the car opened, Dean's boots climbing into the driver's seat with thudding steps. The entire car rocked around Sam. "Where'd you park your car?" Sam's brother demanded loudly.

That was all the warning Sam had that other people were going to get in. He cringed over to the driver's side, hiding right next to the heel of his brother's boots. As dangerous as it could be for him to be near them with Dean driving, sitting near other people would be far worse. They had no idea he was there, no reason to watch their step.

Sam couldn't make out their reply, his ears were too full of rushing blood and panic. He'd gone from a silent, safe car to one full of strangers in seconds. Huge, moving shadows surrounded him, making him curl into a ball against the wall. All they had to was peek curiously under the seat. He was sitting out in the open, exposed. Nowhere to run. Sam stared at the new shoes sitting in the passenger seat and the back seat of the car, natural instincts gone haywire. His blanket lay forgotten between them.

The rumbling purr of the Impala started up, vibrating reassuringly through Sam. It reminded him that no matter who else was in the car, Dean was there and wouldn't let anything happen to him.

Less than five minutes later the car came to a stop. Dean's voice rang out overhead again. "I'll meet you out there, gotta get my tools."

The other sets of shoes climbed out of the car. Sam felt his shoulders relax, the tension leaving him along with the strangers.

A shadow fell over his hiding spot as blessedly familiar green eyes peered under the seat worriedly, lit by the moon above. It took Dean a few seconds to spot Sam in his new hiding place in the dark. Dean was still tense as he spoke. "Hey," he said softly. "Sorry 'bout that. You alright?" A huge hand reached for Sam.

Sam couldn't help flinching back, afraid of how easily Dean could pick him up. He hated that helpless feeling.

Dean paused, noticing his brother's nervousness. "Sorry," he said softly. "I just... I hate seeing you down there." His hand dropped to the floor.

Sam relaxed, rolling his eyes. "I'm fine, Dean. Lay off."

Dean's eyebrows shot up. "Sam, what's this really about? You can't still be mad we're not searching for Dad, can you?"

Sam stood up, sending a glare Dean's way. "What's it matter, anyway? Not like I have a choice here. I'm just along for the ride, right?" He stalked away from Dean, heading back to where the blanket was so he could put some distance between him and Dean.

For a minute it seemed as though Dean had something more to say, but a voice from behind him made him jerk up in surprise. Sam was once again left alone on the floor of the Impala while Dean left to help the couple fix their car.


The next morning found Sam talking to Dean about the case. He was still sitting under the bench seat of the Impala, but after the scare the night before - not knowing if Dean was in trouble and with no way to get to him - Sam was more willing to talk. He might be mad at Dean but the last thing he wanted was for his brother to get himself killed when Sam might have been able to help.

"The scarecrow climbed down off its cross?" Sam asked, still incredulous about the whole thing. The only scarecrow he'd ever seen had been the one in The Wizard of Oz, ages ago in his childhood. That impression made it hard to imagine a bloodthirsty scarecrow running around killing people.

"Yeah, first time I've seen that happen." Dean was driving the car again. After the excitement of the night before, they'd driven out of town and parked in a field. Dean had curled his six-foot frame in the back seat to sleep, using a blanket he'd stashed in the trunk. It didn't look comfortable, but after his welcome in the town where he said he'd been chased out by the police for 'asking too many questions and bothering the locals,' (all of this happening while Sam snoozed obliviously on) he'd decided to only go into the town if he needed to.

Sam had stayed under the seat the entire night, but he could feel himself starting to mellow out inside. Dean's determination the night before had saved two people who would've been dead without him. It was hard to stay angry about that. At this point, the only thing preventing him from climbing back onto the seat and pretending everything was normal was how he felt like baggage... like he didn't get a choice where they went, or why. After hearing his father on the phone, talking like Sam needed help or couldn't handle himself, he couldn't help but wonder if that was how Dean saw him.

Sam thought to himself. "Could a spirit animate a scarecrow like that?" He remembered hearing about ghosts affecting objects, or even being bound to an object instead of their remains but he couldn't recall ever hearing a spirit controlling something like that.

"Nah, I doubt it. I'm thinking its more than a spirit. It's a god - a pagan god."

"What gave you that idea?" Sam asked curiously. He'd never read about hunters encountering gods before.

"The annual cycle of its killings and the fact that each year, it's a man and a woman that go missing. Like some kind of fertility rite or something." Dean's boots shifted on the ground away from Sam. "You should've seen the locals. They were fattening up the couple, treating them like royalty. 'Least until they were up for sacrifice."

Sam shook his head, incredulous. That people would actually sacrifice other people like that so callously... "So a god possesses the scarecrow..."

"...The scarecrow takes its sacrifice." Dean finished. "And for another year crops won't wilt, disease won't spread."

"Any idea what god you're dealing with?" Sam pushed down the temptation to walk out from under the seat.

"Not yet. I'm on my way to a local community college to talk to a professor. You know, since my resident geek-boy's on strike right now."

"Dean, if you're asking for my help..."

"I'm not asking." Dean cleared his throat above. "Actually... Sam... I mean... don't think..." he stopped.

"What?" Unable to stop himself, Sam went to the front of the seat, peeking over to see his brother.

Dean's eyes met his for a second before turning back to the road. "Sam, don't think you're just along for the ride. I count on you. You always watch out for me, even when I'm a complete screw-up. Like going to that girl's apartment on my own. I wouldn't be here without you. Anyway... I wanted you to know I'm proud of you, Sammy."

Sam slumped back against the wall as Dean parked. He was left on his own, going over what Dean had said in his mind while Dean went to his appointment.


Not twenty minutes later, loud footsteps could be heard coming towards the car. Sam stood up, hoping to see his brother at last. There had been a few false alarms with other humans walking by. He was tired of sitting under the seat and wanted to help Dean finish this case once and for all. Maybe then things would just get back to normal, the way they were supposed to be.

A voice started to talk outside the car. "You sure about this?"

"This is the same car he got in when we chased him out of town. It's his."

The first voice sighed. "Great. This one's distinctive, of course. Why do you think we usually go for couples starting out in their nondescript cars? Much easier to hide after... it."

Sam scowled. Neither of the humans was Dean. Why were they at the Impala? And what the hell were they talking about out there?

Part of his answer came seconds later. One of the back doors swung open. Sam ducked down under the handkerchief Dean had given him the night before. Peering out, he saw huge hands reach down to the ground, below his line of sight. They gripped something lying there, hauling it up into the backseat of the car with a heavy toss.

Sam's heart froze.

It was Dean.

Dean was draped across the back seat of the car, a nasty mark over one of his eyes. Blood trickled down face. He was out cold. One arm flopped off the seat of the car, landing with a heavy thud on the ground not six inches from Sam.

The door of the car slammed shut. Sam shook himself off, pushing down his panic. The human that had dumped Dean into the back climbed into the driver's seat. The Impala started up with an angry growl, as upset as Sam was at her beloved driver's state.

With the human distracted driving the car to god knows where, Sam slipped out from under the seat. He brushed his hand over Dean's thumb, worried. The thumb was cold, twisting something in Sam's chest. He crawled into the hand, stretching to reach Dean's wrist. Pushing down on the thick skin, he guesstimated the place he'd been told you could feel a pulse.

It was faint, but throbbed steadily under Sam's hand.

Thankful his brother was alive, Sam sagged down in the hand and sat there for a minute. He stared up at the human driving the Impala angrily, trying to come up with a solution. Dean definitely needed help like this, but Sam didn't know what use he'd be against a full grown human. He couldn't exactly take the car back from him... Sam scowled angrily.

Settling on a plan, he crawled up the sleeve of Dean's jacket while the human was distracted driving the Impala. One of Dean's pockets was crushed under the arm Sam had crawled up, but the other was out in the open. It would be child's play to climb in and hide. That way, no matter what happened to Dean, Sam would be there to help. He could get his brother out of this.

Somehow.

Pushing any thought about how easily he could end up crushed just like Dean's other pocket, Sam crawled in. It didn't matter how dangerous it was, Dean needed him and that's all that mattered. He slipped to the bottom of the pocket and made himself as comfortable as he could in the dark confines. He was prepared to wait as long as it took.

Less than five minutes later the car came to a stop, idling. The opening of car door was the only warning Sam got before huge hands grabbed Dean's shoulders, hoisting him up. Sam's head spun at the motion. A low groan echoed throughout Sam's body as Dean started to come to. He froze. If Dean realized he was there, he might give away Sam's hiding place by accident.

So he stayed motionless, barely breathing, hoping his brother wouldn't notice the tiny lump sitting against his chest.

The world spun again as Dean was dragged out of the car, stumbling to catch his balance. As soon as he realized what was going on, Dean started to argue with his captors. "So, what... sacrificing innocent bystanders not working for you anymore? Kidnapping's more your boat now?"

The answering voice was far too close for Sam's comfort. "I think we all know that if you hadn't interfered this would all be over and done with, boy."

"Heh, yeah. Right. Until next year. And all it would cost is that couple's lives."

Something creaked open and Sam almost yelped with fear as Dean was tossed down a flight of stairs. Luckily the giant hunter caught himself, landing on his feet at the last second. Sam was slammed to the bottom of the pocket, holding onto the sides for dear life.

That was a close one... Sam thought to himself, shaking like a leaf. All Dean had to do was land the wrong way and Sam would be nothing more than a memory...

Time passed endlessly. Dean prowled around their imposed prison while Sam sat unnoticed in his pocket. As much as he wanted to tell Dean he was there, he had a feeling that for this to work, he had to stay under the radar. And so he pushed his satchel against the corner of the pocket and curled himself into a ball, staying motionless for hours. He slipped into a dreamless sleep, lulled by the constant thumping of Dean's heart to the side.

He woke up to an earthquake around him. Sam flailed for a second, grabbing the strap of his bag desperately to keep it from flying out of the pocket. The pocket swung around him in midair, sideways.

Dean's voice came from behind him, echoing throughout the pocket. There was no reaction to Sam's predicament, so Dean must not have noticed him. "Sacrifices. Guess that makes it... classier?" The pocket righted as Dean walked down some stairs. Sam realized Dean was talking to another human as he went on. "You really didn't know anything about this, did you?"

A girl answered him, sounding scared. "About what... the scarecrow god?" she scoffed.

Sam's heart dropped again. A man and a woman... they're planning on sacrificing my brother!

The girl sounded on the edge of tears. "I can't believe this..."

He listened carefully as Dean outlined his plan above. Sam wouldn't be any help burning a tree down, at least not without Dean's help. He'd have to focus on a way to get Dean out of this... without getting himself killed or caught by other humans. That way Dean could burn the tree down and get rid of the god.

Teamwork.

Before he could come up with a plan, a door creaked above them again, flooding the area with light. "It's time," a woman's voice came from above.

Sam kept still as other humans surrounded his brother. His instincts went haywire with so many huge, dangerous beings around. People willing to kill his brother and an innocent girl for their own selfish purposes. They wouldn't hesitate to do away with Sam. Probably wouldn't even consider him an equal. For once he was grateful he was small enough to be overlooked.

Dean and the girl were led unwillingly out of their prison. Eventually, Dean was forced to sit down on the ground as he was tied up. Sam bravely peeked out of the pocket, shifting the flap so only his eyes were peeking out.

Dean was still arguing with his captors. "How many people have you killed, sheriff? How much blood is on your hands?"

"We don't kill anyone."

Sam almost scoffed out loud at that one before he caught himself. He only stopped when he remembered how dangerous it would be for him to be caught. 'We don't kill anyone...' can you really say that when you send people to their deaths year after year, using their sacrifices for your own gain?

Dean seemed to agree. "No, but you sure cover up after it. How many cars have you hidden, clothes have you buried..."

The sheriff turned from Dean, leaving him behind. Sam saw the huge shadow leave, opening up his line of sight so he could see the girl trapped with his brother. She was crying to her family... family, you don't kill family... they're all you have in this world... trying to convince them to not do this.

It did her no good.

Sam was torn from his thoughts when Dean's angry voice rang out like a thunderclap over his head. "Hope your apple pie is freakin' worth it!" Sam clapped his hands over his ears, trying to recover from how close he was to the source.

The townspeople paid Dean no mind as they left the orchard.

While he was recovering, he heard the girl's voice talking to Dean. "So what's the plan?"

"I'm working on it..."

Sam smirked at that. He knew Dean well enough at this point too recognize a bluff. Good thing I'm here for backup. He took one last look at the surroundings before settling down. He'd wait to make sure all the others had left before letting Dean know he was there. He'd do neither of them any good if any other humans got their hands on him before Dean was freed. He brushed a hand over his silver knife, glad it was there.

The sun was setting when Sam pushed the flap of the pocket up for the last time. Dean shifted above, suddenly noticing the movement down on his jacket.

"Sammy?" he hissed quietly. "Is that you?"

Dropping his satchel in the pocket for the moment, Sam hauled himself out of the pocket. He clung to Dean's jacket for support, giving Dean a grin once he was out. "What, you thought I'd let you take on the big, bad scarecrow all by yourself?" He scrambled up to the shoulder so he wouldn't have to worry about slipping off and falling from the unstable surface. He didn't want to waste time climbing back up. Not with Dean's life on the line.

Dean gave a huge sigh of relief. "I'm so happy to see you," he closed his eyes for a second. "I thought you were still the car... How long you been in there?"

"Since the sheriff dumped your knocked-out ass in the backseat of the Impala. Figured you might need the backup." Sam took in his surroundings. Dean's arms were tied to a tree above his head. Without a second thought Sam started to scale his brother, determined to get Dean free as soon as possible.

"You thought right, short stuff," Dean muttered at him, meeting Sam's eyes when he climbed up enough to be level with Dean's.

The girl noticed the brothers' conversation at last. "What's going on?" she asked, hope in her voice. "Who're you talking to..." she trailed off, spotting Sam. "What the..."

Dean glanced over. "Told you I had a plan!" He gave her a wink, bluffing his way through Sam being spotted. "Sammy, you alright up there?"

Sam twisted in place, glancing down at Dean. He was suspended a few inches above Dean's head, clinging to the cuff of the jacket. "I'm fine. Just..." He stared up at the huge hands bound above his head. "...don't move." This high up he could get seriously injured if he was thrown from Dean's arm.

"Sure thing." Dean caught the girl's eye again, turning serious. "Emily, he's here to help us. This is my little brother Sam."

She just stared at them, still in shock. "S-sure, whatever you say. If he can get us out of this..."

Apparently being offered up to a pagan god for a sacrifice by your family made you more open to the supernatural. Who knew.

Sam gave the hands above him a good once-over while she was talking. There was no good way to do this. He couldn't use Dean's skin to climb on, it was too smooth for any decent handholds. Using the rope would be just as bad, since he trying to cut it down. He'd fall with it. And wherever he was, he'd have to be able to reach the thin ropes to cut them off.

Sam dug his knife out of his jacket with determination. There was one option that would work. "Dean, is there any way you could hold onto me while I'm up there?"

Dean twisted his head as far as he could to see where Sam was. His brow furrowed as he took in Sam's predicament. "Uh, maybe. Hold on." One of the hands angled down into an awkward position, fingers stretching as far as they could towards Sam's small body.

Sam hauled himself up using the rope for support. He let Dean loop a finger and thumb around his waist before he slipped off the rope. He slowly scrunched downwards in Dean's grasp until the fingers were just holding his legs in place. Dangling upside down like this, he was able to start tearing through the bindings holding Dean prisoner without having to worry about being in danger of falling off when the ropes were cut.

This was the first time he'd ever let Dean hold him pinched between two fingers. Held like this, Sam had given up all control to his brother. It wasn't easy to do. Sam was nervous the entire time, sweat drenching his hair. He knew how easy it would be for Dean to accidently tighten his grip and crush Sam's legs. He could feel the effortless strength in the thick fingers closed around him. Not to mention there would be no way for Sam to free himself from Dean's tight grasp, as the fingers holding him in place were stronger than his entire body. It was a sobering reminder of their differences, the way he was so easily held suspended in midair.

His trust in Dean paid off. The whole time, Dean stared up at Sam. His green eyes were locked on his little brother, dangling so high in the air with no safety net (unless Dean's head counted as a cushion). Everything about him bled concern for Sam. He worried his bottom lip the entire time, stressed.

"Emily, can you see if the scarecrow's still there?" Dean asked while Sam was working, trying keep his thoughts focused away from the danger Sam was in that moment. The night had grown dark and still around them. Even the wind had stopped.

She twisted in place as best she could, tearing her eyes from the tiny, four-inch figure. "I can't see," she said dejectedly, slumping back against the tree.

Sam's blade finally snapped through the rope. Dean's grip on him tightened, drawing him safely up into the rest of the fingers. His freed hand (not the one holding Sam) dropped away, digging through his jacket until he found his own knife. Sam stiffened instinctively when Dean raised up the knife. The massive blade was held only a few inches away from him. Dean tore through the other binding with ease, careful to angle the blade away from Sam. Finally free, Dean hauled himself to his feet, clutching Sam to his chest.

Dean put Sam on his shoulder while he went to free Emily from her bonds. "Uh... Dean?" Sam called out. His eyes were locked on the empty scarecrow cross.

"Yeah?"

Sam ignored the impatience in Dean's tone. "It's gone."

Dean's head whipped up, making Sam clutch desperately to the collar to stay on. "Son of a bitch," Dean hissed out as he freed Emily.

She stood up, rubbing her arms. "Now what?"

"Now we shag ass before it finds us." Dean hustled them in the opposite direction.

Sam tightened his grip. "What about the tree?"

Dean shook his head. "We'll worry about that in the morning. I don't know what else can stop this thing and we don't have time to wander around in the orchard searching for a tree in the dark."

They slipped away in the night.


The next morning found Dean and Sam in the orchard with Emily. Dean finished pouring lighter fluid on the old, gnarled apple tree. Standing, he lit up a branch to start the fire with.

Emily held out a hand. "Let me."

"The whole town's gonna die," Dean warned even as he handed off the branch.

She stood there for a long moment. "Good," she decided in the end.

Emily lit the fire, starting off an immense blaze. Sam shielded his eyes protectively from the heat while he surreptitiously watched the girl from the corner of his eyes. Since seeing him last night, she'd acted like he was just another person. She mostly ignored him past a polite 'hello' in the morning. Same as she treated Dean. In fact, she hadn't even stood there and stared at him since the first time she'd seen him the night before.

It was weird, but nice. He didn't feel like so much of a freak. More like he was a regular person, like he used to be.

They said their goodbyes to Emily eventually, helping her to a bus stop. She'd be heading to Boston to start a new life, away from the people willing to sacrifice her to a pagan god for their own benefit.

Dean stood watching the bus drive off with his hands in his pockets, trying to not think of how his own brother was small enough to fit in those pockets.

Sam poked his head out of the chest pocket once they were out of sight from any onlookers. "Think she'll be okay?"

Dean swung around, walking back towards the Impala. "Yeah, she'll be fine," he decided.

Sam's hiding spot swayed from side to side with Dean's steady gait. "The rest of the town... they just get away with it? All those people they've sacrificed...lives they've ruined..."

Dean grimaced. "What happens to the town will have to be punishment enough." He paused, thinking back. "Sam... about earlier..."

"Dean, it's alright," Sam hauled himself up so he could see Dean from his place in the swinging pocket. "I know why you did it."

Dean arched an eyebrow down at him. "Still... I want you to know... I rely on you, man. Who else is gonna be there to haul my ass out of the fire time and time again?" He held a hand up to the pocket while he sat down in the car, keeping it steady. "You're not just here for the ride and I sure as hell don't think you're useless. Or a burden. Not now, not ever. You're just a little smaller than me, that's all. You just have a little size deficiency. So get that out of your head, alright?"

Sam sunk down into the pocket thoughtfully. "Yeah, Dean." He closed his eyes. "Thanks."

FIN