Dean leaned back in his chair, folding his hands over his stomach. "That... was good. Maybe not quite the same level as pie, but definitely good."
Sam leaned back in his own chair, unconsciously mirroring Dean's position. It felt good to have a chair of his own at last. "I don't think I've had anything so good since being cursed," he admitted. A small shredded piece of napkin sat on his desk next to his elbow with nothing but crumbs.
He'd managed to eat a tiny portion of his cupcake, making a dent that was bigger than he'd expected. Dean had polished off the remaining five cupcakes, eating them all in five big bites without a problem, which hadn't surprised Sam one bit.
"We should do this more often," Dean said. He reached for Sam's leftovers. "You want to pack any of this up to go?"
Sam contemplated the mass of cake and frosting in front of him. "I don't think I could eat another bite," he said, sated. "Help yourself."
"What about the others?" Dean asked, grabbing a napkin. "You can take at least a bit back for them. I doubt they've ever had cake."
Sam watched as Dean cut off a small slice, folding it into the napkin for safekeeping before polishing off the rest. "They don't like handouts, you know..."
"Ah, they'll be fine," Dean dismissed that with a wave of his hand, offering the napkin to Sam. "After all, Walt and the kids took some fruit and granola I offered them earlier."
Almost burying his head in his hands, Sam ignored the napkin. "You offered them food? Dean, we've been over this... they hate being 'dependent' on anyone or anything, especially humans."
Dean's eyebrows almost climbed off his face. "Sam, I just wanted to help them out... they're family, after all, no matter how different. It doesn't matter that they're smaller or bigger, family members watch out for each other. You and I both know that doesn't make them dependent on anyone, and they should know that too." He placed the folded napkin on the desk with an unusual care. "Well, if you change your mind, it's there."
Sam sighed. It wasn't likely Dean would ever really understand. Accepting food from a human was anathema to Sam's people. It was like giving up, accepting you were less than the humans that lived nearby. In a world where you had to fight and claw for simple survival, the meaning of even the simplest, most innocent action changed by leaps and bounds. Dean, while being a fighter at heart, went out and sought his battles. For Walt and the others, those battles existed the moment they stepped through their front door. From bugs to rats to spiders, the smallest creatures could kill them, never mind the far larger and more dangerous dogs and cats and humans.
In a way, accepting handouts like that was giving up. It was admitting you couldn't handle yourself out there, admitting that you needed help. Begging. A feeling Sam knew all too well with the looks he got around people his own size. Dean might never understand, just like he might never understand how nerve-wracking it was to simply be around humans for Sam some days, every instinct going off with just an innocent glance. After all, an innocent glance might preclude him being swept off the table in an unforgiving fist, completely helpless.
After all, that had happened to him. More than once.
Pushing his chair out, Sam stood. "Any good movies on?" he asked, changing the topic of conversation.
Later that night, Dean woke to soft cries under the nightstand. With a groan, he got up out of bed without wasting any time.
For the first time since being rescued, Sam had chosen to stay in the motel room with Dean instead of returning to Krissy's and staying with the others. Dean had been heartened at that choice from Sam, knowing a huge part of him staying away had been because of how leery he was to be around a human when he was so vulnerable, even if it was his own brother. After what had been done to Sam, Dean could understand, but it twisted his heart a little each day Sam had been gone.
Unfortunately, Sam clearly wasn't over his trauma yet. Dean brushed his hair back, taking a moment to gather himself before he knelt down, carefully pulling the books out of the way of Sam's room.
Slits of moonlight made it through the shades of the room, managing to bathe Sam's small bed in the light. Sam struggled under the covers, angrily trying to push away at imagined attackers. His head whipped back and forth, "no, no, no..." all that Dean could hear from him.
Licking his lips nervously, Dean reached forward, intending to scoop Sam up the way he'd done before, back when Sam had nightmares every night after his family had died.
The opposite effect happened this time when his fingers brushed against Sam's shoulder. "NO! " Sam shouted, a small punch hitting Dean's hand in his sleep. The tiny hunter writhed around, trying to bite and kick at Dean's hand.
"Crap!" Dean hissed when Sam almost fell out of bed striking out at him. "Sam, wake up! C'mon, you're safe here, you know that!"
Changing tactics, he gently nudged Sam with a knuckle, moving it out of the way before Sam could retaliate. Sam's struggles died down as he started to come around. They died off completely as the last blanket fell off the bed. He sat up with a moan, gingerly holding his splinted arm.
"Dean?" he asked in confusion, blinking blearily up at the opening of the nightstand. "Dude, what..." he glanced around at the covers he'd scattered from the bed in his sleep, "...what happened?"
Dean leaned back on his heels, giving Sam a little space. "You were having a nightmare. I was just trying to help."
With a groan, Sam rubbed his face. "I'm fine Dean, don't worry about it. I've... I've been having nightmares since we got back. There's nothing you can do." He waved his hand up at Dean, gesturing for him to leave. "I guess... maybe I should go back to sleeping at Krissy's if I'm gonna wake you up. At least one of us needs a good night's sleep."
Dean didn't move at first, getting over the fact that Sam had been having these nightmares since getting back. It had been overtwo months since Dean had rescued everyone. Had he even slept? "Sam..." Dean bit his lip. "You can stay where you want... but don't worry about me. Wherever you feel the safest is probably best right now... you need the sleep, man."
A thought occurred to him, something he might be able to do for Sam, even at his size. "This might be stupid..." he mumbled, almost to himself as he took off his necklace. "But since you... can't stand me touching you right now, maybe this will help a little."
He held the amulet out next to Sam, waiting until Sam's small hands took it from him. Sam stared down in confusion at the large, metal face in his lap. He ran a curious hand over it, tracing the thick curves of the metal. "What for?" he asked, turning curious eyes back up at Dean.
"Well, when you gave it to me when we were kids, you told me it would help protect me. Y'know, since Dad was never around to do the protecting himself. This might be silly... but somehow, after you were gone... having this on made me feel connected to you, made me feel that no matter how bleak things got, my little brother was always with me. Now, maybe it protected me, maybe it didn't, but I do know that this," Dean slowly reached forward, tapping lightly against his amulet, "is the reason we're here now, together. You should have it, at least for tonight. Let it be a reminder... I'm always going to be here for you. No matter what, you'll always have me around."
"That's not silly..." Sam said quietly, staring up at Dean's eyes, surprised at the emotional outpouring from him. He remembered that first time they'd run into each other since his curse, when Dean had caught him. Without the amulet, he might never have realized it was his brother holding him captive, and before Dean had realized Sam was harmless, there were a thousand things he could have done... broken arms, captured Sam, gone after his family... but because of this necklace, Sam had recognized him, and none of that would ever come to pass. Something as simple as a hunk of metal forged in the image of an ancient idol bound them as family as surely as blood.
Sam sat silent for a moment with those thoughts in mind, staring at the amulet in his arms. An inch long, it was a fourth his height, and heavy. But Sam didn't notice the weight. A grin came to his face as he glanced back up at Dean. "So, how're those chick flick moments going for you?"
Dean rolled his eyes, pushing against his knees to stand up. "Shaddup, pint-size. I'll want that back safe and sound in the morning, so make sure you watch over it for me."
"Sure thing, Dean," Sam almost whispered, watching the huge hands as they moved to put the books back along the edge of the nightstand, blocking almost his entire view of the bedroom. Dean left a small opening at the opposite end from where the bed was, leaving the only moonlight leaking in to land on his new desk, where the cupcake leftovers were still wrapped up in the napkin.
He only flinched a little as the floor shook under him as Dean walked away to go the the bathroom, from what Sam could tell. A smile came to his face as he gazed at the desk, remembering the hopeful expression in Dean's eyes when he opened it. Rubbing a hand over the amulet, he put it alongside his pillow, letting it be a reassurance to him that he was safe even in the towering darkness of the motel room.
That was the first night since being taken that Sam slept soundly.
The early morning sun found Sam perched on the nightstand, legs dangling off the edge as he watched a news report from a state away. The shower ran in the background, filling the air with the reassuring patter of water. It washed away the disturbing silence that never failed to unnerve Sam after his recent abduction. The tiny scrapings of a lockpick in the door continually sounded in his head when he was left on his own. Like now.
On the television, a helicopter cam panned over the landscape, showing the destroyed half of a town, crumpled wreckage everywhere.
"Confusion runs rampant as the town has been declared unsafe for habitation. The earthquake last week coincides with the tornado yesterday down to the exact date and time, spreading rumors of a town-wide curse that afflicts it all. All superstitious notions aside, evacuation procedures are being followed by the mayor."
Sam frowned to himself as he contemplated the report. Two natural disasters, spaced apart by exactly seven days, down to the second? "Definitely not natural," he muttered under his breath.
He brushed a hand over the new journal sitting on his lap, loving the leather covering on it. There was still room in his older journal, but he was eager to break in the new one. The pages were even gold leafed, giving the small book a professional feel.
He opened it to the first page. While Dean was in the shower, Sam filled in his name, claiming the book as his own in delicate handwriting that humans couldn't read without a magnifying glass to help. Sam Winchester. After a moment of hesitation, at the bottom of the page, in bold lettering, he put If lost, return to Dean Winchester, figuring it couldn't hurt to have a back-up plan in place if it ever got lost.
No one knew who Sam Winchester was, after all.
Sam on the Nightstand, by foolscapper (she runs the asksamstuff blog on tumblr, check it out!)
The water turned off in the other room with a loud squeak, returning the world to silence. Sam fidgeted, reaching behind to push down on the rubbery volume up button on the TV remote to fill the room with white noise so he couldn't hear the tick tick of the lockpick in his memory. It wasn't here. It didn't exist, past his own mind.
It was only another minute before Dean sauntered out of the bathroom in only his denim pants, toweling his hair dry. "Mornin,' sleepyhead," he greeted Sam, strolling over to the bed where the rest of his clothes were sitting.
"You were up early," Sam commented dryly. He wasn't used to Dean being up before him in the morning, especially when they weren't on a case. Usually, he'd be the one up and out of bed at the crack of dawn, but the night before had been the first time he'd slept so deep in ages. His body hadn't woken up until long after the sunrise.
"I think you mean you slept in," Dean shot back as he pulled a black tee shirt on over his head.
Sam stayed quiet as he watched Dean fix his shirt over his rippling chest, slightly envious of the older hunter. He was fairly certain he was just as muscular as Dean in comparison, but when your brother's muscles were larger than you were tall, it was hard to tell. He couldn't put up much competition against one hand, never mind all of Dean.
"So, anything good on?" Dean asked as he let himself fall on the bed next to Sam, hitting with an explosion of air that tousled Sam's hair.
"Only if you consider the news good," Sam said, adjusting his position so he wasn't hanging off the edge of the stand, just in case Dean made any other sudden moves. The fall might not kill him, but he'd be right back where he started with broken bones if he fell. "I think I found us a new case though, the next state over."
Dean raised his eyebrows. "Oh?"
"There's a town that got evacuated after it was hit with two natural disasters, completely unrelated. An earthquake last week, and a tornado yesterday. But!" He held up a hand to forestall anything from Dean until he was finished. "These two disasters hit exactly one week apart, down to the second. The more superstitious citizens are calling it a curse on their lands."
Dean sat up straighter. "What time did the disasters hit?"
Thinking back, Sam grimaced. "Six seconds and six minutes after six o'clock."
"Sounds right up our alley," Dean said. He slid over to the other side of the bed, grabbing something out of his duffel bag. "You sure you're up to it? We can always hang back if you need to rest more."
Sam shook his head. "No way. I think it's time to get back out." He flexed his left arm, showing it to Dean. "I gotta get myself sharp again, been spending too much time resting."
Dean grinned. "That's my boy." He held out his hand. "In that case, I think you'll be needing this. It's not part of your birthday present, because this is for both of us. You'll be needing it in the future."
Sam walked over to the edge of the table, peering at what Dean had in his hand. His eyes narrowed as he examined it then glanced up at Dean again. "A... cell phone?"
"Yep! Your very own." Dean placed it down next to Sam. It was far smaller than Dean's own, and wasn't a flip phone either. All of the buttons were on the outside so Sam wouldn't need to try and pry it apart. All in all, it was about three inches long, black, and Sam couldn't hope to carry it the way Dean did in a million years.
Dean saw the confusion on his face. "Well, I was thinking, if anything comes up when I'm not around, you need an easy way to get in contact with someone who can help. So, it has my number, Bobby's number and Dad's number programmed in, and me and Bobby have your number." Dean rubbed the back of his neck. "Dad's still not answering my calls, and I didn't want to risk texting your number to him in case anyone else got hold of his phone, so he doesn't have it." He shrugged.
Sam walked around the phone, taking it in from all angles. Testing the weight, he hefted it into his arms briefly before letting it slip to the ground again. He was smiling when he gazed back up at Dean. "This is amazing, Dean. I never..." his voice choked up, "I never thought I'd ever have anything like this."
Dean gave Sam's hair a light brush with a finger, tousling the fluffy brown locks. "Hey, I gotta keep my little brother safe when I'm not around. I'm pretty sure you don't want to spend every day hanging out in my pockets, so this will help. All you gotta do is put out a call, and we'll be there." He grimaced. " 'Cept for Dad. Who knows what's going through that man's head." Dean shook his head as he sat up on the bed. "I still can't believe he left without a word."
Sam stepped away from the phone with a shrug. After seeing John looming over Walt like that, he couldn't say he'd been sad to see the hunter go. Walt had faced down two of his worst fears that day - two hunters, who had been dark and towering unknowns at the time. Sam could say without a doubt that Walt had come out on top, even when he'd gone head to head with John.
"When should we leave?" Sam inquired.
Dean pursed his lips thoughtfully. "I'd say we don't have to head out right away. It happens once a week, and we have the time, down to the second, when we'll be worrying about it next week. We should give ourselves a day or two of research when we get there, so I'd say we'll be leaving in four days."
Sam stretched his arms over his head before heading over to the edge. "Sounds like a plan."
When he reached the ground, he heard a snap overhead. Sam twisted around in surprise, finding Dean poised above him with a cell phone. Dean grinned innocently. "What?" he said. "I need a picture for you in my phone, since I'll be saving your number," he declared. He held it down for Sam to see.
The picture wasn't the best quality, but Sam was surprised there was no way to tell he wasn't a normal, run-of-the-mill human. He was in the middle of taking a step, glancing over his shoulder. You could make out his fluffy hair, his casual jacket, even his satchel. The slightly blurry picture quality erased any way of telling Sam's clothing was handmade, unlike Dean's.
Dean sat back up, straightening on the bed as he tucked his phone away. "So, I'll see you around?"
"Yeah, Dean." Sam's face softened as he took a step back from the bed. "You bet."
Over the next four days, Sam slowly started to extract himself from life under the floorboards. He continued spending time with Bree and the others, and helping out around the house, but each night he'd return to the nightstand to sleep. Each morning he'd wake up and leave to see his family again, sometimes seeing Dean before he left, sometimes not. He would find Dean's amulet waiting for him each night, and after he left in the morning Dean would take it back. No words were ever said.
None were needed.
Walt took it in stride as Sam slowly resumed his life with Dean. Walt was always found with Sean in tow these days, following him around like a lost puppy. The boy had latched onto him as a surrogate father and there was no one more suited to help raise the boy than the man that had already raised up an out-of-place human. Kara trailed after Sean most days, but sometimes she would try and slip away to see Dean as much as she could.
Walt was fast at catching her most of the time, but Dean continued watching his step for everyone's sake. She'd popped up one day while he was eating pizza in the room alone. That teeny tiny girl had managed to scale all the way up the enormous, towering table all on her own without ever being seen by a hunter, and one that was adjusted to people her size being around.
By the time Walt managed to track her down, she was sitting on a book Dean found that was the perfect size for her little legs to reach the table, snacking on a tiny cut of pizza with the enormous hunter without flinching. Both had been acting like it was a perfectly normal meal, despite their disparity.
Sam had found the three of them all in the room when he'd gotten back, eating pizza together like a regular family. He didn't say a word, just stood there hiding a smile at the sight of Walt sitting calmly next to Dean's relaxed arm, telling a story from the years Sam was growing up in the motel. Dean let out a laugh when Walt detailed Sam's attempts at raising a baby mouse he'd found as a child, hiding it in his room for a few weeks before Mallory had noticed. He'd had to return it to its mother, sad to see his buddy leave.
All in all, the last few days were bittersweet. Sam slowly brought his possessions out from under the floorboards, relocating everything to under the nightstand. He always kept his new journal on him, loving that it didn't take up all the space in his satchel like the other one. This one he could keep on him all the time, leaving his larger journal with the desk. He shortened a few of the mechanical pencil leads as well so they'd fit better in his bag. With all the extras Dean had given him, he didn't even need to worry about any of the pencil leads breaking or fracturing.
Then it came. Their last day at the motel.
Sam had already said his goodbyes to the others under the dresser. He gave a sigh, glancing around the room from the nightstand one last time. Dean walked out of the bathroom, patting down his jacket to make sure everything was in its place.
"You almost ready, pint-size?" he called over his shoulder as he grabbed the last of his supplies scattered in the room, shoving it all into his bag. Sam's room was already packed up, carefully put away and cushioned against damage from Dean's casual heavy-handedness.
Sam gave a sigh, gathering himself. Then, he realized the alarm clock cord behind him was moving, slightly shifting like someone was climbing up. Sam's eyes widened as he saw who it was. "Dad!"
Walt hauled himself up, then stepped to the side and helped up the next climber. Sam jogged over, grabbing Sean's arm to haul him up onto the surface. He was followed by Kara, then Bree. All of them had bags slung over their shoulder, even tiny Kara, who'd replaced her own worn gathering bag with a sturdier, hand-crafted bag from Walt.
"Nice job, Sean!" Sam said with an encouraging grin. He'd been told Sean was still learning how to climb. He didn't have Sam's natural aptitude, so it was a work in progress.
Walt smiled proudly down at the boy he'd taken under his wing. "His first time climbing up all on his own," he said, putting a hand on Sean's shoulder. "All to see the two of you off, and I, for one, think he did a great job."
"I'll say," Dean said, grinning at the small group as he thudded over to the nightstand. His boots rattled the table under all four of them, but no one flinched back. Dean had proven himself enough to deserve that trust. "I don't think I could manage that climb."
Sean blinked shyly up at Dean. "Really?" he asked, awed. He clutched Walt's pants, shifting close to his surrogate father, nervous at the sight of the giant so close. He liked being around Dean, but none of them were used to him standing over them.
Sam gave Sean a stage whisper behind his hand, hoping to ease some of his nervousness with a joke. "Dean's afraid of heights." He winked. "He'd never make it that high off the ground."
Sean and Kara giggled at that. Walt shook his head ruefully, and Bree hid a smile behind her hand. None of the could imagine life without climbing, but they tried to not make Dean feel self conscious about it. Climbing was simply a fact of life, what everyone did to get around, kind of like Dean driving the Impala.
Dean sat down on the bed, the mattress creaking loudly under him. "Glad to see you guys one last time before we left. I was hoping you'd be around." This last part was said to Walt, the large green eyes locking on him.
Walt didn't flinch away from the intense scrutiny. "Yes. Well. We shouldn't waste your time. I know you both plan on heading out." He turned to Sam. "I'm proud of you, Sam, and how you're becoming a hunter. That isn't something I ever expected to see from someone our size." He reached into his bag, withdrawing a pile of fabric. "So, we wanted to show our support."
He handed them off to Sam one at a time. Sam unfolded the new clothing reverently. New shirts, new jackets... even new jeans, as well made as the ones that Mallory had crafted for him.
"Krissy feels bad she's been so nervous around you," Bree explained. "She really wanted to come with us, but," she gestured vaguely in Dean's direction, "she hasn't quite gotten over her fear of your brother. So she gave us the clothes this morning. All made in your size. These should keep you going for some time before you need them replaced."
Krissy was as good at the art of making new clothes as Mallory always had been. She took scraps of cloth found in empty rooms and even the coarse, rough doll clothes that Bree had come home with and carefully broke them down, yielding threads that humans considered 'frayed,' but were perfect for Krissy to reform into more suitable material for the far thinner, more delicate skin of Sam's people. She would unwind the frayed threads until they were far too small for a human to work with, but were the perfect size for her small hands. From there she was able to create a variety of clothing and adornments.
Next, Kara bounced up to Sam with a huge grin. "Plus, new boots!" she giggled, pulling a pair out of her own small satchel. "Youcan't just have one pair, silly!"
Sam's eyes flicked over to Walt, who gave him a surreptitious nod, letting Sam know who'd made the boots. "Thanks, Kara!" he said, pulling her into a big hug. "I don't know where I'd be without another pair!"
She bounced away happily, replaced by Sean. He was quiet as he pulled out two leather canteens. "Walt's been teaching me how to make these. I made this one all by myself!" By the time he finished, his head was proudly thrown back.
Sam took them from the boy. "I'll remember that! I was never good with leather," he informed Sean. "Walt tried more than once to teach me, but I could never get the hang of it. You should be proud!"
Bree handed him a few more shirts from her bag before giving him a huge hug. "Make sure to keep yourself safe, Sam." She kissed him on the cheek. "I'll want to hear some stories when you come back to visit."
He hugged her back. He'd be sad to see them all leave.
As Bree drew away from Sam, Walt stepped forward, facing Dean. At this point the hunter was leaning forward to see with his arms resting on his legs. "I'm glad Sam has you to rely on out there in the world, Dean. World's a dangerous place for one of us, after all." He turned so he could see Sam as well. "I can never thank either of you enough for bringing Bree home," he held up a hand to stall their protests, "and I don't want to hear that you owe me more."
He dug in his bag, withdrawing one last item. "So, we might not make it a habit to 'give gifts' or 'celebrate' like you humans do, but I’m willing to make an exception for you boys. You've certainly earned it."
He dropped his bag on the ground, holding out a thick strap of leather to Dean. "I talked to Sam a few times over the last two months about what you really do for a living, past the stigma of being a hunter, and he told me some of the details. One thing I learned is there are protective symbols and charms that can help you hunters stay safe, stay alive. So, I made this for you so you won't have to worry about demonic... possession?" he glanced at Sam briefly to make sure he'd got the wording right. Sam nodded back at Walt approvingly. Walt flipped over the strap, showing the anti-possession symbol he'd burned into the leather. "This ring should fit you, and there's a matching ring for Sam as well."
Dean held his fingers out next to Walt, who slung it over the thick digits. Dean held it up to his eyes, inspecting the symbol with a smile. "Awesome," he said. He slipped it on, finding the perfect fit on his pinkie and holding it out for them to see. His eyes were glassy as he smiled at the ring. "This is... this is more than I ever expected. Thank you."
Walt handed the smaller twin to Dean's ring over to Sam before stepping away. "Dean, I'd like you to know... I'd be proud to call a man like you my son."
Dean gave Walt a respectful nod, stretching his hand out to the tiny man. "I'm proud to call you and Bree family. And Sean and Kara, of course." He gave the kids a wink. Walt hesitantly reached his hand out, trusting enough to let Dean shake the fragile limb once between his fingers. "Now, I have something for you."
Dean took his hand back, reaching into one of the hidden pockets in his jacket. He held the card out to Walt. "You know how a phone works?"
Walt nodded his head hesitantly, taking the large piece of paper into his hands. Dean indicated the number at the bottom. "If anything happens - anything, give this number a call. It's my number. Me and Sam will get here the second we can. You guys are family, and that's all that matters."
Walt handed it over to Sean, whose eyes widened at the size of the business card (which was longer than he was tall). Crossing his arms behind his back, Walt turned to the two brothers. "I guess this is goodbye, then," he said, voice stern again.
Sam hid a grin. He could hear the emotion Walt was hiding in his voice from them. Dean's gesture had hit a chord in the smaller man. Respecting Walt, he chose not to bring it up and instead scooped the two kids into a quick hug before embracing Walt and Bree. "I'll miss you guys," Sam said. He gave Bree a peck on the forehead before stepping away towards Dean, who had already scooped up the rest of the gifts Sam had been given and stashed them away somewhere in his jacket.
Time to move on to the next case! The fun begins next chapter ;)
Public notice: Update times for my chapters will change starting next week. I'll be posting 10pm EST Thursday nights, just because I can't be awake at midnight on a work night. I'm sure no one will mind since that means you get the chapter earlier!