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Hershey Kisses and Salt Lines

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Throughout the night, Oscar had curled into a tighter and tighter ball in his pile of blankets. It got colder than he expected, but luckily he had plenty of blankets to insulate him while he slept. Even with the chill trying to invade his small home in the walls, Oscar was content. Even before he went to bed, he was looking forward to the following afternoon, when his friends would be back from school.

Of course, a voice chattering excitedly and someone bouncing onto the top of his blanket mountain was the last thing he expected. Oscar blinked his eyes open, fluttering eyelids in time for the layers of blankets to be peeled away while whoever it was kept talking to him.

Oscar found himself with two eager hands around his arm, tugging him out of bed and out of sleepiness. With his free hand, he rubbed his eyes to wake up a little faster.

“Sam?” he slurred. “It isn’t Sat … Saturday again yet, right?” he asked, a yawn cutting his question off in the middle.

“Nope!” Sam said excitedly as bounced to his feet. “It’s even better!

While Oscar was waking up, Sam excitedly moved around the room, unable to contain himself. His grey cloth bag from Oscar was slung over his shoulders, and it bumped against his side while he moved. A steady stream of words passed his lips with no way of knowing how much actually sank into Oscar’s mind in his sleepy haze.

“You’ll have to get something to cover up your hands, and maybe some extra shirts,” Sam prattled happily on, “I even have the extra dollhouse shirts that Dean got me on so I keep warm. And nice and warm feet, can’t let them get cold or we’ll have to come in early. I mean, how many times do we get a snow day this early on in the year?!” His eyes shone with his excitement.

Oscar sat up in his nest of blankets, his arms over his lap, and blinked slowly at Sam while he explained. His brain slowly caught up, and he even realized what Sam was implying, even if he wasn't sure yet why the fact that it snowed kept the humans home from school. A "snow day" was just a day that it snowed, right?

"We're gonna go outside?" he asked, sleep still coloring his voice. Oscar yawned again and shuffled out of bed, unsure about the whole plan. It'd be so cold out there. But Sam looked excited, so Oscar thought he could put his hesitation aside for the time being.

His bedroom was reserved mostly for the pile of blankets that was his bed. There wasn't room for much more, but he did have another neat little pile in the corner of his spare clothes. Oscar sat down with a whuff next to it and dragged a spare shirt over his head, yawning once more for good measure. "Is it a good idea to go outside? Why isn't there school when it snows?"

“Because!” Sam finally came to a halt, bouncing to a stop on the mountain of blankets now that Oscar was out of them. He sat there with his legs folded under him and a grin a mile wide. “Grownups don’t like to drive in the snow and the school buses can’t go get the kids, so if there’s enough snow, we get the day off! Dean had to sit around and watch the tv to see if our school came up, and it did!”

He held out his arms, showing off the multiple layers he was already wearing. He’d been too excited to wait, which was turning out to not be the best plan, because he was really warm now. Hopefully that meant he’d be able to stay out longer in the snow.

“The snow’s great,” Sam rambled on. “We can make snow angels and snowmen and go sledding down a hill! Dean said we don’t even have to go find a big hill, he can make one for us!”

Oscar's eyes were a little wide as he processed Sam's list. He'd only ever heard of such things in passing, and some of it he hadn't heard of at all. Playing in the cold outdoors was doubly dangerous normally. But with his friends around, he wondered if he'd be alright.

"Okay, I wanna try," he decided with a nod, getting to his feet to try to work a spare pair of pants over the ones he already wore. Sam had several layers on, and Oscar knew that was a good idea even if it was cumbersome. He also wrapped up a second pair of cloth shoes over his feet, knowing they were most likely to get cold.

When he was all layered up, Oscar stared at his hands for a moment. Then, without explanation, he hurried out of his bedroom and ducked into the side room where he stored extra supplies. He returned with several strips of thicker fabric and held some out to Sam. "We should wrap our hands up," he explained, a little more awake now even if the thought of going out in the cold was still a bit nervewracking. "Gotta keep 'em warm."

Sam took the offered strips of fabric. “Good idea!” He watched as Oscar started to wrap his hands up. Sam’s attempt was clumsy compared to Oscar’s easy motions. It took skill to get it to wrap around his hand, fingers and wrist without leaving openings between the strips.

Gritting his teeth in determination, he took it slow as he coiled the fabric around his arm. “Dean has gloves,” he told Oscar while he worked. “They keep his hands warm. We couldn’t find anything close to my size, though. We’d fit in his gloves!” Sam giggled at the thought and kept it in mind as he continued to wrap his arm. The gloves Dean wore were more than big enough for both kids to be able to snuggle up in. They could even substitute as a big sleeping bag if they wanted to.

Oscar grinned. He believed it without question; after all, Dean's fingers were bigger than either of the kids. They'd fit without any issue at all. "Maybe we should hide in 'em if we get too cold," he mused, giggling at the idea himself.

Once his hands were wrapped up as snugly as he could make them, Oscar opened and closed his hands to make sure they wouldn't unravel his work. He didn't usually cover his fingers, but for going out in the cold, he had opted to make himself mittens out of the strips of fabric. His fingers could freeze right off if he wasn't careful.

"Did you play in the snow a lot, before?" Oscar asked, searching around for his bag before he found it and put it over his shoulder. He wasn't sure if he'd need it, but all the same he'd rather have it anyway. He hesitated by the door, wondering if it really was a good idea to go. He was dressed as warmly as he could, but if it was still too cold, Oscar wouldn't want to keep his friends from their fun.

Sam grabbed his own stuff from where he’d left it in the main room and followed Oscar to the entrance, ready to leave. “You bet!” he said brightly. There wasn’t much that would derail his excitement over the chance to go play in the snow. Especially since at their size, a little mound of snow could become a mountain to sled down. “Not too often, there’s a lot of states that dad would drive through that didn’t get as much snow.”

He almost had stars in his eyes. “But when we did end up in a state with snow, we’d go outside as much as possible! We’d go find a hill to sled down, and have snowball fights. I’d never want to miss it, and you definitely don’t want to miss it!”

Oscar thought about it while he slowly pushed his door aside to head out. Sam's enthusiasm was slowly catching on. He let Sam step out of his home before sealing it up behind them as much as he could, to keep bugs from trying to crawl in and take his food while he was away. Now that he actually had food, that was an actual concern.

"I hear the humans talking about playing in the snow all the time," he admitted as they headed along the route back to Sam and Dean's room. "I just never thought I could do it 'cause it's so cold and heavy. Mom always said I shouldn't go outside for anything." Of course, Oscar had already broken that rule before, but this seemed different.

Sam thought about that as he stuck close to Oscar. Inside the walls, he knew enough to find his way to Oscar’s and back, but he still couldn’t see well. The younger kid had better nightvision than either brother, and unerringly lead them in the right direction, aided by his intimate knowledge of the interior of the motel walls.

“Maybe a better rule is you shouldn’t go out there on your own,” Sam suggested. Nothing bad happened when they had Dean with them, after all. “There’s really big animals out there. Plus it’s dangerous if you get lost, especially in the winter. It gets really cold. Good thing we have Dean to help us out!”

Oscar nodded emphatically. "Yeah," he said, a little wide eyed to think about going outside in the cold by himself. He knew about the big animals too. Humans notwithstanding, there were dogs and cats and maybe even worse out there. "Dean can scare off the animals if they wanna get too close," he affirmed, for his own benefit. They were getting closer and closer to the vent that led into the room where Dean waited.

"Will you show me how to make a snowman?" he asked, the thought popping into his head. His childlike wonder at the idea helped to push aside some of his worries. Oscar had seen brief glimpses of snowmen on TV and in pictures. He never imagined being able to make one himself.

“You bet!” Sam declared. “We’ll make it big.” He stretched out his arms as far as they’d go. Even though his arm length was under three inches, it got his point across perfectly.

Plus, he could always get Dean to help them roll the snowballs if they really needed it.

Not that he planned on that. He always wanted to prove he could things himself, and here he’d be able to show Oscar new things he’d never dreamed about. Fun things, where they wouldn’t have to be afraid.

The vent came into view and Sam burst into a jog, eager to get back into the room and get going. He’d been excited for the snow ever since waking up to Dean watching the weather channel with its continuously rolling list of school names.

Oscar gasped and broke into a run to keep up with his friend, surprised by the sudden surge forward. In no time at all, they were at the slats of the vent that opened into the motel room. Oscar's most used entrance, it had plenty of space for the pair of them to squeeze through and land on the carpet.

Usually, Oscar was much more cautious about entering the rooms like this. He had to watch and listen for several minutes before he was certain there were no dangers on the other side. He'd had good practice with the patience that required. His life usually depended on it, after all.

Here, he knew he was safe. This room was Sam and Dean's, after all. They were his friends and they would look out for him. He wished they never had to leave.

Oscar managed to avoid stepping on the salt line right next to the vent and look up with a hopeful smile. He waved a well-wrapped hand at the huge human waiting for them. "Hi, Dean! Sam said it's a snow day!"

“Hey, Oz,” Dean greeted with a grin, Oscar’s nickname at the ready as always. He knelt down on the floor near where they were standing so he didn’t loom over the pair, or at least didn’t completely loom over the pair. Attempts to not loom tended to be a lost cause with Sam and his best friend.

Dean scanned the two kids over, taking note of the extra clothing Oscar had on, and the wrapped hands. “I see Sam warned you about the cold,” he said. He held up his own hands, in gloves of their own. “But you two better let me know if you get too cold.”

Duh,” Sam said with a roll of his eyes. He barely waited for Dean to lower his hand down before he scrambled onto the gloved hand. The thick fabric was coarse for the younger kids, and through it, Dean could only make out an impression of Sam’s weight against his hand. Sam grabbed onto his thumb to stay steady on the surface.

Oscar stepped onto Dean's hand more cautiously, staring down at the material of the glove as he did so. He didn't want to trip on a seam or a fold and fall off, and it was probably better to take to an unfamiliar surface slowly anyway. He ended up sitting down on Dean's palm as soon as he got to it, brushing his mittened hands over the worn glove.

"I'll try not to get too cold," he promised. He wanted to be able to try out playing in the snow for as long as he could before they needed to come back inside. Even knowing that his skinny frame meant he'd probably be the first one to get cold at all, Oscar was excited. "I gotta make a snowman first."

“Can’t have you missing that,” Dean agreed. He stood back up with the kids in hand and tucked them close to his chest. With his other hand he grabbed his room key and tucked it into his jacket. “Okay guys, just hang on. We’ll be there soon.”

Sam and Oscar found themselves held just inside Dean’s jacket instead of being placed in a pocket for the trip. There was no one around to see the two small children he held in a hand.

The wintery world outside was pristine. Snow continued to fall, fat snowflakes that perched in Dean’s hair or melted when they touched his face. His breath fogged the air around him as he squinted his eyes in the white world around them. Only a few cars dotted the desolate landscape at the motel, and a plow could be heard working away in the distance.

Falling snow obscured the world past the parking lot, so Dean started his trek for a small copse of trees nearby. The chill in the air kept any desire to head for the park down. If the kids got cold, it would be too far for him to walk back. This would be better.

Oscar squinted and let out the faintest noise of surprise. The snow was bright. His eyes, so adjusted to the dark of the walls of the motel, stung at first, and his pupils nearly disappeared. And that was even with Dean partially obscuring them in his jacket. Occasionally the glare off of a car somewhere would bounce across the narrow field of vision.

Next, he noticed the chill. Oscar felt it on his face and ears, and he had to bunch up his shoulders to keep a breeze from getting to his neck and slipping past his collar. He shuddered once, but was too excited to think about turning back now. He saw glimpses past Dean's jacket and grew more and more intrigued with each massive step. It helped get rid of his nerves, though the occasional shiver from the cold was unavoidable.

"Sam, look!" he hissed, pointing above them at the very edge of Dean's jacket zipper. A snowflake, or rather a fat bunch of fluffy snowflakes, had stuck to the garment and was already beginning to melt on it. Oscar watched it in awe. "It's real snow... " he said, in a voice that made it clear how amazed he really was. Oscar never expected to see anything more than a picture of the stuff.

Sam’s hazel eyes were wide at the sight. “Whoa!” he exclaimed, just as softly. Being out of the motel room meant he had to make sure he was quiet, in case Dean passed by any other people. The sight of the crystalline snowflake, even as it melted, amazed him. Compared to the fluffy white powder he was used to, he could now make out the elegant etchings on them if he paid close enough attention.

And then it melted away, warmed by Dean’s body heat and turned into a single drop of water.

Sam watched as it was knocked off the edge of the zipper and fell to the ground below. “There’s going to be lot’s more like that!” he promised Oscar with eyes just as wide. “And I heard that no two snowflakes are ever alike so maybe we can see how different they are! When I was taller they just looked like little white balls unless you look really really close, and it’s too easy to melt them if you try.”

Oscar's thoughts went to how many of those snowflakes there had to be to cover the world in white like they had. If every one really was different, he'd be impressed. "Maybe we can catch one right when it falls!" he suggested. He looked down at his hands, making sure they were completely covered and that his improvised mittens wouldn't unravel. Even a snowflake could be cold on his fingers if he wasn't careful.

He shifted around on Dean's hand, inching a little closer to the wrist. He didn't bring himself too close to the edge, knowing he could easily fall if he was jarred just a little. But he was eager to see more.

"I bet the snow is taller than we are," he mused, looking back at Sam. It wouldn't take that much snow for that. "Do you think we'll sink in it?"

“Probably,” Sam said. “But it’s okay! If we do, Dean can get us out. And if it’s that deep, maybe we can build a snow fort. We can throw snowballs at Dean from there!” He had a big grin on his face at the thought, remembering how fun snowball fights could be.

Hopefully Dean wouldn’t toss a snowball of his own back at them. It would be the size of their fort!

“Watch yourselves down there,” Dean murmured from above as he cupped his hand more. He could feel them moving around, but couldn’t see them. The copse of trees was only a few steps away, and he stepped over the divider from the parking lot. “Here, let me take those bags. Gotta keep them dry, after all.”

Oscar looked up in surprise, and then down at the bag hanging at his side. The cloth would probably soak up any melted snow and get his climbing thread within all wet. It'd be next to useless to him then. Not to mention his stashed breadcrumbs would become a soggy mess. "Okay," he acquiesced, lifting the strap over his shoulder and holding up the bag for Dean to take.

Dean lightly pinched Oscar’s bag, and let Sam toss his own bag into his hand. “They’ll be safe in my pocket, don’t you worry.” He tucked his hand into his jacket, letting the little bags slip down to the bottom. The pocket was deep enough that there was no danger of them falling out.