“You know, you’ve done a lot of stupid things before, but this has to take the cake!”
Dean rolled his eyes and didn’t break stride. Sam had to walk faster to catch up, grumbling about his older brother’s stubborn behavior while his naysaying only seemed to galvanize Dean more.
“Dammit, Dean. We can’t go into that room. We have no idea when that kid’s coming back. Hell, for all we know he just stepped outside for a smoke!”
Sam finally got a firm hand on Dean’s shoulder, and tried to whirl him around. Dean caught his arm and used his momentum against him, sending him flying into the ground with a practiced motion and a puff of dust. He grinned at the frazzled, breathless Sam he held pinned. “You’re getting soft there, kiddo.”
Sam made a face and kicked up with a leg. He managed to catch Dean’s side, flipping him onto the ground in seconds and reversing their position. His grin matched Dean’s from mere seconds ago. “You were saying, jackass?”
“Get off me.”
Sam helped Dean to his feet. “C’mon, let's just head back, wait until it’s night. We can hit the room then. Walt never has to know we were here.”
Dean threw him a look. “All you do is argue with Walt! I can’t believe what I’m hearing!”
“Sure, I argue with him, but this? And for what - a slice of pie?”
Dean held out his arms. “How often do we see a slice of pie left out in a room? Hell, how often do we see it just vanish into the fridge whether they remember it or not? Sam, I’ve got to try. We might not get this chance again!” It was practically calling his name.
It hurt for him to admit that, but it was sadly true for them both. Fourteen years ago, the Winchester brothers had gone to a motel with their dad, a motel indistinguishable from the countless others they’d lived in for most of their lives. He was on a hunt, searching for missing children in the area. Sam was only ten years old back then, Dean fourteen.
John Winchester had left them alone in that room.
Dean wasn’t completely sure what had happened that night. He could remember a woman, suddenly standing inside their bolted door. Himself, slamming against the wall.
A flash of white hitting Sam.
Before Dean could react past the shock that covered his face, the same flash slammed into him.
Then he was falling into darkness.
The next thing he could remember was waking up. It was dark. Closed off. The smell of dust filled the air. Two people were in the room watching over them. A woman, her blonde hair and blue eyes gentle as she helped Dean off of the pile of stacked up fabric. She was tiny, even next to himself as a kid. In fact, even Sam wasn’t far from her height back then. He’d outgrown her in only a few years.
Walt and Mallory Watch, their saviors and the people who were trying to nurse the brothers back to health, had tried to convince him, but he didn’t want to see the truth. He didn’t want to hear that he’d been cursed, and stood under four inches tall.
He didn’t want to listen to them when they told him his entire world had been stolen out from under his feet.
Dean had grabbed Sam. They’d tried to run off into dark corridors, following dusty paths in a maze of wooden supports and sharp corners. Walt pursued them, desperate to get them back before they got themselves in trouble in a world they didn’t know.
In his urgency, Dean had burst into an occupied motel room.
Occupied by giants.
The frozen fear of realization that washed over both brothers made it easy for Walt to drag them back to the safety of the walls. The walls, which had become their entire world and sanctuary. There was no safety to be found anywhere else.
Over the years they’d both come to terms with their new lives. Walt and Mallory had helped them adjust to the way things were, adopting the Winchester boys as their own. Teaching them how to survive, where and when to find supplies and food. Lessons they needed to take to heart to have a chance in a world that outsized them by almost twenty times.
Dean had tried to go back and find his dad. The motel room John Winchester had stayed in was empty by the time he got back. No one was there, and all Dean could find was dust bunnies and broken promises, which he’d kicked his boot through in teary-eyed desperation as he realized they had no way to find him. No way to call their father, who changed phones on a regular basis and who had no set address.
They were lost.
Cursed to live at a size where either brother could be closed in a fist and never be heard from again. Left by their father, abandoned to live out their lives in a motel with the help of their two rescuers.
These days, Dean lived on his own. He’d found a place to build a home and had spent his time adjusting it to be livable just like Walt and Mallory had done with their space under the floorboards. Mallory helped him with fabrics, making up wall hangings to drape on the walls for insulation and covers for his own nest of blankets. Sam had a bed back with Walt and Mallory. Dean had insisted that his younger brother use it when they’d discovered dollhouse furniture in abandoned motel room.
Sam came to stay with him more often than not. It didn’t feel right to be too far apart after everything they’d survived together. Dean knew that it was assumed that Sam would eventually court Krissy, but Sam himself was uncomfortable with the idea. There were no girls in the area that were Dean’s age, so he was left on his own.
To brood, mostly.
Which was why Sam had a habit of showing up at the worst times, trying in vain to keep his big brother’s mind off of their situation.
Like right now, when he was trying to sneak into a room where the guest had absentmindedly left out a slice of pie before heading out again, locking the door behind him and walking away with those thudding footsteps that Dean knew would feel seismic if they came too close.
I mean, who can turn down a slice of pie?
Sam narrowed his eyes back at Dean, matching him in stubbornness like he always did. But he couldn’t take this chance from Dean, not after watching his brother slowly grow more and more depressed the longer they were trapped in the dead-end motel. This wasn’t where his proud older brother was meant to end up.
He was supposed to be out there. Saving people. Hunting things.
He wasn’t supposed to be the victim, trapped by a witch and a curse that tore his entire world away. Everything gone but Sam himself.
Sam groaned and rubbed his face, relenting. “Fine. But I’m not letting you get into trouble out there alone. Walt will kill me if you get yourself caught.”
Dean flashed him his customary smirk, a sight that was growing rarer as time went on. He didn’t wait for Sam to change his mind, darting past his taller brother to the vent that waited for them at the end of the long metal pathway. The light taps of Sam's footsteps quickly started up as he kept pace with Dean.
When Dean reached the vent, he paused. Even he wasn’t stupid enough to ignore the rules that Walt had drilled into their heads time and time again.
Examine the room. Watch the shadows. Listen for breathing.
The fact that he was small enough to hear breathing so easily stood out to Dean. He and Sam were both so small. So vulnerable if they got seen. The concealed knives they both carried in their jackets, made by Dean the year before they’d been cursed, wouldn’t do much against a human.
But it was better than nothing.
Even Walt kept a razor he’d filched on hand at all times. It was bulky and sharp, hidden in his own jacket. He used it to take on rats on his own long before he took Dean and Sam under his wing. For that, Dean admired him. Rats were huge compared to them. Like bears with bad tempers, quick claws, and scaly tails. He’d taken on a few himself with Walt and Sam as backup, and it wouldn’t be something he’d want to do on his own.
When he was certain there were no humans in the room and it was as empty as he’d thought when he’d first glimpsed the unmistakable styrofoam container of pie, Dean lead the way. He squirmed his way through the vents and dropped to the floor. He was silent as he waited for Sam to join him. It was a routine they’d done many times before. They worked better together than they did on their own. A simple fact of life after living their entire lives with the other around.
Once Sam was out, they were off and running along the wall. The beds stood between them and the table that loomed next to the room’s mini-fridge. They kept against the wall the entire way until they passed underneath the dark bed with crowds of tangled dustbunnies lurking underneath. There, they were able to change direction and run for the table while still remaining undercover.
It was best to avoid the wide open spaces. Open air was dangerous. It was safer to be in a place with cover. A place to hide.
Dean skidded to a halt when he reached the end of the protective shadows cast by the bed and scanned the room once more. Sam did the same, checking their area in case Dean missed anything. Patience was key, as Walt repeated over and over again. The brothers worked like a single unit, always watching each others’ backs.
Holding out a hand to halt Sam, Dean signaled that he would go first. He was the oldest. It was his idea, so he’d take the risk.
When Sam nodded a silent affirmation back, he darted out into the open and shot towards the looming table. Even while running, he scanned the area. There was a hulking backpack off to the side, one that made Dean shudder to think of how easily he and Sam could be trapped inside it.
That wasn’t going to happen.
He had his hook out in seconds, taking aim at the table overhead while Sam darted out from under the bed himself. Dean’s toss found its mark as Sam came up behind him.
In a flash, his younger brother was scrambling up. He didn’t even miss a beat between running and climbing. He was a much more agile climber, as they’d both come to realize. This was a routine they’d done many times before.
As soon as Sam vanished up on the table, Dean started his own way up. His arms shook slightly at the thought of how high he was going and he ruthlessly suppressed that feeling. He needed to focus. They were out in a motel room in the middle of the day, meaning the human could come back at any time.
He was slower than Sam, but he got up there all the same. Sam’s hands found his arms, pulling him off of the side of the table. Ever since shrinking down, both brothers were unnaturally strong compared to what was normal for humans. More than once they’d hauled each other around with barely any effort. Walt and Mallory were the same, so Dean had to assume it was a side-effect of their new size. Something must make them stronger at the same time as it shrank them. It was a small blessing that could make all the difference in the world.
“Keep a look out, okay?” he asked Sam out of habit, breaking the silence around them. Sam already knew, of course. He had an uncanny ability to know when others were around, all the way down to feeling their eyes on him if they were searching for him.
Sam nodded and took his post at the edge of the table while Dean ran to the white container that held his gooey, delicious prize. A heavenly scent of apples and cinnamon greeted him.
Dean got his knife out and started to slice off the tab that was holding it shut.
His prize for this daring venture was waiting just inside the white container.