Another day, another motel, another job hunt.
Except it wasn't really the same routine Jacob had grown used to over the last year. Right after graduating high school, he'd gone into the workforce, taking odd jobs and temporary labor positions in various places in the Midwest. Warehouses, farms, and shipping companies were all good options for quick work.
He was a tall kid, and strong, so those jobs usually boiled down to lifting heavy things from point A to point B. But Jacob didn't mind the tough work or the long hours. They paid well and supported his drift from motel to motel in one unending road trip.
He'd driven his reliable Mercury Cougar back and forth from job to job, putting hundreds of miles behind him. He was used to the road, and to traveling around. He was closely familiar with the sometimes-tedious search between jobs, and he was used to being tired at the end of a long day of driving.
Now, Jacob was driving a different car, and he wasn't hunting for work in the classified ads, and he wasn't on his own.
A stop in Haven, Kansas between jobs had changed everything. Now, Jacob was traveling with Sam and Dean Winchester, curse victims that had been reduced to almost a twentieth of their original sizes. He was driving Dean's old 1967 Chevy Impala that he'd restored with Dean's instruction.
Instead of hunting temporary, seasonal jobs, now Jacob's year-round job was to hunt monsters.
His life got pretty weird thanks to that stop at Trails West.
Bobby Singer, an old friend of the brothers, had pointed the three of them towards a case in Garvin, Oklahoma. It was supposed to be an easy one, he said, probably a 'routine salt and burn.’ Which was hunter-talk for 'Jacob would have to dig up a corpse and burn it so its ghost would stop drowning people.'
He tried not to think too hard about that part until they came to it.
On the way, the trio had opted to stop at a motel and save the last leg of the trip for the morning. Sam and Dean weren't used to the long haul yet, and there was no reason to stay cooped up for the full 12 hour drive. Even if the brothers were raring to go when they arrived, Jacob would be exhausted after a long trip like that.
Dean wanted to show off some combat moves, anyway.
Jacob sat at the table in their room, resting his chin on his crossed arms. He tried to keep himself closer to their level to avoid looming, though it was too late to get rid of the nickname Godzilla.
In front of him, two men around four inches tall were demonstrating hand-to-hand combat training that they had learned way back before they were cursed. Jacob paid rapt attention, trying not to miss a single detail of the dextrous movements made by tiny limbs.
“C’mon, Sammy,” Dean goaded, his soft, gruff voice reaching Jacob's alert ears. “Afraid you’re gonna get tossed again?”
Sam gave him a glare in return. His hands were held out to the side, near invisible fingers twitching with anticipation as he prepared to charge. They were just demonstrating moves, but after years of testing each other and pushing each other’s limits, a sparring session like this could stray into sibling rivalry.
The lessons themselves had all been passed down by Dean. Sam had been too young when they were cursed to know any more than the basics, but his older brother had already mastered what he could of John’s lessons. Hand-to-hand combat, archery, guns, even building his own weapons and repairing the guns all fit neatly on Dean’s list of skills. Though a lot of that had gone to waste for fourteen years in the motel, Dean still remembered each and every lesson.
He’d taught Sam as soon as he could after their curse. Aside from Walt and Mallory, they were alone in the world. John couldn’t protect them anymore, so Dean decided that he would, and Sam would need to learn whatever self-defense he could. They might be too small for most of the methods to work on humans, but at the very least it would keep them both tone and in shape.
Now, they were passing the knowledge along once more, to a human, of all people.
Knife lessons had consumed most of their time growing up, but today Dean wanted to show Jacob how to take advantage of his biggest asset. If he lost his gun or his knife, Jacob would still have a huge advantage: his size. The kid was 6’5” and had muscle built up from years of working out and helping in warehouses. Hell, his arms were thicker than Sam or Dean were tall, easily, and his grip was solid. That alone could be enough to save his life one day if he got into trouble. Not every supernatural threat could be grappled, but Jacob would be ready for the ones that could.
Sam charged, and this time Dean used his own smaller size to his advantage. Being the eldest, it smarted to have ended up the smaller of the two brothers, but it also meant he could dodge a lot faster than his bulky brother.
Considering that the difference in size between them was a fifth of an inch, it didn’t sound like much, but when one stood 4 inches tall and the other stood 3.8 inches tall, it mattered a lot more.
Dean dodged to the side, letting Sam blow past him. At the same time, he lashed out with a foot, catching Sam’s arm with his hand and sending him to the ground. The end result was Dean holding Sam pinned to the ground, smirking at the annoyed hazel eyes below.
Jacob squinted at the pair of them, trying to catch up to what he'd just seen. They might not be able to run fast enough to outrun a sweep of his hands, but that didn't mean they weren't nimble on their feet and in their movements. If Dean stood at a normal height, he wouldn't be a person Jacob ever wanted to mess with. But with hands that didn't even cover his fingertips, Jacob had to watch closely to catch everything that Dean did.
He blinked a few times and tilted his head for a different angle. Jacob knew how to throw a punch and guard from one. That was the extent of the fighting skill he had, and even that wasn't very intense. He'd participated in boxing in school, nothing serious. Nothing like fighting monsters or scraping by to survive at a size like Sam and Dean's.
After a pause, he finally admitted, "I think I'd be more likely to end up like Sam, here." Jacob, with all his size, was positive he didn't have the dexterity to dodge like Dean. Sidestepping a hit was one thing, but actually toppling someone? Jacob's bulk was better suited to just trying to push an opponent over without all the fancy footwork.
Dean released his choke hold on Sam, pushing himself off of the table top. He held a hand out, helping up his little brother before he turned to Jacob. “You might be more suited to takedowns like Sammy,” he agreed. “But if you end up fighting somethin’ like a werewolf, you’ll want to keep those teeth as far away from you as you can, otherwise you might end up wearin’ the teeth during the next full moon.”
He motioned at Sam and continued his patient explanation. The normally easy-to-rile hunter turned into patience itself when it came to lessons, for Jacob and Sam both. It was reminiscent of the times he’d be explaining the inner workings of the Impala, back when Jacob had been helping with the repairs. “If you can, grab your opponent's legs when you hit them. That way, you knock their balance off, and your upper body motion is enough to topple them over. When you both land, you’ll have the upper hand in the fight because you’ll be on top.”
Dean planted his boots on the ground, bracing himself. “Alright, Sam. One more time.”
This time when Sam charged, Dean went through the exact same motions as the last time, keeping with the lesson. Learning from his previous mistake, Sam was prepared. The second he saw Dean shift his weight to his left leg, he angled his direction just the slightest amount. It kept him from overshooting, and when he swept a hand out, he managed to catch the back of Dean’s leg.
Sam hit Dean like a linebacker and both brothers went down.
Jacob let out a quiet breath, his eyebrows shooting up at the noise the pair made hitting the table. It wasn't the first time they'd fallen down decently hard, however, and this time he knew better than to worry. It was all part of the training. For being so small, they were hardy little guys.
"Alright, go Sam!"
He tried to imagine himself adjusting last second like Sam had. In a fight against a werewolf (which Jacob still hardly believed might actually be in store for him), it would be the difference between life and death. He couldn't mess it up.
Unlike Sam and Dean, however, Jacob hadn't grown up knowing how to do those kinds of things. He could only hope he'd pick up the skill quickly enough to be ready when it came time that he needed it.
If there was one advantage he could hang onto with greater ease, it was balance. Jacob was sturdy. He could hold his stance against a foe (or at least against another human). That might come in handy when he was trying to rob an opponent of theirbalance. He logged the information away, regretting that he didn't really have a way to practice any of these maneuvers. He couldn't exactly have Sam charge at him, with the little guy only the length of a finger. All that would come of that would be Sam bouncing off him the way Dean had bounced off the inside of the coffee pot Jacob had trapped him in weeks ago.
Sam grinned down at Dean, smug from his win and the praise from Jacob. “You’re getting soft,” he jabbed in a goodnatured way.
Dean huffed at him. They both ignored the slight breeze that blew across their designated training area on the table. Jacob had to lean in close to be able to make out their movements, so it was unavoidable. He had to breathe, after all. The human’s warm brown eyes tracked their every movement, doing his best to learn the lessons Dean freely offered him, despite being unable to practice like they could. Even Sam, with the constant reminder of eyes on him in the form of a persistent prickle on his neck, wouldn’t complain. They didn’t want Jacob to agree to help them on hunts, only to get the kid in trouble. He’d need to learn every lesson they had.
And, Sam had been surprised to find that the prickle on his neck wasn’t as omnipresent after spending time around Jacob.
“Get off me,” Dean grumbled, hiding the prideful grin. Sam was a quick learner, and he worked diligently. If he was a human, he’d be a force to be reckoned with, but for now they’d settle for making Jacob into that force. It wasn’t the worst trade off.
Sam helped him to his feet. Dean stretched once he was up again, feeling the strain in his back. He’d be feeling that last tackle in the morning, that was for sure.
Their bags and jackets were left to the side of their training area, out of the way so neither brother landed on a hook. Their silver knives were tucked into the jackets as well after Dean deemed it too dangerous to use their actual knives in training. He’d have to find a substitute at some point. Knife lessons would be easier for Jacob, because he’d be able to try out the various stances without worrying about finding a partner to test out his moves on.
Both brothers stood on the table in their t-shirts Mallory had made for them. Sam's was a simple grey and Dean's was black to help him blend into the shadows.
“Any questions?” Dean asked Jacob while Sam stretched out his arms on the side.
Jacob thought over the demonstrations he'd just witnessed. He got the basic gist of most of them, even if some of the finer points were lost on him. He was almost positive that he'd never be able to see their subtle shifting of weight from foot to foot, or pinpoint the weakest spot in their balance. He couldn’t look closely enough without getting too close for anyone’s comfort. There were some times he thought a magnifying glass might not be able to show him the detail he’d need to imitate the moves.
But he'd seen enough that he would be able to follow it easier at the next inevitable training session. After spending a few weeks working with Dean to fix the Impala, Jacob knew he was nothing if not thorough. There would be repetitions of these lessons.
He hummed thoughtfully, even that quiet noise feeling so loud when talking to them. "Nope. I'm ready. Come at me," he quipped with a grin.
Dean arched a dubious eyebrow at Jacob, uncertain if the human was teasing them about their size. “What, just because you’ve got a few pounds on me, you think you can take me?” he snarked right back, standing his ground stubbornly. “I’ll have you know I had a plan when you stuck me in that coffee pot. I’d’ve gotten out, and then you’d be in trouble.”
Sam hid a grin. “Was your plan to get a hot bath in coffee?” he shot at Dean, nudging him with an elbow to defuse the rising tension before it had time to solidify. “I know you’ve missed having your caffeine in the morning, but that’s pushing it to the extreme.”
Jacob winced at that mental image. He wasn't proud of the way he'd first introduced himself to Dean. He'd trapped the small man in a coffee pot to keep him from dashing around and potentially hurting himself, and even that hadn't worked. Dean had just changed tactics and charged at the glass out of stubborn desperation.
Jacob had never even considered that the coffee pot being filled with him in it could be a concern for Dean at the time. It was a stupid thing to miss. After all, it was what the coffee pot was for, and Dean standing straight up didn’t reach the line that marked a full pot of coffee. As valiant as the little guy was, he wouldn’t have stood a chance.
It was a wonder they'd actually given Jacob another chance after a scare like that. He counted himself lucky that he had the opportunity to make up for it.
He bit back another apology. He'd been told already that he was forgiven. Hell, Dean let him drive the Impala, his prized car, after all that. He'd made a lot of progress since then, and he was glad for it. It made it easier to recognize that he might have riled Dean up with his joking comment, when he really hadn't meant anything by it.
"Easy, there, dude. I do wish I could practice these badass moves, but in the meantime you'll just have to keep showing me how it's done and maybe I'll get 'em memorized." He offered a faint smile, hopefully placating Dean before he got hotheaded enough to think of a way to retaliate. Jacob knew quite well that though the man was small, it had no effect on his ingenuity.
Dean bristled at the soothing words, but did what he could to push it aside. Jacob clearly didn’t mean anything by it, and was doing his best to get used to their strange situation just like they all were.
It was unique, after all.
Dean had never heard of anyone his size even being around humans, and here they were, out in the open a good portion of the day. Even going so far as to trust Jacob enough to hide them from sight in a pocket or a hood. A move like that would be viewed as foolhardy at best and suicidal at worst by anyone else their size. It gave the human complete control over their lives.
Not once had Jacob let them down.
“Don’t you forget it,” Dean said, Jacob’s demure reply taking some of the wind from his sails. At the very least, he had an idea of how Jacob could practice his moves. “We’ll have to see if Bobby’s up for a few rounds of sparring sometime so you can see what you’ve learned. You just can’t go too hard on him.” Bobby might be a hunter, but Jacob was naturally big, and had a good few inches and more than a few pounds on the older hunter. Add that to the fact that Jacob had specialized in what summed up as ‘lift heavy objects’ in his jobs, and he wasn’t a person to be taken lightly, trained or untrained.
Jacob nodded, serious this time. Even with superior size and mass on his side, he foresaw himself getting his ass handed to him if he fought Bobby, a more experienced fighter, but he didn't point that out. Dean probably knew already. He might secretly be looking forward to it a little.
Jacob’s gaze slid to the side, taking in the red numbers on the alarm clock across the room. They'd called it quits on the drive in the afternoon, and it was dipping towards evening now.
Glancing back at Sam and Dean, he asked, "I'll think about those moves," he promised. Then, "Are there more you wanted to go over, or should I go and grab some dinner? Craving anything?"
Over the last few weeks at Bobby's, both humans had discovered that it was hard to convince the brothers to admit what they wanted to eat, especially Sam. Dean would at least readily admit to enjoying certain foods, like bacon or pie, but Sam would just eat what he was given without complaint. Jacob asked gently this time, hoping he might get an answer, but he certainly didn't get his hopes too high. It would take time for them to get used to the idea that they could ask, if they wanted to.
Dean smirked. “I think we can call it quits for today,” he decided. “But…” He glanced over at Sam, teetering on an answer to Jacob’s question but uncertain if he should take the leap.
Sam stared at the ground under his boots, his ears bright red at the question. He didn’t see any point to asking for food for himself. The meals that Jacob brought back were huge compared to the shrunken brothers no matter what he got. Neither brother could make a dent on them, so Sam saw no reason to waste the money. He could survive off of whatever Jacob gave him.
It had been that way with Dean a lot. His older brother would come back with food for the family after successful scavenging trips (often more successful than Walt’s were because of Dean’s quirky edge on finding things), and he’d always make sure Sam was taken care of. It had been years before Sam had discovered that there were times when Dean went without just so Sam could have a full meal. No amount of scolding from Sam or Walt would change his mind when it was set.
“I’m good,” Sam said quietly. “I can just eat whatever.”
Dean bit his lip, indecision on his face. His normal stubbornness evaporated when he felt the hunger gnawing in his belly. For the first time in years, he started to play with the idea of actually having something to eat that he’d picked.
In order to get out the words, he didn’t let himself hesitate. “Do you think we could try… a… a cheeseburger?” he asked, hoping it wasn’t a stupid request.
Jacob grinned. He gamely looked right past the pause they'd both taken before answering, choosing to act as if Dean had spoken up immediately. He could see Sam's blushing from where he rested his head, and didn't want to put any more pressure on the little guy. Getting even one of them to ask for something to eat was an accomplishment, and the last thing he wanted to risk was making them clam up again.
"Cheeseburger it is," he said, finally sitting himself up straight again. He had to rub at his neck after leaning forward like he did for so long. "I think I saw a diner right up the road so I'll head out now. Won't be too long, I bet."
That said, he pushed his chair back before standing up. He found his wallet where he'd dropped it on the dresser, shoving it into his back pocket, and picked up the key to the room. After a beat of hesitation, he grabbed the DO NOT DISTURB sign as well, and made his way to the door. Before opening it, he looked over his shoulder at the table where Sam and Dean stood. "Be right back," he bade them as he strode into the evening air.
The door was locked behind him to make sure no one could barge in on his tiny roommates.
Sam rubbed his neck once Jacob had left, unintentionally mirroring the human’s motions from before. He visibly relaxed, the tension leaving his shoulders. “Cheeseburger?” Sam asked Dean, as surprised as Jacob to hear him speak up. Maybe even more so.
Dean gave him a sheepish shrug, walking over to the edge of the table. “Figured it can’t hurt, can it? I haven’t had a cheeseburger in fourteen years, I’ve at least earned one.” He sat down on the edge, letting his legs hang off the side as he watched the faraway door.
Sam grabbed his satchel before joining Dean on the edge. “How’s the vertigo?” he asked softly.
Glancing over the edge, Dean gave a slight shrug. “S’long as I don’t look straight down, I’m fine, really. It’s been better ever since I started hanging around with Godzilla. I guess hanging onto his shoulder while he fixes up the Impala does wonders for a man.”
The roar of the Impala made it through the walls. Dean could feel the longing on his face as the rumble of his baby filled the air. Slick black and chrome, after weeks of repair she looked as good as the day she’d rolled off the line back in 1967. He’d gone over her with a fine-tooth comb before declaring their work done, and at his height a fine-tooth comb was finer than any human could even see.
Sam had inspected the panic room before leaving, and approved completely. Dean swelled with pride at the way his little brother was so impressed with the idea. If it came down to it, even Jacob couldn’t get into the room. They had a place where they’d be safe. Time to catch their breath and think of a plan for whatever was going to hell on the outside.
“Nothing on dad yet, huh?” Dean asked, knowing if Sam had any more luck than he did, he would have mentioned it.
Sam shook his head, making his fluffy hair fly into a mess. “Nothing. No traffic violations under the license plate Bobby gave us, his number is turned off so no one can contact him… It’s like he never even existed.”
Dean sighed. Their search for John Winchester was starting to look like a fool’s errand, but at least they had hunting. They could do some good in the world, whether they found their father, or not.
“Don’t worry,” Sam said reassuringly, knowing how much Dean wanted to find John and let him know what really happened all those years ago. “Bobby’s going to keep his ears open and try and reach him if he can.”
Dean had to smirk at that. “Even after he chased dad off his property with a shotgun,” he said, remembering hearing that story for the first time.
“Right,” Sam grinned right back.
They sat there and watched the colors of the sunset against the curtains as the day began to slip into night.