Dean elbowed Sam in the side, one side of his mouth quirked. “Might wanna…”
Sam saw Oscar’s troubles. “Oh!” He quickly reached for the little yellow candy, plucking it from between the kid’s tiny hands. “Here, I can help.”
Taking the M&M, Sam lightly rapped it against the table, until he saw the top start to splinter sugar and a bit of the chocolate was visible from inside. “There’s peanuts in them,” he explained to Oscar as he held it out again. “Chocolate and peanuts and candy and yum!”
Thomas hummed thoughtfully even as he lowered his hand to the table. His tiny passenger, still covering his face, wasn’t prepared for the hand to tilt. He tumbled again, landing on hands and knees while Thomas deliberated.
Oscar looked up tentatively while the answer came. “He did take a little work to get him healthier. And like you said, not many are caught in their prime. Fifty five.”
Oscar pushed himself to his feet and shuffled backwards. The cold demeanor from both humans was almost tangible. His gaze fell to the camera in Mina’s hand and he shuddered. Cameras were bad news for someone like him. He took a few more steps backwards.
A huge hand dropped behind him and Oscar squeaked in surprise. Thomas pointedly pushed him back to where he’d dumped him to the table. “Don’t wander,” rumbled overhead, and Oscar winced, but didn’t try to step back again.
Mina appeared to consider as she pointed the camera at Oscar– or Oliver, as she knew him. The device whirred to life, the lens slipping out from between two sliding planes of metal as the glass eye winked at Oscar in the light.
The camera flashed, and Mina was putting it away in her purse. “I suppose for one so tame it will be worth it,” she commented. “Very well. Fifty-five.”
Oscar covered his eyes too late for the flash, blinded for a few seconds. Even after his time in captivity, his eyes were more adjusted to the dark within the walls and floorboards back at the motel. He couldn’t have prepared for the sudden burst of light aimed right at him when he was stuck staring nervously at the camera’s eye.
“We have a deal,” Thomas said, already taking most of his attention off Oscar. Oscar glanced up, hearing the greed in the man’s voice. Whatever was happening to him was almost over, and soon he’d belong to Mina instead. Thomas solidified it with a smirk and an added “Appreciate your business, as always.”
The transaction had happened so quickly. Too fast, too sudden, much like humans always were. Oscar brushed more tears away from his eyes and his legs wobbled until he fell to his knees on the table. He could try to run now, while the humans were dealing with that precious paper they loved so much, but something told him his luck wouldn’t allow it. He could only watch.
“Keep bringing me little gems like this one and you’ll keep being rewarded,” Mina assured him. The last item to come out of her purse was a thick stack of unmarked bills, provided by her benefactors for just this purpose. “You can let Noriko know he’ll have a good home… in time.” She held out the cash.
That drew a chuckle out of Thomas as he took the money. “She’ll perk right up in no time,” he assured. Then, he idly set the box Oscar arrived in on the table so he could count his money and stash it in a pocket. The box landed barely a few inches away, and Oscar flinched away from it with a startled noise.
Immediately after his reaction, Oscar couldn’t resist the temptation to crawl behind the box, putting it between himself and the towering humans. With an imaginary shield in place, his breathing shuddered and he choked on more sobs. What would be a familiar motel room setting loomed around him, a faraway ceiling and unfamiliar decor pressing in on him.
Thomas’ shadow on the wall made its way towards the door, and Oscar’s eyes stung again.
Oscar tried to squirm away, tried to keep himself in his protective curl. It was no use. Even with simple nudging, humans were far more powerful than he, and he found himself pinned and staring up.
The magnifier gave him a startling view of a green eye, cold and not at all interested in his discomfort. He shook and his breathing was ragged, but nothing relented. Oscar hesitantly placed his hands against the finger, giving it a shaky push, but of course he couldn’t budge it. He shuddered and ducked his head again.
Mina ignored Oscar’s struggles, going over him with a crucial eye. “He looks healthy enough,” she assessed. “Could probably use a few more meals in him. It’s amazing how little these gems can eat yet they still get by fine.”
One after the other, she pinched each of his arms and both his legs between her fingers to see that he was uninjured. She had enough training in handling the smaller folk to be able to find any surface injuries, though once she reached her destination with him, he would undergo a more rigorous examination to ensure he was worth as much as possible.
“Small but cute,” Mina said. “And a good age. Not many get caught in the prime of their lives.”
Thomas almost chuckled. “Some get lucky. Even this one was skinnier when I first found him,” he admitted. After some time feeding Oscar multiple meals a day, he had finally stopped looking skinny enough to waste away, but not by much. “I think we did him a favor, to be honest.”
Oscar looked up then, an incredulous look on his face. As always with Thomas, he only met indifference. His breathing quickened and tears filled his eyes again. As soon as Mina was done pinching his limbs, he tried to scoot himself away from her hands. “S-stop,” he managed to say, his voice quiet and wavering.
Mina gave no sign that she heard Oscar’s plea. “What’s his name?” she asked briskly, pulling away and closing up the pocket magnifier. This time, she withdrew a small black journal that fit in the palm of her hand, quickly opening it to the middle and brushing aside the red ribbon that marked her place.
The pages were worn and covered in tight script from a steady hand. A fountain pen was next to appear from the bag, and Mina looked expectantly at Thomas.
Thomas glanced down, searching his memory. As usual, Noriko had asked the little thing’s name all of one time and then proceeded to call him little baby or something like it ever since. He barely remembered what it was, but he wouldn’t be cruel and pass along the pet name. He shrugged, jostling the little guy on his palm. “Oliver.”
Oscar looked up at Thomas, disbelieving but at the same time not surprised. Thomas had only been in charge of bringing Oscar his food and intimidating him into eating it. Noriko was the one who spent time with him and she’d only asked once.
He turned to watch the pen in motion as the wrong name went into that book, the smallest one he’d ever seen and still too big for him to carry. A protest nearly rose to his throat, but trembling fear stopped it, and instead Oscar covered his face with his hands as more tears came.
“Hey,” Thomas said, curling a finger inward to nudge pointedly at the little guy’s back. His voice lacked any sign of real comfort. “Keep it together.”
“You can leave him on the table,” Mina said dismissively as she closed the notebook. More notes would be taken later on, along with the amount paid for him, and in the future, how much she made when she sold him to her foreign clients. She set the pen down overtop the black leather cover.
This time, it was a camera she pulled from her purse, small enough to fit in the palm of her hand. The development of digital technology had certainly made life easier when it came to documenting the small folk that got themselves caught.
“How does… Fifty grand sound for him,” Mina said idly as she turned on the camera.
The sound of Thomas knocking at the door died off, leaving him standing in the cooling afternoon air. The distant bustle of people at the out-of-the way hotel the meeting with Mina was set up for reached Oscar in his small box, all the sounds of life in the human world as they went about their day, never knowing the pain he endured.
Cars drove by on the distant road, birds shrieked offense at the restaurant goers that didn’t share their food. A placid setting for Oscar’s life as it continued spiraling out of his control.
Metal scraped on the inside of the door and a latch clicked open, and the tall door swung wide, a warm grin to greet Thomas at the ready.
“Thomas, dear,” Mina said as she beckoned him into the room. “Punctual as always.”
Thomas gave a noncommittal grunt in reply as he entered the room hastily. He knew as well as Mina that it was much better for their meeting to be as discreet as possible. “Traffic was on our side,” he quipped once he was inside.
Inside the box held in his hand, Oscar shrank into his corner as far as he could. Thomas was always so casual. His familiar tone with the new human settled ice in Oscar’s middle. The man had done this many times before.
The box suddenly lifted up to eye level and Thomas spoke again. “Nori got a little attached to this one so he might be a little spoiled, but I don’t foresee many problems with him.”
“We can always fix that,” Mina said dismissively. She double-locked the door once more to keep her business private, standard procedure for when she operated out of hotel rooms. It was more low class than she was used to, but whatever got the job done these days.
There was a stylish purse sitting on the small table set to the side of the door, and Mina went over to the bag, slipping an elegantly manicured hand inside. “Let’s take a look at him now, shall we?” she said, her voice steel beneath the deceptive warmth she exuded.
Oscar shuddered, and then let out a startled squeak as the box moved around him yet again. This time, the lid lifted away, bringing more fresh air than the simple holes cut in the top and more light from the motel room’s lamps.
Oscar prepared for a hand to come into view above him, but instead everything outside the box shifted quickly again. He couldn’t stop his tumble as it all turned sideways and then upside down, releasing him onto Thomas’ palm instead. He landed with a quiet breath, and then immediately scrambled to curl himself into a protective ball again.
“Definitely an easier one to deal with,” Thomas commented, almost sounding bored. He’d met Mina enough times to have something of a routine with visits like this; this time, he didn’t even need to hold the little guy down.
“Mm, yes,” Mina said mildly. She withdrew her hand from her purse, a small pocket magnifier pinched between her fingers. “A very mild one compared to your last batch.”
She leaned in close to Thomas’ hand. “He’s small,” she commented offhand as she beheld the curled ball. “There, there, little gem,” she said softly, reaching her empty hand for him. With expert practice, she managed to get a slim finger into his curl. “No need to be so scared, you won’t be hurt here.”
The words were kind but there was no empathy in her voice. She gently coaxed the tiny guy with her fingers, the magnifier held out so she could see him clearly.
Oscar’s first car ride had been terrifying, trapped in the plastic ice bucket. Then, he hadn’t had any idea where he was going or what might happen to him. The sounds of a car all around him had been foreign and strange reminders of his predicament.
This time, he knew what was next. Noriko and Thomas didn’t exactly talk to him, but when they talked over him he picked up more than enough information. He was for sale. Mina was the human who would buy him. For all of Noriko’s cooing and hugging him, fawning over how cute he was and pinching his face in her fingers, she was eager to make as much money as she could with him.
All that time, he’d tried to ignore it. He was being prepared, like some kind of fancy toy, to be presented to Mina so they could hope for the biggest payout.
For the first few minutes of the car ride, Oscar stared up at the top of his cramped prison. The holes cut there only let in sparse light, and a rare glimpse of Noriko’s face or her straight black hair. The box rocked from side to side every once in a while as she fidgeted with him in hand.
Oscar looked away as the trip wore on. His eyes stung, an all too familiar sensation these days. Tears brimmed and then raced down his cheeks in time with his breathing. He brushed them away on a sleeve, but then more tears burst forth and he sobbed. He couldn’t stop the despairing emotions from crashing over him.
Noriko never noticed his cries. She talked to Thomas, but Oscar drowned out her words. Their voices were like broken glass jabbing at him.
By the time the car came to a stop, Oscar had curled himself into a tiny, shuddering ball. The tears tapered off as he looked up, his eyes sore and scratchy. He always cried more when he thought he couldn’t possibly have tears left. They always came.
Now, he needed to listen. “Do you want to go in with me?” Thomas asked.
To Oscar’s surprise, Noriko’s voice was tight with emotion when she responded. “Ohh, I shouldn’t,” she said, and Oscar’s box lifted up, presumably to be handed off. “I miss him already, Tom.”
“Aww, Nori,” Thomas chided gently, a smile coloring his tone. “Are you sure you’re okay selling this one? It seemed to take a real shine to you. I’m sure Mina would understand.”
“Nooo,” she replied, drawing out the word. “I know I do this every time, but I’m just a foster mommy, really,” she assured him. “He needs to go to someone else who will love him just as much.”
Oscar shuddered and shrank into himself. His chest ached from sobs he couldn’t let out anymore. He didn’t want to go to some other human. He was nothing more than a doll to them. A scared little pet who was too weak to escape.
“Okay,” Thomas replied, still amused. A car door opened. “Be right back.”
Just like that, Noriko was out of Oscar’s life, and he was out of hers. He couldn’t even see the moment, trapped as he was in the box, but the finality in their voices couldn’t be denied.
Now, as Thomas carried him to his next destination, Oscar couldn’t decide if he wished he could stay with the nightmare he knew. Wherever he went next might be better than Noriko’s coddling and treating him like a toy.
He heard the sound of Thomas knocking on a door and shuddered.
It never helped to count the days since he was captured. Oscar’s waking hours blended together in a huge nightmare that even sleep couldn’t erase. His bruises from his first capture faded and healed. His ankle, twisted and sore after he tried only once to escape, improved with care until it too showed no sign of the hurt. Oscar had memories as effective as any scar to remind him of the painful failure.
Noriko and Thomas kept him physically healthy. He received food every day, multiple times a day, and wasn’t left alone until he ate his fill. They didn’t like his habit of stashing food for later. Noriko would scold him even as she took away whatever he managed to hide.
She’d made a lot of clothes for him. She had fun seeing him in new outfits and could never resist a new one. Oscar was well familiar with her squeal of delight. It always came right before she swept him up in a hand to kiss the top of his head or hold him close in a hug.
Oscar really was her favorite. Sometimes, his eyes brimmed with tears when he thought about her. How he was getting used to her.
Used to belonging to her.
And then the day came when that changed.
“Wake up, little baby!” Noriko’s cheerful greeting preceded her entrance to the room. Oscar opened his eyes and sat up blearily as the lights switched on.
She had something in her hand. Oscar scooted off of his bed cushion to stand just as Noriko reached his dollhouse cage. Her free hand reached out and the glass front swung wide before he could see what she carried with her. Instead, he was gathered up in a gentle fist.
Noriko lifted him out of the cage and Oscar kept his eyes lowered. He squirmed only a little, aiming for more comfort for his arms. The pressure in the slender fingers around him rose and fell in reaction to it. As he rose, a breeze tousled his messy hair (Noriko never could tame it, no matter how often she scrubbed at it with fruity smelling shampoos).
Held before her face, Oscar had a clear view of her fond smile. A sort of sadness touched her eyes and he waited for the reason. Asking never had any effect. She’d say what she wanted to as if he hadn’t said anything at all.
“Oh, my sweet little one, you really are my favorite,” she cooed. Oscar cringed inwardly. He was only her favorite because he was smaller than most and easier to control
He cringed outwardly when her hand moved forward and allowed her to kiss the top of his head as she’d done many times before. Oscar, locked in her fist, could only wince until the brief gesture was over. His stomach flipped as he suddenly descended.
She lowered him towards what he could now see was a small box, made of cardboard and lined at the bottom with a cushion much like the one he slept on. Oscar could do nothing but watch it come closer until he was released a few inches over the cushion for a soft landing. He pushed himself up to his hands and knees and shook his head, dazed by the quick transition.
He collapsed as Noriko picked up the box again. When he looked up, she was sporting an endeared grin. “Oh, little sweetie. You be good for your new mommy, okay?”
Oscar’s eyes widened in confusion and he flinched. The lid of the box, cut with holes for air, was placed on top of his latest prison. His squeak of alarm died in his throat as she began walking again, carrying him away. He had to huddle in one corner to try to avoid being jostled around.
Outside the box, he could hear Noriko and Thomas getting ready. His prison swayed and jolted as they carried him around or set him aside to pick up something else, but he couldn’t see what was going on.
One name came up, and it drowned out everything else, even the car doors slamming and the engine of Thomas’ car purring to life. They were going to meet her.
Oh, I’m sure the conclusion will happen eventually! I’ve actually been working on the next part off and on, so sometime soon that will get posted. I can’t give away whether or not the ending will be happy, though, because that would be too easy. 😉
Originally prompted from this post. This is another update on what Oscar’s up to in the Brothers Together AU. In this short, he’s about 18 years old.
Oscar was almost ready to doze off, but he forced himself to stay alert. He couldn’t afford to let his guard down in such a precarious spot. Even now, the shadows on the nearest wall shifted and moved with the humans in the room, humans that were only steps away from his hiding place at the most.
He stood behind the TV, feeling the constant buzz of electricity while someone on the other side of it reported the weather for the afternoon. Dust piled up there, on the surface of the dresser where no one usually bothered to look. It gave Oscar a better view of the table nearby, but it wasn’t as safe.
He usually waited down on the floor, underneath the dresser. In all of the motel rooms, under the dresser was the safest place. He was out of sight, and even the maids never had occasion to look down there.
Today, though, was special. Even the humans kept it marked on all of their calendars.
Oscar didn’t understand what it meant or why they celebrated it, but Thanksgiving came without fail every late fall, and he’d learned to capitalize on it as much as he could. With winter looming close and snow on the ground outside already, he needed to stock up on as much food as he could. Thanksgiving and the holiday close on its heels, Christmas, were the best opportunities for Oscar to gather supplies for the cold months.
They meant food and lots of it.
Food like the arrangement sitting barely a foot away from him, a salad tray crammed onto what little space the TV left on the dresser. Cheese, crackers, cucumbers, and carrots were within view just from there, and he could have sworn he saw tomatoes.
Fresh things were a rarity in the Knight’s Inn. Oscar would have to eat them quicker if he managed to snag some, but they would be worth it. He could store almost everything but the cheese to make it last.
Of course, he couldn’t make it out there just yet. There was a pair of humans across the room, watching the weather report absently. They had yet to return the lid to the food tray after sampling from it, but they hadn’t left the food unattended either. If Oscar tried for it now, he’d be in their line of sight.
A shudder ran down his spine. Oscar had only ever been caught once, and he couldn’t afford to risk letting it happen again. Next time, he might not find himself in the grasp of the one friendly human he’d ever meet.
Dean Winchester was long gone. Oscar hadn’t seen him or his younger brother Sam in ten years. Back then, they’d been torn away from him before he had a chance to even try to follow. They were unique, and he’d let them slip away by sleeping in one morning.
He was grateful for one thing. Oscar had made it to eighteen years of age, and he still had a spark of hope in his heart. Ten years hadn’t quite erased them from his memory, and when he found himself in need of cheering up, he could imagine Sam wandering into the walls to visit him in his house. Talking to him while he worked on his sewing, or coaxing him out into the open to visit Dean.
They were his only friends in the whole world. Oscar couldn’t remember what they sounded like, and their faces had become hazier in his memory every year, but they were still there. They’d always be there.
The bed creaked somewhere beyond the TV and Oscar flinched. He almost missed one human voice asking “You almost ready to go?” as one of the humans stood up.
A sleepy mumble was the only reply, and Oscar took a moment to calm his startled heart while there was a rustle of bedcovers and another creak. From the look of the shadows on the wall, one human had stood. The other had flopped over on the bed entirely, too comfortable to go.
There was a heavy sigh, a voice tinged with annoyance that sounded so much scarier from a giant human. “Fine, a few more minutes, but once I get out of the bathroom we’re going. Your aunt hasn’t seen you since last year.”
Oscar waited for a reply, but none came. The human that spoke walked across the room, his shadow stalking along the wall. When the bathroom door clicked shut, Oscar took his cue.
He edged towards the side of the TV hastily. One surreptitious glance around it showed that another human had indeed buried themselves in the covers on the bed, an ornery stand against going anywhere for Thanksgiving. Why they’d want to avoid such a feast was beyond him, but Oscar didn’t question it. Instead, he darted out into the open.
Leaving a hiding place always came with a burst of adrenaline that threatened to steal his balance away. Oscar had to fight to keep focused, and he did by fixing his eyes on the food arrayed in front of him. He’d waited for the day all year.
He skidded to a halt at the edge of the sampler tray and immediately grabbed an entire cracker from the top of the pile. He knew the routine; they never missed stuff like this. His other hand was already dragging a baby carrot closer before he set his bag down to start loading it up.
He had a spare bag that he used for days like this. It was larger than his usual cloth sling, but not as easy to carry. He had more room to stuff the cracker and carrot inside, and then stand up for a small piece of cheese to go along with it. Oscar worked fast, never taking more than one of any kind of food on the tray from what he could reach. He even managed to tug free a few small sprouts from a tuft of broccoli.
Next, he threw the flap over the top of his hoard of food and hoisted it up. His cloth shoes scrambled against the dusty dresser top as he turned and darted back to his hiding place in time for the bathroom door to swing open once more. He’d made it.
Oscar grinned and imagined showing off his haul to his friends. Sharing Thanksgiving with someone would be nice for once, but Oscar only had his memories to join him at his table once again. Despite the loneliness that stretched out behind him and on forever in front of him, he was grateful at least for that.