Stan Baker hadn’t thought about the word ‘borrower’ in ages.
He vaguely remembered a series of stories of the same name that he read when he was in primary school. They depicted tiny little people, inches high, managing to survive by living alongside human beings and picking tiny amounts of food and supplies from them. That much he could recall, so evidently the stories had more of an impact on him than he thought…
The last place he expected to experience nostalgia for a children’s story was during a surprise meeting with his employer.
At first Stan thought he’d misheard; he had been winding down for the night before receiving his summons. He’d hurried over so fast he hadn’t had time to brush away all the dog hair from the cuffs of his trousers and the hem of his dark wool coat, perhaps he was still reeling from the rush to his employer’s office.
No. The boss was completely serious. Apparently, the existence of people so small came to his attention through Sherlock Holmes, of all people. The consulting detective had become involved with some of the (actual, real) tiny people.
A pair of brothers called the Winchesters.
Stan didn’t get to learn much about them before his employer got down to business, unfortunately. As fascinating as the stuff about borrowers was, it was only a small part of the mission.
The agent thumbed through the file given to him and listened to the briefing in a bit of a haze. All the information was in his hands, allowing Stan to quietly marvel at the revelation of tiny people. A concept so fantastical that it was universally consigned to childhood imagination.
Timeline: Right after moving into 221B Baker Street
Dean shoved Sam out of the way, his younger brother stumbling backwards from the unexpected danger. Moira yelped, grabbing Sam’s arm to haul him back, leaving Dean to face the threat on his own.
Dean didn’t budge an inch, his silver knife in hand as he faced down the cat to give Sam and Moira time to escape. This was supposed to be a quick trip to grab some supplies, stock up Sam and Dean’s new home a few flats away from Moira’s family. They’d only had enough extra food for one meal, and having Moira’s help was welcome.
Of course, no one ever consulted them when getting a new pet, and not knowing that a cat now lived in the flat Moira’s family called home meant that they’d stumbled right into it.
It wasn’t quite the hiss of anger Dean had expected to hear before the deadly paw descended on him. In fact, it was exactly the opposite. He squinted his eyes open just as he realized he’d closed them as he prepared for the inevitable.
The cat still sat in the same spot, its tail swishing from side to side. Now that the element of surprise was gone, Dean could see it was only a kitten, nose twitching as it looked over the three tiny people it had cornered. Its head moved closer and Dean stiffened, expecting at any second to feel the crushing fangs close around his chest.
Instead, a wet nose pressed into Dean’s side. He jolted away in surprise, almost flailing off balance. The kitten blinked at him, then mrowwed again.
Sam and Moira, standing against the wall, stared at the odd scene. Slowly, it all began to sink into Sam, and he snickered.
Dean sent him a wounded look over his shoulder.
“It wants you to pet it!” Sam called, almost doubling over with laughter.
Dean tore his gaze from Sam and looked back at the kitten just as a headbutt from the animal knocked him from his feet. He went sprawling, rolling a few times until he landed at Sam and Moira’s feet, staring up at them in a daze.
Moira joined Sam in laughing as they hauled Dean to his feet. “Go on!” she said, shoving him towards the kitten. “Pet her!”
Dean reached up a hesitant hand as the kitten cocked her head at him, ear flicking the moment his hand brushed against the fur. He scratched behind the ear like it was the most important task he’d ever performed, considering that if she wanted to, the kitten could turn the three of them into her playthings.
Nothing like that happened, aside from a rumbling purr from deep in the cat’s chest. She stretched out her front legs, each toe extending as she flopped down at Dean’s feet and looked up at him.
“I think you have a new best friend,” Sam said in a laughing attempt at a hush as he slipped past Dean, leading Moira towards the wall entrance they’d left behind.
“You’re not so bad, are ya?” Dean mused as he rubbed behind the ear again, thinking everything was going to work out fine.
Just as Sam and Moira made it to the wall, it happened.
Dean’s sneeze was so violent he was knocked off his feet, landing on his butt an inch away from a curious ear flick. The kitten picked up her head, nosing worriedly at Dean when the scritches didn’t resume. He barely noticed the large wet spot left on his leather jacket this time, too concerned with holding back another sneeze.
Sam had to come back to grab Dean with Moira safely in the walls, hauling his older brother up and giving him a shove at the entrance while distracting the kitten with a scritch. Sam, who didn’t have any allergies to cats, did much better than his older brother, and escaped the moment the kitten’s eyes fluttered shut.
They parted ways with Moira at the fork in the path, her returning to her home with her parents while Sam propelled Dean towards their new home in the hopes that dunking his head in water might help the sneezes.
Otherwise, they might lose their ninja titles.
All through the walls, Dean sneezed.
Passing a kitchen with wonderful aromas wafting through the walls. “Ah-choo!”
Hearing a toilet flush. “Ah– ACHOO!”
Sam let out a sigh as they finally got home, hurrying to their water supplies while Dean morosely picked at a long, ginger-colored hair that clung to him even after leaving the kitten behind.
“Ah– CHOO! ”
The humans living in the flat were usually more observant than most. They were also quite busy and happened to be lost in their own worlds.
Sherlock Holmes was wrapped up in an experiment, subjecting disembodied fingers– specifically the fingernails– to the flame of a blowtorch at gradually lengthened intervals. It was a relatively quiet experiment, but the smell of it had John Watson slamming the sliding kitchen doors shut to keep the odor out of the main room.
John sat at the small table against the wall in the middle of the living room, typing away at his blog. Sherlock’s most recent case had been a convoluted one, and he wanted to be sure to get the details right. Or at least to a point where they made sense to the layman.
A muffled sneeze briefly broke his concentration.
“Gesundheit,” John muttered, under the assumption that the fingernail-fumes were finally starting to get to Sherlock. For his part, the detective hadn’t even heard the small noise from the kitchen, and so he and the doctor remained blissfully ignorant of the smaller residents of 221B Baker Street as the brothers stared at each other in shock, the human’s response to Dean’s sneeze completely unexpected.
Before Dean could sneeze again, Sam dunked his head into the cap of water. Dean resurfaced, gasping and wiping at his eyes before burying his head in the nest of fabric he called a bed. A muffled sneeze could be heard as Dean slumped in place.
“No more cats,” Sam said grimly, wondering at their close call with Sherlock and John.
Sam Winchester, cursed to live at four inches in height, was not used to waking up to bright sunlight in his room. For years, he’d lived under the floorboards in the Trails West with his adopted family, staring up at what little light managed to trickle between the floorboards. The dark confines of their home were warm and safe, welcoming for the people who were smaller than a hand.
So opening his eyes to a brightly lit open space was the last thing Sam expected to see.
Looking around the room didn’t clear things up for him. His memories of the night before were still fuzzy and unfocused, mixing up with the varied dreams he’d had. Sam sucked in a gasp of surprise when he saw a massive human lying in a bed only a foot away, peaceful breaths of air drawn into lungs bigger than Sam… or his bed… or even his home.
Sam curled his legs closer, trying to make himself as small as possible while his mind raced. What had happened? He didn’t remember getting caught… at least not since Jacob first got his hands on him.
Then he spotted Jacob lying in the other bed, his face just as relaxed as the other man’s, and the memories came rushing back.
A bit of the tension unwound from Sam’s back. That man lying so close by was Dean. Sam’s determination had lead him and Jacob to the hunter’s doorstep, culminating in a reunion that was long overdue. Sam calmed his breathing and did his best to relax, repeating to himself that he was with his older brother, and Dean would never let anything happen to him.
That fact was clearly underlined by Dean’s reaction to the bruises covering Sam’s torso. It was the outcome of a mistake by Jacob, holding Sam just a little too tight, and the teenager was repentant. He’d helped Sam and driven the cursed man over eight hours to find his older brother, and so Sam had forgiven him.
Dean was a harder sell, especially only seconds after discovering Sam was alive. Sam had prevented Dean from putting more than an impressive bruise on the kid, and had a feeling that if he’d let Dean keep going, Jacob would have been tossed out of the room with no other thanks.
There was a shifting on the bed Dean was sleeping on, and Sam found himself curling more of the blanket– which, when he looked down at what he was sitting on, discovered it to be a black t-shirt– around himself so he didn’t feel so exposed.
Green eyes blinked tiredly open and Sam could swear his neck tingled as they glanced around at the room. It was a full minute before comprehension fell over Dean’s face, and he saw Sam sitting there, arms around his knees and trying his best to hide in plain sight.
“Hey,” Dean said softly. His eyes briefly flicked to Jacob to make sure he was asleep, then back to Sam. “How you feelin,’ pint-size?”
Nerves or not, Sam couldn’t hide a roll of his eyes at the nickname he had a feeling Dean would never give up on. At least, not from the look in his eyes. “I’m fine,” he said, more insistent than he meant to be. A doubtful look crossed Dean’s face, and Sam knew he wasn’t hiding his nerves as well as he thought.
Sam hunched his shoulders. “Just… not used to being out in the open like this,” he said hesitantly. It felt like he was admitting a weakness.
Understanding filled Dean’s eyes, and the hard look that always seemed to be on his face softened. “You fell asleep after the hunt,” he said in an attempt to explain. “I… wasn’t sure where else to… put you.”
The same hesitation filled Dean’s voice, and Sam realized his older brother had no better idea about how they were supposed to handle things than he did. For some reason, that made him feel a little better. He might not know what he was doing, but neither did Dean.
“Maybe…” Dean was scanning the room while he talked. “I’m sure we can find somewhere hidden for you to stay. Y’know… if you wanted to.”
Sam looked into those green eyes, trying to ignore the way they were the size of his head, and saw hope, and fear, and nerves that almost equaled his own. He remembered the night before, when Dean almost didn’t want to believe that Sam was back.
“Of course I want to stick around,” Sam said, his voice so soft that Dean found himself leaning in. Sam twined his fingers together, focusing on them more than the gigantic hunter. “I just… should get my stuff from my home. I didn’t say goodbye to anyone there when we left. Wasn’t… really sure we’d actually find you.”
“Well, you found me,” Dean said, grinning at Sam. After a second of contemplation, he moved his arm and Sam found a hand reaching towards him. He tried to not flinch, but stiffened completely and squinted his eyes shut.
Something large touched the top of his head, then lightly ruffled his hair. Sam opened up his eyes to see Dean’s hand already retreating back to his side and realized it had only been a fingertip.
This little story takes place when Oscar is around 14 years old. It is canon to the Brothers Together AU.
Oscar hadn’t had a very successful day. He managed to scrape together enough crumbs and bits of food for one meal, but that was no progress. His pantry would merely remain at the abysmally low levels it had been when he set out.
He shuffled quietly towards home, cloth shoes pushing dust around. He felt worn out to the core. Climbing furniture could wear on someone after doing it all evening and into the night. Especially someone who didn’t eat as much as they should, but in order to avoid running out, Oscar had to cut corners.
He always had to cut corners.
While he walked, Oscar was drawn inevitably into memories. Years ago, when he was just a young kid and his mom had only been gone a year, Oscar had been happy again. A bright spot in his bleak outlook may well have saved his life.
He’d had food and water and a place he could go for more warmth when even his pile of blankets was too cold. Oscar had more than one meal a day, of all kinds of foods, the memory of which still made his mouth water and his stomach pine for more sometimes. He’d had a glow of health in his cheeks and a shy smile in his eyes.
Oscar had had friends.
Now he was back to having no one. Oscar had stupidly wished for that month to last longer. He’d even let himself imagine going with them when they left. But a note written in quick handwriting, punctuated with a hasty SORRY OZ had brought him back to reality.
That had to be nearly half his lifetime ago. Oscar remembered them every day. He often wondered if they remembered him. It didn’t seem likely. They’d gone on to meet new people and make new connections.
Oscar was still there, clinging to the frayed edges of what was left of his connection. Just like he’d started to forget things about his mom, he’d begun to forget things about Sam and Dean. Their voices were gone. Their faces had become a little vague.
But he still remembered how happy he’d been to spend time with them. He’d even gone outside safely.
A familiar swell of music echoed into his passages from the room adjacent. Oscar felt his heart tighten and drifted to the edge of the wall. He leaned his ear against it and planted his hands on it as well. He knew that music anywhere. Someone must have left the TV on when they went to bed.
The music of Jurassic Park threw Oscar back six years. The taste of popcorn and soda, the rise and fall of the surface beneath him, the brightness of the enormous screen were crystal clear in his head. He blinked rapidly as he thought about that day in the park. He and Sam had explored the grass, outside, with the open sky above and the fresh air all around. Oscar was free of worry even knowing there were birds that could carry him away out there.
He wasn’t alone.
The music and the sound of people talking and dinosaurs grumbling reached his hearing, and Oscar sighed. He saw this movie in a big theater with his friends, though he’d had to cover his eyes for a lot of it. He remembered how Dean had placed a protective hand over Sam and Oscar.
After listening for a while, Oscar opened his eyes. He was back in the walls. It was dim and dusty and chilly. He hadn’t had anything to eat yet that day, and he didn’t have a promise of safety or more food tomorrow.
Oscar sighed and stepped away from the edge of the wall, making his way home once more.
Hey, everyone. The general reaction to the ending of Hershey Kisses and Salt Lines was, understandably, very upset! Poor little Oscar was left behind in the wake of the Winchesters fleeing a monster, and had to resign himself to life on his own in the Knight’s Inn once more.
This story is an update on the little guy’s life in the motel.
Oscar took slow breaths. He had to focus. He was getting better at this all the time, but it still only took one mistake for everything to go wrong. Two years of surviving by himself, down the drain if he got caught. He couldn’t let that happen.
Most of the smaller folk wouldn’t risk hiding in an occupied room. The risk of humans spotting them was simply too great. Even Oscar felt his heart hammering as he huddled in his hiding spot under the bed, close to the wall. A large tangle of lint and dustbunnies provided a good barricade while he waited.
The motel was more packed than it had ever been. A glimpse outside had revealed a bus in the parking lot, and seven rooms were booked out with four humans to a room. Teenagers, a whole class of them, on a trip. Their presence made waves … mostly sound waves.
Oscar had tried to check all of the new faces for a familiar one, just in case. They were all the right age, but they confirmed his doubts.
Dean wouldn’t have come with a group like this anyway.
It was far from a total loss, though. Human teenagers, left mostly to their own devices, ate a lot of food. They didn’t clean up after themselves as much, either.
Oscar would never dream of venturing near the room where most of them had gone, calling it a “party room.” One closer to home was promising enough for him. Oscar instead staked out a room with four girls that had decided to watch TV and gab the evening away. He didn’t follow most of what they said, but he noticed every time they dropped some of their food. Several crumbs and even an entire potato chip lay just under the shadow of the beds, willfully ignored by the humans piled on top of the blankets.
Waiting in the room would work well. As soon as they were all asleep, Oscar could make his move. After watching each crumb fall, he wouldn’t even need to search, and he could grab all the food on his way back into the walls.
The risk of being caught was always there. Oscar huddled even smaller as he imagined one of those humans kneeling down and seeing him. With four of them, it’d be easy to herd him into a corner and catch him.
They might not be nice like Dean. In fact, it was very unlikely. Dean had been a rare human indeed, with his tiny brother Sam helping him realize that smaller folk were people. Not animals or pets or toys.
These girls might not be mean to Oscar, either. He’d figured out that a lot of humans liked small, cute things. Oscar was a tiny, ten-year-old boy. He would probably become a favorite living doll, or a pet that they loved to coo and make faces at through the bars of a cage. He drifted into thoughts of how well he might be fed in that scenario, the only light in such a bleak imagined existence.
Even for all the food he could ever want, Oscar wouldn’t want a cage.
He waited for a long time in that room. His stomach pined for the food within view. And still he waited. Oscar was very used to waiting. His patience kept him huddled safely out of sight of the humans. More crumbs fell from above. The TV droned on.
When the girls finally settled into their beds and switched off the lamps, Oscar was rubbing his eyes sleepily. He waited at least thirty minutes more before moving. He had to be sure they were all asleep.
Then, he was off.
Oscar collected every last scrap. The full potato chip he tucked under his arm, it was so big. His bag actually filled up. As he scurried back to his entrance into the walls with that reassuring weight bouncing along to the rhythm of his run, his heart lifted just a little. It was probably enough food to last him several days, if not a full week.
With a life like Oscar’s, every little silver lining counted.
When he brought everything home, after not once being noticed by the humans, Oscar enjoyed himself organizing the food on his pantry shelves. He still wasn’t tall enough to reach the highest ones, but the lower shelves he could fill with crumbs and the stacked shards of the potato chip.
Once everything was put away, he picked up the piece of chip that he’d set aside for his meal for the day. His stomach thanked him profusely as he wolfed down the salty, starchy snack. His brown eyes even fluttered closed for a second. He didn’t let any of the food go to waste. The oil and salt it left on his fingers was licked clean and then Oscar went about getting ready for bed.
He washed his hands and his face from his bottle cap of water. He made sure his door was closed tightly against any bugs, and made sure no bugs had already snuck in. He peeked into his pantry one more time, to reassure himself that everything was still there.
It was, and he smiled faintly. “Good,” he breathed.
Finally, Oscar crept into the partitioned off bedroom where his nest of blankets waited invitingly. He pretended they were proud of him for doing such a good job getting supplies that night, and snuggled up under the whole pile to keep warm.
“Goodnight,” he said to the empty home. He pretended that, wherever they were, his friends heard him.
I’m so glad you like it! :3 I honestly couldn’t get it out of my mind and just found myself writing at the most random times at work. Little Dean must be heard. I think I’m going through withdrawal from BL right now. They are sneaking their way into everything.
It’s been over a year since Brothers Apart began to post online, and how far it’s come. There are eight complete stories, a slew of prompts, fanart and commissioned arts alike, and an entire tumblr dedicated to the world of four-inch Sam. Remember, it wouldn’t be here without all the support I get, between the comments, questions, reviews and just plain interest in the story, there would be no reason for me to write! Keep the love coming and I’ll keep the stories coming
For the surprise, I’m pleased to present my short story, Out of the Frying Pan. At first glance it may seen completely unrelated, but you will be seeing these three characters again in the future of Brothers apart. Specifically, season three. The short story actually occurs during the end of The Schism of Fire and Water. Now you know what Garen, Bardolph and Xander are dealing with even as Sam is ending the threat of the fire sprites.
If anyone’s interested, take a look back at where it all began: Brothers Apart
And of course, take a look towards where the story will be heading when we reach the season three story, Brothers Apart: Captives!