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.
Sam and Dean Winchester have struck up a deal with Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. The brothers will offer their help solving cases, in return for living in the flat and sharing in the food John brings home.
This all sounds well and good, until it’s the Winchesters that end up needing Sherlock’s services for his next case…
And now, a special sneak peek of the story that begins January 2nd, 2019!
Dean gestured for Sherlock to give him a hand. “Well, what are we waiting for, then?”
Sherlock smirked and proffered a hand for Dean, smoothly ferrying the elder Winchester to his shoulder. With Dean settled, Sherlock turned to face the room, not entirely sure of what to expect. And for once, the uncertainty wasn’t irritating, but exciting.
“Where to, Winchester?” he queried, awaiting Dean’s instruction.
Dean was silent for a long moment. He very rarely tried to actively use the ability. Mostly it just happened. They needed food, and he would suddenly just know where to go. Questioning it when their lives depended on the ability seemed like looking a gift horse in the mouth.
As he focused, the prickles on the back of his neck began to grow more prominent. His surroundings dropped away. He no longer noticed the rhythmic cadence of a pulse that throbbed through Sherlock’s neck next to him, and the steady sound of breathing, air rushing in and out of Sherlock’s lungs, was gone. It was like he was standing next to Sam once more, trying to hurriedly clear his mind and listen to Sam’s constant litany of ‘advice’ for how to do it.
With focus came clarity, and Dean found himself pointing before he realized his hand was moving.
Psychic freak slipped into his mind and he angrily crushed the thought as he told Sherlock, “That way.”
Sherlock almost didn’t notice the tiny hand, but he frowned when he tracked its path with his eyes. Dean was pointing at the door out of the flat.
The detective’s steps were halting as he approached the door, confused about what Dean was supposed to be leading him to. At his right, John entered the main room from the kitchen, a biscuit in one hand and the morning paper in the other. John paused as he noticed Sherlock’s odd movements, eyeing his flatmate as he sank into his armchair.
Sherlock slowly wrapped his hand around the doorknob, wishing he could look at Dean questioningly.
Dean didn’t notice the odd looks John was shooting at the strange pair from his armchair, unknowingly placed beside the nook in the walls the brothers had chosen for their home. If Dean spared a thought for where it was placed, he imagined it was just about at John’s eye level while sitting.
But right now, his thoughts were all tied up with the feeling on the back of his neck. After years of stubbornly ignoring the ones that were out of reach, it seemed that giving it his full attention had brought it flooding around him, more important than anything else. He needed it, and this was his chance to finally see what, and where, the thing was that was pulling at him in London.
When Sherlock didn’t open the door, Dean felt his impatience come to the fore. “Well?” he burst out. “We’re doing this, right? Or was this just some test run?”
Struck by a thought, John carefully reached a hand toward the brothers, extending a finger to Dean with an amiable look in his eye. “Shake on it?”
Dean recoiled from the hand, his eyes darting from the extended finger up to John’s expression to read his intent. Spotting nothing but honesty in the planes of John’s face, he hesitantly reached forward.
As his hand approached the waiting finger, Dean’s much smaller fingers brushed against the thick skin and flinched. Reaching forward again, Dean gripped John’s fingertip, finding his entire hand inadequate to cover the entire surface. Using that same determination, Dean reached out with his second hand as well, clasping the rest of John’s fingertip and a bit of his nail, the rigid surface ungiving between Dean’s hands as he shook them up once, then down.
He finally noticed that Sam was tugging at his sleeve. The younger boy was looking up at Dean, his expressive eyes full of worry. “What?” Dean said, his tone sharp with the lingering exhaustion from the night before combined with the stress of waking up with Sam and John both missing from the bedroom.
“There’s bacon,” Sam said simply, pulling Dean’s sleeve in the direction of the food. “John made it. It’s good!” He tugged harder at Dean’s arm. “Please?”
Stan absolutely is! He’s the most polite Brit, and he’ll always offer a cuppa!
But I think this time, calling Dean such a formal name might be somewhat of an inside joke between them, considering how they first met.
“Mr. Holmes,” the man greeted. Sherlock hummed to himself, noting the distinct lack of an Irish dialect.
The man’s brow shot up when he caught sight of the tiny figure contrasting the deep blue folds of Sherlock’s scarf.
“And… Mr. Winchester?” he guessed at length.
Dean straightened in place, letting the scarf fall down from his shoulders so more of him could be seen. “Mister Winchester is my dad,” he corrected, his voice level and even to avoid betraying any nerves. “You can call me Dean.”
“You go on and eat up now, alright? I’ll fetch you another water and be right back. Sound good?”
Sam nodded numbly, mechanically reaching for another bit of egg. There wasn’t much in him to protest, and he didn’t much want to. His energy was sapped from the outburst of emotion, leaving him to eat the food, more tasteless now that he felt drained. He ate for energy and nutrition instead of enjoyment.
“Do you have a napkin?” Sam asked, momentarily breaking out of his reverie. “It’ll be like a picnic blanket I can wipe my hands with.”
John perked up and his eyes darted back to Sam as the boy spoke up. His suggestion had been considered in passing as John worked, but it was admittedly a little endearing to have it described like a picnic blanket.