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The Study of the Four 6

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Dean pulled himself back into the small room he shared with Sam with a sigh, glad to see his brother was out cold. After spending so many years growing up together, he was more than able to tell if Sam was faking it. They’d lived on their own for a few years now, and spent more time together than with anyone else. They were close. They had to be to be such a good team.

The ice was still melting, and Dean didn’t want his trip to be in vain. He nudged Sam’s shoulder, rolling him over to uncurl his arms.

Sam’s eyes opened and he blinked blearily at Dean. “Wha’s goin’ on?” he asked with a tired yawn, then winced as he stretched.

That wince reinforced that Dean had made the right call. He couldn’t sit around and let his brother suffer, not when there was a source of help that was willing to help, something completely novel for them since shrinking down. No other humans had ever done for them what John had.

“Got you something for the pain,” Dean whispered, keeping his voice low since John remained sitting nearby. After Sherlock caught them the day before and John spotted Dean today, he was starting to wonder if they’d ever been as good at hiding as they thought, or if it was sheer overconfidence and hubris. A number of close calls ran through his mind, all the times they were convinced they'd be caught but weren't.

When the ice touched against Sam’s chest, he recoiled from the cold, wet paper towel. “You shouldn’ta done that,” he mumbled, still half-asleep. “We gotta keep outta sight. That’s what you told me.”

“I’m not sitting around and watching you suffer,” Dean said forcefully as he pressed Sam’s arms against the ice so it was held to his chest. “Sherlock was gone. John offered to help, I just took him up on that.”

“Jerk,” Sam mumbled. “Makin’ big decisions without me.”

“Bitch,” Dean said out of reflex, but there was no heat in the word. “Get some rest so you can do a better job scolding me later.”

“Whatever,” Sam said. “We’re talking about this, y’know.”

Dean tossed one of the fabric scraps from his nest over Sam, covering up his younger brother. “Just try it, Sasquatch.” He glanced at the wall of their home, the one closest to where John was sitting that very moment. Dean was able to hear the armchair creak as the human shifted position. It was lucky they’d found a human that cared.

They might still be in jars if they hadn’t.



Sherlock returned hours later, just as John was about to fall asleep sitting in his armchair.

"Hey," John mumbled as the detective hung up his long wool coat and scarf behind the door. "How'd everything go? Figure out the face-changing cadaver?"

Sharp blue eyes swept across the room, settling on the comforter lazily tossed onto the couch. Sherlock shot John an exasperated look. "Really?"

John sighed, rubbing his eyes and unconsciously angling himself to act as a barrier between Sherlock and the inset bookshelf behind him. "Well, you trapped them once, Sherlock. How am I supposed to know you won't try it again, eh?"

Sherlock frowned and tilted his head at John, as though confused by his concern. "Then you can relax. I won't," he replied, heading toward the kitchen.

"Can you promise me that?"

John's question stopped Sherlock in his tracks just as he was passing by the doctor's armchair. With his focus laser-set on his friend, the detective gave a clear and firm answer. "Yes."

John nodded, accepting Sherlock's promise. "I'm still staying the night."

"Fine," Sherlock conceded, finally able to continue into the kitchen.

"So how was it done?" John called over his shoulder, chancing a glance at the shelf where he'd last seen Dean. His eyes quickly searched for anything, even the tiniest bit of evidence of the small man's presence. His heart fluttered a little when he noticed a miniscule drop of water on the wood, a bit of condensation left behind from the ice pack sitting there. As discretely as possible, John wiped the drop away with the edge of his sleeve. "Some mad body-snatcher, I'd reckon?" he added to Sherlock, keeping up his unassuming pretense.

John barely paid attention to Sherlock's rapid-fire ramble about every single thing he observed and uncovered that night. It really seemed like quite the adventure, but John was simply too exhausted to keep focus. Finally, after Sherlock had retreated into his own den, John settled down on the couch for the night.

For whatever reason, it felt weird to just fall asleep right away, now that he was alone in the room, in the dark. I can last a few more minutes, he told himself, pulling his computer onto his lap and turning it on. He opened up a side-note and jotted down the few details he could remember of Sherlock's escapade, assuming he could just ask the detective for more details in the morning. The last thing he did before succumbing to his fatigue was title the document The Chameleon Cadaver.



Sam woke early the next morning, blinking in the hazy darkness that permeated the home he and Dean shared.

He couldn’t quite remember everything from the day before, but he had a feeling that was more because he’d slept most of it away than because he’d actually forgotten anything. The ache in his chest was dulled as he sat up, pushing the soggy fabric he was lying on away and tugging a dry cloth out from under Dean’s nest next to him.

He had plenty, anyway. Sam could barely even see Dean from where he was curled up in the corner of their room.

After warming up a bit in the dry fabric, he begrudgingly decided that it was time to get up for the day. Time was wasting, and he didn’t hear any movement from the humans in the room beyond. It would be best to see if he could slip into the kitchen to scout out anymore food. Biscuits just didn’t hold up after days of eating them, and Sam was always hopeful there would be leftover bacon or sausage, or any meat, really. It would cheer them both to have a change in their diet. Sam wouldn’t even mind some fresher foods, like lettuce or tomato, but he doubted he’d find that left out during breakfast.

Maybe some fruit.

All these hopeful musings filled his mind as he wandered around, getting ready for the day. The thimble of water they kept around was half empty, so Dean would have to fill it. Normally Sam might, being the better climber, but he doubted his ribs would agree, and there was no chance Dean would let him exert himself.

Getting to the kitchen didn’t require any climbing, Sam reasoned as he adjusted the satchel over his shoulder and double-checked the hook hanging out of it. The metal of the barbs winked at him. It wouldn’t be much of a workout to just check. They might even get some fresh food out of the deal. He just couldn’t stand sitting around anymore, and he knew if Dean woke up that’s all he’d end up doing while Dean went out to find food.

So he left while Dean was asleep.



A faint groan escaped John as the knot in his back dragged him from sleep. He ran a heavy hand down his face, prying his eyes open to glance at his watch with a sigh. It was much too early for him to be awake after the late one he'd had.

His protesting stomach convinced him to sit up and stretch himself awake. He hadn't eaten much of anything the night before, and with fresh groceries in the fridge and pantry, John was definitely in the mood for a proper breakfast.

He meandered into the kitchen, carefully retrieving a clean, moderately-sized pan from the cupboard. Apparently it was still early enough for even Sherlock Holmes to be asleep, and that was a delicate solace that John was not eager to break. Putting the pan on the stove, he checked out the fridge.

There was a small package of bacon, about three strips' worth that were about to go bad. They would pair well with the eggs John purchased and miraculously managed to not break the other day. He cradled these items in one arm and, on a whim, grabbed a clementine from the mesh bag sitting on the top shelf before closing the fridge door.

It wasn't exactly a full English, but it would do.

John started up the heat on the stove, then went to turn on the electric kettle. That was when he noticed the saucer and froze. A small plate had been set out in the middle of the counter, one edge dotted with tiny scraps of food. John leaned over to find a raisin, a bit of cracker, a dollop of mustard, a few pieces of wheat cereal, and a raw slice of mushroom. He sighed, realizing that this was Sherlock's idea of an experiment.

After double-checking for traps, John decided there really was no harm in it, and decided to concentrate on how best to fry the eggs and bacon as quietly as possible.

While he was working on starting up his breakfast, someone else was watching him. This wasn’t the first time Sam was caught out in the open when he was out gathering supplies, but it was the first time Dean didn’t know where he was.

If Sherlock was around, and not John, he likely would have been much more concerned. Even the memory of what Sherlock had done, placing them in jars, made his breathing quicken. It brought back the impression from when he was just over ten years old, shoved in an old bird’s cage and locked in with his older brother. They’d been trapped long enough to get shipped overseas to their buyer, but had made good on their escape as the package was being delivered. It seemed that humans underestimated people who were too small to open a door. Dean nabbing a paperclip that was as tall as they were when stretched out had been the turning point.

There were enough appliances for Sam to hide behind when he felt John’s footsteps rumble through the ground, and now he watched the human intently. It was a long time since Sam or Dean had actually had a breakfast like that, and watching it come together was mesmerizing.

Other matters, such as what to do about the saucer left on the counter, tugged at his attention the entire time.

The saucer just screamed trap to Sam, and there was no doubt in his mind Dean would agree. No one left food out like that just because. The look on John’s face confirmed he hadn’t known about it, which only left the one culprit, and Sam wasn’t quite sure what to do with the entire situation.

Sam was hesitant to go out in the open, but still. The saucer nagged at him. Plus Dean had talked to John on his own the night before. The man seemed like a good guy, and Sam already felt a bit of trust for the human.

He didn’t move from where he was hiding, but he did blurt out “Is he kidding? Does he really think leaving food out is all it takes to get us to come?” in the hopes of an answer.

John was transferring the cooked bacon and eggs onto a plate when the unexpected, however small, voice startled him. He jumped, the pan clattering against the china in his surprise, but quickly recovered when he reminded himself that he didn't know exactly where the little person was and stiffened.

Was that Sam?

John glanced furtively around the counter, finding no trace of the smaller man. Carefully, he set down the pan and looked back at the plate Sherlock had left out and that Sam had commented on. A scoff rolled out of his throat as Sam's outburst finally sank in.

"I think it's more a matter of seeing which kinds of foods you prefer, and which you avoid," he answered, keeping his voice low. He slowly opened a drawer to retrieve a fork. "I made him promise not to set any traps, though, so this is his version of making an effort."

Sam stepped out into the open once the familiar tingle of attention settled over the back of his neck and there was no danger in it. Instead, John's brow rose with innocent surprise for his casual entrance. Sam watched John’s hand lift up with a fork curled between huge fingers, and knew that fork was twice as long and heavier than he was. Though the human could be startling and fast, as his fumble with the pan indicated, he continued to be warm and welcoming, despite the fact that they were so small.

The saucer was only a few inches from Sam, but he made no move to go after the food. His stomach grumbled at him for this, and his mouth was already watering from the smell of fresh bacon in the air. Sam gave no outward indication of his discomfort. They lived so close to the kitchen that most of the aromas from cooking eventually found their way into the small home, so he was used to it.

“I guess that’s a little better,” Sam said dubiously as he looked over the offerings. “We’re not pets. Or some animals.” He wondered what Dean would think of the new development. Knowing his brother, he had a feeling Dean’s reaction would be nothing good.

John hadn't expected to see the younger of the brothers so soon after their first encounter, considering all he'd been through. It was encouraging to see that he felt well enough to make the journey from… wherever he and Dean lived.

"I know it's hard to believe, but he does know that," he assured, carrying his own plate to the table.

Before he sat down, a thought struck him and he turned back to Sam. "Do you want any?" he offered, indicating the food. "I reckon you don't get a lot of protein most days. Or anything warm."

“Oh! Um…” Sam was flustered by the question, trying to come up with an answer. His ears heated up and he knew they were turning red. It was easier to think about talking to someone and interacting like this than to actually do it.

Once the curse hit, Sam and Dean really only had each other to rely on. There were few people their size around, and the family that took them in was kind, if slightly baffled by the Americans that appeared out of nowhere in their city. This meant Sam had little interaction with others, often heavily relying on Dean to know how to react when they talked to anyone else.

And of course, talking to a human was another barrier completely.

“I--” Sam took a step back. “I don’t want to take your food you spent all that time cooking. I mean, we took the biscuits but we didn’t really have a choice, we were running low on supplies and figured after a successful case we might be able to get away with it and Dean insisted--”

"Sam," John interrupted, regarding the kid with a kind, if somewhat amused grin. He pulled a chair out from the table, angled it sideways to Sam and sat, hoping the less towering angle might help the poor little guy relax.

"It's really no trouble. I don't mind sharing," he went on, setting the plate in his lap for the moment. He wouldn't touch it until Sam made his decision.

“But…” Sam couldn’t deny that his eyes drifted to the plate every time he tore them away. He didn’t know how to explain his problem, and his stomach implored him to skip the explanations and take the damn food.

“We’re not supposed to accept food from anyone,” Sam said, giving a valiant effort to tell John why he couldn’t just say yes. He swallowed thickly, wondering if he was ruining his one chance to have food that wasn’t snitched from the cupboards or days old. “I didn’t do anything to earn it, and we don’t have anything we can give you in return.”

John chewed his lip while Sam talked himself in circles. To an extent, he could understand why the poor lad was reluctant to accept the offered food. He'd made a point in emphasizing that he and his brother were most certainly not pets.

Where exactly they learned that sentiment in the first place was not a thought John was prepared to have just yet. Not with more pressing matters at hand. As a doctor, John felt it was imperative for Sam and Dean to broaden their diets, which would only benefit their survivability in the long run. At the same time, he needed to make sure they didn't feel like they were just getting handouts from the bigger folk.

"Well," John began after a moment of consideration. "You did help us with all those cases, not just the last one. Consider this a thanks for that. Or, at the very least, the beginnings of an apology for… all your trouble the other day."

“If you say so,” Sam said, still timid and nervous about the idea of just being given food, no matter how good it smelled to him. John smiled to have Sam’s consent, and he immediately used his fork to break off the very ends of two bacon strips and separate an equal portion of scrambled eggs. The meat was cooked well enough to not be too tough on Sam's much smaller teeth, but still have a little bite to it.

He paused when he realized he didn't really have a proper way to serve the tiny meal to Sam. After what Sherlock had pulled with the saucer, he doubted the kid would appreciate another. Apart from that, John was stuck for a moment until he spotted a small pile of clean napkins on the table. He grabbed one and lay it on the counter near Sam, hoping it would do.

Sam stood rooted while John worked. The way John phrased his offer didn’t sound so bad as when Dean talked about it, growling about the times people thought they’d eat out of silver dishes like a dog or bird. Dean had upended those, letting the water soak into the paper towels on the cage bottom.

After his third ‘fit,’ they’d been left with no other food but what was scattered on the ground, forced to eat what they could that night or starve, and after that was when Dean really started working at escape, finally snagging a paper clip that was just within reach. They’d decided the brothers were pets, and vastly underestimated them in turn.

Even with a napkin moved near him and the human cutting smaller portions of food, Sam still felt the need to inform John, “But Dean did most of the work on the cases. He’s good at putting together the little details, and just likes helping people, thanks or not. He always wanted to live up to our father.”

"That's very noble of him," John remarked, impressed by the gesture all over again. Considering the brothers' evident distrust in humans, it was astounding that they still found it in their hearts to help people who didn't even know they were there.

Until now, he supposed.

The mention of their father hadn't escaped John's attention. While he was understandably curious about this little family he and Sherlock had stumbled upon, it was also safe to assume that the reference was not an invitation to pry into Sam's life. He didn't want to scare the kid or make him any more nervous than he already did by simply being much larger.

John leaned forward in his chair to slide Sam's portion carefully from the plate to the napkin, managing to arrange a clean pile of food.

"Sorry about the setup," he murmured, bringing the plate back into his lap. "It was all I could think of." Rubbing his neck awkwardly, he focused on his own breakfast, digging in.

Sam stared down at the food, having a hard time believing his eyes. This was better food than he’d seen in years, and more than he could possibly finish on his own. A slight haze of warmth rose from the eggs. Warm food was completely foreign to Sam and Dean now, a thing of the past. And it was all for him.

“Don’t worry about that,” Sam said shyly. “This is more than enough, and more than I need.” There was no possible way for Sam to finish it all on his own.
CHAPTER 6: Not Pets

Things fall into a bit of a lull after the scare, and both brothers are getting into things on their own without letting the other know-- as per their usual.

John really doesn't want to know where Sam learned his "Not pets" motto

 
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Comments15
anonymous's avatar
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LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
Yay for building even more trust with John! The man really is kind. And I must admit that shy Sammy is super adorable.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
Sam has had such little experience with new people, he can't help but fall into his shy nature, the dear. Him and John are perfect for each other.
LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
They are both super sweet, it cannot be denied. I'm so glad John is making a real effort for them, even if it does mean trying to trick one of the greatest minds in London.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
^^; it's the thought that counts. Sherlock will be very put out if he finds out
LaEscritora's avatar
LaEscritoraHobbyist General Artist
Pouting for days, I'm sure, if not weeks.
Phoenix-FireMage's avatar
Phoenix-FireMageHobbyist General Artist
Aww. This is nice.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
:3 A bit of a breather after all the excitement for everyone to recover
Weeglyfeesh's avatar
WeeglyfeeshHobbyist Writer
It's decided: everyone needs a John in their life. Love

I feel kinda bad for Sherlock, though. He really is trying!
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
They do for sure. Sherlock knew it when he wanted John for a flatmate, and now the brothers are realizing it.

XD Trying... failing... he does what he can.
kopelowitz's avatar
kopelowitzHobbyist Digital Artist
Aw John is the cutest. MUST TAKE IN THE SMOL PATIENTS!
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
He must! He's so sweet with them!
Imperial-Radiance's avatar
Imperial-RadianceHobbyist General Artist
Gosh, I love John. I really do, and I usually push fluff away. What is this magic you two are throwing on me!? XD 
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
There's just something about him, it's hard to resist. I like a mix of fluff and angst, leaning heavier to the angst side when I'm writing (fluff just grows stale if I do it for too long), but then Sam and John come along and they're irresistible together. Magic!
Imperial-Radiance's avatar
Imperial-RadianceHobbyist General Artist
It's so good, and same about literary moods (as if you didn't know that already, lol). You need to have a good doctor in your life, and I'm glad your Winchesters have him.
nightmares06's avatar
nightmares06Hobbyist Writer
Someone to keep Sherlock in line, and can see right through those Winchesters when they insist "I'm fine!"
anonymous's avatar
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