Popcorn and No Monsters

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All in all, it was looking to be a typical day. The Knight’s Inn only had a few occupied rooms, and the cleaning crew was already done with their rounds for the day. Oscar had walked a long way to check in the office for supplies and listen for any concerning gossip. He’d waited near the ceiling vent, like always, waiting for any signs that he or the other smaller residents of the motel might be in danger. Pest control or remodeling could risk exposure for all of them.

Nothing. All he heard was something about the part-timer’s weekend plans. Fridays always excited the humans, he’d noticed.

The most impact a Friday had on Oscar was more humans in the motel. Weekend getaways were fairly common, and though they were often loud about it, at least the humans brought snacks. Snacks left crumbs and the guests usually didn’t care, a fact of life upon which Oscar could stake his entire livelihood. Routine was a lot more comforting than risk.

Not that Oscar was a stranger to adventure. In fact, he’d probably seen more than most of his kind, just by knowing a pair of brothers that drew trouble after them. Or were drawn to to the trouble. Oscar never could work out which. All he knew was that Sam and Dean Winchester were the oddest brothers he’d ever heard about, for many reasons.

Odd or not, it worked well for him in the end. Much better than he’d ever have imagined that first time he met them. Cornered by Sam, who stood much taller and broader, and then grabbed by the giant Dean, Oscar thought he might be done for. Instead, he still had a stash of granola left over from a gift they’d left him that first time, as well as even more food from their last visit.

If he never saw a demon in his life ever again, it’d be too soon. That time, he’d gone along with them to fight a monster. Despite his better judgement, Oscar had even helped with the battle.

At least his reckless dash out into the middle of the floor had worked. Heart-pounding fear like the thought of putting himself close to a pair of fighting giants sent a shiver through him as he traversed the perfectly safe walls of the motel. Sam and Dean were crazy for wanting to deal with stuff like that all the time. It was the only explanation.

He rounded a corner in the dark, the cloth wraps on his feet silent on the layers of dust there. Oscar was well suited to life in the walls. He’d watched and learned how mice placed their steps, over years and years of observation. Staying hidden was a specialty of his that suited him well.

At only three and a quarter inches tall, with a skinny frame, Oscar wasn’t much of a fighter. Sam had grown to a full four inches, and he was broad. Oscar had to tilt his head back to look up at his odd friend. The one who was small like him, but whose brother was a towering (and ornery) human.

Thinking of the brothers, Oscar crept right past the turn that would lead him to his tiny little home within the walls. A few feet further in the dusty dark, he found what he was looking for in the side of one of the air conditioning shafts. A loose piece of metal shifted aside without even a squeak, and Oscar wriggled through the small opening. He was in the air ducts in no time, planning to visit the motel room closest to his home.

That was where he’d met his odd friends. He decided to peek into one last room for the day before tucking himself into his cozy home for another night of chores and curling up under his nest of blankets.

Oscar reached the vent leading into that room, and paused. There was a bag up on one of the beds, visible from his low angle in the vent. He stared at it and tried to tell himself it wasn’t familiar, but it was.

Oscar was almost positive he’d seen that bag before. Climbed up its side to look for snacks, only to find weapons and enough salt to fill his home several times over.

No, he thought incredulously, inching closer to the opening of the vent. The slats were narrow, but more than wide enough for him to fit through if he so chose. Oscar watched the room, listened for signs.

Water ran in the bathroom, with that familiar hiss of what would be a catastrophic storm to him. He sidled along the vent to take in more angles of the room. A pair of huge, sturdy boots sat discarded at the end of one of the beds, covered in the dirt and scuffs that only years of wearing them around would provide.

Between the two beds, the nightstand stood slightly crooked. Whenever the maid had vacuumed last, she must have bumped it off center. Oscar saw a book stacked on the low shelf underneath it, and could swear there was some kind of faded symbol embossed on the binding. It was an old book, and it wasn’t the bible that every room kept.

Oscar leaned forward, his face just a hair’s breadth from the metal slats of the vent, and that’s when he spotted it. A line of salt, neatly and deliberately poured, lined the carpet just outside his entrance to the room.

He could only think of one human who would think to line his door with salt.

No sooner had Oscar come to the realization than a faucet squeaked in protest behind a closed door. The running water stopped, and then there came tremors in the floor that reached all the way to Oscar’s cloth wrapped feet where he huddled in the air duct. His instincts prompted him to back away from the opening, no matter who he suspected would come out of the bathroom in short order.

He shuffled backwards until the striped lighting that leaked into the vent from the room no longer touched him. He was in the dark, watching the openings with bated breath. A hunch was never a good reason to abandon caution.

Oscar almost surprised himself with how hopeful he was, despite his instincts warning him against it. Letting his hopes build up was a dangerous path to travel, he knew well.

Then again, other than the mice, those two were his only friends in a world far more vast than he could even fathom. The realization hadn’t come easy, but it was one of the few thoughts Oscar could cling to when he came home empty handed or when the motel walls grew extra cold at night. He had friends out there.

He flinched out of his thoughts when the tall bathroom door swung open, the knob turning with a force that he’d never be able to exert by himself. The latch clattered open and the hinges wailed, and then the ground vibrated with heavy footsteps of a human. Oscar watched the vent across from himself intently.

“Whataya think, Sammy, gonna go lookin’ for him?” a gruff voice rumbled somewhere far overhead, on the other side of the wall that gave Oscar his safety. A pair of socked feet with the cuffs of worn but clean jeans crumpling over them shuffled into view, but Oscar paid no mind to the size or the way they shook the world with every step.

He knew that voice. He knew that nickname. There was no doubt about it. His friends were back in the Knight’s Inn, and they were staying in the very same room in which they’d first met him.

The steps continued past the vent and out of sight once more, and Oscar inched his way back towards the opening. The light reaching in towards him almost beckoned him out of the dark walls, and he only stopped when he reached the metal slats once more. He didn’t hear any reply to Dean’s query, but when he leaned forward to peek out, the tall human was standing near the table.

That had to be where Sam was. Oscar leaned further out, finally crossing that threshold into the room with his small head and shoulders easily fitting between the vent openings.

Dean’s next reply was as clear as a bell for Oscar to hear. “We can always check out that vent he uses. Maybe you’ll find his way around.”

One of those huge hands hanging at Dean’s side lowered to the table, Oscar assumed. From his low vantage point, he could only really see Dean from the waist up around the dresser along the wall. When the human turned, Oscar jolted and leaned back from the vent.

Friend or not, he couldn’t help but be startled when someone so much larger than him moved. It was automatic, just as much as if something burned him. He couldn’t stop it.

More footsteps shook the floor, and Oscar sighed. A faint smile overtook his face. His heart warmed with the thought that they’d not only come back, but they seemed to want to find him.

He waited until Dean was only a few steps away, before stepping up onto the base of the vent. With one of the metal slats as support, Oscar leaned out to peek up at the approaching human. It went against every instinct he had to reveal himself, but he quieted the voice in his head demanding he hide. This human wouldn’t hurt him.

He was big, even for a human. Dean walked with his usual swagger, though without his boots, and with only a black tee and no leather jacket covering it, it wasn’t so exaggerated. The same casual spike styled his hair, and he held one hand in front of his chest like a platform. Oscar couldn’t see Sam from where he waited, but he knew he was there, taking a chance for a quick lift to the vent.

Oscar shifted forward so he was more inside the room than out of it, a thick metal strut at his back. Green eyes, so high above, locked onto the tiny movement immediately. Oscar froze, but a grin broke over Dean’s familiar face.

“Oz!” he greeted, his gruff voice rumbling through the room. Even the old nickname was welcome, not that Oscar would ever admit it.

He waved a small hand while Dean took the last step to close the distance between them, and then watched as the colossal man knelt down. Sam was leaning forward with a grin of his own, hands braced against Dean’s thumb. “Oscar, we didn’t expect to see you this quick!” he called down with a wave.

“Y-you have lucky timing, I guess,” Oscar called back, sheepish but pleased to see them. He was so glad to see them that he almost didn’t recognize the feeling. He hardly ever had a reason to use his voice, except for his occasional mutterings to himself in the safety of his home.

He stepped down from the vent, trying to avoid the salt piled there. One of his small feet planted right in the white crystals anyway, and Oscar stumbled on the carpet, scattering the salt among the worn fibers.

He didn’t stumble more than two steps before something collided with his legs. Oscar’s feet swept out from underneath him and he let out a surprised squeak, tumbling over. The surface beneath him was familiar, with radiant heat and a steady pulse. Oscar curled up into a tiny ball until he came to a stop in the middle of Dean’s palm.

Laughter rumbled around him and a breeze tousled his hair as Dean’s hand lifted away from the floor. Humans were fast.

Dean!” Sam groaned, and this time his voice was much closer. Oscar all but popped out of his curled up position to see that Dean had scooped him up and now held his hands cupped together. Sam sat no more than two inches away. Oscar remembered his squeak of surprise and his reactive curl, and his cheeks turned pink.

Leave it to Dean to grab him up and embarrass him. It took no effort at all.

He pushed himself up so he sat on his knees opposite Sam and released a huff of a sigh. “Hi, Sam,” he said, offering a faint smile. Then, he looked straight up, craning his neck back, and waved at the face grinning down at the pair of them. Dean knew exactly what he’d accomplished with his quick move, and he looked proud of it. “Hi, Dean.”

“Hey, Oz,” Dean said back. Now that Oscar sat on his hand, so close to the source of that voice, even a mutter was enough to shake his tiny frame. A thumb bigger than his body curled towards him and nudged his shoulder. “Sorry to startle ya. Looked like the salt caught you off guard.”

Oscar batted his tiny hand at the thumb, briefly marveling that he had come to know a human well enough to expect that to work. The thumb retreated, through no strength of his own, and he finally allowed himself a real smile. “It’s always something with you two,” he shot back.

“It’s good to see you, Oscar,” Sam said, clapping one of his hands on Oscar’s shoulder. It was a strange mimic of Dean’s own gesture, both brothers mirroring each other without even thinking about it. Oscar used to be skeptical that they were related, but every time he saw them they did more to prove it.

“Yeah … Uh, right,” Oscar said, shaking his head and glancing between the two of them. “What, uh. Is there a monster or something?”

Dean shook his head. “Nope, no monsters,” he said, keeping his voice down now that he had both of them in hand. Oscar had never seen a human do something like that before he met Dean.

“We’ve been looking around for a case,” Sam cut in, shrugging. “But we didn’t find anything. We were only an hour or two away, so we thought we’d come and check in. See how you’re doing.”

“You still have enough food stashed away?” Dean asked, and Oscar looked back and forth between the brothers with wide eyes. Dean had an expectant look, and Oscar nodded emphatically.

“You just came to visit me?” he finally asked. Before the question even died off, he squeaked and clutched at his cloth bag in surprise when they rose higher into the air. The faintest grunt of effort out of the chest nearby and the slight breeze came with Dean’s simple motion of standing up. There was a lot of him to go around, and they were very high up once he was at his full height.

Sam smiled, and dimples formed in his cheeks. “Yeah, Oscar. Of course we came to visit you.”

“Can’t leave our honorary hunting buddy on his own too long, right?” Dean chimed in.

Oscar’s cheeks turned pink again, warmth flooding his face. He shrugged lamely and shook his head. “I’m not really a hunter, you know,” he said. “I just helped that one time.”

“You helped us out with both cases, Oz,” Dean said dismissively. With that apparently decided, he turned away from the vent in the wall, and his strides carried Oscar and Sam farther in seconds than they could travel in minutes. His footsteps crossed over the worn carpet between the beds, following a path many humans had taken in the motel’s lifetime.

“Even if you didn’t go along for that first one, we couldn’t have gotten it figured out without you.” Sam was earnest, and he raised his eyebrows at Oscar as if daring him to argue further.

Oscar didn’t rise to the challenge. In fact, his shoulders bunched up when the hands beneath them lowered down, a gentle drop until they bridged to the nightstand. “Okay, fine,” he conceded. “I helped with two cases. B-but that still doesn’t make me a hunter. Right?”

Above, Dean smirked while the two of them stood on his hands. Oscar wobbled on the uneven terrain of skin and muscle, and Sam had to catch his arm before he tripped and tumbled right off of the unfamiliar surface. Thankfully, Dean waited to make any further comments until Sam had helped them both navigate down to the solid top of the nightstand. Oscar’s steps were timid, but more sure once he found himself on a surface without a pulse.

How Sam had ever gotten used to that, he’d never guess.

“If you say so, Oz,” Dean finally said, nudging at both of them with a knuckle before his hands retreated at last. He didn’t need to worry about them being stranded on the nightstand; Sam had his fishhook for climbing, and Oscar wouldn’t have packed that bag of his without his trusty safety pin.

“But I hope you’ll still hang out with a couple hunters anyway,” Dean finished with a grin.

Oscar didn’t even bother trying to bat Dean’s hand away. It was gone too fast, and he was too surprised by the words. “Well, yeah, of course!” he replied, flustered. “I-I can stay out here.” His chores for the day were completely forgotten in the wake of all the surprises.

His friends had come back. They wanted to visit him, and they wanted to spend time with him. With Oscar, a little guy who did his best to stay in the background and be as unremarkable as he could.

“Great,” Sam said, with a smile that suggested he’d predicted the reaction long ago. “We could probably all use a chance to sit back and relax.” He gestured towards a long plastic device lined with worn buttons resting near them on the nightstand. “We can find something to watch on TV, Dean can fetch some snacks from the vending machine-”

“Thanks for volunteering me, pint-size, got any quarters?” Dean cut in, his voice dry but his green eyes lined with a smile. Before Sam could shoo him away or duck, a hand swept in and a fingertip ruffled his hair, messing up the floppy bangs.

Oscar smiled faintly, and then jolted when the hand swept his way, too. He held up his hands in surprise, but before he knew it the same fingertip ruffled up his messy poof of brown hair, too. He shot an indignant frown up at Dean, a quieter option than the short curse Sam had opted for. They both brushed at their heads to get rid of the strange, phantom feeling of a huge fingertip.

Dean winked. “Didn’t want you feeling left out, Oz,” he said cheekily. Then, “Got any requests from the vending machine?”

Oscar paused, his eyes wide again. His mind summoned up memories of pizza, reheated in a microwave and almost assaulting his senses with flavor. A burger and fries, All much more food than he could ever eat by himself before it went bad, that Dean let him take a share of before even touching it. A slice of pie, smelling sweet and rich, a worthy reward after a successful hunt.

Oscar had never asked for those things. They were offered freely by the brothers, and some of his favorite memories were of filling up on the heartiest meals he’d ever had in his life.

Faced with a question of what he wanted, Oscar didn’t have any idea how to answer. He opened his mouth, and then closed it again. His hands clasped nervously in front of himself, and he glanced to Sam.

“Uh. I don’t really … I’ve never, um…” his meek voice trailed off.

Dean, if he noticed the hesitation, didn’t point it out. He shrugged instead. “That’s okay, Oz. I had my eye on one of the options in there earlier. Ever had popcorn?”

Oscar paused to think back. He had smelled popcorn many times before. The buttery aroma filled the vents whenever someone made it, but he didn’t recall ever finding a dropped piece in the rooms before.

“No. But I’m ready to try it.”
( An AU of the "Brothers Apart" AU by nightmares06  )

Oscar is a lot braver than he looks. He's helped Sam and Dean Winchester, a pair of hunters that draw trouble like a magnet, on two of their cases fighting against the things that go bump in the night. Despite this, he doesn't think he's a very remarkable little guy. It comes as a big surprise when his friends turn up back at his motel without a case drawing them there.

Another quick installment of Oscar! nightmares06 is celebrating 2 years of Brothers Apart this weekend, and as a gift I wanted to write her a little story to mark the occasion. I thought some cutes with the bros and Oscar would be a good option, and I hope it makes you all smile.

Check here for the other stories in my AU of an AU
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Glkthread's avatar
Movie nights are best nights. Have fun, Oscar!