A/N: This is the seventh part of the Brothers Apart series and the end of the first season, if you want to read the rest of the stories, they are found on my page.

Season 1:

Part 1: Brothers Apart
Part 2: The Golden Touch
Part 3: First Interlude
Part 4: Home
Part 5: Shadows and Reflections
Part 6: Second Interlude
Part 7: Taken

Season 2:

Part 8: The Schism of Fire and Water
Part 9: Adventures at Bobby's
Part 10: A Lich of Sense
Part 11: Calling John Bonham
Part 12: Like a Moth to Flame
Part 13: The Ties That Bind
Part 14: Bittersweet Parting
Part 15: Birth of a Nightmare

Season 3:

Part 16: For Science

Related short stories: Out of the Frying Pan

The brothers are working an easy case in Hibbing, Minnesota when they're reminded just how delicate their situation is. The reminder? A cold bucket of water in the face for Dean, and a world of trouble for Sam.

A huge thump from outside the nightstand startled Sam from sleep. He blinked his eyes open to an angry exclamation of "OW! Sonovabitch…"

Curious, Sam slipped out from the covers of his bed. As carefully as he could he padded over to the books to take a look at what was going on in the motel room. He poked his head out, trying to stay as small and unnoticeable as possible in case there was trouble. His eyes widened.

What the hell is Dean DOING…?

Sam frowned. The giant hunter was flat on his back with a few tools by his side, trying to prop up a flashlight so he could see the underside of the bed he was stretched out under. His legs and waist were the only parts of his body sticking out all way down at the end. From the general gist of things, so far all he'd managed to do was drop the flashlight on his face, bringing a smirk to Sam's face. Dean rubbed his head, grumbling to himself. Giving up on the flashlight, he stuck it between his teeth and started to examine the underside of the bed with long, dexterous fingers.

Even more confused now, Sam wandered slowly over to Dean, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. This was pretty close to the last thing he'd expect to find his brother doing in the morning. Usually if they didn't have a case, Dean would take advantage and sleep in. Or try and find a new case, research curses... pretty much anything but this. Whatever this was. He came up alongside a large screwdriver, nudging it to the side with his foot. Dean hadn't noticed him there yet, as intently focused on the bed as he was. Sam squinted up, trying to figure out what Dean was looking for.

Sam didn't realize his mistake until too late. Letting out a cry of victory, Dean went to grab the screwdriver lying on the floor. Not noticing that his tiny brother was standing in the way, his huge fingers unwittingly snatched up Sam instead.

Sam let out a yelp as the floor disappeared from beneath his feet, the world spinning around him. A few disorienting seconds later, he found himself suspended directly over two very large, very surprised green eyes. Shock passed over Dean's face when he realized what he had locked in his fist. The flashlight slipped out of his mouth, sliding off his shoulder. Its beam caught Sam square in the center when it landed.

"Sammy? Where the hell'd you come from?"

Squirming in Dean's overpowering grasp, Sam tried to block his eyes from the bright glare of the flashlight. His heart was still pounding in his chest from how fast he'd been picked up, helpless to stop it. Dean loosened his grip, letting Sam slide down a bit in the hand so he was cupped in a loose fist.

Sam shielded his eyes the second his arm was free, taking a moment to calm his breathing. He squinted down at Dean once he'd recovered. "Well, when you get woken up by your giant brother shouting angrily, you usually want to figure out what's going on."

Guilt covered Dean's face. "Shit, Sam. I didn't mean to wake you…"

Sam shoved at one of the fingers supporting him, aggravated with Dean's constant guilt trips. Dean would go on thinking everything was his fault if you let him. "Stop blaming yourself for everything. I'm a big boy, I can take care of myself."

Dean gave a small smirk at that. "You could've fooled me, pint-size." He ruffled Sam's hair with a careful fingertip.

Sam batted the finger away, annoyed. "You know what I mean." While trying to straighten his messy bangs he arched his eyebrows down at Dean. "I have to admit, I wasn't expecting to find you flat on your back this early in the morning."

Dean wiggled his eyebrows with a grin. "Kinky." Ignoring an aggravated groan from Sam he lowered his brother gently to his chest, setting Sam down next to his amulet. "I was actually just trying to get one of these bad boys out."

Catching his balance on the moving chest, Sam stared up at the underside of the bed stretching over his head. Sam followed Dean's hand with his eyes, scrunching his eyebrows together when he saw what Dean was gesturing at. "A… screw?"

Dean grabbed his screwdriver, almost knocking Sam off balance from the unexpected motion around him. Sam caught himself again as Dean went on. "An iron screw, so you have a bit more defense the next time we run into an angry spirit."

Comprehension dawned on Sam. "Oh." He took a step back, trying to stay out of Dean's way while he wielded the gigantic tool. The huge arm swooped over his head, getting back to work taking apart the bed.

Dean gave him a smirk while he worked. "Hey, the more weapons you have, the better off we both are. And let's face it. The way things are now, I can't exactly make you an iron knife to go with your silver blade." With his free hand he held a finger out to Sam. Just the tip of it was bigger than Sam's entire hand.

With a sad laugh at the comparison, Sam held up his small hand, pressing it against the extended fingertip. His fingers, stretched out as far as possible, barely covered the tip. "Yeah, guess you're right."

Sam's small silver knife was one of a kind, given to him for his birthday before he'd been cursed. Dean had spent months crafting it, taking Bobby and his father's lessons on making his own weapons to heart. It was very lucky it had shrank with Sam, considering how much he'd used it. It had even saved his life a few times. And Dean's.

With Sam so small, Dean would never be able to make him another. As adept as Dean was with his hands, compared to Sam's scale he was nothing but clumsy. And nothing else Sam's size had close to the quality of that small knife.

Dean took his finger back, turning his attention to the bed. Dodging under Dean's arm, Sam scaled down the massive chest, wanting to stay out of his giant brother's way while he was working. Letting go of the shirt once he was close to the ground, he slid down the last few inches, landing with a thump on the carpeted floor next to his brother. Even lying flat on the ground like this, Dean's body stretched over his head.

Sam backed away, keeping an eye on Dean's progress. If the bed fell apart on Dean (which, considering the caliber of motel they normally stayed at, was very likely) he didn't want to be anywhere near the blast zone. Dean was far more durable than Sam. He'd just get bruises if the bed fell apart on him, whereas Sam would get squished.

Leaning against the leg of the second bed, Sam slid down. The thick strands of the carpet provided a soft cushion for him to sit on while he watched his brother work.

It only took Dean another five minutes before he managed to get the screw out with the bed still in once piece. He grinned triumphantly, holding the little screw pinched in his fingers. It was an inch long and would be the perfect size for Sam.

Laying his head flat on the floor, Dean glanced around, searching for Sam. He didn't want to move before he knew where his miniature brother was. Especially after grabbing him by accident not long ago. Dean felt his face heat up when he remembered that. He hadn't even noticed until Sam was right in front of his eyes, staring down at him with equal shock from the massive fist.

Gotta be more careful around him. The little guy isn't exactly durable, asshat. What if you accidentally hurt him there?

He'd never forgive himself.

His eyes landed on Sam, leaning casually back against the second bed. "What do you think?" Dean asked. He stretched his arm out to Sam, screw in hand.

Sam stood up, accepting it from the giant fingers. Once he was holding it they could both see it was as long as his forearm, with the head of the screw as wide as his palm. He gripped the threaded part and gave Dean a confident grin. "This'll work fine." He made a few jabs with it, wielding it like a short sword.

Dean grinned at the absurdity of his brother wielding a screw like a sword, briefly cheered at the sight. On purpose or not, Sam came off as adorable on occasion. The curse of being so small.

Sam ended with a twirl, whipping the screw over his head to show off. It might be silly, but he savored the chance to show off his moves as much as Dean enjoyed watching them. He couldn't exactly duel with Dean, so something like this was his only opportunity to show off.

While Sam was distracted, Dean tried to slide out from under the bed. He didn't get far, unable to maneuver in the cramped area. Sam took a few steps back with a wary eye cocked in Dean's direction the moment he saw his brother moving.

Good, Dean thought. He didn't want Sam near him if the bed came down over his head.

Trying another way, Dean grabbed onto the edge of the bed, using it to pull himself out. It went swimmingly until he heard a low groan come from over his head. Expecting it to all come down on him, Dean scrunched his eyes shut, bracing for impact. Nothing happened. He peeked one eye open with his face still nervously screwed up. The bed was still in one piece. Trying to avoid touching it and tempting fate, he wriggled his way out as fast as possible. Laughter came from where Sam was sitting at his awkward movements.

Finally free, Dean stood up, giving his entire body a good shake and stretch. He gave the bed one last, wary stare. "Let's not use that bed again," he muttered, more to himself than Sam. He started to walk to the bathroom to wash up when his brother's quiet voice stopped him in his tracks.

Dean knelt down so he could hear his brother better. "What's up?" he asked.

"Is there any way I can grab some floss? I have an idea for this." Sam waved the screw over his head.

"Sure," Dean said. He held his hand out next to Sam, patiently waiting for him to climb on. It still tickled when Sam climbed on his hand, but Dean was far more used to it nowadays.

Going to stand up, Dean brought his second hand up so Sam couldn't fall off by accident. The two hands dwarfed the small hunter so much, he almost disappeared in Dean's grasp. A brief pang hit Dean at the sight of his younger brother's complete trust. Deep inside, he knew he'd never be so calm held like that. But for Sam it was normal to be held between two hands far bigger than he was. He wasn't even bothered by it anymore.

Arriving at the bathroom counter, Dean unfolded his hands so Sam could get off. Grabbing the floss, he held it out, curious what his brother had in mind. Wasting no time, Sam got right down to business. He sliced off a length of floss as long as he was tall and sat down on the counter twinning it together.

Dean washed up, getting the grease and dust bunnies off while he watched Sam out of the corner of his eye. Sam was still at work when Dean finished, so he was left there while Dean went through the rest of his normal morning routine. He had his sights set on a case in Hibbing, Minnesota. He hadn't mentioned it to Sam yet, planning on filling him in on the road.

He came back over to Sam, smirking when he saw what Sam had managed with the floss. He'd made a little belt so he could sling the screw over his hip. That way, he wouldn't have to lug it around everywhere when they were on a case.

"Well, what do you think?" Sam asked, showing it off.

"Pretty good," Dean admitted, impressed as always with Sam's ingenuity. He put his hand down next to Sam. "I found us a case a few states over," he said as he lifted Sam up to eye level. "You up for a trip to Minnesota?"

Sam squirmed in his seat, trying to get comfortable. They'd only been on the road for an hour and he just couldn't sit still.

"Dude, what the hell?" Dean grumbled. A hand rose up, scratching the part of his neck right over Sam's head.

Sam batted at the fingers infringing in his personal space. "You try sitting on someone's shoulder for hours on end and be comfortable!" he snipped testily.

Dean lowered his hand, shifting his shoulder under Sam. "Yeah, well try having your brother sitting on your shoulder constantly squirming!"

They both let out world-suffering sighs, Sam slumping back against Dean's neck and Dean slumping down in the front seat of the Impala.

Sam tried to distract himself from the desire to squirm again. "So what makes you think this case is our kind of thing?"

So far, they'd only talked a little about the case. Once Dean had finished getting the screw out of the bed for Sam, he'd swung into motion gathering their things together. For some reason he was eager to get to another hunt. Sam had just gone along with it, letting Dean scoop him up without argument for once.

The screw he'd tucked away with his clothes, keeping it for later. He wouldn't need to haul it around all the time but it was definitely nice to have some reliable protection against spirits. No matter how small the iron, it would be just as effective against the spirit. One good hit was all he'd need.

Dean pursed his lips thoughtfully. "When I checked the town records, there's far more missing persons per capita here over the years than other towns nearby. Plus Dad has the town marked as the hunting grounds of a possible phantom attacker."

Sam crossed his arms. He couldn't help thinking of his father's journal longingly. Currently it was tucked away in Dean's jacket not far under where Sam was sitting. Safe, but completely out of reach for him without help.

He sighed. He hated the way he pretty much needed Dean's permission for something as mundane as reading a book. "So what's your plan when we get to town?"

Dean arched his eyes. "Well, there's supposed to be one eyewitness to the most recent vanishing. Some kid. Figured we could start with him and work our way out from there."

"Yeah... sounds good." Sam sat quiet for a few minutes as the road passed them by, torn, before he finally decided to just get it over with. "Uh... Dean?"

"Mmm?" Dean didn't take his eyes off the road.

"Would... would you mind if I took a look through Dad's journal? See what he's got on the phantom attackers?"

Dean gave Sam a surprised glance. "Of course. All you ever gotta do is ask." He dug in his jacket under Sam, pulling out the journal from one of his many hidden pockets, some that Sam was familiar with, many he wasn't. Dean stuck it on the seat, flipping it open to the middle. "Just... be careful, alright? I don't need you flying off the seat."

Sam snickered. "Yes mom," he laughed as he climbed down Dean's arm. He let go once he was a few inches off the seat, landing on his feet.

Dean rolled his eyes as he turned his attention back to the road. "Smartass," he muttered in a voice Sam could only just make out.

Sam grinned as he climbed onto the book. As odd as it was, he found Dean's attitude reassuring. Even after all the years they'd been separated, that hadn't changed. It helped remind him that no matter how huge and intimidating the other hunter could be - and Dean did huge and intimidating very well, whether it was on purpose or not - he was still Sam's brother. Still just Dean. And as long as Sam was with him, he was safe.

Once Sam found the page he was searching for he settled down onto the page, digging out his own journal to write down what he could glean from John's scrawled writings and what he knew about the case they were on so far. That way he could organize his own thoughts on it and hopefully help Dean figure out what was going on.

That night, Dean turned the Impala into one of the smaller motels to be found in Hibbing, Minnesota. The places to stay in the area were split between nice, fancy hotels and the pay-by-hour motels that were sleazier but in the range Dean could afford.

Dean chanced a glance down at his brother, not surprised to find Sam knocked out on his shoulder. Once he'd lost the light to see the journal, he'd climbed back up to his normal spot in the car and Dean hadn't heard a peep from him since.

Reaching a hand up carefully, Dean let Sam slide off safely onto his palm. Sam flopped onto his side in his sleep, curling around his little satchel. He mumbled to himself as he got settled again, relaxing into the curve of Dean's hand. Dean's eyes softened at the sign of his brother's trust. It meant the world to Dean that Sam could relax so completely around him, especially with how vulnerable Sam was in the world.

Unsure what to do with the miniature, sleeping hunter, Dean tucked him into the side pocket of his leather jacket. He'd be safest there while Dean checked them into the motel. Far safer than leaving him alone in the car while he was asleep.

Sam didn't even budge, sleeping obliviously on. Carefully pulling his hand out, Dean strode into the main entrance of the motel.

A young girl was running the front desk, probably around the same age as Sam. Long, straight brown hair and dark eyes glanced up at his entry. She dimpled when she saw Dean. "Hi, checking in?"

Dean smiled back at her. "Yep. One room, please." He took a quick glance at her name tag. "Beth."

She typed away at the computer while he waited, looking through the selection. "Well, right now we only have rooms with two queens open. All the rest are... taken." She blinked at the screen. "Does that sound good?"

While she was talking, Dean realized he could feel his brother shifting around in the pocket. Must have woken up, he thought to himself. Dean slipped his hand in to keep the girl from noticing the movement. Sam squirmed as far away from the hand infringing in on his space in the tight pocket as he could before settling down.

"Yeah, that sounds great." Dean slipped his hand back out, grabbing his wallet.

Once everything was settled, she pointed him to where the room was. "Room 150, right around the corner."

Room key in hand, Dean gathered Sam out of his pocket the moment he was outside, putting him back on the shoulder. Grumpily, Sam slouched against his neck. "What's the big idea?" Sam grumbled.

"Figured you didn't want to be hanging around on my shoulder while I checked in," Dean smirked. "Next time, I'll be sure to introduce you."

"Thanks, but no thanks." Sam held on while Dean dug through the back of the Impala, tossing a few things in the duffel bag. His own satchel was slung around his shoulder again. "I can find my own dates."

"Yeah, how's that going, anyway?" Dean tried to soften his tone. Sam didn't exactly have much chance of ever meeting up with the girl of his dreams, considering his curse. Being under a foot tall cut his relationship prospects down to almost zero.

Sam just scoffed. "I'm fine, Dean. Besides, the last girl I liked is scared of me now."

Surprised, Dean arched his eyes. Sam had never mentioned any girls. Dean would remember that. "Who's that?"

"Krissy - the girl we left Sean with when you found me. She... ah. She didn't take it too well when I told her I used to be a human." Dean could feel Sam slouch back against his neck.

He frowned to himself, trying to think of something he could say to help. Nothing rose to mind. Dean might not be the long-term relationship type of person himself, but he didn't have any problem finding someone to hook up with for a night or two. Sam, on the other hand, didn't even have the option.

Pushing those thoughts from his mind, Dean went into the motel room. Red shades hung down the height of the door. Glitzy beds and bright lamps finished off the feel, making it one of the... brighter rooms he'd ever stayed in.

"Huh," said both brothers in unison, staring at the crazy colors.

Dean dropped his duffel by the door, scooping Sam off his shoulder to put him on one of the beds. While Sam was still recovering his feet, Dean strode over to the phone. "Hungry for anything?" he called over his shoulder.

"Uh... whatever you get is fine." Sam set out towards the nightstand, climbing down from the bed.

Once Dean finished calling a deep dish pizza with everything, along with a small side salad for his stubborn brother, he walked over to the nightstand where Sam was. Kneeling down on the floor, he peered in. "Homey," Dean quipped.

Sam was sitting against the wall with his knees up, writing in his small journal. He arched his eyebrows at the giant staring in at him. "Sure..." he said dryly. "Whatever you say."

Dean smirked. He dug into the bag next to him, pulling out Sam's bed and the rest of his stuff. Sam completely ignored him while he set up the dollhouse-sized possessions and the wall of books to separate Sam's small room from the rest of the world.

Standing, he made sure he couldn't see any sign of Sam before heading to the bed to watch TV while he waited for the food to arrive. Couldn't be too careful, however unlikely it was that anyone would ever catch sight of Sam or his stuff.

The food came shortly after. Dean dug into the pizza while Sam made his way over to the table. He didn't often let Dean help him with simple things like that, preferring to do it himself.

Sam clambered up the table, using one of the chairs to climb this time. They had wooden decorations carved into the sides, making it an easy trip. He blinked in surprise at the salad Dean had set up and waiting for him. "What's this?" he asked.

Dean gave him a half shrug. "Figured you'd want to try something different from me."

"You shouldn't have, Dean."

Dean snorted. "Yeah, cause a salad costs so much," he said sarcastically.

Sam ducked his head down, refusing to meet Dean's eyes. He scuffed a boot against the tabletop. "I just hate that I can't help you pay for anything. That you're the one who has to take care of everything like that."

"Sam, I don't mind. Really. It was only a few bucks. And..." Dean thought of the card he was using at the moment, "not to mention, it isn't even my money I'm using here."

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?"

Dean sighed, nudging the little salad over to his brother. "Just eat and enjoy it for once. Stop thinking too hard about these things. You've helped save lives, including mine, so you deserve to eat what you enjoy. Even if it's a salad." He wrinkled his nose.

Sam sat there and ate the salad without further comment, staying quiet the rest of dinner. Dean grabbed his laptop, putting in a bit more research about the case before turning in for the night.

Sam woke up to Dean tossing his things in a bag. Shuffling to the edge of the nightstand, he blinked tiredly up at the energetic human. "What's going on?" he yawned, brushing a hand through his rumpled hair.

"There was another man that got abducted last night from a truck stop. Picked it up on the CB radio." Dean stared down at his bag, lips moving silently as he listed off the items he'd need.

"Dude, you are way too excited about this."

Dean cocked an eye down at him. "Hey, this might be a lucky break. Trail's still fresh. This might end up being an easy in and out case for once."

"I'm happy for you." Sam set out towards the table, trying to straighten out his rumpled hair. Huge boots hit the ground inches from him as Dean grabbed his gun from under the pillow on his bed. Paranoid bastard.

It didn't bother him anymore to have his big brother step around him like that. Dean had never once given Sam a reason to be afraid of getting stepped on.

"You wanna come with?" Dean asked as he finished packing his bag.

"Nah, think I'll hang here." Sam hauled himself up the chair. "You just planning on interviewing the vics' families, right?"

"Probably," Dean admitted. "Not feeling the pocket today?"

"Good guess." Sam hauled himself to the top of the table at last, stumbling a bit once he was up. "Mind if I use the laptop? Think I'll get in some overdue research while you're out..."

"Not a problem." Dean opened up the laptop, loading it for his little brother. With a smirk, he rumpled Sam's hair, grinning at the curses shot up at him in response. "See you around, pint-size."

Sam gave a halfhearted wave over his shoulder as Dean left, not really paying attention to him past straightening his hair. Dean always loved to mess with it, teasing Sam for how long he'd grown it out. Sam tried to ignore him for the most part, pointing out that Dean's hair was technically longer if you didn't factor in their relative sizes. After all, his 'short,' spiky hair was longer than Sam's legs at some points. Dean just ignored that and continued on with teasing as normal. Sam should have known his argument wouldn't work. Sometimes he wondered why he even tried.

The door slammed shut, the lock clicking securely in place as the table shook slightly with the vibrations. Sam jogged over to the computer, planning to continue his own line of research while Dean was out. Dean wasn't the only one who wanted to find a way to break Sam's curse... it would be nice to finally be able to really help Dean out on a case.

A few hours passed eventlessly with Sam hopping from key to key on the spacious keyboard. He might not be able to reach from one end of the keyboard to the other like his older brother, but determination paid off with time. And he always worked up a good sweat using the computer like this. His own little exercise regimen.

He found a website on various forms of witchcraft and settled down next to the touchpad to read over the different hexes and countercurses outlined in front of him. Sitting like this, he could scroll through the text without having to get up.

It was such a calm and peaceful morning, he never saw it coming.

In retrospect, he'd let his mind drift off to the oversized font on the screen in front, words blurring into the background while his mind slowly fried from too much time spent staring at the bright screen. The small scritches of a lockpick in the door didn't fully register while he was gazing at the screen in an overwhelmed daze.



And so, the last story of Season One is here!

Like I said before, this series may get darker as it goes on, but there'll always be light found in the darkest of times to hold on to. Here we have two brothers that are finally adjusted to each other with new challenges heading their way that they never saw coming. Prepare yourselves. This was the hardest story for me to write, for more reasons than one.

Editing help came from galaxywitch over on dA. She's the best :) (And she yelled at me as she helped edit this story, plus she helped come up with the description)

Thanks for all the comments and reviews! They absolutely make my day!