A/N: This is the eleventh part of the Brothers Apart series. If you want to read the rest of the stories, they are found on my page.
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
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
Part 16: For Science
Related short stories: Out of the Frying Pan
Bowman lets Jacob know just what threat the Wellwood faced while he was away, and Jacob doesn't quite believe him.
Jacob Andris sat in what the wood sprites of Wellwood had dubbed "his" clearing. He'd been back to visit as many times as he could manage since he first wandered deep into the forest with his friends and discovered that an entire village of tiny little winged beings lived out there. They remained so isolated from the world that they barely knew humans existed before Jacob and his friends, Bobby and Chase, showed up.
Now, in an autumn a little over a year after he first met Bowman Leafwing, Jacob was back again, watching his small friend wheel about in the air. Bowman's vibrant green wings contrasted with the trees around them, which were showing their reds and oranges with the turning of the seasons. Soon they would drop to the ground, and winter would be upon the woods.
Bowman was agitated over a long story he'd spent the last several minutes recounting. Jacob knew better than to interrupt even the more outrageous claims from the sprite, so he simply watched, nodding when appropriate. Some parts had the sprite so riled that he nearly derailed his train of thought to grouse about them.
More than once, Jacob had to wonder if there was some kind of special mushroom out in the woods here that might have inspired Bowman's imaginative tale.
At the same time, a lot of it seemed so plausible. Especially the part about a human catching Bowman and taking him out of the forest. Jacob had to prompt Bowman to move on from describing the many corners found in a human dwelling as the sprite was driven to distraction by the foreign thought.
Bowman's story also included zombies, of all things. Zombie wolves, raised by a zombie magic user of some kind, that was there to claim sprites for some purpose of which the mere memory made Bowman shudder. If it all really happened, Jacob was loathe to think about the fact that he hadn't been around to help. His best friend might have faced something straight out of an intense nightmare and he was alone for it.
"So," Jacob finally interjected when Bowman's story was winding down, "this Dean guy. After he brought you back to the woods and fought the ... life-sick things, he's an ally now? Him and his sprite-sized brother Sam?" It was one of the more intriguing parts of the story, the possibility of a human who stood the same height as Bowman paired up with a man who fought zombie wolves without flinching.
Bowman flew in a tight spiral, diving downwards so he could stop to hover at Jacob's eye level. "Yes. He started out blasted rude, grabbing me and keeping me in a pocket. Which, by the way, if you ever try that, I will kick you in the face."
Jacob held up his hands in surrender. "Wouldn't dream of it," he assured the sprite.
Bowman nodded in approval, but he still seemed cynical of something. "You don't believe me, do you?" he said, narrowing his eyes at Jacob's face.
Jacob offered him a sheepish grin. "I ... well, it's just pretty out there, is all," he admitted.
Bowman rolled his eyes. "You always said no one knows the sprites exist, but here I am. Existing."
"Okay, yeah, but zombies, Bowman?" Jacob shot back, trying to hold back a smirk. At this point, Bowman would be riled up either way. He might as well get some entertainment out of it.
Bowman pointed at him. "They called them that, too," he insisted. "Zom-bees." Jacob gave him a skeptical look, and Bowman scowled. "Whatever!" He flew in a wide circle around Jacob's head, wings rustling. "Do you believe me or not?!" he asked.
"Okay, okay, say I believe something happened," Jacob conceded. "Did those guys say they'd come back?"
Bowman stopped with a faint rustle of his wings as they shifted to hover. "No, they had to go fight more monsters," he answered. To Jacob's continued disbelieving look, Bowman frowned and added hastily "But they left a piece of paper with numbers on it and said I could use it to contact them if we needed help ever again!"
With that announcement, Bowman darted out of the clearing, determination carrying him off like a shot. Jacob flinched from the sudden exit, and then relaxed again. He was intrigued by the promise of solid proof, so he waited.
Bowman returned ten minutes later, flying far less gracefully than when he'd left. Jacob raised his eyebrows at the sight; Bowman was indeed carrying something in his arms, something almost as long as his tiny body was tall. Jacob realized with a smile that it was a business card. "No shit," he said as Bowman closed the distance between them.
"Ha! Now you gotta believe me, Dean said the numbers on it can be used to call him," Bowman announced smugly, right before letting the card fall. Jacob had to fumble to catch it before it fluttered to the ground. He lifted it up, privately eager to see some confirmation of what Bowman told him.
"Bowman ..." Jacob said, reading the card.
"What now?! I got you proof and everything!" Bowman complained, taking a perch on top of Jacob's head while they both stared at the name and phone number on the card.
"The name on it is 'John Bonham,' Bowman."
"What?! But his name is Dean! Dean ... Winchester!" Bowman protested, punctuating it with a small whap from one of his wings on Jacob's head.
Jacob thought for a moment. It wasn't likely that Bowman would have made up a name like 'Winchester' on his own. "Hey, I'll still give the number a try, how about that?" Jacob dug his phone from his pocket, his eyes pointed upward even though he couldn't see the sprite perched on him. "What do you say?"
The motel room was a peaceful sight in the morning after the Winchesters latest successful hunt. Slits of sunlight made it through the curtains Dean had drawn across the massive windows that bordered the front of their room, covered up so it would be safe for Sam to be out and about in the room if he wanted to be, and they wouldn't have to worry about him being spotted by any curious onlookers, innocent or dangerous.
They'd had enough problems with dangerous humans in the past. No one wanted a repeat of Sam's kidnapping.
Dean was lying flat on his back, slow breaths making his chest rise and fall with a steady rhythm. After so long spent with Sam, and having his pocket used as a bed when Sam needed a place to stay, it was habit to lie like that. The small hunter never asked, but Dean made sure he didn't have to. Sam shouldn't have to ask for somewhere safe to sleep.
Sam himself slept on his own bed, under the nightstand that stood between the two queen beds that made up their room. Dean had set it up when they got in, and until late the night before it was all but forgotten. A successful vengeful spirit hunt combined with a night of celebratory drinking resulted in neither brother hitting the sack until at least 2 am.
So the phone going off around 11 am found a room full of sleeping Winchesters.
Dean groaned, rubbing a hand down his face and blinking rapidly to clear up his vision. Normally he wouldn't have such a hard time waking, as used to being constantly on guard as he was, but their night of celebrating had gone on longer than he expected, both brothers feeling the release of stress after such a simple in- and out- case finished.
He glanced to the side, sleepily groping on the nightstand table to grab his phone. It took a time or two, and he squinted as the number scrolled across the screen. He didn't recognize it.
This might normally be the point where Dean would answer the phone and demand to know who was calling and how did they get his number, but his urge to growl at the caller was thoroughly thwarted by one simple fact.
He didn't know how to unlock the new phone.
The damn thing was a smartphone, one of the first around. Sam was hyped up with excitement over having a phone that could connect to the internet without ever having to go on the computer. They could get directions, just like a GPS, and never have to open a map to find their way to the next town over. Sam would have a much easier time navigating maps on a phone a little bigger than he was compared to the mass of paper maps that could cover the entire back seat of the Impala.
Dean was still learning how to use the phone, and the friggin' password wasn't words or numbers like normal, but rather a design on the touchscreen that he had to swipe his fingers across and he didn't have time for this shit.
As the phone reached the third ring, Dean swung his legs out of bed and knelt on the floor. Sam had programmed the damn thing, he could figure out how to answer it.
Shifting the line of books out of the way, Dean opened up Sam's little haven to the open air and revealing the tiny desk Dean had bought him along with the little hunter himself, sprawled out in his bed and cozy under his blankets.
"Hey, Sam," Dean said, reaching forward and nudging at one of the tiny shoulders. He almost held his breath, making sure he didn't nudge Sam hard enough to leave bruises behind. His little brother might be full of confidence in his ability to interact and survive in the human world, but Dean knew better than anyone how simple it was for Sam to get a broken arm or leg if a person was one iota too rough.
Sam didn't react more than to draw his blankets closer, going from sprawled out to a little ball of hunter under the nightstand.
Dean smirked, entertained by the sight and wishing he could save a picture of that for blackmail. It wasn't safe to have pictures of any of the little people, or Dean definitely would. For now, he held the phone next to Sam's bed and nudged him again. "Hey, pint-size, how the hell do I answer this thing?"
Sam groaned, then flinched as the phone rang, filling his nightstand haven with a loud guitar riff. "Dudewhatthehell," he mumbled, all of his words mashed together in his exhaustion. He blinked open tired hazel eyes, trying to rub them so he could see the screen clearly. It was so bright he nearly had to shade his eyes, and he leaned out of bed to swipe the password and get rid of Dean so he could sink back into sleep.
The last part of the code was on the far side of the phone, so Sam had to stretch to reach it, and before he knew it he was falling out of bed. Vertigo struck as Sam tried to piece together what was happening, the phone lifting from under the nightstand, and the next sight he saw was Dean's smirk, larger than life as his older brother tried to hold in a snicker at the sight.
Sam, thanks to his unexpected tumble, was still curled up in his blanket, flopped over the touch screen.
And that of course was when Sam accidentally hit Answer for the phone call. The icon changed to green to let them know the call connected, and all Sam could think to say was a sleepy "Hello?" while Dean cracked up, trying to stifle his laughter behind his other hand. Not how Sam had planned his morning to go.
There was a pause as Jacob contained his surprise that the number was actually good. He'd thought that maybe Bowman saved some litter to help with his story. "Uh, yeah, hi," he greeted. Bowman's wings left a light gust of air as the sprite took to the air again.
"Can they actually hear you? Is that Dean?" the sprite asked in a hushed voice, staring at the phone in Jacob's hand. Jacob only spared him a glance as he hovered overhead.
"My name is Jacob Andris and I'm told that this number is for a Dean Winchester, is that right?" Jacob asked, his deep voice coming through the speakers so near where Sam lay tangled in his blankets.
"Uh… yeah, this is Dean's phone," Sam said, somehow managing to piece together a coherent reply despite how flustered he felt. There was ahuman on the other end, and clearly not someone Sam was familiar with, based on the voice. He glanced up at Dean, fairly desperate to be rescued from the awkward conversation. Right now he felt more like Dean's secretary, answering his phone for him.
It took a moment more for Dean to recover from the sight of his baby brother bundled up in his blankets like a little burrito and collapsed on the phone screen. The phone was taller than Sam was, so Sam barely took up a third of the screen while he was curled up. Dean gently nudged a tiny foot so it wasn't covering up the receiver and got a bitchface in return for not helping Sam off.
It was just too funny to see, and Dean wanted to enjoy every minute. It isn't every day your four inch brother falls onto your phone during a call.
Dean held the phone closer to his face as he leaned back against his bed. "This is Dean Winchester. How did you get this number?"
On the other end, Jacob's eyebrows shot up. He glanced over to Bowman, who wore the biggest, smuggest I told you soexpression Jacob had ever seen on that tiny face. The name matched what he'd said, and the rest of his story most likely would fall into place more or less like he'd told it.
Bowman, meanwhile, could see Jacob working things out for himself in a brief pause. Sam's voice was softer than Dean's gruff greeting, and it was because he was smaller like a sprite, not because they had a bad connection like Jacob had first thought. That had to be the 'sprite-sized' brother.
Bowman drifted forward with his arms crossed. "I told you," he said proudly, jolting Jacob out of his short pause.
"Uh, hi, Dean," Jacob replied. "I got the number off a card my friend had. He said you guys worked with him a month or so ago," he explained. Jacob felt so strange speaking cryptically like that, but the thought of talking plainly about the sprites when their society was so vulnerable made him nervous. Until he could be sure, he wouldn't risk them. "You guys know Bowman?"
Dean's eyebrows shot straight up, and even Sam focused on the phone more than his predicament. "Of course we do," Dean said, narrowing his eyes with his own familiar suspicion. The sprites were just as vulnerable as Sam's people. "He gave us some help on a case."
Sam arranged his blanket so it wasn't dangling off the edge and took up the conversation. "I don't think we could have finished the case without him," he said warmly, remembering their time in the Wellwood forest fondly. It was a rare opportunity to spend time with people his own size, and Sam missed those sprites. Rischa and Vel, along with Bowman and all his griping. "What's going on? Is there trouble?" He remembered Dean giving the business card out in case any other emergencies arose, since they knew that a supernatural community like that might draw in other dangers, both supernatural and mundane.
"There's no trouble," Bowman interrupted, taking a perch on Jacob's shoulder so he could address the device in his massive hand. It took a lot of convincing for him to truly believe that phones worked so well that conversations could be held between people continents apart. Sam and Dean could be anywhere out there, according to Jacob, but apparently they would be able to hear him talking.
"Unless you count Jacob not believing what happened here as trouble," Bowman continued, pointedly nudging at Jacob's neck with a wing. The shoulder beneath him twitched. "I was saying how you guys came and took me away but then helped us and he didn't believe that there were zom-bees."
"Okay, but you gotta admit, zombie wolves are kind of out there," Jacob defended, unable to stop himself. Then, remembering that he was talking to a pair of guys that apparently spent all their time hunting things like that, he asked "They are, aren't they?"
Dean chuckled, feeling some of the tension leave at the sound of Bowman's voice, hale and hearty and as annoyed as ever. "They are definitely not your run-of-the-mill monster, that's for sure. Hell, we never knew there were sprites living on earth until we had a run in with Bowman. It was a weird case all around."
"So, you're Bowman's friend?" Sam asked eagerly. It wasn't often he got to talk to safe humans like Dean and Bobby. "He mentioned you when we were working together. We don't run into too many people that know about people… Bowman's size." He stumbled over his words, almost slipping up and saying my size.
Jacob grinned, bemused by the thought of Bowman telling other people about him. Hopefully the stories were good. "Yeah, I guess the sprites keep themselves pretty hidden all over the place," he replied.
"Because most of you humans are giants," Bowman cut in pointedly. The fact that he could find an easy perch on a shoulder of all things spoke to how ridiculously big humans were.
Bowman's use of the phrase 'most of you' reminded Jacob yet again what else he'd heard about Sam. "Yeah, we're unfair about it, alright," he replied. Before Bowman could gripe at him for his comment, he went on. "But I'm guessing you're Sam? Bowman's been telling me about both of you guys, and says you kept your brother from being too troublesome with him. I'm impressed because, well, I'm betting you know by now how easily he talks himself into trouble."
"Climb a dead tree, Jacob!" Bowman protested. This time, his wing smacked at the hand with the phone, and a rustle of wings could be heard through the microphone.
Sam heard the wingslap, and was reminded of all the ways Dean and Bowman had poked at each other throughout the case. Those memories were temporarily overridden, though, and he felt heat rise to his cheeks. He'd forgotten Bowman would probably tell his friend about him.
"Uh, yeah. I'm Sam," Sam introduced himself shyly. He could count on one hand the number of humans he knew and interacted with on a friendly basis, so this was a little out of his depth. "I help Dean on hunts."
"You're a hunter like Dean," Dean corrected sternly, nudging his little brother in the shoulder before he tilted the phone and let Sam slide off into a hand of his own where he could safely untangle himself from the blanket. "And no one will ever say differently while I'm around."
"At least they're a better kind of hunter," Bowman said dismissively. He didn't notice the almost challenging edge to Dean's voice, daring someone to disagree with his statement. Bowman wasn't about to argue the point. Sam had helped save Wellwood just as much as Dean.
"Yeah," Jacob muttered, while the rest of Bowman's story caught up to him. A real nightmare had drifted into Wellwood and he hadn't been around to help the sprites. After what they'd been through before, he couldn't help but feel a protectiveness of his own for the tiny pacifist village.
"Listen, guys, I guess the rest of the story is true then, too, so I want to thank you two for helping out my friends. Bowman's got some pretty great things to say about what you did for them."
"That's what we do," Sam said, a proud grin on his face replacing his abashed demeanor. It meant the world to him to be able to join Dean in hunting. "Protecting Bowman's village is just as important as… well, protecting my family from any dangers."
"Besides," Dean said with a chuckle, "how could we let Vel down? He did decide to adopt us as his older brothers. We've gotta watch out for the third Winchester. He's gotta grow up and beat Bowman at flying with those little wings of his."
Bowman grumbled something and flicked his wings. He couldn't really protest too much since they were talking about a small nestling who was only just getting used to his wings, but still the challenge to his place as Wellwood's fastest flyer rang loud and clear. With a flutter of leafy wings, he took flight as if to remind at least Jacob of his skill.
Jacob, meanwhile, smiled at the thought of one of the little sprites, 'nestlings' as they called them, adopting humans. There seemed to be an innocence to everything the sprites did, even Bowman as he swept past on his strong little wings.
"That's awesome news, man. I'll do my part, too, if I find out about anything going down out here I know who I can call."
"We'll be there," Dean agreed. "Keep a close eye on them, okay? Evil tends to be attracted to vulnerable communities like that, especially with that Prayer thing they've got going on."
Sam leaned forward on Dean's other hand, bracing himself with a hand on the thumb that bordered the edge. His small fingers just barely stretched to where he felt Dean's fingernail start, the rigid surface slick under his touch. "Bowman, tell Rischa we said 'hi,' okay?" he called out over the line. He wished he had a longer chance to talk to her. She was wise beyond her years, and able to see through even Dean's thick walls, helping Sam understand his older brother a little better.
"Good luck keeping Bowman out of trouble," Dean said with a smirk. "At least you might have a chance with the rest of the village."
Jacob chuckled over Bowman's indignant I heard that! and sent the sprite a smirk. "I'll do my best with this guy," he replied, thinking about the other warning. It was lucky he visited as often as he did, if things truly were as sinister as they said. It seemed like the sprites kept leading Jacob further down the rabbit hole.
"Hey, listen, sorry if I raised the alarm for a second there, I was just calling to see if Bowman's story was real. I won't keep you," he continued. Somehow he got the feeling that a pair of brothers who hunted monsters didn't do a lot of casual chatting on the phone.
"Don't worry about it," Dean said. "It sure got Sam to fall out of bed, didn't it there, pint-size?"
Sam glared up at Dean, fully blaming him for the startling wake up. "Normal people don't just stick a cell phone next to someone's bed while they're sleeping," he groused right back. "Good to hear from you, Bowman, Jacob." He slapped a hand against the END button so he could give Dean a proper tongue lashing without an audience.
States away at the other end of the disconnected call, Bowman was of the same mind as Sam. Jacob had barely pulled the phone away from his face before a flutter and a flash of green rushed right up to his face. A tiny fist impacted with his forehead, and then Bowman kicked off between Jacob's eyes to dart away again. Jacob barely had time to wave a hand at him in surprise.
"That's for not believing me!" Bowman scolded as he corkscrewed in the air.
Jacob rubbed at his forehead to get rid of the phantom feeling of a tiny bop. "Hey, I wasn't that skeptical," he pointed out. "I called them, didn't I?"
Bowman huffed and crossed his arms, banking into a hover well above Jacob's eye level. "Well you wouldn't have needed to if you just believed me."
"Fine, fine, you were right."
Bowman flew in a circle over Jacob's head, clearly pleased with the words. "Don't soon forget it, giant."
For those of you who follow the Brothers Apart tumblr, you've already seen this special edition short story! It is officially labeled as the eleventh part of Brothers Apart, and we've now decided to replace Interludes with short stories like this. Here we see the last of the fallout from their adventures in A Lich of Sense in which Jacob doesn't quite believe Bowman that there were zombie wolves in the idyllic Wellwood forest, and goes so far as to dial up Dean and give that hunter a call.
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