A/N This is written as a request for Sylvia Griffin3. She more or less told me to write a de-aged Sam fic, and so that's what I did. And this is set mid-season one, I suppose, just because I wanted to keep it as brother-centric as possible without worrying about the other major characters and relationships later on. Enjoy, please review!
Rated T for language and slight violence
Disclaimer I don't own Supernatural or any associated characters, events, etc.
"Sammy!" Dean shouts in warning, the name sharp and abrasive against his throat as he ducks a particularly heavy blast of thick purple-swirled light. It ricochets off the wooden wall of the dingy basement that they're backed into, tears a massive hole in it and sends just about a million splinters heading straight for him. He pulls an arm over his head and squeezes his eyes to slits, open just enough to detect the blurry figure of the creature they're trying and failing to kill. Creature, because this can't be a witch, even if they were initially sure of it—no mundane witch can actually cast spells, fucking Harry Potter spells right from its bare hands. Not just magic, but goddamn energy vortexes that could only be more clichéd if the witch-thing had been holding a wand. He doesn't even know what the hell they do, seeing as he's been able to avoid them so far even as they rip apart his surroundings, but he can bet that it's nothing good.
He swears as another jet of light, this time a pale aquamarine, comes shooting in his direction. He's gonna bruise from all this flinging himself to the ground, that's for sure. "Sam?" he calls out again, pulling himself behind a dusty, broken-down set of drawers. For a moment, there's silence, and he tilts his head back against the wood, closes his eyes and breathes quick and fast. His hands fumble with the gun in his lap, silent curse words spilling from his lips. There's no way that bullets are gonna work on this thing, whatever the hell it is, but he was stupid enough not to come with any other weapons, and Sam's silence is getting too ominous for his taste. Hitching up a deep breath in his chest, he heaves himself up in a single swift movement, swinging around and extending his gun arm, a fierce glare settling into place as he points it straight at the shadowy figure's chest and fires without hesitation.
A high-pitched shriek rents the dusty air, grating against his eardrums, so painful that he almost drops the gun. But this thing might have hurt Sam, and that's enough motivation for him to keep his arm in place and his face cold, loading the creature with as many bullets as he can manage before it finally flies sideways, its long arms flinging out in what might be surrender as a steamy hiss creeps from its darkened form. Even if the shots haven't done it any damage, it definitely seems irritated, and, to Dean's relief, it zips up the stairs of the cellar, still whining and moaning like the most stereotypical of ghosts until it finally melts away, leaving the faintest trace of a chilling wail in the damp air.
"What the hell was that?" he asks aloud, doubling over and resting his hands on his knees. There's four heartbeats' worth of silence, punctuated only by his own heavy, exhausted gasps, before he starts to realize that something is definitely wrong.
"Sam," he mutters for the third time, quickly followed by the fourth and fifth as he straightens up and glances around the corners of the low-ceilinged underground room. "Sammy? Sam, where are you?" Almost nervously, he begins to tread through the wreckage, wood and glass fragments scraping against the cement floor under his feet. "Sammy!" Goddamn, that magic light crap must've hit him, now he's gonna be hurt or worse—no, not worse, that's not allowed, that can't happen. Dad's gonna kill me, hell, I'm gonna kill myself if he's not okay… There's no denying the desperate anxiety that's clawing at him from the inside now, hot and fierce.
He's just about to yell again, even though he realizes how useless such a thing must be at this point, when a now-unidentifiable piece of destroyed furniture shifts slightly, and a tiny groan slips out from underneath it.
In moments, he's knelt beside the shattered ruin of wood panels and table legs, gun set on the floor beside him, hastily pulling aside the broken pieces and ignoring the sharp bits that poke at and embed themselves in his palms, fingers. "Sam, you in there?" he questions, his voice softer now, trying to hold his heart still.
The whimpers sound again, and then he can see him—all three feet's worth, curled into a miniature fetal position with the little hands clutched tight around the skinny knees.
"…Sam?" he repeats blankly, unable to keep himself from gaping.
Sam stares back, his face full of terror and confusion, all round cheeks and trembling lips and big, fucking gigantic dark eyes that are brimming with tears, tears all too befitting of the tiny kid that he's somehow gotten himself turned into.
They pull into the parking lot of the Evergreen Motel a half hour later, the Impala's engine purring to a halt as the golden headlights illuminate the gravelly ground before them. Dean switches off the ignition, pockets the key, and glances into the backseat, squinting in the sudden darkness. Sam's curled up there, barely visible in the corner of the seat, which is big enough to hold three of him. Even as a kid, he's skinny as a stick, and covered only by the adult Sam's shirt, which works as a nightgown for him. How old is he, anyways—four? Five? Younger? Something ridiculous like that, and he apparently has a mind to match his body, too, judging by the soft questions that he tentatively voiced during the ride. (Dean, where are we going? Are we there yet? Where's Dad? Can we stop and eat?—to which the almost exclusive retort was Shut up and hold on, we're almost there.)
"Alright," Dean grumbles now, "we're just gonna check in here for the night, okay? Get some rest, figure this crap out in the morning." Hope it's fixed itself by morning, in other words. If it doesn't, he has no idea what he's gonna do. Try to contact Bobby, he supposes, just hope that the damn thing reverses itself at some point. He's got no idea what he'll do if Sam stays this way permanently—but that's impossible, it's got to be. The last thing he needs in life is for his hunting partner's age to be set back a good two decades. Hell, does Sam even remember all those years of training, at this point? His soft-spoken comments haven't been enough to reveal whether or not he recalls any of his life beyond the portion leading up to the age that his physique currently reflects.
Sam nods and hops out of his seat as Dean opens the car door, then follows him into the fluorescent lighting of the shitty little motel, scampering along to keep up with his brother's much longer stride. His shirt drags on the floor, but the odd attire goes unnoticed by the tired-looking receptionist who looks up from behind the desk, her dusty brown eyes carrying the flatness that most people's tend to at this time of night.
"One room, two beds?" she asks, her voice low and morose.
"Yeah, thanks." Sam's big enough for his own bed, right? Surely so. Dean shifts from foot to foot as she nods, tucks a few strands of graying hair behind her rather prominent ear. A battered nametag pinned to her stiff shirt reads Tracy. She's too old for a job like this, should have a proper occupation, but he doesn't comment. Not like he can claim better, after all.
"I'm going to need your credit card, sir," Tracy murmurs, reaching under the desk and withdrawing a metal key—an actual key. This place is ancient. Dean nods hastily and reaches into his back pocket, whipping out his card and sliding it across to Tracy. She scans it quickly, barely glancing at the name lettered on it. "Owen Lars…" She hands it back to him along with the key, a line of confusion forming between her thin eyebrows. "Isn't that some character—?"
"No idea," Dean lies, trying to hold back a wince. And here he'd thought that the name of Luke Skywalker's uncle was a rather subtle alias.
She shrugs, lapsing back into her exhausted stupor with a mutter of "You're in room twelve."
"Thanks. Here, come on, Sammy…"
The little kid is now eyeing a plastic dish on Tracy's desk, which holds a number of swirled red-and-white mint candies. His wide eyes gleam with want, and Dean hisses out a frustrated breath, grabbing him by the tiny wrist and pulling him away despite his whine of protest.
"Sugar's the last thing you need right now," he snaps lowly as they start down the hallway, which is carpeted in dreadfully monotonous gray. "You've gotta try and get some sleep, then we're gonna go to Bobby's in the morning."
Sam nods rather sadly, his shoulders slumping in disappointment, and a quick, ridiculous stab of guilt twists in Dean's chest. There's no reason for him to feel bad for the stupid little tot. Being a kid isn't going to hurt Sam—at least, he hopes it's not. It would be ridiculous if it was… wouldn't it? Or was the spell more sinister than a simple age reversal?
He pushes such thoughts to the very corner of his mind, where they join concerns about his dad and a thousand other little issues that have no place in his conscious thoughts. A helpful distraction arrives in the form of the number 12, scratchily painted onto the white wooden door that they're approaching. Dean slips in the key and opens it after a bit of a struggle—the lock is rather sticky—to reveal a small room, barely big enough to fit the two rickety twin-size beds and single small side table shoved into it. There's not even a freaking TV. The place is a dive, Dean thinks in disgust as Sam wanders in behind him, if lodgings can be referred to as such.
"I don't like it here," Sam announces immediately. "It's ugly."
"Yeah, tell me about it, squirt." Groaning, he flops down in the nearest bed, staring into the murky darkness as Sam quietly pushes the door shut. The rusty springs whine in protest. "Only have to stay for a night, though. Go on, get to bed…"
"Teeth," Sam protests. Dean squints over at him, his miniscule silhouette, draped in that oversized shirt, barely visible. "I need to brush them. My mouth tastes bad."
"You'll survive a night," he snorts. That was Sammy, he figures; determined not to go a night with a dirty mouth even at age four. Or something near four, in any case. "And before you ask, no, we don't have any pajamas either. Just get into bed and close your eyes and don't wake me up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom or anything. I'm not your mom."
Sam's eyes widen at the last word, and Dean's stomach takes a furious, downwards swerve. Right. Great job, now you're going to get him upset. Himself upset, as well, though that thought wasn't allowed to materialize. God damn, he really is exhausted, if he's speaking clumsily enough to inadvertently bring her up. He's sharper than that, usually. "Just… get into bed," he repeats, turning on his side and wrapping his arms around the pillow, pressing his eyes into his forearm.
There's a small sigh from behind him, and he makes a show of adjusting his position, settling down, showing that he's not going to tuck Sam into bed or any crap like that. A few moments pass, then a quiet shuffling tells him that his brother is taking care of such a thing on his own.
Good. He ignores the slight twist of guilt in his stomach, the thought that maybe four years old isn't enough for Sam to be taking care of himself.
They're not average people, though. They never have been. And Sam's not a kid, not really. He can manage.
At least, that's what Dean tells himself, and it successfully pushes his discomfort aside long enough for him to get to sleep.
The crying wakes him up.
He's not sure how it manages to, since it's so quiet, just a soft series of sniffles. Much more muted than a four-year-old's should be, unmistakably muffled by a pillow. He tries to shake it off at first, recognizing that he must not have been sleeping for long by the heavy exhaustion that still weighs him down and the strained headache pounding at his skull. But there's something about the little whimpers that creeps down his spine, sets him on edge, and after a good three minutes or so he sits up in bed, a hiss of frustration escaping his lips.
Sam silences himself immediately, a single quick sniff followed by quietness. Dean contemplates trying to sleep again, pretending that he never heard anything, but before he can reach a definite decision, the thump of discarded covers from the other bed reaches his ears. He rolls his eyes into the darkness, then focuses on the tiny figure walking towards him, its head down and shoulders slumped.
"Hey, Sammy, I thought I told you to get some sleep," he mumbles thickly. His tone is somehow much more tender than he intended. "We gotta get up pretty early tomorrow, you know. It's already…" A quick glance at the clock. "Already past three."
"I can't sleep," Sam protests. His wide eyes reflect the faint light filtering through the single window's thin curtain. "The bed's too big."
"Well, sorry, but I can't exactly get you a cradle."
He bites his lip, tear trails glinting on his cheeks. God. If the adult Sam has a decent puppy-dog face, than this is just freaking ridiculous. He looks like a cartoon, a caricature of a pleading toddler, and that's even in the low light.
"Alright," Dean finally huffs, "you want to get in bed with me?"
He nods seriously, and heaves himself up on to the mattress at Dean's grudging gesture. Immediately, he scoots to the edge of the covers, which Dean hasn't even bothered to un-tuck, and pulls them loose, slipping his tiny body underneath the cold sheets. "It's cozier under here," he points out as if confused, tugging the blanket up to his chin.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Probably hot as hell, though."
"Cozy," he repeats, giving a small shrug.
Dean watches him until his eyes begin to ache, unable to help focusing on the sticky tear trails that still streak his round cheeks. He's just so damn little, tucked into bed with his eyes wide open. So lonely.
"You should get under the blankets," Sam comments. "You look cold."
A shiver runs down Dean's spine as if prompted by his brother's words, and he clenches his teeth, reluctantly pulling the covers down and sliding in next to him. "There," he growls, making sure that one arm is still lying on top of the blankets, the other bent under his head. "Good enough for you? Will you actually sleep now?"
Sam nods as though such a thing is obvious, and, for the first time, a faint smile twitches at the corners of his mouth as he closes his eyes and presses himself into Dean's chest. "You're warm," he mumbles, and, within moments, he's out like a light.
Dean sighs, his arm moving to encircle the tiny ball of warmth snuggled next to him. It's been ages since he's slept with someone—honest-to-God slept with them, not using such a phrase as a euphemism for fucking, and it's comforting. In little Sammy's own words, cozy.
He catches himself wishing, in the vague dream world of half-sleep, that they could do this more often. Maybe if he was more awake he'd realize how ridiculous such a thought is, but he's not, and so he doesn't.
"I'm telling you, Bobby, I don't know how the hell it happened. We thought we were tracking a normal witch, but then it went all Gandalf on us and blasted him right into this."
Sam watches the exchange between the two older men with a naïve sort of solemnness in his wide eyes, curled up on the corner of Bobby's worn couch with a tattered patchwork quilt clutched between his tiny fingers. His eyes are shadowed with pale purple, a result of his four hours of sleep the previous night. Adult Sam would be used to such a thing, but the miniaturized kid obviously isn't.
"This is a complex spell that he's under, though," Bobby points out, leafing through one of his many thick old volumes, this one's yellowed pages full of spidery text and eerie illustrations detailing the finer aspects of sorcery. "Nothin' that could be cast from a short distance like that, not to mention in such an immediate timeframe."
"I'm just telling you what I saw, okay?" Dean folds his arm and leans against the wall, his stare flickering back and forth between the aged hunter and the tiny one. "If it made sense, we wouldn't be here in the first place."
"I don't know, boy, you tend to come here looking for some pretty damn obvious answers," Bobby grouches, reaching out to take another swig of beer from the amber bottle beside him. It's clear that they haven't caught him in the best of moods, but Dean could hardly care less, to be honest. Their issues at the moment are far from trivial, even compared with the usual peril that the two Winchesters tend to find themselves in.
"Well, this one's not obvious," he snaps. "And it's bad, too. We need answers."
"I don't have answers," is the irritated response, and the book is slammed shut, dust filling the air. "It's obviously some sort of curse, but as for the caster—your guess is as good as mine."
"Dammit." Dean looks over towards Sam again, whose eyes are starting to droop shut despite the stream of light filling the room. "He can't stay like this, it'll screw everything up."
"Then your best bet is to hope it wears off." Bobby shrugs, and for a moment, there's a glint of sympathy in his exhausted eyes. "I know it's not easy to deal with kids, Dean, but you don't have any other option. I know a couple of hunters, young women who are out of the country right now—I'm sure they wouldn't mind you using their house. You will need a house," he adds sternly, "'Cause there's no way that you're gonna go hunting like this."
Sickening desperation twists Dean's stomach. "There's no way at all?" he demands, franticness rising in his tone. "You can't… come on, there's got to be something…"
"There ain't a thing we can do but wait it out. Do you want that house or not?"
By now, Sam's dozing, his cheek pressed into the couch cushion and his diminutive chest rising and falling steadily. Dean doesn't want to stop hunting, but he can't leave Sam behind, either. Of course he can't.
What if it is irreversible…?
Sammy mumbles in his sleep, a wordless slur of sound, and turns his head the other way. His hair, lighter than the adult version's, sticks up in all directions, squashed into spikes.
"Fine," Dean mutters, gazing down at the ground. "We'll take it."