Quiet As a Mouse

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1)  This prompt came in ages ago and I’m 99% sure it was actually meant for @nightmares06, but I hoarded it anyway.

2)  Long-ish read, about 2k words. Couldn’t find a good place to split it up.

¯_(ツ)_/¯


“Quiet as a mouse.”

One of Oscar’s favorite phrases, the words became something of a mantra for him when he went out looking for supplies. He had long since forgotten where he learned it. So many people came and went every day, and so many of them left the TV on full volume. Any one of them could have taught him about it.

As far as Oscar was concerned, “quiet as a mouse” was the ultimate goal. He’d learned a lot from his furry neighbors within the walls. The motel offered a haven, but only so long as no humans knew they were there.

Oscar had known the comings and goings of the mice for years. He’d taken a trick or two from them. His steps were as silent as theirs were, so his cloth-wrapped feet could carry him undetected through even the dustiest of passages.

These skills kept him hidden day in and day out checking rooms. Even occupied rooms never noticed his passing by. Humans often wouldn’t even imagine someone like Oscar (or even just a mouse) would be around.

He told himself this over and over, and still he was afraid now.

Out in a room, hanging from the back of the nightstand, Oscar was frozen. The crumbs stuffed into his cloth bag were heavier than ever on his shoulder, and his hands gripped the lamp cord with white knuckles.

The room was supposed to be empty.

Check in time was long past. Any late arrivals, and he’d have heard them unlock the door. Would have felt heavy footsteps walking into the little motel room. The sun had already set outside and the lights were off.

But he wasn’t alone. Passing headlights had washed across the far wall and Oscar had seen it. The silhouette of a human.

And now he was stuck behind the nightstand. His heart pounded and he dared not move. If the lamp cord shifted, he would lose his cover. A giant face would appear overhead, and a giant hand would follow. He could be captured or hurt, all because a human had somehow snuck into the room.

Quiet as a mouse.

A rough, gravelly voice broke the silence. “Hello? Is someone there?”

He sounded fearsome, that human. Fearsome and big and suspicious. Oscar shuddered and closed his eyes tight. No one here. Please.

The floor creaked under a step, and then another. Oscar trembled. He had watched many steps like that from the floor. Hiding under the dresser or the bed, he would have a clear view of a heavy shoe pressing into the carpet and crushing it flat. Just like he would be if he didn’t stay out of the way.

Hidden away behind the nightstand, Oscar could track those giant steps across the floor as if he were watching them. His heart fluttered. They were coming closer.

A whimper of fear wanted to make itself heard. Like many before it, Oscar quelled it in his chest. He couldn’t let the human find him out. He’d remain perfectly still for as long as he needed to. They were probably going to bed. Once they laid down, he could climb to the floor and escape the room at last. It was no different to any other time caught out in a room.

“You can come out.” The gravelly voice was practically overhead. The human was close.

Oscar flinched. Terror raced through his limbs and turned his hands to jelly for an instant. That was all it took to loosen his grip on the lamp cord, and the slick coated wire slid through his fingers. A choked yelp of fear blurted out of him as he dropped. Oscar wasn’t used to falling.

Or hitting the floor from so high up.

He landed badly. One leg took the brunt of the impact, and something near his ankle exploded with pain. The other foot twisted beneath him, and Oscar crumpled.A husky cry cut short and he pitched backwards to stare at the dark ceiling above.

Tears rushed out of his eyes and he trembled as his body assessed the damage. His leg had to have broken. The other ankle was sprained. Oscar would have to crawl.

An oppressive silence filled the air. Oscar usually liked the quiet, but this time it was ominous. Terrifying. There was no way that human didn’t hear his pained outbursts.

He would have trouble escaping even without his injuries. With them, Oscar didn’t stand a chance.

He sat bolt upright when the nightstand shifted. His eyes blew wide at the sight of something so big, so familiar and constant, lifting off the floor. It hovered an inch up before it moved aside, revealing a huge hand holding up one side. Oscar was exposed at last to the suddenly-appearing human.

The human set the nightstand down and knelt in between the beds. His long, tan coat crumpled on the floor around him like some kind of tent to Oscar’s eyes. Oscar eyed his nicer shoes and pants before focusing upwards. That face was staring right at him, and he trembled as more tears blurred the image of mussed up hair and an appraising squint.

“You … are not what I expected,” the man finally announced in his scary, rough voice. “Are you … human?”

Oscar stared in silence for a long time. The man simply stared back. While he waited for answers, he shifted one hand to rest on his knee and the other to brace against the ground.

He leaned in closer, looming over Oscar where he’d fallen. That intent scrutiny was like ice raking over Oscar’s skin. He pushed himself backwards with his hands the best he could, though it pained his legs to do so. More tears rolled down his cheeks.

He yelped when the hand on the floor lifted up and moved toward him. Oscar couldn’t curl up into a ball like he normally might, so instead he lifted his arms and ducked his head to try to protect his neck. He waited with his eyes shut tight for that hand to fall over him, either crushing him or grabbing him up. He was at this man’s mercy.

But the moment never came.

Oscar peeked up and found the man’s arm extended right beside him. One look behind found a huge hand set like a wall at his back. Oscar couldn’t try to scoot away, but the human still hadn’t grabbed him or hurt him more.

“Do you understand?” the man asked. His gravelly voice rumbled through Oscar’s core.

He was flustered and shook his head frantically with the first question in mind. Then, he caught himself and nodded instead. A shaky sob finally escaped him and he lifted his hands to cover his face as he cried.

“You do not need to be afraid, little one,” the man said. His voice was still rough and loud overhead, and Oscar trembled in spite of the attempt to comfort him. It wouldn’t matter what he said. He had Oscar cornered and hurt. Fear was the only option available to him, stuck in a dark room with a terrifying human in control.

The man sighed. “I am going to bring you out of this corner now,” he warned.

That was all Oscar had before the hand behind him scooted forward. Oscar cried out as it touched him, and then hissed in pain as it tilted to scoop under him. In a manner of seconds, he left the floor behind. He was flat on his back as the hand lifted him up, and then his stomach dropped out as the man stood up.

Oscar shook like a leaf and finally opened his eyes when he was held before the human’s face. With some extra light from the window, he saw concern blending in with the cautious confusion in those striking blue eyes.

“Let me help,” the man said. His other hand approached with the first two fingers outstretched.

Oscar whimpered and tried to push himself back. He was too slow and too small, and the fingertips reached him. He went rigid, expecting a jab at his hurt leg. Instead, they brushed at his forehead.

A soft light blinded his eyes. Oscar tensed as that light seemed to wash through him to every inch of his small body. A wave of relief followed in its wake, and he drew in a startled breath.

The pain was gone. Even the hollow feeling in his middle had simply vanished.

The fingertips went away and Oscar sat up straighter. He patted himself down and confusion dawned on his face. His leg looked like it had never been injured. The pain was a fading memory as he brushed a hand along the mended limb.

He finally looked up at the man in shock. No human could have done that. He brushed at his eyes only to find that whatever miracle had healed him had also cleaned his face. There was no speck of dust or residue of tears to be found on him.

“Um. Tha-thank you?” Oscar squeaked out.

The man held him even closer to his face. “You do speak,” he said, though he didn’t sound all that surprised. “Are you a human? Who has done this to you?”

Oscar flinched and shook his head. “N-no one. I’m-I’m just… I’ve always been small.”

The man squinted, but didn’t offer an argument. “Very well.” He lowered his hand to give Oscar some breathing room and glanced around. “Is this where you live?”

Oscar scooted himself to the center of the palm. He might have been healed, but he was still caught and scared. He hugged his knees close.

“It’s just … “ he tried, and then the words retreated. “Um. How did you make me better?”

The man returned focus to Oscar, though he still seemed distracted. “I used Grace,” he replied, as if that would clear things up. “I am an Angel of the Lord, and my name is Castiel.”

“An … an angel?” Oscar squeaked out. He had heard about them, from TV and occasionally around Christmas time when the humans sang about them. He’d never imagined they could be real, but what other explanation did he have? No human could use whatever Grace was and instantly mend Oscar’s leg and cure his hunger.

“Um. What are you doing here?”

“Searching.” Castiel’s reply was quick, and might have felt dismissive if his demeanor didn’t already have a strong sense of otherness.

“Oh,” Oscar replied, averting his eyes. He stared at his cloth wrap shoes where they settled on Castiel’s palm. “Did I get in the way?”

“No,” Castiel replied. When Oscar glanced up again, the angel’s head was tilted and he was squinting at him again. “You are too small to stand in my way.”

A blush rose in Oscar’s cheeks like fire and his shoulders dropped out of sheer surprise. “Um. Right. I meant …”

“You are not a distraction,” Castiel clarified, though as he glanced around the room he seemed very distracted indeed. “Just unexpected. I was told I could find someone here, but you are not that person. You can’t be.”

Oscar huffed quietly and shrugged. “Probably not,” he muttered, settling his chin on his knees. “I’m just Oscar. If you’re looking for a human, most of them don’t stay here for very long before they leave anyway.”

“But you do?” Castiel asked, tilting his head again. “Why?”

Oscar blinked at him. “W-well, I can’t really go somewhere else,” he explained. “I live here. I’ve always been here. It’s not safe to try to leave…” he trailed off, but Castiel continued to stare at him quizzically. That sense of otherness returned. Castiel might look human, but Oscar could believe that he wasn’t. He was far too steady to be human.

“I can’t leave or be seen because a human might hurt me or try to lock me up …” Oscar explained. Again, his voice trailed off sheepishly.

After a long pause in which Castiel stared pensively at Oscar and Oscar tried to pretend he wasn’t trapped up on a hand, the angel spoke again. “I see,” he muttered, though some confusion still laced his voice. “Humans can be terrible to their own, so this isn’t surprising.”

Oscar sighed. He’d watched the news before. “Yeah.”

“Oscar, do you know how to pray?” Castiel asked. As he did, he lifted his hand higher so that Oscar was level with his eyes.

“Huh?” Oscar answered, curling up smaller on reflex. “Y-yeah, I know how … but I don’t do it a lot …” It’s not like someone will answer me.

“If you encounter trouble with humans, I encourage you to pray,” Castiel insisted. This time, there was more confidence in his voice than before. This was something he knew. “It is for angels like me to protect all of my Father’s creation.”

Oscar stared at him with wide eyes and wasn’t sure right away if he was being serious. So far, Oscar had never had trouble with humans. He avoided them the best he could, and so long as they didn’t know he was there, he was safe. “O-okay.”

Castiel nodded sharply. “Good. I need to resume my search now.”

Oscar sucked in a gasp as the platform beneath him suddenly lowered. He had nothing to cling to as Castiel crouched all the way down to the floor again. Oscar curled up into a ball until the hand stopped moving.

Once he looked up, it tilted gently. Oscar slid to the carpet where Castiel had first picked him up.

There was a loud flutter, like something waving in the breeze. Before Oscar had even looked up, Castiel was gone, and no one was looming over him in the room.

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