Beggars Can’t Be Choosers (1/3)

I had to return to the fun little AU in which Oscar met Castiel, Angel of the Lord. And, inevitably, I had to see how Oscar would fare with the rest of Team Free Will.

I split it into fairly large pieces (chapter length each). The DA Link above is for people who don’t want to read all that while scrolling tumblr.

( 2 ) ( 3 ) ( DA Link )


Oscar was out of breath by the time he returned home. His frantic glances gave his house in the walls a warped, scary appearance. Normally, home was safe. It was drafty at times and he couldn’t let dust collect for more than a day before it overran him, but it was home. He could go there after a day of foraging supplies and sit on his ring box chair to sew or burrow into his blanket nest to sleep.

Now, he couldn’t stay. It wouldn’t remain safe for long.

He’d seen it through the office window. A large, white van parked in a visitor’s spot. The logo on the side was for a pest control company.

He didn’t stay to find out how much they planned to do. There was no time, and it meant they’d be on the lookout anyway. That would lead to humans watching closer. Setting traps.

Maybe even checking the walls and finding Oscar’s safe haven inside.

He almost ripped the curtain in front of his pantry down in his haste to pull it aside. The shelves were sparse, but Oscar would need to take as much as he could. His hands shook as he distractedly bundled his stored food in scraps of cloth and plastic. It had to take up as little space as he could make it.

His heart fluttered as he tucked the food away in his cloth bag. There was still room for more inside, and he shifted things around as he knelt by his ring box. Underneath the satin lining, the foam setting of the box had two spare sewing needles poked into it. Oscar retrieved them and pinned them alongside their twin in his latest sewing project. That was bundled away into his bag, too.

It was time to go. Oscar couldn’t carry much more without slowing himself down. He shot one forlorn glance at the nest of blankets that was his bed before leaving his home behind. He closed the door as tightly as he could, but who knew if it would matter?

His trek through the walls took him towards the other side of the motel. He rarely made the trip, because of the long walk and the division between the two sides, but he couldn’t leave without seeing if the others knew. They needed to reach safety just as much as he did.

He was in the vents when he heard it. Something down the long line of metal corridors snaking through the walls, something clanged. It reminded him of the sound of the furnace turning on after a long summer of minimal use.

No warm air came. Oscar stood silent and frozen for a long moment and waited, but the air in the duct didn’t move. He inched towards the sound, squinting in the dark as if it would materialize an answer. His heart pounded in his tiny chest and the seconds drew out longer and longer with no more signs.

The duct echoed with another bang and Oscar squeaked.

He huffed, but his frustration melted away when he heard the muffled tone of the motel owner, a nice older lady who tended to project. She had to be at least a room away, but Oscar, accustomed to the sound of her voice since he was a young child, picked out her words one by one.

“… Have to cut the drywall? … Almost broke the air duct!”

“Sorry, Ma’am,” mumbled another voice. Oscar had never heard it before in his life.

Pest control. They were already opening up the walls for whatever they planned to do. The man delved into an explanation, but Oscar didn’t stay to hear it. There would be no getting past that to get to the others, and he couldn’t be anywhere near when they started their inspection of things.

He ran. His tiny legs didn’t carry him very far with each stride, but Oscar made up for it the best he could. His cloth-wrapped feet landed silently in the air duct as he rushed away. He needed to find a safe place to hide, and fast.

He put another motel room between himself and the broken section of wall before he slowed down. Heavy breathing still didn’t make a sound as he trekked, though Oscar’s heart pounded in his ears.

Something heavy hit the floor in the nearest room. It jolted Oscar out of his thoughts and he nearly released another squeak of fear. Whatever had dropped had clattered together. From the sound of it, a human in the nearest room had tossed his bag against the wall. The earthquake was familiar.

“See that pest control van outside, Sammy? Think they’d help out with a little vampire infestation?” a voice joked as the owner of the bag stepped away from where he’d dropped it. Confidence ran in an undercurrent to the loud voice. Oscar paused to hear for a reply.

The man was talking about vampires. The confusion was distraction enough for Oscar’s desperate run to stop.

At first, there was only an amused scoff. Then, “Sammy” answered in a tone that suggested the first human made jokes like that far too often. “Let’s just hope they’re not here for roaches.

The first human snickered, and Oscar shuddered. The derision in “Sammy’s” voice was clear, and Oscar knew that he was the pest they didn’t want to see.

He shifted his bag on his shoulder and started again on his trek through the vents. While the humans talked more, he found himself tuning them out. Even discussions about vampires didn’t hold his attention for long. He needed to find out what he’d do, especially if the pest control man put poison or traps in the walls.

If that happened, his safe home would no longer be safe for him. Even if they didn’t find his little hovel tucked away inside the walls, the paths would become dangerous and deadly for him.

He reached another crossroads and paused once more. He listened to the room with the would-be vampire enthusiasts one more time and froze as the first human’s latest words sank in.

“We’ll head out after I sleep in, you mean,” he groused. “Who needs to rush out before the sun’s up?”

The Sam one scoffed again. “Just figured we wouldn’t want to waste our time if there’s not a case here, Dean,” he answered. “We’re not here to see the Breckenridge tourist traps.”

‘Dean’ wasn’t convinced. “And go where in such a hurry, huh? Haven’t seen any signs of Lucifer lately, and no calls from anyone on anything big somewhere else. Besides, we’re low on cash, so I should hit the bar.”

Oscar fidgeted where he stood. They planned to leave the following day. Drifters. They would likely find another motel to stop at by the same time tomorrow.

Maybe they’d find a motel that wasn’t full of traps and poison.

It wasn’t a good option, but Oscar wasn’t sure he had any good options to choose from. He glanced around to remember where he was, and soon set off towards the vent into the room. He could at least see what kinds of people they were. Then he could decide.

It wasn’t the first time someone his size had to consider traveling with an unaware human. Sometimes, a place became unsafe and desperation inspired all kinds of things.

Like Oscar thinking seriously about stowing away with a pair of humans that joked about vampires.

He reached the vent in time for one of the humans to wander by towards the bathroom alcove. He blanched. The man’s boots alone were huge, maybe even big enough to squash Oscar’s entire house in a single step. From his angle low to the ground, he couldn’t see all the way up to the human’s face until he was already at the bathroom counter. He was huge, and the flannel shirt he wore would be enough fabric for several blanket nests.

The other one was standing near the nightstand between the beds. He was enormous as well, and Oscar could see the intent look on his face in profile as he stared at the pamphlet explaining the TV channels.

Both of them carried themselves with a confident air that Oscar recognized. He’d seen a lot of tough guests in the motel before, drifters on their way to another job with no care for uncertainty.

They were scary, but drifters were his best shot at finding a new motel home, someplace familiar. It would make things easier after having to leave the only place he’d ever known. Oscar didn’t want to go, but at least these humans had given him a better chance of making it without pest control ever finding out.

He glanced down the air duct the way he’d come, and then settled down to wait near the vent.

~~~

Eventually, Oscar found out which of the two was “Dean” when the man announced he was going to the bar. The slam of the door vibrated all the way through the walls to where Oscar sat waiting, contemplating. The longer he thought about it, the less he wanted to go through with it. He had never tried stowing away with humans before.

With only one human in the room, he felt it safe to creep forward and survey what they’d brought with them from the very edge of the vent. He could easily duck back into the dark if there was any sign of the gargantuan Sam noticing him there.

They had a couple duffel bags, well worn and decently full. Standard drifter fare. He imagined several sets of clothes, maybe some toiletries packed within. The side pouches might contain snacks.

Those would be a good option, except the snacks might make them more likely to go looking around before he wanted them to. The bigger compartments would be scary to hide in, and Oscar could only imagine being trapped under too much fabric and finding himself stuck among the folds. There was nothing for it; he’d have to examine the bags up close eventually before he decided.

Of course, there was one other bag. Sam had it sitting on the floor next to the table where he sat poking at his laptop. Oscar watched him warily for a moment. The human was leaning forward and the light from the screen partially illuminated his intent eyes. He didn’t even seem to care that his fluffy bangs were hanging down in his face.

Oscar returned his focus to the laptop bag. It would be more cramped, but it had side pouches, too. A computer was more likely to be carried carefully. Maybe Oscar would be better off with Sam’s stuff rather than one of the big, intimidating duffel bags.

The human heaved a sigh so sudden and so heavy with frustration that Oscar flinched back from the vent. When he leaned forward again, he found Sam leaning back from the computer at last and rubbing at his eyes, before slamming the laptop closed with a sharp clack!

Next, he rose from his seat and reminded Oscar just how enormous he was. Sam would probably easily reach the ceiling so high above if he were so inclined. Oscar watched with wide eyes as long strides shuffled the human into the bathroom. He could not afford to forget that he was dealing with giants, unaware or not.

While said giants were out of sight, Oscar made his next move. He slipped through the metal slats of the vent and into the room, where his heart rate immediately skyrocketed. Out there, he was exposed, and if someone glanced his way he would have to run.

Even without someone looking at him, he bolted, straight for the dresser nearby. He only had a few feet to go and he’d have a better position to get to whichever bag he settled on as soon as the humans gave him another chance. It would be simple.

He did not count on the bathroom door opening again so soon.

Only a few inches before he ducked safely into the shadows under the furniture, there was a thunderous “Woah–shit!” behind him. Even as he darted under cover, Oscar knew it was too late.

The floor trembled with heavy steps and Oscar all but dove for the middle of the space under the dresser. His heart pounded so fast that it seemed like one beat melded into the next.

There was one final earthquake that toppled Oscar over as the human all but threw himself down on the floor. A shadow hid the room from view, and a pair of huge hands planted on the worn carpet. Oscar pushed himself backwards to the wall in time for part of a face to dip view, one hazel eye dilating as it tried to focus on him.

Then he fell still. The human scanned under the dresser, and for a blessed moment he thought maybe the shadows were enough to conceal him.

“Dude, what?”

The confused whisper dashed his hopes. Oscar’s shoulders bunched up almost to his ears and he balked away even further. There were no escapes into the wall from under the dresser in this room. His only escape routes were back at the vent, and another under one of the beds. Both would require him to come out from under the dresser, and he was not going to do that while a human was out there.

A staring contest began between them. The giant human called Sam watched Oscar, and Oscar watched him. One stared with interest and curiosity, and the other with terror for his life.

He sucked in a gasp when one of the hands moved forward. Sam fit his hand underneath the dresser, but a few inches past his wrist his arm was too thick. His fingertips lifted from the carpet as if he might still reach, and Oscar drew himself back even further.

Sam’s lips thinned to a line and he drew his hand back. He had to squint, but Oscar somehow knew there was no escaping that keen gaze now. He was good at blending into the shadows when he wanted, but he had caught the human’s attention completely.

“Come on out of there,” the human said. His voice was softer than the barbed sarcasm he’d used with Dean, but Oscar didn’t trust it. Lots of humans baited traps with honey. He shook his head.

Sam huffed. “It’ll make this easier on everyone if you just come out.”

Oscar shook his head again, more vigorously than before.

Sam showed him half of a bitchface for that, and shifted where he knelt. As he settled in, more tremors rumbled through the floor and Oscar drew his knees close to his chest. He was as patient as anyone could be; he had to outlast the human. Sam would have to get up eventually, and maybe Oscar would find an opportunity to dash back to the vent.

The quiet standoff didn’t last as long as he expected.

Metal scraped and clicked from the door, and Oscar’s eyes widened as it swung into the room. He only saw a sliver of the view from under the dresser, but it was enough to see the afternoon shadows on the sidewalk outside as a pair of scuffed leather boots carried the other human back into the room. His troubles had gotten twice as bad.

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