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FIC: three's a crowd

Title: three's a crowd
Fandom: Supernatural
Characters: Tamara, Sam
Words / Rating: 1200 words / PG-13 for language
Era: futurefic, but with spoilers through S4, I guess
Content / Warnings: canon-level violence, general creepiness
Summary: Tamara hasn't seen Sam Winchester in twenty years. She's not sure she's happy to see him now.

A/N: For de_nugis. I did not even begin to do justice to your prompts, but I did enjoy getting to write Tamara again. I hope you find something in this fic to enjoy and that you have very happy holidays. <3

~~~~~

This time, Tamara will die. It’s a vampire this time, and as it hangs over her, breath stinking of cheap whiskey and worse, she spares an instant to find some relief in that: it’s not a demon. She’ll not fall to one of them. Never.

The vampire’s grip is iron, however she struggles. Its knee is planted between her thighs. Its rictus grin stretches wider as it considers her, and it infuriates her with the same old white-hot rage - but she’ll not burn her way out of this one.

“Kinda old,” the vampire says, words misshapen around its teeth. “Kinda tough.” It leans in closer, so that she’d have felt the heat of its breath, if it were human. “But not tough enough.”

Tamara just sees something out of the corner of her eye – a black shadow against a nearly black sky. It’s silent, and it swings something high and brings it low again, and with a squelch, the vampire’s head falls onto Tamara’s chest. Its body slumps on top her, pinning her.

“What the bloody hell,” she says, all that useless fury spilling over now. She shoves at the body, and she can’t quite move it but she can shift herself out from underneath. Free, she rolls over and up onto her knees. She doesn’t know where her knife is. She can’t quite see the person – or thing – that just did her the favor, but she can hear the shift of their weight on the forest’s pine-needle floor. “Put a hand on me, and you’ll regret it.”

Her savior hasn’t spoken a word, and yet now she hears a pause, and then— “Tamara?” The voice is male. The tone of it rings a bell, but a very faint one.

“That’s right,” she says warily. She’s damp with the monster’s juices, spurting sluggishly from its neck, and as she moves she feels the dent in her hip from the branch she fell on top of. That’ll be tender for weeks.

“It’s me,” says the voice. “Sam Winchester.”

It takes her a second or two. “Oh fuck me. It would be.”

--

He helps her up. Offers her a ride and a drink. “I’ve got a ride,” she says.

“Sure,” he says. So polite. Was he polite before? She doesn’t remember.

He’s already one step into a retreat, but she’s bruised and sore and too tired to hang onto old grudges. “I’ll take that drink, though,” she says.

“Sure,” he says again.

They seem to be headed out of the woods at roughly the same angle, so they walk together. Tamara notices Sam’s gait isn’t quite steady. “You hurt?” she asks. If he’s bleeding, it’s like chum in the water for any other vampire in the vicinity.

There’s a pause. “Oh,” he says finally. “No. It—It’s old.”

“Aren’t we all,” she says, and he laughs. She pulls her knife again and holds it at the ready, just in case someone else turns up.

They arrive without incident at Sam’s truck, which turns out to be parked within sight of hers. “Follow me?” he says, like he knows where he’s going.

She expects him to head to the nearest watering hole – she saw a bar on the edge of town that had the vibe of a hunters’ rest - but they pass right through and out the other side, onto a dirt road that winds through the trees. At one point something prickles across her neck: a ward. A sturdy one, too.

Eventually they pull into a clearing. A cabin sits at the edge of it, its porch illuminated by a naked bulb above the door. Tamara gets out of the truck. “Is this your place, then?”

“Yep,” he says, turning, and by the porch light she sees him properly for the first time. Crows’ feet radiate from the corners of his eyes, and gray streaks through the hair pulled back into a ponytail and peppers his five o’clock shadow. But his grin’s got a of boyishness to it that feels a little bit familiar.

It’s a bachelor’s house, she sees as soon as she gets in the door. Papers and books are piled on all the horizontal surfaces, and old dishes sit atop the papers. “Sorry,” he says, following her gaze. “I wasn’t expecting company.”

“Looks a lot like mine,” she says, and enjoys the blink of surprise.

“You, uh.” He retreats further into the house, and she follows. “You have a home base, too, these days?”

“I’m too old to live on the road full-time.”

He laughed again. “Yeah.” He rummages in a cabinet. “Whiskey?”

She considers that, and that’s all it takes to see the vampire looming over her again, unwashed and stinking of rotgut. She shakes off the image. “Beer?”

“We got that, too,” Sam says, heading for the refrigerator.

“We.”

“Well.” He shrugs shoulders only a little thinner after all these years. “Me and myself.”

“And I?” she finishes.

“Nah.” He hands her a cold bottle. “Three’s a crowd, you know.”

There’s an odd note in there she can’t read, but his back is turned, and she lets the comment lie. She twists the cap off her beer and takes a swig. It doesn’t burn like she wants right now, but it doesn’t make her think of vampires, either, and that’s enough. “You’re local, then,” she says. “You the neighborhood watch?”

“Close enough, I guess.” Sam settles at the kitchen table, and Tamara takes the other chair. “And you? I wouldn’t have thought this would’ve hit the big papers yet.”

“I was in the area. Pair of ghouls, couple of towns over.”

“Huh.”

“Pretty well entrenched – hard to tell how long ago the victims had passed. Might’ve been years.”

“What’d they do for food?” Sam asked.

“They ran the morgue,” Tamara said.

Sam barked a laugh. “I’ve heard that trick before.”

“Mm.” She doesn’t ask why he didn’t hear it this time. The signs were there, for those who knew what they were looking at. He can’t have been looking at all. She doesn’t ask about his brother – what was his brother’s name? It was on every hunter’s lips twenty years ago, during that business with the angels. Was it Dan? Dan Winchester, she thinks, that sounds right.

She drinks her beer, and she doesn’t ask. Courtesy, one hunter to another. She reaches the end of the bottle, and Sam says, “You want another one?”

One drink is courtesy, but two is something else. Tamara gives Sam Winchester a long look. He wasn’t an ugly kid, even back when she hated him, and the boyishness suits him now. She could find worse ways to spend the evening. But there’s a light in his eyes that she doesn’t understand. Three’s a crowd worries her, too, and so does the ward she felt coming in and the growing conviction that somewhere in this cabin there should be a dog, though she’s seen no evidence of one.

“I’ve got a long road,” she says instead, and he nods, understanding. He follows her to the door and lets her out. No one stops her, nothing happens, and yet she feels the prickle of that ward on the back of her neck all the way out to the highway.

“Fuck the Winchesters,” she says, vicious and maybe not quite fair, and she doesn’t slow down until she hits the state line.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
de_nugis
Dec. 26th, 2015 02:19 am (UTC)
Eee, this is so great, thank you so much. I love the creepiness and ambiguousness of it. When I got to

“Well.” He shrugs shoulders only a little thinner after all these years. “Me and myself.”

“And I?” she finishes.

“Nah.” He hands her a cold bottle. “Three’s a crowd, you know.”


I was thinking that Sam was living as a warded hermit because of his fears of possession, of their maybe being something else in him, but by the end and Tamara noticing the dog-that-isn't-there and not asking about Dean, I started to wonder if Dean was still around somehow. Or it could be both! Anyway, Tamara deciding not to get deeper in to whatever it is makes all the sense. I always enjoy characters who have the good sense to be wary of Sam and Dean, and self-preservation is an admirable response, and all the more human in your Tamara because she knows that there's irrational leftover anger as well as rational caution and, probably, her equal entrenchment in her own loner life, the kind of life that eventually does end in whatever monster it is that happens to get you, and if that isn't this night, you might as well have a drink with someone.

And I love your take on older Sam, the aging of his appearance combined with that enduring bit of boyishness, and the pattern that Tamara is part of but doesn't really know about, of Sam both withdrawing into himself and having these moments when he reaches out for connection. Hunters are a bunch of lonely people who don't really get less lonely when they are together, and yet there's still a certain connection between them.

Thank you again, this is a delightful Christmas present. I hope you are having a happy, relaxing holiday.
snickfic
Dec. 29th, 2015 02:01 am (UTC)
Yaaay, I am so glad you enjoyed it! I had much higher aspirations for your gift fic, to be honest - I got my assignment and said, "Oh, this will be great! I know just what kids of things de_nugis likes!" But then I got frozen by own my own high expectations, I think, and so you ended up with this, which isn't as complete a story as I would like. :\

Honestly I have no idea what exactly Sam's deal is - the "three's a crowd" bit was meant to maybe suggest a return of Hallucifer, but as for the dog and brother who aren't there, who knows? I figure the Winchesters have likely gotten into all kinds of weird trouble in the twenty years since Tamara last saw them, and some of it has surely stuck.

The part I was really aiming for was this idea of two hunters passing in the night, not quite trusting each other, and how a shared beer or two actually does very little to bridge that gap. So, I am very pleased that you got that out of the fic and enjoyed it. Tamara is just so useful as an outsider observer with very complicated feelings about Sam and Dean, and with her own issues besides. *hearts Tamara*

A very merry Christmas to you, and thank you for the holiday wishes (and for your lovely and effusive comment <3333). My holidays have been very nice. :)
quickreaver
Dec. 28th, 2015 07:13 am (UTC)
ONLY ONE COMMENT? Pfft, people have no taste. ;)

I really loved this. Subtle, ominous, and de_nugis spelled it all out in exactly all the ways I enjoyed this fic. So many teasing possibilities as to what happened to Sam...where is Dean...mystery upon mystery.

Just wonderful!

Happily holidays, snick.
snickfic
Dec. 29th, 2015 02:03 am (UTC)
Ah well, Tamara-centric genfic is a niche taste at the best of times, I think, and the middle of the Christmas holidays are not really the best of times, in terms of fic audience. :)

Anyway, I am so glad you enjoyed it! I was definitely aiming for ominous, and I myself don't know the answers to most of the mysteries - I figure the Winchesters have likely gotten into all kinds of weird trouble in the twenty years since Tamara last saw them, and some of it has surely stuck.

Thank you so much for the lovely comment, and happy holidays to you as well. <3
stripytights
Dec. 30th, 2015 09:03 pm (UTC)
This was marvelously creepy and understated, you built such a great vibe with it. It kicked off with a bang with she spares an instant to find some relief in that: it’s not a demon. She’ll not fall to one of them. Never which really roots your Tamara, and then all that underplay about three's a crowd, the missing dog, and Dan Winchester, and it just gave me a delightful shiver all told. Thanks for this glimpse at a future for Tamara, and the Winchesters.
snickfic
Jan. 17th, 2016 04:39 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I love Tamara so much, and I'm so pleased you enjoyed her here. I think she really has no idea what she's walking into, and very aware of that fact. And I'm glad you liked the vibe. :)
caranfindel
Jan. 1st, 2016 02:35 am (UTC)
Wow. This is really cool. So many unanswered questions, so much untold story hiding between the lines.
snickfic
Jan. 17th, 2016 04:38 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I am not even sure of the answer to most of those questions. :D
jagfanlj
Jan. 2nd, 2016 12:48 am (UTC)
A very unnerving little fic. It whispers of Poe's unsettling tales of beating hearts and rare wines.


eta: Not sure who or which comm led me to you, but I'm definitely friending you so I don't miss out on anything!

Edited at 2016-01-02 12:55 am (UTC)
snickfic
Jan. 17th, 2016 04:35 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! And you are welcome to friend, although honestly I don't write a lot of SPN fic anymore. :(
jagfanlj
Jan. 17th, 2016 06:36 am (UTC)
No worries. I friend based on writing skill as well as shared fandoms.
madebyme_x
Jan. 12th, 2016 04:36 pm (UTC)
Ohhh, so creepy and darkly ambiguous!

I love the atmosphere here you captured here; unsettling from the get go. I loved seeing two hunters sharing a beer, but not really making a connection, and how Tara is wary, and rightly so, in the presence of a Winchester.

I loved the hints here that something is off; no Dean, no dog, and the warding. And I loved how Tara trusted her instincts and left.

Wonderful stuff! Thank you for sharing :)
snickfic
Jan. 17th, 2016 04:34 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for stories where two people meet briefly and make a connection, so it was kind of fun to write the other thing here.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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