Author: victoria p. [musesfool]
Summary: Sam and Dean help out one of Sam's college friends who's in trouble. Because that always goes so well for the Winchesters.
Characters: Sam and Dean (some past Sam/OFC)
Original story: (One Minute at a Time) by angelgazing
Notes: Many thanks to laurificus for the beta.
Word count: 2,910 words
One Minute at a Time (Blast from the Past Remix)
It's dark, and it's hot, and there's a possessed serial killer of the chainsaw wielding variety on the other side of the door, and they're in a closet, of all places. The sad part is, Sam's not sure which of those things is worse.
"I hate you," Dean says conversationally, like anyone else might say, How about them Cowboys?, which means he's currently annoyed and probably moving into really pissed. Sam shifts his foot, unerringly finds Dean's shin even in the dark. Of course, it's a pretty small closet. "Ow."
"Shut up, Dean. Do you want the chainsaw wielding maniac to find us?" Sam's pretty pleased with the urgency he's managed to pack into that whisper, but it's nothing compared to the full-on glare Dean turns on him, which he can't really see, because of how dark it is in their little closet, but he can totally feel the metaphorical flames on the side of his face. Sometimes, Sam's surprised that Dean's not the one with psychic powers. Of course, if Dean could kill things with his brain, the world might not have to worry about overpopulation. "This is not my fault," he adds, trying to forestall Dean's next argument.
Dean, of course, will not be forestalled. "Oh, Dean, don't be stupid, this is exactly our kind of problem. We have to help this poor, defenseless girl. She's one of my friends from college, and trying to help them out has never gotten us into any kind of trouble," he answers, in the annoying falsetto he likes to pretend is Sam's voice. "Hey, remember the guy who stole your face and now you're a wanted serial killer?"
Sam kicks him again. "This is not my fault," he repeats, just for clarification.
"And what is it with these freaks and horror movies?" Dean's a little more indignant, a little more vehement, warming up to his subject now that the loud hum of the chainsaw will drown out nearly any noise he makes.
"Don't worry, Dean, I don't think he wants to dress you in lederhosen."
"You shut up."
The chainsaw buzzes again, and over it, they can hear a woman screaming.
That shuts them both up pretty quickly.
24 hours earlier
"Sam? Sam Winchester?"
"Who is this?"
"Jenny Kim." There's a pause, like he's supposed to know who she is, and there's something in the back of his mind, a faint tickle, like he does, or maybe he did once. "We had Global Justice together. With Professor Cohen."
Shit. "Jenny, hi. How'd you get this number?"
"Ellen Harvelle gave it to me. She said you could help with a...problem I'm having."
Sam lets out a gusty sigh and grabs a pen. "Tell me about it."
Ten minutes later, they're on their way to New York.
Sam can feel the curiosity coming off Dean in waves, but Dean taps along with most of side one of Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy before he finally gives in (during "Pictures of Lily") and asks, "How do you know this girl?"
Sam hates it when the professor divides them up into groups to do projects. First of all, he has to be social, and that's still always nerve-wracking; it's the same as being the new kid every six weeks, and different, because he's not leaving in a month, so whoever he is when they meet him is who he's always going to have to be, and that's harder than he expected. Second, there's always at least two people who don't pull their weight, and he ends up doing all the work anyway, so he'd just rather work by himself the whole time.
Some of his professors understand that when he explains it, but Professor Cohen isn't one of them. Sam's not sure she even knows his name--the TAs do most of the work in class, and they don't give a rat's ass about his grades or his social anxieties.
He's already answered his first set of questions and he's working on answering everybody else's when the one girl in his group sits down next to him, smelling of fabric softener and expensive shampoo. Her hair is dark with deep red streaks, the jagged ends brushing the strong line of her jaw, and her square plastic glasses make her look like a funky librarian.
"I knew it," she says.
He looks up, brow wrinkling in confusion. "What?"
"You and I are going to have to do all the work on this project. The others are totally useless." She grins, wide and sharp, and holds out her hand. "Jenny Kim."
"Sam Winchester." Her hand feels tiny and fragile in his when he shakes it, but she's got a good grip and isn't intimidated by him, even though he's as tall sitting down as she is standing up.
They work all semester on the project--it's thirty percent of their grade--and when it's turned in, they celebrate. They order in Thai food and she produces a bottle of tequila to go with the six pack of Corona he liberates from his roommate. Sam can feel the heady thrum of lust and accomplishment, beer and spicy food, under his skin, and it's what he always expected--hoped--college would be.
Her room is papered in the usual prints--"The Scream" on one wall and "Dark Side of the Moon" on the other--and he wonders if they just leave the same posters up in every room.
They sit on her bed discussing the project, the class, how they think they did and how everything else is going. They do shots of tequila, and by the third one, he's licking salt off her neck and sucking the lemon out of her mouth. He can hear Dean in the back of his mind, cheering him on--Way to go, Sammy. I always knew you had it in you--but he forces himself to concentrate on Jenny, to not think about Dean or how long it's been since they've spoken.
He tells her he's looking at a pre-law track, wants to make a difference in the world, but he's not sure. His words swirl around in his head, tumble out of his mouth, and he thinks maybe he's not making much sense, but she beams at him.
"I'm going pre-law, too," she says, pulling away to grab another lemon. "You should let me do a reading for you. Make sure you're on the right track."
Sam stills, wary. "A reading?"
Jenny reaches behind him, to the shelf at the head of the bed, and pulls out a deck of Tarot cards. "The cards don't lie."
Sam's stomach rolls at the sight, and instead of answering, he leans in and presses his mouth to hers, no lemon between them this time. She tastes of tequila and citrus, and as he pulls her down to lie on top of him, he can hear the pack of cards hit the floor. He relaxes, then, and settles back to enjoy himself. He doesn't freak out at all at the pentacle tattooed on the small of her back, or the runes on the curve of her hip.
He also doesn't stay to answer her questions about his scars, or anything else. "I'll give you a call," he promises, and she gives him a sleepy goodbye kiss.
4 hours earlier
Jenny looks exactly the same, and yet completely different. She's wearing an expensive gray pantsuit and her dark hair is tied back in a sleek, complicated bun, no red streaks in sight. She's still got the funky librarian glasses, though, and even with the three inch heels on her boots, she doesn't come past his shoulder.
"Wow, Sam," she says. "You look good."
He flushes. He can see Dean grinning out of the corner of his eye, half mocking and half impressed. "You, too, Jenny. I'm, uh," he scratches the back of his neck, "I'm sorry I never called."
Dean barks out a surprised laugh, but Sam and Jenny both ignore him. "It was a dick move, Sam, but I got over it."
Dean laughs again and holds out his hand. "I'm Dean," he says, as she shakes it. "Looks like for once I get to be the nice brother."
Sam can't hold back a snort at that, but Jenny doesn't seem to notice or care. "So what's really going on?" he asks, as they all settle into chairs around the small conference table in her office.
"I've always been interested in the occult," she says, and Sam nods. "I never really thought--I don't know what I thought, you know? But I dabbled a little in Tarot, joined a Wicca group in college, the usual type thing. I didn't have time for it in law school, though, or after, and I let it go. But I've got debts, and my mother got sick, and the insurance refuses to pay for her treatment. Bastards." He and Dean make sympathetic noises, which she ignores. She wrings her hands for a moment, then folds them tightly, skin on her knuckles pulled taut, and sets them on the table. Sam remembers her hands, small and warm, on his skin, tasting of lemon and salt in his mouth. "I'm working hundred and twenty hour weeks and I'm barely getting by, thanks to hospital bills. Then I met this guy."
"He have red eyes?" Dean asks. "You make some kind of deal?"
"What? No. Do I look like an idiot? I don't sign any contracts that aren't thoroughly vetted," she scoffs. "I didn't specialize in contract law for nothing. No, he was part of this...support group. It seemed very harmless and new-agey at first. A lot of praying to the goddess and lighting candles and drinking wine. I don't know. It was kind of comforting and familiar. But little by little, things started to change. Gary--the guy I met--he brought this book to one of our meetings, started doing these little rituals. At first, it didn't seem like anything different--he was still calling on the goddess, except now instead of eating brie and drinking wine, we were chanting in Greek and calling on Hecate." She's agitated now, gets up and goes to her desk, grabs the bright blue neoprene bottle and takes a swig. Sam hopes it's water. "He said she could help me with my career, with my money problems. Maybe even make my mom's cancer go away.
"Wanda Jacobs and I were the only two people in the group who didn't go for it." Jenny clutches the bottle to her chest like a security blanket. "Now she and her family are dead, and I found this in my mailbox yesterday morning." She picks up something else from the desk and hands it over.
It's a picture of her and her mom from her college graduation; their eyes are blacked out and slashes are drawn across their throats in black ink. She lays it on the table, and Sam has to admit, it's creepy and effective.
"They want you to be scared," he says.
"Well, they've succeeded."
Dean frowns. "Did you take this to the police?"
Sam kicks Dean's ankle under the table. "Jenny, would you excuse us for a second?"
She glances between them and then nods. "Sure. You stay here. I'll be right back."
When she closes the door behind her, Sam says, "Do you really think this isn't our kind of thing?"
Dean shrugs a shoulder. "It just seems more like a stalker than a demon." Sam glares at him until he shrugs again. "Fine, but if it turns out to be a stalker, you're on digging detail for a month."
15 minutes earlier
"Dude, I'd've thought her apartment would be bigger."
Sam looks around at the small space, the coffee table covered in piles of unopened mail, the tiny kitchen. He and Jess might have lived in an apartment like this one, if he'd finished college, gone to law school. Maybe he'd be the one working hundred and twenty hour weeks, and she'd be trying to make it as an artist. For a brief second he can see it so clearly--she'd have painted a mural on the wall, and his books would have been piled up everywhere, and they could have been happy.
He feels a brief pang at the loss, knowing now that was never going to be his life. Knowing that even if it could have been, it still wouldn't have been safe.
"High ceilings," he says, like he's trying to sell Dean on the tiny apartment, "and hardwood floors."
"You can't swing a dead cat in here, Sammy." Dean shimmies his shoulders in a mock shudder.
"You live out of a duffle bag, Dean. How much room do you need?"
"The whole country is my living room," Dean answers, spreading his arms wide and nearly knocking over an ugly brass lamp. Sam swoops in to keep it from tumbling to the floor. "Mexico's my backyard."
"When was the last time you were in Mexico?"
"While you were at school, Dad sent me down to Acapulco. Took out some revenants, did some partying."
Sam opens his mouth to dispute that, because he can't see Dad sending Dean to Mexico all alone, but something prickles along his spine and he catches a whiff of ozone and sulfur in the air a second before the elevator dings in the hallway outside the apartment.
"Shit." He opens the door to the closet and shoves Dean inside, then pulls the door shut behind him. The closet is packed with coats and boxes and there's a shelf at just about shoulder height, and not nearly enough room in there for the stuff that belongs there, let alone him and Dean crammed in on top of it.
Nothing happens for a few minutes. They hear one side of a muted phone conversation--Sam can't make out any of the actual words--and then the flush of the toilet.
"She didn't mention she had a roommate," Dean whispers.
"That's because she doesn't."
Sam can't see Dean's face, because it's dark in the closet, but he knows him well enough to slap a hand over his mouth before he starts ranting.
"This is our guy," he says.
Dean's answer is muffled and Sam braces himself for the licking, but doesn't move his hand. Dean goes for the unexpected, and jams a hand in Sam's jacket pocket instead. Sam growls low, but Dean doesn't seem to care. Sam grabs his fingers--and the Sharpie he's got hold of--and that's when Dean blows a raspberry against his palm. Sam drops both hands, surprised, and the two of them freeze, hoping the guy in the living room didn't hear their shenanigans.
The television clicks on, and they both sigh quietly at the reprieve. They jostle silently for position as Sue Simmons gives the day's headlines.
Dean gets more and more fidgety as time passes, and Sam's almost ready to concede that maybe this isn't their guy, maybe Jenny's got a roommate or a boyfriend she forgot to mention. His foot is falling asleep and he's getting a crick in his neck from the awkward position he's wedged himself into, and he can hear Dean humming under his breath as he draws on the inside of the door and the wall next to his head, and any other bit of the closet he can reach. Sam just hopes he's not writing for a good time, call Sam. (Ask for Dean.) It wouldn't be the first time.
He's thinking about trying to get his phone out of his pocket and texting Jenny to find out if she does have an unmentioned roommate or boyfriend when they hear the cough and sputter of an engine turning over, and then the high whine of a chainsaw.
"We are so screwed," Dean mutters, and Sam can't argue with that.
30 minutes from now
"Thanks, Sam," Jenny says, giving him another hug as the EMTs load her formerly-possessed demon-summoning friend Gary into an ambulance.
"Any time," he answers, giving her a squeeze back. "But try not to get involved with anymore chainsaw-wielding crazy people, okay?"
She laughs. "So this is what you do? Why you left school?"
He thinks of Jess, of Mom, of Dad. He thinks of Stanford and how much he'd loved it there, and of Dean and how he can't live without him. "Yeah."
"You must have thought I was an idiot when I offered to read your cards."
He laughs softly. "No, I just--I didn't want anything to do with," he waves a hand, "this." He steps back, to where Dean is waiting, and says, "But, you know, it's my life."
She nods like she understands, and Sam is sure she thinks she does.
He follows Dean back to the garage where they parked the car. They walk quietly for a few minutes, and then he says, "That was pretty good thinking, drawing a devil's trap on the inside of the door."
"Would have worked too, except for the part where he cut the door in half with the chainsaw." Dean laughs ruefully and shakes his head, like he can't quite believe their bad luck.
"Could have happened to anyone," Sam replies, shrugging a shoulder, mouth turning up in a half-grin.
"I guess it's a good thing you've still got some mojo," Dean says, and though it's grudging, Sam can hear acceptance, too. He moves closer to Dean, lets their shoulders bump as they walk down Columbus Avenue, and if Dean says anything, he'll just claim it's because the sidewalk is crowded.