Sam looked up from behind the bar as the doors to Merlotte’s flew open and his lips turned up just the slightest bit when he saw Tara stalking into the restaurant with murder in her eyes.
“Tara,” he drawled as she approached the bar.
Tara’s dark eyes locked on his for a moment, considering him, and then her gaze shifted past him towards the kitchen. She stared through the serving window for a moment, her nostrils flared, scenting, and then she shifted her attention back to Sam and continued to walk towards the bar.
“You look … pissed,” Sam commented as Tara plopped herself down on one of the barstools in front of him, obviously having realized that Lafayette wasn’t working that night.
“Yeah, well,” Tara drawled, rolling her eyes as she met Sam’s gaze, “the more things change the more they … fuck, you know how the rest of it goes,” she muttered, and Sam's slightly curved lips turned up into a full smile.
“Been a while,” Sam drawled as he tossed the rag he’d been using to wipe down the bar over his shoulder and then settled into a more relaxed position to observe her.
She looked the same as the last time he’d seen her, but, he realized with a touch of sadness, that wasn’t usual, not anymore. Tara might change her hair, her style of clothes and the way she did her make-up, but she would never really look different. She would be twenty-eight forever.
“Been busy,” Tara replied, resting her elbow on the bar top before propping her chin in her hand. “That motherfucker Bill left a hell of a mess to clean up,” she continued, spitting Bill’s name out like it was made of silver. “Eric’s the oldest fuck in the U.S. right now, so a shit-ton of the responsibility for cleaning up after that bleedin’ hemorrhoid Bill has rained down on him. And, since he my gran-pappy now shits been trickle effectin’ down onto my ass.”
“Things seem to be getting back to normal though,” Sam offered tentatively.
It was well past dark and Merlotte’s was at full capacity, which hadn’t been the case for months.
Tara simply narrowed her eyes, cocked her head to the side and proceeded to stare at him.
“Tru Blood factories are up and running again at least,” Sam continued when he realized that Tara wasn’t going to dignify his last comment with an actual verbal response. “We got our first box in months on Tuesday,” he said, glancing to his side towards the storeroom. “Speaking of which … you interested?” he asked, turning back to Tara.
“Naw,” Tara drawled automatically, “but I’ll take one anyway,” she muttered, her lips curving up into a small, self-depreciating smile as she met his eyes. “Thanks,” she added in a gentler tone, knowing that she hadn’t exactly been a glowing beam of moonlight since she’d stormed into the bar.
Sam smiled at her and tipped his head in her direction before saying, “Comin’ right up,” and then he headed towards the storeroom to fetch a bottle of whatever type of Tru Blood had been delivered.
Tara allowed her eyes to scan the restaurant when Sam walked off. The mention of Tru Blood had brought her attention to the fact that she actually was hungry, and unconsciously she began to skim the crowd looking for a more appetizing meal than the bottle of Tru Blood Sam had gone hunting for. As she looked at the – unfortunately – familiar faces around her however, she realized that there wasn’t a goddamn customer in the restaurant that she would willingly put her mouth on.
Maybe Holly, she thought as she caught the blonde’s eye and smiled at her when Holly gave her a little wave, but she knew Holly wouldn’t be too keen on the idea, so there was no point in thinking about it. Fantasizing about Holly’s warm blood flowing into her mouth would just make her actual dinner of Tru Blood taste even worse.
“Here you are,” Sam said, and Tara turned smoothly on her bar stool to face him.
She hadn’t looked like she was paying attention to her surroundings, but she’d been aware of where Sam was since the moment he’d moved back behind the bar.
The bottle of Tru Blood Sam placed in front of her was warm, and Tara wrapped her hands around it, smiling a little as the warmth seeped into her skin. She never got cold since being turned, but she never really felt warm either – except for when she was wrapped up in bed with Pam under an expensive comforter, but she knew that feeling of warmth had everything to do with the fact that she was with Pam and nothing to do with the comforter.
At the thought of her maker, Tara sighed softly and her hands fell away from the bottle of Tru Blood that she had previously been enjoying holding.
Tara’s smiles weren’t exactly rare, but they weren’t abundant either, and Sam took notice when the small one that had been on her lips as she held the warm bottle faded.
Sam took the bar rag off of his shoulder, tossed it over the beer tap and then moved out from behind the bar so that he could take seat on one of the stools next to Tara.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked, realizing that she’d made her way to Merlotte’s that night because she needed to bitch to someone about something that was bothering her.
He suspected she’d come in looking for Lafayette, but he was a good listener and he’d filled in for her cousin on more than one occasion when Tara needed to vent.
“Pam,” Tara muttered viciously, responding as soon as the question was out of Sam’s mouth. “Fuckin’ bitch,” she hissed angling her head down towards the bar top, but not before Sam saw her blink a few times as if she was trying to hold back tears. “She pisses me off,” Tara breathed out, picking at the wooden bar top morosely with her fingernail.
“What happened?” Sam asked gently.
The truth was, he wasn’t a huge fan of the blonde vampire that was Tara’s maker and now her lover, but he wasn’t one to be willfully blind to situations he didn’t like, and it had been clear to him since the first time he’d seen them interact together that they cared about each other. Pam might have been a bitch, but she was fiercely protective of Tara and surprisingly gentle with her, and generally the two of them functioned like a well-oiled sass machine, effortlessly playing off of each other’s sarcastic comments before smiling at each other dreamily, terribly impressed with themselves and each other. Tara didn’t go on and on about Pam like a twelve year old with her first crush, but her tone was usually tender and respectful when she referred to Pam, which meant that they had to have gotten into a pretty bad fight for Tara to be at Merlotte’s calling Pam a bitch.
“Got into a fight,” Tara muttered, stating the obvious.
“What about?” Sam asked.
“Nothin’,” Tara groused. “Shoulda been nothin’ at least. But she a goddamn control freak who’s gotta have a say about every damn thing. And god help everyone aroun’ her if she don’t get her fuckin’ way,” Tara continued, picking at the bar top with her nail hard enough to actually chip a part of it away. “Shit,” she exclaimed. “Sorry.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Sam said, covering her hand with his own and squeezing it lightly.
Lord knew that restaurant had been through worse than Tara’s fingernail. Sometimes, given all of the shit that had gone down within its walls, he was amazed that the place was still standing.
“Why don’ we get outta here, go for a walk,” Sam offered a few moments later when Tara finally looked over at him.
Tara glanced around the crowed bar. Truth was she wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of airing her dirty laundry inside of Merlotte’s. Nobody really seemed to be paying attention to them, but the citizens of Bon Temps were meddlesome fucks who had generally turned eavesdropping into an art, and she wasn’t fooled by none of them – especially Maxine fucking Fortenberry who was sitting at the booth closest to the bar, staring at her menu with a suspicious intensity considering the woman ate at Merlotte’s enough to have the whole damn thing memorized. Nosy bitch, Tara thought, her eyes narrowing at Maxine for a moment before she turned back to Sam.
“Aiight,” Tara murmured, smiling a little at Sam, grateful that he’d made the offer.
“Hey, Arlene,” Sam called out a second later when the redhead walked by them on her way to the kitchen.
“What?” Arlene asked wearily, knowing she was going to be told to do something she didn’t want to do.
“Keep an eye on things will ya? I’m steppin’ out for a bit,” he said nodding his head in Tara’s direction.
Arlene’s gaze focused on Tara for a second and then shifted back towards Sam and a critical expression came onto her face. They thought they were so smart in the past, but she’d seen Tara doing the walk of shame out of Sam’s trailer a time or two. She knew what they’d gotten up to when they disappeared ‘for drinks’ at the end of a shift, but it weren’t none of her business then, and weren’t none of her business now. Still, Sam had his shifter Mexican – or Indian or Italian or whatever she was – girlfriend, and Tara had her scary blonde vamper lady lover, and Arlene did not approve of either them ‘steppin out’ together even if it was only for a bit.
“Ain’t none of my business,” Arlene said holding up her hands. “I don’ wanna know,” she continued shaking her head at the two of them.
“It ain’t like that,” Sam began, but Arlene waved her hands, shaking his response off.
“Ya’ll do what ya’ll gon’ do. I’ll keep an eye on things … for no extra pay … as always,” she muttered, staring at Sam pointedly, and then she continued on her way to the kitchen.
“Goddammit,” Sam muttered as he watched Arlene walk away, knowing that she was going to be giving him attitude for the next few days, and that she’d probably even sic Terry on him for a man-to-man talk about honor and treating one’s woman right.
“We can stay here if you like,” Tara offered knowing exactly what passive aggressive bullshit Arlene would pull with him over the next few days from personal experience.
“Won’t make no difference,” Sam sighed, shaking his head, knowing that it was futile. He’d have to try and have a talk with her later, but at the moment there was no point wasting his energy on her. “Let’s go,” he said decisively, rising to his feet.
Tara got to her feet as well, and they headed for the door.
“What?” Tara asked peevishly as they made their way through one of the paths in the woods that surrounded Merlotte’s.
Even though she wasn’t looking at him, she could feel Sam’s eyes on her and it made her testy.
“You won’t like it,” Sam said, knowing that Tara was already in a mood and that what he said wasn’t going to make her any happier.
“Since when has that ever stopped anybody from sayin’ somethin’ to me?” Tara asked, arching a dark eyebrow at him, and Sam looked down at the ground and smirked.
“She’s just worried about you,” Sam said a moment later, looking back over at Tara.
“I can take care of myself,” Tara replied hotly.
“She knows that,” Sam said calmly, “but it can’t … it won’t stop her from worryin’,” he continued. “You won’t like this either, but what you just described wanting to do … it sounds fucking dangerous,” he continued looking forward, not needing to see the murderous look that had no doubt come into Tara’s eyes.
“It ain’t that bad,” Tara grumbled.
“Oh yeah? How’d you feel if she was one proposing infiltrating one of the last Sanguinista cells in the U.S.?” Sam inquired, turning to watch Tara.
“I wouldn’t exactly be all alone …” Tara began.
“How would you feel?” Sam asked interrupting her.
Tara’s brows scrunched together as she considered his words, then her eyes closed for a moment and she sighed. When she thought about Pam being surrounded by those fanatic fucks it filled her with rage and panic and made her want to smash things and growl.
“Wouldn’t like it,” she admitted looking down at the ground.
“Isn’t she older and stronger than you by over a century?” Sam asked pointedly and Tara looked over at him and narrowed her eyes.
“I get it alright?” she said. “Pam’s older, stronger n’ faster than me, so if I’d worry about her goin’ in there, then how the hell can I be mad about her worryin’ about my baby vamp ass,” Tara muttered grouchily because Sam had a point, a point she should have realized on her own but was too busy being indignant and pissed to clue into.
“Well, yeah,” Sam replied and Tara huffed before looking away from him again.
They walked in silence for a little while as Tara ruminated over the point Sam had made.
“Fuck,” she sighed a couple minutes later.
“I’mma hafta apologize, aren’t I?” she breathed out.
“Probably,” Sam murmured.
“I hate apologizin’,” Tara muttered.
“Don’t I know it,” Sam said.
“The fuck I got to apologize to you about?” Tara asked irritably.
“Not now,” Sam replied looking over at her. “But remember … with the pepper?” he asked.
He’d been at the till behind the bar, counting the cash before locking it up and Tara had been just down the bar filling up the salt and pepper shakers. She’d just finished filling one of the pepper shakers and hadn’t yet put the lid back on when he’d called out her name. She’d startled at the sound of his voice and jerked her hand up as she turned to face him, which had sent a cloud of pepper flying into his face.
“That was your fault,” Tara muttered meeting his gaze, “creepin’ up on me like that. Whaddya expect? ‘Sides, it wouldn’t a been so bad if you didn’t breathe so goddamn much,” she continued, repeating what she’d said to him that night and Sam shook his head at her which brought a little smile to her lips.
At the time her response in conjunction with his stinging eyes and burning lungs had caused him to stumble away from her in fury, but Tara had come to him a minute later with some water and a rag and helped him clean himself up as best he could, and enough time had passed that they could now joke about it.
He’d never gotten an actual apology from her though – and he knew he never would because Tara Thornton hated to apologize.
“I ain’t the only one with things to apologize for though,” Tara said a minute later, drawing him back to the present. “She ain’t faultless,” she continued softly, blinking more than usual as she remembered some of the things that had come out of Pam’s mouth as they argued.
Pam had come out of the gate vicious as fuck after Tara had shared her idea with her. Pam going on the attack had immediately put Tara on the defensive and with both of them angry, things had gotten ugly quickly, too quickly for reason to have a chance to intervene and cool things down.
“Didn’t think she was,” Sam replied carefully. “But someone’s gotta suck it up and apologize first. Listen,” Sam continued, wrapping his arm around Tara’s shoulder as they approached the end of the path, nearing Merlotte’s again. “You and Pam are both … passionate people…”
“That’s code for ‘bitches’ ain’t it?” Tara interjected, smirking a little as she looked up at him.
“Now, I’d never say that, but …” Sam said trailing off and Tara narrowed her eyes at him menacingly for a moment before she smiled again. “The point is … you can turn this into a thing, play games, try and make her apologize first, give her the cold shoulder, and make yourself miserable tryin’ to make her feel like shit, but what good is that? It don’t matter who was more in the wrong. If you don’t wanna fight with her, don’t fight with her. And you know what? I bet ya, if you bend a little, she will too,” Sam finished sagely.
“Why you have to be so damn reasonable all the time?” Tara sighed, knowing that he was right.
“It’s easy when you’re dealing with someone else’s problems,” Sam murmured, knowing that perspective was hard when you were overwhelmed by emotion. “Besides, if you bite the bullet and make the first move, I’m sure she’ll find a way to make it up to you,” he continued shrewdly and Tara smirked.
Despite the fact that she and Pam fought all the time, they had only had real make-up sex once. It was fun for them to argue, but there was never really any meanness to it, there was never really any conflict. Often it was a sort of foreplay for them. One time previous to that night however, they had fought for real and … Tara bit down on her bottom lip. The fight itself had been awful. Just, thinking about it made Tara’s heart seize in her chest. But when she and Pam had patched things up, the sex that had followed it had been mind-blowing – and considering how good the sex between them normally was, that was saying something.
“I see that smile,” Sam commented with one of his own as they stepped out onto the gravel of Merlotte’s parking lot.
“You can see it all you want, I ain’t tellin’ what she done to put it there,” Tara drawled, glancing over at him as their feet crunched in the dirt as they made their way back towards the restaurant.
“I can imagine,” Sam said.
“You better not,” Tara replied and Sam laughed.
“Probably done most of it with you myself,” Sam pointed out a moment later, glancing over at her as they neared the door.
He might’ve had different equipment than Pam, but he’d always left Tara with a smile on her face.
“I wouldn’t mention that around Pam if I were you,” Tara muttered, though a second later her lips curved up in a crooked smile.
“She the jealous type?” Sam asked curiously.
“Would the sun burn me to a crisp if it touched my beautiful cocoa skin?” Tara replied arching a dark eyebrow.
“Well, alright,” Sam drawled as they entered the bar. “Duly noted,” he continued, nodding his head.
Tara slapped him on the back as they walked into the restaurant.
“You always were the smartest of my friends,” she drawled.
“I know most of your friends,” Sam replied. “That ain’t as big a compliment as you think it is,” he continued and Tara grinned at him, because it was true.
A moment later however, a shiver ran through her, and the playful smile on her lips faded.
“What is it?” Sam asked, having noticed the abrupt change.
“Pam,” Tara breathed out softly, her eyes already scanning the room for her maker.
“Thought we sorted that,” Sam said.
“No. She’s here,” Tara murmured distractedly, her stomach clenching a moment later when her dark eyes locked on Pam’s familiar smoky blue gaze.
Pam was dressed in a frisse tweed pencil skirt and a terra rose liquid satin blouse. Her lovely blonde hair was down – framing her face like a halo – and her make-up was understated, except for her lips, which were painted blood red.
She was stunning. She was a vision and Tara stood still for a moment, arrested by Pam’s beauty, as her eyes meandered over the blonde drinking in the sight of her.
“Good lu…” Sam began, but before he could finish speaking, Tara had started to walk towards the booth where Pam was seated. “Well alright,” Sam muttered to himself and he turned around to head back behind the bar, knowing that he – and the rest of the world – was nothing but white noise to Tara now that Pam was there.
Tara slipped into the booth opposite Pam and for a moment they regarded each other silently.
“Hey,” Tara breathed out finally, cautiously, knowing that Pam could out last her with ease in a staring contest.
“Hey yourself,” Pam purred, and Tara’s lips turned up slightly.
“What’re you doin’ here?” Tara asked directly, but her voice was soft and curious, not confrontational or accusing, and Pam’s posture relaxed a little.
“Looking for you … obviously,” she breathed out, rolling her eyes. “Why else would I step foot in this godforsaken place,” she continued disdainfully as her eyes scanned the faces around her.
“Why look for me?” Tara asked; her expression blank though inside she was amused by the aversion with which Pam regarded the fine citizens of Bon Temps.
Lord knew she felt the same way about most of ‘em.
“You know why,” Pam said; her voice softer and gentler than before as she fixed her steely gaze on Tara once more.
“Tell me anyway,” Tara murmured and Pam sighed deeply and glanced out of the window for a few seconds to marshal her strength before she looked back over at Tara and responded.
“I didn’t like the way we left things,” Pam said finally, loosening her end of the bond between them so that Tara could feel her remorse and her desire to fix the hurt she had helped cause earlier.
“I didn’t like it either,” Tara breathed out softly, her eyelashes fluttering slightly as Pam’s emotions flowed over, warming her from the inside out. “I’m glad you came lookin’,” she admitted somewhat bashfully. “I’m glad you’re here.”
“You looked to be doing alright without me,” Pam commented, glancing over towards the bar where Sam was wiping down the counter.
“Looks can be deceivin’,” Tara replied, watching Pam’s profile until the blonde turned around to face her again.
Pam watched Tara for a moment, contemplating saying something sarcastic in response, but she could feel Tara’s emotions and she knew that her progeny was being genuine. Even though it had felt like a stake to the heart to see Tara smiling at someone else so soon after they had fought, she knew that Tara truly had missed her and that Tara was honestly happy that she was there now. Being a smartass would only put them back where they had been earlier that night, and Pam didn’t want that. She had come to Merlotte’s to make things right, not to make them worse.
“I’m going with you,” was what finally came out of Pam’s mouth.
“What?” Tara asked, her brows scrunching together a bit in confusion as she looked at the blonde.
“If you insist on going through with this ridiculous scheme of yours,” she said, her lips twisting distastefully around the word ‘scheme’ as if it physically pained her to think about it. “I’m going with you. Whether you want to admit it or not, what you’re proposing is dangerous and you will not face it alone.”
“I admit it,” Tara said, glancing down at the table top. “You were right. It is dangerous, maybe even reckless. I still think something needs to be done about these cells,” she continued passionately, looking up to meet Pam’s eyes. “But we should talk about what that is. We should discuss it. If you want to,” she finished; her voice softening as she looked down again.
“I do,” Pam said, and the relief she felt was clear in her voice and through the bond that existed between them.
“I wanna say,” Tara began, picking at the table top with her finger much the same way she’d been fiddling with the wood grain of the bar, “I’m sorry for flyin’ off the handle before. I’m sorry for storming out. My hackles just got raised and I … I mean, I know you were tryin’ to look out for me.”
“I was,” Pam breathed out, watching Tara for a moment before she reached out and grasped Tara’s hand across the table. “You are precious you are to me,” she continued, stroking the back of Tara’s hand with her thumb before she lifted their joined hands up and leaned forward so that she could kiss Tara’s knuckles. “I care for you … so much,” she whispered, her end of the bond flaring with love though neither of them had worked up the courage to say the word in relation to themselves yet. “You drive me fucking crazy sometimes,” Pam said, shaking her head a little, “but I was outta line. You scared me and I … I reacted badly.”
She’d come out of the gate swinging, jumping on Tara before she’d even finished speaking and she knew that her aggressive reaction is what raised Tara’s hackles and got them brawling.
“I said things that I didn’t mean. I wish to God that I could unsay them, but I can’t. I am sorry though,” Pam continued, looking directly into Tara’s eyes, “Very sorry.”
“I know,” Tara said, squeezing Pam’s hand and Pam’s eyes closed for a moment as she was flooded with relief. “I’m sorry too,” Tara continued when Pam’s eyes opened again and those shockingly blue eyes focused on her once more. “I know I acted like a stubborn brat. My first instinct’s always to fight … even when I know it’s a fuckin’ mistake,” she sighed, looking ashamed as she glanced down at the table. “Forgive me?” She asked hopefully a moment later, looking back up at Pam, her eyes wide and beseeching.
“Always,” Pam replied without hesitation, and immediately Tara’s lips curved up into a smile. “Come ‘ere,” Pam murmured a moment later, and in a flash, Tara was sitting beside her on the other side of the booth. “Kiss and make up?” Pam asked, her lips curved up slightly as she arched her eyebrow at Tara playfully.
Tara responded to the question by leaning forward and bringing their lips together. Pam sighed softly at the press of Tara’s lips against her own, and she lifted her hand to lightly stroke Tara’s cheek as Tara’s tongue slipped into her mouth, deepening the kiss though it remained achingly slow and tender.
“Now,” Pam drawled when they separated, her usual low, rough tone back in place now that they were no longer talking about their feelings. “Can we please get the fuck outta here?” she asked. “This place is making me drier than the Sahara,” she complained, looking around her, her face scrunching up in disgust as she did. “I mean, look at that one,” Pam said staring at Jane Bodehouse. “What the fuck is that?” she asked staring at Jane’s … everything with distaste, seemingly mystified and disturbed by Jane’s entire existence. “I can feel my vagina dying,” Pam lamented, turning away from Jane to face Tara once again.
“We can’t have that,” Tara murmured, teasing her fingers up Pam’s thigh, causing the blonde’s eyelashes to flutter and her chest to hitch as she sucked in a deep breath.
“It would be a tragedy,” Pam husked, her tone and her reaction to Tara’s touch indicating that her vagina wasn’t in as dire a condition as she claimed.
“Some mouth to vag resuscitation might be required,” Tara purred, drawing a smile to Pam’s red lips.
“Do what you must,” Pam murmured softly, “I’ve known these hands,” she said taking hold of Tara’s hands, “and this mouth,” she whispered, lifting one of her hands to brush her thumb over Tara’s bottom lip, “to work miracles,” she breathed out, and Tara smiled at her wickedly before leaning forward to kiss Pam again, this time with much more heat.
When she pulled back from Pam’s lips, Pam followed her for a moment, her eyes still closed as she sought out renewed contact and, Tara smiled before slipping out of the booth. When Pam’s eyes opened and gazed up at her, Tara offered her hand to Pam in a gentlemanly fashion, and Pam smiled at her before placing her hand in Tara’s, allowing her progeny to help her to her feet.
“Home?” Pam breathed out, looking down at their hands contently when Tara kept hold of hers after helping her to her feet.
“Bed,” Tara replied and Pam grinned at her before they started toward the door.
Sam looked up from the pint he was pouring as the two vampires walked past, watching them as they made their way to the door. Their hands were clasped tightly together and they leaned into each other as they walked, their eyes shining in a way that he only ever saw when they looked at each other.
He smiled as he watched them go, genuinely glad to see that they had patched things up. He never would have paired those two together in a million years, but they worked, and after all of the shit that everyone had been through over the past few years, it warmed his battered heart and gave him hope to see that, despite all odds and how strange and improbable it might seem, sometimes love did prevail.