Sentinel of the Great Store
by Kittie Verdena
Summary: Jim and Blair at the supermarket.
Notes: My first TS fic, wow! Major thanks to Garret Maggart and Richard Burgi, without whom these characters simply would not inhabit such a large space in my head.
Disclaimer: Pet Fly owns 'em, Garett Maggart and Richard Burgi brought 'em to life. I just borrowed them and put words in their mouths.
Every once in a while, I'm reminded of how extremely cool it is to have my own personal Sentinel. I think I maintain a constant state of awe at Jim's abilities anyway, but there are some days when it just hits me over the head, like, "Holy heightened senses, Batman! Did you see what he just did?!"
Nowadays I have those moments just about every Saturday (the ones we don't work, anyway). What happens every Saturday? Grocery day!
Yes, grocery day. The day when Jim wakes up at oh-dark-30-and-nevermind-it's-a-weekend in the morning and decides we need to restock our supplies, so get your ass out of bed, Sandburg, and if you're not ready in fifteen minutes, I'm leaving your lazy butt right here and you can eat greasy, chemical-filled junk for the next two weeks.
Sometimes I wonder if he realizes just how predictable he is.
So on those Saturday mornings I pretend to be fast asleep, just waiting beneath my covers for him to show up at my door. Jim likes to keep up a routine, so who am I to begrudge him the satisfaction? Once I'm up and showered (it takes me well over fifteen minutes, but he's never once carried out that stupid threat), we head out to the local mega-mart. I gave up a long time ago on trying to convince him to shop at the organic market a few miles out. I know how to pick my battles, man.
Once we get to the store, the fun really starts. Jim is seriously anal; he writes his shopping list in the order the items appear in the aisles. If he needs to add another item in, he'll either squeeze it in the space where it belongs, or write the whole list over again. I kid you not, I've seen him do it. Once of these days I'll convince him to do the list on computer, so he can just print it out when its ready. So once he's in the store, he picks out every item on his little list, in precise military fashion. But he's learned by now that shopping in "The Sandburg Zone," as I've heard him call the world I inhabit (and no, I don't take offense) is a long, involved, definitely-not-ordered process. I don't use a list. I just like to walk up and down the aisles, grabbing things as I decide I need them. The result is that by the end of our trip, we are one bored Sentinel and one hyped-up-guide with about ten more pages to add to his dissertation.
Take last week, for example. I grabbed the cart and started pushing the thing up and down the aisles, chattering mindlessly the whole time about the origins of the first cracker and what's really in that cheese-in-a-can; stuff like that. I do it mainly because I'm timing him. He tunes me out later and later these days. But anyway, I was about halfway to the end of the store when I realized I'd forgotten the hummus, which, of course, is way back where we started. I said as much to Jim and he just turned around and started back, like a good little soldier. I followed, still pushing the cart (still talking), until we got to the aisle with the butter, cheese, juice, and... I couldn't find the hummus. They'd moved it, I swear. It used to be right there with the sour creams and dips and things, but it was just gone. I stopped in the middle of the aisle, turning slowly around in a circle, scanning the shelves with no results. Then I remembered I had my own personal bloodhound, standing in a bored stupor behind me. I felt an idea beginning to percolate in my brain. Some of my best tests are completely unplanned, and this one looked like it would be a ton of fun.
"Jiiiim," I whined, wrenching his attention from whatever internal I'm-going-to-kill-him monologue he had running at the time, "I can't find the hummus!"
He just regarded me with Ellison Expressionless Stare #274®.
"It used to be right over there, and now it's gone. I can't believe this, man!" Then I caught sight of something that might have been hummus a few feet away. "Wait! Jim, is that hummus?" I pointed to the small green container, squinting in vain at the letters. He zoomed in obediently, then shook his head, still basically disinterested in the whole thing.
"Sorry Chief. Cheese."
You see where I'm going with this? I didn't even have to move, man! I decided to use him to my advantage. With that in mind, I employed Sandburg Pout #167®, complete with medium-strength puppy-dog eyes. (I save my maximum strength for special occasions. Like I said, I know how to pick my battles.) "Can you find it for me, Jim? You know what it looks like, just scan the shelves, use your nose, anything! I'm desperate!"
He rolled his eyes with a long-suffering sigh, but he did it. He turned in a slow circle, scanning the shelves just like I'd told him to. When that apparently didn't work, he closed his eyes and sniffed delicately, following his nose to a bin facing away from us. He made a face when he got there. "I really hope one of these is open," he told me, wrinkling his nose. "I'd hate the think the seals are so bad that I could smell it from over there."
I was overjoyed. He'd found it! Rows and rows of hummus, in all kinds of brands and flavors! "You can't exactly use your nose as a seal-tester, Jim," I reminded him, happily choosing three of the containers and throwing them in our basket. "C'mon, I still have to get back to where we left off before."
So my Sentinel followed me back to aisle number 9, household cleansers, and the rest of the trip went without incident.
At any rate, you can see why I love shopping with Jim. Not only is a supermarket the perfect environment for testing, but it just reminds me how lucky I was to find him. Not just a Sentinel, but a good friend, too.
Maybe next time, I'll have to lose track of the rice cakes. Man, nobody can smell those things!