Shaman of the Great Store
by Kittie Verdena
Summary: Sequel to Sentinel of the Great Store.
Notes: Due to popular demand, I have written this sequel to Sentinel of the Great Store. Now you find out what Jim thinks!
Thanks: To Lorri, Rebekah and Wendy for their beta jobs. It wouldn't be the same story without you!
Disclaimer: PetFly owns 'em, I don't. Major thanks to Garret Maggart and Richard Burgi, without whom these characters simply would not inhabit such a large space in my head.
He thinks I don't know.
At first I thought he knew I knew, but after a while I realized he didn't, and it felt great to know something he didn't know. Usually, he's the one who knows everything, and I'm just a big dumb caveman. You Sandburg, me Jim. Ugh, ugh.
It's Saturday morning, way too early for any normal person to be up, but I never claimed to be a normal person. Well, I used to claim it, but I've given up on that. Sandburg has definitely helped me to embrace my uniqueness. He's the one who told me I was a Sentinel.
I thought I was going crazy. I was seeing things I shouldn't be able to see, hearing things I couldn't possibly hear, my senses of smell and taste were off the scale, and even the feel of my own clothing was driving me up the wall. I was terrified and desperate, and all of a sudden, there he was, like a light leading me out of the darkness. He gave me a name, and with that name, a purpose. Sentinel. It sounds a lot better than "nutcase."
It's grocery shopping day. We don't really need to go--I only have a few things on my carefully written list--but it's become a bit of a habit. I wake up at around 5:30, get up and shower, then pretend to wake up Sandburg. I say "pretend," because he's already awake. That's what he thinks I don't know.
I don't understand how he could possibly think he's fooling me. I know the second he wakes up. I can hear his heart and his breathing speeding up, for crying out loud. But I let him keep his fantasy. It seems to give him a thrill to think he's got me trained, so I play along. He really does have me trained, now that I think of it, Saturday mornings aside. We've got each other trained.
He gets up and I make the expected noises about how he'd better be quick about getting ready, even though I know it takes him a lot longer than me to make himself presentable. How could it not, with that mop of curls he calls hair. I swear, he's like a woman with that hair. Not that it doesn't pay off. It looks good on him, I'll admit that. But never to his face.
Once we hit the store, we let one another do our shopping in our own way. I like to use my list, and get each item in a precise order. I know there's really no point to this, because Sandburg likes to take his time. He just meanders along the aisles, picking things up as the mood strikes him. To give up my list and my routine, though, would mean admitting to him that he's changed me. It's pretty obvious that he has, but nobody says I've got to admit it. So I do my thing and then I step back and let him do his.
During one shopping trip a couple of weeks ago, he suddenly lost track of the hummus and had me go looking for it. I don't think he planned it, because I saw the light come into his eyes when he realized he could make a test out of it. So I played bloodhound. To be honest, I'm beginning to actually like his little tests. Well, not the tests, exactly, but that look he gets that says, "Wow, look at what this guy can do!" He's like a little kid in a candy store with my senses.
Sometimes I really feel guilty that I'm the one who's the Sentinel. He'd appreciate it so much more than I do. He'd be extending his senses all the time, trying to learn more about the world around him and the great things he could do. Me, I'm just hanging on, trying not to let them drive me around the bend. If I could give them to him, I would, but since I can't, I let him run the tests. And I let his enthusiasm become my own.
I can't tell if he's testing me or not, right now. He's not doing anything obvious, but he's got that devious look in his eyes that makes me a bit nervous. It makes me feel like he's taking notes in his head. He's prattling on and on about some obscure tribe in Eastern Nowhere, and I'm pretty sure he's thrown out the word "yogurt" a few times. Needless to say, I'm glad I haven't been listening.
My attention wanders. Down the aisle, there's a young woman with a baby. She's murmuring quietly to the kid as she makes her selections, and I tune in idly, vaguely curious as to what she's saying. "...nice muscles under that shirt, doesn't he, Sweetie? I'll bet that man works out."
I have to force myself not to react. She's scoping men and talking to her kid about it? I guess the kid's too young to know what she's really saying. Amused, I keep listening.
"...looks military. Do you think he's in the army, Justin?"
Is she talking about me?
"But that man he's with doesn't look very military. All that hair...."
She is most definitely talking about me. "Chief!" I hiss, interrupting his monologue. "Wait a minute!"
He stops immediately, and looks up at me, confused. "What?" he asks, his brow furrowing in concern. "What's wrong, is it your senses? Oh, man, dial it down, Jim, we can get out of here--"
He's freaking out, so I put a hand over his mouth and smile reassuringly. "Calm down, Chief, there's nothing wrong with my senses. Now don't look, but that lady with the kid is checking me out."
His eyes widen and he makes a visible effort not to turn and look. "Really?" he asks, when I remember to move my hand. "You heard something?"
I nod. "She's talking to the kid." I extend my hearing again, smiling as I hear what she's saying now. "She thinks I have 'nice buns.' And the kid agrees, apparently." The kid is chortling at his mother, but I'm pretty sure he's just reacting to her voice. At least, I hope he is.
Blair grins and starts bouncing. I never saw a grown man bounce until I met him. On anyone else, it would look stupid, but on him, it's just... Blair. "Wow, great! What else can you hear?"
I sigh and roll my eyes, but he's the Shaman, so I let him run the show. I abandon the lusty mother and explore the rest of the supermarket, repeating back some of the more interesting things I hear. He laughs at me when I blush after hearing a woman tell the pharmacist about her irregular menstrual cycle. I'd been on autopilot and was repeating the words before I even realized what I was saying. He spends a long time teasing me about how he just knew I was PMS-ing, and here's the proof. I flip him the bird, and try to hide my smile.
We keep running the test right up until we get to the register and pay for our purchases. Out in the parking lot, we pass the young mother and her kid. She drops a bag of hamburger buns as she struggles with all of her packages. Sandburg and I rush over, and I pick up the dropped item and place it graciously back in the bag, before helping her load up the rest of her purchases. Blair takes charge of making faces at the baby. She thanks us, and we turn to go. On a whim, I turn back to her and glance at the package of hamburger buns, before winking and saying mischievously, "By the way... nice buns."
She turns bright red and can't get into her car fast enough, while Sandburg nearly busts a gut laughing. I swear, he's corrupted me.
I think I like the change.