by Tany Z
Disclaimer: Not my characters, concept, etc. Pet Fly rules, UPN drools. No profit realized, just fun.
Warnings: Not beta'd. Minor language.
Author's Notes: Originally posted to SentinelAngst. This is my first piece of TS fic ever (and only the second fanfic I've ever written), so I'm quakin'. Inspired by a Christmas-time visit to a candle store that nearly saw me fleeing in sensory overload. I am not exaggerating the sheer number of varieties. And no, I was not hungry when I wrote this.
"You sure you're going to be all right in here, Jim?"
"Pretty sure, Chief. Smell is set to four on the dial. I'll back it down if I need to, but y'know, it's not as if I'm gonna be clambering around in a sewer or something I mean, this is a candle shop we're talking, right?"
"Yeah -- Cressie's Country Candles."
Jim grimaced. "At least they didn't spell it with a 'K'. Cutesy names make me lose my lunch."
"Now, be nice, Jim. I have it on good authority that Rhonda considers Cressie's to have the best assortment of candles in Cascade -- a set of pillars ought to make her a nice birthday present. I even know her favorite scent type: food."
"You know, fruit-scented, candy, cakes, nuts -- you trying to tell me you've never encountered that type? They're waay popular."
"Nah -- just your sixties-era meditation scents. What's your favorite -- like, Purple Haze? Maui Wowie? Mellow Maharishi?"
"Har har. You're a riot, Ellison. Okay, let's go in. Keep track of your dial. Try to keep the various scents separated so they don't hit you in one big conglomerate of smell. And warn me if it gets to be too much."
Sentinel and Guide entered the store, Sentinel grumbling all the while. "Someone's missing a sure thing here, Chief. Think of the vast untapped market for more down-to-earth food scents -- hell, I'd buy scented candles if they came in, say, Wonderburger? Or scrambled eggs and bacon?"
Blair made a gagging noise. "Stop. Behave."
"Wait, there's more. Mu Shu Pork? I'd buy that in a heartbeat. How 'bout beef stew? Enchilada? No, better yet -- beer and peanuts!"
"I am not with you. I'm going to go check out the display against that wall. You --" a dismissive wave "-- may wander about and acquaint yourself with this unfamiliar cultural phenomenon. Just be careful. And try to stay in my sight!"
"Right, Sandburg. As if my nose needs a baby-sitter... hey, what the hell are 'pillars' anyway?" But Blair was already halfway across the store, heading towards an imposing display of wide candles in assorted heights and colors. Jim Ellison smiled fondly at the retreating back of his Guide: then quickly schooled his features back into James Ellison Semi-Scowl #2 as his partner reached his goal and glanced back at him. The unfazed scowlee merely grinned, then turned back to the task of selecting a gift.
The Sentinel turned his own attention to the rest of the store. He allowed his sight to roam free over the expanse of wax, keeping his sense of smell under somewhat tighter control. Maybe this particular "cultural phenomenon" had passed him by, but he had to admit -- the sheer scope of this store was impressive. A rainbow of colors, an incredible multitude of shapes... what were those, cactus shaped? Candles fashioned after castles, champagne bottles, fruit, tropical fish... geez, a giant fortune cookie?
And the smells! He hastily dialed down another notch as he approached a display of... candies? Yup, a whole shelf loaded with what appeared to be a variety of bonbons, even down to the little fluted paper cups. He hazarded a deep breath. Whoa -- chocolate. Pretty genuine smell, too...
He started in surprise as his mouth started to water. Moving quickly away from the pseudo-confections, he approached a section of the store devoted entirely to votives. This should be safer, he thought.
Or not. Geez, look at these. More chocolate. Vanilla. Strawberry. Oh, of course -- tutti frutti. Whoa -- white chocolate. Pink grapefruit, raspberry, caramel apple, mango, coconut, spice cake, macadamia nut, rum raisin, avocado... avocado?
Jim gave himself a little shake and continued his inventory. Think of this as an exercise in control. Ellison... no artificially scented paraffin's gonna get the better of this Sentinel, no sir! Let's see, we got peach smoothie, margarita, rum punch, root beer, kahlua, pina colada, cola... oh, now I'm getting thirsty...
He switched his gaze to the next shelf. Chocolate chip, lemon meringue, apple butter, maple syrup, banana, cotton candy, mocha, cherry lime rickey, cinnamon, butterscotch sundae, hazelnut...
His stomach growled.
I am not hungry. Devil's food, peanut butter, mint chocolate, tangerine, watermelon, buttered popcorn, grape, carrot cake, nutmeg, pistachio, gingerbread... aargh...
That did it.
Blair looked up guiltily from where he was waiting to pay for his tiger-striped pillars. He'd been so engrossed in the selection process, he'd lost track of Jim. Damn -- I told him to keep in sight!
He cast his eye all around the store -- no Sentinel. Double damn. Eh, maybe he just got bored and headed out.
Hurriedly, he completed his transaction and half-ran out of the shop. Shit shit shit -- I should've never let him in there. Now where the hell could he have gone? He headed down the mall corridor and rounded the first corner...
Only to come to a screeching halt as he spotted his Sentinel.
Jim Ellison was sitting by himself on a bench near the Food Court. Not entirely by himself -- the space next to him was occupied by what appeared to be half a dozen paper bags: Mrs. Field's, Orange Julius, Pizza Prince, Hot Wok, The Candy Barrel, Pretzel Logic...
The Sentinel wore a blissful expression as he clutched his double-cheese-mushroom hamburger in one hand, an extra-large peach smoothie in the other. On his lap lay a small box and a paper plate holding egg rolls and fried wontons. As the wary Guide approached, he noted that the box contained an entire, albeit miniature, chocolate cheesecake.
"Ah, Jim... what's happening here, man? Have a little trouble in the store? Suddenly realized you missed lunch -- like maybe, five or six lunches?"
"So, what else we got here, Jim? My God, you must've hit half the Food Court!"
"Mmf." (GULP) "Hey, Chief. Wanna mini-calzone? Chocolate-covered peanuts?"
"No thanks, man. What I want is for you to tell me what happened to your senses to send you into this caloric binge."
Jim bestowed a beatific smile upon the Guide. "Not to worry, Chief. No harm done. Some of those candle scents just reminded me I was hungry, that's all." He rummaged in yet another paper bag. "Cinnamon pretzel?"
"Jim, this is a little more than just being hungry! You totally overloaded, man! I mean, you've got the comestible equivalent of a small nation's GNP here! You let all those freakin' scents get to whatever the hell in your brain controls your appetite, and didn't say anything to let me know you were in trouble!"
Another blissed-out smile. "Chill, Sandburg. Like, it's no problem, y'know? Just a minor disturbance in the ol' cerebral cortex. And this all tastes soooo good."
Blair looked askance at the detective. "Jim... awwww, Jim, man! You've got the MUNCHIES!!"
Jim munched and nodded. "Yup. And it's legal, too."
Finding an empty spot on the overburdened bench, Blair Sandburg collapsed in helpless laughter. "Oh, God, Ellison. What am I going to do with you? C'mon, let's pack up your kill here and head for home before you attract any more attention. Small children are beginning to stare in awe."
Swallowing the last of the burger, Jim set aside the smoothie and began to gather up his haul. "Yeah, probably a good idea. Hey, don't we still have some of that southwest white chili you made night before last? And the sesame tofu meatballs?"
Blair grinned. "Down, Appetite-Boy. You eat all of this plus the contents of our fridge and we're never going to be able explain to Simon why you need the next three days off. Hey what's this?"
The Sentinel was handing several bags over to his Guide. "Here, this is yours, Sandburg. Kept your sensibilities -- har har -- in mind. You've got an avocado, sprouts, and mozzarella on whole wheat pita in this bag -- and here's your green tea smoothie -- and this bag's got carob brownies and oatmeal-raisin cookies -- and there's a shrimp egg roll in this one -- and..."
An open-mouthed Sandburg stared. "Jim -- you mean, in the midst of your feeding frenzy, you thought of me? You got all this for me?"
"Yeah, well, didn't want you to be under-nourished or anything. Gotta keep up your stamina to keep up with me, right?" A beaming Sentinel bestowed a final sack of honey-roast cashews upon the flabbergasted Guide.
Blair blinked rapidly, then beamed back. "You got it, man. C'mon, to the truck. I'll drive, you eat."
"Sounds like a plan, my man. Hey, Blair, how's about a little detour on the way home -- let's hit the Baskin-Robbins. What say you to a nice triple-scoop fudge brownie cone? Maybe a banana split? No -- let's pick up one of those ice-cream cakes. Or how about..."