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Hard On My Case   |   The Customer Is Always Right
The Customer Is Always Right
By Sentinel Cat
Disclaimers: They belong to Bilson/DeMeo, Pet Fly and UPN. I'm just borrowing them for awhile

Notes: This is what comes out of frustration at your job. That's all I have to say. Summary: Jim surprises Blair with the shopping experience of his life Warnings: None, but it hasn't been beta'ed. Just thought I'd let a little humor in.

"Hey Jim, where are we going that's an hour drive from Cascade?"

"When I first got out of the Army, I had some problem getting the things I needed for my apartment. Didn't want to pay a fortune for things that would only get used and abused. So I started hunting for places where they sell cheap serviceable items for low cost. I found this place. Because you had a blast at that junk sell last week, I thought you might like to go treasure hunting again."

"What-uh, Jim, do you mean?" By this time, Blair had started to realize that something was up. Actually though, he'd seen something was up when he'd come home from a very bad day at work, where everything seemed to go wrong, and he'd found Jim in his old work clothes, the pants which hadn't even been washed yet, giving him a kiss that gave passion a new meaning the minute he'd walked through the door. After he'd come up for air, seeing that Jim wasn't pestering him for not doing the laundry that morning, he grew suspicious. The first words after THAT KISS were, "Hey Chief, you wanna go for a long drive?" Followed by another one of those mind-blowing kisses. After that, yes seemed to be the only word in his vocabulary. He'd found himself bundled up, shoved out the door, into the truck, and on the road before he even knew what had happened. At that point, silence seemed the better part of valor, before he found out what alien had kidnaped his lover and exactly what was left in his place. But being the energetic, spirited guide for whom silence wasn't natural to him, he ended up pestering Jim with questions. It started about fifteen minutes after they'd been on the road. Just enough time to get over the daze Jim had put him in.

What he didn't know is that was precisely what Jim had been waiting for.

"Well, after that experience of you digging into old boxes with years and years of junk accumulated by one or more families and nearly hurting yourself trying to lift one of those wish bins, I thought you might like to experience it again. The place we're going to is a salvage goods store. They get some closeout stuff but on the whole it's mostly salvage. Granted the majority of it is junk and absolutely worthless, but there are accurances where a fortune could be found. The bookshelf of oak in our living room is one of things I found there. Only paid a pittance for it. I thought this might be a nice surprise after the shifty day you'd had."

"How did you know about that?"

"Therese said that you were resting for a few minutes with a headache when I called earlier. I didn't hang on the line. I felt you needed rest rather than me to get through the rest of the day."

"You were wrong Jim." Blair looked up at him and was lost in the eyes that were pouring into his. It was at times like this that he didn't know what he'd done to deserve the love he'd found in Jim.

Blushing, Jim realized what Blair meant and tried to push it aside for now by saying, "Anyway, Chief, thought I could surprise you for once. It's usually you doing the surprising."

Laughter in his voice, Blair grinned and said, "Well this role reversal I'm all for. How long till we're there?"

"We're pulling into the road that it's on now. We're almost there." No sooner had he'd said that then they were in front of a large tin building that said, Treasure Hunt. After they'd stopped, Blair hopped out and looked at the ramshackle building, the holey bumpy parking lot, and the huge bins that were parked right in front of the store loaded with what looked to him like wet, and from the smell, mildewed cloth. On a closer sight of it, Blair blanched when he realized that in the bins were various underwear in all states of mildew. "Uh-Jim, do we have to shop right now?" By that point, Blair was all for leaving and letting his Jim come back another time, preferably without him.

"Blair, it's just the severely damaged goods. They usually leave the wet clothing items outside. They have to keep them wet to keep them from mildewing even more. That's why they're 90% off."

"How can you stand the smell man? I mean you must be going nuts after smelling that. I am and I'm not even super sensitive like you."

"I've dialed down. Where's your sense of adventure, Chief? After all, you're the one who loves to spend five hours looking through old, smelly boxes, to maybe and I mean maybe find one thing to buy. What's any different than this."

"I think I left home without it. Seriously, I draw the line at wet and mildew and SLIME!!! Jeez, next you'll be telling me they have roaches and rats crawling the place." As soon as he'd said it, Jim started to blush and turn away sheepishly. Blair started to get one of those deep rooted feeling of dread. "THAT's IT!!! I draw the line at roaches and rats. You can have the place all to yourself." In a huff he stalked back to the truck. He came to halt right in front of it when Jim pulled him to a stop. Then in a reverse shove, Jim started dragging him to the store again. "NO!! Please Jim, I'll give you anything you want. I'll even do the laundry five times a day. Just don't make me go in there!!"

"That's a tempting thought but you're going in there with me. If you don't change your mind after a little shopping, we can leave. Deal!"

Whimpering and giving Jim a remorseful puppy dog look, and knowing he wouldn't be able to get out of it and still be able to share Jim's bed, he'd better go on and accept the inevitable.

When Blair had completed his show of reluctant acceptance, he decided he'd better enjoy the torture while it lasted. Making the decision, Blair went through the front door. The first thing he noticed was the chaos. That was the only word for it. A smoky smell permutated the air. Cash registers were lined up to the left and what looked like an office to the right. A huge section of clothing on racks were lined up all along the right side wall. Clothes were everywhere. Over the rack, on the rack, on the floor, on the tables, half on and half off. Anywhere there's room for them was where they were at. On the left, rows upon rows of shelves lined the store. On the floor in front of him was a broken bottle with liquid going everywhere. One of the cashiers was yelling and beating at a customer. The security guard stationed at the door was headed to break it up. By that point, Blair decided that he'd made a big mistake. Maybe a couple of weeks without Jim was worth it if he didn't have to shop there. Seeing his dread look, Jim said, "Chief, don't worry, I'm sure you'll find something in the store worth this experience."

"Leave me alone Jim. I'm not in the mood to answer you. You're the one who got me into this after all."

"Cheer up, Sandburg. I mean what's the worst that can happen."

"Do you really want me to answer that?"

"No. Come on Blair. They advertised name brand clothing. I'm sure with you're finances, you need to save on clothes. As it is, I've never seen anybody wear as many clothes as you. Not counting just where you find to put them in the loft. They also have a wide variety of hair products, which I'm sure you could use. They also have books I believe. I'm sure there's something here you want or need."

Giving Jim the dirtiest look he could come up with, about now, he wished he had a laser pointer to threaten Jim with. Not that it'd do any good. It's not doing him any good now. Rolling his eyes, he said, "Jim, just shut up and show me where the hair products are. I'm sure with your fine tuned senses, you'll be able to find them in this mess." And stopping a few feet away, he quietly said, for sentinel hearing only, "You Owe Me, Jim!! Big time." Then he continued on, not hearing Jim softly say, "I know, beloved, I know."

Deciding that they needed directions, they start hunting for a worker. Finding a worker in the store was like finding a needle in a haystack, even with Jim's sentinel senses. Finally, they found a black woman in a blue smock working on one of the shelves. Seeing the name tag, Blair asked her, "Ms Pearlie, do you know where there's hair products"

"Sure, but which products do you want?"

"Um-I'm not sure until I see them."

"Well, we have hair products on three rows on the north wall. Don't worry, they're separated, so you'll have a hard time finding them. They're also mixed in with everything else. Those isles are 40% off. Then you have two isles in the back. They're priced as marked. A lot of the items have no price tag, and since the cashier won't know, you'll have to get a price check. But don't worry about that, the odds you'll find a worker here to get a price check, is a hundred to one. Also, don't pass the roped off areas. That only leaves about half of the north wall to shop in. The rest is a maze just to get through. If you need any help, don't call because you won't get an answer. I'm glad I could help you." Saying that, and not letting them ask her anything else, she walked off.

Blair was in shock. He didn't know what to say. Finally, he turned to Jim and commented, "Jim, I hope you know what she meant by all of that, because if that's the kind of treatment we get then I pity you when you go shopping."

"They weren't like that when I shopped here earlier."

"Well, they sure hired some sorry workers."

Blair walking down the isles came to the north wall. Looking down the rows, he saw yards and yard of yellow caution tape. In front of the area blocked off by the caution tape was what looked and smelled like oriental food. Then he noticed the oriental people shopping there had like fifteen buggies loaded up each. Wondering how they could eat that much, he headed up toward the front of the north wall. Using a hunt and Oh, it's here search method, he found the first row of hair products. Needing some of the natural shampoo he used or another one of the brands that Jim personally liked, he looked on the shelves and found-Conditioner. Nothing but conditioner. Not a shampoo in sight. Already having a raging headache and sensing Jim looking at the row of condoms and lubricants on the other side he asked Jim, "Would you tell me how a row this big can have nothing but conditioner and not a single bottle of shampoo?"

Distracted, Jim turned to Blair and said, "Maybe the shampoo has all sold out."

"Well it must have sold out ages ago because some of these brands haven't been on the market for ten years. How they can sell it at these prices is a miracle."

Then he decided to go to the back of the store. When he did, he passed an old woman. He was just passed her, when he smelled it. He turned and stared. The woman was letting loose with the most runniest diarhea he'd ever seen in his life. Then he watched as the trail of shit running down the isle at high speed heading directly toward him. Faster than a speeding bullet he ran. Coming to a stop, he watched as little girl, complaining to her mother about not having to go to the bathroom, all of sudden cut loose. Urine dark red started to pool at her feet. The mother, so embarressed, saw Blair and said, "I'm sorry, but my daughter's on medication for a uninary infection. I'm afraid she can't help herself."

Without answering her, he walked away, totally pissed at Jim, who he was sure was in heaven looking at all the different kinds of lubricants and condoms he could use on his body. Ready to walk out the store, with or without Jim, he was finally at the back and saw it. Tables upon tables of books. All crammed upon shelves, tables, milkcartons, and the floor. In daze, he looked around him at books upon books in front of him. The shelves, about four rows of them next to store wall were just loaded with them. And he looked at the sign. 90% off. Of course Blair being Blair, he dived in.

First he started with the ones on the floor. After a few minutes, he had a pile of books he wanted to get. Then, he started with the tables. So wide, you'd need to be a giant to reach the books on the inside of the table, Blair decided to get on the table and pull the books to him. A worker going by, saw him and said in an imperious knowing voice said, "You don't need to be doing that sir." The minute she said it, the table not very steady, collapsed. The books protecting him somewhat, he was saved from being seriously hurt. Brushing off the hand the worker was giving him, he didn't care that the table had collapsed. He'd found a treasure. The very book he had been needing for his disertation but couldn't get because it was both foreign and years out of print. In a huff, the worker left him there happily going through the titles on the collapsed tables.

About two hours later, bored from looking and finding nothing, Jim hunted for Blair. Finding him in the books, he watched him. Seeing the huge pile of books next to shelf he was looking at, Jim groaned at the money he'd be out of when the total was rung. Sorry he'd brought him here in the first place, Jim was about ready to ask Blair if he wanted to leave. Then, he watched as Blair, short as he is, started to climb the shelves to get to the top one. Quickly going to him, Jim cried to him, "Chief, you'd better not do that. It's not safe. Besides didn't you say you wanted to go home."

Turning his head around, he glared at Jim, and said in a hard voice, "You're the one who brought me to this store, so you can just sit there while I shop." Turning his head back around he started to pull out one of the heavy hardbacks on top. When he did, Blair felt the movement. All of a sudden, the entire set of shelves started falling and collapsing. Hanging on for dear life, Blair's shelves fell on the shelves on the next row, which continued until the fourth row of books on shelves went down. The only place it could go was through the store wall which it did.

In horror, Jim stared at the absolute chaos in front of him. Rows of shelves down, books lying everywhere, the blue sky staring at him through the newly made hole in the wall, and Blair sitting on top of the fallen shelf, with books scattered about under him, one of them on his head, as if he was the king of book learning. Jim walked up to him as people ran everywhere thinking the sky was falling and just said to his love, "Chief, I hope you know the customer is always right."