Approaching the door to his loft, Jim Ellison found himself engulfed in the hot, papery scent of garlic cloves and the mumbled words of a strange new incantation from the Shaman of the Great City.
"Garlic mashed potatoes, garlic bread, pasta carbonera," the muttering suddenly peaked with excitement, "Ooh, Mom's garlic tisane," and then the Shaman looked up from his spells and became one Blair Sandburg, guide and researcher extraordinaire. "Oh, hey Jim! Welcome home. Garlic bread?" he offered hopefully.
"What the--what's going on here, Chief?"
Blair paused for a second, then sighed. "I overpurchased on the overprotection front. Got a lot of garlic left over." His brow furrowed. "Of course, I hold you somewhat responsible, man. I was expecting big things from that last incident, and you...Back rent? Way to underwhelm." Brandishing a bunch of garlic, he smiled slightly, "Your fault, Jim."
Jim nodded, acknowledging the point. Besides, he kind of liked garlic bread. He allowed the intensifying smell of roasted garlic to infuse his senses, imagining the taste of garlic overlaying the entire loft like a hot, wet blanket. The heaviness of it on his tongue and skin. The scent of it in Sandburg's hair and clothes and sweat...
"I know you can handle it, Chief." Jim placed a warm, fraternal hand on Blair's apron-covered shoulder. "You're the best partner I could have ever asked for."
Blair froze, as an ominous creak heralded the return of the smarmpires. The door to the loft swung open with a whisper of affection, a welter of bonding, a warm wash of brotherly goo.
"Don't invite them in!" Blair shouted belatedly, swinging a long string of garlic at the first phantom of fraternal fondness. It crumbled into dust on contact, and Blair scrambled for another savory weapon.
Leaning on the table behind his protector, Jim laughed quietly. "Just think of it as less need to search for exotic recipes, Chief."
Stiffening slightly, Blair turned from dispatching a large declaration of eternal friendship and shot a grudging grin at his partner. "You rat fink, buzzard-baiting-"
"Yeah. I love you too, Chief."
And the battle was joined in a crush of caring and a press of garlic.
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