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inathunderstorm in boxofwrong

[ficlet: safeway, profit/gail, rated PG13]

I did a meme recently about writing one's OTP doing something domestic, like Grocery Shopping! And I wrote a little wee thing about Profit/Gail, sometime post-series, doing a little late-night (or early morning) shopping at Safeway.

Safeway// Profit/Gail //Rated PG13



Safeway

The 24-hour Safeway is brightly lit, clean, the kind of place you'd expect them to film a commercial; all happy parents and smiling toddlers exclaiming over juice boxes. And while the reality of the store on a Saturday afternoon isn't quite the same as the slick advertisements would have you believe (the "exclaiming over juice boxes" is usually done with a wail and an accompanying temper tantrum), it's a completely different place at four in the morning.

Because there's no one in the aisles except stock boys, ignoring them, listening to their headphones and paying no attention to the odd shopper as they replenish their wares. There's a skeleton crew manning the rest of the store (only two check-out lanes are open out of twenty) and Gail feels for a moment like she's in one of those movies where the world ended, maybe by a virus or something, and there's barely anyone left alive.

If I were a grocery store clerk, she thinks, pushing the cart slowly down the aisle, I wouldn't come to work after the apocalypse. Though I don't think I'd go to my regular job, actually. For some reason, her eyes touch on Jim, a little ways ahead of her. It'd probably be his fault, though, so I'd have to go in.

There are days Gail wonders if Lucifer has a secretary. If he does, Gail figures they'd probably get along. She wonders if Lucifer's secretary is sleeping with him. They'd get along even better, if so.

They're shopping at four in the morning for reasons she's not exactly clear about. Jim doesn't like crowds, but he doesn't really mind them, either. They've gone grocery shopping at noon on a Saturday, when the place is packed with families and young couples, old women moving slowly and checking off items from their list with meticulous precision. And he doesn't seem to mind it, says, "Excuse me, please," in a totally benign voice when people get in his way, puts his hands in his pockets and makes goofy faces at kids in the ice cream section. The kids smile back, despite the fact Jim's smiles never reach his eyes.

Gail always thought children were better judges of character, but apparently she was wrong. Then again, she always thought she was, too, and apparently she was really wrong about that.

Actually, you're worse. You know what kind of character he has--or doesn't have, as it were. And you're still here.

The first time they'd braved the Safeway on a Saturday, Gail had left cranky from being jostled and shoved aside, annoyed by everything from the wailing kids to the long wait to pay for their groceries. "I can't believe you would put up with that," she'd said, one of the rare times she gave a vocalized nod to the fact he was a very, very bad man.

"It just doesn't bother me," he'd said, putting the groceries in the trunk of his Lexus. It was new. Jim went through a lot of cars.

She'd almost asked him how it was possible that he'd been completely unmoved by the throngs of annoying people in the store, then reminded herself the very definition of sociopath meant that nothing bothered him. So she'd closed her eyes and felt the hum of the car, listened to the strains of whatever classical music was playing on the stereo, and ignored the inner voice that told her she was making a huge mistake.

(Gail has gotten very, very good at ignoring this voice.)

This time, though, she's glad for the quiet and the early hour. She's wearing pajama pants and a sweatshirt with a UW t-shirt beneath, hair up in a messy ponytail, eye-makeup smeared and messy. He's in a dress shirt and slacks, long wool coat and gloves. If he's got a list, she has no idea what it is. Jim shops in an apparently random fashion, walking up and down the aisles, sometimes looking at things and reading the ingredients of items he never buys. Gail follows behind, yawning, pushing the cart and waiting for him to make up his mind. It's like work, sort of. Jim Profit is the only man who knows his agenda. Gail made her peace with that long ago.

"I have to work tomorrow," she reminds him, as he reads the back of some kind of spicy Asian sauce. "It's almost four-thirty."

"Mmm. Do you like spicy food, Gail? I don't remember."

Gail isn't sure she believes this. He remembers everything. But so much of this relationship is predicated on Gail pretending a lot of things about Jim Profit, so she just nods. "Sure." This knowledge might make him buy whatever it is, or it might not. She can't ever tell what mood he's in until it's too late.

Jim puts the sauce in the cart. They have chicken breasts, some cereal, one thing of ice cream (Jim has a sweet tooth, though he'd probably kill her for telling anyone that) and some laundry detergent (she has plenty, he dry cleans everything he owns. Gail doesn't ask what he needs to clean up) in the cart. The don't need any of it. Gail looks for things she might need, but she's too tired to think about what is in her pantry and what isn't.

"You can come in late, if you want," he offers, stepping closer to her. As usual, when he's this close, it feels like all the air has been sucked out of the room with a vacuum. Gail's actually passed out before, when they've been in bed together. Once was because he was choking her (and that meant turtlenecks for a week, in the summer), but the other times--it's because Jim is like some kind of force of nature, like a fire, making it hard to breathe and filling your lungs with poison. Gail's immune to it for the moment, but she has no idea how long that'll last.

They move into the next aisle and he stops, leans in close like he's reaching for something on the shelf right above her head. His voice is warm when he breathes against her throat, enough to make her shiver and want to cry. "You didn't say thank you, Gail," he murmurs, pressing his mouth to her temple.

Gail's entire body is trembling, shoved up against the cheerful display of breakfast cereals. It takes her a few seconds to get enough air to form words. "Thank you," she says, biting off sir or the Mr. Profit at the last second. She still keeps up appearances at work, even though everyone knows what's going on, and it's hard not to say those things at home, too. She slips up sometimes, but he never seems to mind.

(It's not my name, anyway, he'd told her once, long fingers stroking slowly over the expanse of her bared throat.)

He pulls back, tosses a box of Captain Crunch cereal in the cart, and keeps moving forward. Gail touches her fingers to her throat, breathes in and out a few times to stop herself from shaking, and follows.

Comments

I like this. The undercurrent of evil underneath the banal.



Gabrielle
Thank you! I love them a looooooooooot. :D

May 2010

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