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Date Posted: Saturday, April 22, 06:19:32am
Author: Genevieve
Subject: Garlic and Gunpowder (600 or so words)
In reply to: JayBee and Nell 's message, "Friday Challenge: April 21, 2006" on Friday, April 21, 12:30:52pm


On Sunday, they're in Napoli. They spend an hour marking time in a local market, then ten minutes picking up the second-in-command to a local crime boss. She sits in the transport plane on the way back to Section, her nostrils filled with mingled scent of gunpowder and garlic. When she arrives home, she is filled with the craving for fresh gnocchi slathered with tomato and basil and garlic, but it's after midnight and she's alone and really, what's the point?

And macaroni cheese out of the box is still pasta.



On Tuesday, she takes advantage of a day's downtime and wheedles Walter into taking her to Chinatown. They've drunk half a pot of jasmine tea and taken precisely one bite of a steamed pork bun each when her cell phone rings. Her sour greeting is muffled, but Michael doesn't seem to notice. Two minutes later, she and Walter are on their way back to Section, leaving behind a table full of bamboo steamers and a bemused waiter, flicking through a handful of cash.

Later that night, she eats instant noodles and is glad that no one she knew died that day.


On Thursday, Michael asks her out to dinner. He asks her in the middle of Comm., seemingly uncaring of who might overhear. Almost for that reason alone, she says yes without a second thought. He knocks on her door just before eight o'clock, the hunger in his eyes nothing to do with anything they might find on a restaurant menu. Hours later, she pads barefoot to the refrigerator and throws together grilled ham and cheese on toast for two.

It's a pretty scrappy supper, she thinks, then shrugs. She can always tell Michael she's made him croque-monsieur.


On Saturday, she is down again and determined to spend her time productively. She cleans, she does her laundry, she buys a few groceries. That afternoon, alone in her apartment, four new scented candles perfuming the air, a bootleg trance CD playing low in the background, she has the sudden urge to cook something for her dinner. Something that isn't dehydrated. Something that can't be made in two minutes flat. Bad enough she has to live from one day to the next - she's tired of living from one instant meal to the next. Maybe she'll blow the cobwebs off her meager cookbook collection and see if inspiration strikes. Then again, she thinks as her cell phone starts to ring, maybe not.

By that night, however, after the bloodbath that was their flash mission, her appetite has vanished. Three dead on their team alone, plus another casualty who might not make it. She spends the night at Michaels, curling herself around the heat of his body as a hollow ache twists her gut. At three a.m., she gives up trying to sleep and makes herself a cup of black tea with two sugars, adding a belt of brandy almost as an afterthought. It's not dinner - she hadn't felt like sharing the garlic-laden pizza Michael had ordered in - but it's the best thing she's tasted all week. It's not enough to make her stop thinking about the people they lost tonight, though.

Ten minutes later, Michael finds her in the kitchen, silent tears pouring down her face, clutching her empty teacup with white-knuckled fingers. He takes her by the hand and takes her back to bed. When she curls into his side, he trails his fingertips across her ribcage and murmurs something about making her eat a proper breakfast in the morning. She buries her wet face against his warm shoulder, inhaling the scent of his skin, then smiles for the first time in hours.

He smells of gunpowder and garlic.


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