Jim watched as the vending machine slowly and grudgingly swallowed the carefully flattened dollar bill, and then with a satisfied whir spat it right out again. He put it back in the slot. Oddly enough, this time the machine accepted it, and he punched the key combination for the doritos.
The spiral dispenser turned, moving the puffy foil bag forward just enough that only one corner of it hung on to the lip of the shelf, albeit with all the tenacity of a grappling hook. Jim gave the bag a hard and menacing glare.
Jim used a bit of reasonable force, shoving the recalcitrant piece of junk, but quickly gave it up as a lost cause. Too bad, he'd just have to eat one of Joel's generously offered donuts after all, lest he succumb to low blood sugar.
The break room was deserted, and Jim followed his nose to the donut box. A quick inventory showed that all the good ones were still there. An especially plump and inviting jelly donut was fairly oozing sugary goodness.
Still, something seemed wrong. With a frown, Jim stared at the pastry. Reasoning, he lined up what he could think of. It smelled good, it looked good. It seemed to be perfectly fat with just the right amount of powdered sugar on top. So what was wrong?
If he ate it, he would enjoy the taste. He would feel good. He would no longer be hungry. He would owe Joel, but that was just a good excuse to buy another box of donuts tomorrow. Blair would nag and nag and nag.
Ah. That was it. Blair's obsessive crusade to make Jim eat healthier food. And facing facts, he had to admit that Blair probably wouldn't consider donuts healthy. Even if the jelly was made from real strawberries.
Jim's eyes strayed to the fridge. He looked down at the donuts, then back up at the fridge. For no real reason, he put the donut box down and opened the door of the fridge. His eyes were drawn instantly to the third shelf from the top. That was the brown paper bag that Blair had put his own lunch in this morning...
A sandwich. Hummus and sprouts on whole grain rye. Not exactly Jim's idea of a good meal, but Blair always told him that if he ate better he'd live a much better life. Jim liked his life just fine, thank you very much.
The filling was mushy, and the slightly sour aroma of the rye just cried out for smoked turkey and miracle whip, but Jim bravely took a second bite, washing it down with the sludgy coffee. At least it deadened the taste of sprouts a little.
"Blair make lunch today?" Joel said, as he entered.
"Uh huh," Jim said, forcing another bite down.
"Go ahead and have a donut, if you want," Joel offered, pushing the box at him with a wink.
"So, Blair and I talked this morning..." Joel said. "He said he's no longer seeing that Janet."
"That's right," Jim said, eyeing the donuts. He took another bite of the sandwich. Ew, sprouts.
"And you're no longer dating Babs..."
"Not really my type," Jim said between bites.
Joel picked up a donut. The strawberry jelly one. Dammit.
Jim sighed, and poured himself another cup of coffee. He wondered if the squished one in the corner was prune filled.
"So, I mean, you and Blair...?"
"Yeah," Jim said. "Dating is just too much effort."
Joel nodded sagely. "I'm so happy for you guys," he said with a warm smile. "Thanks for sharing, man. I mean it!" With a friendly pat on Jim's shoulder, Joel left. With the prune donut. Dammit.
Perplexed, Jim stared at the half empty, now uninteresting pastry box. At his soggy half-eaten sandwich.
Did he just admit to Joel, that he was too damn hung up on Blair to go on a date with a beautiful woman, or even just eat a damn donut?
And why did that seem to please Joel so much?
Jim poured two cups of coffee, while Blair went to the fridge. He studiously ignored Blair's muttered curses while adding the right amount of non-dairy creamer to Blair's coffee and two teaspoons of sugar to his own.
"It's not here," Blair said.
"What's not there?" Jim asked as he pulled out a folding chair and sat down. He pushed out the one across from him with a foot.
"My lunch is gone!"
"Are you sure you've looked everywhere?"
"Yeah, someone's taken my lunch." Blair angrily threw himself into the chair. "Did you notice anyone from another department coming in here?"
"I've got better things to do than guard your lunch, Chief. Besides, if anyone took it, it was probably H. He still thinks you were the one who ate the last of his pizza."
Jim smelled donuts. Fresh donuts. Strawberry jelly donuts. He looked at the door.
"Hi Jim," Joel greeted as he pushed open the door. "And Blair."
He hovered in the doorway.
Jim was distracted from the donuts by Blair going absolutely still.
"I think I'll go find H," Blair muttered, quickly jumping up and pushing past Joel.
Joel put the donut box down in front of Jim before taking Blair's vacant seat.
"About earlier," Joel began.
Jim warily looked up. "What about earlier?"
"Well, I talked to Blair this afternoon, and I guess I'd gotten a little ahead of myself, because he told me not to mention anything about the two of you." Joel looked a little ill at ease. "Especially to you."
Jim watched him impassively.
"So... I mean, would you mind not telling him I told you?"
"No problem," Jim said.
"Great!" Joel said. "Have a donut!"
With yet another friendly pat to Jim's shoulder, Joel fled.
Jim ate a donut.
Jim was refilling his cup with coffee and sugar when Blair came back in, looking a little flushed.
"Find the perp?" Jim asked as he poured coffee into Blair's empty cup and added the creamer.
Blair shook his head. "I couldn't find him," he said, not looking Jim in the eye.
"Blair," Jim said, "I ate your lunch."
Blair stared at him.
"Why? You don't even like hummus and sprouts."
"Because I gave up Babs for you," Jim said.
"Have a donut," Jim said, and smiled.
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