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A Brief Olfactory Interlude

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“What you reading?” Blair asked as he handed his partner one of the two take-out coffees he’d just bought. He craned his neck to get a better look at the cover of the book Jim was holding.

His partner was frowning. “I can’t believe Megan would read this... nonsense!” he declared, waving the book in the air. “Listen to this, Chief, ‘He pulled her to him. His skin held a rich scent of cloves and cinnamon, and it made her feel dizzy as he embraced her passionately.’”

“Romance fiction,” Blair said. “I think Megan reads it to break up the tedium of long stake-outs like this.” He blew gently on his hot coffee, staring out of the dirty window at the house opposite.

 “I get that, but ‘cloves and cinnamon’? Who smells of cloves and cinnamon?”

“Santa?”  Blair stifled a grin behind his cup. ”Wizards, vampires, and Vulcans, from what I’ve heard.”

 Jim sipped his own coffee. “Vulcans?” he asked a moment later.

“Yep, but only in the heat of Pon Farr.”

“Right...” Jim drew the word out. “I have to say, I’ve never knowingly embraced a Vulcan, a wizard or a vampire, but the people I have hugged tend to smell of soap, perfume, cologne, deodorant, washing detergent... that sort of thing. The only other person I could think of who may smell of cloves and cinnamon would be someone who creates those po pouri things.”

“Potpourri,” Blair corrected. “There’s research going on in Israel about odors.  They’ve shown that the food we eat, drugs we take, gender and even state of mind, can all combine to make each person’s sweat unique. One day the components of human sweat could be used as a kind of ID, as each person has his or her own chemical fingerprint and, like fingerprints, the distinct odor you have comes from the same genes that determine tissue type.”

“I can’t see that ever being accepted in court. Can you see me declaring that some guy was guilty because I smelt his own distinct sweat at the crime scene?”

Blair shook his head, smiling. “And also did you know,” he said, “the average person can detect at least one trillion distinct scents? I’m betting you could double that with your abilities. ”

Jim rolled his eyes but he smiled. “No, I didn’t know that.” He didn’t need a book on stake-outs, not when he had Blair.

“Everyone has their own distinct odor; the research proves that, one which hides beneath the smells of soap and detergent.” Blair paused. “You’ve hugged me, oh great sniffer of the great city, what do I smell of?”

“Books,” Jim said with certainty. “Although when you’ve hit the bathroom after drinking one of those God-awful algae shakes, whatever the smell is, it makes your eyes sting!”

“It clears me out!”

“It clears me out too, right out of the bathroom! Which is why I keep telling you to...”

“Use the spray,” Blair said, at the same time.

“Yeah,” Jim said.

It was an old squabble, one neither man took too seriously.

“Books can smell differently depending on how old they are.” Blair said, after a moment. “New books smell of modern synthetic material and glue, old books of organic material like leather.  I guess with more and more use of computers, the smell of books will be lost,” he added, sadly.

Jim nodded. Books were the mainstay of his partner’s life. He drank the rest of his coffee.

“Home,” he said softly. “You smell of home.”

Blair glanced at Jim in pleased surprise. “You old romantic,” he said, with a smile. “And what does home smell like?”

“You,” Jim replied, as though it was that simple and obvious.

Blair smiled. “I love you too.” He took Jim’s hand and pulled his lover over to kiss him.

“You smell of coffee,” Blair said, grinning against Jim’s lips.

“Strangely enough, so do you. And don’t tell me how many substances make up that scent.”

“Around five hundred,” Blair said, grinning. “You’ve hit on one of my favorite subjects.”

“My senses.”

You and your senses,” Blair said, running his thumb over Jim’s lips.

Jim nipped lightly at Blair’s digit, causing his lover to catch his breath.

Jim smiled as the pheromones surrounding Blair took on a rich scent. “How much time before Megan takes over with O’Connell?”

Blair pulled back to look at his watch. “Ten minutes. Save this till we get home? I have a few olfactory tests to run.”


“Oh yes, but these you’ll like. It involves getting naked.”

“Hmm. Damn, these ten minutes are going to be a hell of a long time.” Jim adjusted himself.

Blair chuckled..  “Duty first, pleasure later. Don’t want Megan to come in and sniff anything out. She is a detective herself, remember.”

“Maybe I should go and find a late night shop which sells cloves and cinnamon. That would really fox her!”

A flicker of light caught Blair’s eyes. “Hold that thought,” he said, raising his binoculars to his eyes.“Our perp has decided to make a move.”

Jim sighed, getting to his feet. “Perfect timing. Doesn’t move a muscle for days.... Better call for back-up...” but Blair had already gotten the radio out and was grinning up at his lover.

The smell of dust particles and stale coffee swilled in the air as the two men grabbed their guns and hurried out of the room....