Another day, another shift... Linyü had to stifle a yawn as he changed into his uniform. Well, maybe that was a strong word for what he was doing considering he was only putting on a clerk's apron, but even so.
The home goods specialty store that he had gotten a job at wasn't quite on par with the Supply and Demand, and they knew it. One of the ways they compensated for it was by stocking a truly impressive array of scented candles. There was a big display right in front, meticulously curated, and guarded by an employee ready to help anyone who seemed interested in it at all hours of business.
And on this shift, it was his turn.
He have his fellow employee a wan smile as he settled into place, and watched with a bit of a sigh as they departed. Then, pushing up his best customer service smile, he stood with his hands clasped in front of him, and... got ready to watch people walk by while avoiding eye contact with him as much as they could.
Nadia had simple pleasures in life. Good books, strong tea, and scented candles ranked within the top spots. Whenever she was feeling worse for wear, she could put a pot on to brew and curl up with a novel while the smell of spiced vanilla filled her living room.
The issue was that she was feeling worse for wear more often than ever before. The candles were being burned like it was going out of fashion. Her stocks were running low; Supply and Demand was a nice establishment, but it lacked the variety she sought. It only made sense that she would turn attention elsewhere.
It wasn't her first time in the store, so she knew exactly where she was going - nonetheless, she still found herself tensing up at the sight of a sales clerk loitering at her destination. Gracious. She looked a mess, with her hair tied back and dark bags beneath her eyes, but it couldn't be helped. Her addiction needed to be fed.
He was going to speak to her. She had to face that reality. Still, she did her best to look small and unassuming when she sidled up to the side of the display, reaching for a scent that appeared promising. 'Sweet Nothings'. Her cheeks flamed with red.
Almost right on cue, a customer made a beeline for the candle display. She was avoiding eye contact like just about everyone else--- Linyü awkwardly ignored the lingering gaze of a middle aged man--- but since she had stepped into his proverbial neck of the woods, according to the rules of engagement, he was honor bound to... beam at her and, in the brightest most cheerful voice he could muster, ask her, "A-A wonderful day to you, ma'am, and welcome to Bed, Bath, and Benison! Can I help you find your blessing today?"
He only stumbled once. That was better than his last shift, though he could feel the owner staring daggers at him from the back. He had practiced, but it was such an awkward thing to say, especially to someone who so clearly didn't want to be helped. The woman looked about as tired as he felt, and she already had a candle in hand.
"Oh, the Sweet Nothings, huh? That's a good choice, it's got..." He trailed off, then nervously started again, a slightly manic note in his voice now. "L-Lavender and armoise! Perfect for sleepless nights! ... N-Not! that you, ah, look like you need it..."
He could hear the sound of the owner's hand smacking into her forehead from across the store.
Nadia did her best not to outwardly cringe. It wasn't this poor fellow's fault, not at all; he was only doing his job, and fighting an uphill battle with customers who obviously didn't want to interact with him. The absurdity of the given greeting did take her by surprise, though, and led to her making a conscious effort to look neutral.
"Thank you, um..." She raised the candle in her hand to look closer at the label. As embarrassing as its name was, it sounded promising. Lavender and armoise? Good for-- oh. Every concern had been realised in a second. Her disarray was visible, even upon first glance - she put the jar down and stared resolutely at the lower rows of the display. "Perhaps something different."
Poor soul. She knew he hadn't meany anything by it, and yet she was stung, despite her attempts to be logical.
"I... I enjoy woody scents, a-and fruity ones, if... if you have any recommendations."
Linyü faltered as the woman put the candle back, then brightened again when she asked for recommendations. At least he hadn't lost the sale; the owner really would be out for blood if that had happened. "R-Right! We have lots of those, um, let's see..." He browsed the display himself for a moment, then perked up and picked a candle out near the top. "How about this one? 'Painted Leaves', perfect for... autumn... Oh, well, um, it's got cedar and spruce! ... Um."
Setting that one aside, he reached for a peach-colored candle. "Or maybe this one? The, uh, the 'Lucky in Love', with mandarin and bergamot with a little berry on the side. Or... Oh, what about this? White cedar, green verbena, and citrus notes! The... Th-The 'Mystery Man'."
He really did wish they would stop naming candles. Fortunately Linyü caught himself before reading the rest of the label, but it clearly said something about 'setting the mood for some sensual bedroom pleasure'.
Painted Leaves sounded promising! The autumnal feeling Nadia drew from the name piqued her interest, and she took up the candle once the clerk had put it down, popping the lid off to smell it. Ooh. Natural, woody scents always did the best job of relaxing her. Though her heart was already quite set on that choice, she'd listen to what else he had to offer - more candles were better than less!
Alas, she found herself becoming flustered again. Who was writing these scandalous descriptions? All it did was lead to great embarrassment!
"That sounds... thrilling, thank you, um..." She felt rather immoral, allowing her eyes to wander in search of his nametag, and was heartily relieved to find it. "Linyü. I appreciate your assistance, Linyü, thank you."
She needed to stop talking to prevent herself repeating the same phrases over and over. What nonsense this had turned out to be.
"I think I shall leave the Mystery Man to his own devices, but... I will try my luck with Lucky in Love. Would you mind helping me carry these? I wouldn't like to drop them and make extra fuss for you."
Linyü smiled at the woman, a slight flush on his cheeks from having read the unfortunate label. He was trying not to think about who must have written these when the woman called him by name. Linyü flinched ever so slightly, then smiled again. "How did--- Oh, right." He glanced down at his name tag, pinned to his uniform, where the dots over the 'u' had been drawn lopsidedly in with black marker.
He laughed, a little awkwardly, when she set the Mystery Man candle back down. "Y-Yeah, maybe that's for the best, huh? Ah, no, let me get that for you, it's no fuss at all!" He picked up everything she had chosen, carrying them to the counter by himself. The candles weren't really big, but they were all in decorated glass containers, so an armful of them was pretty cumbersome. Linyü wobbled alarmingly several times before he finally reached the counter, and sighed with visible relief as he set them down gingerly.
"Let me ring these up for you," he said, sliding behind the counter. "Let's see... Three of these, and... Here's your total!"
Nadia was admittedly dubious when she saw Linyü wobbling. Had she made the wrong decision? Might it have been easier for her to carry the load herself? Oh, she hoped she wouldn’t get him in trouble — but he managed to make it to the counter without catastrophe, and all was well.
The prior embarrassments hadn’t been forgotten, but she was on her way to remedying that.
“Thank you, I’m very grateful,” She said, and it was true. Having a sales assistant who seemed just as awkward as she was had made the whole thing slightly less of a stumbling block. Even so, she was delighted to hand over the cash and hightail it out of there. “There you go. I hope you have a good day, Linyü.”
As good as a day one could have in a retail job, at least. She offered him a little smile before making her escape; he was a nice young man. Referring her to those autumnal candles had guaranteed her custom at Bed, Bath, and Benison for a while yet.
"Oh no, not at all!" said Linyü, smiling warmly. "Have a--- er, have a blessed day," he said, his eyes darting toward the figure of the owner still glowering at him from the back. His smile, when his gaze returned to the customer in front of him, had gone back to being undercut by nervousness, but for a moment, when he had been free of it, he had looked genuinely glad to be of service, or maybe to find a customer who had been pleasant to him.
He almost managed to hide another flinch as she spoke his name again. Almost.
He watched for a moment as the woman left, but then another customer approached the candle display that was now unguarded, and Linyü rushed to engage him before the owner's expression got any darker.
Being a 'sales associate' at the Bed, Bath and Benison wasn't the best job, but... it was a job. And Roku's super premium all natural fortified raw diet didn't pay for itself. The first two weeks were pretty rough, but by the third, Linyü seemed to settle into the routine of it, inasmuch as there was one for a customer service job. It was a new adventure every day, seeing what kind of people walked in through the door.
On Wednesday afternoons, it was slow, so he was taking the opportunity to restock some of the shelves. Had to keep them looking nice, after all; the owner wanted everything to be as picturesque as possible, so he'd learned.
At least she had stopped watching his every move from the back. Mostly.
The next time Nadia was at Bed, Bath and Benison, she was somehow more frazzled than before.
In her defense, she'd not been sleeping well. When did she ever? No, it had been worse, since her last visit - no amount of Painted Leaves could soothe her, and she'd long since depleted her supply of loose tea. Nothing was doing the trick. The candles helped her feel some sense of normality amongst her mental turmoil, however, and she was willing to take the time to go and stock up.
It would be just her luck to spy the employee - Linyü? - that had helped her out last time. Oh, no. He couldn't see her again, not in the same sorry state. While he was pottering away refilling the shelves, she would try to slink past... though how any woman with bundles of flaming red hair could go anywhere without being involuntarily spotted was a mystery.
It would be typical of her to catch her foot on the corner of a display table and get the whole thing to rattle. No casualities, thank goodness, but she froze in terror nonetheless.
Linyü was actually in a good enough mood to hum a little under his breath as he went about restocking candles. The owner was pretty strict, but a cheerful employee was good for business, so she didn't begrudge him something like that, so long as he wasn't singing something with lyrics that might go against the store image. In fact, he was just getting into a groove when the little bell above the door chimed, and he turned to greet the customer with a warm, almost radiant smile. "Welcome to Bed, Bath and Beni---"
Linyü froze. For a moment he stared at the woman who had bumped into the table holding the Candle Display Mountain of Doom, a stricken look on his face, as if his entire life had flashed before his eyes. Only when the contents of the table settled, unharmed, did he laugh a little and smile again, though most of his comfortable cheer had dissipated. Probably all of it, actually.
"C-Can I help you find your blessing today, ma'am?"
Nadia was stuck in position while Linyü spoke. Damn it - she hadn't wanted to draw attention to herself, especially from an employee she'd already met! Once her deer-in-headlights expression lifted, she forced a tremulous smile. Arguably, it looked more skittish than the initial face, and did nothing for embarrassed blush flaming over her cheeks.
"I... pardon me, I-- I didn't wish to bother you," She said, and took a careful side-step away from the display. No more near misses. "But, uh... could you-- could you point me in the direction of your tealights? I would be extremely grateful for the assistance."
No amount of tealights was going to fix whatever was going on for her. It was lucky that the Bed, Bath and Benison staff were not employed to tell her so. They could help her build a relaxing atmosphere in her home, though... it was worth a shot, since nothing else had worked to put her at ease.
"Oh, it's not a bother---" he began, after she had said she didn't wish to bother him, only to fall silent again when he realized she hadn't finished speaking. By the time she had gotten her question out, he had recovered admirably, and the smile he managed for her was almost untouched by nervous energy.
It helped, of course, that she had stepped away from the candle display.
"Of course!" he said. "Right this way, please!"
The tea lights were on a shelf along one wall of the store. The variety present wasn't nearly as impressive as their scented candle lineup, but there was still enough to occupy the shelf from floor to ceiling. There were several styles, and several colors within each style; and some of them were the new electric type that had no wax and no flame. Arrayed along the bottom were various vessels to hold them, and a few paper covers that turned them into tiny lamps.
"Is there anything in particular you're looking for?"
Nadia felt hideous for the poor man. After getting past her initial embarassment, she was able to recognise what a pain it must be for him, dealing with her antics for a second time. She was silent as she followed him to the display - though she had hoped the view of the tealights would help her recover from her faux pas, she was instead further overwhelmed.
How could that many varieties possibly exist?
"Oh, my," She murmured. "I hadn't expected such... choice."
Of course not. In her mind's eye, she'd seen packs of twelve basic candles wrapped with plastic, but she supposed if she'd been wanting that, she shouldn't have turned up to a specialist store. When she looked at Linyü again, she was trying to mask her dismay, but there was a tinge of the helpless in her expression.
"Perhaps... perhaps unscented, this time," She said. The smells were nice, but proved to be quite distracting. "A-anything like that will do..."
The dawning dismay on Nadia's face was mirrored in Linyü's expression as he realized his mistake. "Ah, I didn't - I'm sorry," he said. "We do have the, er, the normal ones, they're right here, I--" He grabbed for them, fumbled it twice, and barely managed to catch it, somehow, between one arm and his chest. He stood there like that for a moment, before letting out a long sigh, then handing over the package with a rueful smile. "H-Here you are. We do carry a lot of varieties, but you can't beat the classics! Ahaha..."
At this point the owner would certainly have wanted him to upsell the customer, suggest some holders maybe, but Linyü refrained, for her sake and his own. "I-Is that everything? I can start ringing it up if you like, or if you needed any more candles..." He began motioning to the display, checked himself, and motioned to another shelf instead.
Zenjesi: Hey Silv - how do you pronounce Kodakai?
Nov 17, 2023 18:23:56 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Not to mention the baby mosca with wolf skin from Elvye and the sparkling owl of Xentus. <3
Nov 14, 2023 10:27:52 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I like the Donnor one not just with looks FF, but the description, funny as heck.
Nov 14, 2023 10:26:27 GMT -6
Zenjesi: yours both made me laugh, FF! They're very expressive
Nov 13, 2023 21:57:46 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Woooow Twilight, I love that witch drawing!!! :0 It's so pretty! And Zenjesi I think Spectral is my favorite out of yours lol. Just looks happy to be included. and silver now i wanna know which pets youd pick for the other legendary beasts. XD
Nov 13, 2023 21:37:45 GMT -6
Silver: Ah I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it! I love everyone's drawings they're all so cute. ;o;
Nov 13, 2023 17:31:37 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: I like that one as well yeah, loved the old nootnoot image from quest prizes, so that one went perfectly with that particular costume being based around it. X3
Nov 13, 2023 15:23:13 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: The jewelry on tail or at the head definitely tends to be their most recognizable feature for a Mosca, and sadly their pharaoh chin piece as well. XD
Nov 13, 2023 15:21:07 GMT -6
Zenjesi: Your peanut costume is hilarious and adorable too!
Nov 13, 2023 15:14:29 GMT -6
Zenjesi: Yes you're correct! I guess I did a decent enough job with the drawing!
Nov 13, 2023 15:05:27 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: It still looks good on Synkka. She is a shaman Mosca I'm guessing? Its mostly the tail that makes me think of it.
Nov 13, 2023 15:00:42 GMT -6
Zenjesi: I definitely like Spectral's the most too! I sort of cheated by drawing Synkka with a cloak because I do not know how to draw feathered wings, haha ^^'
Nov 13, 2023 13:45:15 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Which one do you like the most out of the three you made?
Nov 13, 2023 12:09:48 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Thanks for that compliment! Though I know with the water it doesn't look entirely great, I love the latter one I made the most.
Nov 13, 2023 12:09:30 GMT -6