It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

No, wait, wrong story.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a singe college student who has just been saddled with a Tolkien character is going to need more food than she has on hand.

That's more like it.

So, since the aforementioned sentence was rather true in my case, the first order of business on that Saturday morning was a trip to the grocery store. No big problem, right?


I had forgotten one very important thing, namely, just what everyone thinks when a man (or a Maia doing his best to blend in) and a women who look nothing alike walk down the street together, and that my cover story wouldn't work on someone who hadn't heard it. Oh, joy. I was thanking my lucky stars that I did not blush easily, and calling on all my acting skills to pretend I was completely oblivious to the subtle glares and catty looks I was getting from pretty much the entire female population we were running into. *Why* did the Maia have to be so good looking? Add to that the fact I was almost certain that my acting ability wasn't fooling Sauron, and I was ready to hide in my apartment for the next week.

Again: thank you, Duilin.

Now, the grocery store I went to wasn't too far away, maybe a half-mile or so. However, it wasn't exactly fun to come back carrying all the stuff I bought. Also, I had no idea where they found their cashiers. Nowhere else have I been asked my opinion on international politics in a checkout line. Part of me was really amused at the idea this would be Sauron's introduction to grocery stores, but the other part was coldly certain this was going to blow up spectacularly.

Ah well. Enjoy the fireworks, I guess.

Now inside the store, I had another ally in my quest to ignore everyone else: my phone, which had my lovely little grocery list. Very quickly, I found myself getting things I'd never intended to, and being talked out of things that I'd always gotten, and planned on getting.

I mentally huffed as I put back the fettuccine alfredo freezer meals I loved. I didn't know what this implied: either I was a hopeless pushover, or I was already in the 'pick your battles' mindset. I hoped it was the later, otherwise this week was going to be really, really sad.

Of course, if what kind of food I bought was the only thing I got manipulated over this week, I would consider myself extremely lucky.

Again, why did I like (as Crackers puts it) the troubled Maia seeking world domination? Oh yes, he's ridiculously fun to write. It's the main problem with these plushies, the ones we like most are the ones most likely to cause considerable havoc.

What does that say about us?

I survived the checkout line, forcefully dragging Sauron away from the shortest line, which also happened to be manned by the cashier I recognized as the one who had asked me that question about politics. I was rather surprised he let me, though he did raise a questioning eyebrow.

"That cashier asks too many questions," I muttered under my breath, to quietly for anyone else to hear. He glanced over at her casually, then nodded once to me. The cashier we did get was one I'd never gotten before, as I usually went through the shortest line, which was generally with that girl. I'm a former political science major however, so I didn't mind it all that much.

I was chatting with the cashier casually, like most grocery story experiences, wondering if I was actually going to get out of here without something going wrong. I really should have known better.

"Woah, dude, your eyes are golden!" the cashier said suddenly, and I had the sudden urge to bang my head on the counter.

"Contacts," I said quickly, before Sauron had to come up with an answer. "He actually has amber eyes, but uses contacts to turn them true gold."

"Cool," the cashier said, impressed, as I mentally congratulated myself on the made up answer. I had no idea if it was even possible to use contacts in the way I had just insinuated.

"You wear contacts too?" he then asked, which I didn't mind if it took the attention from the not-humanly-possible eye color of the Maia.

"I do, but they're not colored," I responded. I get asked that question a lot, as my eyes are a shade of blue that usually comes only with contacts.

"Well, your kids eyes are going to be pretty cool, that's all I have to say," the cashier said, and again, I had the overwhelming urge to at least slam my head into my palm.

"We're cousins," I said with a tolerant smile.

"Oh," the cashier said, backpedaling, "Um, sorry."

"It's fine. We look nothing alike, after all," I replied, as he handed me my receipt, and Sauron and I gathered up all the bags. One standard wish for a good day behind us, and I sighed, low and controlled, as we walked out the sliding doors. Sauron eyed them out of the corner of his eye, and I got the feeling that he was going to steal my computer again when we got back.

"Well," he said softly as we left. "That was…interesting."

"That's one way of putting it," I said wryly.

"Are humans these days usually that forward?" he asked, and I wanted to hit him. I didn't, one because that would just be stupid, and for another my hands were full of bags.

"No," I admitted, "but most people who see us do probably think we're together. I kinda forgot that for a cover story to work, people actually have to hear it. "

"Ah," he said. Thankfully, his attention seemed to be caught by the cars. He'd been watching them curiously the whole time they'd been in his line of vision, and I knew from checking the history on my internet that he'd researched them thoroughly.

"Useful things," he mused. "Though horses are usually quieter."

"True, but horses bring their own set of problems," I pointed out, grateful for the subject change. "Besides the fact that cars don't get tired and can go farther, you have to feed and groom horses, as well as care for tack and shoes and the like. Cars are much more convenient, as long as you have a good mechanic."

"You sound like you know about horses," Sauron commented.

"I rode when I was younger," I admitted. "I've always loved horses, and begged my parents until they got me lessons. I started when I was nine, and continued for…four or five years," I said after some quick mental counting. "But just a few years ago, I was around them again and broke out in hives. I'm apparently allergic: I would sneeze a lot when I was younger as well. Of course, I might be allergic to hay rather than horses, as the pony I rode was allergic to hay as well, and so kept away from it."

"That's unfortunate," Sauron commented. "I was starting to think you were descended from the Rohirrim, what with you hair and your instinctual love of horses."

"I wouldn't call it instinctual," I said. "I got my first toy horse at five, and that's what started it. Before that, it was dinosaurs, and before that, cows."

"Cows?" he asked, amusement in his voice.

"I was two," I retorted. "And I had a stuffed one that mooed."

"Still," he said, beginning to grin. "Cows?"

I sighed. "Cows," I agreed dryly.

We had reached the only intersection on our route, and I shifted the bags around in my hands to push the fun little button.

"I can take some of those," Sauron offered.

"I'm fine," I assured him, but was ignored as he deftly slid his hand through the handles and slipped them out of my hand. I didn't argue. The walk home with the heavy bags was always my least favorite part of the whole trip, and if he was willing to carry them, I wasn't going to complain. There were other people on the sidewalk now, close enough to hear us, so we mostly stayed quiet until we got back to my place. Three flights of stairs up, and I walked into my apartment with a soft sigh, all but dropping the bags on the kitchen floor.

"So," Sauron said as he copied me, and I started digging though them for the perishables. "What are contacts?"

"Small plastic disks worn on the cornea of the eye," I answered as I opened the fridge. "They can be used for purely aesthetic purposes, which is what I told that cashier, or to correct vision."

"I can understand the aesthetic idea, but how do they correct vision?" Sauron asked, handing me items to put away.

"Often the problem people have with their vision is their eyes don't properly focus the light onto the back of the retina," I explained, putting the bread away. "The shape of the contacts distorts the light so that when it hits the back of the eye, it is actually clear."

Sauron nodded thoughtfully as I put away the last few items. "So what do they look like?" he asked. I shrugged.

"Small, concave disks," I answered. "Here."

I popped my right one out, probably shocking the Maia, though I couldn't see, as I was looking down. Gently grasping it by the edges, as I wear ridged gas permeable lenses, I held it up for his inspection, trying to adjust to the suddenly wildly different input between my eyes. Seeing with one contact in and the other out is actually harder than having both of them out.

"Hmm…" Sauron made an almost humming noise as he studied it. Then, shocking me, he gently grabbed my chin and tilted my head up to examine my eyes.

"Your eyes are slightly more grey without them," he said. I grinned sheepishly.

"They're tinted blue to make them harder to loose," I explained. "And so they turn the grey in my eyes a light blue. But *that* is my little secret."

I pulled free of his his grasp, and went to the bathroom to put my contact back in. I really prefer being able to see over being half blind.

"So how much difference do they have on your vision?" Sauron asked me, following, apparently not willing to give up the subject.

"A lot," I admitted. "Without them, I can see clearly maybe three inches with my right eye and six with my left. With them, and I have excellent vision. For a human," I added.

"Quite a difference," Sauron said, raising his eyebrows. I nodded, and the conversation ended until later that night. He again requested my computer, and spend most of the day looking up who knows what, while I, deprived of my usual source of entertainment, grabbed the final book in the Fablehaven series to keep myself amused.

But that night, the subject of my contacts came back up.

"You're not wearing your contacts now?" Sauron asked, almost randomly, as I exited the bathroom.

"Nope," I said, "I'm pretty much blind at the moment."

"You don't act it," he countered. I shrugged.

"I've been living here almost nine months, my spacial memory is good enough now that I can walk through here with the lights off, I don't need to see," I explained. "But even if I didn't, I can still see well enough not to run into things. Everything just looks like giant blobs of color."

"So you can see color normally?" he asked, apparently finding my vision–or lack there of–interesting.

"No, actually, although I just figured that out," I admitted. "I was talking with my roommate with my contacts out, and said she was wearing red–it turned out she was wearing hot pink, and I couldn't tell the difference."

"Hmm…" Again, there was that almost humming noise of interest and curiosity. It was the same pitch as the one earlier, or very close to it, the musical part of my brain noted.

"Close your eyes," he said, and I complied. Gently, he placed fingers at the inner and outer corners of my eyes. Third and fourth, from the feel of it. I was pulled from that train of thought as a jolt seemed to race through me. He dropped his hands, and I opened my eyes, wondering just what that had been.

"I was sensing what the insides of your eyes were like," Sauron answered my unspoken question.

"And?" I asked, feeling slightly unbalanced by that. He shrugged.

"I've never done that to an Adaneth before, so I really have nothing to compare to," he admitted. "I was simply curious."

Normally I would have rolled my eyes to a statement like that, but I was still feeling unsettled by this conversation.

"Well...goodnight," I finally said after a slightly uncomfortable silence.

"Goodnight," he replied, and I made my way to bed.