rang a tang

Involuntary Recall (Squealing Santa 2k15)

For bookworm!anon for the Squealing Santa 2k15 tickle fic exchange.

Gabriel checks up on Sam, a few more times than he means to. (Words: 1,850)


Gabriel adjusts his tongue along his cheek, rolling the Everlasting Gobstopper to a new position in his mouth. The real fictional kind, of course, not the sad imitation of the same name that twelve-year-olds go through boxes of at a shot. He’s been sucking on this particular one for… well. A while. One loses track when checking up on all the little music-box dimensions that need winding every so often to keep playing. It’s been longer than a week. Shorter than a decade. Somewhere in there. The gobstopper hasn’t shrunk at all, but the flavor range has been thoroughly enjoyable.

A tang of cranberry hits his tastebuds, and Gabriel suddenly thinks of Sam.

Pinning the cause of the inexplicable taste-association isn’t quite as important as the reminder that Sam prayed to him a while back. Gabriel had put it off at the time. It had sounded more distressing than a stubbed toe, but less so than a violent death, so he hadn’t bothered following up. But now he’s savoring cranberry and wondering if maybe he should look into it.

Ducking back into the right point in time isn’t difficult; it’s not like he hasn’t done it before, dozens of times. If the Winchesters think he comes running the minute they ask for him, they’re sorely mistaken. But throwing on the annoyed you’ve-just-taken-me-from-something-important attitude is habit by now. Even if he’s been off gallivanting about to the point of boredom before he decides to pop back and take care of business.

Just as he snaps, concentrating on Sam, the gobstopper flavor shifts into malty bubblegum.

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An Afternoon at Penhaligons

If you’re ready to stop smelling like everybody else, it’s time to ditch the run-of-the-mill designer fragrances and start exploring niche lines. 

One of the brands you might want to try is venerated British line Penhaligon’s. The first thing that will strike you about the store is their quaint, quirky, old-world classiness, a reference to their gentlemen’s Barbershop roots and ties with Brit royalty.

The entire place is motifed with their signature “bow”/ribbon emblem, from the tiled floor to the cabinet detailing, and even to the gorgeous royal purple wall panel in the top image. (See the Hello Kitty bows?)

Some of the oldest fragrances from the line date back about 140 years, when the line grew from a humble barber shop into one of the premier toiletry brands supplying the English royal household.

During my hour there, I was asked by Store Manager Chris what other scents I’d tried and liked in Penhaligon’s, as well as what other perfumes I liked in general. That’s a VERY hard question for me, because I own so many and I’ll change and wear scents pretty much any time of the day, even when I’m sitting at home or going to bed. So after he learnt that I already know and like Ellenisia, Gardenia, Artemisia, and Endymion, he took me deliberately AWAY from those and through 8 of some of the stronger and more distinctive fragrances in various other scent groups, including their latest release Tralala, weaving stories about each scent and deconstructing accords into single notes for me so I could make sense of them. Here are my faves.

  • Peoneve - (Floral) the first scent I tried and the one that instantly made me go “Yesssss”. This is walking through a lush green garden in bloom, and going past over-ripe tangy Bulgarian roses to a huge peony bush with bright sweet pink petals.
  • Vaara - (Oriental) this isn’t a heavy chunk-of-spices-and-resins oriental like Shalimar or Opium. This is a soft, well-bred mix of saffron, florals, sweet resins and sandalwood. Very interesting and complex, and it changes a lot on the skin from moment to moment as it warms up and reacts with your chemistry. 
  • Eau Sans Pareil (Fruity-resin) Not a typical fruity scent at all. I like raspberry when it’s done well (juicy but not sugary and artificial), and it’s done beautifully here. This scent is fruity-sweet with class and depth. After about 10mins, it warms up and gets fuzzier and becomes a sweet soft skin scent. It was a toss-up between this and Peoneve for me because they developed the most beautifully on my skin.
  • Other recommendations I sniffed in earlier visits: Ellenisia (delicate ladylike white florals, including tuberose which I love), Lily of the Valley (clean, fresh, old-school soliflore lily), Gardenia (buttery waxy gardenia; this is lovely but I didn’t get it because I already own Gardenia parfum by Chanel, and I have to say that is a firm favorite)

I picked Peoneve in the end, because smelling it just makes me happy. It’s bright, it’s lush, it’s exuberant, and it has a definite presence, whereas the other 2 runner-ups were quite soft and more “discreet”. I also like that you don’t just get a flower. You get an entire living garden, including green leaves, clean earth, and the waxy sharp butteriness of a fresh petal.

If your idea of Peony is Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede, I highly recommend you go sniff Peoneve. The Malone is extremely popular, but it’s overly simplistic and watered down for the price. If you’re paying in that price range, you should definitely explore more interesting scent houses!

Scent profiling sessions are free at the boutiques and take about 30mins to an hour. You will be presented with several scents until you narrow it down to 2-4 favorites, which will be sprayed on your skin to see how they work with your body chemistry. Penhaligon’s boutiques are located at Marina Bay Sands and ION, and counters with smaller ranges are accessible at Escentials (Tangs and Paragon).