Blanket Permission

by Jane Davitt

"There's a recession," Jim says and he strips the blankets from Blair's bed with a ruthless hand. "Less of everything to go around. We have to cut back. Buy less. Ride it out."

"Not necessarily, and I already own those blankets," Blair points out.

Jim gives him a patient look. "And if you use them, what happens, Blair?"

"I sleep snug as a bug in a rug?"

"You have to wash them," Jim clarifies and gives the blanket he's holding a dubious sniff. "It's a theory, anyway."

"Hey, they get washed! I just spilled some, uh…stuff on them."

"Cocoa, guava juice, chamomile tea and about a pint of sweat," Jim recites, the blanket running through his hands like water as he sniffs it here and there. "Come, lube, a smear of honey -- interesting night life you have, Chief --"

"Enough," Blair snaps. "So I wash them; so what?"

"Uses hot water, soap, electricity; all those chemicals going into the water table…" Jim shakes his head. "Forget the monetary cost of all that unnecessary laundry; these blankets aren't eco-friendly."

Blair sucks in an outraged, incredulous breath. "One, you didn't know that word existed until you met me, and two, they're hand-woven from sustainable material by workers paid a fair wage for -- oh, forget it! They're mine. Give."

The tussle that follows results in a torn blanket, a bruise on Jim's cheekbone and an accidentally bent back finger on Blair's left hand that has tears of pain forming in his eyes because it hurts like hell.

Jim's breathing like a steam train, puff, puff, whistle, and his eyes are blank with shock. Blair clutches the blanket to him possessively and then slowly releases it and lets it fall to the floor, a tumbled patch of color, red and blue and green.

"This isn't about the stock market, is it?" he asks. Jim shakes his head. "Or the environment, or the way my blankets smell."

"Maybe a little about the way they smell," Jim murmurs, the dazed look fading from his face.

"You're stripping my bed so that I can't sleep in it," Blair says slowly, doing the math. "Forcing me to --"

"Not forcing," Jim says, his voice hoarse, his cheeks the exact shade of the cranberry stripe running around the blanket's edge. "Wishing you'd sleep somewhere else."

Because his finger's throbbing, Blair gets in one last dig: "You want me to sleep on the couch from now on?"

Jim sighs like a man too proud to whimper and Blair decides to be merciful. He picks up the well-sniffed blanket, stains and rips and all, and takes it upstairs and drapes it over Jim's bed.

Jim watches him from the top of the stairs, a smile curving his lips.

"Sleeping together conserves body heat," Blair says without turning around as he smoothes the blanket. It matches nothing in the room, but he still thinks it looks good. It brightens the place up. "We can turn the thermostat down at night. And it means less laundry."

Jim moves close and puts his arms around Blair, who thinks about turning to be kissed, but he can't stop looking at the bed. Their bed. The one he'll sleep in tonight. "You're right about everything but the last part."

Blair grins.

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