Coming Out in the Wash



Blair tugged a static-heavy T-shirt away from a pillowcase and tossed them both onto Jim's pile. That left him with a tangled heap of socks.

Okay, this was actually the easy part because…

"Jim?"

A rustle of the newspaper Jim was reading was followed by an interrogative grunt, so Blair continued blithely. "Why are all your socks white?"

"They're not."

"Are."

"I own black dress socks."

"True; one, maybe two pairs, but 99.9 percent recurring of them are white."

The rustle upgraded to an impatient snap. "I like white, okay?"

Blair fingered one of Jim's socks. Thick, soft, ribbed; slightly pilled on the sole, but still blindingly white.

"Why?"

"Jesus, Sandburg, is this some kind of weird sock fetish or something?"

"No, I just want to know. I mean; did you wake up one morning and, like, toss out all the grey ones and the ones that didn't match -- and, hey, is that why?" Blair rocked back on his heels, feeling the glow of a successful puzzle-solver. "You have all white so it's easy to match them up?"

The paper was tossed aside and Jim joined him on the floor. "It doesn't make it easier. They're still all different shades of white." Jim made a tsking noise. "Sandburg, you're pairing them up and not even looking at them." Deft, efficient hands took the balled-up socks Blair had been sorting into pairs and yanked them apart, laying the individual socks out in a row. "See? This one's older and it's just a bit frayed around the top -- and it goes with this one over here, but don't bother because I'm just going to throw them out. And these here are new, you can tell; they're still just a bit stiff and they don't smell right…it takes three, maybe four washes to do that…"

"Jim --" Blair gave an astonished huff. "You're using your Sentinel abilities to grade your socks?"

Jim blinked at him. "I've always done this. Sorted them properly. You mean, you don't?"

"No one does," Blair said with conviction. He stuck out his feet and wiggled them. "See? Mine don't match. Except they're both navy, so close enough."

Jim shook his head looking horrified. "You're a barbarian, Chief."

"Yeah, right. And now you're down here, you can continue, okay?"

"Glad to."

Blair scooped up his pile of clothes and headed for his room. "So, Jim?"

"Yeah?"

"Why white?"

"Did anyone ever tell you that you're a persistent pest at times?"

"Yeah. Often. Now you tell me."

Jim shrugged. "It's not a big deal, you know."

"Even so."

Jim shrugged again. "You can tell when they get dirty."

"That's it?"

"I like knowing."

"Of course you do."

"I do."

"You would."

Jim smiled at him and continued folding pristinely white socks, all the same, all completely, totally, identical.

Unless you were Jim.


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