[personal profile] starwatcher_fic

Title: Lessons in Social Dynamics
Summary: Blair mixes Christmas and sentinel sensitivity.
Style: Gen
Size: 870 words, about 2 pages in MS Word.
Warnings: None; conversation fic.
Notes: Written December, 2003. A snippet as "payment" for off-topic list-posting.
Feedback: Not necessary, but I certainly do like to get it!
Email: If you prefer not to post a comment that everybody can see, you can reach me at starwatcher -at- dreamwidth.org

Lessons in Social Dynamics

by StarWatcher

Blair spoke from his spot at the kitchen table, without looking up from his laptop. "Hey, Jim, I've found the answer to Christmas shopping for all the ladies on my list. There's this site --"

"'All the ladies', Chief? As in more than one?" Jim chuckled as he turned to the sports page. "I thought you were between girlfriends right now. And if you're not, talking plural could get you in trouble with some of them -- or all of them. Didn't Sam give you enough problems?"

"Ji-im! I'm talking friendship gifts, not girlfriend gifts! Little things like this help to lubricate the gears of social interaction, so to speak. It helps to stay on the good side of the people who can make my life easier, or a pain in the butt."

"You lost me, Chief. Who are these mysterious people?"

Blair shook his head pityingly as he clicked on another link. "Jim, Jim, Jim. I know you know that barking at people is not the most effective way to encourage cooperation. Other people may believe that glaring, Neanderthal fa├žade you put on, but not me."

"Sandburg, I don't need a lesson in social dynamics. I'm just curious about who these 'ladies' are that you need to butter up."

"Well..." he leaned back in his chair and started enumerating on his fingers, "...there're the librarians, Donna, Linda, and Nancy. Of course it's part of their job to research materials and hold stuff for the TAs, but it doesn't hurt to say 'Thank you'. And Emily, the secretary at the Anthro department, and her assistant Charlotte -- it can make a difference whether my stuff gets handled and copied first or last. And Sadie the donut-cart girl; haven't you ever noticed that she always has at least one left of the banana-bran muffins for me and a buttermilk donut for you? That deserves recognition. And Rhonda and Megan, of course. And --"

"Okay, Chief, okay! It was just a general question; I don't need all the gory details. So, what's your great solution?"

"Like I said, I found this site, and they'll make soaps and bath salts and bath oils to order -- I can select shape, color and fragrance. So I can get a 'different', individualized present for each lady, but they're all on the same 'level' -- no hidden hurt feelings because someone else got a 'better' gift. And they're pretty inexpensive, too; I can afford to get a dozen or more.

"Come to think of it..." He reached out to click on another page. "It says here that the soaps are made with glycerine and Vitamin E oil. Maybe you should try a bar; it sounds like they would be sentinel-friendly on your skin. What scent would you like?"

Jim passed him on the way to renew his cup of coffee, while another click took Blair to the list of fragrances. "Of course, there aren't too many masculine scents, but maybe cinnamon orange or Hawaiian rain or juniper breeze... Wait! Here ya' go! Sage!" He turned to waggle his eyebrows and cast an evil grin at his friend just as Jim set a fresh cup of coffee within easy reach.

Jim offered the expected head-swat, which Blair avoided with practiced ease, but seemed intrigued. He peered at the computer screen over Blair's shoulder. "You may have something there, Chief. The unscented stuff I use has a scent -- the soap chemicals -- just no perfume. It's better than the perfumed stuff, but still not pleasant. You think maybe they would mix up a bar with half the usual amount of scent? It might hide the soap chemical smell without being too overpowering for me. What d'ya' think?"

"Good idea, man," he replied neutrally, manfully hiding his internal smirk. Yes! He took the bait! "Maybe get a couple of bars at half-strength and a couple at quarter-strength. Maybe even a couple at eighth-strength. I can use whichever doesn't work for you."

"Yeah, I think you've got something there, Chief. Show me that list of fragrances." He scanned the list as Blair scrolled down. "Citrus might not be too sweet. Maybe ocean? Or rain forest? Hell, Chief, this is no good. Ordering scents on the Internet, there's no telling what those names actually smell like."

"Hey, no problem, man. I'll e-mail them, explain that we want a very subtle scent that's not sweet. We can get several; whatever you or I don't like can be spread out among the ladies at the PD."

"Good; you do that, and let me know what my part of the bill is." He went back to the couch, but paused before he picked up the newspaper. "Chief?" He waited till Blair looked up. "You really didn't need to go through that little charade. Thanks for looking out for me."

Busted! He should have known that he couldn't really put one over on his sentinel. Blair shrugged and grinned. "No problem, man; all part of the service. We aim to please."

The guide returned to his computer as the sentinel returned to his reading, each taking comfort from the knowledge that the other cared. In this season of caring, this was undoubtedly the most precious gift of all.

The End

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