Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks, and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.

Observations and Hair Cuts

by Shedoc

********************
"Monday morning staff meetings - ya gotta love 'em," Blair chirped as he entered the room. He was greeted with the usual round of smiles or scowls - depending on the condition of the person offering it. Some people just weren't morning people and Blair had spent enough years as an observer to pick who was who. Now he was a detective and nothing had really changed - this group had accepted Blair a long time ago.

"It's illegal to be cheerful this early," Rafe growled and Blair offered him the mega watt 'hey everything is great' smile. Rafe smiled back - no one in the department could stay grumpy for long under that smile. Thank God Blair had stuck around through all the crap the last few months had thrown at them.

"I brought breakfast," Blair continued, holding up two large paper bags and everyone cheered up at that. Blair found a couple of plates and laid the pastries he'd brought out. He grabbed a Danish and retreated. Jim grinned at him - having already snagged a buttermilk in the lift to ensure he was fed. Simon settled in at the head of the table and smiled over at the curly haired young man, wondering if Blair knew how he affected the men and women here.

Years ago Simon had once heard Jim trying to explain it to Blair but the anthropologist just hadn't got it. He'd thought he was accepted at the Monday meetings because he brought pastries to bribe his way in. Jim had tried to explain it was because he was so good at listening and offering ideas without making the lead detective feel like he was being pushed to a place he didn't want to go. Blair had ended the conversation telling Jim he was wrong about that - after all, who was the observer here - and Jim had growled under his breath.

No one would deny that the meetings were much more productive as Simon's people relaxed enough to be broad minded in looking for recurring patterns and people. They'd managed to avert one or two possibly lethal criminal alliances due to these meetings. They'd even supplied each other with life saving information at these times - stuff remembered out in the field when one or two cases inevitably collided. That had been Blair's influence - at first he'd been the only person spouting off ideas, now everyone chimed in.

They started the meeting with the usual round of status reports and questions, going through the teams in rotation. As usual Jim and Blair took the longest - since they were given the strangest cases. People asked for help and schedules were shuffled to provide support for this surveillance and that bust. Then it was Simon's turn - he reminded his people to be careful and not get killed out there every week. So far it had worked. The detectives started to gather their files and Simon cleared his throat as someone knocked on the door.

"There is one more thing," Simon stood as the door opened. He waited until his team settled and stopped staring at the man and woman who'd entered the big conference room they used every Monday.

"These are Detectives Mary Walker and Jerry Lee. They're from Headquarters and will be spending the next few months in Major Crimes as observers," Simon had decided ever since the orders came down that it was best to just announce this baldly and get it over with. Sure enough his team groaned under their breaths and Jim muttered not more observers just loud enough to be heard. That got him an evil look from Blair and a laugh from the team.

"This is one of the most successful teams in the law enforcement community," Lee spoke up with a smile, "We'd like to know why is all."

Everyone pointed at Blair who looked over his shoulder to see who was there. When he realised what they were doing he blushed and held up his hands. Jim could hear his heart rate spike and his respiration increase.

"No way, man. You guys did fine without me and will again I'm sure," he stammered and Jim felt his own heart rate spike, along with everyone else.

"You planning on going somewhere Sandburg?" Simon growled; his face set in a fearsome scowl. Blair shook his head.

"All I'm saying is you don't need some anthropologist around to solve crime," he replied uneasily; and Taggert growled.

"I thought you were a detective, Mr. Sandburg," Walker spoke up.

"He is," several people answered sharply. Blair stood - time to break this up before it got ugly.

"I'm both," he agreed, looking at his peers calmly, "And you guys are underestimating yourselves again. Do I have to start handing out detention slips? Or should I stop feeding you all so well?"

The meeting broke up in protests and teasing - the tension eased by a few words and a mock scowl that no one ever took seriously. Simon hadn't had time to outline the observation schedule but it had been more important to reassure his people.
********************
Blair knew that Jim was mad at him over the end of the meeting. He didn't need to be a Sentinel to pick up the scare he'd given his partner and their friends with his ill considered words. Blair sighed and decided that he'd be in for a huge lecture at home tonight. He really didn't see why people thought he was such a major influence in Major Crimes. Simon was a brilliant leader and his people were all very smart, dedicated and loyal. Sometimes he came up with a solution to the problems they were having - but he was sure they'd have gotten there without him. In Blair's mind there was nothing special about him.

"So, are we ready to roll?" Jim asked as he watched his partner struggle with his confusion over the meeting. One of the reasons Blair had been accepted so quickly into Major Crimes all those years ago had been his honest humility. He'd never patronized the cops he met and worked with and was genuine in the respect he accorded their job. His appearance and up bringing usually worked against him when he met new cops, but the team was quick to wise the new comers up.

"Yeah," Blair dropped his files except one onto the desk and followed Jim out to the elevator. They were working on a series of robberies that had a rather strange twist to them. The burglar picked reasonably wealthy people who were out of town and broke in. They stole whatever they could find that was valuable and portable then cleaned the house from top to bottom. At first Blair had suggested they were trying to confuse forensics and Jim had been tempted to agree. But what possible forensic evidence could be disguised by alphabetizing the food in the cupboards or the books on the shelves? And despite the valuable figurines and collectable items lying around the thief only took things like stereo and TV's. The case had baffled Robbery for three months before the Chief assigned it to Major Crimes. That reaction was one of the reasons Walker and Lee were observing the department.

"How long will the Perkins interview take?" Blair asked as Jim piloted his blue and white 'Sweetheart' out into traffic. Perkins was a snitch - a very reluctant one that owed them a few favors.

"Got a hot date?" Jim asked with a leer and Blair leered back at him. He knew that Jim knew exactly when his next date was and had probably already run her through the system.

"I promised Megan I'd go out to her observation point and look over some data she collected. Also give her a break from Marcus."

The Australian Inspector didn't get along too well with Brody Marcus - a big-necked man who patronized anyone who didn't look or act like him. However of all the people in Major Crimes, Megan Connor had the highest tolerance for the opinionated bigot - hence their partnership. Simon had his transfer in the works, but until then Megan was stuck with the man on stakeout duty on the wharves. Simon figured that Megan would at least be able to irritate the man into accepting his transfer when the time came and everyone else on the team did their best to give her a break whenever they could. Everyone except Jim who'd been banned on the principle that he'd probably kill the other detective for making cracks about Blair.

"It shouldn't take too long," Jim replied, changing lanes and frowning at the horns that sounded behind him.

"Take it easy," Blair counseled, "You think Perkins will give us the information we need?"

"Yeah," Jim nodded, still scowling at the rear view mirror, "We'll do our pissed off senior and worried junior act and he'll fold like a house of cards."

"Which one do you want to be?" Blair asked and smiled when he finally got Jim to pay attention to their discussion. He accepted the cuff to the shoulder in the spirit it was given and settled in his seat a little. Just another day working with the Sentinel of the Great City.
********************
Perkins cracked like an eggshell and by the end of the day Jim and Blair had the neat thief in custody. He'd been donating the things he stole to shelters. His reason for the cleaning? Apparently everyone needed a little order in their lives and he'd felt sorry for the lack of it in the lives of the people he'd stolen from.

"And the city can sleep safe from the clutches of the evil neat thief," Brown had intoned while Blair finished the report as Jim told the team about it. That had got a laugh. Walker and Lee had been assigned to work with Brown and Rafe this week so the partners were separated from each other - and none too happy about it. Blair made a note to have the two men over to dinner later that week and sent the forms off to the mainframe with a click of his mouse.

"Sandburg! My office!" Simon's voice cut across the banter and Blair slid out of his seat, took off his new watch for Jim to hold and headed into the Captain's office, trailing incredulous laughter in his wake.

"Yes sir?" Blair asked as he closed the door. He hadn't done anything lately to warrant trouble, so he stood with his hands behind his back in the stance Jim used so often.

"What precisely did you say to Marcus this morning?" Simon growled, an odd glint in his eye.

"Nothing the rest of the team haven't said over the past few weeks - that he'd be happier elsewhere," Blair refrained from shrugging. Simon leaned back and steepled his fingers together calmly. Blair winced a little and looked to the side.

"Well, maybe I put it a little more forcefully than the others," he admitted nervously.

"You hit him?" Simon barked in surprise and Blair shot him an incredulous look.

"Of course not!" he protested, "You know me, Simon - I'm not like that! I just put it in words he could understand."

The sincerity was no sham; Simon knew that from experience. He had also forgotten that Blair was the sort of person who could get into someone's head and hit him or her verbally where it would have the best effect. Simon had heard the young Detective do it with recalcitrant witnesses and criminals alike and was always impressed when it worked so well.

"Well whatever you said worked - he requested an immediate transfer to the Bunko Squad and he'll be out of here by the end of the week. You saved me one hell of a shouting match," Simon leaned forward again and gave Blair a grin, "Good work, Detective."

"Just looking out for my commanding officer, sir," Blair replied with a grin and was dismissed. Jim handed him back his watch with a look that said he'd listened to every word and approved. Walker looked over from where she was working with Brown and he offered her a happy smile as he strapped the watch back on.

"Blair - have you seen the file on last year's burglaries?" Rafe called from his desk. Blair shook his head and offered to look around while Jim finished up the last of his paper work. If the senior detective didn't act quickly Blair would be here all night helping out. The Sentinel had a strong drive to protect the city and that led to a lot of overtime, but the Guide's instinct to serve others was even stronger. And when the Shaman kicked in too, Jim found it almost more than he could handle to get Blair to eat or sleep.

File found and paperwork finished, Jim scooped his Guide's coat up and headed for the door.

"C'mon Sandburg! Or are you planning to sleep on Simon's desk again?"

"Nope - it's not as comfortable as Taggert's!" Blair razzed back, and earned a final laugh from his team as he followed Jim out.
********************
Walker and Lee met at the end of the week to compare their notes and write up the preliminary reports. Brown and Rafe were good detectives - they had an easy manner with the witnesses and a firm one with suspects. Their interaction with the others in the bullpen came under the heading of comic relief - both men joked their way through awkwardness.

Rafe and Brown met at Ellison and Sandburg's for dinner and poker with the two detectives and Simon. They told the others what Lee and Walker was like to work with and what sort of questions they asked about the team.

"Man, it was a good thing we were on stakeout duty - 'cause Lee asked question after question about the way the department functioned," Rafe sighed as he dealt a hand of cards to everyone. The junk food sat firmly up his end of the table in easy reach of Simon and Jim. Henri and Blair were sharing some kind of goo and vegetables together.

"Give us some idea of the questions he was asking," Simon prompted and Rafe shook his head.

"Stuff like who makes the coffee most often, do we take it in turns to buy pastries for the snack room - dumb stuff like that," Rafe shrugged, "Not once did Lee ask about leadership styles or procedures or who works best together. Just the little stuff."

"Technically it's the little stuff that makes us so smooth together. When the cases are too hard to handle it's the routines at the bullpen that keep us going. You know - you can rely on it so you can control how a case effects you by plugging into the routine," Blair discarded a couple of cards and accepted the new ones with grace.

"What you're saying is we rely on each other to stay sane when it's all too much," Brown nodded at Blair and the anthropologist grinned in reply.

"So? We all knew that already," Simon protested, "And it's not a new thing - lots of departments have that."

Jim opened the bidding and leaned back in his chair. The argument was relaxing in an odd way - it was affirming their opinions of each other and the rest of the team. Jim could tell by the way the tension was dropping from Rafe's shoulders and the frown from Brown's face that it was also affirming the partners - they were reconnecting like they needed to so badly after a week of enforced separation and observation.

Jim watched the others play their hands out, bickering comfortably back and forth. Blair had changed the topic of conversation skillfully after Simon's protest and Jim admired the way he manipulated the others into relaxing and letting go of the tension. The manipulation was benign and the others were probably aware of it - it was a mark of their trust that they'd let it happen at all.

Blair won the pot again and was ribbed about it. They decided not to play another round - Simon complained he was broke and wouldn't be able to send Daryl to school next year if he kept playing and Jim laughed along with the others.

When the door was secured for the night and the place cleaned up Jim handed Blair one last beer and took his friend out onto the balcony.

"You were great tonight, Shaman of the Great City," Jim didn't use the title often and Blair smiled over at him, accepting the toast. With his hair loose and dressed in jeans and flannel, Blair didn't look anything like a Shaman, but Jim was used to that.

"All part of the job, man," he replied. Jim decided to air the idea that had occurred to him the night the observers first arrived.

"Is that why the team is so successful? Because as the city Shaman you make sure we're ok?" Jim leaned on the rail, turning so he could look at Blair. Blair choked on his mouthful of beer and spluttered and gasped for a moment.

"Jim!" he protested in a choking voice, "If that was a joke…"

"I'm serious," Jim interrupted, "You play a big role in our team."

"Jim, I'm your Shaman - not anyone else's," Blair frowned - wondering of Jim was insecure because Blair didn't exercise that aspect of his role to the Sentinel in obvious ways. He dismissed his role in Major Crimes automatically - he was Jim Ellison's partner and accepted as such. His commitment to the team was as much for Jim as it was for them.

"I guess it's not Shaman related then - just a Blair thing," Jim smiled comfortably, "Good - I already have to share you with the department and the whole city. At least something is just mine."

"You don't share my heart with anyone, man," the comment was almost below Jim's hearing range and he took an impulsive step closer. Blair turned so their arms were jammed together and took a sip of his beer. Contented silence reigned.
********************
The next week Walker and Lee were paired up with a different team and Brown and Rafe turned their comic act on full force. Jim thought he'd probably laughed more in the last week at work than he had in a year as the jokes, pranks and quips flew thick and fast.

Monday morning began with the usual meeting - and Jim and Blair gained a new case when Megan requested reassignment from the stakeout duty. With Brody gone Megan was again working with Joel - and Simon was only too happy to give the woman time to reacquaint her with civilized colleagues. By Tuesday night he and Blair had wrapped the case up - due to luck according to the public reason - due to a little Sentinel activity according to the private report given to Simon.

Megan harangued them in the bullpen, with Rafe and Brown adding colour commentary and the last of the Aussie's stress disappeared. Jim took the ribbing in true Ellison style - impassive face and clenched jaw - while Blair put up a half hearted verbal defense. Blair lost - proof he hadn't really been trying - and the off duty members of Major Crimes went for a beer.

Wednesday began with an out of season storm that had the whole city scrambling like an ants nest and the comic relief took a backseat to the huge volume of calls that hit the department. Blair organized the usual care package for the break room on his cell phone while stuck in a traffic jam - hot soup and fresh rolls from a nearby deli that delivered. Jim got the hot plate out to keep the soup warm while waiting for his partner to get back to the station and his colleagues voted Blair 'mom of the year' again. Blair took it all in good humor - after all, the way the team mothered each other when someone was injured meant he wouldn't hold the title for long. The name Ellison was synonymous with 'over protective' and Banks…

By Thursday the storm had become background noise to them all - except Jim who'd had a hard time sleeping through it the night before - and things got back to a normal footing. Simon spent the day in meetings and was out of sorts as a result that afternoon. He hated the politics that went on at these things, but put up with it because he could do a better job for his men by going along - up to a point. The last meeting had dragged on for eons and left the Captain with a raging headache.

He sat in his office scowling at the budget reports and half watching his men tiptoe around outside in an attempt to make him feel better by trying not to exist. Ellison and Sandburg breezed in and sat at their desks. Jim glanced over at the office but made no move to come in and say hi to his superior - something that didn't really improve Simon's mood. After half an hour of paperwork Sandburg grabbed a report and came to the office. He ignored the growl his superior officer greeted him with and sat Indian style in one of Simon's chairs.

Opening the report and putting on his glasses, Blair started speaking in a quiet voice - urging Simon to sit back comfortably and breathe slowly. Blair spoke softly for half an hour, leading his superior through a relaxation technique that had worked first with Jim - there was no mumbo jumbo. Jim's meditations had progressed since the early days, but Simon was usually a reluctant participant.

To an outside observer it looked like Blair was discussing the file in his lap in some detail. To Jim it looked like the Shaman was healing his Chief - not that he'd ever use those words aloud. At the end of the half-hour Simon actually smiled and Blair got up and left, shutting the door behind him carefully and winking at his colleagues. They all nodded approval back and got on with their job as quietly as possible.

Simon wondered if this was how Jim felt when his raging senses were tamed by the voice of his partner - serene and secure. The sense of peace followed Simon home that night.

Friday was as wet as the rest of the week, and started badly when a cruiser in the garage, that skidded on rain slick tyres, hit Rafe. He broke his leg and wrist, and had to be pulled from beneath the cruiser by Jim, Blair and his partner before he could be treated. Spending the morning in the emergency room was no one's idea of a good time. But Jim and Blair stayed to keep Brown company as he worried about his partner. Simon had been stuck in yet another traffic jam - car accidents were at an all time high and the emergency crews were having a hard time keeping up with it all. He was late for yet another meeting and beginning to wonder why he'd accepted the promotion to Captain at all.

Taggert and Conner managed to hold the fort down with a bit of help until lunchtime - then Jim and Blair made it back from the hospital and Simon made it back from down town. Walker and Lee wandered in with their new partners after lunch and watched the tense bustle of the bullpen for a while. People were at their desks, working hard with the exception of Blair who was moving from one desk to another, finding files, offering ideas and making coffee. By the time Blair rejoined his partner the tension had eased a little and Jim grinned at his friend. Blair stuck out his tongue and got to work.
********************
Jim sat on the couch, tracking Blair as his partner cleaned the kitchen thoroughly and pulled a couple of beers from the fridge.

"So tomorrow we start our turn in the observation," Jim accepted the beer and Blair sat on the table opposite his friend. They hadn't really discussed this before.

"Back to the old stand, huh Jim?" Blair took a swallow of the beer and grinned.

"Very funny," Jim growled, "I figured out how to get around the Sentinel stuff."

"Yeah?" Blair wondered where Jim was going with this. True, Jim hadn't zoned in a long time, but that was because his control was better and Blair was better at catching the potential zone before it happened.

"Yeah, I'll just turn the dials down to three or maybe two and leave them there for the week," Jim grinned, happy with his solution.

"What?" Blair yelled, startling his partner into nearly dropping the beer, "Jim, do you have a death wish that I've never noticed? You'll be dead by Tuesday if you do that!"

"Stop yelling!" Jim yelled and Blair got up. He took a pull on his beer and started pacing back and forth in front of the windows. How could he explain this without yelling?

"Jim - you can't turn down your senses like that. They're instinctive - when a cop tries to ignore his instincts he ends up dead. Not to mention the strain you'll be putting on your body. And don't say you'll turn them up at home because you know you won't. You'll be working so hard to repress them you'll send yourself into a zone that I'll never be able to pull you back from," Blair waved his hands and the beer bottle around for emphasis.

"The other alternative is to tell Walker about them. I won't do that," Jim said stubbornly.

"Jim you're doing it now aren't you?" Blair stopped dead, "Aren't you?"

"How did you know?" Jim asked in surprise.

"Because if you were online you'd know what this is doing to me," Blair spat out, "And there's a third option."

"Ok Darwin - what's the third option?" Jim growled.

"I've found a way to be with you even when we're apart," Blair replied, "But I can't do it if you try to shut down. I'm telling you Jim - release your dials and come back online."

Jim sighed, put the bottle down and called the dials up from the mental box he'd locked them in. Instantly the smell of Blair's terror and the sound of his incipient panic attack hit Jim. He jumped up and hurried to Blair's side.

"Easy, Chief," Jim soothed, "I'm ok, and so are you."

Jim led Blair to the sofa and pushed him down, sitting on the coffee table and putting his hands on Blair's shoulders gently. He murmured encouragement as Blair tried to calm his heart rate and slow his breathing. After half an hour Blair fell back against the cushions and opened his eyes. His hands loosened from the fists they'd curled into and his hair flopped limply across his face. Jim leaned forward and brushed the sweaty strands back before putting his hands on Blair's knees.

"Ok now?" Jim asked, not bothering to disguise his worry. Blair nodded and ran his hands over his face before scrubbing them on his shirtfront. He dropped his hands over Jim's and nodded in response.

"I'm sorry," Jim apologised, "It's just that I knew you'd been thinking about this and I didn't think you'd come up with anything and so I thought I'd just go offline for a little while, not forever - this is my choice, I want to be a Sentinel and…"

"Breathe Ellison," Blair laughed and Jim gulped. He was ashamed at what he'd just done to his Guide and Shaman. Blair squeezed the hands under his and smiled in forgiveness.

"It's ok, I'm ok," Blair soothed and Jim ducked his head.

"I'm sorry Blair," he apologised again and Blair nodded.

"So, this is how we get through next week," Blair told Jim, and picked up Jim's hand, "When you're using your senses I ground you by putting my hand on your arm, or back. So I'm going to give you my touch to carry with you."

Jim looked up, startled and Blair slipped the plaited leather band he always wore around his wrist down over their joined hands and up onto Jim's wrist. Then he loosened the amulet he always wore and slipped it from his neck to Jim's. Then he let go.

To Jim it felt as if Blair's hand was circled around his wrist and another touching the back of his neck. The faint scent from the two pieces of leather smelt of Blair and Jim felt a smile blossom on his face.

"I think this will work," Jim grinned and Blair grinned back.

"Just doing my job," Blair replied, "I am the Shaman of the Great City."
********************
Monday meeting again. Blair piled the pastries in the middle of the table and sat next to Lee instead of Jim. Conner grinned at him and Blair grinned back. When the meeting was over Blair led the way to Lee's desk and started briefing Lee on the case that they'd be working on. Jim had taken the other - more dangerous - case on the principle that Blair would be safer this way.

By Tuesday Lee was exhausted. Blair had whirled through a fresh crime scene and come out with enough clues to solve the case, get a warrant and get involved in a shootout. They'd been pinned down in a crossfire and Lee had found himself shielded by Blair. This resulted in a minor graze to Blair's arm and a lethal glare from Ellison.

Wednesday was a court day for Blair, but one of the prisoners on the court next door managed to secure a gun from her guard and Lee watched Blair talk her down - first into releasing most of the hostages and then turning over the gun - butt first. A second lethal glare from Ellison and Lee decided to make sure his affairs were in order.

Thursday afternoon had Lee and Blair responding to an officer in distress call and Lee watched as Walker tried to get a nearly comatose Jim into cover as they laid down some cover fire. Blair left Lee crouched behind a cruiser to sprint to their side and Lee watched as Ellison revived at a touch and a few spoken words. Captain Banks joined Lee under cover and looked over at his best detectives.

"Jim!" Simon called, not too loudly. Lee was surprised when Jim turned his head to look at Simon and nod.

"We need you to get around the back," Simon called and Jim nodded again. He spoke quickly to Blair and Walker and Lee flinched at the glare Blair sent towards Simon. Simon ducked a little and Lee shivered. Blair said something quick to Walker and pinned Jim with his glare when the bigger man protested. Jim shook his head and Blair followed his partner away. Ten minutes later all gunfire ceased in the warehouse and Blair opened the front door carefully, calling an all clear.

"How the hell did they do that?" Lee asked as he followed Simon in.

"Best partnership I've got," Simon said over his shoulder, "Haven't you noticed how they're always finishing each other's sentences and never in each other's way?"

Lee grimaced - of course he'd noticed it.

Friday was court day for most of Major Crimes. Conner brought in photos that she'd taken at the last Police Picnic - all of eight months ago - and passed them around while they sat in the foyer waiting to testify.

"Who's the guy with the long hair?" Walker asked as she passed a photo to Blair. Blair grinned at the figure she was pointing to.

"That's me," he chuckled, "I used to wear my hair like that."

"And will again, Hairboy," Henri growled, "No more short hair."

"Why did you cut it?" Walker asked and Rafe frowned.

"It's why we're here today," Rafe grumped.

"Getting a haircut is a criminal offence?" Lee joked and Blair laughed.

Flashback

Blair walked along the corridor quickly - these files would make their case and he couldn't wait to get them to Jim. He rounded the corner and almost ran straight into the machete-wielding maniac that was running past Major Crimes, followed by half the department.

Blair ducked the first swing, stumbled back against the wall and felt the machete graze his head. He yanked aside and kicked out, catching a knee and sending the guy down. Other cops pounced and cuffed the man who was screaming obscenities and roaring about police brutality.

"Blair!" Henri was horrified at the spectacle in front of him and Blair followed his gaze. The machete had lodged in the wall, taking a large amount of his hair with it. Blair put up a hand and touched his head in shock.

"Guess I need a haircut," he mumbled and winced when Jim came charging out of the lift. Jim stopped dead, horror written clearly on his face.

End flashback

"So I borrowed a cap and had it cut to the short and unruly mop you see today," Blair shrugged, "I'm lucky he didn't take my head off too."

"It's longer than it was," Henri said grudgingly, and Blair laughed.

"They measure it once a month," he teased, getting a laugh and several affectionate head tousles.

"And you're even more gorgeous with short hair," Conner teased. The others all made juvenile noises and gestures.

"Ok, break it up," Jim said and the juvenile comments increased.

Lee and Walker nodded. This team had a definite formula that led to their success. It wasn't anything that could be taught or reproduced. After all, how do you teach people to be family?

End

Author's note: I wrote the inevitable hair cut story because of that picture of Garret. I couldn't see Blair cutting his hair to gain acceptance at the Academy, so it had to be due to a work injury. Brain surgery would have been too traumatic, hence a machete wielding mad man J

BTW: Handing your watch (or similar keepsake) over to a loved one is an unspoken promise that you will come back - it's a nice tradition and I thought the guys could have a bit of fun with it.

Comments, criticism, suggestions? Please e-mail Shedoc.