New Arrivals
Author-Raksha
Titles

Not the Hair!
by Raksha

Summary: The longest standing bet regarding Blair’s long hair is about to be broken. Post-TSyBS where Blair is a detective. Rated PG-13 for language.

Notes: My first fanfiction story. I hope you liked it. Comments welcome. No Flaming.

Disclaimer:  Jim, Blair, Rhonda, Simon and The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, UPN and Paramount, and no copyright infringements are intended. The rest is mine.

‘Say Rhonda, is that bet pool still open? I need petty cash for my Christmas Shopping,' Cassandra said jokingly. Cassandra, a temp from Records was looking for a file Simon Banks' secretary had requested.

‘What pool are you talking about?' Rhonda asked, ‘we have a variety of bets standing out.'

‘I heard there was a bet when ‘Hairboy' going to cut his hair. They told me it was the longest standing bet around.'

‘Oh, that one. You want to wager a couple of bucks? Up till now nobody succeeded in getting Blair to lose his hair one way or another. The pool stands at 2,500 dollars.'

‘My goodness, that much,' Exclaimed Cassandra, ‘that is a lot!'

‘Well, the bet's been on for more than six years now and even people from other precincts, have placed bets.'

‘So no one got it right yet?'

‘No, we thought a couple of times we came close, when Blair went to the Academy in order to become Jim's official partner, but he managed to get dispensation on grounds that he could blend in better if he had to go undercover, the millennium didn't do it and even his thirtieth birthday came and went almost two years ago, and that wasn't a reason for him to cut of his hair."

‘Geez, what do you have to do in order to win this big a loot?"

‘There's a couple of variations, either you have the date correct, the reason why he cut of his hair, like an accident he's involved in which case he loses his hair involuntarily.'

‘Okay I want to place a bet if that's possible. I bet he is going to cut of his hair the moment he's going to turn grey, and I put in 5 dollars.'

‘That couldn't be for a long time Cassandra, he's only thirty-two. ‘

‘With that big a pool, it's likely going to grow in the next couple of years, I'm just investing in the future. And maybe he'll turn grey early, working with Ellison could cause that very likely…, …Oh here's the file you requested.'

*********************

He hadn't want to eavesdrop, but couldn't help himself. Ellison had been on his way to Evidence, which was located opposite Records, to drop of the bags of evidence they'd gathered at the latest crime scene; when he heard his partner's name being mentioned by Cassandra he slowed his pace. He honed in on there voices and listened. Smiling when he heard what it was all about, he came to a standstill and cocked his head to follow the conversation.

Somebody bumped into him, effectively drawing him away from the zone that was impending when he started listening in. ‘Oh uh, I'm sorry,' Sorenson from Homicide hasted to say, ‘I didn't see you,' afraid that the wrath of Ellison was going to come down on his head.'

‘Don't worry,' Jim answered, ‘I was the one loitering in the corridor, I was on my way to Evidence and something attracted my attention.'

‘Okay, no harm done,' Sorenson fled the scene, glad that his bump in with the Major Crime Detective hadn't ended in something worse. He knew Ellison was famous for his short temper, especially when his partner wasn't there.

Jim was rather glad he hadn't gone into a full zone out, shrugged his shoulders and continued his way to Evidence.

When he came back up to his desk half an hour later, he found his partner thoroughly engrossed in his computer, his glasses were perched on his nose and he was mumbling under his breath, ‘where, o where is it. I know I've seen it before… come… ON, You stupid machine, speed up…'

Jim grinned, his partner was a very talkative man, and even his computer wasn't safe for his relentless stream of words. ‘Still trying to get you computer to talk back, Darwin?' he tousled his friend's curls.

‘Not the hair man,' Blair absentminded tried to duck away from Jim while staring at his screen, ‘not the hair.'

After living and working with Jim for over five years he really didn't mind the older detective touching his hair, but old habits were deeply ingrained. And he knew for Jim it was a way to ground himself, if he felt unsettled. Nowadays Jim had a fairly good control over his senses. If stressed he was likely to zone quicker, so he used his partner to ground himself. That's what the Guide to a Sentinel was for, period.

Jim settled himself behind his desk and opened his drawer, took out a file and started reading.

Blair looked up from his computer, ‘What's up Jim, what's bothering you?'

‘Nothing.'

‘Come on, Jim, this is your Guide communicating.'

‘Ialmosthadazoneout.'

‘Say again?'

‘I almost zoned in Evidence,' Jim repeated, not looking at his friend.

‘Man, you haven't done that in ages, you coming down with the flu or is something bothering you? Come Jim, give.'

‘Well, I sort of listened in on a conversation…and at the same time listening in on you.'

‘You mean eavesdropping.'

‘Well, umm, not really, something Rhonda and Cassandra were talking about, attracted my attention..'

‘Something they were talking about attracted your attention,' Blair repeated, ‘and what might that have been? Gossip about a certain longhaired partner again? Been there. Done that. And survived.'

‘But, but Sandburg..'

‘No Jim,' Blair hissed, ‘I told you time and again, it happens. You just have to let it go. You get all worked up when people make snide remarks about me and I have to work all day to calm you down again. Frankly, I do not want to put all my energy into putting right what negative vibes you pick up from others.' He turned his back to his friend and continued with what he was doing.

Jim shrugged his shoulders. ‘It wasn't about that' he mumbled don't you want to know the amount of the bet'.

‘What bet?' Blair looked up.

‘See, you're curious after all,' Jim chuckled, ‘the Hair one.'

‘Oh that ancient one,' Blair looked down again, while tucking his hair back behind his ears, ‘I'm not cutting my hair. You would have thought they would have gotten it by now.' He waited. "Now, are you going to tell me how much it actually amounts to, or do I have to pry it out of you?' He grabbed his mug and took a sip from his coffee.

Jim leaned back and stretched his back, ‘more than two-and-a-half thousand dollars.'

The coffee spat all over Blair's desk. ‘That much? Oh man, look at the mess you've caused. Next time wait until I've swallowed my coffee.' Blair jumped up from his desk and walked to the break room to return with a dishcloth and began wiping up the mess he made.

Jim raised his hands in surrender and started to apologize when the door behind him opened and Banks' face came round the door. ‘Quit with whatever mess you two are making and come into my office.' His tone of voice leaving no space for arguments they both followed him into his office. ‘Close the door behind you Jim, he said, and both of you sit down.'

Jim sat himself on the couch, while Blair perched himself on the corner of the table.

Simon scraped his throat. Both partners didn't have to look at each other to no what that meant; ‘lecture time'.

‘Uh, Si… Captain', what have we done now, we… ,' Blair tried to find out.

‘Sandburg, did I ask you to open your mouth?' Simon glared at his youngest detective.

Blair shut his mouth with a snap.

Simon put the tops of his fingers together thus forming a triangle with his hands and rested his chin against them. ‘I know between you two you have the highest solve rate in this precinct, and with you the entire Major Crimes Department,' he started. ‘And I happened to know we're the Chiefs favorite department, but…' He looked at his two friends, ‘… that does not exempt you from doing your paperwork.'

‘I'm sorry Sir,' Jim began, ‘but Sandburg has been a temporary on loan to the other departments and…, '

‘Jim I know Sandburg has been busy, hell I granted him time to go to the other departments, did I' Simon snapped, ‘There is TWO of you in this partnership, and there's nothing wrong with your hands is there?' Jim had the decency to look guilty. ‘So you two, especially you, Jim, get those hands moving start typing up those reports. I expect them in by the end of the week. Now get out you two, I got more things to do than giving you two a scoffing.'

Jim and Blair retreated hastily.

*‘AND CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND YOU!'* Simon bellowed.

*********************

As it had been Jim's night to cook, and he actually hadn't wiggled himself out of the chore by ordering in, they were ready to call it a day. There would be a Jags game on later that night and wanted their to-do list done as soon as possible. Finishing the wine they had with the lasagna Jim made, Blair stood up, took the plates, glasses and cutlery put the stuff in their recently acquired dishwasher and said, ‘Thanks for dinner Jim, why don't you make the coffee and I'll do the laundry this time.'

Jim nodded, "be sure you separate the colored from the white clothes, I don't want to end up with pink socks again.'

Blair closed the door of the dishwasher and started the program. ‘Yessir, he threw his hand up in a mock salute, anything else?'

‘At ease soldier,' Jim jokingly returned, ‘go on Sandburg, Jags game will be on in fifteen.'

Blair gathered the hamper, the washing powder and the fabric softener from the bathroom and started dragging it towards the door.

‘Lift it Darwin, you don't want to damage the floor,' he heard Jim calling after him.

‘Nag, nag,' Blair grumbled while closing the door behind him and trying to juggle all items in his arms.

"I heard that,' Jim shouted.

"Of course you do ‘Bat-Ears', that's why you are the Sentinel and I'm just your sidekick,' Blair continued his one-sided conversation. He pushed the elevator button. Not a sound. No humming or rattling to tell the elevator was coming. ‘Damn, the thing is out again.' Oh well, he hoisted his load in his arms and began the trip downstairs to the basement. ‘You know you are the penny pincher here Jim,' he kept mumbling, ‘between the two of us we can afford our own household appliances like our own washer and dryer, instead of having to go down to the basement for the umpteenth time, but nooo, save it for a… Woah!'

The box and the bottle with softer slipped from his hands and landed on the stairs below him. Having the hamper still in front of him he didn't see were he was putting his feet and due to inertia he was unable to stop in time, fell over the fallen bottle and toppled forward from the stairs. It all went so quick he didn't have time utter a sound. He landed at the bottom of the stairs on his knees. His left knee had taken the brunt of the fall and he had felt something shift. Amidst all the laundry he lay there panting. The pain was excruciating and tears leaked from his squinted eyes. He rolled up like a foetus holding his knees.

‘Ow, shit, damn, ow,' was all he could bring out. In his haze of pain he heard someone bouncing down the stairs, approaching the basement.

‘Only you Sandburg, only you,' it was Jim assessing the situation. He knelt beside his partner.

‘I…slipped…and…fell…on…my…knees…,' Blair relayed to Jim between his clenched teeth and moans of pain, ‘shit man, my left knee: it hurts, it hurts so much.'

‘Easy buddy, I've got you.' He pulled Blair in a sitting position, sat him against the wall and made a quick check of his partner's situation. He noticed the left knee stayed locked in a ninety degree angle. ‘Well I'm afraid there will be no Jags tonight Buddy, instead of that I can offer you a round trip hospital.'

"Oh, no man, not the hospital, can't you do something about it? I so do not want to go to the ER.'

‘You're kneecap is dislocated, it will have to be put back by a surgeon. Hold on, I have to call for an ambulance and I left my phone upstairs. He started to get up, but Blair grabbed him.

‘No. No. No Way. Hospital okay, ambulance: out of the question.'

‘Blair,' Jim replied patiently, ‘you're in no condition to walk or stand and I can't take you in the fireman's grip, because that will aggravate the knee.'

‘Just get me up, man; I am NOT going by ambulance.'

‘Okay, you win. But I think you are going to regret it. I'm going to call Simon and see if he can get us to the ER. His car has a backseat where you can lie. The other option is to ride in the back of the truck.' He left Blair to make the phone call and came down five minutes later to join his unfortunate friend in the basement.

*********************

‘Simon is coming over as soon as possible, Chief,' he said as he came back, ‘here's your backpack. I gather you will need some of the stuff while waiting in the ER.'

Jim gathered the fallen laundry, abiding the time until Simon arrived started putting the clothes in the washing machine and started the program.

‘No use in wasting time and I take it upstairs when we get back from the ER.'

‘At least I came as far as the basement,' Blair commented.

‘You know Blair, you didn't have to get your point across so strongly.''

‘Meaning?'

‘I heard your comments about the washer/drier bit when you were going to the basement and than your hart rate sped up like mad, so I figured something happened to you. Go figure I was right.'

‘Yeah man, sometimes it pays to be living with a Sentinel,' a weak smile emanated from Blair's face, ‘So you were monitoring me again.'

‘I always do, you know.' He knew. ‘Hey, does Simon know where we are?'

‘Yeah I told him what happened.'

‘Ouch.'

*********************

The person in question arrived at the top of the stairs.

‘Hey Simon,' Blair managed to wave his hand, ‘we're here.'

‘I figured as much, Sandburg, what have you done this time?' Simon came trotting down.

‘He just wanted to let me know that we REALLY need a washer and drier in our own apartment,' was Jim's comment.

In the end they managed to get Blair upstairs by making a chair with their arms. A lot of suppressed moaning coming from Blair, indicating in how much pain he really was, they slowly made their way to ground level and from there into the backseat of Simon's car, where he lay down. Jim closed the backdoor and took his place next to Simon. Simon started the car and drove of to the hospital. Jim turned round in his seat to check on how his partner's was holding up. The face was as white as silk, the body drenched in sweat from pain and exhaustion and he had his eyes closed. Jim smelled the dried tears on his partner's cheeks.

‘Just try to hang on a little while longer, Sandburg,' Simon said, looking into the rear-view mirror, ‘we'll be in Cascade General in no time.'

‘Thanks Simon, for taking the trouble of bringing me to the hospital,' Blair's breathing came in hitching gasps, ‘I hope it didn't cause you too much trouble.'

‘Sandburg, quit doing the guilt trip. You're no trouble at all. Eh, most of the time you're not. And the sooner I get you up and running again, the sooner I can get my top detectives in ship-shape again the better it will be', Simon said.

Thanks to the late hour the traffic wasn't as busy as it was in the day time. So the trip to Cascade General didn't take too long. Simon parked near the entrance of the ER. Jim got out and walked into the hospital to get a wheelchair. He parked the chair next to the car and opened the backdoor to lift his friend out. Carefully he lowered Blair into the chair, gave him the inseparable backpack and closed the door with a bang.

‘Easy Jim, it's not your truck.' Simon, having exited his car as well and locking his car with the remote, walked to the entrance in front of Jim who pushed the wheelchair with Blair in it.

The ER was crowded. The waiting room was crowded. ‘Oh man', Blair sighed, ‘we're looking at a couple of hours hospital.'

‘Yeah,' Jim confirmed. He turned to his boss and said; ‘You don't have to wait with us, Simon. It is okay to go home.'

‘Be sure to call me when you're done here, no matter what time, okay?' Simon said.

‘Will do,' Jim said, ‘and thanks for now anyway.'

Simon turned round to Blair. ‘Hey kiddo, all the best and see you later.' He took his keys out of his pocket and left for his car.

Jim parked Blair in the wheelchair near the other waiting patients and went up to admission. He filled out the required forms, chatting with the duty nurse who had recognized the pair, and set out to wait with his friend. They were well known in the ER, since they both had a habit of landing there often.

Jim sat down and took a paperback out of his pocket. At least he could kill the time by reading a few chapters, he thought. Blair sitting quiet, trying not to move too much so he had a better grip on the pain, was observing the people around him. Even though he wasn't attending the university anymore, it hadn't taken the anthropologist out of the detective. He still liked to do people watching. Parents with sick or injured children, husbands and wives waiting together, friends bringing other friends in, some people sitting alone having come to the ER on their own, people of all layers of the population sitting and waiting for their turn. The ER bustled with activity, so there was enough distraction for Blair not to give in to the pain.

He watched Jim totally absorbed in the story he was reading and smiled. There had been a time if his friend concentrated too hard on one thing he would zone. So long reading sessions tended to end in Blair trying to get Jim back to reality. Nowadays Jim anchored himself on Blair's heartbeat or when his partner wasn't there he'd use other senses as well to keep from zoning.

*********************

Blair thought he must have dozed off; he suddenly became aware of something or someone touching his hair at the nape of his neck. It wasn't Jim, he usually had a much firmer touch and he wouldn't dare to show any form of affection in a crowded waiting room He turned his head and noticed someone, being completely mesmerized by his curls. Startled the girl, for it was a girl, Blair noticed, pulled her hand back and hid them in the sleeves over her oversized shirt.

‘Uh, sorry Sir,' she apologized, ‘I couldn't help myself. I had to touch your hair.'

The girl, Blair saw now, didn't have eyebrows, no eyelashes and was bald under her cap.

‘Don't be,' he answered, ‘sorry, I mean, I don't mind, really.'

‘Katrina has a rare condition,' the woman next to the girl declared, ‘whereby her body isn't able to make hair and nails. We're used to it, but she is fascinated by hair.'

‘Mom, please,' Katrina wiggled in her chair, her face turning beet red.

‘Hey,' Blair said kindly, ‘don't mind your mom, parents have a way of embarrassing you all the time. They just want to protect their kids from the big bad world outside.'

‘Yeah,' Katrina whispered her head bowed, ‘she means well, I just sometimes wish I was normal, you know? And she,' her head moved in the direction of her mother, ‘has a habit of attracting too much attention.'

‘I'm just proud of you dear,' the mother continued, ‘she is a very good ballet dancer, my Katrina. If we'd have enough money we could send her off to Julliard.'

‘Aw Mom, Katrina protested nobody wants a bald girl dancing Swan Lake.'

Blair noticed the willowy built the girl had and the big green eyes in the elflike face... She would turn into a real stunner. If she was only fifteen years older… He definitely would have made a pass at her, hair or no hair. Jim, having noticed his friend had once again started a conversation with a total stranger and managing to get their whole life story in less than five minutes, abandoned his book and followed the conversation in awe. The kind soul that he was couldn't see people suffer. He knew that the brain of his partner was working in overdrive.

*********************

‘Blair Sandburg?' a call came from the nurse, ‘cubicle four. The doctor is waiting.'

‘See you Katrina and good luck in your career. Ma'am,' Blair said.

Jim stood up and grabbed the handles and wheeled him to cubicle four. ‘Come Chief; let's not let the good doctor waiting.'

‘Katrina Wozniak, cubicle seven', they heard when they went in.

The doctor came in. He extended his hand to Blair they shook hands, ‘Good evening Detective Sandburg. We haven't seen you in a while.' He acknowledged Jim presence in room with a, ‘Detective Ellison.' Jim nodded, ‘Dr. Carter.'

‘Well, what can I do for you, Mr. Sandburg?'

‘I fell down the stairs on my knees and know I can't stretch my right knee and the other one is badly bruised I think.'

‘Let's have a look then, Dr. Carter said. He bowed down and examined Blair's knee.

Blair sucked in his breath and stifled a groan the moment the doctor touched the tenderest area's on his leg, ‘Ow doc, that sucks,' he said, trying to get his breathing under control. Jim looked at him worriedly, ready to intervene. ‘I'm OK man, quit worrying,' Blair said trying to prevent Jim going in BP mode.

‘It is probably a dislocated kneecap,' the doctor said, ‘but to make sure you'll have to go down to X-ray and have a x-ray taken. After confirmation, you'll return here and we'll try to reposition the patella under local anesthetic. An orderly can take you down to X-ray.'

‘Oh, we know the drill, doctor,' Jim said, ‘do we Chief?'

‘On to the picture show James,' Blair summoned in a mock way.

‘See you in a bit then,' Dr. Carter said.

*********************

They quickly found their way to x-ray, were they were forced to wait again. Soon after settling themselves in the waiting area, Blair leaned back in the chair, pain and exhaustion visible on his face.

‘Take it easy buddy,' Jim said and nudged Blair's shoulder.

‘I know man, but everything is getting stiff and moving hurts.'

‘Try to hang on a little bit longer, after the x-ray they'll give you something against the pain.' Jim took up his book again. He couldn't help but notice that Katrina was there as well. She was chatting with her mother. He unconsciously zoomed in on their conversation.

‘Oh see Mom, there's those two again; the one called Blair had such nice hair. When I get a wig I would like to get hair like that.'

‘Katrina, you know we don't have any money to have a wig made, let alone one with real hair, they are just too expensive.'

‘Yes, but you are saving for it, are you?'

‘Yes dear, you know mommy is saving for it'

‘Tell me how much money did you save now Mom, so I can calculate how long it takes to reach the goal.'

‘Katrina, you know how long it takes,' her Mom tiredly said, ‘I save 5 dollars every week, making a wig costs about 500 dollars, if not more and I have already saved two hundred, now hush.'

Katrina fell silent; Jim looked up from his book and noticed a pensive thought on her face.

‘So in over a year I can have my wig,' Katrina said, ‘but Junior High School starts in six months.'

Jim heard a sigh from Katrina.

Blair looked at Jim and noticed his head was slightly cocked, his book lying in his lap. ‘Hey man, don't zone on me here,' he whispered and touched Jim's leg.

Jim shifted his attention to his friend, ‘I'm not zoning, I kind of listened to Katrina and her Mom.'

‘What are they saying that got you mesmerized?' Blair asked.

‘Uh, I heard her talking about your hair again, and that she would like to have hair like that. They are saving up for a wig, but it takes them another twelve months to reach the minimum amount to get a synthetic one. And she's going to Junior High in six.'

‘Yuck, major disaster time, especially when you're not the average kid on the block,' Blair said, ‘and me as ‘The Junior-High-Geek-of-the-Year' talks from experience.'

‘Was it that bad Chief?' Jim asked.

‘If you take into account I was this very small, scrawny looking kid, with glasses and generally more hair than the average girl, yeah.' Blair shifted in his seat. He didn't like to be reminded of that time. ‘But the time that they attacked me for being different, is long behind me now. Most of them turned into Joe Average anyhow, so who's the winner now?'

‘You Chief, Jim thought, ‘and that's why you still keep craving for acceptance and recognition.'

Before he had a chance to react, a voice called out; ‘Mr. Sandburg? You can go in for your x-ray now.'

Jim wheeled his partner to the designated x-ray room. Together with the nurse he helped his friend on the table and waited outside when the photos were being taken. In the hallway they waited for the photos to be ready. Blair looked round the waiting room to see if the girl was still there. She was just going in for her x-ray. After they were given their set of x-rays, they went back to see Dr. Carter. Another wait was eminent. Blair had grown silent and had a pensive expression on his face. Knowing his partner, he was mulling over their earlier conversation. He was convinced Blair was thinking of Katrina, probably thinking what he could do to prevent her time in High School in turning into a nightmare.

*********************

Blair was called into the treating room. Jim accompanied him. ‘You want me to stay or not?' He asked Blair.

‘Stay, so you don't have to strain yourself in hearing the Doctor's assessment. Because I know you will listen in anyhow,' Blair smiled while talking.

Jim's face turned slightly pink.

Dr. Carter came in and examined the x-rays. ‘Mmmm, okay,' was his comment while looking at the results. He turned to the two waiting men. ‘Mr. Sandburg, you've been quite lucky. Nothing's broken, you will be sporting some spectacular bruises, and yes, your kneecap is dislocated.'

Blair groaned, ‘Christmas is three weeks from now and I still have to do some shopping, we were going on a stake-out tomorrow. I still have to go for a refresher course on the shooting range; we still have to do a heap of paperwork. How am I going to get all those things done?'

‘I'll put you under local anesthetic and we reposition the patella, Dr. Carter explained', ‘After that you get a brace for a week or two, depending on how quick all the tendons will heal. You are not to use that leg at all for at least four days and knowing your history of ignoring doctor's orders, I think I'll have you use a wheelchair for the rest of the week,' the doctor overrode any of Blair's protests with his hands holding up, ‘if you ignore my orders I'll put you in a cast.'

‘Oh things will turn out just fine doc, Jim said, ‘I WILL keep an eye out for him. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and Blair recognized his stance for what it was. He was not going to get away with it this time.

*********************

Putting the anesthetic in turned out to be quite painful, the needle being huge in Blair's eyes and going into his leg almost completely. "Hey doc, easy with that monstrosity, it's my knee you're poking in.' He tried to pull back but was held down by both the nurse and Jim who had come forward and put a hand on his shoulder, knowing how squeamish Blair could be around needles.

‘Try to relax and we'll put your patella back into place,' Dr. Carter said.

Blair nearly passed out when they started pulling and pushing on his kneecap and leg. He grabbed Jim's hand and squeezed it hard, while the doctor and a nurse tried to reposition his patella with quite some force. He turned as white as a sheet again and couldn't stop a moan from coming out. Just as he thought he couldn't take anymore his kneecap snapped back into place. Immediately the pain lessened. He slumped back on the table with a sigh, exhausted.

‘Breathe Blair, in… out… in… out, that's it Buddy,' Jim said prying his hand from his partner's death grip.

‘You okay for a while now? So I can do the paper stuff?'

Blair nodded, calmed down considerably now the worst was over.

*********************

Jim went to administration desk to sign for release, pharmacy for painkillers, wheelchair etc. and phoning Simon, while Blair waited to be fitted the brace. He felt better and started taking notice of his surroundings again. Janice, a nurse he knew came in with the leg brace under her arm.

‘What have you done now Blair; she said shaking her head, ‘me having to fit you with this contraption?'

‘Fell down the stairs at home. Go figure.'

‘Not in the line duty this time then.'

‘Nope, just a stupid accident.'

‘The outcome is still the same. You are being laid up for a couple of weeks.'

Blair groaned.

Janice gently lifted Blair's leg and shoved the brace underneath. She adjusted the thing round his leg and closed it with Velcro straps, explaining what to do with it. ‘Wear this for the first twenty-four hours, then during waking hours, not so while bathing or showering. Day after tomorrow, but only if you're a good little boy, you can sleep without it. No bending of your leg the first three days, or your kneecap will dislocate again. And the more your ligaments and tendons are stretched the more likely you'll end up in Surgery. Your choice.'

‘I'll be a good boy Janice; I'm being monitored by my Blessed protector from Hell.'

Janice snorted knowing how protective detective Ellison could be of his partner. Of course the same went for Blair, when Jim was the one being brought into the ER.

‘You wouldn't happen to have trimmers here, do you?' Blair asked Janice.

‘Yes, but were do you need them for?' No shaving is required.'

‘No that's not what I mean, you see, there's this girl in the waiting room and well, she's got no hair. Jim heard her talking about saving up for a wig, so I thought I could give her mine, you know with Christmas being near and all…' He looked at Janice expectantly.

‘You're sure?' she asked, looking at his long curls, ‘you're so cute with them.'

He blushed. ‘Bring it on,' he beckoned with his hands, ‘might as well do it right away. Make it a crew cut Antoine,' he joked.

Janice opened a drawer, took out the trimmer, plugged it in the wall and activated it.

Blair cringed as he saw the first of his long locks being put next to him on the table. It was over in just a couple of minutes. His head felt light and airy without the weight of all the hair. ‘O Jesus, what had he done?' He felt his head with his hands. Not too bad actually, he thought. He turned his head on the sound of someone coming in.

‘Hey Sandburg, ready to be…' Jim stopped mid-sentence while staring at his partner's head, he swallowed ‘…sprung from this joint? So…, you finally found a reason to cut of your hair at last,' Jim brought out. He looked his friend, ‘It's actually not too bad, but different, I never thought I'd see the day' he said, ‘it can eventually grow back.'

‘It really doesn't look too bad, does it,' Janice said, looking at her handiwork, ‘he still looks cute.'

‘Yuck, Janice cut it out,' Blair said. He looked at Jim with a question in his eyes.

‘It's good Sandburg, it's good. I gather your locks are for that girl Katrina?'

‘Yeah, could you take them and bring them to her and wish her Merry Christmas?'

‘Will do.' He gathered the soft curls together and bound them together with the hair tie Blair gave him.

‘I won't need that for a while, I think.' He saw Jim's jaw slacken, seeing his friend fondling the locks between his fingers. ‘Hey man, he nudged his friend, don't you dare zone in here,' he hissed between his teeth.

Jim locked on to his Guide's voice and was pulled out of the mini-zone. He didn't say a word, turned around and strode out of the treatment room.

*********************

Jim found Katrina on crutches and her mother on their way to the exit. ‘Excuse me ma'am, my friend asked me to give you this for Katrina,' he handed her Blair's locks to Katrina's mother; ‘he said to say Merry Christmas.'

Katrina's mother was dumbfounded, but took the locks from Jim. Katrina was dancing on her good leg around in the lobby. ‘Mom, I'm going to have real hair, isn't that great, beautiful hair and nobody will know it isn't mine, it is real!! I'm going to be the prettiest girl around, I can even do ponytails.' She stopped dead in her tracks and looked at Jim. ‘Where's Blair, I want to thank him.' She pulled his sleeve. ‘Come please bring me to him.'

Jim smiled and took her to see Blair.

Janice had just helped Blair into the prepared wheelchair. He sat with his leg straight forward. He looked up seeing Jim and Katrina coming towards him. The girl hobbled towards him, dropped her crutches and threw her arms around him. ‘Thank you, thank you, Blair, now they won't be taking the mickey out of me.' She kissed him on his cheek, ‘how can I thank you ever?'

‘Good luck with it Katrina, glad to be of service,' he smiled, ‘let us see the results one day.'

Jim gave her one of his cards. ‘Here's our phone number, call us.'

Katrina looked at the card and tucked it in her pocket. ‘Thank you again.' She took her crutches from Jim, who'd picked them up from where they'd fallen and hobbled out of the room.

*********************

Blair's eyes, looking larger than ever, met Jim's. A look of understanding flashed between them. ‘You did good Darwin,' Jim came over and tousled the short hairs of his friend, ‘lets get you home, I hear Simon coming in.' He grabbed the handles of the wheelchair and drove Blair to the lobby.

Simon's mouth dropped open when he saw his junior detective. ‘What happened, I thought you had fallen on your knee. He came over and checked Blair's head. ‘No injury. Where's your hair gone?'

‘Someone needed it more than me Simon,' he said, ‘you like?'

‘I never thought I would see this miracle happen, hippie-boy losing his hair! Yesss Lord, there's justice after all.'

‘Enough gloating over me, said Blair, ‘Just get us home, Simon I'm kind of tired.'

‘The adrenaline rush is starting to wear off Simon, I want to have him in the loft ASAP,' Jim added.

‘Let's get going then,' Simon said, ‘It's almost ten p.m. by now and Jim and I have to be early in tomorrow.'

‘I can work as well,' Blair said, ‘there's nothing wrong with my hands.'

‘You‘re grounded tomorrow. You'll be sore to the bone tomorrow and I don't like the rest of my employees being at your beck and call, just because they feel sorry for you Blair.'

Blair let himself be helped into Simon's car again. The chair went in the trunk. Simon and Jim in the front seats, they drove off. Picking up his earlier conversation Simon said, ‘If you are really looking for work I let Rhonda drop of some files you can work on from home.'

‘Well, thanks man,' came from the back.

*********************

Thanks to the painkillers, Blair hadn't slept too badly. He woke up to the call of nature. *‘Oh man, I've got to go,'*he thought. Stupid wheelchair nowhere in sight. Darn. ‘Jiiiimmmm, man I need some help over here.'

Jim entered his room rubbing his eyes out and yawning. ‘What's up Sandburg?'

‘I need to go man.'

‘Oh yeah, I'll get the wheelchair.'

He returned a moment later held the chair so Blair could get in. Then he maneuvered backwards and wheeled his friend to the bathroom. ‘Let me know, when you're done.'

He closed the door and let Blair go about his business. He went to the kitchen, put on fresh coffee and started breakfast. By the time Blair called he was done, toast was nearly done, scrambled eggs were simmering and he had bacon in the microwave. They'd found out that bacon got as crispy when you nuked it, with less the fat. He grinned. He still got to eat his bacon, and Blair sometimes even refrained from his remarks about clogged arteries. He hauled Blair out the bathroom and put him at the table. Blair's leg awkwardly sticking out made maneuvering difficult. Blair had managed to shave and wash as well. ‘Could you get me some sweats Jim? I so do not like eating breakfast in my undies.'

Jim walked in Blair's room and got a sweatshirt and a pair of sweats. ‘You have some spectacular bruises Darwin,' Jim commented looking his friend over, ‘need some help?'

‘I hurt, man, I'm in pain and stiff and definitely not a happy puppy, yeah please help me with the sweatpants.'

Jim obliged and pulled Blair his sweatpants on, ‘lift your butt, Darwin, so I can finish this operation.'

Between the two of them they managed to get Blair's pants on and settle him at the table.

‘One positive thing though, no bedhead,' ‘Blair said as he stroked his short hairs, ‘Man I think I'm going to like this haircut, I can sleep in even longer.'

‘Oh no you don't, I've got trouble enough getting you out of bed as it is.'

The microwave pinged. Jim stood and opened the door. He took the plate with bacon out and removed the kitchen paper. Nice, crispy and hot bacon to go with his scrambled eggs. ‘Want some?'

‘Nah, if you insist of clogging your arteries and dying of a massive heart attack, go ahead. Could you pour me in some OJ?'

Jim obliged. ‘I'm going work in half an hour. Need anything, Darwin?'

‘If you can get my laptop, my glasses and coffee in a thermos, and the door to the bathroom open, I'll manage, now get going and leave me wallow in self-pity,' Blair said.

Jim grinned, left the table and got dressed. When he came down the stairs he saw his partner had managed to install himself on the couch. He walked to the kitchen drawer. Got his badge and gun out, put the gun in the holster in the small of his back and clipped his badge over his belt. Then he walked over to Blair's room to get the laptop, the telephone wire to connect the modem to the wall socket, glasses. Then he walked to the fridge and the coffee maker to get the required beverages. Arms full off stuff he walked over to the couch and put everything on the coffee table.

‘Well, Chief, all settled now?' he asked grinningly.

‘Thanks man, see you later and tell Rhonda where she can find the key, so that I don't have to get up for her.'

‘Okay. Sure I can leave you alone?'

‘Go, go.' Blair shooed.

‘Later Chief.'

‘Later.'

Jim walked to the coat rack, retrieved his coat opened the front door. He went through it and closed the door behind him.

Blair sighed. *‘Finally! Peace'*. He slumped backwards and closed his eyes. ‘Just for a minute', he thought.

*********************

‘Blair! Blair wake up!' Someone shook his shoulder, ‘it's me, Rhonda. What have you done.'

‘huh, uh?' He opened his eyes, squinting against the light.

He sat up groaning and rubbing his eyes. ‘Oh hi Rhonda, what do you mean, what have I done, I only fell asleep for a sec.'

‘No silly, that's not what I meant, what did you do with your hair, it's…gone.'

‘Oh that. I would've thought Jim told you this morning. I gave it to a girl who needed it more.'

Rhonda sat down next to Blair on the couch and said, ‘you realize that you've made some person very happy by doing this, do you?'

‘Yes, Katrina.'

‘Yes, no, I mean, the winner of the longest standing bet in the precinct,' Rhonda said.

‘Who is the winner then?'

‘Don't know, I have to look it up in our big betting book. But I'll let you know. Will you be coming in this week?'

‘Yeah, I don't have many sick days left, so I'll be shuffling in tomorrow. ‘Poor me, confined to desk duty,' Blair said mockingly.

‘Pinocchio,' Rhonda warded off, ‘I know you don't hate paperwork, especially since you made everything ten times easier modernizing the system.'

Blair grinned. ‘You know me too well, Rhonda.'

Rhonda looked round the apartment. ‘Jim asked me to make sure you were taking your painkillers, so were are they?'

‘On the kitchen counter, but I'm fine really don't bother.'

‘And face the wrath of Iceman Ellison? I do not think so Blair.' Rhonda said, ‘so be a good boy and take your pills.' She retrieved a pill from the box and handed it over. Blair took it reluctantly and swallowed it with the water he'd had on the table. ‘Well for good behaviour like that, I've got you a nice chicken sandwich with extra veggies from the deli across the PD,' Rhonda returned with a bag she'd left on the table and put it in Blair's lap.

‘Rhonda, you're a darling.'

‘I know dear, I just wish more people knew about it', Rhonda said.

Blair started munching on his sandwich and asked with his mouth full, ‘did you bring me the files?'

‘Here they are,' she put them one by one on the coffee table, ‘Hobson, Blake, Zabrinski and the Gates files. Enough?'

‘Oh yeah, I was more ore less finished with them and as soon as I've rounded off the paperwork I'll hand them in to you, so it can go to court.'

The rest of the afternoon went by quietly. Blair had managed to finish of the paperwork, sitting in the wheelchair at the big table. He closed his laptop with a sigh. He looked at his watch, almost six and Jim wasn't home yet. Maybe something came up. He made another trip to the bathroom, grunting at the inability to move freely. He decided it was too much fuss to transfer back and forth to the couch and stayed in the chair. He got the remote control and started zapping. He stopped at the game show ‘The Weakest Link', with that British woman Ann Robertson. He and Jim liked to watch when they were at home, trying to get as much answers as possible. They came to round seven when he heard the key being put in the lock.

*********************

Jim came in with his arms full of bags. ‘Ah Sandburg, up and about? I bought us some Chinese. Hope you like, and that's why I was a bit late. It was busy.'

‘I was a bit worried, you didn't call and it was getting late, but know see were you've been. Thanks for bringing food. Man, I am hungry,' Blair delved into the bags to get the food out, ‘by the way I finished of the cases Rhonda brought me, so they're ready to be taken to court as soon as they're processed. Do you know who won the pool; you know, my hair one, Rhonda wouldn't tell me. Hey, Jim, Could you get the plates and cutlery, so we can eat, I've got some trouble manoeuvring around in this, this thing.'

‘Sandburg….,' Jim made a T-gesture with his hands, ‘Time out.'

Blair deflated in a sec and shut his mouth with a snap.

Jim smiled at his friend. ‘Yes, I'll get the plates and stuff, thanks for doing the paperwork and no, I do not know who won the bet,' he said with a straight face.

*********************

Blair slowly recuperated from his unfortunate fall. Life returned to its known rhythm. The brace came off a couple of weeks later, the bruises faded, is hair had grown back a bit. One day, just before Christmas he came home late and found that a dryer and washer were installed in the bathroom.

Jim had shrugged. ‘Christmas presents for the both of us Chief. Saves me from trips to the hospital and riding a desk while you recuperate,' he'd said, I only hope they are really the noise reduced ones they said they would be.'

It saved them a lot of time. Off at Christmas, working New Year's Eve. Christmas morning he found a gift under the tree with his name on it. It turned out to be a new laptop, courtesy of Jim, who knew his other laptop was far outdated, now his friend was paid a mere junior detectives salary and still had to pay off all the grant money from the Uni. He smiled at the thought of his first appearance with short hair at the precinct. The ooo's and ah's it gave. He even got a date out of it. He waved his hand through his short hairs. ‘It isn't so bad after all,' he thought, ‘it is so much easier to maintain, downside is the winter cold.' He and his Fargo hat were never far apart nowadays. The only mystery that wasn't solved was the bet. Rhonda had told him the recipient didn't want his name to be known. Too bad. He shrugged his shoulders and went on with his work. Jim was down in the morgue with Dan Wolf. He was primary in the latest murder case.

Blair still was ill at ease to the smell and seeing people carved up. He still got a queasy stomach. So it was more or less by silent agreement that he typed up the reports and Jim witnessed autopsies. The desk phone rang.

He picked it up, ‘Detective Sandburg.'

/‘Hello Sandbag, desk-sergeant Murphy here'/

Murphy was one of the old hands, who still had trouble with the fact that Blair was made detective right out of the Academy.

Blair sighed, ‘what is it Murphy?'

/'there's a girl named Katrina and her mother who want to see you and your partner, sent them up?'/

‘Yeah, that's okay.'

The horn on the other side was banged back in its place, Blair winced. He dialed the morgue.

/'Dan Wolf's office'/

‘Hi Dan, is Ellison still with you?'

/ ‘No, he was going back just a minute ago.'/

‘Thanks Dan.'

He put the horn back in its cradle and left his desk to pick up his guests at the elevator.

The one to come out was Jim. ‘Looking for me Chief?'

‘As a matter of fact, yes. Desk Sergeant Murphy called; Katrina is on her way up.'

‘Ah Murphy, did he give you any trouble?'

‘Oh the usual,' Blair shrugged.

Jim grunted,‘And you no you're just a bit curious, are you?'

‘Yes, see if it was worth cutting my hair for, you know.'

‘Let's get a cup of coffee, we'll see'em when they get here, I gather they have to be given visitor passes' Jim walked off to the break room, Blair followed after retrieving his mug.

After a good five minutes Jim said, ‘I can hear them coming up, Chief.'

Together they waited and saw a girl with beautiful curly hair coming up. She waved to the two detectives and pulled her mother along, ‘There they are mom, I have to show my hair.'

‘Hi Mr. Ellison, Blair; what do you think of my hair now?' She twirled around and Blair's former curls danced around her head.

‘I think it is beautiful, don't you think so too Jim?' Blair looked at his partner.

‘Yep, a definitely good-looking young lady here,' Jim bowed to Katrina, who blushed at the attention the big detective gave here.

‘Oh detectives I can't thank you enough for both your efforts on behalf of my daughter,' Katrina's mom said. ‘Were it not for your hair and the money you gave me, it would have taken us far too long.'

Blair looked sharply and his partner. ‘Money?' he mouthed. Jim avoided looking at his partner.

‘Oh you didn't know Blair?' Katrina's mom said, ‘he gave us another five hundred dollars to have the wig made by hand and on special order, so we had a real Christmas present. Thank you both.'

Blair kept staring at his partner, thought whirling in his head. He put two and two together Jim shuffled his feet under Blair's scrutiny, and tried to avoid him by giving the two ladies a tour of Major Crimes. Katrina glowed under the attention she got from the other MC personnel and showed her new hair to everyone. The ladies all felt the hair and were in awe.

‘It's so soft and nice. I've always wanted to touch Blair's hair but never dared,' Ronda said to Megan, ‘now I can.

‘You sneak,' Blair whispered sentinel-soft, ‘you won the bet didn't you?' He saw Jim halt his pace just a fraction of a second. ‘Oh man, why didn't you want me to know?' Blair thought.

*********************

Katrina and her mom finally said their goodbyes and left the bullpen.

‘Jim.'

‘Not now Chief.' He took a pile of reports and went up to the elevator.

Blair sighed and walked up to Rhonda. ‘Yes Blair, what's up?' she looked up from her keyboard.

‘Rhonda, why didn't Jim want me to know he won the ‘hair' bet?'

‘How did you figure it out?'

‘I just put two and two together. Why?'

‘He was more or less embarrassed. Because he is your partner and he thought if it was known he won the bet people would accuse him of being biased, and he didn't want it to backfire to you.'

‘So…,' Blair said, I know Jim is one of the most honest men I've ever met. He didn't know I was going to cut my hair.'

‘I know Blair, his bet dated from five years ago.'

She opened one of her drawers and took a small notebook; ‘You had just teamed up with him.'

She opened the notebook and let him read what was written down. ‘See, he got two out of three right,' she pointed out, ‘He predicted the reason and the month you would cut your hair. Only the year was off.'

Blair read what had been jotted down years ago; ‘Blair will only cut his hair when it benefits another person, December 1999.'

‘And that was more than anybody had,' Rhonda continued. So he only wanted the money, without anybody knowing about it and he was adamant he'd use it for others.'

‘He did.' Blair straightened his back. ‘Thanks Rhonda.'

*********************

Blair looked round the bull pen. No Jim. He raised his voice ‘Has anybody seen Jim around? ‘He asked.

The majority of people still there shook their heads, continuing with what they were busy with. Blair wandered off to the corridor, to the men's room. No Jim.

He started ticking off the possibilities in his head, Evidence, no. Forensics? No. Men's room. No, but better take care of business while he was there. After washing his hands he continued his search. He gave it some thought and in the end turned to the stairs leading to the roof of the building. He opened the door and peeked out. He shivered from the January winds coming in. *‘God, I should get my coat,*'he thought shivering. Lo and behold, there was his partner. His stance was rigid. A sure sign he had zoned. Blair quickly approached Jim.

‘Hey Jim, he rubbed his friends arms, ‘waky, waky, please Jim come on, stop focusing and return to the land of the living. Bare with me man; I'm freezing my ass of here.' Under his ministrations he felt his friend go lax. ‘Okay man, you're back. Take a deep breath.'

‘Uhhhh, I didn't zone did I? Jim groaned.

‘Yeah, but probably because you're a tit bit stressed. Come inside. I so do not want to catch pneumonia.' He managed to get a stumbling Sentinel in the hallway, were they both sat down on the stairs. After sitting amiably together for a couple minutes in order for Jim to get his composure back. ‘Man, Aren't we a pair,' Blair said quietly, ‘you wanting to protect me from the big bad world, me the hippy freak turned cop. You'd think after all that we've been through together, we would have learned something.'

‘Sorry Chief, I just wanted to prevent another bout of hostility towards you,' Jim said sadly.

‘I know, boy, I know but Jim I'm a big boy now and if you play in the big league, you can sure expect some opposition.'

‘But I hear them talk Blair…'

‘Let go Man. So, I'm happy YOU won the bet. Hell, man, if YOU don't know me, who does,' he nudged his friends shoulder. Hey you know, between the two of us we made quite a lot of people happy. He ticked them of on his fingers; a girl, her mother, the wigmaker, me, you. That's what counts. And let the rest of the world think what they want to think, as long as we are good. And we are, are we, Jim?'

Jim nodded. ‘We're good, Chief.' He stood up and tickled Blair's short hairs.

Blair jumped up and bounded down the stairs while swatting away Jim's hands. ‘Not the hair, man. Not the hair.'

The end