Title: Reasons Change
Author: Dusk (dusk@goldserve.net)
Fandom: The Sentinel
Pairing: J/B
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: These boys are unlawfully borrowed from their true masters, TPTB at Pet Fly Productions. I make no profit off of this minor infraction.


I've always worn my hair long, ever since I was a kid. Naomi thought it was cute and never did care what the other parents thought. She called it a form of self-expression, which she definitely approved of. And over the years, I've had a dozen different reasons for keeping it long. Sometimes I like looking different from the other guys - mostly good, sometimes not so good; but it always got me attention. Sometimes I just like how it looks, even if it can be a pain to take care of. I've got a whole speech I prepared once in college, relating hair to personal empowerment and mystical abilities, complete with references from all sorts of ancient myths and stories. Samson and Delilah, anyone?

When I reached dating age, I kept it purely because women seemed to like it. Apparently, it makes me look like a caring, sensitive kind of guy. Women dig that. I took the view that any weapon is fair use in the war of the sexes, no matter how unorthodox. If the hair got me women, then the hair stayed. Kids can be very single minded at times.

That was in college - remember; I was still very young back then. I liked the variety it gave me - guys with short hair always look the same. Me, I can let it fly loose in the breeze, tie it back to look respectable, even braid it if the urge strikes me. One place Naomi and I stayed at, this guy taught me to do beaded hair wraps. Ok, most of the time I don't want something like that, but at least I have the option, right?

Of course, another use of this hair is to hide, even in plain sight. You're probably wondering how I can hide, when I stick out like a sore thumb in most company. It's kinda like protective camouflage. People take one look at me and decide instantly what kind of person I am. After that, they just don't bother thinking about me, write me off as hippy, flowerchild, whatever. Only the few who actually care make the effort to really get to know me. Which is weird, because it's just hair, you know? But think about it. Picture me with a neat crew-cut. Even if I still wore all my earrings, my patchwork vest and everything, I'd still look like some ordinary guy. But with the hair, it's like nobody has to look at anything else.

Take Jim, for example. He wasn't really paying attention the first time we met, but the second time, in my office, he was barely there for five minutes before he's pushing me up against a wall and calling me a 'neohippy, witchdoctor punk.' Think he'd have used those words if I'd had the usual short-back-and-sides and worn a suit like every other dull professor? It's the same at the Precinct. I'm Sandburg, Ellison's longhaired tag-along. At crime scenes, people take one look and ask who the hippy is. Either that, or do what Megan did and assume I work Vice. Even H persists in calling me 'Hairboy', which I don't really mind. *Believe* me, I've been called worse.

When I started working with Jim, I told him from the start that no matter what, I wasn't cutting my hair. By that point, me and the hair had been together for a long time; it was a big part of who I saw myself as, for all the reasons I've talked about. He laughed at me but didn't press the issue.

After I'd been observing him for a while, probably around the one year mark, I drew some tentative conclusions about Jim and women. After that, I watched for it specifically; and confirmed my theories. Now, Jim is a very tactile person, with his friends. Especially with women. Not in the annoying touchy-feely way, but in a reserved, respectful way that makes women think he really cares about them. *Especially* when they're making out. Don't look at me like that; I'm really not the voyeuristic type. At least, only when it directly concerns my research. It's just an observation. I live with him, remember; there's very little he does that I don't see or hear. Anyway, when Jim is getting up close and personal, I guarantee his hands will be up there in the woman's hair, touching it, stroking it... he loves the way it feels, you can see it.

And with me, right from the start, he was always touching me. My face, my shoulders, my arm. Not my hair, though; hair touching is something that's very personal for him. Like it marks the boundary between friends and more than friends. For a long time, we were friends more than anything else, really good friends, the type you only get when you trust each other one hundred percent. I mean, we went through so much together in those first years, Sentinel stuff, police stuff, spending all day, every day together. We must have saved each other's lives a dozen times over. It was hardly surprising we got so close.

And then one day it all became more. Maybe it was inevitable, maybe it was the next step in the Sentinel-Guide relationship, maybe it was just that we cared so much about each other that we had to find some way to express it. All I know is, suddenly I'm staring up into those bright blue eyes, and he's leaning down and giving me the softest, sweetest kiss I'd ever experienced. I'm leaning into it. He has one hand around my waist, and the other's in my hair, just like I always imagined, and it feels so special. So right, so *incredible*. And part of me wanted to stay like that forever, but then it ended. And we were just pressed close, Jim running his fingers through my hair, and we just didn't need to say anything.

Since then, he's never stopped touching it. He'll draw me into a hug after a hard day and bury his face in it, getting as much as he can of the smell, the texture. Sometimes he'll brush it, while we're sitting on the couch watching the game. In bed, he'll spoon up behind me and rub his cheek against it, like a cat. He'll bury his hands in it while we stand and kiss, for what seems like hours on end. Sometimes it leads to sex; sometimes we both just enjoy the closeness, the warmth, without needing to take it further.

Jim was never one for public displays of affection, but even in the Precinct, he can't stop. Little things that no-one else would even notice. Pushing a loose strand of hair behind my ear, a teasing tug on my ponytail. It's like a private sign, just between us.

So now, *that's* why I'm never cutting my hair.


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