Author Notes: I was feeling a bit nostalgic when I wrote this, having had my arm broken while playing once. I went way over the limit which is why I've posted the link to my journal entry. Hopefully it will work, if it does all credit goes to Audrarose. Thanks to Moonglow for betaing.
"Hey, Hairboy, you coming to the Cookout?" It was H who posed the question as the memo was posted on the notice board. "We're gonna need you for the softball team."
"What day is it?" Blair squinted at the memo and fumbled in his pocket for his glasses, finding them at last and slipping them on. He checked the date and then checked his diary. "I can't, it clashes with a class reunion I'm organising."
"Which one?" Jim asked, having just arrived from a court appearance.
"My school in England."
"I didn't know you went to school in England." Jim frowned at the thought that this was something else he didn't know about Blair.
"Yeah, from seventh to ninth grade, that's year one to three at secondary school over there…"
Blair was about to launch into a lecture on the differences in the education system when Simon's arrival stopped him mid sentence.
"I hope you're all standing here to sign up for the softball team at the cookout." He held out his pen and Jim and Henri hurriedly scribbled their names on the list. Blair shook his head when it was offered to him.
"Sorry man, other plans."
"Blair!" The distinctive tone of his British friend Felicity rose above the babble in Arrivals and he spotted her immediately. He waved and she hurried ahead, leaving her patient husband pushing the baggage cart. She and John had come two days before the main party were due to arrive to help Blair with the organisation.
"You look great, Fliss." Blair hugged her.
"Blair darling, you've lost some weight." She released him from her perfumed embrace and studied him intently.
"So have you, lookin' good Fliss."
"We'll have a good goss later, darling. John darling, look, it's Blair."
"Hello Blair, how are you?"
The two men shook hands and rolled their eyes in the way of men all over at the behaviour of their women.
"How much coffee has she had?" Blair murmured to John.
"Too much, they don't serve decaff on Virgin." John grimaced.
"Come on, let's get you settled into your hotel." Blair started them walking to the exit where they could get a cab, his Volvo being in the shop again. "You can have a sleep and get your body clock set. What time are you on?"
"Let's see, it's nine thirty here so that makes it one thirty in the morning as far as we're concerned." Felicity linked one arm with Blair and tucked her other hand under John's still on the cart.
"So I guess if you get to sleep fairly soon you should be able to adjust sooner."
"Don't worry, Blair, she'll crash in an hour and we won't hear a peep out of her for eight hours." John laughed.
"Oh ha, ha. Just you wait until the others arrive. We women will outnumber you then."
"I can't wait." Blair grinned in anticipation.
"Haven't seen much of Sandburg over the last few days, he been busy?" Simon handed Jim a beer from one of the many coolers scattered around the cookout area.
"He comes in, changes and then goes out again. He had the reunion dinner last night and didn't come home."
"Go lucky eh?"
Jim ignored the question by bringing the bottle to his mouth and taking a swallow of beer.
"Hey look, it's Hairboy!" The shout from Henri had them all looking up over to where Blair was getting off a bus, followed by twenty four women and eight men, all wearing shorts and T-shirts in deference to the unusually hot day.
Blair noticed them and spoke to the tall blonde by his side before jogging over to where the Major Crimes had their space staked out.
"Thought you said you had other plans." Simon growled.
"I did. Do. The girls decided they wanted to take a trip down memory lane. They even brought their own equipment." He gestured vaguely behind him and they could see two of the men lugging a long canvas bag over to a stretch of hard bare ground.
The blonde was directing operations and the rest of the women were standing in groups chatting.
"What the hell are they doing?" Rafe wondered as they all watched the blonde bring out two square rubber mats and place one on the ground.
She then paced forward and laid the other mat on the ground. She paced twelve metres diagonally from this mat to the right and gestured to one of the men who reached into the bag and brought out a heavy metal disk and white pole. He put the disk on the ground and they could all see it had a hole in it to support the pole.
"Strewth, I haven't seen one of those since I was at school." Megan realised what they were doing as the second pole was placed, followed by the third and fourth.
"What is it?" Rafe wasn't afraid to show his ignorance.
"Rounders." It was Blair who supplied the answer.
"Primitive version of baseball." Megan said.
"How's it played?" Henri was curious.
"Mainly by women." Blair replied.
"That why you play, Sandburg?" Simon wasn't above a little teasing.
"Hey, I had no choice, it was compulsory PT."
"Just what sort of school was it, Sandy?" Megan was curious as the men in Blairs group settled down on the ground and the women split themselves into two teams.
Only Jim caught Blair's mumbled answer and he stared in shock, his beer half way to his mouth.
"What was that? Speak up, Sandburg." Simon barked.
"A girls school." Blair gritted his teeth as they howled with laughter. "Look, Naomi was teaching a semester and they asked her to stay on. I had no choice."
John interrupted at this point and was introduced to everyone.
"Blair, we're one short, could we presume on one of your colleagues to play for your team?"
The men shook their heads instantly. No way were they going to play a girls game.
"I'd love to play." Megan volunteered. "Come on Sandy, let's leave the wimps to their softball." She dragged Blair off.
"Who's she calling wimps?" Henri asked. "It's a girls game."
"Um, has Blair explained the rules of Rounders?" John asked.
"Didn't Connor say it was a primitive form of baseball?" Jim asked.
"You'll notice that of the men, only Blair is playing."
They all watched as Blair slipped off his sneakers and stood, like the women, barefoot in a line about five meters behind the first one in to bat. The blonde was bowling and wore no protective headgear and no glove. In fact, they noticed that none of the women wore anything other than shorts and T-shirts, Megan included.
"Where's the ball?" Henri squinted at the blonde.
"Where's the bat?" Rafe asked. "Whoa!" This was as the blonde pitched underarm and the batter swung the bat half the size of a softball one. They connected and the ball soared upwards and out towards the outfield.
"Mine!" One of the fielders called and ran forward to catch it. The batter started running as soon as she had connected and took the bat with her. The fielder missed the catch but managed to collect it and lobbed it towards the fielder marking the third post.
It smacked into her hands and the team from Major Crime winced at the sting that probably caused. They stood open mouthed as she then threw it deliberately at the runner who dodged round it and carried on to the third post where she stopped when the second post marker caught the ball.
"Is that legal?" Simon demanded.
"Technically? No, but it was allowed at their school. Why do you think we men aren't playing?
"It takes balls to play this game." John wasn't ashamed to be thought of as a wimp.
Blair was next up to bat and he took a few practice swings using both hands.
Jim dialled up his hearing and listened in as the pitcher spoke.
"Blair, darling, you know the rules. One hand only."
"That isn't what you said when we were fourteen, Fliss."
Jim dialled down, not wanting to hear any more.
Felicity threw a no ball on her first throw but a good one on the second and Blair hit it out to the left. As he started to run the runner on third started to run as well and was soon passing fourth post, scoring a half point John explained.
Blair's team screamed encouragement and they all mobbed him when he scored a full point by passing fourth.
"Typical." Was Simon's verdict.
"They love him, don't they?" John was grinning.
"We've noticed." Jim tried hard to keep the sour tones out of his voice.
They watched the first innings of both teams with John explaining the rules and were invited by John to join their picnic lunch. They agreed by a unanimous vote and were treated to tales from Blair's schooldays in England, much to his dismay.
After a reasonable gap to let lunch settle, the second innings started with Felicity's team going first this time. The men winced as several of the women were deemed out by being hit with the ball and three others were run out. Then it was Blair's team and he was first up.
Again he hit the ball first time but it didn't go as far and he was unlucky to be caught between second and third when the ball hit. Only Simon saw the way Jim flinched as Blair doubled over.
"Ow! Jeez, Polly did you have to throw that hard?" Blair rubbed his right side.
"Sorry, Blair, are you okay?" Polly came running forward to check.
Jim came out of the bathroom later that evening to find Blair stretched out on the sofa, tired after his long day.
"When do they all fly out?" He asked, perching on the edge beside him and lifting up Blair's T-shirt to expose the now purple bruise.
"Two days time. Fliss and John fly out three days after that."
"They all seemed a nice bunch."
"They're all great. It's been five years since I last saw them all."
"I'm surprised you never told me about them." Jim smoothed some of the arnica Blair kept in the cabinet for occasions like this on the bruise.
"Not something you really want to admit to a bunch of macho cops, Jim. You saw how they all laughed when I said it was a girls school."
"Did you see any of us playing that 'girls game', Chief?" Jim bent down until his nose almost touched Blair's.
Blair suddenly noticed that Jim had finished applying the arnica and was absently smoothing his hands under the bunched up T-shirt and up onto his shoulders.
"What are you doing?"
"Something I've been wanting to do for some time now."
"Oh. Why now?"
"Just something John said today."
"He said it took balls to play Rounders, and watching the way Polly threw that ball at you made me realise that if she'd hit a few inches lower you wouldn't have any left for me to play with."
"Well, feel free to play, I've been waiting long enough."
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