The loft was the site of Major Crimes Annual Super Bowl party. In past years, it had been held at various sports bars. But after the members of Major Crimes had chosen which team would win, Jim had suddenly offered the loft for the party. When asked, Jim privately explained to Blair that the noise levels in a sports bar during the Super Bowl would probably cause him to reach for his weapon.

Blair counted that as Anomaly Observation No. 1.

"I can't believe neither Rhonda or Megan passed up watching the Super Bowl." Henri shook his head.

"Yeah," Rafe nodded. "How un-American is that?"

Jim chuckled, even as he nodded in agreement.

"Well, since Megan's Australian…" Blair chuckled. He watched as Jim's smile faltered.

Anomaly Observation No. 2.

"I understand they've planned a day at some spa," Simon confided. "Mud packs, massages, pedicures…the entire works."

Rafe raised his hand and mimicked writing. "Note to self. Compliment both of them tomorrow on their appearance."

"Sexist," Joel laughingly accused.

Jim led the laughter.

"Oh, I don't know," Blair countered. "They're both likely to be feeling pretty mellow after a day of professional pampering."

Simon shook his head. "Such a comment coming from YOU of all people."

Blair took the laughter in good stride until he saw Jim smile fade.

Anomaly Observation No. 3.

Since Blair was an observer through and through, he realized that Jim's cool attitude was directed solely at him. During the comments about the 'way-too-long' pregame show, he mentally checked over his recent possible transgressions but couldn't come up with anything.

So when Jim went into the kitchen to refill the chip bowl, Blair followed.

"It's okay, Sandburg, I think I can handle this mission on my own," Jim smirked.

"Yeah, right." Blair glanced over his shoulder at the laughing detectives, then lowered his voice. "Okay, what's wrong?"

"Nothing," Jim calmly answered.

"Bull. You've been friendly and joking with everybody but me." Blair stepped closer. "So what's up?"

Jim stopped refilling the bowl and stared into his partner's eyes. "My God, you don't even realize, do you?"

"If I did, would we be having this conversation?" Blair angrily hissed.

Jim carefully folded the top of the chip bag and secured it with a large clip. "That hurts even more, Chief. That it would be so inconsequential to you..."

"Jim!" Blair closed his eyes and took a deep, calming breath. "Please tell me what's going on."

Jim sighed and turned towards the refrigerator. Held by a magnet was a sheet of paper that he took in his hands and gave to Blair.

Confused, Blair looked at the paper. "It's the sheet we signed, picking the winner of the game." He looked up at his friend. "Okay, I am SO lost here."

"Who did you pick?"

"The Patriots," Blair answered with a frown. He put the paper on the countertop.

"And they're playing?"

"The Panthers." The younger man shook his head. "You're upset because I picked the Patriots? So did Simon, Henri, and Rafe. Are you mad at them? No!"

"Simon, Henri, and Rafe aren't you." Jim picked up the bowl. "You didn't pick the Panthers." He gave Blair a serious glare. "PANTHER."

Blair's blue eyes widened. "You're kidding."

Jim shrugged. "It just felt like...well…like you were cheering against me."

"Jim, that is totally...I's a football game. The team names have nothing to do with anybody here." He suddenly glanced around and whispered. "Uh...your spirit animal hasn't shown up, has he?"

"No, Chief. He's probably too hurt to make an appearance," Jim sadly sighed as he walked back to the living room.

"Huh?" Blair stared at Jim for several seconds, then heard Henri snicker. Narrowing his eyes, he saw the detectives start to chuckle and elbow each other. "Oh, very funny, Jim. Ha-ha. Tee-hee."

Jim chuckled as he sat down on the couch.

"Nice, Jim," Simon complimented. "I don't know what you did, but it's not often somebody gets one over on Sandburg."

Huffing in annoyance, Blair dropped onto the sofa next to Jim. "Just remember this. Payback's a bitch, and I'm her first-born child." He reached into the chip bowl and nodded. "Yep. Patriots will win, and it'll be a rout."

((NOTE: While my heart has always and will always be with the AFC, it won't break my heart if the Panthers win the Super Bowl))