Fun fact - The summary was my original concept for this story.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my own OCs, should I create any for these stories.

He's still trying to regain some sense of normalcy in his life, but it just doesn't seem to want to come. He's still searching for aliens around every corner, still letting military precision rule his life - from the pristinely-made bed, to the creases he has to constantly remind himself not to iron into his civilian attire…still waiting for the moment he wakes up and discovers it was all just a very horrible dream.

So in comparison, it's such a small thing that he doesn't really notice at first - he's far too busy wallowing in his own self-doubt and guilt. But one day, he happens to get a glimpse of himself in a mirror, and eyes his reflection with a look of barely-hidden distaste as he notices that his hair is longer than it has been in years. He wastes no time in making a trip to see a barber to get it cut.

It's a few weeks later when he happens upon his reflection again, this time in a shop window. This time he doesn't react as strongly to the slightly too-long hair as he had before, which is rather odd, he thinks. Shouldn't it bother him?

It takes him several more days before he finally decides that yes, it does bother him, and he goes to get it trimmed back to a far more respectable length. He won't admit to anyone that that action brings him a slight amount of comfort, though. Makes him feel like he's not left out of the military loop and on his own.

The next time he notices the state of his hair, it's not through any choice of his own, but by a comment from a random passerby. "Look at that," the portly man in the tweed suit declares as he walks by. "It's hippies like you that will be the demise of society. You should be ashamed of yourself, young man - you really ought to get yourself cleaned up, and find something more respectable to do to serve Queen and country. Like the military, for instance!"

He has to resist the urge to respond with a scathing comment on the irony of that statement as the man walks away.

After that, though, he's left wondering - does he really look that bad? A glance in his mirror once he arrives home says that maybe his hair is getting to be a little on the shaggy side, but it's not that bad. Wait - "not that bad"? When had thoughts like that started occurring? He should really start caring more about his personal appearance and-he cuts that thought off with another: Why does it matter? He's no longer in the military, so why should he care?

His mind can't come up with an answer for that one, but regardless, he still gets it cut a week later out of habit.

He's been called a hippie on more than one occasion now, but he finds that the comments don't bother him as much as they used to. Why should he be offended? He still acts like a perfectly respectable member of society, even if he does get a few dirty looks at the state of his appearance whenever he goes out. So what if people think he and his outfits look rather on the garish side now (he inwardly thanks Benton for pointing him to the shop where he'd found those red trousers of his) - at least he's not dirty and disheveled.

He's broken from his train of thought by someone addressing him: "Excuse me…Miss?"

He turns to see where the voice is coming from, and sees a small boy looking up at him. Upon seeing his face, the boy goes rather red, and stammers out an apology before running off towards a woman (presumably his mother), who glares in his direction before she stalks off with her children.

He looks down at the pond beside him to see his reflection, and sees that his hair is indeed rather long, but finds that he really doesn't care anymore. Let people say what they will - he's got no standard to live up to anymore but his own.

With that thought, he smiles and relaxes on the bench he's sitting on, and it doesn't even cross his mind to get it cut.