Title: In Search of a Marshmallow World

Author: Summer Reign

Rating: to be on the safe side, a very soft M

Summary: Christmastime: past, present and future

Disclaimer: Not mine. If the powers that be would like to give them to me for a short amount of time, I'd officially declare it the best Christmas present since the Chia Pet.

A/N: This story is divided into sections. But I skip around a bit for artistic (pretentious) purposes. Anyway, glance at the year before reading each section. It will keep you from going "what??"

December 23, 2007: Ghosts

Christmas is a time when you get homesick - even when you're home. Carol Nelson

It took her all of three seconds to identify the movie and just two more to change the channel. The last thing she needed was to think about Ebenezer Scrooge's adventures with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

She had enough to think about without a movie inspiring more.

Besides, Sara had always considered 'trips' to the past as productive as taking a stroll through quicksand. And she had been right about that. She was getting more and more tired of sucking herself out of the slough every day. And dreaming of the future? Well, certainly she had engaged in such activities, but ultimately found them futile. No dream of hers ever came true in the exact way she had expected. Sometimes reality was better, sometimes worse. But always different, so this constant living for tomorrow thing was also a giant waste of time.

The present was usually the only place to be.

Except the holidays were included in the current 'present.' Holidays were markers for the year, and as much as she'd like to forget it was going to be Christmas in a day and a half, that wasn't possible. Everything, everywhere, reminded her of the fact. And, on the day itself, it would be even worse. Window-shopping would be out of the question, since all the doors would be finally closed to consumers, and even her current counselor (shrink) would be unavailable except for emergencies.

Sara measured her progress through what Timothy (counselor of the moment) said. He was actually a nice enough guy. Laid-back, honest. Better than that mumbo-jumbo PEAP counselor they saddled her with after her near-DUI. And he didn't just accept Sara repeating his platitudes as that woman had. He expected real progress and told her, frankly, that she wasn't ready to return to the world she painfully left behind. No matter how much she missed it. Well…him.

She sighed as she surfed through the hotel's meager cable offerings, finally settling on a documentary on the gray wolf. She also tried, very hard, not to think of Grissom. Of Christmas. Of Christmases with Grissom. Of Christmases without Grissom.

Of what effect her leaving would ultimately have on him, beyond the melancholic nostalgia that was a naturally occurring feeling on special days meant to be shared with loved ones.

If she popped back into his life, would he be the same person she left, beckoning her through his door? Or would he turn a cold shoulder to her? To life, to love, to everything but work?

All those years of trying to get him to open up. All gone.

She picked up the phone.

"Sara," he answered after the first ring. "Are you okay?"

He pretty much had the same reaction every time she called, since the day she left.

"I'm okay. Are you?"

He sighed in relief. "I'm fine."

"Good. I… well, I just wanted to find out what you were going to be doing for the…holiday. See if you were going anywhere, doing anything?"

"I'm working. Probably another double."


"Gil," he corrected, quietly but firmly.

She smiled just a little bit. She slipped up once in a while, and he usually called her on it. His doing so now proved he still cared.

"Gil. Please tell me you're taking care of yourself. I don't want you to go out in the field, overtired and stressed."

"I'm fine," he repeated. "I've been doing reports and paperwork for most of the second shift."

"Okay," she said, relieved, but pretty sure he wasn't telling her the whole truth.

"What will you be doing? Seeing your mother again?" he asked, with a curious, but guarded tone to his voice.

She gave a short, un-amused laugh. "No. It's…we've had enough contact for now."

"I see," he said, and he paused for a moment, but she really didn't want to talk about it. "Are you feeling better?"

She bit her lip. "I am. But I also feel, I don't know. I knew I had to do it, and I know I have to see it through. It's never really even been an option. But, there are moments when I also feel like it may be a giant waste of time. That I may end up with a few more answers than I had before, or a bit more peace but…it all happened. None of that's going to change no matter how much I cry over it."

"No, it's not," he said in his quiet, measured way, "But maybe you…need to cry without a goal in mind. Not to erase the past, but cleanse away some of the pain you've been keeping inside. Maybe you just need to cry because you never did it when you should have."

"The way you always do," she teased.

"The way I always don't. Until now."

"I'm sorry," she said softly, hating the thought of Grissom's pain more than her own.

"I'm not," he said. "It's about time I faced a few things."

During their previous conversations, Grissom had told her that her 'goodbye' was not acceptable, that he was waiting for her. She cursed herself for even the temptation to ask him if it was still true. She knew she was needy; he didn't have to have proof of it every time they had a discussion.

"I wish we could go back and repeat our first Christmas together. As a couple, I mean. I think that was my favorite Christmas ever," she said wistfully, knowing it was her favorite Christmas ever. Knowing that it didn't have much competition for the title.

"We'll do it again. It's a promise."

"Okay," she said, closing her eyes and leaning her cheek against the receiver.

"I'm going to midnight mass tomorrow," he said quietly. "That's what I'm doing for Christmas."

"Oh," she said, genuinely surprised at him sharing that fact. She knew he went, every year, but he didn't generally advertise his rare church visits.

"Yeah. I…I'm on duty New Year's Eve and, well, you know how crazy it gets around here that night. So, I don't know if I'll have the chance to pop in before then. I like to…reflect. I know I can do it at home but …" he sighed again and took a deep breath. "I have a lot to be grateful for this year, Sara. You're alive and we've had…moments of happiness that I never even imagined were possible. I'm…just going to be grateful for every second I've shared with you, and then be selfish and ask for more. And it will be a good Christmas."


The next evening, around midnight, she sat by the window in her hotel room, looking out at the night sky, and thought about him. About their lives together. She pictured herself sitting next to him in the pew, listening to the choir sing their joyous hymns. She pictured slipping her hand into Grissom's, while resting her head lightly against his shoulder.

She pictured crying big, silent tears over every Christmas begun with good intentions, but ended in fear. For the Christmas of a year ago, when she was unsure of how Grissom truly felt about her. When his leaving shook the foundations of her newly secure world. And, most of all, she pictured crying for everything that happened in the past few months that denied her the reality of this moment.

And then she pictured herself as she must have looked in the desert. Walking, even when walking seemed the most impossible task in the world. Pushing herself. Pushing herself home.

And making it.

And finding Grissom waiting.

He was still waiting. And that sure knowledge would allow her to look back, no matter how painful and, eventually, look forward.

He was right. It turned out to be a good Christmas after all.

Because, in a very odd way, she spent it with him.

Christmas Day, 2005: Free to be…You and Me

Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish. Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself. Francis C. Farley

She woke up to a very light room. He had opened the curtains before climbing back into bed.

The nightshift must really be getting to her because, for just one moment, she pictured herself crumbling to ash like your average, everyday vampire.

But, no. She was lying with the blanket somewhere around her middle and a very warm bodied entomologist lightly running his finger around her right nipple. For awhile, she just lazily watched him, then got up the energy to slap his hand and yank the top sheet over herself.

"Hey," he said, in protest.

"You know I hate that."

"I know you love it, but hate me watching you react to it. Besides, I'm acting in accordance with the evidence presented and the conclusions drawn from said evidence. One hour ago, you got up and went to the bathroom. You were in there for 10 minutes with the water on. I assume you washed up a bit because I smelled both soap and mouthwash when you returned to bed. And you did all of this, naked, in spite of the availability of your nightshirt on the bathroom door. My findings are not consistent with a new hands-off policy being instituted."

"I never said I was instituting a hands-off policy, but I'm not loving the light, Gris. I expected us to still be in the dark. Now you'll really know exactly how many freckles I have."

"Like I haven't counted them already," he scoffed, tugging at her sheet a bit and then beginning to circle her covered breasts with his fingertips. "You slept really well last night."

"I overdosed on cookies and eggnog. Your eggnog is really good."

"So I've been told."

"Grissom! I meant the ratio of rum to actual nog. Not anything smutty."

"Gil," he said.

"What?" she asked, confused.

He leaned up on one elbow and looked down at her. Then he bent over and kissed her lightly on the tip of her nose.

"Merry Christmas, Sara. Now, you can wish me, Gil, a Merry Christmas, too."

"Merry Christmas, Gris."


She sighed. "You want me to call you that," she stated, more than asked.

"I think you probably should by now, shouldn't you? It's my first name."

"Well, it's a bastardization of your first name, yes."

"Nickname. But it's what everyone calls me."

"Which is the reason I like to be different."

"But, Sara. We're…we've crossed a lot of boundaries. Entered a new phase of our relationship. We've been sleeping together for six months, for God's sake."

"It doesn't feel natural. The name thing, I mean."

"How would you know? You don't even try."

"Gris? You're getting hysterical," she said in a sing-song fashion, yanking the covers up further to cover half her face, and her amusement.

He moved back a few inches and just looked at her, a glint of amusement entering his eyes.

"I am not hysterical. It's just…the use of my last name in an intimate setting makes me feel like…some sort of sexual manservant. That's all. I feel cheap."

"Excuse me for a moment," she managed to say, before turning over, burying her head in her pillow and laughing. He lay his head against her shoulder blade and whispered in her ear.

"I'm not kidding, Sara. Used. I feel so used."

Oh, he was getting into his character now. She stopped laughing and rolled back over, after he gave her a bit of space.


"What did you just say?"

"I called you Bertie. Didn't you hear me? I used a nickname derived from your full name and it was remarkably easy, and original."

"That's not acceptable, Sara."

"Oh, I think it is."

"No, that's a bastardization of my first name. That one. And it will not enter our romantic lexicon."

"Yeah, yeah," she said, making room for him as he conducted a little investigation on whether there was a need for more nipple massages or…other erotic appetizers. There wasn't and he moved his body over hers, lining himself up for what promised to be a pretty smooth entry. "You know, I think it has a certain …effect on your libido. A good one, from my perspective."

"That's been there since I woke up," he said, and shifted his body to push into hers. She wrapped her legs somewhere around the back of his knees and gave a small moan. "Say it," he requested.

"Nope," she answered, moaning again when he thrust with a little more force than the last time.

"Gil," he said.

"Gris," she said.

"Gil," he said again and thrust a bit faster.

"Bully," she teased, and immediately felt him slow down and look at her with a slight frown. He really was something. He never brought her past up, but he never really forgot that day when she told him about it. And he was always sensitive about his words or actions hurting her in some way. She reached her hands up to his face and cupped his bearded cheeks. "Gil," she breathed his name, and breathed out a sigh when he slowly started moving inside her.

She shifted her hands away from his face and put them on his other cheeks, while wrapping her legs more firmly around him.

He felt so good. They felt so good.

She slid her hands back up. Pulling his face down to meet hers, she kissed him sloppily then moved her mouth over to whisper in his ear. "I love you…Gil," she said and felt him shudder within her.


They lay together for quite a while.

Her life was, frankly, ass-backwards. It took her 34 years to find pure joy in waking up on a Christmas morning. And, apparently, Grissom was a pretty happy camper himself, judging by his relaxed demeanor and the gentle way he smiled as he lay his head against her breast and, once again, started fiddling with the top sheet.

"Dear Bertie," she said, as she tousled his curls and was at the receiving end of a Grissom-glare followed by a Christmas morning tickle-fest.

December 24, 2006: Thin Ice

Isn't it funny that at Christmas something in you gets so lonely for - I don't know what exactly, but it's something that you don't mind so much not having at other times. Kate L. Bosher

Sara looked at their tree one last time.

She was dressed and ready for her shift. So was Grissom. There was no day off this year. And, other than the tree and some Christmas cookies, Christmas was not the 'big deal' it was the year before. Grissom had been too preoccupied by the search for the so-called 'mini-crime scene killer' and his headaches seemed to have turned into an almost daily occurrence.

She had been worried about him, and relieved when she found plane tickets in his jacket pocket. She had been preparing it for a trip to the dry cleaners.

Boston. She loved Boston. It would relax him and she could use the break herself.

But then she realized there was one ticket. One. For the first week in January.

One ticket. Solo. Going alone. Gilbert Grissom. Singular.

He arrived home after she had gone to the dry cleaners and come back. She had made a small Christmas Eve breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and decorated their coffee cups with candy canes to use as stirrers.

And, before he sat down, she had decorated his plate with his plane ticket, as a small reminder to inform her of his plans sometime before he actually flew the coop.

"I was going to tell you after Christmas," he said, taking the ticket off his plate and slipping it under his (dark green with holly leaves) napkin. He put a few pancakes on the plate and began to eat.

"The return date is in February," she said after a few minutes of rather uncomfortable silence.

"It's a seminar, Sara. I was asked quite a while ago and originally declined, but I'm…I need a break from work."

"And me?"


"You need a break from me? I noticed only one ticket in your pocket. Or am I getting one for Christmas?"

He looked down at his plate. "We can't both leave for any length of time without drawing suspicion on our relationship."

And God forbid that ever happened. She pressed her lips together tightly, got up and brought over the coffeepot. She took the candy cane out of his coffee and poured him a refill. The sweetness was probably getting on his nerves but he'd never say anything. Then she did the same to her own cup, leaving the peppermint stick in.

He thanked her, then got up and pulled a present out of the hallway closet. He handed it to Sara.

"Merry Christmas, Sara."

Smooth move, Grissom. Presents were a good distraction.

She carefully unwrapped the gift. It was a boxed set of DVDs from the first season of Forensic Files.

Oh, boy.

"Thank you," she said automatically, and he smiled.

"Now you have something to watch while I'm gone."

Or something to use to balance the legs of the kitchen table while he was still here.

She opened her mouth and closed it again. She took a small breath and opened her mouth again, "What's my favorite color?"

He shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know."

"No guess?"


She shook her head.

"Well, it's not something we've ever discussed, have we? It's not important, is it?"

She sighed. "No. I guess it's not."

"I can take the DVDs back if you don't like them. Get you something in…your favorite color."

"It's fine."

"It's not like you know my favorite color."


"That's a pretty safe bet for any man."

"The same shade as an adult male Morpho menelaus butterfly."

There was his 'oh, shit' expression.

"You do tape everything I say, don't you?" he said, obviously hoping to get her to smile and drop the subject.

"No, I don't," she said, and got up to go and get his present. This was stupid. This whole non-argument was insane. She didn't care about a present. He loved her. She was…pretty sure he did. And he was clumsy in certain ways. She had known that all along.

"Merry Christmas, Grissom," she said, and kissed him on the cheek as she handed him his presents. There was the warm cashmere sweater, which she thought he'd appreciate on those cold shifts out in the dessert, but which he'd find even more use for during his trip to Boston. And her traditional gift of a book of odd quotes, and then there was the true treasure. A finely engraved, antique silver bookmark with a magnificently detailed depiction of a dragonfly on it, along with his newly-engraved initials in the lower right hand corner.

It didn't matter that she had spent hours wondering what to get him and he had probably put all of 10 minutes into his decision. It was the spirit. The spirit and the thought and…

"Sara?" He said, not yet opening his gifts but just staring at her, as she spent an awfully long time by the kitchen counter.

She blinked back the tears that had sprung to her eyes and plastered on a smile. "Yes?" She said, turning around to face him more fully.

"I screwed up?" he asked, suddenly looking tired and defeated.

"You didn't screw up anything. I'm just…I'm going to miss you," she said, and realized that was at the heart of the matter.

She was missing him, and he was still there. She could only imagine what she'd feel in another few weeks.


It was time to leave now.

Work for her, a short detour to Midnight Mass for him.

He didn't invite her to come along.

She would have said yes.

Christmas 2004: Playing Favorites

Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmas time with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words. - Harlan Miller

Night shift was a little on the slow side this evening. Even criminals seemed to be buying the old peace on earth thing for one night. At least for now, anyway.

There was nothing much to do and Grissom had pretty much given them permission to do…nothing much. Which is why Sara found herself, rather uncomfortably, listening to Greg and Sofia in the break-room. All of them were sipping on canned, non-alcoholic eggnog, and talking about their favorite Christmas presents ever.

"Transformers!" Greg said, in a completely excited manner. "My parents got me four of them one Christmas. I was the coolest kid on the block."

Sofia sat back and smirked.

"Well, top that, Ms. Cool, Blond and Collected."

"My favorite present was a Harley."

"A Harley?"


"You ride a motorcycle?" Greg said, already salivating at the thought. Sara took a sip of her eggnog and, after wincing a bit at the consistency, smiled. Greg was SO easy.

Sofia went on about her Harley, while Sara thought of what Grissom might be doing at that moment. Probably paperwork. He barely had a crew anymore but spending time with them—all of them—didn't seem to be on his priority list. She sighed a bit which, unfortunately, caught Greg's attention.

"I'm sorry, Sara. What's yours?"

"My what?"

"Your favorite present?"

Now, she was in for it.

There was, truly, only one answer. "A book."

"A book?" Greg said, in a tone one usually reserved for someone who had just offered the other person a piece of the Brooklyn Bridge at a discounted rate.

"Yeah. A book."

"What kind of book?"

Oh, no. He wasn't getting that out of her. Especially not since Grissom just wandered in the room for some coffee.

"Just a book," she said, and swallowed some more eggnog.

"A book?" Grissom asked, his ears automatically perking up.

"Yeah, we're talking favorite Christmas presents and Sara's is a book. Can you imagine?"

"Well, yes, I can. Some of my favorite gifts have been books."

Greg looked at a smirking Sofia, and gave her the universal "loco en la cabeza" sign.

"Thank you for brewing the good stuff, Greg. It's a nice Christmas present," Grissom said.

"Well, it beats a book!"

They all smiled and then silence filled the room.

"You know books," Grissom started, and Sara could see her two other companions rolling their eyes and preparing for one of Grissom's lectures, even as she moved forward in her seat to better hear what he had to say. He continued, "are a way of communicating directly to the recipient when regular means of communication may not be … possible or prudent."

"Well, it might be a way of communicating if you get a book with the title "I Wanna Sex You Up," or something." Greg said and it was Grissom's turn to do his version of an eyeroll by ignoring everything Greg said and continuing as if he never spoke.

"A book could convey a desire to share something important in the giver's life, or deliver the message that the giver has been paying attention to the details of the recipient's life by getting him…or her…something that they've expressed an interest in. It's a very…personal gift."

"I think I prefer my Harley," Sofia said, and Greg laughed.

"Sara? Can I see you in my office for a moment?" Grissom said, gathering his coffee and a couple of cookies from the tray on the table.


"Grinch, Grinch, Grinch," said Greg barely under his breath and Sofia laughed again.

Sara was relieved to be out of the room. "I'll meet you in a minute, Gris," and he smiled. He knew exactly where she was going.

She went to her locker to get his gift.

For four Christmases, they had been exchanging gifts. Sara never ran it by him before picking up her first present for him. She just wanted him to have it, and when he gave her something in return, she was shocked. But, she reasoned it out, until it became a rather impersonal gesture. In his role as supervisor, he probably picked up a token for all of them.

Last year, Nick and Hodges, of all people, informed her that he didn't.

Apparently, unless he was into giving blondes great big motorcycles, Sara was one of the chosen ones on his gift list.

She walked into his office and he gestured for her to sit. She did, resting his wrapped present in her lap.

He pulled something out from behind his desk.

He always got her a book. This, was no book. Too big. Too flat.

She gave him his gift. He smiled, knowing what it was. It had become tradition between the two of them. Although, he seemed to have broken his part of the bargain this year.

He opened it quickly, scattering the paper to the floor.

It was "The 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said." She had been getting him these types of books every single year, combing through bookstores to find the truly unusual in the world of quotes. Grissom loved the written word and the cleverer, the better. So, instead of just quoting dead poets, he could now mix it up by quoting dead musicians and athletes, as well.

Apparently, the living weren't big on pithy expressions.

"Thank you, Sara. It's perfect," he said, and sheepishly handed her the package. "Merry Christmas."

She carefully unwrapped the gift.

It was a framed print. A beautiful black butterfly with blue and white markings, perched on a red flower.

"It's a Heliconius sara. A Sara Longwing butterfly. I've thought of getting you one, a real one, mounted—for quite some time, but figured you might not appreciate a dead insect on your wall. Still, it's beautiful, and I wanted you to see your butterfly namesake. A picture is the next best thing."

"It is beautiful. Thank you, Grissom."

She looked up and there he was. He had come around to her side of the desk and before she knew it, he bent down and gave her a soft kiss on her cheek. It lingered a little longer than she expected, and was just a tiny bit moister than she would have thought it would be. And his beard tickled. She always wondered whether it would. One question down, 900 more to go. But, still…progress.


She looked up at him again. "Merry Christmas," he repeated, by way of explanation. And she smiled. It was her turn now and she was taking it.

She stood up and planted a kiss high on his cheekbone. Lingering just a few seconds more than he probably expected. Her lips against his skin. Now, that was heaven. "Merry Christmas," she replied, and clutching her butterfly to her chest, she left the room.


She had a new favorite gift. And it wasn't the one she was currently holding in her arms, either.

December 23, 2008: A Marshmallow World

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Exactly one year ago today, Sara wouldn't have dared think about her future. At that point, she wasn't even sure she had one.

But time went on, and so did therapy, and she began to allow herself little glimpses. She thought of the 'yearly markers' she had missed celebrating—Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's—and thought of what they might be like in the year to come. And her musings were not as futile as she initially believed.

They served their purpose. An incentive to pull her foot out of the past, get the most out of the present, and move on toward…whatever promise tomorrow might hold.

She was right about their accuracy, though. Her thoughts of Christmas 2008 were way off base. About the only thing she got right was that she was spending it, once again, with Grissom. And, really, that was the only thing she really wanted.

So, instead of sitting in their townhouse, putting up a massive tree and snuggling with Bruno, they were outside, freezing their butts off, in a park in New York City.

Grissom had led the way after they had hit the usual tourist sites the day before. They had a few more hours in the Big Apple, and then it was back home on the midnight train.

Bryant Park was a little winter wonderland in the middle of the city. It had its own tree: a lot less grand than the one in Rockefeller Center but she liked it. It was 'homey.' So was the skating rink. There was no audience viewing from a balcony above. Just people standing by the guard rail, watching their loved ones skate. And then there were the shops. Lots and lots of tiny booth-like shops. Sara was not big on shopping, but she did like the quaint little vendors selling handmade things from around the world.

Grissom, surprisingly, seemed fascinated by everything--from the booths serving apple cider, to the store selling garden ornaments. He stopped to ask every owner about…something. He was particularly interested in a store featuring silver and gemstone creations. After a good, surprisingly silent, ten- minute study, he picked one up.

"A match?" he asked, holding a sky-blue topaz pendant suspended from a silver chain, next to his eyes. Sara grinned and nodded.

"Good," he handed the woman behind the cash register his credit card and then went around to fasten the pendant around Sara's neck. "Happy December 23rd, Sara."

She smiled and carefully ran her fingers over the lovely, delicate necklace.

When she had returned, he didn't barrage her with questions over exactly what she had been doing, or what she had been feeling. No, one of the first things he wanted to know was what her favorite color was. And she informed him that hers was also blue. But not the same shade. Then she took his hand, led him to the mirror in the hallway and showed him the exact shade she loved above all others. He had been embarrassed, but pleased beyond measure.

And, after over a half-year, he remembered. She wouldn't tell him that she would have been just as pleased with sky-blue socks, or the opportunity to stare into his eyes for a few hours.

"Come skating with me?" she asked, after slowly pulling away from the thank you kiss she gave him.

"Not a chance."

"Come on. Please?"

"No, Sara."

"Why not?"

"Well, I have about 15 more years of wear and tear on my knees and legs than you do. And if they have to give out on me someday, I'd rather tell the doctor I did it in the course of an erotic adventure. Not falling down on some ice."

"Party pooper."

"Actually, I'm completely prepared for a party. Go. Rent some skates. I'll stand here and reward you every time you make it around the rink without falling."

"More jewelry?"

"Well, that could be arranged. I was actually thinking about a kiss…"

"I want the kiss," she said, almost before he was finished speaking.

"That's why I love you," he said with a smile and sent her on her way to rent skates, put them on and maneuver herself out onto the ice.

He said the words quite often now. Actually, she was constantly on the receiving end of sometimes clumsy, but always heartfelt, verbal and non-verbal declarations of love. Fully accompanied by a smile so sweet and guileless, she knew it must have been perfected after he first mastered walking at the age of 11 months. She knew part of the reason for doing this was to right what he considered previous wrongs, and she tried to tell him there was no need, but she was pretty sure this was something he felt he had to do. And, it was pretty hard to complain when every day he did or said something that made her feel like she was living in their own version of a romance novel.

Sara carefully moved out onto the ice and stayed very close to the guard rails. She hadn't skated in a very long time and was being a little on the cautious side herself. The last thing she wanted was to ever have to wear a cast again.

She stopped for a moment, with her hand on the rail. If she thought about it, she could almost feel that pain in her arm again. In a few years, she'd probably feel it, in reality, every time the weather was about to change. The legacy of Las Vegas.

No, the legacy from one crazy woman in Las Vegas.

As with almost everything, there were good memories and bad, associated with the place. The bad wasn't worth thinking about (again), and the good…well, until they left and re-started their lives working at Williams College just outside of Boston, they didn't realize how much they missed their "family" back in Vegas. Which probably explains the reason behind their two 'gambling weekends' back in the old town. On the last one, Catherine quipped that they had become so domesticated since they moved back east, that she fully expected them to walk in one day wearing matching pink velour jogging outfits. Grissom had looked…nauseated at the thought.

She smiled at the memory and started moving again. After completing one full circle around the rink, she stopped in front of the guardrail Grissom was standing behind.

She leaned forward and ran her gloved fingers through his hair. Without hesitation, he bent down a bit and kissed her. In public. With actual people around to witness them. A lot of them. His soft, moist lips warmed her body and soul. She tightened her grip around him, until she felt another skater behind her.

"Geez, there are kids here. Get a room, already. Or, better yet, ask your wife how she feels about this, buddy." While Sara felt herself bristling at the big guy behind her, hanging on to the rail with one hand and a child who was just barely maintaining his balance with the other , Grissom just stood there wearing his trademark half-smile. He took his ungloved hand and removed Sara's left glove. He held up her hand so the stranger could see her matching wedding band.

"Honey, how do you feel about 'dis'?" Grissom asked her.

"Pretty good, actually."

Grissom looked at the guy, who had the grace to look a little sheepish. Or, as sheepish as a native New Yorker ever looks. "We're on our honeymoon," Grissom said.

"Oh. Hey. Congrats. You got yourself a cutie, there."

"Thanks," Grissom said, and the man maneuvered himself and his son around Sara, and continued skating.

"You know, he could have called me a cutie to my face instead of referring to me as if I wasn't there. Or just said 'excuse me,' "

"It's a guy thing," Grissom said, kissing her nose.

"Is it also a guy thing to tell another man you're on your honeymoon nine months after you got married?"

"Only if you're blissfully happy. Now, go out there and stop hugging the rails. I want to see some real skating."

Sara let go of the rails and moved toward the middle of the ice. Nothing fancy, just long glides across the frozen surface. The sky above was on the gray side, there was a tall, sparkly tree in back of her, and gruff, but ultimately kind people ready to call her a cutie. And then there was Grissom…Gil. She looked back toward the rails. Even from a distance, his eyes were sparkling just as brightly as the topaz around her neck, and he looked…well, proud of her. And she realized, not for the first time, that she was proud of herself. For not taking the easy way out. For doing what was, ultimately, best for them both. And for finding a way to cope, deal and survive

Dean Martin's smoky voice came over the speaker system.

It's a yum-yummy world made for sweethearts,
Take a walk with your favorite girl,
It's a sugar date, what if spring is late,
In winter, it's a marshmallow world.

Grissom loved that song. She told him it was the corniest thing she ever heard.

But, it was kind of growing on her.

Sara slowly skated back to her own personal cheerleader. She was tired of skating alone. She was tired of keeping Grissom waiting. She'd convince him to take an earlier train home. She was anxious to see Bruno, and their new addition, Bella, again. And to sit with their two dogs by the tree and drink rum-soaked eggnog and eat cookies and read books with quotes that she'd be hearing for the next year and…live a life. With all the joys and pains it entailed.

And, tomorrow, maybe she'd join him for Midnight Mass.

They'd listen to the choir sing their joyous songs, she'd slip her hand in his and lay her head against his shoulder.

But there would be no tears.

Just gratitude.

And quiet joy.

The End

A/N: For all the 'quiet joy' you guys have given me, I wish you many beautiful moments as you celebrate the holidays and get ready to step into the New Year.

Return to Summer Reign Index