Christmas and Beyond by StaywithMe [ - ]
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Category: CSI - Ship Ahoy! > Greg/Sara
Characters: Catherine Willows, Gil Grissom, Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown
Rating: PG
Genres: Friendship, Pre-relationship
Warnings: None

Summary: Frustration at Grissom shows at a lab Christmas party, and when something between Sara and Greg grows Grissom regrets what he has, or hasn't, done.

"Where's your Christmas spirit Gil?" The strawberry blonde sat across from Grissom as he lowered himself to his desk, rolling his eyes.

"Surely you didn't want to talk to me privately just to ask that."

Catherine looked to the side, seeming like a teenager who guiltily knows she's wasting her parents' time. "Well, actually... yeah. It's part of it. It's just that the holidays are here, everyone's in a good mood, there's all this good Christmas cheer--"

"What's your point Catherine?"

"My point," Catherine said, leaning forward, "is that everyone in the lab has some holiday spirit and cheer. Everyone except you. And I think... maybe you should lighten up a little bit this season. It's wearing down on the team."

"Lighten up? As in, slack in my work?"

"No." Catherine shook her head and held up her hands in regret. "What I meant was, stop being 'Gruesome Grissom' and just be 'Grissom'." She stood up to leave, stopping and turning in the doorway. "Think about it Gil." And she was gone, leaving Grissom to stare in silence at nothing as Catherine's words echoed in his head.

- - - -

"Surprise!" Greg handed Sara a peppermint candle, delicately tied up with a red ribbon. The simple yet sincere gift literally left Sara speechless, and she forgot to think as she leaned over and kissed his cheek. No one seemed to notice how Greg had turned a bright red, or how his fingers were reaching for the spot that Sara's lips had recently touched.

The lab's Christmas party was buzzing with excitement, and the merry tunes that Catherine was playing seemed to transform the tight-lipped mob into a friendly crowd. Sara wove her way around people as she headed for the refreshment table, hoping to grab a piece of cake before it was all gone. Greg watched as she left, and he smiled as she returned.

"Nice party, isn't it?" Sara took a bite of cake as Greg nodded in agreement. He noticed a dab of white frosting on Sara's upper lip, and he subtly motioned to her.

"You have, um..."

Sara quickly brushed the frosting off with her fingers, giving Greg a half-smile. "Thanks." There was a brief uncomfortable silence between the two before Sara glanced about the room, furrowing her brow. She turned back to Greg, confusion etched in her features, as she asked, "Where's Grissom?"

- - - -

"Grissom!" Catherine pranced into Gil's doorway, breathlessness caused by both anger and exasperation. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Well Catherine," Grissom answered, a fake sing-song cheeriness in both his face and his voice, "I realized I have no Christmas spirit, and since I didn't want to 'wear down the team', I thought that I'd stay here and do something productive." He spread his hands over the endless paperwork filling his desk.

Catherine sighed and looked around. Annoyance and exhaustion clouded her features as she turned back to Grissom and raised her hands in defeat. "I give up Gil. I really, really do. I tried, but fine: you've won."

As Catherine turned to storm out of the room Grissom stopped her. "Wait Catherine. What did I win?"

Catherine's stone-set face and cold eyes made Grissom flinch as she replied. "I don't know Gil. Only you could know that. Or, do you even know?" She turned on her heel and left, heading back to the cheerful party. Even with her absence Grissom could sense what she had said, and the sting remained. And yet, with those words Catherine had spat out Grissom realized that no, he didn't really know what it was he had "won".
- - - -

Catherine strutted into the room and slowly headed over to Sara and Greg, her face unusually bland. Sara squinted her eyes as Catherine remained silent. "Well?" Catherine rolled her eyes as she leaned over to grab a glass of punch, sipping it quietly.

"He's not coming," she said over her glass. Sara shook her head in disbelief and frustration, not finding her voice, and not really wishing to speak.

Greg piped up in confusion. "Why not?" Catherine, who had been walking away, stopped and looked over her shoulder.

"Because he's Grissom."

- - - -

"So, I'm assuming that you hit it off with Sara tonight?" Greg blushed at Nick's question, looking down as he walked through the hallway.

"Well, I don't know if I'd call it that..."

"Man," Warrick said, standing to the left of Greg, "you gotta tell her something."

Greg stopped and looked to Warrick, confused. "Tell her what?"

Warrick shook his head. "I don't ever think I've seen you at a loss for words; you'll think of something." Nick and Warrick chuckled as they continued on down the hall, leaving Greg to stand there and consider what had just been said.

- - - -

"Grissom?" Sara timidly stepped into his office just as he was clearing off his desk.

"Sara. What is it?"

Sara exhaled deeply, bringing her hands from behind her back. "I just wanted to leave this. Merry Christmas Mr. Grissom." She left abruptly after shoving an ornately decorated box into Grissom's hands. Frowning as she left, Grissom carefully unwrapped the small box to find... nothing.

As he stared at the empty hollow of the box he sighed. Tonight's just gone all wrong. He stepped to the doorway and peeked around the corner to find that Sara had met up with Greg in the hallway, and she was broadly grinning. They walked side-by-side, much closer than ordinary friends would.

Something curled up and died inside of Grissom. Whatever he'd won, he had somehow just lost it.