77 – Special

Holidays are meant to be special. But sometimes it’s the everyday ordinariness that makes any day a holiday. This is never more true than when Grissom and Sara share (part of) a quiet Christmas together in Vegas. 

*******

Takes place Christmas Day 2012.

With thanks to the real writers for the title. And much gratitude always for creating such a wonderful world to play in — even if you don’t always make it easy.

And to A.S. for the lead on this year’s perfect gift.

With the very best wishes to all my faithful readers (even the begrudging ones — that means you, Frank) for a happy and prosperous holiday and new year.

It’s been quite an adventure. Here’s hoping for many more.

*******

Ferdinand: Here’s my hand.
Miranda: And mine, with my heart in’t.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest

*******

SARA

Caught by candy cane? you ask, incredulous and a little impressed all at once.

Yep, I nod. After all those years.

Finally, all three Santa bandits behind bars. Took long enough. Although the wrap up didn’t take long once Ralph Parker rolled on his partners. Amazing what a few hours stone cold sober in a jail cell on Christmas Day can con out of a guy.

Well, there’s a first time for everything, you muse, as sage and quintessentially Grissom as ever.

And I thread my arm through yours contently. Some things don’t change.

Even if the snow this afternoon is new. White Christmas in Vegas. I swear I would never have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

I am tempted to tease that you must be to blame, that you’ve brought this un-Vegas like weather back with you, but Hank is tugging far more urgently than usual on his lead, urging us to talk less, walk more.

He certainly doesn’t seem any more thrilled at the prospect of tromping through the white stuff today than he was in Paris two years ago. Or maybe he’s in just as much of a hurry to get home as I am.

That he was excited to see you when we picked him up from Robin’s goes without saying. He misses you. He always does. I always do.

I lean in a little, more for the closeness than the cold and say By the way, you really need to quit doing that.

What? you ask confused.

Just showing up out of the blue, I offer.

I still can’t quite believe it. There we were, Nick and Greg and I all commiserating at Frank’s over this year’s holiday shift from hell when there was the tinkle of the bell over the door and like magic, there you were.

You certainly do know how to make an entrance, but then you always have.

Complaining, dear? you say, utterly unrepentant as ever.

Hardly.

I don’t even bother to justify this with a response. Anyway, we both know the answer. Away as you are much more than here these days, there’s nothing like having you home again.

Against all odds it seems. Work and weather conspiring as they are wont to do with all your best-laid plans. Not that I seem to be much privy to said plans these days.

Actually, your arrival wasn’t as huge a shock as some have been. In some ways I suppose I should have expected it — to be surprised. You’ve made quite a habit of it as of late.

What I do know is that trying to change fifty-six-plus-year-old husbands is most definitely a lost cause. Besides, I rather like you just the way you are — well, most of the time.

Although I would like to see more of you, even if you do drive me crazy on a fairly regular basis.

And it’s not precisely thoughtlessness, you’re not telling me.

Nor is your being too wrapped up in work to call anything new either. It happens. Too often, but it happens.

However, your telling me once you’re here that you had to come — that you missed me and besides, there’s no point lingering once the work was done — that is.

The problem isn’t you being emotionally unavailable these days, just physically. Am not sure which is worse at this point. But with you here, at this moment, I honestly don’t care.

I am however starting to get the sneaky suspicion that you rather enjoy springing your surprises.

Your not entirely convincingly blasé, I did say I’d meet you, a perfect case in point.

And I am unable to contain my smirk or that shake of the head or my not entirely reproving, Yeah, you did.  I do however somehow manage to refrain from calling you Gilbert — for now.

Anyway, you are saying, Would have been by sooner, but I had to make a stop first.

Oh? It’s my turn to be curious. And apparently yours to be cagey, as you don’t take my hint to elaborate. Too busy I guess slipping the key into the lock.

And we three step inside as if it were the most ordinary occurrence on an ordinary day. Which it both is and isn’t all once.

I understand it, I do. The whole time zones away, me here — you there, life we’ve been living. Support it. In some ways I have to as I started it. But that doesn’t mean I actually have to like it. I don’t.

But having you home again —

With one last long lingering lavish rub behind the ears, you let Hank off his leash and he, seemingly satisfied you are really here to stay and not just going to vanish away, contents himself to pad his way to the bedroom for his usual late afternoon nap.

You indicate my coat. I shrug it into your waiting hands; you hang it with yours in the closet.

I glance down at my watch. It’s a little late for coffee, but I can make us some — I begin, but never make it to the word tea, struck as I am by the sight of something from the corner of my eye. Something utterly unexpected.

I thought you could use a little holiday cheer, you say.

Which is true. Although I’m pretty sure all I do is stand there and gape. And gape. And gape perhaps a little too long.

Or long enough at least that you start mistaking it for something other than the open-mouthed awe it is. For you are suddenly apologizing of all things.

I know it isn’t much. Didn’t exactly have a lot of choice on Christmas Day, you rather ruefully explain.

I mean it’s not like we’ve never had a Christmas tree before. In fact, this one’s not all that unlike the Charlie Brown tree Stephen and the guys smuggled into camp that Christmas we spent in Costa Rica. And as I recall, you and I did spend a particularly pleasant afternoon putting up a pretty un petite arbre de Noël during that snowy Noël parisein.

And yeah, okay, I know I’m not the biggest fan of tradition. Or more precisely doing things just because it seems everyone else expects you to. But if our life together has taught me anything, there are some traditions worth keeping and even some new ones worth making along the way.

But I guess this year after you called to say you’d be delayed (yet again), I just didn’t see the point of going through all the trouble of decorating just for me. Or honestly really have had the time to bother, Vegas always tending to be more naughty than nice around the holidays.

Except I don’t get a chance to tell you any of this. To tell you anything really.

For even if I could somehow manage to summon the words, you’re still speaking.

Since when do you have a problem over-talking? That’s always been my thing.

But you are, over-talking, saying if possible even more sheepishly, It was the last one they had…

And does it look it. Even with the large silver star on top, the whole thing barely tops three feet. It leans a little listlessly to the left and is more than a little needle bare. That and the remaining patches aren’t exactly evergreen.

Obviously, it’s the tree nobody else wanted. Ever.

Yet that didn’t seem to faze you in the least. You bought it and brought it home and in that way only you seem to ever be able to do, managed to make it beautiful anyway.

And somehow this doesn’t surprise me in the least.

I have to admit, I’ve certainly felt like that, like the tree nobody ever wanted. Would ever want. And yet, you came and stayed and dared to love me anyway.

So perhaps there are such things as miracles after all.

And I find myself doing that whole smiling yet crying all at once thing, which is embarrassing as hell. At least somehow I finally manage to heave my heart from my throat long enough to say, It’s perfect.

And it is.

At this, all your unwonted nervousness immediately gives way to a sense of satisfaction far more apropos.

I go in for a closer look; take in the mismatched lights; gently trace the draping popcorn and dried cranberry garland; finger the hand-fashioned silver star on top.

I know you prefer gold ones, you interject, noticing my notice, but all we had was tin foil and I have to choke back both a cry and a chuckle.

Only the handful of little stars strung up to nestle here and there among the boughs appear to be made of something else entirely.

Gum wrappers? I ask and you nod. Except you don’t chew gum, Gil, I remind you.

Kid next to me on the flight did. Obsessively.

I indicate the complicated folded stars. And showed you how?

Your rejoining expression implies Naturally.

And I sigh. You never cease to amaze me.

And seem to get an inordinate amount of pleasure out of doing it.

You certainly seem satisfied with yourself at the moment. Not smug exactly, but pleased and yet trying hard not to show it. Of course you are failing miserably at this, which is admittedly more endearing than anything.

Besides it’s not like you haven’t earned it.

It isn’t until now that I notice what’s under the tree: a small pile of presents, the ones from you done up in the usual brown paper and string you favor for some reason or other. But mine for you are there, too, wrapped in the bright Sunday comics I’ve been saving for the last couple of months.

And it’s not like presents are all that important — or even necessary. In fact, I already have what I wanted most this year. And it wasn’t the Santa bandits finally behind bars. There’s just one teeny-tiny problem —

Whatever happened to no snooping? I hazard to ask.

You shrug. No snooping involved, you say, when their hiding places are obvious.

Gilbert is back on the tip of my tongue when I see it.

Not done up in paper like all your other offerings, but still rather festively decked out in a trio of thin red, green and gold ribbons. When I bend to grasp it, I find I’m not mistaken; it really is one of those old-fashioned miniature glass bottles of ketchup you get with room service at a fancy hotel.

I grasp it, rise, about to turn, to ask. But the warmth of your hand settling on my shoulder stills me. As does the not quite absent trace of your thumb along the inside of my neck. But it is your breath against the bare skin there that never fails to render me more than a little weak at the knees. Your next words don’t help much either.

You’re right. We really haven’t had much of a chance to these last couple of months.

It takes me a while to get passed the You’re right. Not because you don’t say it very often. For while you are seldom wrong — almost irritatingly so — you usually readily admit it when you are. It’s just what I’m right about that has me baffled.

Until it finally clicks.

Ketchup —

Catch up —

That phone message I left on our anniversary.

So much for completely clueless.

Joke. That’s probably what the others would regard this whole exchange. A joke. But I know better. Your pun is a promise.

But before I can even get out the single syllable of your name, you draw me to you. Your hand slips around my cheek.

It’s been too long. But then it always is. Even if neither of us ever says as much, we both feel it.

My eyes close as I lean into the caress, expecting the kiss.

Which doesn’t come.

Bewitched, bothered and bewildered as I am, I still register the retreat of your touch. That when I open my eyes it is to find you rubbing the pads of your fingers against each other and intently examining the effect does little to explain away my wonderment.

Until you murmur, Red Creeper, appreciatively. Festive.

And I find I can only nod and grin. But the smile you now meet me with is one of a far different sort. One I am only too happy to see. Even if I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it: you looking at me like this.

Like I’m — I’m all your Christmases.

That you can be sweet and sexy, openly affectionate, flirtatious even, I doubt the others would believe me even if I ever said as much to them.

For there is certainly something far more than just those tiny tree lights twinkling in your eyes.

Of course there’s only one thing to do when you get that look: I take your face into my hand and kiss you. And you, you return all of my kiss.

So much for needing mistletoe, I silently muse when after a moment, we break for breath.

But the breath is only that.

Before long you lean in and murmur, your lips brushing against mine as you do so, Merry Christmas, Sara.

And it is.

*******

For more Christmas with Grissom and Sara see When Words are Scarce, circa season 4, 2003, Talent Borrows, Genius Steals, circa season 7, 2006, and chapters Eleven: Upping the Ante, Twelve: No Need for Mistletoe and Thirteen: No Time Like the Present in Going with the Living, circa season 9, 2008, as well as Surviving Christmas and Home for the Holiday, circa season 10, 2009 and Walking in a Winter Wonderland, or Boy, is it Cold Outside, circa Christmas 2010.

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