AN: Here's another chapter!


The nightshift supervisor slipped quietly around the Christmas tree, hidden from the crowds by the thick branches, and able to gaze at Sara from the flickering shadows. Over the years the entomologist had often covertly watched the lithe woman, allowing the sight of her to soothe his longing to do more. Now, with the possibility of that elusive 'more' becoming a reality, it was all he could do to hold himself back, and wait for the right moment. He couldn't help but smile as he saw her tilt her head in exactly the way she did when studying evidence. He watched her nod her head several times, but it was the way her breath caught and her head shot up that involuntarily pulled him a few steps toward her.

As she turned her head to the left, toward the table piled with gifts, he froze, unsure of the breadth of her peripheral vision. While he couldn't see her beautiful brown eyes, he could tell that she was smiling, and his heart swelled with hope. Then her head turned again, and he just knew that her gaze was sweeping the milling throng. Sending up a quick prayer of thanks and hopefulness, he closed that last few feet, stopping behind her and slightly to her right.

"Good evening, Ms. Sidle," he murmured, trying not to startle her with his sudden appearance at her side. The brunette spun to face him, the heels she wore, he noted with pleasure, placing their eyes on the same level. "I hope I'm not being too forward, but may I say that you are looking exceptionally lovely this evening."

Staring straight into his amazingly clear blue eyes, Sara could feel the warmth of her cheeks as she blushed at his praise. An appreciative smile pursed her lips as her gaze trailed over his own dark ensemble. The touch of red and the sparkle of gold on the otherwise all black garb made her think of a Lindt truffle . . . Definitely good enough to eat! she thought impishly, even as her eyes fastened with a thrill on his boutonniere. "I most definitely can say the same about you, Dr. Grissom," she replied, giggling as his eyebrows arched questioningly at her. "Oh, sorry, do you prefer the word handsome?" the brown-eyed woman teased, delighted to see his ears and cheeks pinken slightly.

"If I didn't know what an exemplary CSI you are, I might be worried about your eyesight," he intoned gruffly, resisting the urge to rub the back of his neck. He felt lost, his gaze locked with hers, his brain scrambling for any of the conversational openings he had considered and practiced. Even prepared, he still found himself tongue-tied around the beautiful brunette. "I, um, see that 'Santa' made his delivery," he finally blurted out with a shy smile, indicating the card she clutched.

Nodding her head, she returned his smile with one of her own. "A very precious gift," she whispered, her eyes darting from his face to the card, then back again.

Grissom could see the question in her eyes, and nodded in answer. "I meant every word, Sara . . . you are an endless mystery that haunts my thoughts both day and night. From a meeting of minds, we have become so much more than just a teacher and his star pupil." His lightly teasing tone brought the color to her cheeks again at the memory. "And though I've strained our friendship through my ineptness, I've never forgotten it. I let my doubts and fears rule, trying to use logic when I should have been listening to my heart . . ." Gil breathed a sigh of relief that the words finally flowing freely as he emotionally laid himself at her feet. "Love is not something to define, but something to be . . . and every time I started to grasp that, something happened to make me doubt that someone as beautiful, as vibrantly full of life as you are, could ever feel the same way about me as I feel about you."

Sara stared, absolutely speechless as he paused, drawing in several deep breaths.

"But now, I am listening to my heart, which I should have done years ago. I know what to do, Sara," he murmured, brushing the backs of his fingers lightly against her cheek for a moment, then reaching to take her hand in his. Bringing it to his lips, he pressed a light kiss to her palm, and smiled as he heard the music change into a familiar tune. "May I have this dance, Ms. Sidle?"

With her entire body tingling from the feel of his lips against her skin, not to mention the thoughts that flashed through her mind at the gentle tickle of his beard and mustache, it took her a moment to register his question. She blinked and slowly nodded, a brilliant smile suddenly lighting her face.

Amazed that he had rendered Sara Sidle speechless, the nightshift supervisor placed on hand on her lower back as he escorted her to the dance floor.

As he moved to lead her into a slow foxtrot, Sara paused for a moment before boldly sliding her hand inside his jacket and slipping her card into the inner breast pocket. The brunette smiled demurely at his startled look. "For safe keeping," she said softly as she nestled into his arms.

Shaking his head in bemusement, the entomologist whispered, "You are a tease, Ms. Sidle," chuckling at her 'Who me?' look. He easily led her through the first dance, smiling as the music segued into 'The Christmas Waltz.' A raised eyebrow was answered with a happy sigh as she settled even more into his embrace.

The words of the song came readily to mind, as Grissom recalled watching his parents dance to Frank Sinatra's classic rendition so many years ago. He couldn't help but softly sing along as he skillfully waltzed Sara around the dance floor.

"Frosted windowpanes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree
He's filled his sleigh with things
Things for you and me."

"It's that time of year
When the world falls in love
Ev'ry song you hear seems to say
Merry Christmas
May your New Year dreams come true
And this song of mine
In three-quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too."

The brunette's face was the epitome of surprise at the soft sound of his light baritone in her ear as he sang the words to her. The tune, and the warmth he put into the words, made her feel that all her wishes really could come true.

The light, refreshing aroma of lavender tantalized his senses as he held her close, filling him with a sense of calm. It was a scent he had caught a few times over the years and one that drew him back to those heady days in San Francisco when they had first met. He recalled teasing her that while it might repel moths and fleas, it didn't do a thing for the other insects that she showed a reluctance for. Her rejoinder of "What does it do for entomologists?" had been the first time she had left him speechless. With a shake of his head at his own stupidity for not paying attention to his heart sooner, Grissom renewed his determination to never let anything come between them again. His twinkling gaze met her eyes as a new song began, and at her nod of approval, he smiled as they continued to dance, this time to a faster version of the waltz.

Thrilled at the opportunity to be so close to the man, Sara was a little surprised at how well he could dance, having heard Catherine complain that she could never get him to partner her at prior functions. Curiosity spurred her to ask, "Been taking lessons, Dr. Grissom?"

Blue eyes looked at her in puzzlement for a moment, and she could see the glint in his eye as he realized what she was asking about. "Not recently, Ms. Sidle," he boyishly grinned. "Catherine thinks she knows far more about me than she does, and much of what she 'knows' is really guesswork," he added reassuringly. The subtle tilt of her head told him that she wanted to know more, and he willingly obliged. "Shortly after I started here in Vegas, I was required to go to a political function by the Sheriff. The talk around the lab, made me realize that the purpose of the party was to only to curry favor and make political connections, mostly for the bosses. And you know how much I love making mindless small talk with politicos."

Sara couldn't quite stop the laughter that burst forth at the notion of "Gruesome" Grissom happily mingling with the glittering masses that always seemed to flock after the Sheriff and his cronies.

He smiled indulgently at her giggle. "So I made sure to bring up the latest gruesome case I was dealing with, and made a gentle hash over any dances I was forced into, which wasn't too hard if it was a fast dance – I much prefer the slow ones. After a short while, I was left alone and was able to make my escape back to the lab." He grinned devilishly. "In fact, my tactics were so successful, that I made sure to repeat them at all such mandatory functions. By the time Catherine joined the lab, my non-dancing reputation was firmly established, and I never had to do more than put in a token appearance at any subsequent party, since the bigwigs did not want to spoil their glittering evenings with my bugs and bodies."

Grinning in delight at the smug look on his face, Sara couldn't help teasing him a little. "Well, I think your secret is out now," she giggled, nodding gaily as they swung past Catherine and Nick on the dance floor. "She doesn't look too happy with you!"

The curly-haired man nodded easily at the surprised Texan, and just shrugged at the glare his redheaded friend was sending his way. "She'll eventually get over it," he replied as they spun away from their colleagues through the other dancers. "Besides, there is only one woman I'm concerned with pleasing, and that most definitely is not Catherine Willows." Grissom looked directly into Sara's eyes to emphasize his statement, smiling impishly at her wide-eyed stare.

They finished the dance in comfortable silence: Sara still digesting everything that had happened so far that evening, Grissom delighting in rendering her speechless once again. As the music changed to a more up tempo song, the entomologist led the brunette off the floor and toward the sumptuous buffet, his hand naturally finding its way to her lower back again. "Hungry, Ms. Sidle?" he murmured.