Bing Crosby was singing about Rudolph, and outside, gusts of chill frosted the windows. Inside, Sara reached into the cardboard box and looked at the folded piece of goldenrod-colored paper taped shut. Her brows drew together in curiosity. “Um, Grissom—what’s this?”
From the other side of the living room, under the base of the evergreen came his response, slightly preoccupied. “What’s what?”
“This. I found it in this box of your ornaments, between the plastic holly and the lights. Ew, you need to get rid of these candy canes, babe—they’re like, ancient,” she commented, pulling out the stale confections and setting them on the coffee table.
Grissom backed out from under the fresh-cut tree and rose up, rubbing his knees as he did so. The scent of pine followed him. “I still have candy canes? I thought I’d eaten them all. So . . . oh—“ he caught sight of the paper in Sara’s hand. “--THAT. I’d forgotten about that. May I have it please?”
“You look a little sheepish. What is it?” Sara asked, smiling.
“Sara—“ At this point Grissom hobbled over, his expression distinctly uncomfortable. She had a feeling his chagrin wasn’t about his knees, either.
“Come on, I’m dying to know now,” she chided, shooting him a playful look. “One of those holiday newsletters from a cousin of yours—all full of brags about little Susie’s dance recital, or how Joey made all As?”
“Who are Susie and Joey?” Grissom asked, and as Sara turned to reply, he plucked the note from her fingers. She shot him a perplexed look that softened when he smiled at her, adding, “If you’re good, I’ll show you later.”
“I,” Sara assured him, “--am always good.”
This brought a slightly twisted grin and the arching of an eyebrow; Sara blushed but kept her gaze steady. “Well I AM.”
“Not in ways I want to share with Santa,” Grissom smirked.
After they wrestled with the lights, they turned to the ornaments. Sara felt an inner thrill at seeing Grissom unveil the ones he’d brought, telling a story for each (“My mother made this one when she was in her crochet period,” “This one was a gift from my car dealership.”) They hung them on the tree.
She hadn’t had a full-sized tree in years, and the scent of it kept sending tingles through her. Sara admired the eclectic display on the branches—chunky ceramic angels and plastic bugs and yarn Guatemalan God’s Eyes in a brightly festive sprinkling against the fresh green needles. Her own offerings--little colored tin animals, cork Santas and pearly seashells—added to the charm.
Grissom smiled. “I like our tree.”
“I do too,” she agreed.
on the very top of the tree sat a chubby,
plastic little bobble headed hula dancer doll wearing a gold glitter
cleaner halo over her black yarn hair and serene smile. Sara was
the Hawaiian dancers from the It’s a Small World ride at
“Her name is Lelani, and I found in the glove compartment of my first car,” Grissom admitted. “Complete with halo.”
“That’s pretty . . . unique.”
“Yes. If I were the sort of man who believed in signs and symbols, I’d consider it a definite nod to peace on Earth and goodwill to man. On the other hand, I also suspect the previous owner of my ’66 Corvair felt he needed a guardian angel.”
Sara snorted. “I’m sure you were a better driver than he must have been. And now Lelani guards your tree?”
“She heralds the season.”
“I’m good with it. Going to share what the paper is all about?”
“Not yet,” Grissom smiled.
They ate, and sat in the living room on the sofa together, gently intertwined, letting the colors of the tree lights wash over them. Sara particularly liked the flash of green and blue against the silver of Grissom’s hair; she rubbed her cheek against the warm hollow of his shoulder and smiled. He shifted slightly, amused at her expression. “Yes?”
“Nothing. Just like seeing you with a glow—so to speak. And the paper?”
“You’re persistent,” Grissom grumbled, but he smiled as he said it. With a resigned sigh, he fished it out of his pocket and held it up, shooting Sara a warning look when she tried to take it from him. “Just a moment. I need to explain a little here, all right?”
“All right—“ she grudgingly agreed. Grissom cleared his throat.
“When Ecklie and I came on board at the lab, we weren’t exactly friends. I was more interested in actual field and lab work; Conrad had more of an aptitude for the court-related side of crime scene investigation. And of course even then, he was very big on paperwork.”
Sara fought her smirk, “Really?”
“More so than he is now,” came the sigh. “Back in those days Conrad typed and filed and processed more paper in a week than most of us handled in a month. It was his way of trying to control situations he couldn’t, but at the time, I’m sure he didn’t see it that way. And the worst part was that he made us requisition everything,”
“What about the paper?” Sara persisted, grinning.
Grissom looked over at her. “Patience. One Christmas Eve I happened to pass and see Conrad working away on a form for something—I think it was for new flashlights--and I made the mistake of asking if it was his letter to Santa.”
Sara snorted. “You DIDN’T!”
“I did. Conrad sneered at it, feeble joke that it was, and told me that if Santa was going to be efficient, he probably had an entire division of elves handling the requisitions, and maybe I ought to get my ass in gear before the deadline if I wanted Santa to bring me a sense of humor. And that got me to thinking.”
He carefully pulled open the tape and unfolded the piece of paper; Sara recognized it as a LVNPD standard Purchase Order form, Carefully Grissom smoothed it out and cocked his head. She stared at it.
“A P.O.? So?”
will make more sense if I read it to you . . . “ Grissom
offered shyly. He
cleared his throat and began. “To K. Kringle, AKA S. Claus,
Christmas et al,
North Pole. From G.
Grissom, CSI level III,
Currently the specific woman desired is in stock and on excellent display in the San Francisco CSI office; therefore I request she be relocated to Las Vegas Nevada ASAP for immediate delivery. Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated; sincerely, G. Grissom.”
For a long moment, Sara said nothing, her eyes wide.
Grissom sighed. He carefully refolded the paper. “I wrote it out on a whim, and left it on the table in my townhouse kitchen. Just a joke. After Christmas, I folded it up and tossed it into the box of ornaments. When I decorated each year, I’d see it lying there . . . and the hope would still be there as well. It became a tradition to leave it on my table, in place of milk and cookies, I suppose. A reminder that I DID have things I wanted, even if I was a little too much of an idiot to follow through on them.”
Sara found her voice after a moment. “You . . . asked Santa . . . for me?”
Grissom turned his head to look at her, and in his shyly vulnerable gaze, she found her answer before he spoke it. “Yes.”
“That’s . . . . “ She couldn’t finish the thought; his earnest smile was too much, his big blue eyes too bright. Grissom leaned forward and rubbed his nose against hers, and his husky whisper purred out.
“What seems impossible one minute becomes, through faith, possible the next. I didn’t have faith in Santa, Sara—I had faith in you.”
She blinked, a little overwhelmed, and pressed her face against his shoulder. Grissom stroked her hair, waiting. She raised her head once more after a moment, and tears made her lashes dark. Her dimples were deep as she smiled.
“Seven years, huh? Well let’s face it Grissom—you’ve always been pretty slow at paperwork . . . “
He snorted and she kissed him, and after a while, the Christmas lights flashed over them both as Lelani serenely watched over them celebrating down underneath her tree.