The characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

This is in response to an improv challenge at the Unbound forums; again, the first and last lines were givens.

I know this isn't quite what you had in mind, Penn, but it'll have to do for starters...

Spoilers: vague reference to second season


"Because you're the pretty CSI, Nicky," the drunken Greg explained. Grissom watched as the lab tech, who for some unnamed reason was wearing a parka and heavy gloves, poured more alcohol into his cup. Grissom himself was sitting on a couch in an apartment he'd never been to in his life, watching Nick's back and Greg's drunken antics, and petting the cat sitting next to him. The cat that was about the size of a Shetland sheepdog. When it turned into a tarantula roughly the same size, Grissom decided that the whole thing was getting ridiculous, and woke himself up.

Blinking blearily at the clock, he realized it was 3 p.m.--almost time to get up. His gift of dreaming awareness came and went, and was occasionally useful for getting him out of nightmares or anxiety dreams, but today he'd just gotten fed up with the absurdity of his sleeping mind. I know dreams are supposed to be the brain clearing out the accumulated junk of the day, but I've never seen Greg in a parka. "And never hope to see him," he muttered into the pillow.

Yawning, Grissom wondered if he could go back to sleep, or if he should just get up now. There was nothing pressing on his agenda at home, and while he could always go in to work early, he wasn't in the habit of it so much any more. He had distractions. Diversions. Other...interests.

He couldn't keep back the grin, and abandoned the idea of sleep altogether, rolling over and stretching. The eighth annual entomological convention in Duluth and its cockroach racing finals were coming up, and he had a feeling that he was going to make a good showing this year. He was really looking forward to the trip this time. True, Minnesota wasn't exactly a tourist hotspot, but there was the lake, and the important thing was time spent away from work, away from the lab. Relaxing time. Private time.

The scent of coffee reached his nose, and he inhaled appreciatively. Leaning over, he shut off the alarm on the clock, and rolled slowly out of bed. Waking up was one of the times when his body let him know he wasn't getting any younger, but today the creaks and pops were minimal. Grissom stretched again and put on his robe, pleased. His life had become more active recently; maybe that was helping.

He followed the rich smell out into the kitchen and poured himself a cup. Sunlight filled the room and he basked in it for a minute, closing his eyes against the flood of photons and sipping his coffee. Thoughts of breakfast were beginning to emerge, aided by the other scent in the air, but he wanted a shower first.

The sunlight streaming onto his face was suddenly occluded, and he opened his eyes and his arms both at once, setting down the cup on the counter behind him. "Good morning," he said, pleased beyond measure at the sight before him, as he was every waking afternoon. "Sleep well?"

His lady leaned into his embrace without hesitation, slipping her arms around his waist. "Always, with you," she said happily, and he felt her smile against his cheek. "I swear, Gil, if you could bottle that, every insomniac in the world would make you rich."

He snorted at the idea and rubbed his face against her hair, which was still warm from the dryer and smelled delicious. "By the way--" she started, but he cut her off with a kiss that went complex fairly quickly and was only interrupted by the sound of the oven timer.

He let Sara go and watched with pleasure as she fetched potholders and bent over to extract the muffins from the oven. They were made from a mix--she always claimed that with her cooking skills making them from scratch was just inviting disaster--but he didn't care in the least. Sara naturally slept less than he did, even if his presence somehow reduced her nightmares, and she would often start something for breakfast before he was out of bed.

"That smells great, honey," he said, and she threw a grin over her shoulder. "But I'm going to grab a shower first."

"They need a minute to cool anyway," Sara said. "Oh, but--"

The ringing of the phone interrupted her, and she rolled her eyes and picked up the receiver. Grissom retreated to the bathroom, knowing she would take a message if it were for him. A week away, he mused, pulling off his robe. We don't have to spend the entire time in Duluth. Maybe go to St. Paul?

Absorbed in thoughts of spending vacation time with Sara, Grissom rummaged absently in the bathroom closet for a fresh bottle of shampoo, then stepped into the shower. Just as his hand turned the knob, Sara stuck her head in the door. "Griss! I meant to tell you--the hot-water heater's not working."

The icy water hit him full-force, and an indefinable noise left his mouth. He shut off the water hastily, swearing, and glared through the shower door at the misty, helplessly giggling shape on the other side of the frosted glass. "Sorry, Gil!" she gasped. "But--did you just squeal?"