Most of 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; any others belong to me, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask me first. 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; the first and last lines were given, and the word limit is 1,000.

Spoilers: generally through third season. One may consider this as taking place during late season 3 or early season 4.


"Grissom approached the tomato warily," Lindsey read. "It rolled back a little and growled at him."

Catherine stifled a giggle and reminded herself to pay Warrick back for letting her daughter watch "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes". Bad enough that she's stuck my supervisor in her story--now she's doing a sequel to one of the cheesiest movies of all time. I bet this one will get me another note from her teacher. But she settled back and paid attention; one duty of motherhood is being an audience for all kinds of creative efforts.

"The end," Lindsey finally said, and Catherine applauded, genuinely pleased.

"Very nice, sweetie. I like the part about the carrots." Lindsey smiled proudly, and Catherine held out a hand. "May I see?"

Her daughter relinquished the three scribbled pages, and Catherine glanced over them. "I had to put in all my vocabulary words from this week," Lindsey explained, dropping onto the couch with a bounce. "And it's five sentences more than Mr. Tam said we have to have!"

Catherine gave her a one-armed hug. "Good for you." She handed back the papers. "You know, maybe we could make a copy for Uncle Gil." She stifled an evil snicker. "He'd be really flattered to find out you put him in your story."

"Cool!" Lindsey's eyes lit up. "I'm going to read it to Warrick when he gets here."

As if on cue, the doorbell rang, and Lindsey ran to answer it. Catherine let out a last laugh and got up to follow.

Lindsey was already chattering a mile a minute as Warrick stepped through the front door, and his eyes met Catherine's over the girl's head, warm and amused. "Whoa, there, Sparky," he said, putting one big hand on her hair like a cap. "Presents first."

"Presents?" Lindsey's eyes widened and she looked up at him.

"One for you--" Warrick took his hand away and pulled a package out of his pocket, handing it to her. "--And one for your mom." His other hand reached back out through the open doorway and returned with a paper-wrapped bouquet.

Catherine felt her eyes prickle with unexpected sentiment. "Nobody's given me flowers in ages," she said, leaning up to kiss his cheek. "Thanks."

He chuckled as she buried her face in the daisies, and leaned back to shut the door. "My pleasure."

"Oooh, thanks, 'Rick!" Lindsey squealed, happily flipping through the sheets of pony stickers she'd unwrapped. "I'm gonna go put some on my notebook." And she was gone again, a flash of blonde hair disappearing into the living room.

Warrick shook his head. "Man, where does she get all that energy?"

"Darned if I know," Catherine said, heading for the kitchen with her flowers. "I just wish she could transfer a little to me."

"I hear ya." Her colleague followed, sniffing appreciatively at the savory air. "Chicken?"

He set the table for her with the casualness of someone at home in her kitchen, and she enjoyed the moment, contrasting the younger man's ease and deference with the hard-edged tension of her ex. Who would never, even when he was wooing her, have thought of doing such a mundane chore as setting the table.

They let Lindsey chatter through most of the meal, expounding on school and her friends, and afterwards she read Warrick her story and received her meed of praise. Lindsey eventually went to her room for her allotted hour of computer play time, and Catherine and Warrick sat in the living room, chatting about cases and their coworkers, unwinding after a hard week. It was always nice to see Warrick, Catherine reflected; he was easy to talk to, and he never took her past career into account. It was in the past, and it stayed there, without judgment or assumptions.

When the hour was up, Catherine went to start moving her offspring towards getting ready for bed. She knocked on the open door to Lindsey's room, gaze sliding over the clutter, clothes and stuffed animals vying for space. "Hour's up, sweetie."

Lindsey huffed a little, but shut down the computer without complaint, and Catherine told herself to treasure such moments against the time when her complaisant kid would turn into a rebellious teen. Then the thought was knocked out of her head as her sweet little girl let out a happy shriek and tackled her.

"Ticklefest!" Lindsey yelled, and they spent the next five minutes rolling around on the floor giggling like crazy. Lindsey finally broke free of Catherine's hold and snatched up a pillow, but on her first whack Catherine wrenched it away from her.

"Ohhh, you're in trouble now!" Catherine threatened laughingly, stalking Lindsey with the pillow. Lindsey shrieked again and snatched up a stuffed hippo, flinging it in her mother's general direction. Catherine ducked.

She heard the hippo thump into something, and a startled, muffled sound, and then Lindsey doubled over in helpless laughter. Catherine turned to see Warrick standing wide-eyed in the doorway, clutching the hippo. Its seam had broken on impact, and he was liberally dusted with the tiny scraps of fabric and lint that the toy had been stuffed with.

"Oops," Catherine said with a grin, and walked over to take the hippo from him. Both of them began brushing away the fuzz.

"Sorry, Warrick!" Lindsey finally said, gasping with laughter. "But that was soooo funny!"

"I bet it was," he returned, mouth twitching with suppressed humor. "But you know what this means?"

Lindsey's eyes went wide. "What?"

"Revenge!" Warrick roared, and dove dramatically over to tickle her in turn.

When things had finally calmed down, and Lindsey was taking her bath, Catherine rummaged in a drawer for a lint brush. "Here," she said, handing it to Warrick. "You're still a little fuzzy."

"I'll bet." He shot her a wry look. "Lucky for me you didn't have a camera handy."

Remembering a combination of a dummy and a Polaroid, she chuckled as he picked debris from his beard.