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. All others are mine, 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.

This is a sequel to "The World Tomorrow" and "The World Anew", also Unbound challenge fics, but reading those first is not really a necessity. It would help, though.

Apparently this is my forty-second published CSI fic, if one counts the one I'm co-authoring. (boggle) Does this have some HHGTTG-related cosmic significance, or does it just mean I need to find something else to do with my time?

Spoilers: none, this is a futurefic.


"Quit picking at it!" Sara grinned at her granddaughter. "It won't set right if you don't leave it alone."

Robin looked up a bit guiltily. "I want to put it up." Her fingers hovered over the doughy creation; to Sara's eyes it looked like a particularly mutant pigeon done in a startling shade of pale green, but Robin insisted it was a dove.

"It has to harden first, sweetie. And we don't have anything to hang it on yet, anyway."

Robin sighed, and licked her palm unselfconsciously, reminding Sara of the times when she had done just the same. The salt in the flour clay made it irresistible to young palates. "We could put it in the window, until Daddy and Grandpa get back."

Sara chuckled. "Tell you what--I'll set the timer, and when it buzzes, your dove should be ready." She suited actions to words. "What do you want to do in the meantime?"

"Play the music game?" Robin said hopefully, looking towards the entertainment system.

Sara shook her head, grinning again. Robin preferred to play against Sara because Sara couldn't remember nearly as many tunes as Grissom. "Your mom and Brian are napping, remember? We need to be quiet for a while longer." She put her hands on her hips and looked around. "How about reading?"

"Okay!" Robin bounced out of the kitchen chair, and Sara caught her before she could dash out into the living room.

"Wash your hands first."

They ended up snuggled together on the couch, Robin on Sara's lap. She's getting so big...but not too big yet for a good cuddle. Sara opened the book to the chapter where they'd left off the last time. Robin had long since learned to read, but she still loved to be read to. "It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine," Sara began.

One chapter and then two passed by, and the dove was left to set in peace as Sara and Robin wandered the paths of the book. But when the door opened, letting in a gust of cool air and two men bearing a large fir, Robin sprang up and ran over, squealing with glee. Sara rolled her eyes, but it was too late for hushing.

She stayed where she was and watched her husband and her son-in-law maneuver the Christmas tree into the place cleared for it near the living room window, laughing and working around the excited Robin. When her daughter emerged from the guest bedroom to enjoy the show, Sara held out her arms, and the warm sleepy bundle that was Brian was placed in them. She smiled down at the tiny face. "It'll be a Christmas to remember, even if you won't," she told him softly.

Brian stared back at her, face wrinkling in an innocent pucker before crumpling towards tears. Sara chuckled and gave him back to her daughter, who sat down next to Sara and threw a towel over her shoulder in preparation for nursing.

"I don't remember it being quite this chaotic when I was little," Emily said quietly, grinning.

Sara snorted. "Selective memory," she teased, appreciating the picture that Grissom made--one hand on his cane and the other stretched out to hold the tree upright while Michael lay on the floor to fasten it into the stand. If she told him how handsome he looked, Grissom would gripe to her about his bowed shoulders and his silver hair, but it didn't matter; she had other ways to convince him of how attractive he was, especially when he laughed.

The buzzer went off, and Robin dashed into the kitchen, returning with her dove. Her father--a slender man two inches shorter than Sara, which had taken a bit of getting used to--helped her hang it ceremoniously on the tree, while Grissom went to find the camera.

Sara looked back to her daughter, seeing Grissom in the blue of her eyes and her own self in Emily's fine bones. Robin's eyes had gone from blue to green and she had her mother's build, but two-month-old Brian was still a mystery.

Well, we'll find out soon enough. Rising a little stiffly, she went to dig out the boxes of ornaments.

Late that night, Sara was roused from sleep by a tiny voice. She opened her eyes to see Robin standing next to the bed, her battered Mr. Bun clutched in both arms. "Grandma?"

Sara pushed herself up, glancing over to make sure that Grissom was still asleep. "What is it, sweetie?" she whispered.

Robin's eyes were big and solemn. "There's a Something under my bed."

Sara arched a brow. "Oh, really?"

The little girl nodded gravely. "It's hairy and mean and it won't let me go back to bed."

Sara suppressed a smile. "Did you tell the Something that it's Christmas and mean isn't allowed?"

Robin nodded again. "It won't listen!"

"Well, maybe I should go tell it, then." Sara made to get out of bed, and Robin's face fell.

"I don't think it'll listen to you either, Grandma."

"I don't think it has a choice," Sara said, amused, but left off the teasing as her granddaughter looked more distressed. "Okay, I'll leave it alone for tonight. Get in here."

Robin scrambled up onto the bed, and Sara drew the covers up. Glancing at her husband again, she saw his eyes gleaming back at her; one of them dropped shut in a wink, and then he closed them both. She shook her head.

"Robin, there isn't really a Something in your room, is there?"

The little girl hesitated. "I think there is," she said doubtfully, and Sara had to laugh.

"Next time you want to sleep with me, just ask."