Tthe 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; the first and last lines were given, and the word limit is 1,000.

Spoilers: none, this is a prequel.


"Put it down, and step away from it slowly," he warned.

She raised her brows challengingly, and even though her hands were full Gil got the message. "What was that?" she asked.

"You know what I said. That's off-limits 'til tonight."

Her look was arch and amused. "Are you telling your mother what to do?"

The words were muffled, but Gil had no trouble understanding them. "You bet." He pulled the box from her hands. "Now go do something else until I finish in here."

She pouted, but it had no effect. Gil merely grinned down at her, and finally Robin conceded defeat and stalked out of the kitchen, pretending hauteur. She knew he was chuckling behind her back, even if she couldn't hear it, and the knowledge made her smile.

It was an odd feeling to suddenly be looking up at her son instead of down. He'd shot up over the past year, and while his pants and shirts seemed to be perpetually too short, Gil never seemed to notice. He's always too wrapped up in his latest dissection. Or working down at the morgue at his new job.

Robin seated herself at the small desk in her bedroom and started sorting through gallery invoices. The criminalist who'd gotten him the job had suggested that Gil enter an accelerated program to finish high school early, and while Robin could see the value of the idea, she wasn't convinced it was the right thing to do.

For one thing, Gil's already so isolated from his classmates. But, she had to admit, he didn't seem to be bothered very much. It was something Robin had worried about most of his life--it was difficult enough growing up with only one parent. Her deafness isolated both of them even more.

And for another thing, she just didn't like Dr. Gerard. She tapped her chin with her pen, frowning. He's perfectly polite, but there's just him.

Maybe it was her condition. Some people were never comfortable with it, and maybe that was what made her uneasy in turn. And Dr. Gerard had a point--why should Gil mark time in high school if he was already ready for college? Robin remembered the way her son's eyes had lit at the idea of going to college early. He'd often referred to high school as "asinine."

She set the idea aside for the moment. It would take more discussion, and either way, Gil would need a scholarship. Not that Robin doubted his ability to obtain one.

A savory smell reached her nose, making her smile again. While she and Gil usually split the cooking, he didn't normally chase her out of the kitchen, but today was special. She wasn't sure what the forbidden box contained, and Gil had foiled her attempt to find out, but she could make a few guesses.

Leaning back in her chair, Robin sniffed delicately. Smells like...roast chicken, I think, and sage stuffing. My, he's being extravagant. But lately they could afford an occasional treat. The gallery was doing well; tourist season was always a boost.

She glanced over at the framed photograph on her desk. It was a picture of Gil as a baby, the first wisps of hair beginning to halo his head. The stuff was unmanageable even then. But his eyes had been a vivid blue from the moment he'd first opened them.

Robin sighed as her thoughts circled around again to the idea of college. The truth is, I'll miss him dreadfully when he does go.


Gil moved around the kitchen easily, assembling the ingredients he wanted. The chicken was browning nicely, and he'd put in the potatoes to bake; chopping chives, he reflected on the fun of the whole thing. His primary motivation in getting a job was to save money for college, but he hadn't quite realized the joy of spending money on another person.

His little mother. It was only recently that he'd really begun to see her with any objectivity at all, and it had startled him to notice the fine lines appearing on her face and the first threads of silver in her hair. He thought of her as warm, elegant, beautiful, but he knew she hadn't had an easy life.

Well, tonight will be good, at least. They never made much fuss over birthdays--the last time he'd had a party with his peers he'd been five years old. The two of them celebrated with a special dinner and a few small gifts, and this was the first time he'd taken over her birthday dinner entirely.

Gil glanced over at the box on the kitchen table. She can fuss all she wants about her diet, but she won't be able to resist that one. For the past three years he'd baked her birthday cake himself--though the memory of the first lopsided one still made him wince--but this year, again, he'd wanted to do something a little more special. And I know her weakness.

He set the table with a grin on his face.


"That was marvelous," Robin signed happily after folding her napkin. "You really surpassed yourself this time, Gil."

He smiled, blushing a little. "Don't get up yet," he cautioned. "There's still dessert."

"But you didn't bake anything, Gil, and you know I'm on a diet." Her protest belied the second helping of chicken she'd enjoyed, and the glass of Coca-Cola that was a treat in the Grissom household.

"Not today you're not." Gil retrieved the box and set it down in front of Robin. This particular dessert wouldn't take candles, but he didn't care.

Shooting him a teasingly suspicious look, Robin lifted the lid, and sighed theatrically at the sight of the glazed-fruit pie within--the one thing she couldn't resist.

"You naughty, naughty boy." Gil laughed out loud. "Strawberries. Why did it have to be strawberries?" she groaned.