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 YTDAW forums; five quotes were given to be worked into the story. They are: "It's, uh, purple!" "That's a lie." "You drive me crazy." "If Sara finds out, she'll kill us both, then bring us back just to kill us again." "Yes, Cath, I have the chocolate and whips."

This can be considered a sequel to "Supply and Remand", an Unbound challenge fic, but reading it first is not necessary.

Spoilers: general fourth season.

Attention: this story is rated US, for Unabashedly Sentimental. You have been warned!


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Greg surveyed his lab with the air of a monarch overseeing his domain. It was great to get out in the field once in a while, and he still hoped to make it to a full-time CSI, but there were times when being the expert instead of the newbie was a definite high.

Especially after a night spent processing somebody's garbage. He sniffed suspiciously at his T-shirt, but he couldn't detect any lingering odor. Of course, my nose could be burned out by now.

He entertained himself briefly with the fantasy of filing a workers' compensation lawsuit against the county for permanent damage to his ability to smell, imagining the reactions of his colleagues, and then decided that pissing off Grissom that much would be amusing but wouldn't help his career in the least.

The printer beeped suddenly, and Greg leaned over to see why, finding that it was out of paper. He opened the cupboard where he kept a few packages on hand, only to find the shelf empty, and grumbled to himself. Betcha the Fingerprint lab ran out again.

Sighing, he shoved to his feet and made his way to the supply closet.

xxxxx

Grissom looked up when the packet of paper landed on his desk with a thump. His lab-tech-cum-CSI-intern had a frustrated look on his face. "What is it, Greg?" Grissom asked, summoning patience.

"The printer paper."

Grissom regarded the packet calmly. "What about it?"

"It's, uh, purple!" Greg put his hands on his hips. "All of it!"

Grissom flipped open the unsealed wrapper. "So it is." He pursed his lips. "That's a problem."

"No kidding." Greg's outrage shrank a little at Grissom's acknowledgment. "The ink doesn't show up on it. I tried," he said, as Grissom looked up.

"I believe you." Grissom pulled off his glasses and thought a moment. Obviously, somewhere along the line the order for more paper had been screwed up, but he had no idea where he'd put the purchase order, and even if he'd been the one to swap digits in the item number there was little he could do about it at this stage. "Okay, here's what you do. Go ask the receptionist for a package; Reception orders its supplies separately. I'll place a new order today and pick up a couple of boxes before work tomorrow."

Greg seemed to relax. "Okay. Thanks, boss-man." His turn towards the door was halted by the sound of his name, and he looked back.

"Take this with you," Grissom added, and Greg flashed him a grin and snatched up the packet.

Grissom sat for a moment after Greg vanished towards Reception, shifting gears from reading evidence reports to making a phone call to the lab's office supply company, and then decided that he'd better see how many boxes of their last order were purple, so he could complain properly.

The supply closet was nearly full; a new shipment had come in just the week before, but that was the more specialized stuff--swabs, chemicals, powders, and so forth. The boxes of paper were stacked at the back of the closet, with the one on top open and one packet missing. Grissom looked closely at the boxes, checking the product codes. Yep, he's right. They're all purple.

He straightened, reflecting that he hadn't really had to check; Greg might be goofy, but he was never sloppy. Which bodes well for his new career.

As Grissom neared the door of the closet--really more of a small storeroom--he heard voices beyond the narrow gap of the open door. Sara, talking to someone; when her silences were not filled by another voice, Grissom deduced that she was on her cellphone. He peered through the crack and saw her a few yards down on the other side of the hallway, leaning against the wall. On impulse, he pulled out his own phone.

Reception in the lab was decidedly odd; some of the equipment interfered with signals, while other spots that by all rights should be impossible had perfect reception. The supply closet was one such place. Grissom typed a quick text message and sent it, and listened.

"I've got to go, I've got another call coming in," he heard Sara say. "No, sorry. That's a lie. It's a text message. Yeah, I'll get back to you when I hear from Doc Robbins." There was a faint beep as she ended the call, and then the click of her bootheels as she headed for the office to which the message summoned her.

As she drew abreast of the closet, Grissom leaned out and caught her arm. She started, but let him pull her into the small room. "I just got your message, what--"

He shut the door behind them, and threw the lock. "It was a ruse." Grinning, he slid his hands up her arms. "Turnabout is fair play, you know."

Her exasperated expression melted into a smile. "And payback's a--"

He cut off her retort with a kiss, enjoying himself thoroughly. Only six months ago he might have imagined himself in such a situation, but he never would have unbent enough to actually do something so personal and private at work. But it was the tail end of a slow shift, and they were stealing time from nothing but paperwork. Responsibility was one thing; blind adherence to policy was quite another.

"Mmmm," Sara purred at last, as the kiss morphed into a warm hug. "You drive me crazy."

"I try." Grissom breathed in the scent of her hair. "What do you want to do for your birthday?"

"You keep bringing that up." Sara pulled back just enough to look at him. "I told you, I don't do anything for my birthday besides open cards from my family."

"Then it's about time you did." He ignored the roll of her eyes. "Just keep the morning open for me, all right?"

"Okay, okay," she grumbled, and kissed him again.

They spent a pleasant few moments before Sara sighed and detangled herself from his arms. "Much as I hate to say it, we should get back to work."

"You're right. As usual." Grissom smoothed her hair back into place with both hands, still enchanted by the fact that he could. Sara in turn reached up to wipe a trace of lip gloss from the corner of his mouth.

"Shall we?"

xxxxx

Five minutes later, Grissom had seen Sara safely absorbed in a report from Greg, printed on fresh paper from Reception. He went in search of Catherine, finding her in Ballistics looking at spent bullets and flirting lightly with Bobby. He poked his head in the door. "Catherine? A moment, if you please?"

Catherine joined him in the corridor. "What's up, boss?"

"I just want to make sure everything's on track for Thursday," he said quietly. Catherine glanced nervously over his shoulder.

"Where is she?"

He smirked a little. "Scared?"

"Of course I am, and you should be too." She gave him a mock glare. "If Sara finds out, she'll kill us both, then bring us back just to kill us again."

That made Grissom laugh outright. "Relax. I'll protect you."

xxxxx

Warrick paced along the dairy aisle, glad that he'd thought to grab a basket coming in; he always ended up getting more items than he was looking for. But this time at least he'd managed to get through most of the grocery store without going too far beyond his mental list.

His phone rang, and he pulled it off his hip and glanced at the display before flipping it open. "Hey, beautiful."

"Hey," Catherine replied, sounding pleased. "Grissom just called; it looks like everything's go."

"Good." Warrick shifted his armload a little. "Did Nick pick up the balloons?"

"All thirty-three of them." She hesitated. "Did you remember--"

He sighed, glancing down at the tubs of artificial topping in his basket and the bottle nestling next to them. "Yes, Cath, I have the chocolate and whips." He also had a bag of chips and a bottle of shampoo, but those were for him and he wasn't going to mention them.

"Sorry." Catherine's voice was sheepish. "I just want everything to be perfect."

He couldn't help smiling. "Don't worry, it will be. 'Bout time we all started pulling together again anyway."

"You're so right." Warrick heard a doorbell in the background. "Oops, gotta go--"

"See you in a few." He punched the off button and put his phone back in its holster. She's going to kill us...but it'll be so worth it.

I hope David remembers his camera.

xxxxx

"It's just for a minute," Grissom said, his tone appealing. "I need to pick up a file, and then we can get right back on the road."

Sara shrugged, a little impatient. "Since I still don't know where you're taking me..."

She let the sentence trail off, not entirely comfortable with Grissom's insistence on celebrating her birthday. Her family had never made much fuss over natal days, and besides, it felt...odd...to have someone so focused on her. Pleasant, but odd.

I suppose I can get used to it, though. Sara felt her temper lighten as Grissom pulled up in front of Catherine's house. "I'll be right back," he promised, and got out of the car, vanishing into the house. Sara rolled down her window and rested her elbow on the sill, enjoying the fresh dawn air. The sun was just below the horizon, and all of a sudden she was looking forward to the morning.

She looked up at the sound of her name. Lindsey was standing at the side of the house, waving. "C'mere!" the girl called, beaming. "You hafta see this!"

Sara couldn't refuse such enthusiasm. She rolled up her window and pulled the keys from the ignition, hopping out of the car and locking the door behind her before striding towards the small blonde figure. "Hey, Lindsey, what's up?"

Lindsey giggled, and darted in through the carport door. "C'mere!" she repeated, and Sara perforce followed, a little puzzled but not unwilling to play.

The living room beyond the door was dark, and something was off--but before she could analyze the feeling, the lights flashed on, and Sara started as a chorus of voices yelled "Surprise!"

She just stared. The room seemed packed with lab people, all grinning at her, some chuckling. Balloons crowded the ceiling, and a pile of gifts sat on Catherine's coffee table. Lindsey bounced next to Sara, giggling happily, and a camera flashed.

Sara blinked, and blinked again, trying to take it all in. Unexpectedly her eyes filled, and she pressed the back of her hand to her mouth. I didn't think...they really... She couldn't formulate a complete thought, too overwhelmed by the sudden proof of her friends' caring. It was one thing to experience it in little ways, day to day, and quite another to be confronted with it all at once.

But before she could embarrass herself, Lindsey caught her other hand and dragged her forward. "You have to see the cake!" she insisted, and Sara let out a watery laugh as the group parted to let her pass, most of them still chuckling at Lindsey's enthusiasm. If anyone noticed Sara's tears, they had the grace not to mention it, and as she came to a halt in front of the sheet cake topped with a host of lit candles, she felt a warm hand rest lightly on the small of her back, a silent gesture of support.

"Deep breath!" Nick encouraged, and to the sound of agreement, Sara inhaled and blew them all out.

xxxxx

"You didn't make a wish," Grissom noted much later, as they sat side by side on Catherine's couch, idly watching Brass pull quarters from Lindsey's ears and listening to the hum of half a dozen conversations around them. Greg and Warrick were immersed in the old Atari that had once belonged to Eddie and by a miracle still worked; Catherine, Jacqui, and Doc Robbins were discussing the travails of shoe shopping for narrow feet and artificial ones; and David had sat down at the battered piano in the corner and surprised them all with Chopin.

Sara swallowed the last bite of her second helping of cake and laughed as Brass reached up to pull a quarter from Nick's ear as well. "Didn't have to." Before her were two books, three CDs, and an assortment of other trifles, most of them proof that her friends knew what she liked. Only Grissom hadn't given her anything, claiming he'd left his gift at home by accident, but she suspected he just preferred privacy for the giving.

That suited her just fine.

"Why not?" Grissom asked, resting his arm across the cushion behind her. Everyone there knew they were together, but neither of them felt the need to be obvious.

Sara set down her plate and leaned against him a little. Contentment was still an unfamiliar feeling, but it was very welcome. "It already came true."

End.