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 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: none; this is a prequel.

Note: The characters in this story would most likely be using American Sign Language rather than Signed English, so the syntax as shown is not correct. However, I'm not up on the correct syntax, so as long as the meanings get across, I'm content.

Thanks to Trialia for the lines, and Cincoflex for approval and the title. (grin)


"What all the saints, what is that doing here?"

A tap on her shoulder, and she spun. "Surprise!" Gil grinned down at the diminutive woman, enjoying the sight as her jaw dropped open and her hands went lax with startlement, but it didn't last - an instant later she had launched herself at him, and he was swinging her around with all the joy and contentment being close to her provided.

There were no words, of course, until the hugging was done, but as soon as she let him go, his mother's hands were speeding, questions flying from them faster than he could answer. "What are you doing here? Not that I'm not glad to see you, but shouldn't you be in Minneapolis? Why didn't you call? And what's with the - "

Gil captured her hands gently in his, stopping the flow for a second and leaning in to plant a kiss on her forehead, before releasing them and replying. "Relax, Mom, I took a long weekend. I didn't call because I wanted to surprise you."

"Well, you certainly accomplished that." Her glare had no force whatsoever. "You haven't been waiting long, have you? I stayed a little late at the gallery to work on the books."

"Nope." It wasn't quite true, of course, but he would hardly say so. "So what do you think?"

They both turned to regard the convertible in her driveway. It was sleek, small, and exuded arrogance and speed; the drive from Minnesota had dulled its finish with dust, but it still shone. "It's gorgeous, of course," Robin signed with a gleam in her eye. She had always appreciated fine vehicles. "But can you afford it?"

Gil shrugged. "Believe it or not, I got it dirt cheap at the police auctions. It was confiscated from a drug dealer." He grinned, a wicked expression. "There's something to be said for working the night shift - it was the first thing on the block, and almost nobody else was there yet. Three guys came in not five minutes later and were foaming at the mouth."

Robin snickered. "A '62 Corvette convertible, in bright red? I'll bet they were." She walked slowly around the car, which had its top down and seemed to be regarding her back smugly. "Is it restored?"

Gil shook his head when she looked up, and came over to join her. "Nope. As far as I can tell, it's been very well kept as a collector's item."

Robin bent over the door to take a look at the interior, and Gil grinned again. It was a sweet car, and had been a real pleasure to drive across the country, but half the fun had been the anticipation of his mother's face. He waited until she straightened and turned back. "So, want to take it for a spin? We can go out to dinner the long way."

Her eyes lit, and he tossed her the keys.

Robin put the car through its paces, as Gil knew she would; he barely remembered the Pontiac coupe that had disappeared with his father, but he did remember laughing with delight as she made the car live up to its reputation. They ended up on a bluff looking out over the ocean, enjoying the sunset and the sea breeze as it ruffled their hair, hers as curly as his. Both of them released their seatbelts so they could turn more easily to face one another.

"So, Gil, how are you doing these days? Your letters are shorter."

Gil savored the graceful movements of her hands. No one called him by his first name any more, and while answering to "Grissom" didn't bother him in the least, the familiarity of her quick gesture was reassuring. "Busy, Mom. We lost two people at the lab last month - I told you about that, right? - and we've been scrambling to pick up the slack ever since."

"Do you still like Minneapolis?" There was a hint of wistfulness in her expression. He didn't visit often from Las Vegas, but Minnesota was much further, and this was the first time he'd been to see her since he took the position.

"It's okay. But when the year's up I'm going back to Vegas," he assured her. "The lab there has a lot more potential."

Robin relaxed a trifle. "Well, this beauty will be a good excuse to come see me more often," she teased, patting the console. "There's plenty of stretches between here and Vegas where you can open the throttle a bit."

Gil bit back the grin, savoring the second half of his surprise. "You'll just have to watch out for cops." She blinked in confusion. "I got it for you."

He'd been right; she was even more stunned this time. Her lips moved, but nothing came forth, and her hands lay limp in her lap. "You've been griping about your hatchback for months now. I figured you could use something in a little better condition."

It had been odd; he'd gone to the auction to look at stereo systems, not cars, but the first sight of the Corvette brought his mother instantly to mind. And between his latest speaking fee and the proceeds from the Saturday night poker club, he was flush.

"I can't," she signed feebly at last. "Gil, I really can't. It's too much."

"Sure you can. Consider it an early birthday present if it makes you feel better." He squeezed her hand gently, leaning forward to kiss her cheek. "I'll feel better knowing you have a more reliable car."

He shrugged with the air of one laying down a trump card. "Besides, I can't keep it. The salt they use to melt snow in Minnesota would ruin the finish."

Robin shook her head, and for a moment Gil thought he was going to lose anyway. But then her eyes crinkled, and he knew he had her. "Can't have that."

She grinned, and he took it as a sign to kiss her again.