A/N: Hey guys, okay before anyone else says it yes... waiting 10 months+ to update is in bad taste. Thankyou Nate who finally made me get off my arse and take a look at this... Sigh... I don't like the bulk of it... But there is a distinct spark, the reason why I wrote it in the first place I suspect. Anyway for anyone who's read this before no major changes until the last part of chapter one so you may wanna skip... basically I just wanted to repost and make this look at little better. I swear I'll update more regularly. Oh and thanks to all my reviewers and anyone who still happens to be interested in this. Cheers. OH and for all Torment readers... I will update very, very soon... just a painful chapter really...

Gifts

Prologue

What's In The Box...?

When science finally locates the centre of the universe, some people will be surprised to learn they're not it.

Bernard Bailey

The package was entirely unexpected, the mail courier leaving it for him in the break room.

It was small, about the size of a large shoe box and wrapped in plain brown paper. His address, printed on the sticker and stuck to one side was the only blemish to mark the blank space. No return address and no stamp. Nick shook the box, safe in the knowledge that the CSI mailroom stamp in the stickers corner meant that it wasn't about to explode. It didn't make a sound, no routine clinking or thudding, the box was also incredibly light. It occurred to Nick then that Warrick or Catherine had probably sent him nothing in an attempt to be funny.

He smirked and shaking his head quickly ripped through the paper, wanting this over quickly if it was just a prank. The paper dropped off down onto the counter and Nick pulled the lid off a simple white box. A panda bear stared back at him with huge, brown glass eyes. Nick frowned, someone outside of his family had sent him a teddy... Somehow he very much doubted that it was Catherine or Warrick.

Stokes pulled the bear out, fake fur tickling his fingers. He turned it over, the CSI in him showing. Only there was nothing to process, no tags and no stickers. Just a number stitched in silver on one paw pad.

Nick tossed the box and wrapping in the bin, still holding the bear in one hand. People suddenly began to pour into the room. Greg, Sarah, Warrick, Catherine and Grissom.

"Nick, nice bear." Grissom said raising a brow.

"Yeah who's the lucky girl?" Catherine drawled.

"Argh, actually someone sent it to me." Nick mumbled and then wished he hadn't said anything at all.

"Oh, that's so cute someone sent you a wittle teddy bwear." Sarah cooed using ridiculous baby words. Nick had to fight the urge to slap the back of her head.

"Nick, who've you been flirting with now." Warrick said with mock reproval as he poured himself a coffee.

"It is adorable." Catherine said thoughtfully ruffling the bears head.

"Where's it from, Lindsey would go nuts over one." Nick shrugged.

"Blank box and no tags." He said.

"There goes that idea." Catherine sighed through pursed lips.

"Just this number." Nick said showing Cath the paw, she shrugged nonplussed.

"Hey I know what that is." Greg smiled everyone looked at him.

"My friend brought one for his girlfriend a while back. The place, Custom Cuddles puts numbers like that on all the orders." Greg pointed, eating while he spoke.

"Orders?" Nick asked.

"Yeah, people go in say 'I want a two foot polar bear with the words honey bunny on the stomach.' Hell you even pick out what material they make it in. They'll even help pick out something that matches the person... My friend went with a bumblebee." He shrugged.

"Oh look Nick someone thinks you're unbearable." Sarah joked.

"Very funny." Nick scowled as Sarah and Warrick broke into giggles.

"Not necessarily." Grissom said authoritatively.

"They sent you a panda of all bears." He said.

"So." Nick said sitting down. Grissom's brow crinkled.

"Panda's are placid. There big and docile, cuddly." He added.

"So you're saying someone wants to cuddle me?" Nick asked. Warrick and Sarah who'd been giggling madly since 'docile' now started to laugh outright.

"Oh, Nick I wanna cuddle you." Greg laughed and Catherine snorted into her coffee.

"All right the bear is fascinating but can we hop to it." Grissom said, flipping through folders. The bear was sat at one end of the sofa and forgotten.

Nick didn't remember it again until after shift. He couldn't help but smile as he picked it up . He felt a blush creep into his cheeks. Okay!... So he was flattered... a little. It wasn't like the person had sent pictures of him or dead roses, both very bad things and it was also sent to his work as well.

Twenty minutes later found him outside of Custom Cuddles, bear in hand. The shop just having opened 10 minutes ago.

"Good morning, it there something I can help you with?" A pretty red-haired sales assistant asked.

"Nice costume." She smiled, Nick blushed. He was still wearing full CSI gear, black pants and bulky vest. He'd forgotten to change before leaving, it could have been worse though at least this outfit was flattering.

"No I um work over at the CSI crime lab." He stumbled.

"Hi, I'm Nick Stokes." He smiled sheepishly.

"Well Mr. Stokes what is it I can do for you?" She giggled.

"I was sent this in the mail at work, I was wondering if you could tell me who purchased it?" Nick asked slowly. Sure he was going to be given the confidentiality spiel. The girl hmmed and took the bear from him looking it over.

"I remember this one." She smiled.

"I served him about two weeks ago. Nice guy, very sure of what he wanted. Huh..." She said frowning.

"What is it?" Nick asked.

"It's nothing really... I just thought that umm it was for a... somebody else." She said with an uncomfortable smile.

"Can you remember anything about him?" Nick asked.

"Umm, tall, dark hair... Ya know I really stopped looking after I got married... Sorry hon." She said sounding generally apologetic.

"Argh my friend said the number on the paw is an order invoice of some kind. You wouldn't happen to have his details on file." Nick prodded.

"We keep details on all orders and general purchases... But I can't give it to you, not without some kind of legal grounds." Nick sighed, he'd expected as much.

"Thanks anyway." He said as she handed the bear back.

"Sorry." She said wrinkling her nose. Nick nodded and left.

He tossed the bear into the passenger's seat and started to drive home, glancing at it every few minutes. It was a sweet gift really, but with all the luck Nick had been having lately... it was no wonder he was debating weather or not to throw it away.

The bear turned out to be slightly wilier than that though and by the end of the week the tiny teddy had found its way onto Nick's couch. Okay so he wasn't heartless enough to bin the bear. It wasn't the panda's fault that it'd been given to Nick, besides whenever this guy decided to show up Nick would just have to tell him that he didn't swing that way.