Author's Note: My annual Halloween story. Plus it's some pre-Blood in the Sand/Snow romance...the start of Sands and Cerise's relationship. I don't know WHY I chose to set it around Christmas...

Cerise Stone walked down the side walk in the D.C winter chill, coat wrapped tightly around her, her canvas bag on her shoulder. Her eyes datered from the pavement, up to the people moving around her. A long day working in the agency's office. They were a relentless task master. And her partner wasn't much better, demanding was a good word for it. But she couldn't shake the attraction she felt for him, which bothered her more then anything. The completely handsome devil that he was. They'd been partners for six or seven months now, Cerise was losing track of time on it. Frowning, she continued on her way.

Passing a small cafe she knew well, she glanced through it's windows. Only to stop short. There, sitting near the window, was Sands himself. A cup of coffee and a paper back book on the table infront him. His over coat was off and strung over the back of his chair. Dressed in a brown sweater and a pair of worn corduroys, he was actually reading a book, for enjoyment. Bent over the paper back, he'd pck up the cup coffee from time to time. For a long moment, Cerise just stared. Before she made up her mind. She turned and went into the cafe, going over and laying a few dollars on the counter, nodding to the coffee machine. "Help yourself." The girl behind the counter said with a smile.

Cerise went over and filled a cup and turned, hiding her smile. She walked over to Sands' table, stirring her cup gracefully. "Is this seat taken?" She asked politely, softly.

Sands finally looked up, eyes skipping over the page for a moment, before he looked up to see who had spoken. He took a moment to look at her, wrapped in the worn over coat, the hem of her skirt, just visible below end of the coat, the white stockings and the black ballerina slippers.

He gestured to the empty chair. "Have seat Cherry." In he last couple weeks she'd been working with him, he'd given her a nickname. It started as something to annoy her, then it turned into playful teasing.

Cerise pulled out the chair and slipped into seat. "All this time, I didn't know you came here." She said, sitting her spoon down.

"Sometimes." He replied, going back to his book.

"What are you reading?" She asked him, taking a sip of her coffee.

He picked up the cover, showing her. 'Neverwhere' by Neil Gaiman.

"Gee, didn't know you liked him." She said, glancing out the window a moment.

"Shouldn't you be going somewhere for Christmas?" He asked.

"Shouldn't you be somewhere with Mac?" For the last few months, Mackinze and Sands had been dating, hot and heavy, much to Cerise's dislike. She loved her best friend, but she didn't like her dating Sands...

"She had to go see her parents for Christmas." He replied, giving her a look. "You should know that."

"I do." She answered.

"You didn't answer my question." Sands said.

"I don't... I'm not into Christmas." She replied

Sands looked at her for a long moment. Recently, he'd been seeing her in a new light, much to his dislike. Especially after the last Saturday. They'd been working late on an operation's report, long into the night, only to end up back at his place, drunk and in a serious make out session.

The only thing that kept it from turning into sex, was the fact that Cerise had gotten sick to her stomach. He was liking the way it was going and starting to realize was the confussing feelings he'd been feeling for her recently, was. He was in love with her. Which only aggravated him more.

"Neither am I." He answered.

"Well, I guess we'll just have to keep each other company this holiday." Cerise answered.

Sands shut his book and there was a trace of a grin on his lips. "I guess so."

Cerise looked at him for a moment then snorted softly in laughter, looking away. She raised her coffee cup to her lips.

"What's the matter, Cherry? Don't like the idea?" Sands asked smugly, leaning forward slightly.

"You're unscrupulous, you know that?" Cerise replied, looking back at him, but her eyes laughed.

"So I've been told." He replied, in mock annoyance, turning back to his book.

"You're also boring." She added, watching him.

Sands glanced up again, raising an eyebrow. "Is that so? Well, that's a new one..."


"Well, I guess I'll have to change that, wont I?" He said, closing his book again and standing. He grabbed his coat and bag, stashing his book. Shrugging on his coat, his eyes never left hers.

Cerise raised an eye brow, quizzically as she took a sip of her coffee.

"Come on." Sands said after his coat was on.

"Where are we going?" She asked, sitting down her cup.

"Somewhere, less boring."

What ever you wanted to do in this tone, you could find it. No matter what time of day or year. They opted for the first place that no one would figure they'd be found in. The winter carnival,

"Who are you and what did you do with Sheldon Sands?" Cerise asked, giving him a look.

Sands chuckled, snubbing out his cigarette. "I've been here before. A long time ago." He said.

"Oh, a clue into your other wise very secretive past." She said with a grin.

"Yeah well..." He replied boredly, looking away.

She looked at him and sighed. "Sorry..." She whispered. He shook his head a bit, before moving forward.

They waisted the day playing the games of the carnival, Sands had even won her an over sized bear, which they'd buried in the back seat of his mustang, before Cerise convinced Sands to go to the fun house.

They entered the fun house, only for Cerise to stumbled into Sands on the moving floor. Sands caught her by the upper arms and gave her an amused look. She gave him a look but amusement danced in her eyes.

They entered the maze of mirrors. "Now, lets see if you're as smart as you claim." Cerise retorted with a grin, before she slipped off with a laugh.

Sands sighed, looking heavenward a moment. He heard her laughter in the mirrored halls. "All right Cherry." He called out and began following her, weaving his way through the polished glass.

He caught sight of her soon and followed her trail. Cerise hadn't realized that he'd found her so quickly and began making her way towards the end of the maze of mirrors. She soon came to the end and shrieked, stumbling down the short stair case as the 'ghoul' lunged out at her from an alcove. She found herself in a dark hallway that looked as if it was a castle dungeon hall. She'd inadvertedly taken the turn into the Halls of Horror and she froze.

She screamed again, when two arms closed around her from behind, her entire small frame trembling. But the embrace tightened protectively and she smelled Sand's scent.

"I'm afraid we can't go back now..." He said softly in her ear.

She swallowed and nodded, staring at the wax sculpture to the left, the grotesque features of the man and the frightened expression on the woman. The lightening reflecting the cob webs. "Come on darlin'." Sands said softly, but gently, letting go of her enough to take her hand and start forward.

Another moving portion of the floor caused Cerise to scream again. Sands managed to stay patient. He'd been told by both Mac and Cerise that Cerise despised scare houses and such. Besides, he couldn't see himself loosing his calm with her when she suddenly looked like a very scared and lost little girl, her eyes looking to him to protect her. He smiled slightly and pulled her from the moving floor, getting her to let go of the railing and step on to solid ground next to him. "It's all right, sweets." He said softly, leading her forward into the darkness.

They rounded a corner and found themselves seeing Frankinstines laboratory. The 'good' doctor frantic. Sands paused to take in the detail of the work, out of the black and white movie, before he wrapped his arm around Cerise's shoulders and they headed around the other corner.

The moment they hit a certain point, the recording of a scream sounded and a strobe light began blinking. To Cerise's right the large figure of Frankinstine monster stood growling at them. Cerise had screamed with the scream and pushed in to Sands.

Sands chuckled softly, but had to admit, even that had caught him off guard. From then on, he'd be expecting other little tricks like that.

Holding a hand to her heart, she followed him away from that and into another room. In one corner, a were wolf stood peaked for attack, in the other, Dracula stood beckoning. A coffin near them, began banging it's lid and Cerise stepped closer to Sands. "If I make it out of here with out fainting, it'll be a miracle." She whimpered.

"I'll just carry you out, then." Sands said in reply, snickering and, grinning cockily at her.

"You'd better! You're responsible for me. Unless you want Mac, Sammy and Sarah on your ass."

"No, thank you. Come on."

The next room, Cerise sort of liked. It was Lanchany as The Phantom of the Opera. "I always felt sorry for him." She said softly as they crossed the room, avoiding the dry ice mist coming from the grates. Cerise didn't want to get near them as she feared something might reach out and grab her.

Sands pushed the ricket grate open, that turned into another hall that resembled the catacombs of Paris. "Hey, I've been there...added a fresh body while I was there..." He said with a cocky grin. Cerise rolled her eyes and shoved him with her free hand.

This hall way opened up into a large room. There was an old truck in one corner and a zombie from the movie, Night of the Living Dead in the other. "Hated that movie!" Cerise growled.

"I didn't like it much either. Boring as hell..." Sands replied as they started through the room. But the moment they hit the very center of the room, in front of the truck, the head lights blured high, the engine raising and the horn blowing. Sands jumped, THAT he hadn't expected. "Fuckin' Hell!"

Cerise screamed loudly, clamping her free hand over one ear.

Sands quickly tugged her to the other side of the room, where they paused to catch their breath. "They're just full of surprises, aren't they." Sands muttered in her ear. But she didn't answer.

"Cerise?" He looked up at her. She was staring at the sign next to the door to the next room. "Cherry, sweets, what?" Sands asked with a raised eyebrow.

She pointed with a shaky finger. She'd gone very pale. Sands looked at the sign. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. "I can't go in there..." She whimpered.

"Cherry, we have to." Sands said calmly.

"I can't! I just can't!" She whimpered more.

"Well, we can't go back the way we came." He said rationally.

"Please don't make me!" She cried, tears were actually beginning to show in her eyes.

Sands frowned, and felt his heart twist and took her by the shoulders, turning her to him. "Baby girl," This was something he'd never called her before, but he did so now, in the most soothing gentle voice. She looked up at him as silent tears ran from her emerald eyes. "We have to go through the room. But it'll be okay. I'll be there with you, I promise. Each step." She swallowed, but nodded.

Sands nodded and took her hand again, pushing the door to the dark room open. A black light lit up the wax statue of Leather Face from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Cerise did everything not to look at it as Sands lead her across the room.

But to get to the door, they had to get close to the statue and as they did, the chain saw started up. Cerise's scream was one of true pain and terror, unlike any of her others that night. And her knees buckled, starting to drop her to the floor.

Sands caught her in his arms, wrapping her tightly in an embrace. "Shh..." He cooed in her ear, stroking her hair. Half of him was very worried about her suddenly. The other half was rather pissed at the people responsible for this exhibit.

"I wanna go." She cried into his shoulder like a little girl.

"All right baby doll. We're going." He didn't he even stop to ask her if she could walk on her own. He scooped her up, cradling her against him and shoved the exist door open with his shoulder. She buried her face in his shirt, crying, breathing in his comforting scent. He carried her through the next five rooms before the came back outside.

Not putting her down until they were a good distance from the fun/scare house, he sat her down on a bench, still holding her close, stroking her hair. She struggled to stop crying. He slid his hand under her chin and raised her face to look at him.

"All right now?" He asked concerned greatly now.

She swallowed and nodded. "I'm sorry, it's just that last room...I'm very very afraid of chainsaws." She choked on the tears. Sands chuckled softly, though he had the feeling it was a very serious fear.

"There's no need to be sorry..." He replied. "Come on, let's get out of here. And you can tell me why you're so afraid of them in the safety of my living room, sound good?" He asked her.

She bit her lip, but nodded. She suddenly was very afraid to go to her apartment by herself. Strang things had been happening there, as of late. Sands nodded and stood, wrapping an arm around her shoulder and they left the carnival, heading back towards his apartment.

Sands lit a cigarette as Cerise crashed on his couch. "You sure you're going to be alright?" He asked her, slipping down into a chair by the door.

Cerise pushed the hair out of her face and looked at him. She was still looking much paler then normal. "I will be... I'm sorry...about the whole..."

Sands gestured it off, getting up and going over to his liqueur cabinet. He poured a glass of scotch and brought it back over to her. She took it with a trembling hand and took a drink. The golden liquid burning her throat, but she swallowed, before sitting the glass down.

Sands sit down on the couch next to her. "So you're afraid of chainsaws..." He said lightly.

She snorted and flopped back against the back, looking up at the water stained ceiling. "Something like that. You'll excuse me if I don't talk about it."

Sands nodded. "Tell me in your own time." He said softly, watching her. Even in this light she was very beautiful. His fingers twitched to reach over and stroke the hair away from her face, to caress her skin. Instead, he bit back the urge, drawing another drag off his cigarette and leaned over towards the coffee table, tapping the ashes off in the ash tray

"Thank you Sheldon." She said softly, looking over at him. He was very handsome, even if he was a bit unpolished. He had the most haunting eyes, a deep, rich golden brown. She could spend hours just staring into his eyes, and at times, he could reveal every emotion through them.

"Sheldon," She called his name softly. Sands looked up from the coffee table, locking gazes with her. Those green eyes were as deep as emeralds and he wanted to lose himself in them.

"Yeah sweets?" He answered her.

"Would you...mind if I stayed here tonight. I don't...want to go back to my apartment..." She said softly. Sands searched her eyes, and could see the fear in them. Fear of something and it angered him that he didn't know what.

"Baby doll," He looked at her seriously, putting his cigarette in the ash tray. "Is something wrong?"

She looked at him for a long moment before answering. "I...I don't know...I've just been...uneasy in my apartment. It's as if someone's been, watching me." She whispered.

Sands scooted closer on the couch. "Have you noticed anyone...?" He asked softly.

"No, not really...but...there's other strang things too..." She waved it off. "I really don't want to think about it right now..."

Sands sighed silently, but nodded. "All right. Yeah, sure, Cherry, you know you can stay." He said, getting up.

Cerise followed him into the bed room.She shook her head, grinning slightly as he pulled some of his clothes off the bed. "Do you ever clean up around here?" She asked, picking one of his shirts up off the bed side table.

He looked up at her, through his lashes and was appalled to find himself actually blushing slightly. "When I think about it, yeah, I do." He grabbed a couple books, putting them on the dresser and shoved the clothes in the hamper.

Cerise laughed softly. Sands went to grab the red dress shirt in her hand, but she snatched it back. "No, I like this one." She said with a grin.

"Well, it's mine..." Sands replied, taking a step closer.

"So...I don't have anything else to wear... The most you could do is loan me a shirt." Sands gave her a look. She was being playful. Oh, how he hated it when she was playful. She had NO idea what it did to him.

"But does it have to be THAT shirt...that's my favorite..."

"Oh I know it is.." She replied, before she raised it to her face and inhaled. "It smells like you." She grinned at him.

Damn her! This innocent flirting was going to drive him mad! "Cherry..." He growled reaching out and grabbed ahold of the shirt, but she wouldn't let go.

Instead, she tugged on it from her end. Their eyes were locked. Sands couldn't stand this anymore and he tugged hard on the shirt on his end, bringing her stumbling forward into him. He let go of the shirt and captured her arms by the elbows, holding her. Cerise squeaked and looked up at him. She was still clutching the shirt between her hands.

There was a mix of emotions in his eyes, but some she recognized, like the lust and desire. But there was also warmth and love. She would have been afraid of the lust and desire, had it not been for the warmth and love she saw in those golden brown depths. Now, she just wanted to be wrapped in that warmth and love and even though she knew what was about to come, she didn't pull away.

He pulled her closer, leaning down. Cerise fought not to tremble, but her small body shook slightly anyway. Her eyes fluttered closed as Sands' lips touched hers.

He kissed her gently at first, but his hands let go of her elbows, to wrap around her body, holding her up. Cerise let go of the shirt, wrapping her arms around Sands' neck as the kiss grew. Her lips parted slightly and Sands traced her lips with his tongue. Cerise felt her knees buckle as she surrendered to the kiss. 'This is wrong! He's my partner!' A rational part of her mind screamed. But it felt so right! It truely felt as if they were meant to be like this.

Perhaps Sands was thinking the same thing. Because he pulled back, looking at her a long time. "I'm sorry..." He whispered, confused to why he was even apologizing and what exactly it was, he was apologizing over!.

Cerise blinked and looked at him. She struggled to fight back the rush of mixed emotions. "Please..." She whispered. "No...don't be sorry Sheldon..." Her voice trembled.

Sands swallowed. "Cerise...I..."He struggled with the words. "Perhaps, you should get some rest." He said after a moment, letting go of her slowly, taking a step back.

Cerise looked at the floor, feeling the tears stinging at her eyes.

"I'll take the couch.." He said softly, moving towards the living room. Her voice stopped him in the doorway. "Thank you, Sheldon...for letting me stay." She whispered.

"Always..." Sands replied softly, pulling the bedroom door closed some as he left. Cerise wipped the tears from her face and looked down at his shirt. She'd wear it anyway, it would make her feel safe.