I haven't written much Gil/Cath in the past two years, but this is still a 'ship that's very dear to my heart. This was originally written for the December Challenge 2008 Edition over at . Therefore, this is a cross-post. Enjoy!
Catherine tapped lightly on her co-supervisor's door, more as a way of alerting him to her presence than anything. They'd always had an open-door policy, but Catherine knew better than anyone that when Gil Grissom was engrossed in something, startling him was not a good thing. Catherine learned a long time ago that tapping, while still an interruption, gently pulled him from his trance-like state and made him more open and accepting of anything she had to say.
"Hey, what are you working on?" Catherine asked softly.
"I'm just finishing up some stuff before I leave," he replied. He laid down the pen and leaned back in the chair.
"Can't that wait until later?" Catherine asked as she sat in the chair across the desk from his. "It's Christmas Eve, Gil. Go home."
Gil glanced at her over the top rims of his glasses. "It's not that easy, Cath. Criminals don't take holidays."
"That doesn't mean that you shouldn't. You need to go home and get some rest. At least get out of the lab for a while. Besides, I know you volunteered to work tonight." She shot an eyebrow-raised look at him. "You'll be back here before you know it."
"Nick really wanted the night off. Something about a first Christmas with his new girlfriend."
"A noble gesture, Gil," she said sarcastically. "But I see right through your act."
"Nick has someone to spend the holiday with. I…don't. And there's no sense in making three people miserable when there could only be one."
"You don't have to be miserable. Hey, why don't you join us for dinner tomorrow?"
Gil smiled sadly. "Thanks, but I don't want to intrude."
"You wouldn't be. We'd love to have you!"
"I think Hank and I will just have a quiet day at home."
"Suit yourself, Gil," Catherine said as she stood up and put on her coat. "But if you change your mind, you know where to find me."
"Thanks, Cath." He paused then added, "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas to you, too," she said with a smile. "Oh, and don't call me tonight unless you absolutely need me."
"I'll always need you."
She tilted her head, and her forehead crinkled in puzzlement as she tried to figure out the depth of sincerity and truth in his statement. She fixed the collar of her coat and glanced at him one last time. Then, with another smile, she was gone.
For once, Catherine was completely prepared for Christmas. All the presents for her mother and Lindsey were wrapped and already under the tree. She should have been enjoying the festive time with her family, but she couldn't get Gil and their conversation from earlier that morning off her mind. No one should be alone on Christmas. An idea popped in her head and she smiled to herself. He wasn't going to be alone if it was up to her.
"I'm going out for a few hours!" she called to Lindsey. "I've got a few last-minute things to take care of."
She made a few stops and bought the essential items she needed to pull off her plan.
Catherine arrived at Gil's a short time later. She climbed out of the vehicle, grabbed as many bags as she could, and shut the door with her hip. She walked to his door and rang the doorbell, shifting the bags in her hands as she waited for him to answer. She'd parked behind him in the driveway, so she knew he was home. She rang the bell once again and heard a dog bark on the other side of the door.
"Be right there!" Gil called, irritated. He yanked open the door as Hank continued to bark. "What is it?" He paused, obviously stunned to see her on his doorstep. "Catherine?" he questioned.
"Merry Christmas. Again," she said with a smile. "Can I come in?" she asked, holding up the bags.
"Sure. Sorry," he replied, stepping out of her way.
Hank continued to bark as Catherine put down the bags and walked back to the door.
"I've got to get a few more things. I'll be right back."
"Okay, I'll see if I can get Hank calmed down."
She was back inside in a few minutes, this time carrying more bags and a small Christmas tree.
"Where's Hank?" she asked, aware of the silence in the room.
"I put him in the bedroom," Gil replied. "What is all this?"
"This is a Christmas tree," she said in mock-sarcasm, indicating the evergreen in her hand. "And the bags have lights and ornaments for the tree."
"I know what they are, but what are they doing here?"
Catherine glanced around the room. "Unless your tree is incognito, you don't have one. Well, you didn't until a few moments ago. I'm trying to help you not be miserable."
"I've never been one to go over-the-top with all this Christmas stuff."
"Gil, you've never been one to even buy a card, let alone decorate. Which is why I'm here."
She cleared the books from the end table in the corner and placed the small tree on it. "Just give it a chance," she sighed. She stepped back, looking at the placement of the tree. "No, that won't work," she muttered to herself. "Could you help me move the table in front of the window?" she asked him.
"Why do we need to move the table?"
"A Christmas tree looks so much better in front of the window," she told him simply.
"You shouldn't have spent so much money to get all this stuff," he said as they moved the table and tree in front of the window.
"It wasn't that much. Besides, this is my Christmas gift to you. Accept it and at least try to be happy. As your gift to me."
"Okay," he conceded.
"Excellent!" Catherine exclaimed as she made her way to the pile of bags bearing the decorations. She bent down and pulled a CD from one of the bags.
"What's that?" Gil asked, hoping it wasn't what he thought it was.
"Just wait." She put the CD in the player and pressed the power button. Soon the opening of one of her favorite Christmas songs began to play. "Now, I know you like your opera, but decorating for Christmas without listening to Christmas music is a crime."
"The Rat Pack?" Gil closed his eyes and shook his head.
"I thought you enjoyed 'Old Vegas.'"
"I do, but aren't the Rat Pack impersonators all year long enough?"
"That's why I got the CD. You can't beat the real thing. Now, come on. Let's put the lights on the tree."
He sighed, deciding that the sooner they got started, the sooner they'd finish.
Catherine fished through one of the bags and pulled out a box of lights. "No need to go sparingly with the lights. I bought plenty."
She plugged the string of lights into the socket to make sure it worked. The colorful lights shone brightly, and she unplugged them so it would be easier to put them on the tree.
She handed him the string of lights. "Could you start at the top with those? I'm not quite tall enough."
He took the lights from her, and began placing them on the tree branches. He hadn't decorated a tree since he moved away from home.
Catherine studied Gil as he worked, and she couldn't help but notice the slight smile on his face. "What are you thinking about?"
"Huh? Oh. About the last time I did this. I was eighteen years old."
"What? You haven't had a Christmas tree in over thirty years? I'm sorry we didn't do this sooner."
"You didn't know," he told her with a grin. "But you're here now."
She returned his smile. "Yes, I am."
They held each other's gaze for a long moment until Gil cleared his throat and looked away. "Could I get some more lights? I'm almost finished with this string."
"Sure," Catherine said, wondering when it had gotten so hot in the room. She grabbed another box of lights and repeated the process of plugging them in to make sure they worked. Then she handed the string to Gil, who plugged the new string into the first one.
"I think they're low enough for you to reach," Gil told her. "And I could really use your help. Where's your Christmas spirit?" he finished jokingly. Maybe this wasn't as bad as he'd thought.
With the two of them working together, the rest of the lights went on quickly. Catherine plugged the final string of lights in, and the vibrant, multi-colored lights lit up the room. Gil stared at the tree, amazed by the simplistic beauty.
"Thank you," he said quietly.
"We're not finished yet," she told him as she went to restart the CD. "We still have to put on all the ornaments."
"Right," he agreed, clearing his throat. "Uh, I should have asked earlier, but do you want something to drink? Soda? Water? Screwdriver?"
She chuckled at the mention of the last one. "Water would be good. Thanks."
He went to the kitchen and she began to remove the ornaments from their boxes and putting them on the tree.
He returned with the drinks, but stopped in his tracks when he saw her. Her back was to him, and she hummed along with the song as she reached to put an ornament on one of the higher branches. Something had changed between them in the last hour, and he realized that the tree was the second most beautiful thing in the room. Startled by the admission to himself, he drained the first glass of water and started on the second.
Suddenly aware of the movement behind her, Catherine turned around. "Gil, are you okay?" she asked, her voice filled with concern.
He pulled the second glass away from his lips, gasping for air. "Yeah, just…thirsty. I'll be right back." He hurried back to the kitchen to refill the glasses and to regain his composure.
A few minutes later, Gil was back in the room. He handed Catherine a glass and put his on the table behind him.
"Thanks." She took a few sips then set her glass next to his. "Okay, there's still a bunch of ornaments, but it shouldn't take too long."
He opened one of the remaining boxes of ornaments and began placing them on the tree. They worked in companionable silence until they were almost finished with the ornaments.
"Why blue and silver?"
"You don't like it?" she asked, trying to hide the disappointment in her voice.
"No, I love it. I was just wondering why you chose those colors."
"Oh. Because they're pretty, and I thought they'd look nice in here."
"You were right. They do look nice in here."
She smiled at him and took the last ornament from her box. She placed it on the tree and stepped back.
"Perfect," Gil said as he stepped back beside her.
"Almost. There's one thing left to put on there." She pulled the last box from the plethora of bags littering the floor. "You didn't strike me as an angel person or a bow person, so I got a star for the tree-topper."
She took the star from the box and handed it to him. He placed the star on the top of the tree then joined Catherine a few feet away.
"Now, it's perfect," she said.
"Yes, it is."
Gil had never been one to show much emotion, so when he grasped her hand in his, Catherine was more than surprised.
"Cath, I'm sorry about earlier and being so Scrooge-y."
She laughed at his made-up word. "It's okay. Everyone is allowed occasional Scrooge-y-ness." She squeezed his hand gently then pulled away. "I hate to decorate a tree and run, but I told Lindsey that I wouldn't be gone long…"
"That's okay. Let me walk you to the door."
She put on her coat and followed him to the door. "Well, Merry Christmas. And the dinner offer is still open if you want to come."
"Thanks. For everything," he said as he opened the door.
"You're welcome," she replied with a grin and a nod. Then she stepped through the doorway and listened as the door closed behind her.
Twenty seconds later on the other side of the closed door, Gil stood frozen in place, his hand still on the doorknob. There was some unfinished business between them, and he hoped he could catch her before she left.
He jerked open the door. "Catherine!" He was surprised to find her just eighteen inches away from him, finger ready to press the doorbell.
Then, like a scene from a movie, his hands found her waist as hers bunched his shirt, and their lips crashed together in a kiss that had been in the making for over two decades. They eventually pulled back and Gil gently cupped Catherine's cheek and brushed her lips with his thumb.
"Thank you for making my Christmas," he whispered before kissing her forehead.
"Thank you for making mine," she replied as she wrapped her arms around him.
They stood in his doorway just holding each other.
"I don't want you to go."
"I don't want to go, either. But I promised Lindsey…"
She regretfully pulled away from him. "Call me later?"
He grinned. "I thought you didn't want to work," referencing their conversation in his office.
"You know what I mean."
"Yeah, I do." He pulled her in for another quick kiss. "Now get out of here before we both change our minds."
"Right," she agreed.
He watched as she walked to her vehicle and got it. They waved to each other as she pulled out of the driveway. He shut the door and smiled to himself. This was the best Christmas. Ever.
Thanks for reading!