Thanks for the feedback, and I will reply to reviews (hopefully soon). And now, on with chapter 3! Enjoy!


"What's with the makeshift bar?" Grissom asked as they approached Henry, who had taken on the role of 'bartender.'

He stared at them with a deer-in-the-headlights look. All color drained from his face as he stumbled over his words. "I…you…uh…why…" Beads of sweat broke out on his upper lip, and he was sure he was mere seconds from passing out. The room began to spin as his vision field diminished.

"Henry?!" Catherine exclaimed, sensing something was wrong with him. "Stay with us, Henry!" she demanded, quickly making her way around the folding table that currently served as the bar. Grabbing his face between her hands, she spoke to him in a stern voice. "Focus on my voice. Look at me, Henry!"

Somehow, her voice broke through to him, and his eyes searched her features, slowly drawing them into focus. "Catherine?" he asked weakly. The thump-thump of the pop Christmas song registered then, and he broke into a brand new wave of nervous sweats.

"Relax, Henry!" Catherine insisted, still holding his face in her hands.

"But how…"

"Hodges," Grissom and Catherine said in unison.

"Oh," Henry muttered, pulling away from Catherine. "Are you mad?" he asked, looking more like a guilty young boy rather than a competent lab technician.

"Only that we weren't invited," Grissom told him over the music.

"Yeah, about that…" Henry began vaguely, a nervous laugh following shortly.

"What?" Catherine spoke.

The laugh quickly died on Henry's lips. "I don't think I should say."

"It's okay, we won't be mad," Catherine told him sweetly.

Possibly embarrassed by what he was preparing to say, he bent his head and muttered something that neither Grissom nor Catherine could understand. The loud music didn't do much to help, either.

"Slow down and tell us again," Grissom pressed.

Henry's eyes slipped shut as he took a deep breath. "Everyone thought you'd rather make merry by yourselves."

Catherine pulled her lips between her teeth, biting back a grin. She could feel Grissom's eyes on her back, but she couldn't look at him. Not yet.

"But no one even bothered to ask us if we'd like to join in on the festivities," Grissom said. "Would it have hurt to ask?"

"N-no, I guess not," Henry mumbled. "My apologies, sir."

Then, before the moment could get even more tense for Henry, Grissom let out a hearty chuckle and moved to clap him on the shoulder. "Really, we're not mad."

"Yeah, we're just glad we got here when we did," Catherine added. "Now where's the stuff Hodges was in?" she finished, scanning the various bottles on the table.

Henry swept his hand over the bottles, utterly relieved that he was no longer the center of attention. "Take your pick. I think he had a little of everything. Though he started with the punch, if I'm not mistaken."

"Yeah," Grissom nodded. "Greg mentioned something about punch. Who sprang for all of this?" he gestured at the table.

"Well, it was sort of a BYO and a little more to share," Henry said, scratching behind his ear absentmindedly.

Catherine looked around the room then back at Henry. "So there's actually twice as much liquor as what's here?" she asked.

"Yeah," Henry nodded. "Who knew the Las Vegas Crime Lab employed nothing but drunks?" he joked.

"But you're not drunk," Catherine pointed out.

"I'm the designated driver tonight. Merry Christmas to me," Henry finished sarcastically.

"How'd you get stuck with that detail?"

"I wasn't there when they voted."

"Ouch!" Catherine exclaimed, biting back another grin, knowing without looking at him that Grissom was doing the same.

"Yeah, I've got great friends, don't I?" Henry rolled his eyes.

"Oh, it's not so bad," Catherine told him. "At least you'll remember what happened tonight."

"Yeah, great. I'll just love remembering all the fun everyone else had."

"No hangover, there's the bright spot," Grissom tried.

"Yo!" Archie bounded up, tripping and stumbling only a tiny bit. "Henry, man, you gotta hook me up with some more of that blue party juice. That stuff is awesome!"

"See what I mean? This is so fun…" Henry blandly said to Grissom and Catherine as he found the liquor Archie had requested. He poured Archie another glass, who then left as quickly as he'd arrived.

"While you've got the--what'd he call it, 'blue party juice?'--out, you might as well pour us some," Catherine grinned.

"Yes, boss," Henry replied with a deep sigh.

"Next party, I'll make sure you're the drunkest one there," she promised, taking the blue liquor-filled glass from him.

"I'll hold you to that," Henry said, passing Grissom a glass of the blue liquor, as well.

"Well, we'd better let you get back to work," Catherine smirked as she took a sip of the drink. "Archie was right. This stuff is good. You know, Gil, I don't think catching up will be a problem at all!"


Thanks for reading!