Christmas Eve; the Night Before Christmas…and all through the house not a creature was stirring, not even Hank. Gil sat on the stool at the counter stirring his steaming soup and wondering how he would get through the night. He felt a little twisted when he glanced at his phone and wished it would ring with a case, something to occupy his time…and his thoughts.

It wasn't like he and Sara had shared many Christmas'. They'd only really had one together, the first year they were together. And it had been the best Christmas he could remember, at least from his point of view. He thought Sara felt the same. Briefly, he wondered what she was doing at that precise moment. Was she thinking about him like he was thinking about her?

He doubted it.

The ring of his phone startled him out of his thoughts. "Grissom," he answered.

"They told me you're on call," Jim Brass said.

"Yeah…thought I'd give the night off to someone who had someone to spend it with…" Gil answered vaguely.

"What…you didn't want to hang out with me? My feelings are hurt," Jim snorted on the other end of the line.

Gil grinned weakly. "You'll get over it…"

"I already am," his friend chuckled. "Besides, we have a case."

"Would it seem cruel if I said 'good'?

"Maybe, but I get it. Anyway…meet me at the scene." Jim went on to give Gil the details.

A half hour later, Gil crossed the yellow tape in search of his friend and colleague. As if he felt Gil's approach, Jim turned to speak as Gil walked up behind him. "Our vic is a male, Caucasian, about 40….give or take. He was found next to the dumpster by that kid over there," Jim said pointing to a teenager standing next to the back door of a deli. "No ID. His head looks like a smashed melon." Gil noticed Jim looking a little queasy. It was no secret that the detective didn't like dead bodies, but he wasn't usually affected so strongly. Seeing Jim's reaction, Gil prepared himself as he walked towards the body. A closer inspection confirmed Jim's description; the guy's head was indeed a smashed melon. They'd never get an ID from a photo; fingerprints would have to supply the information. Collecting his thoughts, Gil began studying the victim and the area around him.

While Gil busied himself with the physical evidence, Jim began to wander through the alley, looking for further clues. Jenson, one of the uniforms, called out to him, "Captain Brass….over here…"

Jim's head snapped up and he turned to head toward the officer. Jenson was standing near a doorway. When Jim got there, he realized the door was recessed, leaving a small stoop. On the stoop, sheltered by the building was a child, a little girl. It was clear that she was frightened; she also appeared to be covered in blood. Jim knelt down, close but not too close. He didn't want to frighten her. "Hey Honey, My name is Jim Brass. What's yours?" He asked softly, employing his best child friendly demeanor.

The little girl stared back at him, eyes wide but not answering. She moved her hands and after a few seconds, Jim realized she was signing. Without changing his posture or manner, he told Jenson to go get Grissom. When Jenson didn't move immediately, Jim's tone became more imperative. "Now, Jenson…"

Jenson bolted towards the CSI. "Grissom, Captain Brass needs you."

"Okay, in a minute…"

"He said now, sir."

Gil sighed. He stood and looked at Jenson then back at the body. "Stay here and don't let anyone touch anything, okay?"

"Yes sir."

Gil made his way to the doorway and stood next to Jim, who was still crouched. "Hey Gil, glad you could join us," Jim said evenly. "I think our little friend here is deaf….she seems to be trying to sign."

Gil looked from Jim to the little girl. "My Mommy, my Mommy…' she keeps saying it over and over," Gil told his friend.

"So can you talk to her, help me calm her down so we can see what she knows?"

"What do you want me to say to her?"

Jim rolled his eyes. "You can start by telling her who we are….that we want to help her." Jim watched as Gil signed, thinking how clueless the scientist could be at times.

"My Mommy," she keeps saying.

"So ask her about her Mommy." Jim wanted to strangle him. It was obvious that Jim was going to have to feed all of the questions to Gil. He just wasn't running on all cylinders that night.

Slowly Gil was able to get through to the little girl. Her name was Emily and that man had hurt her Mommy. Mommy had told Emily to run and hide. That was how Emily ended up in the shadows in the doorway. She didn't see what happened to her Mommy but she did see her Mommy hitting that bad man with a stick.

Gil explained to Emily that Jim was a nice man he was going to take care of her while they looked for her Mommy. Jim wouldn't be able to talk with her, but he was a good man and Emily should trust him. Emily nodded and scooted towards Jim, who scooped her in his arms. Gil smirked as Jim's joints creaked when he stood, still holding the girl. "This used to be easier," Jim complained.

Gil shrugged and turned away, heading down the alley, looking for signs of Emily's Mommy. Jim told the uniforms to spread out and look too. Meanwhile he took Emily to his car, where he settled her in the back seat before calling CPS. While talking to the social worker on duty, Jim glanced back to see that Emily had curled into a ball on his back seat and fallen asleep.

Meanwhile, Gil had picked up a blood trail that led him and two of the uniforms in the opposite direction down the ally. They turned a corner and hidden behind some trashcans, they found a woman. She had been beaten severely and was also covered in blood. One of the uniforms called for paramedics while Gil knelt to check for vital signs. She was alive, but barely. He sighed deeply as he realized that by Christmas day, little Emily would probably be an orphan, another child lost in the foster system. And again his thoughts turned to Sara.

As he watched the woman being loaded into the ambulance, he caught Emily out of the corner of his eye. She was still in Jim's car, crying to see her Mommy. Jim was trying to console her but the little girl was past comforting. The mother was conscious just long enough to hear Emily crying and called out her name weakly before passing out again. She had light red hair, not quite as blonde as Catherine's but the color made him think of her…and Emily reminded him of Lindsey. His heart sank as sadness engulfed him.

Someone from CPS finally arrived and Gil observed that it was a good thing. Jim had tears in his eyes as he held the child. Gil knew the detective was a softie under all the gruffness and it always showed when he was dealing with kids. Tonight's case was worse than usual, but sadly not all that unusual. He knew that before long, they'd be sitting in Jim's office, knocking back some Scotch, trying to forget the pain of the night.

Gil finished collecting evidence and packed up his kit. Jim helped him carry it to the Denali and then both men headed out, Jim had a report to file and Gil wanted to get the lab started on processing the evidence.

He turned on the radio as he drove, forgetting that on Christmas Eve the only music he would find would be Christmas music. The song was ending but not before the irony wrenched Gil's gut…

It starts with you, it starts with me
This ain't no stranger, he's family and it don't
Matter if we agree
It all comes down to love

Put a little holiday in your heart
It'll put a little shuffle in your step
Give you a song that you can sing
With a melody you can't forget
And if you wanna join in a little harmony
To keep the world from tearin' apart
Well you know where to look
Yeah - you gotta put a little holiday in your heart

Right…he thought. Easy for them to say…sing. I'm finished with trying to keep the world together. People do too many bad things to each other. His thoughts turned to Emily. That's another one that we'll be processing in a few years, most likely. No…not we, they. They will be processing a crime scene and she'll be a suspect. Or maybe not. Sara managed to beat that …became a productive person. Grief threatened to over whelm him again. I don't want to think about Sara, he told himself.

Back at the lab, he logged the evidence and turned it over to the appropriate lab rats. Then dialing Jim's number he waited for the detective to answer.

"Brass," he said from the other end of the connection.

"Hey…you still have that Scotch in your drawer?"

"No," Jim told him. "The bottle is sitting on my desk. I have a glass waiting for you."

Gil smirked. "You know me too well…"

"See you in a few…"

The two men sat somberly, sipping and thinking, unified by their grief over the current case. Finally Jim sighed and put his glass down, a little too loudly. Gil watched the remains of the liquid slosh in Jim's glass and then Gil slid his glass onto the desk. "Guess I'll head home," he mumbled. "Although I'm not sure why…"

Jim grunted. "Yeah…this is one night I'd love to go over my two drink limit…or hook up with a whore and forget who I am…"

Gil's eyebrow shot up as he looked at his friend. "Don't worry," Jim waved him off. "I'm going to be a good boy and go home to watch all the damned Christmas movies cable has to offer."

The radio blared again as Gil left the parking garage. He really didn't want to go home…it would be empty. As he considered his options, a new song began to play…

Ain't no need in wastin' your time
Makin' out a Christmas list
Know everything you want
And it starts out with a kiss
While your friends are gettin' clothes they don't like and never fit
You'll be havin' the time of your life in a night you won't forget

Night he wouldn't forget….this was certainly one of those.

I've got what you want for Christmas
Packaged in dynamite
I'll play Santa's little helper
Deliver it by midnight
I'll bet you'll get all excited when you see your surprise
I've got what you want for Christmas
Santa Claus is coming tonight

Somehow he didn't think an elf dressed in red was the answer to his problems….

It's a fact when you were a little boy on Christmas eve
How you couldn't wait to see what was wrapped underneath the tree
Now that you're all grown up
Nothin' has really changed
You still like to play with things
It's just different games

He was tired of games….

Oh, I've got what you want for Christmas
Packaged in dynamite
I'll play Santa's little helper
Deliver it by midnight
I'll bet you'll get all excited when you see your surprise
I've got what you want for Christmas
Santa Claus is coming tonight

I can't use any fancy paper
What I've got can't be wrapped
I don't think you'll mind at all when you see boy what you get

And suddenly a face flashed before him…not Sara's to his surprise, but Catherine's.

Oh, I've got what you want for Christmas
Packaged in dynamite
I'll play Santa's little helper
Deliver it by midnight
I'll bet you get all excited when you see your surprise
I've got what you want for Christmas
Santa Claus is coming tonight

He made it to her house in record time. Briefly, he wondered if he should call first before barging in on her festivities. He knew she was planning to spend the evening with Lindsey. He waited impatiently at the door after he rang the bell, hoping she was home.

Slowly the door opened and his heart lifted as his eyes drank in the sight of her. She was wearing jeans and a red sweater, along with a red Santa hat. "I was hoping it was you," she said smiling.

"I, um….nn…needed to see you," he stammered. "I need you."

Her smile faded and her look turned to one of concern as she reached for his arm, slowly pulling him inside. "Lonely…with Sara gone, I mean," she asked.

"I realized something tonight…" he began. She looked at him patiently, waiting for him to continue. "I um…you…whenever things aren't right…whenever I need someone…it's you."

"Me?" she said, surprised. "What about Sara?"

"Sara needed me. I miss Sara, but I need you."

"Gil, what are you trying to say?"

"I…d…do you th…think…is it….too late, for us…I mean?"

"Too late for us?" She looked confused.

"Yeah…have I messed us up too?"

She still looked confused. "Gil, I don't understand… what…" Her words were cut short by his kiss. Tears began to roll down his face as he realized she was kissing him back. Breaking apart, he sighed and looked into her still puzzled eyes. "I'm all messed up right now, Cath. Nothing makes sense to me anymore, except…you." And then he kissed her again, this time deeper, with more passion.

When they broke apart the second time, she wiped away some of his tears and rested her hand on his cheek. "Boy, when you have an epiphany, you have a big one…" she teased.

He looked at her, giving her that "pouty" look that she always adored and hadn't seen much of lately. "Do you think…is there chance?" he asked.

Her fingers worked their way behind his ear, gently moving the hairs there. She smiled up at him and whispered. "Merry Christmas, Gil. All I have to give you…is me."

Pure joy broke out in his face and she thought his blue eyes looked clearer than they had in years. "Then it is a merry Christmas, because you are all that I need." Then he wrapped her up in his arms and kissed her again, happy with the knowledge that it wasn't to late for them and peace settling over him. Maybe there was hope for happiness in the New Year after all.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Just a little thing I threw together after hearing a couple of songs on the radio. Hope you like. Please review and make my Christmas a happy one;-0

Merry Christmas to all….and to all, a good night.