Here is Gifts, aka Project L'inspiration part deux! This is not a sequel to our first joint fic, That Look, but it was written in the same way. We took it in turns to write one sentence each, without discussing what the fic was going to be about or where we were heading. And here's the result. We hope you like it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! From csiAngel and Lightwoman :-)
Disclaimer: We don't own this show or the characters.
She looked at the neatly wrapped gift in her hands and then back to the man who was standing in front of her grinning mysteriously. She stroked the pink ribbon, her mouth turning upwards in response to his infectious smile.
"What is it?" she asked him, excited, intrigued, but more than a little wary.
"You know, there's this funny thing people are doing nowadays, you might not have heard of it... It's called present unwrapping," he told her, punctuating his words with a wink and another of those grins.
She shot him a glare from narrowed eyes but her smile remained as she glanced again at the present, then told him softly, "But it's not Christmas yet."
"Is Christmas the only time I'm allowed to buy you presents?" he asked, attempting a casual tone, but unable to hide from her the sudden flicker of nervousness he felt.
"So it isn't a Christmas present?" she checked, with a smirk, tapping a snowman on the paper to indicate why she could have thought otherwise.
"It's a winter present," he clarified, eliciting another smile from her.
"Oh," she said, turning it round in her hands, looking at it from all angles, "Should I have got you a winter present?"
He was tempted, in the moment, to say something ridiculously romantic, such as, "Your face when you open it is the only present I need," but found a dry cough was followed instead with, "You can always give me a quick snog under the mistletoe, love."
She smiled at his suggestion and, for a moment, he thought she might actually be about to agree to it, but then she observed, "It's only the 20th; I'm sure I can find you an actual present."
"Wait and see if you like this one first, eh?" he said, gesturing to the still unopened gift in her hands.
"You really can't wait for me to open this, can you?" she grinned, her eyes sparkling with teasing and intrigue.
"The rate you're going it'll be bloody Christmas by the time you get it open," he grumbled affectionately.
"It'd save me another shopping trip," she quipped in return, enjoying his growing impatience far too much.
He reached for the gift, one hand tugging at the ribbon, and let his other hand brush her fingers as he pretended to try and take the present from her.
She snatched it away, holding it close to her chest, "Okay, I'll open it," she laughed.
He watched as she gently slid the pink ribbon off, looping it casually around her wrist like a bracelet before returning to her task. She carefully peeled back the piece of tape securing the left, and then the right of the parcel, and began unfolding the paper.
His eyes left her hands and travelled to her face, drinking in the expression of intrigue and delight that made his stomach do somersaults. She pressed her lips together, trying to suppress how excited she was, and he saw the moment she had revealed the contents of the package.
The only response she could seem to make was a murmur of his name; she just hoped that would somehow sufficiently convey her delight, her gratitude, and her deep adoration for this sweet man and his thoughtful gift.
"I saw it and..." he let his words trail off, not wanting to sound too cheesy.
"Thought of me?" she finished, touched that he would remember such a small detail of her life that she was sure she'd only mentioned once in passing.
"I'm usually thinking about you," he admitted, with a small laugh to make that sound less meaningful than it, in fact, was.
She didn't miss the look in his eyes when he spoke, though; he could wrap his reasons for this gift in layers of shiny paper like the present itself, but he couldn't hide it from her.
He averted his gaze, pretending to focus his attention on looking at the item in her hands. "So you like it, then?" he asked, not needing an answer but secretly looking forward to hearing her soft voice tell him unequivocally that she loved the gift he'd chosen for her.
Her fingers brushed gently over it and he heard the same reverence in her words when she, quietly, told him, "I love it."
For one blissful fraction of a second he'd thought she was going to say something else, but of course not; she loved the gift, and he was glad.
She watched him for a second and he tried not to fidget under her gaze; then suddenly she muttered, "In fact…", and he found himself taken by the hand and led to the office doorway: Where someone had placed a piece of mistletoe during the decorating.
"You like it that much?" he joked, his voice coming out quieter than he'd expected; this situation, it seemed, did not demand volume.
She stepped closer to him, bringing her free hand up and resting it gently on his chest, her fingers fiddling with one of the buttons of his shirt; "I like you that much," she told him quietly.
He swallowed, thinking that at any moment she'd comment on the beating of his heart; surely she could hear it over the sound of their breathing? Or feel it beneath her hand?
"Happy Winter," he murmured, aware of the distance between their lips, which seemed to be slowly decreasing; was it him moving closer to her, or the other way around?
"Happy Winter," she whispered in return, and then she closed the gap, pressing her lips ever so softly to his.
He cupped her jaw gently with one hand and with the other reached for her own, realising as he did so that she was still holding the gift. It made him smile against her; he'd been so impatient to have her see the gift, had he known she would react like this he might not have bothered with the delay of wrapping it.
She drew back slightly, her eyes opening slowly and her cheeks an adorable shade of pink. "Something amusing you?" she asked him, with a playful smirk.
"Just thinking I must have been very good this year."
"Mmm," she hummed, as if she only half-agreed, "You've been very good at shopping," she teased.
"Nothing else?" he asked, his eyes darting briefly down to her lips before meeting her eyes again, and she laughed.
"Well I couldn't possibly comment on anything else," she told him, "Someone's self-satisfied grinning cut short my experience."
"I'd be happy to allow you a repeat experience whenever you like, love," he told her, attempting humour but finding his words came out completely seriously.
"You liked it that much?" she whispered with a small, almost shy, smile, her tone as serious as his.
"About as much as you like your present," he told her, and watched as her eyes lit up with renewed delight at the thought of the gift.
"I love my present," she beamed.
"Good," he replied, unsure whether this was the opportune moment he'd been waiting for for so long. Watching Gillian's smile falter when that was his only response gave him his answer.
"Why I really got this for you," he said quickly, the words tumbling out before he could stop them, "is because... I love you."
Though he had expected that she was waiting for that declaration, her eyes still widened and her mouth opened but closed again before she said anything.
"You mean... you're in love with me?" she asked, needing to be absolutely certain they were on the same page before she went ahead with a declaration of her own.
He smiled and brushed his fingers against her hand that held the present, as he assured her, "I am in love with you."
"Good," she said, smiling as she echoed his words of a moment ago, "because I'm in love with you too."
"The present clinched it, didn't it?" he smirked, bringing up a hand to tenderly cup her cheek as he inched towards her, backing her against the doorframe.
"Oh, without a doubt," she murmured with a teasing smile, "I'll only keep loving you if you continue to shower me with gifts."
"Willingly," he whispered as he lowered his lips to hers.
"This," she said, catching his lip with her finger before he could make contact with hers, "is exactly the kind of gift I'm talking about."
He slowly enclosed her hand in his, kissed her finger once before moving it away from his lips, and assured her, "Well, like I said, love: Willingly."
She met his eyes, silently inviting him to kiss her again, and tilted her head to the side as he acquiesced.
There was no self-satisfied grinning this time; they both took the opportunity to savour the moment, to enjoy this next step.
When they finally broke apart and her eyes fluttered open she almost gasped at the look of pure adoration on his face.
He stayed close to her, his eyes firmly fixed on hers, a smile lighting up his entire expression.
He touched his hand lightly to her face, his grin widening as he said, "Just wait until you see what I've got you for Christmas."