Greg hummed cheerfully to the carols playing on the speaker while Christie burbled happily from her bouncy a short distance away. She'd long since mastered crawling and getting into all kinds of mischief most of the day. When Greg really needed to do something, he stuck her in the colorful, cushioned seat that dangled from the ceiling and let her bounce around to occupy herself. There were hooks in every room so Greg could keep her with him wherever he went.

He looked around the kitchen and said, “Eggnog, check. Booze, check. Appetizers, check. Snacks, check. Presents wrapped, check.”

Christie called out, “Da!”

Greg chuckled without turning around. “Nope, he’s not home for a few hours yet so he doesn’t get a check.”

“Sure I do.”

Greg jumped and then grinned over at him, finding Warrick holding Christie in his arms. She had Warrick’s eyes and mouth and cheeks, but was light colored, a dusty mocha, with oddly blond hair. Greg thought she was beautiful and hoped the rest of the world would, too. Best of all, Warrick had kept his promise and she was free. He walked over to them and said, “You’re home early.”

Warrick nodded and said, “Criminals finally decided to get with the holiday spirit and leave town or something. Gris just about pushed me out the door.”

Greg smiled at the thought, happy in knowing that Master Grissom liked to take care of them when he could. “Everything’s ready for the party.”

Warrick kissed him, lingering until Christie slapped her little hands against their faces, one on each, and they broke apart, laughing. Warrick tossed her carefully in the air, prompting her to shriek in happiness, and then cradled her against his chest again. “I think someone needs a nap.”

Greg frowned. “What? No. She’s fine. Just got up about an hour ago. And she won’t be hungry for a while yet, either, so don’t worry about that.”

Warrick chuckled and said, “I wasn’t talking about her, Greg. Go on and get some sleep. Me and baby girl here are gonna spend some quality time together before the party.”

Greg blinked at him in surprise, anxiousness unexpectedly tightening his stomach. “I’m fine, Warrick. There’s still so much to be done. I can handle it, I promise.”

Warrick reached out and gripped the back of his neck, squeezing it just right before massaging it. “I know you can, baby, but you’re worn out. You worked two doubles this week, you’ve been taking care of Christie, and planning this party. You need to get some sleep or you’re going to keel over when the fun starts tonight.”



Greg thought about arguing, but the firmness in Warrick’s tone didn’t bode well for winning. He scowled and muttered, “Fine,” before walking to the bedroom. He stripped down to boxers and climbed under the covers but his mind just kept racing and he couldn’t drop off, even with the blinds and curtains down. He listened to the soft murmur of Warrick’s voice and Christie’s happy chatter from the other room as he tossed and turned on the bed. He didn’t know how much later it was that the bedroom door opened, but stubbornly kept his back to it.

The bed dipped and Warrick slid up behind him, wrapping an arm around his waist as he said, “Gris and Nick are doing their uncle duties and keeping an eye on Christie until the party. You want to tell me what’s got you tied up in knots?”

Greg thought about ignoring him, but Warrick’s hand moved in warm, soothing circles over his belly and felt so good pressed up against him, surrounding him. He sighed and said, “It’s stupid.”

“Not if you’re feeling it. C’mon. What’s wrong?”

“You don’t say you love me anymore!” Greg blurted out, and then stiffened. He hadn’t meant to come out and say it, just maybe hint about it.

Warrick’s hand froze and then his lips touched Greg’s shoulder before he applied some pressure and said, “Greg, turn over. Look at me.”

Reluctant, Greg did so. He rolled over and rested his head on Warrick’s arm, meeting those gray eyes with uncertainty. He never criticized Warrick, because there was never a reason to do so. The other man was kind, supportive, loving, and a great dad. It was such a little thing, but it had been bothering Greg for the last few months. Before Christie, his master had told him all the time but now, all that love seemed to be focused on their daughter and as much as he adored her, a tiny, evil part of him was jealous, too. It made him feel horrible and ashamed.

Warrick cupped his face and said, “I’m sorry, Greg. I… you’re right. I can’t believe it, but I don’t remember the last time I said the words.”

“Six months ago, at Grissom’s party. You were tipsy, so you probably don’t remember,” Greg said. He didn't even need to think about it.

Warrick winced and said, “That’s even worse, because I love you so much it’s a little ridiculous. All I want to do is be with you every day. I shouldn’t let even one day go by without letting you know. I’m sorry. I do love you, I swear.”

Greg let out a shaky breath and kissed him. Warrick kissed back, gently, and then rolled a little so that Greg was resting half on top of him.

“Get some sleep, baby. You need it.”

Greg wrapped his arms around Warrick’s waist and breathed him in, letting his body heat and presence relax him. It seemed like the first time in ages that he’d be able to sleep without any trouble. He yawned and closed his eyes, content in the knowledge that he was loved.