Moments of Solace

By Camilla Sandman

Disclaimer: Not mine, never has been. No money is made off this little story, and I promise I will return the characters whole and recognisable. More or less. I might have been a little mean to poor Grissom. Um, will an Aussie beetle make it up to him?

Author's Note: All blame must be shifted onto my roommate, who made me watch CSI in the first place.

I use British spelling. Yay for British spelling.

Prologue

II

Consciousness flickered like a candle in the wind, his body desiring the unfeeling darkness, his mind desperately calling to him to wake up, to move.

Fire. There was a fire.

The heat wrapped him like a blanket, unrelenting in its embrace. Even the floor was heated, burrowing into his skin by the feel of it.

Confusion mingled with the pain, and for a moment he did not even know where he was. Groaning, he tried to roll over, but white, blinding pain flashed through his skull.

Home. He'd been heading home, stopping at a grocery store.

The ghosts had come as he had stepped through the doorway, bringing swift pain down upon him. He knew they had not been truly ghosts, merely fast very human beings, yet his mind settled upon the image with ferocity.

He had never believed in ghosts. Ghosts were fleeting, untouchable, untraceable and silent. No evidence for their existence, and thus, they did not exist to him.

He had believed in justice to the dead, but for the sake of the living. There were no ghosts, no whispers from beyond the grave.

He had not believed in the whispers that came to him sometimes in the night, pleas for justice for those who got away. That was not why he kept reminding himself of those who did get away. It was not, he had told himself forcefully so many times he believed it.

Sara believed in ghosts. She did not call them ghosts, but her belief shone in her eyes like the brightest star. She believed in justice for the dead. They haunted her at times, and more than once he feared the starlight in her eyes would become a wildfire and devour her.

He'd seen it happen. He'd felt the flames of a burnout lick against his own skin; they all did at some point. It came with the job. Pain and whispers.

Pain…

He whimpered, though he wished not to. The smoke burned in his lungs. Soon it would consume him, and he would die. His inner eye was already calculating the damage, showing him glorious pictures of burned inner organs. He knew all too well what it would look like.

The irony of it all swept through him, taking away his last strength. The smoke engulfed him now, flames eating through the wood. He wondered briefly if he would get to smell his own flesh burn. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, flesh to flames.

But his mind was trailing again, away from the fire, away from the pain, away from his body, like a fleeting ghost leaving an empty shell.

Would Sara hear his whispers, behold his ghost with her starlit eyes, brimmed with pain? She was beautiful even in pain. Was it wrong to think that?

He coughed violently, his fingers clutching onto the hot wood. The pain felt distant, but he clung to it. As long as he felt pain, he was alive.

Suddenly the floor twisted away from him. He was moving, dragged across the florr, and something soft swept across his forehead. Air. Fresh air. It fought its way into his lungs, cold as ice. His skin burned, but his lungs shuddered. Cold and hot.

Odd, that. On average he should feel fine, he thought absurdly.

His senses slammed back into full force, and he nearly cried out. His left arm felt twisted – broken? – and pain thundered through his feet. He could hear the flames now too, eating, always eating.

"Grissom? Gris? Gris?"

The voice was insistent, distressed, familiar. He fought to open his eyes, lashes heavy with sweat. A cool hand swept over his forehead, cotton tickled his cheek.

"Grissom!"

"Sara," he managed. Her breath rasped against his cheek; rapid, painful.

Pain. Always pain. He was used to seeing the scars of pain, to analyse them and determine how they had been inflicted. A puzzle to be solved. Always from the outside, never from within.

There was solace in that, in the world he had constructed. He had thought it solace enough. For a long time.

He wished he had kissed her. Just once, so that he could remember the feel of it now. Her last words to him had been angry, hurt. He briefly wondered if she had forgiven him, if fear had replaced her anger or merely fuelled it.

"The ambulance is on its way, I called. It's coming, it's coming..."

He clung onto her voice, biting into the cotton fabric, stifling the pain. Darkness became grey, grey became black. The sky. Star-filled, beautiful sky. Whispering, treacherous sky. There was peace in the sky. There was never peace below it.

Tired. He was tired. The hands were still soothing his face, cool to the touch, caressing tired skin. He could sleep forever here.

He wished he had kissed her. Just once, so he could remember.

"Grissom," Sara said insistently, but he was falling, falling, falling…

There was peace in the darkness.