Author's Notes: Spoilers all the way up through the new episode, Grave Danger. Also, this has nothing to do with my other CSI story Breathe Deep, that's just a weird coincidence. And also I'm not very original.
If he closes his eyes nothing will change. He could hold his hand in front of his eyes and not see it, he could close them, still not see it. He would know it was there. Something drags along the back of his neck and a scream catches in his throat. If he counts to one hundred the feeling will be gone, but it will still be dark.
He tells them that he's old enough to stay alone. They try not to laugh as they sit him in front of the television and introduce him to the babysitter. She'll take good care of you, they tell him.
When they're gone, she asks him his age. He says nine.
He's not supposed to stay up past eight-thirty on a school night, but she tells him he can stay up as late as he wants. I won't tell, she says, if you won't.
He has a uniform, clean and pressed. He pulls at the neck most days, laughs off the heat. He gets to carry a gun, and he likes the weight of it, the way it catches heat too, and holds it there. At the shooting range he hits the target dead middle.
He takes the silhouette, just torn paper, crumples it up and throws it away. There's a cluster of holes in-between it's non-existent eyes—its twenty people that won't die from his gun. The next time he goes, he shoots until he's out of bullets. He thinks of faceless targets when he buys more.
If he takes shallow breaths he'll live longer. One more minute in hell, maybe, but one more minute to be found. If he takes shallow breaths, he'll be better off, but you can't think about things like breathing shallow when you're in the middle of a nightmare.
He screams. What's one more minute to live, anyway?
He tries not to panic in the face of a gun, but it's hard not to, when you know just what it will do. She doesn't want to kill him, but indecision makes her all the more dangerous. One wrong word and she might pull the trigger, just to make him quiet.
I'm a good listener, he tells her. He says that a lot, to the families of victims. He's good with them, everyone says so. He always says the right the thing. He's not a victim himself—people don't hold guns on him.
Only sometimes, they do.
There are small holes in the ceilings of every room. He walks under them, glancing up occasionally, expecting to see someone looking back down. The sick bastard labeled each one, Ecklie had told him, shaking his head in disgust. He had nodded his agreement. It was an interesting case.
This isn't the first time, he had said to their suspect. Nigel seemed to understand it didn't matter. Nigel had watched him sleep, and he must know from his dreams that just because something had already happened didn't make it go away. None of it had only happened once, not to him. He climbs into the attic, and uses scraps of paper to cover the holes.
He places the palm of his hand against the surface. It's cold to the touch, and feels like glass. The desert is always cold at night. He could be three inches deep or six feet. Probably, it was six feet. That was standard for the dead, anyway.
Everything around him is tinted green from the glow stick. He used to have those as a kid, mostly just on Halloween. Everyday in Vegas is Halloween, one of his frat buddies had told him once. He's pretty sure it isn't October, but whatever. It's a strange way to die, in any case, and he wonders if he'll make the front page.
He can hear the phone ringing, but sound isn't supposed to reach him here. This isn't healthy, Grissom has told him. You're not dealing with it well. But he isn't a victim, and they don't seem to understand.
It's darker here than underground. At least without the glow stick and all of the green. There's a thin line of light, drawn across his carpet, though, creeping in through the seam of the door. Still, it's dark enough, and if he screams now his neighbors will hear him. He shifts backwards until he comes against the wall.
If he closes his eyes, it wouldn't matter. Nothing would change.