Notes: Well this is my first Criminal Minds fic so this should be interesting.


To see the world in a grain of sand,
And to see heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hands,
And eternity in an hour.

-- William Blake

There were some night when they were flying back from a case and Ried couldn't sleep that he'd sit up awake and look out into the darkness. For once that darkness wouldn't frighten him, separated by the window and him surrounded by his team, safe from anything hidden in that inherent lack of light.

Ried knew there were few places safer than wherever he was when the team surrounded him. They'd been protective of him from the beginning and everything that had happened since…

He'd seen the brutal truth of how much they were willing to sacrafice to protect him. It was frustrating and a guilt on his consience but in the quiet moments, after a hard case, that knowledge would settle around his shoulders like a warm blanket. It would be just a little easier to relax and try to put another hard fought win or loss behind him.

Just a little easier.

So he'd sit on a quiet plane, safe, warm, looking out the window and just stare into eternity.

And he'd think. He'd entertain tiny flashes of long ago memories in details like grains of sand that seemed so important to him in that moment. He'd reach for the flashes of remeberance that had nothing to do with his edictic memory and were just hints of familiarity like a scent of a room or the color of a flower.

And he'd remember, he'd make himself remember. He'd memorize the names of the people saved as new guardians like magic spell words to banish his nightmares. He'd commit to memory the names of those victims who had no one to note their passing and no one else to remember they existed once. They stood guardians in his mind for a whole other reason.

If something happened to him, or even if he just gave into temptation and cravings and did the only thing he knew could make him forget?

He'd forget them to, and no one would remember them.

He'd add more names to the lists. One to banish nightmares the other to combat cravings and both to fight off the question he, for all the genius he was, could never answer.

Why?

No matter the names, the far off memories or start details, the team around him or the pervebial blanket around his shoulders…

No matter how many long flights spent staring into infinity he couldn't answer why to anything.

And soon his mind would drift and he'd offer up one small thanks, that he'd found whatever path he'd found.

Whatever semblance of peace he'd found in that little moment and little eternity.

Those nights seemed to stand in paradox. During the flight they seemed to pass by in eternity, with nothing but white noise and the team and oblivion outside his window.

But later they'd seem like a gap, like the words he missed when he was reading at full speed and blinked. He'd be able to logically notice the passage and infer the connection but it seemed to brief, fleeting.

Short.

Oblivion ended. The plane landed. The team parted ways.

Darkness became frightening once more.

He'd go home and lie in bed and stare at the ceiling, at the oblivion waiting for him.

And his own mind became frightening once more.

And all I feared was Oblivion ending
And Oblivion never ending.

--Author Unknown