A short story set in the future of the Grissoms. Enjoy!

We do not own CSI, just playing with some of the characters.


Chapter 1

El Capulin, World Heritage Site, Sierra Madre Mountains, Central Mexico

As early morning sunlight filtered through trees, slumbering butterflies began to wake. Amber wings unfolded and lifted delicate bodies into the warm Mexican air. As smoke rises, butterfly after butterfly left the tall trees until the sky was filled with millions of them. Their wings opened to deep orange and bold black appearing as stained glass windows that filled the blue sky. The sound of a million insect wings in motion sounded like a distant waterfall.

Gil Grissom was speechless. The journey here was nothing short of magnificent even though his butt was sore from riding a horse the day before up and down a narrow trail to get to this valley. His trip was nothing compared to the thousands of miles these butterflies took to get to this area. He held his camera up and kept pressing the quiet shutter for several minutes before swapping camera for cell phone. He sent three photos to the first contact number listed on his phone. He wished Sara was with him—plans were for them to travel together—but Catherine had pleaded for her to work another week, and, of course, Sara had agreed.

He turned slowly; butterflies were everywhere from trunk bottom to highest branches, trees were coated with them. Purple petals of lupins turned orange as butterflies smothered them for nectar. Around pools of water, huge clusters of Monarchs made a fluttering carpet as they drank. Fed and watered, the butterflies danced in the sky, riding on thermals in the valley and turning the area into a butterfly kingdom. Grissom was oblivious to the movements of others as they set up a temporary work station, talking quietly. Grissom's reaction was expected—an opened mouth stunned into silence moment.

For centuries, locals knew the butterflies arrived in early winter but it was only in the seventies that scientists discovered this remote mountainside was the ultimate destination of North American monarchs. Four quick generations later, butterflies find their way back to a place they have never been.

The others in the small group were funded researchers, returning to work they had been doing for years. Grissom was here as a volunteer for three weeks and, while he thought no place on earth could surpass Costa Rica, this World Heritage Site in the Sierra Mountains ranked a close second.

His grin reflected his satisfaction. He pushed his hat up with a thumb and turned to one of the researchers. "I can't wait for Sara to see this!"

A quiet street, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Catherine Willows and Sara Sidle, both dressed in blue jumpsuits, had gone about the work in their usual methodical manner—they had worked together for so long there was no need to divide or assign tasks. They did what needed doing. The house fire had been typical until firemen found a body and the burned remains were still tied to a chair. What had been someone's home was now a crime scene; when the two women arrived, the heat could be felt through their boots. Hours later, the floor had cooled, the body had been removed, and they continued to sift through charred furniture and household belongings. Sara found blood on a metal ski pole thrown into a closet.

"We might have a murder weapon," she sighed; the night had stretched into morning. They had already carried a dozen envelopes and containers of evidence to the vehicle and she carefully wrapped the ski pole and placed it beside the growing stack. "I'll take these out—dawn brings out the looky-loos. Looks like half the neighborhood stayed home to watch."

Catherine stood and stretched. "This can go on forever. Let me finish a few things and we'll head back to the lab." She tossed several envelopes to add to the heap.

Sara packed evidence bags under her arm and headed out the door. Another beautiful day in Vegas, she thought. Hank would be thrilled to have a long walk on a sunny day; she would call her husband around noon and check in with him. She grinned at her thoughts and said, "Be back in a sec." She heard Catherine's mumbled response as she stepped into sunlight and quickly walked to her car, opened the rear of her vehicle and added to the collection of evidence. Sighing, she touched her phone and thought about taking two minutes to call her husband.

She fingered her phone—no longer the standard issue department phone—this satellite phone would reach Gil Grissom in the northern reaches of Alaska or in the Sierra Mountains of Mexico. Checking the time and glancing at the growing crowd of watchers, she headed back to the house. Grissom would be having serious fun in the valley of Monarch butterflies, so she replaced her phone; she would wait to call him.

Halfway to the burned out house, Sara heard a shuffle occurring—someone wanted a front-row view to what was happening, she guessed. She did not see the old man duck under the crime scene tape, moving faster than the two uniforms who headed in his direction. She did not see the gun rise and swing up in her direction. She became aware of a deafening report that launched her into a spinning dive to the ground before she could raise her arms and hands to prevent a head-long crash into an ill-kept lawn, made muddy by the firemen's earlier work. She knew she coughed slightly as she turned her face away from mud, but something was wrong, something was suddenly very wrong with her right shoulder. And then the pain came, the immense, over-whelming, shuddering roar of pain that built and beat at her body. She finally found her voice and cried loudly as thunder filled her ears from additional gunshots and she slid into a deep well of black velvet.

A/N: Do the right thing and hit "review" so we know who is reading! This one will be a short story-maybe 10 chapters and updates will come every 2-3 days. Thanks so much!