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"Close your eyes." His mother's warm voice still wrapped him in comfort like a well-loved and worn blanket. He could feel her soft hand's gentle brush across his temple and her fingers comb back his hair. Humming now, her rhythmic strokes slowly eased the tension from his small body as he drifted to sleep nestled next to her.


"Close your eyes." Now, her voice was dry, rough, but it still evoked the feeling of love's blanket. She was too weak to move and pull him close, so he snuggled in until he felt her soft breath across the crown of his head as she fell asleep for the last time.


"Close your eyes, son." He knew he wasn't really the man's son, but the soothing tone gave him permission to do as he was told. The cold compress over his eye would help the bruising, the voice added lowly. It was a voice of reason; not as warming as the voice of love he fought to remember, but steady enough to allow him to let his anger and frustration go and obey.


"Close your eyes!" The flash-bang grenade that exploded micro seconds later was disorienting enough without the intense light he could still see though his eyelids. The noise shook him to the bone and the acrid smoke made his eyes water as he belly crawled through the firefight. He could hear his teammates around him and wondered if they, too, were still blind.


"Close your eyes." He saw his own hand brush the gritty, sweaty, furrowed forehead as his spotter lay dying. He felt the man's last shuddering breath under his palm and saw the light of life trickle away. He uttered a quick prayer and tugged the dog tags free before barely escaping their target's roaming security squad.


"Close your eyes!" JD's voice demanded before he could step into the office. He had no idea how the kid managed to set up anything for his birthday; then he affectionately remembered the nature of his teammate.


"Close your eyes." Lying in the hospital bed, the voice of his team leader and best friend was all he needed to know he was safe. The pain of his many wounds faded away and all he felt was the secure comfort of Chris' hand on his shoulder as he fell asleep.


"Close your eyes."  When he heard the on-scene reporter's emotion choked quote, Vin knew innocence was again shattered this day. The familiar words triggered a swirl of emotions that twisted his gut.


He felt a warm hand on his shoulder and his eyes instantly burned with tears. Vin didn't hear the rest of the reporter's words, but the shaky quality of the man's voice punctuated the power of the phrase used by the on scene officers in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. In his mind's eye, Vin could see the wide, terrified eyes of the children as the first responders asked for their obedience just before leading them through the horror that was now their school.


"I couldn't imagine," Chris said, his voice low and husky.


"I can," Vin whispered.


"I'm sorry," Chris instantly replied, giving Vin's shoulder a sympathetic squeeze. The news report was static in the background.


Vin nodded his thanks as he clung to the goodness the triggering phrase carried. He desperately wished he could close his eyes to the evil weight it bore at the same time.

December 14, 2012: May they all rest in peace.


The End

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