The characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

Spoilers: through "Fallen Idols"

Many thanks to Cincoflex, who put up with my whining!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Butterflies. Beautiful, fragile, still.

A bathroom. Cool, clean.

A blade. Thin and wickedly sharp.

A woman in a mirror.

The parallels didn't escape her.

Sara had never actually seen Debbie Marlin's luxurious facilities in person, but morbid curiosity had eventually led her to pull out the crime scene photos. The starkness of the scene, the echo of madness and mourning in the careful posing of the corpse, had shaken her almost as much as seeing the ghost of her own face on a dead woman.

But Grissom had shaken her more.

She examined the razor thoughtfully, looking for specks of rust or tiny nicks, but the steel was smooth and keen, without visible flaw. He did take good care of his equipment.

It hadn't been difficult to see the undercurrents then, either. Grissom's monologue had told her a lot, but from the start of the case it had been obvious that something was wrong, and the longer it progressed the more she understood. For whatever secret reason of his own, Grissom simply couldn't make himself vulnerable to her.

It had hurt, but she had been on some level relieved to know the truth.

The soft shush and click of the brush behind her was followed by the slightest of wet sounds, the infinitesimal snap and pop of microscopic bubbles. The drag of bristle on bristle.

There was a silent history here, Sara knew, testing the weight and the hinge of the razor. No one used such antiquated--dangerous--tools without reason.

The battered pewter mug didn't match the smooth wooden handle of the brush, but then she supposed that metal outlasted organics almost every time.

She didn't know when that essential shift had occurred, when Grissom began to believe that she was a possibility after all, but Sara could be patient when she wanted to be. Like the reason behind the slow ritual of soap cake and water, the swirl and the stroke, he would tell her eventually.

It was a little odd to find herself there, in the middle of what was generally an singularly male ritual. But it was also satisfying. There had been times over the last month or so when she had doubted that such closeness would ever be possible again.

You hurt me, she'd finally managed to tell him, days after he'd returned. They'd spent that time circling each other, she wary, he bewildered, both of them frustrated; but then, Sara reminded herself, neither of them was very good at communication when it came to emotional matters.

I know, he'd said, and the words that had come haltingly from his mouth, the ache in his eyes, had done much to ease her heart.

The pain wasn't gone entirely, but it was well on its way to healing. They'd spent hours talking, listening, forgiving; the space between them on the couch had melted away until they were holding tightly to one another, desperate for each other's touch after the drought of aloneness.

Then Grissom had stirred.

I need you to do something for me.

It was clever of him, she had to admit, as she lifted the blade and looked once more at the woman in the mirror. That image was older, a little more tired, than she had been just a few years ago, but the potential for joy lurked in her eyes, and the shape behind her was a large part of the reason why.

Rather than fear, love; rather than violence, tenderness. Grissom had laid power in Sara's hands at last, and she...would wield it.

She met his eyes in the mirror, quirking one brow. "You trust me?"

He was watching her with that compelling, hooded gaze as she turned, the one that felt like a physical caress. And there was no doubt in it.

"Intimately."

Blade against skin; a beginning again.

End.