Thanks to all those that reviewed including longas91, ceas, Master Sapphire 69, CountToEight, A-Light-Sleeper, fictitiousshore, Anonymous Sister of the Author, Chaney, Blatantly Jennifer, Marifw, AZNsexiness, and .
I would also really like to thank happyharper13 both for the review and for kindly agreeing to beta this story. Because of her this story may actually be, you know, finished. Unlike almost all of my other stories where I end up getting distracted somewhere in the middle by some new idea I have for a new story and then never return to the old one I was in the middle of writing. So thank you!
Chapter #3: Confrontations and Tracing Experts
It was the next day and Greg had brought all of his evidence to Grissom's office in the hopes of getting Grissom's help with his little stalker problem, but so far Grissom had only looked through all of the letters and candy and just said 'Hmmm.'
Greg leaned forward in his seat impatiently. "So can you help?"
Putting aside the last letter, Grissom looked up at Greg seriously. "And you say you received this candy in your apartment this morning after work?"
"Yeah," Greg said, nodding his head, thinking that they were finally getting somewhere. "Right on the kitchen counter."
"So this person has broken into your apartment," Grissom summarized before looking back down at the pile of letters on his desk with a frown. "That would safely put your case in the realm of stalker experience," Grissom said thoughtfully, clearly thinking something through.
"So you can help?" Greg repeated his question from before, starting to get a little excited. Finally, they were doing something about his secret admirer.
"Why didn't you report your apartment being broken into once you had realized that it had?" Grissom asked instead of answering, neatly side-stepping the question as he looked back up at Greg seriously.
Greg frowned and tried to remember just why he hadn't thought of doing that. Finally, he admitted, "I suppose I just wasn't thinking. I just wanted you to believe me that I was being stalked."
"Well, you have gotten your wish," Grissom said. "I believe you. Now we just have to figure out a plan on how to deal with this."
"I've already called my phone service provider to change my number," Greg said. "Um." He then seemed to remember something and reached into his pocket for a slip of paper. He handed this to Grissom and continued, "That's the new number. I'm gonna be passing it out to the others today. And I've already called a locksmith to change my locks so that should get done by tomorrow. But I didn't know what else to do after that."
Taking the slip of paper from Greg's hands, Grissom looked at the number then nodded and placed it to the side before turning back to Greg and listening as he spoke. Finally, when Greg finished, Grissom said, "You should speak to Brass about this. He can set you up with everything we have to catch stalkers in the act. And I'm going to have Sara go over to your apartment to look around for any further evidence. Is that okay?"
Greg nodded. "Yeah, that's fine. Whatever. Just so long as it stops this guy."
"Good," Grissom said, still frowning in thought. "Then take the chocolates down to Trace to check for any drugs and the letters over to fingerprinting to see if your stalker happened to leave any behind. We might get lucky."
Hearing this command, Greg blinked and frowned again, now looking at the red box of candies in a new, more dangerous, light. He hadn't even thought about the chance that the stalker could have drugged the chocolates. Suddenly he was very glad that he hadn't succumbed to the temptation to try one out.
"Uh, yeah. I'll go do that," Greg said, starting to get to his feet to leave.
But before he could go, Grissom smiled slightly, just the tiniest upward turn of the lip. "And Greg? Don't worry. We'll figure this out."
Removing his eyes from the seemingly innocent box of chocolates, Greg brought out his best smile, trying to just be happy to be believed and on the road to getting something done. "Great," he said, "Thanks boss."
The next hour went smoothly, Greg passing out his new number to the rest of his coworkers who generally accepted it with only the slightest show of confusion. Hodges and Mandy hadn't been told whose case they were working when he had brought them the candy and letters, so they hadn't been able to spread any rumors around the lab. And Greg remembered that only Sara, Catherine, and Warrick really knew about the phone calls so he wasn't surprised when those three were the only ones to really show any amount of concern. But, it wasn't until Greg was passing his new cell number to Nick that he really got the third degree.
"Hey, Nick!" Greg said, flagging Nick down and dragging him to the side of the hallway. "I just got a new number. Get out your cell phone."
Obliging Greg with only the slightest frown, Nick got out his cell phone and changed the number on his contact list as Greg recited his new number.
"Great!" Greg said when he was finished. "You're the last one I needed to tell. So I'll just let you go back to whatever you were doing. See ya later, man!" And Greg started to walk away only to have Nick grab him by the arm with an insistent "Wait!"
Looking back at Nick, Greg frowned. "What?"
"I just wanted to know. What's with the new number? Is this about all those calls you've been getting?" Nick asked intently.
That successfully got Greg's attention and his frown deepened as he pulled his arm out of Nick's grip. "You know about those?"
Nick nodded with his own concerned frown as he let Greg's arm go. "Yeah, Catherine told me all about it. So what's up, man? Is this person threatening you?"
"No. No," Greg said, shaking his head. "He just calls to breathe at me. It's really more annoying than anything else."
"Then why have I heard that you're having Hodges look at some candy your secret admirer gave you?"
Now Greg looked a bit confused. "How'd you hear about that?"
"Dude," Nick said, looking a bit exasperated. "Warrick was standing right there when you gave them to him. And you're not on any cases that include candy so he just guessed that they came from your secret admirer, especially since he knew about how that guy's been hounding you with phone calls."
"Why didn't Warrick say anything then?" Greg asked, thinking back to his own conversation with the black man. He now remembered seeing the man in the hallway when he had been handing over the candies to Hodges, but when Greg had gone to talk to him Warrick had seemed concerned, but hadn't seemed to know anything more than Greg had expected him to know.
"I dunno," Nick said with an uncomfortable shrug, looking away for a moment and then back. "Maybe because he thinks you'll talk more to me than to him?"
Greg frowned again at this answer, but finally had to agree that it made as much sense as anything. It was probably true too. He looked back up at Nick's frowning countenance. "Well, you don't have to worry. I'm just fine," he said, giving Nick his best brave smile.
Which obviously did nothing to convince him. "Greg," Nick said seriously, "You have the beginnings of a stalker. How can you possibly be 'just fine'?"
"I'm fine," Greg restated, "I'm gonna go talk to Brass and everything will be figured out in no time."
"But what if it isn't?" Nick asked. "I mean, I highly doubt this guy is gonna be an idiot and just leave tons of fingerprints around for us to find."
"Then you obviously haven't read any of the letters," Greg said smartly. "This guy thinks we're already in a relationship. Why would he hide his fingerprints from me if he thinks that?"
"Never underestimate the paranoia of a crazy person," Nick warned. "There could be thousands of reasons for why he would hide his fingerprints from you. Haven't you ever wondered why he thought to give you those letters secretly in the first place? Why would he do that if your relationship was so obvious?"
Now Greg frowned again. "How did you know he was sending me letters?"
"Oh come on," Nick said, sounding a little irritated at this insult to his intelligence. "I saw the first one. And with the way you were talking, it's a bit obvious that he's kept sending them to you. Don't insult me, man."
"Fine. I'm sorry. It's just," Greg looked around the hallway suspiciously before stepping in closer and speaking softly, "have you told the others?"
Nick shook his head. "Nah. I didn't want to worry them. The candies you sent to Hodges have them worried enough." Nick frowned again as he remembered this, some of his own worry returning to his face as he pinned Greg with a serious look. "Do you really think there are drugs in them?"
Greg really thought about this, remembering his doubts of just an hour ago and thinking over all of the letters he'd gotten, then shook his head. "Nah. I don't think so. This guy's been pretty much benign the whole time. Why would he suddenly want to drug me when he's already spent the entire week trying to woo me in his letters?"
Nick looked at him like Greg was being especially thick about this. "Maybe because his "wooing" wasn't working?"
"But he didn't do anything to the flowers," Greg pointed out.
"Of course he didn't," Nick said scornfully, "He gave them to you in a building full of police officers. If he wanted you drugged and at his mercy he'd have to wait until you were alone. Like when you were in your apartment."
Thinking about that, Greg gave Nick a somewhat disgruntled glare. "Are you trying to freak me out, man? Because, if you are, it's working. I'm trying to stay positive about this whole thing and you're really bringing me down."
"I'm trying to make you see how serious this is," Nick said. "I just don't want you thinking that just because Grissom and Brass know about your little admirer that you're safe."
"But I am safe!" Greg protested.
"You're not safe until this guy is behind bars," Nick disagreed. "All the time up to then you're free for the taking."
Getting annoyed by how this conversation was going, Greg shook his head irritably. "Look. I have things to do. I don't need to stand here and listen to your paranoia."
"It's not paranoia if it's true!" Nick argued.
"No, even then it's paranoia," Greg said, glaring at his friend, but then couldn't keep up the anger and sighed. "Look," he said, trying to get Nick to think rationally. "Just because things got bad for you, that doesn't mean that they're going to get bad for me. Our situations are totally different. I mean, I haven't had anybody come in to put in any cable so I think I'm okay." Greg decided that if Nick didn't know that his apartment had been broken into then there was no point in telling him about it. It would only make him worry more.
Nick just looked at him for a long moment, an unreadable expression on his face, until he finally sighed and said, "Fine. I know. I'm just, you know, worried about you, man. I mean, I know what it's like to have a stalker and it's not fun."
Greg smiled and clapped a hand on Nick's shoulder. "And I never thought it would be fun. But let me worry about my own stalker, okay man? I'm fine. And I'm going to stay fine. But I really do gotta go. I have to talk to Brass."
Nick managed a weak smile. "Then go. Don't wanna keep that man waiting."
Greg smiled again and waved at Nick before taking off. "Thanks. See you later, okay?"
"He always calls at the same time," Greg reported. "Ten thirty. I mean, most of his calls are random, but he always calls at ten thirty."
Brass nodded and jotted this down in his notebook. "Has he called you already today?" he asked.
"Not yet," Greg said before looking down at his watch to check the time. It was 9:46 PM. "It's not ten thirty yet. That's his first call."
Brass checked his own watch and nodded. "Then we should get you connected to the equipment soon. After a few more questions."
Greg nodded. "Of course."
"What does he say when he calls you?" Brass asked, holding his pen at the ready to continue writing.
"Nothing," Greg answered with a shrug, shifting a bit in the seat he'd been given. The two of them were seated in a small room just off the hallway with only one little window. It really was an interrogation room, but they'd been using the room just to talk. "He just, you know, breathes at me and then hangs up."
Brass nodded like this was nothing he hadn't expected and jotted this down then went on to his next question. "And his letters? How often do you get them?"
"About three times a week," Greg said. "I just walk into my apartment or open my locker and bam—" Greg made a slamming motion with his hands to indicate the suddenness, "they're there." Greg frowned as he thought about the implications of this. "Do you think it's somebody from the lab? I mean, I know it's not one of the guys, but maybe one of the littler people? This person has to have gotten access to my locker somehow."
Brass frowned in return and thought this question through. "I don't know. But it's a good point. I'll be sure to ask around. But back to the questions. Do you ever feel like somebody's watching you?"
Greg looked a little uncomfortable about this question. "Well, sure. I mean, everybody does sometimes, right? It's nothing big."
Brass pinned Greg with a stern look. "You have a possible stalker after you. Thing's like the feeling of being watched aren't normal." He turned back to his notepad. "When exactly do you feel like you're being watched?"
Greg only looked more uncomfortable. "Well . . . when I'm in the car park. Or when I go to this café that I go to. Or sometimes when I'm in my apartment, like in the shower." But here he looked at Brass, eyes wide as he insisted, "But that's totally normal. I mean, everybody feels like they're being watched in the shower. It's the shower. You know, vulnerable city."
Brass ignored Greg's continued insistence on the feeling's normalcy and continued to jot down notes. "Does it ever make you feel uncomfortable?"
"Well, of course," Greg said, shifting again as he started to babble uncomfortably. "I mean, nobody likes feeling like they're being watched unless they're a total exhibitionist. And I'm not a total exhibitionist. I mean, sure, I like putting on a show sometimes, but that doesn't mean I'm—"
"Can you tell me just how frequent this feeling is?" Brass broke in to Greg's uncomfortable babbling, his face still serious as he continued with his job.
"Um . . ." Greg tried to think back to how often he'd felt like he was being watched and it was hard not to wince as he realized just how often the feeling came. "Maybe a couple times a day?" he said hesitantly.
Brass frowned again, glancing up at Greg once before returning his attention to his notebook, nodding and jotting this information down.
And so went the little questioning session for a while until Brass finally looked down at his watch and sighed. "Alright. You say he always calls you at ten thirty? We better get you to some place where we can track the number." He motioned for somebody through the little window in the small room they had been talking in and a random cop poked his head into the room.
"Bring out the tracing equipment," Brass said.
The cop nodded and went to do as asked and soon Brass and Greg, along with the equipment's workers, were all ready to trace any call that Greg received.
At ten thirty on the dot Greg's cell phone rang. Picking it up, Greg answered with a steady, "Sanders."
As usual, nobody replied. But, listening closely, Greg could hear the sound of somebody breathing.
"Hello?" Greg asked again, trying to sound oblivious. "Anybody there?"
The experts still hadn't gotten anything, working the machine, clacking at their laptops and muttering under their breath.
"Hello?" Greg said again, continuing with his part, a little impatiently this time.
Still, on the other side of the line, he could only hear the sound of somebody's light breathing. His eyes went to the tracing experts again and still they obviously had nothing.
Starting to get a little angry, Greg scowled and said into the phone. "Hey, I said hello! Is anybody there?"
More breathing, slightly heavier than before, and then suddenly only the dial tone answered him and Greg sighed and hung up. Turning to the tracing techs, he asked, "So? Anything?"
The first one, a middle aged man with graying brown hair looked up from his machines and shook his head. "Nothing. They had the signal blocked good."
Greg sighed. Oh well. So much for that hope.