Title: A Matter of Trust (4/?)

Disclaimer etc: See chapter 1

(4/?)

Grissom's mind was in turmoil. Instead of being in his usual 'getting down to business' point of view, right now all he could think of was Sara.

'If anything ever happened to her I don't know what I'd do' he thought to himself. 'No, what am I saying, nothing's going to happen to Sara, I won't let it. I promised her, and I'm not one to break my promises.'

Sara, meanwhile, was watching Grissom. His head was bent slightly down, but Sara could still see his face, and watched as half a dozen emotions crossed across his face. To most people his face would look blank, but Sara knew better than that, she knew him well enough to be able to tell.

"Gris?" she asked, pulling him out of his reverie.

His head snapped up, his face returning to work mode.

"We should print this, just to confirm that this is from him and not just a stupid hoax."

"Oh, come on Gris, we both know that he's smarter than that. He was probably wearing gloves when he wrote this, would have given a fake address, paid in cash. You know the drill."

"How can you be so sure that he wrote it?" Grissom asked, puzzled.

"You think it's just a coincidence that he gets out and I start receiving notes again? This isn't the first time he's sent me a threatening note, we both know that."

Grissom just nodded in agreement, deep in thought. Finally he said:

"We're going to have to notify Brass about this, and the others need to be informed. To be honest, you shouldn't be on your own at all for a while. Maybe Brass could arrange an officer..."

"No!" she cut him off. 'We have no evidence, nothing. He's too smart for that. Besides, he's taunting me, letting me know he's still around. He's one to play mind games, you of all people should know that."

Grissom wasn't surprised by Sara outburst. Well, if she wouldn't let them help her, she was going to have to let him help her, because he wasn't going to back off, no matter what she said. He decided to continue on a softer approach.

'Sara, I'm going to gather everyone in the break room, ok? You really are going to have to tell them what happened last time, so they understand what's going on now.'

'No, I don't want everyone to know' she said, her voice pained, her eyes filling up with tears that he knew would rarely ever be shed. 'It's bad enough that you know, but not them. Why can't my past just stay in the past. Why does that bastard have to bring it all up again?'

'Sara...' he started in a comforting tone.

'No, forget it. You're right, they do have to know. I just don't want them to, that's all. And I don't want to have to tell them. What are they going to think?'

Her face was now almost calm looking, the unshed tears having disappeared with the anger that was now buried inside of her.

'They're your friends, they're not going to judge you, they're going to want to help you. It won't be as bad as you think. Now, I'm going to take this to be analysed' he said, indicating the card, 'then I'll round up the others, and meet you in the break room in five.'

Sara nodded absently, took one last look at Grissom, and walked off in the direction of the bathroom. She had no intention whatsoever of walking into that break room looking as though she couldn't handle it. She was strong, and she could cope, she'd done it before, she could do it again.

Grissom watched her go, then tried to clear his mind as he walked off in the opposite direction.

xxx

Sara entered the break room five minutes later to be met by quiet discussions that ceased the minute she walked in. Five faces turned to look at her expectantly, full of worry.

'This is starting to become a habit' thought Sara as she walked further into the room.

"Have you told them anything?" she addressed Grissom.

"No, I thought I'd leave it to you."

'Gee, thanks Grissom' she thought silently to herself. 'Ok, I'm going to have to start somewhere.'

"Ok, here's the drill' she started casually, hoping to lighten the mood, 'when I was working in San Francisco I had this case. A woman was murdered in her home, gruesome, bloody mess. The only suspect was the jilted lover. She was married, and had been having an affair with this guy. Then she decided that she wasn't willing to risk her marriage anymore, so she broke it off. He got mad, went home, picked up his gun, and drove back to hers, planning on killing her. And he was clever, no fingerprints, no hairs, no fibres, nothing. He was nothing if not thorough.

"We had a tough time trying to prove it was him. Poor husband was the one that found her, and having known nothing of the affair, had to find out just after finding his wife dead, and all over the national news as well.

"Suffice to say that this was not a fun case to work on. It was even less fun because we had no evidence on the lover. He was released after questioning, wasn't even arrested for Christ's sake.

"I kept going back to the scene, sure that there was something there that I'd missed. The post-mortem had been carried out, but nothing damaging to the lover had been found. A sexual assault kit had been carried out, too. There was evidence of his DNA both on her and on the bed upstairs. Nothing forced, though. So the report said. I've always thought otherwise. They think she decided to have one last quickie before breaking it off. I don't think so some how.

"Anyway, the lover was smug. Very smug. Always so sure of himself, positive that we wouldn't get a thing on him. Every time I turned up at the crime scene he'd be there, in amongst the crowd, watching. Always so that I knew he was there. It was unnerving.

"This went on for weeks. Weeks, and still nothing. I brought him in for questioning repeatedly. He agreed willingly every time, smug as ever. He knew I knew. I knew he knew I knew. He'd sneer at me whenever no one else was looking. I knew I had our man, I just didn't have the evidence. I knew he had sexually assaulted her, too. He never loved her, it was all just a game to him. He took pleasure out of fooling people, but he couldn't fool me."

She had sat down at the table by this point, her legs not managing to support her properly as she had to relive the experience.

Grissom took her hand atop of the table, not caring who saw, and squeezed it reassuringly, giving her a small smile. He was silently urging her to continue, to get it over with. She took a deep breath, and continued.

"I was getting closer to nailing him. He was getting agitated, not visibly, but I knew he was. That's when I started getting the letters. Once a week, at first. Then one every few days, then everyday. Typed. Always typed. Envelopes sealed without saliva, no stamps, hand delivered. No fingerprints, must have been wearing gloves too. I knew they were from him. He'd give me looks when no one else was looking, and when he was absolutely sure that there were no CCTV cameras on him. Letting me know he was watching. Always watching."

She stopped abruptly, choking on her words as her eyes welled up with tears. Grissom gave her hand another reassuring squeeze, as she wiped her eyes with her free hand, composing herself as best she could before going on.

"I returned to the crime scene again. There was no one there apart from me, and one other person."

"Where do you come into this, Gil?" Catherine asked, suspiciously, eyeing Grissom and Sara's still attached hands in the middle of the table.

"I was the one working the case with her." He replied, softly.

The rest of the room took in this information silently, but not without exchanging glances. Sara ignored them and continued.

"I knew, I just knew that there was something else there. There had to be. We searched for hours, combed every room, every inch of floor, every wall, even every ceiling. Then, then I heard a noise. A bang. Sounded like the front door being slammed. Then all of a sudden, he was there. There in the doorway, gun in hand. Grissom...Grissom..."

She started to cry again. Grissom took this as his cue to take over.

"Sara was working in the corner of the room, whereas I was working in the middle. He lifted his gun, and aimed it at Sara, so, so I lunged at him. He shot me in the shoulder, and as I went down onto my knees, I've found out that he hit me on the head with the base of his gun, knocking me out cold. Sara was alone by that point."

He looked up at her, conveying that it was her turn to talk.

"He ran up to me," she started in a shaky voice, "and we...we struggled. I was trying to keep the gun aimed anywhere but at Grissom or me, and he was trying to do the opposite. He bashed me up pretty bad, punched me in the face and stomach, cut my lip, and hit my head against the floor. But somehow, I have no idea how, I managed to get the upper hand, and I actually managed to get the gun out of his hand. I...I kicked him backwards, and aimed his gun at him. He lunged for me again, so I shot him in the leg."

She was visibly shaking now, her eyes once again welling up with tears.

"The police must have arrived pretty soon, as did the paramedics. Tom was arrested while Sara and I were treated to. He was imprisoned for five years for assault on two CSIs. We never did find that evidence."

The room was silent, until Nick broke it.

"So why's this all coming up again now?"

Grissom handed Sara the evidence bag containing the card, and, without looking at it, she placed it in the centre of the table.

"Another one? Now?" Came Catherine's shocked response. Sara just nodded. "Well, are you sure it's the same guy?" Again, Sara nodded.

"Oh yeah, it's definitely him."

"Who is this guy, Sara?" Warrick's angry, concerned voice boomed.

"Tom Dupont." She whispered.

As the news sunk in, the room, once again, fell silent.

xxx