It wasn’t long before the truck had arrived back at the Five-O Task Force Headquarters. Steve had managed to compose himself enough to lead their guests in.
“Ahh, look who’s back, and just in time boss,” Chin said as he hit several commands on the situation table.
Flashing up on the large wall monitor was an image of an African-American gentleman whom Steve assumed was Director Vance and a silver haired Caucasian that seemed to stare right into the core of his soul and freeze it.
Danny looked at the NCIS agents and grumbled at how quickly they conceded to island wear. Well, on a second glance, he didn’t mind. The girl looked hot in her sundress with her already tanned skin that he couldn’t seem to peel his eyes from as they reached her legs.
“If you do not find some place else for your eyes, I can and will break both of your legs,” Ziva commented, narrowing her eyes on the blond detective.
“It’s nice to see that you’re all getting along. I see that you made it to Hawaii in one piece Agents David and McGee,” the Director said, his usual thin smile pursing his lips.
“Director, Gibbs,” Ziva nodded as she turned her attention on the monitor. “What do we know so far?” she asked as the deceased agent’s file was passed to her to peruse.
“Not much I’m afraid,” Vance replied.
“He worked a case with you Gibbs?” she asked, glancing up.
“Before your time Ziva,” he replied. “Abby’s sending you the case file, though I doubt it’s got anything to do with why Owens ended up on the boat. I am curious to know what he was doing in Hawaii.”
“As am I,” Vance added. “He was due in LA the week that he vanished. He never got on the plane.”
“Does OSP or the San Diego offices know anything?” McGee asked.
“I’ve talked to the agents in charge of both offices. His itinerary had nothing to do with any OSP or San Diego cases as far as we can tell. He was supposed to be following up on a closed case.”
Ziva sighed as she flipped through the file. “So we are shooting blanks here then?” Her rhetorical question causing Danny and Chin to take a double look at her as Kono snickered and the NCIS agents each lacking a reaction to her misuse of words.
“Give me the file number Leon, I’ll have Abby shoot that over too,” Gibbs rolled his eyes before looking to Ziva. “I’ll make sure you know everything we know, be sure to do the same.”
“Thank you Gibbs. We’ll be in touch,” she replied with a smile.
“Oh and McGee.”
“Yes Boss?” Tim asked hoping to receive instructions from Gibbs too, if only to make him look respected by his peers.
“Khaki is not for you.” With that, the communication was ended.
“It’s okay McGee,” Ziva reassured him. “If he’d be here, he’d still be wearing that blazer and drinking his coffee.”
“Danny still wears a tie,” Steve added before moving around the table.
“Hey! It makes me look professional,” Danny replied for the hundredth time.
“I’d rather be comfortable than not,” Ziva commented as she tucked her hair behind her ear and looked over at Steve. “My first year at NCIS was mostly in cargo pants.”
“You looked good in those,” Steve smiled, thinking back once again.
“What is this? Hello? We’ve got a dead agent here, huh? Can we get to work so that I can spend the weekend with my daughter!” Danny said, having watched McGarrett exchange odd looks with the dark haired NCIS hottie.
“Sorry, right. Introductions. Danny Williams, Chin-Ho Kelly, meet Agents Ziva David and Timothy McGee from NCIS,” Steve explained.
“You can spend the weekend with her if you want,” she offered. “I think we have more than enough people here to cover the investigation for you to get away for awhile.”
“Thank you Agent David, but no, this is my job. Besides, I’ve gotta stop the two of you from causing an inter-agency disaster,” Danny replied.
Ziva looked up at Steve. “You think that we can get along on this?”
“We got along well enough the last time we worked together,” Steve replied. “Don’t mind him, he worries.”
“Yes, we did – but of course we were also in the middle of a war zone so cooperation was a bit of a necessity for survival.”
“A war zone? Don’t tell me… she’s a trained killer. That’s the last thing we need, another you,” Danny interjected.
McGee began to snicker from where he was playing with the table that Chin was showing off. Ziva only smiled sweetly. “Do I looklike a killer to you?”
“I’m not going to answer that right now,” Danny replied looking into her eyes for a moment. “And I’ve just realized I’ve been arguing with you this whole time. I’m sorry, Steve tell her I’m sorry, I can not get shot again!”
“Ahh…I would suggest you keep your paperclips away from Ziva rather than worry about firearms,” Tim suggested only to have Ziva shrug a shoulder innocently.
“Paperclips…” Danny’s eyes went wide. “Okay, well I’m gonna go pick up my daughter from school and see you all later. You guys call me if you need anything.” With that, Danny made a dash for the exit, barely offering the group a wave goodbye as he did so.
“It was a pleasure to meet you!” she grinned and held out her hand.
“Houli’s,” Chin grinned, shaking his head as he continued to demonstrate the situation table to McGee.
“Ziva, could I see you in my office for a second,” Steve said suddenly. He knew that they needed to get to work, but McGee was still busy uploading what info he had from his PDA and laptop to the table.
She followed him silently as she looked curious. “What’s up?” she asked as he closed the door behind her.
“Nothing, except-” without another word, he placed a hand on her cheek, lent in and kissed her lips for a moment before pulling away. “Except that I’ve missed you and that I’ve wanted to do that since I saw you earlier.”
“Hmm,” she hummed as she smiled, her hand resting on his chest. “I’ve missed you as well. I’ll admit that I have thought of you often since we finished that op and wondered how you were, wherever you were.”
Steve smiled down at her and when he glanced up, he found Kono and Chin grinning as they watched through the windows where the blinds hung open. Growling lightly, he reached over to turn the rod so that they had a little bit of privacy. “Sorry about that,” he sighed. “I don’t think I’ll be hearing the end of this.”
“It is alright. I am relieved that Vance sent McGee instead of DiNozzo. At least I can guarantee I won’t hear it over and over again once it’s time to leave,” she replied. “Anyway, how haveyou been? You enjoying being a cop now?”
“I’ll admit, my reasons for leading this task force were a little selfish, but yeah, I guess its not so bad,” he said, not wanting to discuss those reasons just yet. “So what about you? NCIS? I know you and Jenny Shepard were friends and enjoyed working together, but I didn’t think you’d go for her recruitment strategy.”
“I didn’t. There were other – circumstances that led to my decision to work with NCIS at the time. Namely my brother and then later, my father. I’ve been a US citizen now for two years,” she smiled proudly.
“Wow… well congratulations,” he smiled, suddenly regretting losing touch with her more than ever. He didn’t know all the details of her relationship with her father. He knew that he was the now Director of the Mossad, and that he expected a lot from his daughter, that most would think he expected too much. Ari was another story, they had met on several occasions. From their first meeting, Steve’s gut told him that Ari was trouble and it was proven right when his SEAL team was prepped to go after Ari for going rogue and being involved in the deaths of several American citizens, including an NCIS agent. Putting the pieces together, Steve just held her for a while longer.
“We need to get back to work soon,” she murmured as she found herself enjoying his arms around her. More than she knew she should and quickly realized that when it was time to go back, it would not be as easy this go around.
“Yeah…” he sighed, reluctant to let go. Planting a single kiss on her forehead, he stepped back. “Dinner, tonight, my place.” It wasn’t a question. There was never a question like that between them. Steve guessed that it was because their relationship was born amongst the battlefields of war.
“Will one of your people make sure that McGee gets back to the hotel alive and not swept away by the locals or the toys you have here?” Ziva grinned as she let her hands slide down the flank of his torso before falling to her side.
“Sure, Chin or Kono can drop him off at the hotel, or find ways to keep him occupied,” he smiled evilly. The benefits of being the boss were plentiful indeed.
She hummed as she eyed his expression. “Has the local PD turned anything up or are they just passing it off to us to work alone?”
“It’s our case. They’ll serve as support wherever they’re needed,” Steve replied. “I’m more curious as to why the local NCIS office wasn’t involved. HPD found the yacht with the body, passed it on to us. Once the victim was identified, it should have been thrown over to you. Instead the Governor and Director Vance threw us together. Not that I’m complaining…”
Ziva didn’t say anything other than a rise of an eyebrow as she stepped back. “What reasons would you come up with that could explain our presence on the investigation?” she asked in return.
“Well, I can think of a few reasons. He genuinely wants his best people investigating the death of one of his agents. Your team has probably worked cases like this before,” he said. “The case could be linked to someone or something that a member of Five-O or either you or McGee have dealt with in the past. Or…”
“Or…?” she prompted.
He was reluctant to suggest his last idea. The implications of it were dire, not to mention how dangerous and worrying it was. “Or Vance suspects someone in NCIS is responsible for the agent’s death.”
“Exactly,” she sighed. “I think the first thing we should do is check out the scene where he was found and his apartment.”
“Well, we’ve towed the yacht into Pearl. HPD lab techs have looked it over very briefly but I was hoping you’d know someone who has the resources to go over the evidence more thoroughly,” he replied with a hopeful glint in his eye.
Ziva smiled as she let out a deep chuckle. “We will have to have everything overnighted back to D.C. unless there is a lab that we can have our person use if she were to come out here.”
“Use my phone… make the arrangements with Director Vance,” Steve smiled. “Also, we can have our coroner’s report sent over for your agency’s inspection. Max doesn’t miss a trick, but an extra pair of eyes might help.”
“I am sure Ducky would love to go over it,” she said as she picked up his phone to dial home.
“Wait… Ducky?” Steve asked with a raised eyebrow. “You have a coroner called Ducky working for you?”
“Dr. Mallard? He’s our M.E. Only allows certain people to call him that,” she grinned.
“I get the feeling that he and Max would get on like a house on fire. Give me his info and I’ll have Max get in touch with him,” he smiled, handing her a pen and a pad as Kono knocked on his door before entering.
“Sorry Boss, but we’re ready for you out here, when you’reready of course,” she smiled knowingly.
“Yeah come on, Ziva’s just putting a call through to her agency. I may need to head out and see the Governor to requisition a lab and another room, in the meantime pass on the contact details that Ziva gives you on to Max. Tell him to send everything he has on the victim to Doctor Mallard at NCIS HQ,” Steve explained as he headed back out for the briefing.
McGee looked up from learning the mechanics of the situation table after several minutes to see Ziva on the phone through the one panel of blinds that were still open. She appeared to be arguing on the phone of which he suspected to be with Gibbs. “Are all the paperclips locked up? And letter openers?” he asked casually.
“Paperclips?” Chin frowned.
“Don’t ask Chin, believe me. You don’t wanna know,” Steve replied, knowing just how dangerous Ziva was with even the most non-lethal objects.
Ziva returned to group looking a little shaken. “Gibbs is not happy that we want Abby out here but I managed to sell the plan to Vance to have our own expert processing everything. She is going to be arriving early tomorrow morning,” she reported. Adding after, mostly for Steve’s benefit, “I told the director that he would not have to make additional arrangements. She can share my room.”
“Why would Gibbs fight you on sending this Abby out to us?” Steve asked with a raised eyebrow, as he suddenly wondered what kind of operation NCIS was running.
“You have to understand, the last time Abby worked with another team, her life was put at risk,” McGee explained, remembering her time working with OSP. “Gibbs is veryprotective when it comes to Abs. He came pretty close to holding a gun to the jet pilot’s head while we were en-route to LA.”
“Let us not speak of that again. I do not wish to relive those events,” Ziva commented softly, shaking her head at the memories of Michael and Tony going after each other.
Chin and Kono looked at Steve before she spoke up. “What do you want us to do? The boat should be in dock by the time we get there or do you want us at the apartment?”
“You guys take McGee and go over his apartment,” he ordered before looking to Tim. “If he’s got a computer or a laptop, do what you can with it. Chin’ll help.”
“You got it Boss,” McGee smiled, it felt strange calling an outsider Boss. Gibbs was his boss, but he was told to play nice. It helped that Ziva knew and seemed to trust McGarrett too.
“Ziva and I will go over the yacht. In the meantime, lets go over the briefing,” Steve added finally before setting into a chair.
Ziva leaned against the table rather than take a seat, keeping a comfortable distance between herself and her friend. She was busy thumbing through her cell phone as she read the details that her own people in D.C. sent. In the end, she shook her head. “I don’t get it. This man seemed to be fairly clean for an agent. He wasn’t even working a case that was remotely dangerous.”
“Well, he was either in the wrong place at the wrong time or he really pissed somebody off. He was an average agent, liked amongst his peers, save for a few inconsequential incidents,” Chin added, as if reading from a list. “I guess we should head over to his apartment.”
“Good idea. We’ll head to the yacht, meet up back here when we’re done,” Steve replied getting up.
“Do you think Vance would buy us one of these for the bullpen? Or at least get one for MTAC?” McGee asked as the group headed for the exit.
“Weren’t you trying to get the same system that the LA office had when you came back that time?” Ziva asked. “How did that fair out?”
“I’m working for the wrong people,” McGee joked, eager to see more of the island.
“Why don’t you ask Gibbs for a transfer then?” she said as Steve tugged on her shirt towards his car once outside.
“And leave you to face Tony alone?” McGee grinned, “I’ll see you later.”
She waved at him as she settled into the passenger seat of the truck while McGarrett closed her door and made his way around. Before long they were out on the road and Ziva quietly looked out the window at everything and nothing while lost in her memories that the discussion stirred up.
“Penny for ’em?” Steve asked, briefly glancing at her before returning his eyes to the road.
“Hm?” she hummed as she looked back at him. “What?”
“You seem distracted Ziva, that’s a word I’ve never associated with you,” Steve said, briefly placing a hand on hers. “What’s on your mind?”
Ziva sighed and looked out the window again. “It is just a combination of things over the last few years. I do not know exactly why I am feeling the way I am when I think about everyone back home. Just – too much. It is difficult to explain.”
“Well I know we haven’t been in touch for a while, and that things have happened in our lives that have changed us to some degree. That doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you or that my promise of being here for you when you need me ever went away,” Steve explained with a sincere smile. “So you can talk to me you know? If you wanted.”
The look of irritation was clear on her face that she was not willing to continue the particular line of conversation. “We are nearly at the dock,” she said in a clipped tone. “Let’s focus on the investigation for now, yes?”
“Alright,” Steve replied. She was right, they both needed to focus on their work for the time being and having such a heavy anddifficultdiscussion while conducting a possible crime scene investigation would definitely shift their focus.
Before long the two were on board of the yacht in the police impound dock looking around. Ziva eyed the blood stains on the carpet just inside the cabin of the main deck before continuing in further, leaving Steve to look through assorted papers still strewn about. She found her way to the lower deck, just looking around.
As she made her way closer to a port window to glance out, her toe nudged a wrapper of something that had been discarded on the floor. Looking down, she found the plastic wrapping of video disc for a camera. Pulling out her cell phone, she quickly snapped a picture of it and looked around. There wasn’t any indication that whatever was being filmed was inside the boat’s room which again had her instinctively looking out the window again.
Yes, the agent was definitely killed on the yacht, execution style. The amount of blood on the white fiberglass hull clearly indicated that he was shot by the wheelhouse and that he died there, just as Chin and Kono reported. The strange thing was, where the boat was anchored at the time of its discovery. There was nothing on the shore that would be of any interest except for a stretch of road and a beach that was inaccessible because of the tide. So whatever Owens was doing offshore, he wasn’t observing someone on the island.
“Steve?” Ziva called out from below deck, going from window to window to see what sort of view she could get.
“Yeah?” he asked as he snapped off some more photographs of the scene.
“Was the boat out to sea recently that anyone knows of? And if so where?” she asked as she made her way back to the stairs. “I found this,” she said holding up the wrapper in a gloved hand. “Doesn’t look like there would be anything worth filming but if the ship was scoutingsomething…”
“The yacht was chartered from a mainlander. According to Chin the engine had a full tank of gas upon rental and its almost depleted, which tells me he brought it here on engine and sail. Given that there’s nothing to look at on the shore, he could have been watching another boat or he perhaps followed one here,” he replied.
“Or another part of the island accessible only by water?” she suggested, looking back out to the water.
“It’s a possibility, there are two routes that a yacht this size could take, but they only lead to rough terrain. Nobody in their right mind would want to travel those routes, especially someone with little to no hiking experience,” Steve replied.
The wheels in Ziva’s head seemed to be rolling at a rapid pace. “We should speak with the rental company. If the renter appeared to know anything about boats or not. If he or she didn’t, then they would have likely used the engine only so we could possibly determine the likely areas that the boat could have gone.”
Reaching for his phone, he began prepping a text for Danny. “I’ll get Danny on it. Chin and McGee can whip up some possible courses the yacht could have taken, based on fuel consumption and the yacht’s position. But if I’m honest, I think we’re hitting a wall. There’s nothing in Owens’ case files to suggest he was working on something. For all we know he was just taking a break and got caught out by some pirates.”
“Best that we rule it out completely. He could have stumbled upon something more grand and couldn’t update his records before he was killed. We need to go through all his cases,” she pointed out. “Rule number three, don’t believe what you’re told. Double check.”
Steve raised an eyebrow. “What has working at NCIS done to you? I remember a young woman who didn’t care much about rules, so long as the job got done.”
“More than you may wish to know. Although, I have learned that sometimes rules are good. It is something you can always count on,” she shrugged with a demure smile. “I am still learning them.”
“Well, I’d like to know more,” he smiled. “But unless you can think of something else to do here, I think we should head back to the office, find out how Chin, Kono and McGee got on.”
“Hmmm okay. Only if we can stop for food on the way. I’m hungry,” she sighed as she made her way back onto the deck. “I am sure that McGee will be famished as well.”
“What about dinner at my place? Or is this just a snack?” he asked with a grin, remembering her appetite from the last time they worked together.
Ziva glanced back at him as she climbed over the rail and back on the pier. “Snack I suppose. That is if your ability to actually cook has improved.”
“I’ve never heard any complaints,” he replied.
“That is because the people never lived through finishing a meal,” she tossed back.
“New rule number one, never mess with the people that prepare your food,” Steve replied as he joined her on the pier.
“Rule number forty,” Ziva sang. “If it seems someone is out to get you, they usually are.”
“I’ll admit, I am out to get you,” he smiled sexily. “But I don’t intend to poison you.”
She narrowed her eyes at him but kept a smirk on her lips as she walked back to the car. “We shall see. I have a feeling that a different idea of poison might be in play the way you are going.”
“You’ve never objected before,” Steve replied as he turned to face her.
Her eyes flicked down over his body and back up. “True. I wonder what to say to Abby tomorrow when I tell her she can use my room at the resort. I have the feeling that you and I will be – working late often.”
“Just tell her that we met a while ago and that we’re just having fun,” he replied, of course it wasn’t the complete truth. Under different circumstances he could have revealed the very serious feelings he had toward her. But of course they only had a short, yet passionate time together and mutually decided to leave it at that, for their careers. “You’re a grown woman Ziva, and I’m sure your friend can be discrete. I mean, McGee must know something’s going on between us. Kono won’t stop grinning at me and Chin has had this strange look since we left my office.”
Ziva paused as she was about to climb into the car. “I don’t know. She may be able to. I know she can keep secrets but she does not like them. At all. You will see what I mean when we pick her up tomorrow. McGee I know won’t say a thing. He’s already said as much when we dropped off our things at the hotel. If Gibbs and Tony come out – that is a whole different story. Tony would not shut up and I would have to deal with Gibbs’ disapproval at my breaking a rule. Not that he hasn’t done it himself on occasion.”
“Ahh, so Gibbs is the one who’s teaching you these rules. Navy man?” Steve asked as he took her hand.
“Marine,” she confirmed. “He is a good man, a surrogate father of sorts. I think you would like him even.”
“He seemed like he cared about your well being,” he smiled, recalling their earlier teleconference. “I guess I might find out tomorrow if he is easy to get along with. Suddenly, he felt the way he did the night of his high school prom, meeting his date’s father for the first time. It didn’t matter that he was a cop who had worked with McGarrett senior for several years. It was still nerve wracking.
“Yes well, he is a complex man,” she replied. “Come on. Food, please?”
“Alright, alright, what are you in the mood for?” he asked as she dragged him toward the truck.
“I don’t care. I want to try something local so that is truly up to you,” she grinned.
“Is McGee allergic to sea food?” Steve asked with a sly grin.
Ziva thought about it and shook her head. “I do not think so. I can text him and find out,” she said as she pulled out her phone once she was settled back into the passenger seat.
“Good, because I’m in the mood for some shrimp,” he smiled, knowing the best place on the island to get some.