Chapter 03

The duo walked back into the office with arms filled with bags of food for the team. “We bring food,” Ziva called out as McGee scrambled to his feet to clear off an area of the nearby table for them to dump everything.< "How much did you get? We aren't going to eat all this," he exclaimed as he watched as she began to pull out container after container. "It was not all me," she replied as she nodded towards Steve. "Ziva and I thought that everyone might be hungry, so I figured eating together might be a good way to go over everything and maybe get to know each other better," McGarrett explained as Chin and Kono joined them. She tossed Tim a bottle of Pepto. "Just in case. I know how you are with new foods," she smiled. "Did you determine anything about the likely path of the boat?" "Actually yes," McGee said, smiling gratefully as Chin punched up the information. "Because the yacht's a rental, the owner has a GPS tracking chip installed in every boat. The Yacht didn't travel outside of a 3 mile radius for the entire rental period. Aside from the location where it was found, the only other location it stopped for a while was here. Your hunch about inaccessible routes was right Ziva." "There's a collection of cabins and shacks about a mile down the river which led to the spot where the yacht was found. They're mostly used by locals and tourists who aren't here for the sightseeing," Chin added. "Odds are he was using one of them as a safe-house. Or he was visiting someone there." "Or targeting someone," she mused. "There was a wrapper to a video camera disc in the lower cabin of the boat. If it were me, I'd have recorded the area the best I can to determine entrance and escape routes. I would not doubt that they would have tried for an aerial view as well. How many helicopter services are there on the island?" "It'll be too late to go and check out the area now. We should go out tomorrow, see what we can find," Steve replied as he began serving up the shrimp, much to Kono's delight. "You're the best, boss," she said, eyeing the large shrimp and a pot of the sweet and sour sauce. "I know I know," he grinned, "So what did you find at his apartment?" "Not much, it looked like he hadn't slept there at all. The fridge and food cupboard were fully stocked, aside from the out of date milk which helped us to determine that he'd not been there in a while," Chin explained before looking at Ziva specifically. "McGee's going over his home computer. We did find some bloody bandages in the bathroom. Hopefully your forensic specialist will be able to find something with those." "Good work," Steve nodded. "The best thing we can do now is go through Owens' entire case history, to see if anything jumps out at us." "Ahh, research, I guess I picked a hell of a time to come back, huh?" Danny said as he walked up to the group with Grace clutching his hand. "Gracie, it's good to see you!" Steve smiled at the young girl as he offered her some shrimp. "Hi Uncle Steve," the girl beamed as she took the plate from him. "Thanks, I'm so hungry. Daddy said he can't take me for some dinner until he finishes here." "Well, it's a good thing your Uncle Steve is here to hook ya up," Steve replied. "Seeing as you're here, you can say hello to some friends of ours. This is Ziva and McGee." "Hello," the girl said carefully, having noticed the new faces when she entered the room with her father. "Do you work with the police too?" Ziva smiled as she put down her plate. "Yes and no. We are just visiting from another type of police department than what you might be used to. But we do similar work," she replied to the girl. "Listen monkey, I've gotta do some work with your Uncle Steve for a little while. Do you mind playing in my office for a little while?" Danny asked, kneeling in front of his daughter and offering her an apologetic smile. "I can't stay and eat with you?" Grace asked, with a frown on her face. "I don't mind her staying," Ziva said quickly. "I don't think there is anything that would be particularly harmful for her. There was not much to go on today. Mostly speculation at this point." "Don't worry Danny, we'll keep things rated G," Steve reassured him as he offered his partner a plate of spicy shrimp. "Alright, just make sure you do," Danny shook his head. He hated it when his work life and his personal life meshed. Having Gracie anywhere near his crime-fighting activities always put him on edge. But Steve, Kono and Chin adored his daughter and she would often ask to see them on their weekends together. Ziva quickly made some room at the table for the small girl as she reached over to prepare a plate with the mild shrimp and rice. "Come on over. It's all really yummy!” she grinned, waving at the girl.

“Uncle Steve, do you have anything to drink?” the girl asked, noting that everyone had beers.

“I think I’ve got some 7-Up in my fridge sweetie, lemme go check,” Steve smiled, getting up. Danny took this as an opportunity to follow his partner into the office for a private chat.

“Okay… so what’s the Navy cop’s story?” he asked as he closed the door behind them for some privacy.

“She’s an old friend Danny,” Steve explained, “We worked together for a while when I was in the SEALs. Be grateful that she’s here cause she’s good at what she does, okay? You don’t have to feel threatened by her.”

“Threatened? Threatened? Please, she’s about as threatening as Gracie’s stuffed rabbit,” Danny replied. “I just want to know if she’s a friend, or a friend.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Steve asked as he retrieved the drink for Grace and placed it on the desk.

“It means, I need to know if you’re gonna start thinking with that!” he replied, pointing at Steve’s crotch. “Because we’ve got the Governor and the Director of NCIS looking over our shoulders on this one.”

“There’s more to it than that, isn’t there?” Steve asked, knowing his partner too well. “You scared she’s gonna convince me to leave 5-0, to leave you and take up a position at NCIS?”

“Am I scared that the man that got me shot on our first day of working together is considering leaving his home and the best job he’s had for someone he knew years ago?” Danny asked himself. “Uh, no. I was just curious about your relationship status with the psycho girl with the killer look in her eyes.”

“Why? You thinking of asking her out?” Steve asked with a raised eyebrow.

“If I did, would you be pissed?” Danny retorted. After a long moment of silence, the Jersey cop grinned. “I knew it. Little Steve’s making the decisions on this one… because that always ends up well.”

McGarrett rolled his eyes and simply leaned back against his desk. “You have no idea what you are talking about man. I am more than capable of keeping rational around her and if you want to try to ask her out, go ahead. I’m not her – or your – keeper.”

“Fine, I might just do that,” Danny replied as he took Grace’s drink and headed out.

Steve sighed as he thought about Danny’s attempt to ask Ziva out. He knew them both too well to know that it would end badly, probably painfully so for Danny.

While the guys were talking, McGee and Ziva were telling the rest of the team about D.C. and their own colleagues. McGee was going on about the time that Tony had faked a date with a murder suspect that was waiting for surgery for changes that had Chin and Kono laughing so hard that they could barely breath.

“What’s so funny?” Danny asked as he placed himself between Grace and Ziva.

“Just my partner back in DC. McGee was just telling us about a case where he had to kiss a man just so to keep the suspicion down that he was a cop,” she grinned. “Oh! I remember when Gibbs finally came back after his extended vacation to Mexico. McGee here fell asleep with his teeth whitening thing in his mouth. Throughout the entire case, he tried drinking this horrible grape energy drink to not make them so bright. It still did not help my friend.”

“Ziva, I could tell them about your first case with us,” McGee threatened, all be it carefully.

She blinked at him confused. “Steve already knows about Ari,” she replied.

“No, I mean your first case as a member of the team, digging through trash for Tony…”

Ziva narrowed her eyes. Tony and he had done that to her on many occasions, pulling the seniority card and often still do. “If Gibbs had let me keep my knives, Tony would have been in that dumpster with me. Do not make me tell them about the book.”

“I once flew a jetpack!” he blurted out, trying desperately to change the subject.

“Really?” Grace asked, her interest suddenly piqued. “That’s pretty cool.”

“Then he and my partner nearly dropped the suspect mid air while they fought over the controls,” she added, still staring her friend down.

“Wait… I thought you said you flew the jetpack?” Chin frowned.

“Well I did,” McGee said, his pride waning slightly. “Via a remote control system.”

“Aww come on, that doesn’t count,” Danny replied, shaking his head. “That’s like saying that you’ve built a robot which turns out to be a remote controlled car with an axe duct-taped to it.”

Ziva smiled as she patted McGee’s hand. “Its okay. After he was trapped in a women’s prison for an entire day held hostage and came out the victor, I think we can let him slide on this one.”

“The Boss rescued a bunch of people from a Navy museum hostage situation,” Kono piped up. “And you got through it without SEAL training.”

Ziva grinned and shrugged a shoulder. “It’s in his job description. I’d be shocked if he didn’t make it out of there at all,” she said as she looked over at the man. “Of course – it would be different if he was being tortured by clowns.”

“Clowns?” Danny asked, looking back at Steve’s office. “He’s afraid of clowns?”

Her hand flew to her mouth as she and Steve leveled their eyes on one another. She knew she would be in for it when he got her alone but she was having too much fun. Something she had not felt in a long while. “I said too much, didn’t I?”

“No… we’re sharing, this is good,” Danny replied, grinning like the Cheshire cat. “So uh, what other secrets does our fearful leader have?”

Steve chuckled as he pointed back at her. “You don’t like them either from what I recall. You shot up a giant kid’s doll when we were sweeping the house for that arms dealer.”

“I know that Ziva has a thing about ghosts,” McGee shared, smiling at her sweetly.

“And you get sea sick easily,” she retorted.

“I don’t like clowns either,” Grace offered. “Stan invited one to my last birthday party. I really didn’t like him. He smelled and looked funny.”

“That’s because Step Stan wouldn’t let Daddy find someone. He insisted on one of his friends,” Danny said.

Ziva only smiled at the girl before returning to her own meal. Nudging McGee in the arm, who sat next to her, she told him how her conversation went in more detail. “Gibbs is mad. I have a feeling that he might be coming out with Abby in the morning,” she admitted. “After Los Angeles, I do not think he would let her travel unprotected.”

“Not surprising,” McGee replied. “And no doubt Tony will beg him to come along. So much for a working vacation.”

She looked at her watch and sighed. It was only nearing 4:30 PM but it felt much later. “I agree. I could use a nice long nap right now.”

“Well I can take up the slack on the research side of things, my laptop will be doing most of the cross-referencing anyways so you can take a nap.” McGee offered, “You did put a lot of time in on our last case, working alongside Agent Booth.”

“The man was a nightmare compared to Tony,” she sighed. “I would be more than happy to rest but I promised Steve that I’d join him for dinner to catch up. Will you be okay on your own for awhile? What with being in paradise and all?” she grinned at her friend.

“Sure, I’ll be fine,” McGee smiled. “Go have fun with your friend.”

Kono walked back in as she had stepped out for a short while when they start talking. “Hey Agent McGee? You game for a show? A friend of mine is performing at the bar we usually hang out at.”

Thinking about it for a moment, Tim nodded, “Beats a night in front of my laptop trying to come up with story ideas. I’m in.” He visibly paled suddenly, having mentioned his other occupation.

“Here’s a thought. Do what you did last time. Write about the team,” Ziva said, narrowing her eyes carefully.

“I told you, I won’t be writing another L.J. Tibbs novel,” McGee replied in a hushed voice. “Please lets not go into this now.”

“You best not be writing Officer Lisa,” she hissed back.

“Officer Lisa?” Danny repeated, looking over at them. “Who’s that?”

“Tell him McGee,” she said, staring her friend down.

“I’m a writer in my spare time,” McGee visibly cringed, “I’ve written a couple of novels based on our work at NCIS.”

“You have?” Chin frowned.

Steve watched the exchange between the two NCIS agents. While he didn’t know all the details of these books, he knew that they obviously frustrated Ziva on a personal level. That didn’t mean that she didn’t care for McGee though, they were friends and colleagues.

Ziva nodded. “Yes, and based all the characters on our team. Didn’t you write Tommy and Lisa getting together? Is that really how you see Tony and I? Because I do not.”

“I used to,” Tim replied honestly, knowing that he would likely suffer Ziva’s wrath at some point. “But not lately, not after…”

Ziva looked down and away briefly. “Go have some fun McGee. I’ll see you in the morning likely.”

“Yeah, have a good night,” McGee replied, knowing that he’d just well and truly wedged his foot in his mouth.

“Good night McGee.”

~o.O.o~

Not long after the late lunch, Kono was kind enough to take McGee around to show some local areas before the night crowds got out and he could rest in his hotel room as it was much later for their east coast bodies, being six hours behind.

As the two left, Steve looked back at Ziva who had begun help cleaning up. Nudging her shoulder, he slipped a smile at her when Danny was distracted by his daughter. “So, I was thinking of dinner. Is there anything special you would like? You still on that kosher kick, right?” he asked.

“Actually, not so much anymore. I still do not eat pork but I do enjoy cheeseburgers and other things,” she answered as she dumped a bunch of garbage into a bucket.

“How does lasagna sound? Hawaiian style?” he grinned.

“Sounds great,” Danny interjected. “You don’t mind having some of your Uncle Steve’s famous lasagna, right monkey?”

“Nope,” the young girl smiled brightly.

“Well actually-,” Steve was about to protest as Danny turned back to face him.

“Great! We’ll bring desert, make a night of it,” he smiled. “Come on Gracie, lets go to the store and find something sweet. What do you think, cake or ice-cream?”

“Uhh, Danny,” Steve tried to protest once more.

“We’ll see you at your place,” he said, waving before he and Grace left.

Ziva looked up at Steve. “Did he just…?”

“He did…” Steve sighed. “I’m sorry Ziva.”

“Well, let’s go then. We can take advantage of the little time to ourselves to talk,” she replied as she made her way closer to him.

“Sounds good to me,” Steve smiled softly, “Are you okay though? You seemed a little off after McGee left.”

“We will talk at your place,” she answered. “You will need to have something to drink to be able to tolerate what I will share.”

~o.O.o~

The drive back to the McGarrett residence was quiet. Steve had tried to begin a conversation with Ziva several times but she remained distant. Things really had changed for her. It shouldn’t have surprised him, they hadn’t seen each other in years. And yet he could tell that those years had been very difficult for her. Not that they had been a cake walk for him too, but his concern for his former lover was growing, especially because she wasn’t willing to talk about her problems.

Pulling into the driveway, he looked over at her. “We’re home. Now would you mind telling me what’s wrong? Ever since we first met, you’d been dreaming of visiting Hawaii. Now you’re here, and yet you seem so… not Ziva…”

She continued to look out the window quietly as she thought about what to say. How to say things. “Where were you stationed about – two years ago? Or what area of the world were you?” she asked.

“All over the world, I was involved with Naval Intelligence for a while after leaving SEAL team 9,” Steve replied with a small frown. “Why?”

“Had you heard of events in Somalia around the time?” she continued carefully.

“Whispers and rumors only,” he said. “My main focus was terrorist cells operating in friendly coastal regions around that time. What happened Ziva.” Truth was, he had heard of an incident involving the rescue of a foreign agent by allied agents which was usually intelligence talk for the crap hitting the fan.

She turned her head to look at him, choosing few but very specific words. “My father sent me to complete a mission. By whatever means necessary. And I had failed in achieving the task.”

“I see… so you’re the woman that was rescued by a non-sanctioned team. And Gibbs being a Marine, I’m guessing he was the sharpshooter…” Steve replied, showing his hand finally.

“It – was sanctioned. Well I learned it after they brought me back but they did have to bend the rules to make it so.”

“Well it sure as hell stirred up a hornets nest. We had heard rumors of Mossad attacks on Somalian military targets for months afterward,” he replied. He didn’t want to broach the fact that she had likely been tortured by her captors quite yet, though his concern for her was growing.

Ziva sighed and lowered her head. “It was only a few months after I was back in the States that my – my father tried to shift the blame of the entire operation on me. A US Marine was killed in the process of my getting to the target area. Trust, Steve, is often difficult for me in many ways but it comes in time again. It took me a long while to trust my partner to have my back. That he had my back when he – when he shot who I had believed to be my boyfriend at the time.”

“Michael Rivkin,” Steve said with a nod. They had met several times during the joint SEAL/Mossad operation. Before he and Ziva gave into their feelings it seemed like she had a connection with Rivkin. Around the time of the Somalian incident, he did receive word that a Mossad officer had been shot and killed on American soil.

“You remember him,” she said with an sarcastic chuckle. “I learned in returning to Tel Aviv that he was following my father’s orders. I admit it has not been easy but you needed to know where I come from now, the changes in my decisions and how I approach things compared to when you and I were last together.”

“Well thank you for sharing,” he said with a small smile, “But I’ll tell you now what I told you then. I’m not your father, or your colleagues. I don’t like the cloak and dagger bullshit that they had you doing when we met. With me you get what you see. I’ll understand if you don’t trust me like you once did, you’ve certainly got reason not to trust people that come in and out of your lives. But I took a bullet for you back then and I’ll do the same in a heartbeat. So don’t ever feel like you have to hide these feelings from me.”

Ziva looked up at him as she considered what he said. “It is not a matter of trusting you. I know I can. It is not being able to trust myself. I do not know. It’s like there is something I want but I just do not know what it is yet. That feeling has been plaguing me for some time.”

“Well Ziva, it sounds to me like you need a vacation. A real vacation away from NCIS, away from your partner, away from your life,” Steve explained. “It took the death of my father to make me realise that I needed to get away too. It led me to 5-0. Now I’m not saying that I’ll never go back into the Navy, but right now, I’m home. I have a great job, a great team and a purpose. As good as your team may be at NCIS, maybe you ought to think about your future some more.”

She didn’t respond but only met his eyes. The invitation was clear to her, even if he hadn’t said the words and her heart pounded in her chest as she found herself not dismissing the offer right away. “Perhaps I do,” she smiled.

“Think about it, talk about it with Gibbs or Director Vance. Some time away would be good for you, even if you only take a week or two before you go back. You could spend time on the beach, catch up on your reading, just be you,” he smiled. He wasn’t totally unselfish, he knew that once the case was over, they’d have little to no time together outside of work before she had to return to Washington. And he knew from the moment he’d held her in his arms back at the office that he wanted her to stay, if only for a short time.

Ziva leaned across the truck and kissed him gently. “Thank you,” she said, her hand resting on his cheek softly.

“You don’t ever have to thank me,” he nodded, mirroring the words he had used when she treat the gun shot wound to his shoulder. That was the first night they spent together. They had been dancing around their feelings for weeks until that point. She appeared to have hated him as soon as he and his team joined hers. What he believed to be scorn and contempt on her part was actually her way of fighting her feelings. Relationships between people in their line of work rarely went far so they had both tried to protect themselves from getting hurt. Not that their attempts lasted very long.

Her normal, confident smile slowly returned to her face as she kissed him again, this time with a little more vigor. “If your friend does not leave after dinner, I will not be held responsible for what I may or may not do to him,” she grinned.

As if on cue, Danny’s Camaro pulled into the drive and he and Grace got out of the car. “Okay, so I’ve got ice-cream, I’ve got beer, I’ve got soda. We’re all set.”

“Great,” Steve said, feigning enthusiasm as he watched Ziva carefully. “Let’s go inside and I’ll make a start on dinner.

“Uncle Steve, can I play some Nintendo?” Grace asked with a smile that always seemed to make McGarrett’s heart melt.

“Sure. You can teach Ziva how to play,” he grinned, knowing that video games weren’t necessarily Ziva’s forte.

~o.O.o~

As Steve got on with dinner while talking to Danny, Ziva and Grace were playing on the Nintendo.

“So what are your plans for the rest of the weekend?” Steve asked, knowing that since he had Grace, he wouldn’t be working the case as much as the others.

“We’re gonna hang at the beach tomorrow. I thought I might take her to the Aquarium since Step Stan decided to buy her some tropical fish,” Danny replied as he watched his daughter and the NCIS Agent play tennis.

Ziva knew it was only a game but her competitive nature still had her on the edge of upset when she kept losing. It only help reaffirm that video games were not her thing. “At this rate, I am going to lose a lot of my chocolate stash,” she teased the girl playfully, smiling back at the guys.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be willing to share,” Steve called out, grinning as he checked the lasagna. It still wasn’t ready so he placed it back in the oven and turned to watch Ziva and Grace.

“You know, I’ve never actually seen you play that thing,” Danny told his friend.

“That’s because I don’t play it. I bought it for when Grace comes over,” Steve replied. “You hang out here a lot when she stays with you so I figured I’d give her something to do.”

“Well thanks for rotting my little girl’s brains with that thing,” Danny shook his head.

“Come on, it’s not that bad, it’s not like she plays it twenty four-seven,” Steve grinned. “And besides, you’re only pissed because she beats you every time.”

“A father isn’t supposed to be beaten at anything by his children until he’s old… and needs a walker to get around…” Danny replied defensively. “But uh, your friend seems to be enjoying herself. She’s very nimble.”

“Stop right there,” Steve sighed, shaking his head. He should’ve known that Danny wouldn’t have given up so easily.

“What?” Danny grinned, “You said that she’s a friend only. Plus there’s no harm in looking.”

“There is when you’re in a house full of objects that she can use to hurt you,” Steve replied with a raised eyebrow.

“Oh come one, she can’t be all bad,” Danny replied, “It’s not like she’d get away with it either.”

“Don’t bet on it,” Steve grinned. “I once saw her kill a man with a key from a can of tuna.”

The man looked at him with a skeptical eye. “I don’t believe you. But seriously man. Think she’d go for coffee with me?” he asked, dropping his voice.

“Ask her,” Steve said with an evil smile before adding, “I dare you.”

Danny frowned as he turned back to watching Ziva. After a long moment he smiled. “Okay,” he replied before making his way over to the girls.

Ziva looked up him, as he struggled to sit with Grace on the floor. Glancing back at Steve, she gave him a questioning look, silently communicating to see what was going on.

Steve simply smiled and shook his head before returning his attention to preparing their meal.

“So uh, how are you liking Hawaii?” Danny asked Ziva, feeling as uncomfortable as his question sounded.

“It is nice. Almost like where I am from, just with humidity and water,” she replied as she put up her controller to let the girl play the game on her own for awhile. “Have you been here long?”

“Not long,” Danny replied. “About a year or so. Wow… I guess it’s longer than I realised.”

“And we still can’t convince you to get rid of the tie,” Steve called out from the kitchen as he began to serve up their meal.

Ziva laughed lightly at the tease and shook her head. “You know you can wear a polo shirt and still appear professional,” she said.

“A polo shirt? Are you serious? Is she serious? I’m a detective. Detectives don’t wear polo shirts,” he explained defensively.

“Then you should meet my boss. Honestly Steve, I don’t think its so bad that he only insists on a tie. Gibbs would wear a blazer suit and drink hot coffee all day without breaking a sweat,” she shared. “It isn’t even straight or anything. Kept loose, relaxed.”

“Thank you,” Danny said with a shrug of his shoulders. “Someone who gets it.”

“He’s still wearing a tie in Hawaii,” Steve grinned. “They don’t even enforce the use of ties in the Naval dress code over here.”

Ziva frowned, thinking about the Naval officers around the yard. “That’s a shame. I think its rather intriguing,” she admitted with a cheeky smile.

“Well remind me to break out my dress uniform sometime,” Steve chuckled as he began to set the table. “Food’s ready.”

“I’ve already seen you in your dress uniform or did you forget?” Ziva commented as she pushed herself up and held out her hand to help Danny.

“A few years ago yes, this one fits better,” he added as he poured Grace a drink of juice, having got a bottle of beer for Ziva, Danny and himself.

She looked him over pointedly. “Where does it fit better? You look exactly the same that I remember. Maybe with a few more muscles in your arms.”

“Like I said, I’ll show you sometime,” he grinned before sitting down at the table. “So, did he ask you?”

“Ask me what?” she said, looking at them back and forth and the looks exchanged between them. “What?”

Danny so wanted to kick his partner under the table at that moment but couldn’t because both Grace and Ziva were in the way. “I was just wondering if you’d maybe like to go out for coffee tomorrow morning.”

She winced apologetically. “I don’t drink coffee, sorry. Now tea sure, but we have to be at the airport to pick up Abby quite early. Her flight is supposed to land about 0600.”

“Oh…” Danny said, taken aback. “Well I understand. It’s probably for the best considering I’ve got Grace staying with me.”

“Another time perhaps?” she offered with friendly tone and smile as she felt Steve’s knee nudge hers.

“Sure… I mean if you have the time. If this Forensic specialist is as good as you say she is, you might not be around for much longer,” Danny replied, handling the rejection better than he thought he would.

“I don’t know. Steve has been trying to convince me to take a vacation once this case is wrapped up. I’ll admit that it is tempting and certainly a possibility,” she shrugged as she took a bite of the colorful lasagna.

“Oh really? Great…” he said, his smile broadening. “Maybe I can take you out for some tea then. Wow… I know someone who drinks tea.”

Steve made a face as he looked at his friend. “What’s that supposed to mean? I drink tea.”

“I just don’t know many people who drink it, aside from my ex-wife and old people,” he replied, thinking back to Rachel’s obsession with tea.

This time, it was Ziva’s turn to make a face as both she and her long time friend stared back at him. “Old people?” they repeated in unison.

“No, I wasn’t calling you old… it’s just – you’ve gotta admit, it’s a strange drink for people our age to be drinking. Especially in a place like this.” Danny explained himself poorly. “Shutting up now.”

“Oh no…” she said, reaching up to cradle her head in her hands as she closed her eyes and groaned. “Please tell me that you have Caf-Pow out here…I just remembered…”

“Caf-Pow?” Steve asked with a frown, “What the hell is Caf-Pow?”

“It’s an energy drink,” Danny replied, “They used to have a machine at the precinct back in Jersey. Personally I think it tastes worse than tea. Why do you ask?”

“I agree but it’s Abby’s drink of choice and the blood in her veins,” she whined as she pulled out her phone to text McGee about it. They would have to find some sort of comparable substitute for their friend, thinking about the last time the woman had gone through withdrawals of it. “Do you have anything like it here?”

“Shaved ice?” Danny suggested, “Maybe she’ll bring some with her?”

“Not helping,” she sighed as she closed her phone and dropped it to the table. “You have no idea what we will be in for.”

“We’ll think of something,” Steve reassured her. He couldn’t see why this Caf-Pow was so important to a Forensic specialist, but he knew Ziva rarely exaggerated so it was a situation to be concerned over.

She nodded as she quietly began to work on dinner. In truth, she wasn’t all that hungry after the late lunch and then thinking about her friend and the case again. Added on with Steve’s friend trying to invite her out – of which she had been pretty obvious, she just wanted to crawl into bed and hide under the covers.

“This is great Uncle Steve,” Grace smiled happily as she chewed on some lasagna. “Not hungry Ziva?”

Ziva smiled and shook her head. “No, not anymore. Just very tired. Where I live, it’s actually well past bedtime right now,” she said softly. “And we have to be up very early to pick up my friend from the airport.”

“Oh…” Grace replied, a little disappointed as she hoped for a rematch.

“The spare room’s all made up if you wanna get some rest Ziva,” Steve stated as he looked over at Danny.

“Yeah, well eat up monkey. We’ll get out of your way,” Danny said, feeling a little bad about keeping Ziva awake.

She nodded to them and smiled. “Thank you. If you’ll excuse me, I’m just going to go lay down then. I will see you both tomorrow, yes?” she asked of Danny and Grace.

“Yeah, can we dad?” Grace asked.

“Sure monkey, sure. Remember that Danno has to do a little work tomorrow. You and Ziva can maybe hang out then,” Danny replied with a smile.

“Goodnight Grace, Danny,” Ziva said before looking at Steve and squeezing his shoulder as she took her plate over to the sink before heading upstairs to collapse onto the first bed she found.

Danny smiled before turning back to his friend. “She’s nice – good with Grace here,” he said casually as he bit into a piece of bread with a grin.

“Yeah, she’s great,” Steve smiled. “Well, do you wanna take some home with you, there’s plenty.”

~o.O.o~

After saying goodnight to Danno and Grace, Steve found Ziva asleep in the master bedroom, his bedroom. She hadn’t bothered to undress and she was even snoring a little. It wasn’t loud, it was kind of cute. Quietly he stripped to his boxers and slipped into bed beside her.

“Set alarm?” she mumbled as she felt the bed shift in her sleep that was still on the edge of light.

“Already set,” he replied. “Sorry about tonight. I know you were hoping for something a little more intimate.”

Ziva rolled over and shifted herself closer to him. The ocean breezes through the open windows chilled the air considerably making her seek out his warmth. “You actually encouraged your partner to ask me out?” she asked after several minutes laying quietly against him. “I actually feel bad for the man.”

“I didn’t encourage him,” he protested. “Not that I discouraged him either. It’s just that Danny’s kinda hung up over his ex-wife. He needs to move on.”

She chuckled lightly. “And you think that my rejecting him would help him? You have developed a very skewed way of helping your friend. Much has changed.”

“No, that’s not what I want, he just needs to realize that it’s okay to be interested in other women without feeling guilt over Rachel,” Steve replied, “Just because you’re not interested doesn’t mean that the next girl won’t be either.”

“Does not matter. You will be punished,” Ziva teased as she traced the edge of his tattoo with her finger. “I just have not decided on what method.”

“Hmm,” he mumbled as he wrapped his arms around her. “Will it hurt?”

“I do not know. I will have to consult with Detective Williams first,” she smiled.

“Oh no, Danny has his own way of torturing me, which usually entails him picking fault with everything I say and do,” he replied with his trademark grin. “I was kind of hoping that this punishment will be a personal one involving you, me, perhaps the use of safe words.”

Ziva rolled her eyes and sat up just enough to look down at him. “Did you play those games with that intelligence woman I remember you exchanging messages with?”

“When do I ever play games?” Steve asked, propping himself up on his elbow. “And since when are you so concerned with the status of my relationships?”

She looked at him for a long moment and smiled slightly. The question didn’t need an answer, the lack of one was enough. Leveling her gaze on him, she leaned in to kiss him before laying back down. “We have to be awake very early. We should rest now.”

Steve was about to force the issue, but he decided against it. She wanted to know about his relationships and if he was honest, he was curious about hers, but he wasn’t going to ask her outright. In time she would open up to him about her relationships and he would tell her about his own dating history and the fact that since they parted ways, he hadn’t had a serious relationship with anyone. But now was the time for rest, so he settled down and simply said, “Goodnight Ziva.”