The next morning, Steve awoke to the alarm and found that Ziva had already gotten up. There wasn’t time for his usual morning exercise routine as they had to be at the airport to meet the forensic specialist from NCIS. After a quick shower he got dressed and headed downstairs to find Ziva rummaging through his cupboards and refrigerator.
“Do you not keep food in your house to cook?” she asked as she found a container of SPAM and made a face.
“Sorry, I don’t have company that often,” he replied as he took a seat on one of the stools by the island counter.
Ziva shrugged and went for the tea kettle that was beginning to whistle. “At least you have the makings for tea. I suppose we can get breakfast on the way from the airport or something? It will be nearly lunchtime for Abby and I bet she will be hungry as well.”
“Yeah, I know a couple of places that do mean breakfasts,” Steve smiled. “Did you sleep well? I didn’t hear you get up.”
“I can be very quiet when I need to be,” she said as she set a glass in front of him before making her own. “I could not sleep any more but yes, I did. Very well in fact. I must admit that your bed is much more comfortable than my own.”
“This coming from someone who for three months shared a sleeping bag with me on dirt, concrete and wooden floors,” the man laughed. “I’m glad you liked the bed. I only just bought the mattress, I’d hate to have to buy another one.”
She thought about it and shrugged. “I like to think you had a very warm persona about you then. I still do – why would you have to buy another mattress?”
“You know me Ziva. I can sleep anywhere if I have to, but if you didn’t like the mattress I’d have to change it because I plan on having you over a lot more. NCIS agents get how much leave time?” Truth was, the more he thought about her, what they once shared and what he hoped they’d share again, the more he wanted her to stay on as he had suggested. He just wasn’t quite ready to entertain the possibility of losing touch with his friend again. But he wasn’t going to ask about it, it was her decision to make and he couldn’t make it for her.
She made her way back to him and smiled as she leaned in to kiss his lips. “You would not had to replace the bed just for me. I’d have been comfortable with you, flat on the floor and be happy. We should go however. Maybe buy one of those fresh leis for Abby. I know she’d love it.”
“Okay, we can pick one up on the way over,” he replied as he still tasted her on his lips. “So tell me about this Abby person. Is she a close friend?”
“She is. And very good at what she does. Come on. We both should be awake enough by the time we get to the airport to manage her.”
“Manage her?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. “You make her sound like she’s a real handful.”
Ziva gave him her usual chuckle and patted him on the face. “You will see,” she grinned. “Let’s go.”
“Should I be worried?” Steve asked as he got up and grabbed his keys. “I should be worried, shouldn’t I?”
Ziva didn’t give much of anything away on one Abby Sciuto, which worried McGarrett even more. He really hated it when she diverted the conversation. But he trusted her and she did say that Sciuto was a professional, which implied a level of trust that was hard to gain from Ziva.
Steve kept his eyes peeled for a young woman, probably wearing a suit much like McGee wore the day before. Instead, a silver-haired middle aged man which McGarrett instantly recognised as Ziva’s bossdeparted the plan, closely followed by a raven haired woman dressed in black, clutching what looked like a stuffed toy while holding up a gothic looking parasol to block out the sun. Behind her was another man, dressed in a bowling shirt and shorts. He held up his arms and seemed to take a long deep breath before receiving a glare from Gibbs.
Waiting for the passengers to make their way off the tunnel, she had been more than prepared for the black haired tornado that came barreling through and crashed into Ziva in a wild hug and ramble of words about the plane ride, bad in-flight movies, and salty peanuts.
After Abby finally let go of her friend, Ziva managed to get a look at who had accompanied her. Quickly, she turned to look up at Steve. “Um, introductions? Commander Steve McGarrett, this is Abby Sciuto, Jethro Gibbs and Tony DiNozzo. The team I work with. Then there is Ducky but I doubt there is a reason for him to come out here,” she said carefully, her eyes assessing the reactions of the men to each other.
Steve couldn’t help but stare at Abby’s attire for a moment, because it was certainly unexpected. “Uh… pleased to meet you all. I’d say I’ve heard a lot about you, but not as much as I’d like.”
Ziva was right, Gibbs was wearing his blazer and clutched an almost empty cup of coffee. He eyed McGarrett up for a moment before looking at Ziva. “A SEAL?”
She smiled and looked away briefly. “You two have a great deal in common but I thought I would allow you to discuss that amongst yourselves. It is not for me to say.”
“Nothing to discuss except…” Gibbs replied before offering the Lieutenant Commander a brief nod. “Know anywhere I can get a decent cup of coffee?”
“At the offices. There is a coffee maker and I am positive you brought your grind again,” Ziva said quickly. Looking at Steve she bit her lip. “Does the Governor have two extra rooms? I know you said you told her about the possibility of one but…we weren’t anticipating both Gibbs and DiNozzo in coming.”
“I’ll make arrangements when we get back to the office,” Steve replied. “Unless you’d like to get some rest before we get to work?”
“Nope, we’ve gotta be back in D.C. by Wednesday,” Gibbs replied as he made his way over to the luggage collection area. “The sooner we get to work, the sooner we can go home.”
“Hey, where’s McGigglesnort?” Tony asked, still basking in the sun. “I was hoping he’d be here to greet us.”
“Probably playing with the situation table knowing him. Honolulu PD has offered their lab to Abby,” Ziva shared, repeating the report Chin called them with while they were waiting. “One of their techs will be assigned to help you but it was a condition of our having you there. They just want one of theirs to make sure you don’t break their equipment or something. Um…How are we all going to fit in your truck? Can three fit in the back?” she asked as she followed her friend as he began to help Abby with her bags that nearly fell off the conveyor belt.
“Director Vance has arranged for a rental,” Tony explained as he eyed his partner closely. “I hope its a convertible, because in this sun, you’ve just gotta pop the roof!”
Gibbs turned to Tony and slapped him upside the head. “Focus, this isn’t a vacation. We’ve got a dead agent and a lot of unanswered questions.”
“Yes boss, sorry boss,” Tony said as he rushed to grab both his and Gibbs’ luggage.
“Boss?” Steve laughed softly as he leaned into Ziva’s ear. She only smiled and shrugged at him in response.
A little while later, Abby’s luggage and equipment was loaded onto Steve’s truck and Gibbs had acquired the rental, much to DiNozzo’s disappointment it was a bog standard sedan. As Steve helped Abby into the back seat of his truck he watched Tony edge closer and closer to his vehicle.
“DiNozzo, get in the car!” Gibbs growled as he opened the drivers side door.
“I thought I’d ride down with the Commander, Boss. You know, to keep an eye on Abs,” Tony replied.
The older man looked from him to Ziva and McGarrett. “I think Ziva can handle it. Just get in.”
“On your six boss,” Tony sighed, his shoulders slumping in defeat. Only Gibbs could suck the fun out of Hawaii and his own covert assessment of Ziva and Commander Muscles.
By the time they arrived at the office, Ziva was doing her best to ignore the smiles that Abby kept giving her. She knew what it was about and that her friend wouldn’t say anything until they were alone. She just hoped that it would be later in the case rather than sooner as Ziva was trying to figure out the feelings she was experiencing herself.
McGarrett led the group into the headquarters of the Five-O task Force, as expected Danny was nowhere to be found, but Chin, Kono and McGee were already hard at work looking over case files.
“Hey, look who we found at the airport,” Steve announced, causing McGee to stand.
“Uh, Boss… Tony… we weren’t expecting you,” the technology savant stated as he realised that he was wearing yet another pair of Khaki’s and a very loud Hawaiian shirt that Kono had insisted that he buy while they were taking in the sights.
“I can see that,” Tony said with a grin, looking at Tim from behind his favourite pair of shades as Gibbs made a beeline for the coffee maker that Ziva pointed him to.
“Introductions, Chin-Ho Kelly, Kono Kalakaua, meet Abby Sciuto, our invited forensic specialist, and Special Agents Jethro Gibbs and Tony DiNozzo of NCIS,” Steve said as Kono stepped forward first.
Giving Abby the once over she grinned and said, “I love your ink.”
“Thanks!” the dark haired woman replied as she made her way to McGee and looked at the table he was practically hanging over. “This is really cool. I didn’t think that you guys had resources like this – no offense.”
“None taken,” Chin smiled. “Thanks to McGarrett, the Governor hooked us up. It doesn’t compare to that MTAC place that McGee was telling us about, but it gets the job done.”
Gibbs quietly made his way over with his coffee and looked at Ziva who he noticed stayed rather close to the man she was at the airport with. “What have you manage to find out so far?”
“Not much I’m afraid. Mostly more small things that need to be processed but we were planning on going to explore possible routes by water where the boat that Owens was found on could have been. It is possible that it was surveying locations – what for we do not yet know,” Ziva explained, avoiding his prying eyes.
“Well, while you’ve been sunning yourselves, I did some checking into Owens’ recent activities,” DiNozzo said proudly. “Seems our average wage agent has been getting high sums of cash funnelled into an offshore account that took a little while for me to uncover.”
“You or the computer forensics team back at HQ?” McGee asked.
“It was a team effort! I supervised!” Tony replied defensively. “It seems that Owens was getting ready to take early retirement, recent purchases from that account include a house, a high end sports car and shares in a boat rental company.”
Ziva looked up at Steve quickly before looking back at her partner. “What was the name of that company?” she asked, crossing the floor to pick up the file on the table to look over their notes.
“Robson’s I think,” Tony replied, “Owned by one Ian Robson who moved out here from LA a couple of years ago. Why do you ask?”
She skimmed the papers and narrowed her eyes. “The boat was leased to Robson Waters. Steve? Isn’t that the company that owns the rental that Owens was found on? I know you said we’d hit the water later but somethinghas to be in those areas of land that it was tracked to.”
“McGee, Chin, find out everything you can about Robson, his company and any other pieces of Real Estate he might own,” Steve said, nodding in agreement. “Have HPD prepare a boat for us. Kono, will you escort Miss Sciuto to her temporary lab?”
“Sure Boss, but what about the other two? You know the hoales won’t know where to go – um…Do you want to call Danny in?” she asked as she got up.
“Tony, go with Abby. I’ll team up with Ziva and McGarrett for now,” Gibbs said before striding out of the office with his cup in hand. “You two coming…”
DiNozzo looked over at Ziva and frowned with an unreadable expression on his face as he tried to figure out what was so off with his partner and friend. He watched her all the while she waited for the muscled guy to get up and follow Gibbs before turning back and smiling brightly again at Abby and the girl cop. “Ready for some fun in the sun?”
As McGarrett was at the wheel of one of HPD’s powerboats, Gibbs sat in one of the passenger seats by Ziva, his cup of coffee long since drained. “So do I have to remind you about Rule 12?” he asked casually, well as casually Jethro Gibbs got.
“Gibbs – I – you do not know everything,” Ziva answered as she glanced up at Steve.
“I know that you and he had something before we met,” he said simply. “And that something never fully went away for either of you.”
She looked at him with confusion. “I do not know what you are speaking of.”
“I’ve been married four times Ziva, and I’ve had other relationships that didn’t get me to the altar. Every one of those women stuck with me… in here,” he pointed to his chest. “Even if I didn’t want them to. I know when you’re troubled, and I know the signs of two people who had… havesomething together.”
“I know even you do not have clearance to know of missions that I worked, or McGarrett worked when he was in active,” she said simply. She knew that despite his ability to just know things, there was no way he would have been able to know that they had worked together previously – unless Vance spoke with her father.
“You forget that I was in your shoes once. I met someone on a mission that became very important to me,” he said, thinking of Jenny. “If circumstances were different, we could have had something special together instead of the reality of what happened.”
“Just – stop right there. What are you trying to tell me? First you remind me of rule twelve, then you go on like this?” she asked, raising her voice enough for Steve to hear and glance back.
“You’re trying to make a decision,” he explained, glaring at McGarrett for a moment before returning his attention to Ziva. “A bigdecision about your life that you’ve been trying to dodge for a while. Just make sure that it is what youwant.”
Ziva was quiet while she looked at him long and hard. “Who are you and what have you done with the Gibbs I know and left behind in DC two days ago?” she asked.
“It’s the sun and the sea air,” he replied, “And if anyone gets wind of this, a head-slap will be the least of your concern.” Gibbs’ gut was never wrong. Ziva had strong feelings for McGarrett, but more than that, even before Somalia, Gibbs knew that Ziva would one day make a decision that would put her past to bed and allow her to consider her future. And deep down he also knew that things would change for the team soon.
The engines of the boat slowed from their powerful roar to a dull pulse. “We’re almost there,” McGarrett announced. “According to the GPS system on the yacht, Owens’ course had him moor at the small settlement up ahead.
Ziva eagerly got up and grabbed her binoculars and made her way to Steve’s side as she eyed the coastline. “What do you know about this area? It is mostly locals or mainland people that move in?”
“It’s mainly used by locals who like their privacy and wish to avoid tourists as much as possible. There’s no easy route to get there on land, hence the powerboat,” Steve explained. “How Robson managed to get a place here is pretty hard to picture. He’d be a hoale to everyone living here.”
Gibbs raised his hand from where he continued to sit. “Whatis a hoale?”
“Roughly translated, it means foreigner. People who come from the mainland,” Steve replied, “Borderline racist I know, but that’s the culture for you.”
“You, me, definitely McGee and Tony,” Ziva said at the same time.
He nodded as he looked back out over the water. Just by that explanation alone, he knew that it would be difficult to get anything from locals willingly and that meant he had to deal with the working agreement Vance made with the Jameson woman. That did not make him very happy.
She continued to eye the coast and frowned. “We need to get in there, look around,” she pointed out.
Steve considered his options for a moment. If he were alone or with Danny, he would have considered swimming to the settlement and poking around without the locals knowing. But in the interest of cooperation with Gibbs, he began guiding the boat toward the docks by the settlement.
There were several boats moored there, but at least they didn’t have to worry about anyone taking a boat and running as the HPD had loaned them a powerhouse.
Having docked the boat, they began to make their way toward the cluster of buildings. However they had to cut through some dense foliage to get there as they couldn’t see a direct path.
Ziva and Gibbs exchanged smiled as they followed Steve on the hike through the local fauna. It had an endearing effect on her the way her friend tried to sell the idea of Hawaii to her without make it obvious.
“I told you, I would plan on a vacation soon,” she said.
“I could think of worse places to visit… or to live,” Gibbs replied, remembering his retirementand his time spent at Mike Franks’ home in Mexico.
“You did not enjoy Mexico Gibbs? You seemed very reluctant about coming back when I asked for your help.”
“Exactly, to me it was paradise. I very nearly settled down out here before I joined NIS,” Gibbs replied. “Everyone has their paradise, Ziva. It’s just a question of if you ever want to leave or not.”
She looked at him and narrowed her eyes. She was ready to say something when the trio reached the top of the trail to be able to look down over the other hill at the other side. “Wow,” she breathed out at the view.
Gibbs simply stood and took in the view. He watched McGarrett move around to join Ziva. He moved quickly and quietly, as smoothly as a Marine would expect from a SEAL.
Steve fought the urge to slide his hand into Ziva’s, although they were barely inches away from doing so anyway. “What do you think to my back yard?”
She merely continued to stare forward in awe before she forced herself to come back down to reality. “How many houses or properties are connected to the dock here? We should try to speak to everyone. As you said yourself, anyone would be an outsider here.”
“Not anyone, you’ve just gotta know how to talk to the locals,” Steve replied. “I grew up here, I played football here, I might not be a native, but I’m as good as.”
“Well go on then, talk to your people,” Gibbs said as he allowed the SEAL to lead the way.
Ziva grinned up at Steve as she raised an eyebrow. “You heard my boss,” she smirked and fell into step behind Gibbs.
The occupants of the first three houses were less than forthcoming with information about Robson and his activities. Fortunately, the local living at the 4th address was a football fan.
“I don’t believe it brah, I’m standing next to Steve McGarrett! Dude! That last pass you threw in your last game was totally sick brah!” the man said excitedly.
“Yeah, it was great. But listen, I need you to take a look at these two pictures. Do you ever remember seeing either of these two come up here?” Steve asked, holding up pictures of Owens and Robson.
The local looked closely at the photos for a few moments before pointing at Owns picture. “I saw this guy a couple of days ago, monday I think. The hoale was wearing a suit… my brother offered to sell him some better clothes, you know what I’m sayin’?”
Ziva chuckled as she glanced at Gibbs. “Do you remember what he was doing?” she asked. “Did he appear suspicious in any way other than the suit?” she added sweetly.
The local seemed to drink Ziva in. His eyes wandered from her head to her feet and back again before he licked his lips. “Uhhh, I think he had a briefcase with him and he was definitely waiting for someone. He hung around for about an hour before he got on his boat and left.”
Gibbs glared silently in his usual way. Glancing at McGarrett to assess the man’s reaction, he couldn’t help but to smile.
Ziva let out a small chuckle, not missing a beat. “Did he appear calm or nervous in any way?” she asked before her tone shifted. “And if you do not look take your eyes away from my chest, I will happily feed them to the local wildlife.”
“I better do as she says brah,” Steve stifled his grin, “And answer her questions.”
The local’s eyes darted between McGarrett, Ziva and finally Gibbs for a few moments before he spoke up. “He uh, he seemed fine when I first noticed him. As time went on though he started pacing and looking over his shoulder a lot.”
She nodded slowly and eyed the woods along the road as Gibbs spoke up finally. “Any other new faces in the area or around the docks? Maybe a little further back? Say like the last few weeks or months?”
“Don’t think so,” the man said reluctantly before looking Gibbs straight in the eye. “Sorry I couldn’t be any more help.” With that, the man nodded toward the highest house on the cliff-side before shaking hands with Steve once again and heading inside quickly.
Ziva started to heading toward the road as she squinted into the sun. “That was not much help,” she said, then looked back at the trees where her senses were put on edge.
“He gave us more than you realise Ziva,” Gibbs replied as he trudged off toward the house the local had pointed out.
“Gibbs, looking at a house isn’t a lead. People living out here barely look at their neighbours, let alone talk to them,” Steve explained as they followed, “He was probably just trying to lead us on a wild goose chase.”
“You know the thing about Wild Geese McGarrett?” Gibbs asked as he drew his sidearm. “Sometimes you catch one. Ziva!”
She had been distracted by movement in one area of the woods where a boar came running out but failed to see what Gibbs screamed her name. She started to turn around and saw the butt side of a rifle coming for her face. Instinctually, Ziva went down to her knee to miss the blow except that it wasn’t quite fast enough that she managed to get glanced by the edge. Before she landed completely into the dirt road, she managed to get a good, solid kidney punch in.
As the local that helpedthem doubled over, McGarrett tackled him and while keeping him pinned to the ground, he looked to Ziva. “You okay?”
“Yeah,” she replied, wiping at her lip from the small amount blood that was there. “I’ve had worse…” she shrugged as she got back to her feet with Gibbs’ help as he kept his weapon fixed on the man.
“Where’s the love brah? Thought you wanted to help?” Steve growled as he slowly got up and pulled the local to his feet.
“Yeah, like I’m gonna rat anybody out. You’re just like the last guy… pressin’ me for answers.”
“The last guy, you mean the guy in the picture?” Gibbs asked, his gun aimed at the local.
“Yeah, kept asking questions about some white dude named Robson. Said something about wanting what was owed,” the local replied. “Look, you’ve got what you came for, just let me go!”
“It doesn’t work like that. You just assaulted a Federal Agent, you’re under arrest brah,” Steve said as he retrieved his hand cuffs. “But hey, you can tell your friends that you got your ass handed to you by Steve McGarrett.”
“Aww come on man,! How would you like it if some guy came round asking a load of dumb questions and have cops turn up a few days later asking more dumb questions. It makes a guy nervous,” the local replied before Steve began to read him his rights.
“Yeah well that guy we were asking about – he’s dead,” Ziva growled as she pushed him down the road after Steve slapped on a pair of cuffs. “Now you just earned yourself a trip behind bars. Damn…” she moaned as she held the side of her face as it already began to throb.
Gibbs took the local by the arm and looked at Steve. Nodding toward Ziva, he led the cuffed local toward the boat, putting some distance between them.
Steve gently cupped Ziva’s face and tilted her head back. “Let me see,” he said softly. “Yeah, that son of a bitch got you good.”
“I’ll be fine,” she said softly. “At least he wasn’t up on steroids or on PCP. Just need to ice it down as soon as we get to the office.”
“Yeah,” Steve smiled before placing a gentle kiss on her swelling cheek. He wasn’t about to leave her side though, he walked with her to the boat, never straying too far. “You know, you’re slipping. I remember a Ziva that could take on three SEAL’s.”
“Do not start,” she replied, trying not to smile. “It’s been nearly eight years since that mission and it is not unusual for someone to get one up on me time to time. I still kicked your ass then and can now.”
“Well if you’d like to sharpen those skills, I’ll step into the ring with you,” Steve offered, wondering whether or not they were still evenly matched. “I’ve learned a thing or two since the last time your fist met my face.”
Ziva fought to keep her lips even as she hummed a chuckle. “I admit I will need a little bit of conditioning first. I am sure there are some decent trails for running, yes?”
“You’ve seen a portion of my back yard already,” Steve grinned. “Tomorrow morning, 06:00. We’re running.”
Gibbs only smiled as he ignored their prisoner that rambled on a list of complaints as he nudged the man forward. “Just make sure my agent is alive and well when you two show up at the office when you are done. I’ll work with one of your other people until you do. Ziver – when we get back, you should probably go get checked out. Make sure you didn’t break anything,” he added with concern at the way her face quickly changed colors.
“Gibbs, I am fine. I do not need to be checked,” she protested.
“At least let Ducky take a look,” he replied, a small smile playing on his lips. “I just got a call from McGee, Dr. Mallard’s plane touched down 20 minutes ago. Tony and your girl Kono are picking him up while Abby makes friends with the HPD lab equipment.”
Ziva’s eyes went large as she looked over at Gibbs who’s face hardened into a scowl. He knew he left clear orders that Abby was not to be left unattended and for Tony to stick with her. “I am sure that Abby is fine. If Tony was willing to go then Abby finished what work she could and they are at the Five-0 office.”
“If she’s at the HPD lab, she’ll be surrounded by cops anyway,” McGarrett said, hoping to be reassuring.
“The last time Abby worked with another team, of NCIS Agents I might add, she ended up in danger,” Gibbs replied. “I told Vance that I wasn’t gonna let that happen again. If it does, your Governor won’t be able to remove my boot from your ass without the aid of a surgical team.”
Ziva didn’t have anything to say to that as she looked back to Steve. If anything, she might have said or done the same thing in his position as she didn’t want to see anything happen to her friend and the stress of trying to do something from D.C. left her feeling helpless.
“With all due respect Agent Gibbs, this is a different situation. I understand that you care for your team, just as I care for mine, but nobody can be protected 24/7 and I’m sure that the officers at HPD will take good care of her while she processes the evidence,” Steve began to understand just how important Gibbs was to Ziva. If he cared half as much for Ziva as he did for Abby, he definitely made a better father-figure for her than Eli David. “And I doubt Agent DiNozzo would have left her alone without ensuring she was safe first. Kono doesn’t know Doctor Mallard, your DiNozzo does.”
Gibbs turned to face Ziva, the left corner of his mouth curled up. “Just have that surgical team on stand-by. Cause if the SEAL doesn’t need it, DiNozzo might.”
Ziva could not resist laughing despite the pain it caused. “Okay, okay. Let’s get back so that we can get this guy set up for interrogation. I may use that couch in your office for a little while,” she said, glancing at Steve before climbing onto the boat when they reached it finally. Their guest started to get a little mouthy about the display of attention between the three making Steve accidently elbow him in the face.
“Oops! Sorry,” he grinned before the group settled back for the trip around the island back to the main population.