Steve was panting profusely, sweat poured from his body in buckets and his muscles ached like they’d been at it for days. They’d gotten only a few hours sleep before Ziva woke him up and demanded that he accept her new challenge.
So here they were, running along a coastal path, the early morning sun already beating down upon them as Ziva poured on the pressure to beat her. Where does she get the energy from? was all he could think as he watched her pass him once again.
“Come on Steve, you can do better than that!” she goaded, flashing him the same seductive smile that won him over when they first met. “We’re almost back at the truck!”
And she was right, they could see Steve’s truck in the distance. Smiling, he mustered all the energy he could and started his run for the finish line. Yes his lungs burned, yes his heart was racing and sweat stung his eyes, but there was no way he was about to give up now. Not after the bet that they had made.
In the last few yards, Ziva smiled to herself as she let up just enough for him to pass her and let him win. If there was one thing she was consistent with over the years, it was her running and cardio endurance and this challenge told her that he was not as much so in the recent months or even years.
She stopped to catch her breath a lot easier than he had, hunched over as he leaned against his truck. “Good work out,” she nodded before grinning at him knowingly.
“Yeah,” he wheezed. He either swam or ran everyday, he kept in shape and yet one night with her had him feeling like a 250lb over-eater using a treadmill for the first time. He so needed to use the HPD gym more often especially now that he knew she would be around more.
Ziva chuckled as she pulled out cold bottles of water from the cooler on the bed of the truck and tossed him one. “I thought you were a SEAL. You barely kept up at times.”
“Are you serious?” he asked after taking a long drink of water and then pouring some over his head. “Four hours sleep after being with you another three times. You’re lucky I could walk this morning.”
“Oh?” she smiled saucily as she made her way over to him and wrapped her arms over his shoulders. “I don’t know about luck but I am certainly happy.” She grinned and pushed herself up on her toes to kiss him. Just before their lips met, the shrill tone of a phone ringing on his front seat interrupted the moment, leaving her with a disappointed sigh.
Adding a sigh of his own, he planted a quick kiss on her forehead before reaching for his cell. “McGarrett.”
“Hello LoverBoy,” the caller greeted with false enthusiasm. “When are you and your girlfriend going to drag your asses out of bed and come to the office?”
“We just finished a morning run,” Steve rolled his eyes. “Tell Gibbs we’ll be coming in within the hour.” He noticed Ziva’s disappointment grow and reached for her hand to give it a gentle squeeze. “And Danny, sort out some breakfast for everyone would ya? I doubt anyone will want to work on empty stomachs.”
“Usual place?” his partner asked. Steve could hear him reaching for a pen and a pad already.
“Yeah, see you soon,” Steve said before ending the call. “We’ve gotta go.”
“What’s going on?” she asked curiously as she wiped the sweat from her body with a hand towel. “Did they find out something?”
“Judging Danny’s tone, yes,” Steve replied as he tossed the bottle back onto the bed of the truck and got into the drivers seat. “We’ve got less than an hour to shower and change.”
Ziva raised an eyebrow. “Do you think that is enough time?” she teased, knowing that they would be able to without a problem.
“Hrm,” Steve said thoughtfully, “We may have to share a shower. To save time of course, and it helps the environment.”
“Just what I was thinking as well,” she grinned. “Let’s go then.”
Nearly one hour to the minute, Steve and Ziva walked into the Five-0 office to find nearly everyone gathered around the situation table. She had a more amiable step in her walk compared to before and it certainly did not appear as if the bruising on her face bothered her as much when she went straight for the table where there was an assortment of foods spread out. “What have we missed?” she asked as she took a hungry bite of the bagel she opted for.
“Ahh, Ziva. Miss Kalekaua was just telling us about Hawaiian breakfast choices,” Ducky explained, nodding formally at Kono.
“She means the case, Duck,” Gibbs sighed before taking a sip of his coffee.
“Ahh, well I’ve gone over the coroners report in more detail and also managed to get a look at Agent Owens body, thank you again Kono,” Doctor Mallard smiled. “And your Maximilian was correct in the victims cause of death. There’s definitely nothing irregular.”
“I did however go over the evidence. The bullet casings recovered from the scene match Owen’s sidearm. He was killed by his own weapon,” Abby added sadly.
“That would indicate that he knew his killer, or was caught unaware at least,” Chin replied. “He could have been working with someone else on the yacht.”
“Ziva, you found the wrapper from a video tape. If he was running surveillance on somebody, he may have been working in shifts,” McGee offered, knowing how often the team had to work in shifts while keeping tabs on somebody.
She smiled and shook her head. “While it is possible, I do not think it is likely. Never before has he indicated he was unhappy with his lifestyle. I did pull his HR file before we left DC and read it over on the plane – I’m sorry I forgot to mention that. He was due for a respectable raise that would bring him up to other agents working on the island. Also, he had previously filed reports of being offered bribes. For someone previously honest like that to suddenly turn – it does not make any sense. It feels more like a set up to me.”
“A setup by who?” Kono asked, “Another NCIS agent? There weren’t many people who would know Owens movements and activities. It’s a logical choice.”
“If Owens tripped upon another agent then yes,” Ziva replied.
Tony scratched at his jaw as he looked at the information laid out on the screens. “That’s why Vance is having us work together. He suspected something like this. He had to.”
“McGee, get me a secure line to Vance. Now,” Gibbs growled, placing his drained cup of coffee down.
McGee grabbed his laptop quickly and looked to Steve.
“Use my office,” he nodded. He suddenly got a very bad feeling. If this was NCIS’ mess, he didn’t want to step on toes, especially Gibbs given that the man looked as if he was about to rip Director Vance a new one.
“Tony, Ziva, run a background check on any of the local agents that had dealings with Owens, no matter how brief,” Gibbs said as he followed McGee.
“On it boss,” Tony replied as he moved over to the table to access the secure connection that McGee had set up with the NCIS servers.
Steve in the meantime pulled Danny aside. “I’m gonna go see Jameson and see if she had any idea about why Vance wanted us to work together. Reach me on my cell if something comes up.”
“Hey man, whoa. You don’t wanna go asking the lady questions the way your looking,” Danny said, placing a hand on his shoulder briefly.
“Oh? And just how am I looking?” Steve asked, folding his arms.
“Like we’ve been tricked into cleaning up somebody else’s mess,” Danny replied without skipping a beat. “The vein in your neck is doing that throbbing thing again and your nostrils are flaring.”
“That’s not it at all,” Steve replied, raising his voice slightly before hushing up. “That’s not it at all. I’m just going to ask her what she knows and give her an update on the case.”
“Alright, but at least take someone with you. Let Kono drive at least. You know how you drive when you’re pissed,” Danny said as he waved the rookie over.
“I am not pissed!” he half growled only to receive Danny’s trademark I told you so stare.
“Alright, Kono, let’s go see the Governor, you can drive,” he sighed, slumping his shoulders in defeat.
Ziva looked up from beside Tony where she was reading over the files that came up. She narrowed her eyes and cocked her head to the side slightly as she passed Steve a questioning look while Kono made her way for the doors.
Steve smiled at her softly for a moment before he and Kono left. He hoped that he wouldn’t be too long just from the smile she had given him in return.
Tony looked up at his partner and towards the door before returning. “You okay?” he asked carefully.
“I am fine,” she said tensely as she straightened her back and let out a deep breath. She focused her attention on the agent files displayed, shaking her head. Ziva went over and roughly dragged a chair over to the table so that she could sit while she poked through one file for anything that stood out.
“Commander McGarrett, the Governor will see you now,” Jameson’s receptionist announced. Steve looked up from the magazine he was browsing and made his way inside, but not before offering Kono a reassuring smile.
The governor looked up from a pile of paperwork when one of her number one investigators walked in. “Commander. How are you?” she smiled as she removed her reading glasses and set them down.
“Sorry to bother you Ma’am but I have a couple of questions regarding the joint case we have with NCIS,” Steve explained. From the looks of her desk, she had very little time so he wasn’t going to mess her around.
“What is it you would like to know?” she asked, making her way over to the corner of the room where a small coffee pot was set up with hot water for tea.
“When you spoke with Director Vance, did he give you any indication that an NCIS Agent may be behind the death of Agent Owens?” he asked plainly.
The woman frowned and pursed her lips as she considered the question and how to respond. “He did not say anything directly but I did suspect that he believed there may have been more for his reasoning. When I informed him that I already had Five-0 working the case, he said that he was sending out agents from their headquarters to look into it as well.”
“Great,” Steve sighed and rubbed his hand over his face. “Agent Gibbs is discussing the case with Director Vance as we speak. Hopefully Vance will voice his suspicions more openly.”
“Gibbs? I thought Director Vance sent a David and McGee?” she asked with confusion. “Tea Commander?”
“No thank you Ma’am, I can’t stay long,” he smiled gratefully. “And I’m sorry that you were not informed, I assumed that Director Vance would have updated you personally. He sent Agent Dav-eed’s superior, Agent Gibbs to oversee the outcome of the investigation, along with a senior special agent and NCIS’ coroner. I should have suspected something was amiss then.”
“Oh dear. They will all need additional rooms, won’t they?” she frowned slightly. “I’ll have my receptionist find out where they are staying and secure them more comfortable accommodations. How is the investigation going in any case?”
“Not as smoothly as I’d like Ma’am, having to deal with NCIS red tape has slowed things down somewhat, but we believe that we’re getting closer to the truth. I’ll forward you an updated report as soon as I get back to the office,” Steve explained, “I’m sure we’ll have everything wrapped up in the next day or so.”
Governor Jameson nodded as she studied him more closely for a moment, getting a feeling of something different. “Very well. Tell me Commander…How have you been through all this?” she smiled.
Steve frowned for a moment. Being a friend of his father’s and of his, he was used to a sense of familiarity between them. But she had never actually been this concerned for his well-being before. “Uh, just fine Ma’am. I’ve worked with other Agencies before and the people at NCIS are definitely some of the best LEO’s I’ve worked with.”
“I see,” she murmured. “Okay. Well you should return to work. The sooner you close this case, the sooner we all can get back to our usual business. Good luck Commander.”
“Governor,” he nodded before making his way to the door. The words our usual business stuck with him though and his mind instantly connected it with the fact that Ziva would have to leave soon, either with Gibbs or after a vacation. Stopping at the door, he turned to face Jameson once again. “Actually Governor, I have another question if I may?”
The woman looked up as she was sitting back down and nodded. “Of course.”
“I think you’ll agree that the work the Five-0 Task Force has done for the State has been a great help to Hawaii, and that’s due in no small part to your continuous support and funding,” Steve began.
“Yes, you have. A number of people have shared their appreciation for the success you have accomplished so far. Is something bothering you?”
“No Ma’am, not bothering me per se. But I would like your thoughts on expanding my team. I only ask because of the budgetary concerns. Detectives Williams and Kelly and Officer Kalekaua have all proven to be worthy assets. I just feel that we can do more if we have enough manpower.”
Governor Jameson leaned forward on her desk as she thought about his question as she looked at him. “Do you have someone specific in mind to add to your task force?”
“I do,” he replied honestly, a small smile forming on his lips. “Agent David of NCIS.”
“Wow,” she replied, sitting back as she smiled at him. She was quiet for a few moments as she thought it over more before saying anything. “That is one hell of a choice that I’ll admit I wasn’t thinking of. I think it is possible that something may be worked out. Considering all the Navy personnel, it would be an asset with the addition of the NCIS resources included. However, I cannot help but feel there is more that you aren’t telling me.”
“I’ve worked with Agent David in the past. She and I worked a SEAL team operation together when she was an officer in the Mossad,” he explained without giving any details. “I know how good she was back then, since we began our current investigation I’ve come to realise just how good she has become since. She has expressed an interest in transferring out of D.C. With the right offer, I’m sure she’d love to come work with Five-0.”
The governor nodded slowly as let out a breath. “Alright. I will not make any promises but I will speak to Director Vance about it. Ultimately it will be up to him and he may not wish to let one of his people go so readily.”
“Okay,” Steve nodded. “Thank you Governor.” With that, he left the office. Sure he could have told her about his feelings for Ziva, and yes she would have been happy for him, but he wasn’t about to risk securing a transfer offer for her by discussing his personal relationship with the former Mossad operative.
Meanwhile, back at the Five-0 headquarters, the two groups continued to pour over Owens’ case files and personnel files of agents assigned on the island over the recent years while Chin and Gibbs tried to work their man from the day before for more information.
Tony’s brow furrowed more and more as he flipped through one file leaving a look of pure confusion on his face. “I think I may have something. But the way this guy writes, it’s hard to say. It makes me feel as if the report is written in code.”
“That’s because he’s writing in short hand, Tony,” McGee shook his head as he scoured some NCIS files on his laptop. “Abby.”
“Owens was investigating a money laundering scheme run by one Diego Alvarez, a former Petty Officer who served on a security detail aboard the USS Kingfisher. The Kingfisher was transporting 200 million US Dollars to the middle east to fund the armed forces and ongoing relief efforts,” the goth explained as she read the shorthand. “Only 180 million arrived. An NCIS investigation led by Agent Blackadder didn’t determine where the money went or how it was stolen from the ship in the first place.”
“Wait, what? Blackadder? Vivian? Are you sure about that?” Tony asked even more confused.
“According to the records, the Agent Afloat aboard the Kingfisher was Special Agent V. Blackadder,” Tim chimed in. “I’ll double-check them with the Kingfisher’s records clerk. Why do you ask?”
“She was part of Jethro’s team for a while,” Ducky explained. “She left about two months before Caitlin joined the team. Before your time my dear boy.”
Abby looked around at everyone. “I don’t even want to think that Vivian had anything to do with this. She isn’t even an agent anymore with us. She got her afloat status as a form of punishment then went back to the FBI.”
“Abby’s onto something guys,” Tim replied. “I just got a response from the Kingfisher’s file clerk. Check out who else is also listed on their records as the Agent Afloat at the time of the transport mission.” He threw the scanned document up onto the large screen. And there, by the printed name of the Agent Afloat was his signature.
“Owens?” Tony frowned.
“Owens and Blackadder. Is it common for there to be two agents assigned on ships like this?” Ziva asked, looking at her partner.
“No, it’s rare that more than one Agent Afloat is needed. Unless there’s a call for additional Agents,” Tony replied, having served as an Agent Afloat himself.
Danny had been sitting quietly as he watched and listened to the NCIS group converse amongst themselves. Initially, meeting each other agents on their own and hearing of the others, he couldn’t imagine how they could possibly function but seeing it for his own eyes he had to give them credit. With their vast differences, they worked well together.
“Uh, excuse me,” he spoke up raising a hand. “I’m just a regular ol’ detective here. Can we use non military terminology here? What is an agent afloat?”
Ziva looked at him with a smile. “An NCIS agent that is assigned to vessels at sea. Agent afloat,” she shrugged.
“Ah. Okay. Where is the last known location for this Blackadder?” he threw out.
“Uhhh… just a sec,” Tim replied, typing in the info he needed. “She’s working as an analyst at the FBI field office in LA.”
Tony was still scowling as he stared at the woman’s picture in the file. “Close enough for frequent and quick trips to the islands if she had to.”
“Oh my god,” McGee exclaimed, “On a hunch I ran a check on her recent credit activity. And guess who flew into Hawaii four days ago.”
“So that means we go do some actual leg work,” Danny grinned as he stood, grateful to do something other than go through papers. “Uh…” he started looking around before his eyes fell on Ziva. “You up to hitting the road? Maybe we can get that tea,” he joked.
She chuckled as she grabbed her bag and nodded. “Sounds like it will be fun,” she replied. “Tony, will you let Gibbs know where we’ve gone?”
He nodded, not liking the idea that his former partner might be wrapped up in something like this. Especially being involved in the murder of a good agent. Gibbs, he knew, was going to have a field day with this one.
“You alright boss?” Kono asked from the passenger seat as they drove back to the office. “You seem quiet.”
“I’m fine Kono, well not fine, but it’s nothing,” Steve replied as he drove.
“Doesn’t sound like nothing,” Kono pressed. “Is it Agent David?”
“Sort of,” he eventually conceded to. “I actually asked the governor about adding more people to the team. Crazy I know but I figured I threw it out there.”
“Hell, if I get more surf time I’m all for it,” Kono grinned. “But seriously, some more help wouldn’t hurt. It’s been good having NCIS working with us.”
Steve grinned as he looked out the window as they drove. “I don’t know about that. If I was able to get Ziva to come on board, I was actually considering having you trade off back and forth between Chin and her. You know, for the experience, at least until we can find a permanent partner for one of you.”
“As much as I love working with my cousin, he can be a little overbearing at times,” Kono explained only to receive a knowing smile from McGarrett. “Agent David appears to be a very skilled investigator, I could definitely learn a lot from her.”
“It would also help us with communicating with people too. Not everyone on Hawaii speaks Mandarin, or Chinese, or even Hawaiian. Last I was aware, she knew at least ten other languages,” he pointed out. “Then dealing with the Navy would be a lot easier…”
“Are those the only reasons boss?” Kono asked, stifling a knowing smile of her own. “It seems to me that there’s more to it than that.”
Steve looked at her slowly but with a matching smile. He wouldn’t say it officially, but he knew it was a big reason behind his motives. “Hopefully the guys found something in those files. Danny is probably trying to gauge his eyes out by now.”
With that, Steve’s foot pressed down on the accelerator a little. Not only did he want to get back to the office quickly, but he wanted to avoid any further questions from Kono.