Chapter 18

Chin was already hard at work, scowering through the traffic footage he managed to get his hands on when Danny and Steve made their way into the office. “Hey guys,” he greeted. “HPD found the truck abandoned off of Kamehameha Highway. They ran the plates but they didn’t come back with any name so they believe they had them made. Very good forgeries according to K’wauni.”

“Oh that’s lovely,” Danny sighed as he eyed his friend stop in front of the plasma screen to stare at the footage and Ziva being pulled from his disabled truck.

Frowning he pointed at the rag that was held over her face. “They had to have used chloraform. She would have been fighting back if she wasn’t incapacitated,” Steve mused as he continued to gaze at the screen.

“I identified the assailants that tried to kill you, boss,” Chin nodded. “The two men you killed were Piotr and Illya Gromov, known on the mercenary circuit as the red twins. Ex-Russian special forces who have been working as soldiers of fortune since the late ’90’s.”

“What about the guy Kono’s watching?” Steve asked hurriedly as he skimmed the information displayed on the situation table. There was nothing in their records that stood out.

“This is where it gets interesting,” Chin said as he punched up the data. “Kono tried taking fingerprints from him en route to the hospital, only to find they’d been surgically removed. A pretty professional job from the sounds of it.”

“What about facial recognition?” Steve asked hopefully.

Chin smiled, “Way ahead of you. Meet Paul Draper, he’s wanted by Interpol and has ties to several terrorist groups. He’s thought to be responsible for the deaths of several prominent diplomats working in or for several European and Middle Eastern Countries. One of them being Israel.”

Steve stared intently at Draper’s image, silently plotting how to draw out the information he needed from him.

Danny noted his partner’s gaze and jumped in with some questions. “You got anything else?”

“I’m looking into their histories, bank records, travel itineraries, that sort of thing to see if I can find any leads as to who took Ziva. But the way guys like this usually operate, I doubt it’ll be easy to find any paper trail,” Chin replied solemnly. “Sorry boss.”

“It’s okay Chin, keep at it. Let me know as soon as you find anything,” Steve replied as he stalked out of the office.

“Where are you going?” Danny asked. “Don’t you think it’s time to call in the cavalry?”

“Not until we know more,” Steve growled. “And the only person that can give us a lead is at the hospital.

~o.O.o~

“We’ve set his wrist in a cast, it was a minor fracture,” explained the native Doctor who was briefing Steve and Danny on the condition of their suspect and only lead at that point. “The gun shot wound will require surgery, which we’re prepping for now. Your colleague asked us to take our time to give you a chance to interview him. You’ve got about ten minutes before we’ll need to move him to a surgical suite.”

“I’ll only need five,” Steve said as he brushed passed the Doctor and into the room were Kono was watching Draper.

“Uhh… thanks Doc,” Danny said with a courteous nod before following Steve, making sure to close the door and the blinds covering the windows.

“Who hired you?” Steve asked Draper with an eerily calm tone.

The man remained silent as he laid in the bed, staring up at the ceiling. It would not matter whether he survived the surgery that was planned or not, the people he worked for would come to find him to keep him from speaking. It was only a matter of time.

“Listen Draper, you and your friends kidnapped someone very important to me, you and the red twins failed in your task to kill me. Do you think whoever hired you will like the idea of one of his hired guns leaving loose ends? Because I don’t.”

“That is why it does not matter. I am still dead,” he hissed. “You will get nothing from me.”

“We can protect you,” Steve replied, “At least until Interpol catches up to you, we’ll keep you alive.”

Draper let out a low sadistic laugh. “You cannot protect me. He will find me no matter where I am. He will find you too, when he is ready again.”

“Then your only shot is to give me a name and hope that I can get to him before he gets to you,” Steve growled. “That’s the easy road. You don’t want to take the high road. Not today!”

“There are others set to take his place and complete his orders after his death. Leave me to wait for my death.”

Steve grabbed the IV of mild painkillers and ripped it from his hand. “Fine, you wanna take the high road? You wanna wait for death to come to you, then you’re going to feel every painful moment of it until it does!”

“Steve,” Danny warned his friend as he stepped up to try to pull him back. “Take a breather. Go outside and wait.”

McGarrett stared at his partner for a moment, his eyes filled with fire. He wanted nothing more than to break every bone in drapers body to get the information but that would be a dangerous line to cross, he knew it. Taking a slow deep breath, he turned back to Draper. “My partner just extended your life.”

As he watched his friend reluctantly make his way out into the hallway, Danny turned back to the man and let out a sigh. He hoped that his usual preference of being nice would help here. Reasoning with the man may be their only hope for any information. He remained in the room for several minutes before exiting, closing the door behind him quietly. “He was paid by a woman. He said he never got a name and didn’t ask. His team was given a photo of Ziva and the location where she was staying – your place – and told to make sure she was taken alive but believed that she didn’t care if she was really dead or alive. Hired by proxy,” he said softly. “We won’t get anything more from him no matter how much you want to torture him. He seemed more afraid of the woman that hired him than you.”

“Great…” Steve sighed. “Did he give a description? Something? Anything to go on?”

“Short, blondish hair with a mid-eastern accent was all he was able to give,” Danny replied.

“Sound like anyone we know?” Steve asked with a frown. It was a longshot, given her timetable, but if he had to place a bet on anyone having something to do with Ziva’s kidnapping, it would be her.

“I can have Kono waiting to do a picture line up when he comes out of surgery. Hopefully he’ll still be at least a little cooperative then,” he said. “Do you know if she flew out after the case at the house?”

“According to Agent Gibbs’ report, Director Vance’s Agency contact informed him that Kort and his party where due to leave the country on a private jet, but there’s no guarantee that the party was complete when the plane left the runway. She and Malachi may have stayed behind,” Steve replied. “I’m going to check the Mossad safehouse.”

“Steve. If it is her, do you really think they would go back there?” Danny asked hesitantly.

“I’m hoping that she wants us to think like that,” Steve replied, placing a hand on his partner’s shoulder briefly. “Stay with Draper, send Kono to help Chin. If you don’t hear from me within the hour, call Gibbs.”

“No. I’m coming with you. Lord knows you’ll need back up. Just try and avoid me getting shot again. Please,” Danny sighed as he followed his friend.

“Well tell Kono at least,” Steve said, “I’ll meet you in the car.”

He shook his head. “Nope. I’ll call her and leave a message from the car. I don’t trust you to wait for me to track her down in the hospital. Let’s go.”

“We are spending way too much time together,” he sighed before offering his friend a small smile.

“What? Because I know you well enough to predict that? I was right, wasn’t I? You didn’t plan on waiting for me. I so feel the love here.”

“Danny, she’s a highly trained Mossad agent. If she’s half as good as Ziva, I don’t want to put you at risk,” he explained sincerely.

Danny didn’t look so entertained. “That would be a first for you. Look, you’re my friend too. We’re partners. What is it you SEALs say? Never leave a man behind? Guess what. That is the same thing here. I have your back. You can’t get rid of me that easily now.”

Steve smiled, in all the years he’s worked alongside others, there was only two other people that he ever wanted to depend on so much. One of them was Ziva. “Does that mean I get to drive?”

“When has it stopped you before?” he sighed as he tossed his keys over to him. “I’m surprised you haven’t tried making copies for yourself by now. Oh uh – out of curiosity. Do you know if she has any medical conditions that we should be ready to deal with when we find her?”

“Who, Ziva? Not that I know of, why?” Steve asked as they reached Danny’s car and got in.

“Just figured it would be good to know. Might have been a way of negotiating with whoever is holding her,” he explained.

“Danny, if whoever took Ziva wanted to negotiate, we’d have gotten a call by now. They want her for something else,” he replied grimly as they peeled away from the hospital. “What exactly, I don’t know. They could be after NCIS or Mossad intel, or plan on using her to get to Gibbs or his team, I don’t know. All I know is I’m going to find whoever took her and ask them. Now make that call.”

Sighing, Danny pulled out his phone and called Kono to fill her in on their plan and about calling NCIS if they didn’t hear from them. After she voiced her objections and hung up, he looked out the window as they practically flew through the roads. “Where is this safe house? The only place I saw them at was the coffee shop and the hotel.”

“Its at the [XXX] housing complex. Pretty isolated, perfect for a safehouse,” he replied, “We’ll be there before you know it.”

“Yeah. I’m just wondering how you know of it is all.”

“That’s where we tracked them to before,” he explained. “Well, Ziva tracked them there. I was there for back-up.”

“Right. Well let’s just get there and figure out what we need to do next,” Danny said, hoping that the crew that took Ziva hadn’t gotten her off the island.

~o.O.o~

It was late in the afternoon and the sun setting on the water, Ziva began to stir from her chloroform induced sedation. She could still smell its sweetness lingering in her nostrils. Her memories immediately returned to her making her eyes fly open and take in her surroundings. She began to sit up, quickly at first but realized that was a mistake.

“I would not sit up if I were you, the chloroform was a particularly strong dose. We thought it would be prudent given your high resistance to drugs and chemical compounds,” someone explained from across the room. Her vision was still blurry so she couldn’t make out who the unfamiliar voice belonged to.

“Who are you?” Ziva questioned as she blinked, trying to focus on the direction she heard the voice. “Why have you taken me?”

“All of your questions will be answered soon Agent David, my employer is waiting until the drug has worked its way out of your system before he will speak with you,” the man replied. “Until then, I suggest that you relax and take deep breaths.”

Her eyes narrowed to try to fight through the glare of the sun that filtered into the room and the blurriness, she growled. “Tell me what you want of me now. I promise you will be the first I kill when I am able to see exactly who you are!”

“I do not believe you will be killing anyone today Agent David. You do not want to risk your status at NCIS, nor would you want to risk your American citizenship or your freedom from prison.”

She chuckled. “It would be considered self defense as I have no doubt that your kidnapping of me was caught on video surveillance,” she pointed out. “Or did your help forget about traffic cameras when they decided to ram my friend’s truck?”

“Believe me Agent David, I work for people more powerful than your Director Vance. The fact that your kidnapping was caught on camera is not going to be an issue for my employer,” the man countered.

“It is not Leon Vance that you should be afraid of,” she said simply.

“I believe she is well enough to be seen now, don’t you?” asked a very familiar voice from behind her.

Ziva’s face froze over in her most neutral position at the new voice and canted her head towards it. “I will have your head on my mantle for this one,” she said in a dangerously low voice.

“Your idle threats do not scare me Ziva. Be a good little American puppet and silent until the boss arrives,” Liat said as she paced the floor behind Ziva.

“You are freelancing yourself out now Officer Tuvia?” she asked, her head turning slightly to follow the footsteps.

“No Ziva, she is proving her loyalty,” another familiar voice said as its owner entered the room. “The loyalty that you have failed to show me as a daughter to her father and as a Mossad Operative to her Director.”

Ziva did not say anything as she quickly found herself on her feet and looking at the shadow figure of her father. She would not apologize for her choices but she also knew that his being there was not a coincidence. She needed to stall whatever they were looking to do long enough for Steve to find her.

~o.O.o~

Danny’s car pulled up outside the housing complex and before Danny could advise Steve on the best course of action to breach the safehouse, the Lieutenant Commander was already out of the car and making his way toward the door with his weapon drawn.

“Steve! What if they booby trapped the house?” he called after the man as he looked around uneasily.

Stopping by the door, he looked to Danny, “Good point, grab the door handle.”

“You’re joking, right?” he deadpanned. “I ain’t grabbing the handle.”

Steve grinned as he peered into a window. “Danny, there’s someone inside, will you stop worrying and let me do my job?”

“You have the tendency to go in anywhere guns blazing. I have to worry for the both of us since you apparently, well until today, to worry about anything. Just go in already,” he complained as he held up his own gun in ready formation.

Steve mouthed “3, 2, 1,” before kicking the door in and bursting into the safe house announcing who he and Danny worked for and ordering the person inside to get down on the ground.

Malachi did as he was instructed. “Lt. Commander McGarrett, I’ve been expecting you.”

“Where’s Ziva!” he growled, his weapon trained on the now kneeling Mossad officer.

“I’m assuming she is wherever my partner is now,” Malachi explained honestly. “However, I do not know where they are.”

“But you have an idea?” Steve asked, slightly taken aback by the honesty.

“After we assisted Agent Kort with his undercover operation, our orders were to come back here and await further instructions from Director David. When we reached the docks, I received a telephone call from the Director instructing us to leave the docks and return here separately for security purposes. I have not seen Liat since,” Malachi explained. “When I learned that your truck was involved in an accident on the local news, I finally realised why.”

“You knew something about what is going on and you didn’t consider to call the office and I don’t know, maybe, help? You claimed Ziva to be a friend and all and you just let your psychotic partner disappear with her?” Danny questioned.

“Ziva is not in danger,” Malachi replied. “If my suspicions are correct, Liat will not try to cause Ziva harm.”

Danny snorted as he glanced up at Steve. “Sorry. Forgive us if we don’t believe you. Your track records on the islands isn’t very credible after all.”

“Ziva will not come to harm because Director David was the one who ordered her capture,” the Israeli man sighed. “I believe he is already in the United States and is possibly with her as we speak.”

Steve’s eyes rolled closed. “You cannot be serious. He about ordered her to her death knowingly. You were on that team too. What kind of father wouldn’t be willing to kill his own child again after something like that? Are you really that stupid?”

“I believe that Director David is dying Commander,” Malachi replied simply. “He is trying to make amends with his daughter before his time comes.”

“Men like Eli David do not change,” Steve replied evenly. “The fact that he had her kidnapped in order to spend time with her is proof enough of that.

“I will not defend Director David’s decisions of late as they are indefensible,” Malachi explained. “But he has been acting out of sorts since he discovered his illness. For one, he planning his retirement.”

“Is there any way we can ban him retiring to Hawaii? I don’t like what I been hearing of this guy and I doubt what I’ve learned is even the tip of the iceberg,” Danny commented. “Do you have any idea where they could have gone?”

“No, but I am hoping that you can help trace the number that Director David called me from,” Malachi replied as he slowly reached for his cell phone and held it out to the two police officers.

“Danny,” Steve said simply as he holstered his weapon. “Get Chin working on it.”.

He looked at his friend in disbelief as he took the other man’s phone. “You don’t actually believe him, do you?” he asked. “It’s like in their blood to lie from what I’ve observed.”

“Right now, he’s our only lead. And he should be aware that if anything happens to us, my people have instructions to inform Agent Gibbs and his team of everything we know. And our friend Malachi knows that my feelings about Eli David and anyone else associated with Ziva’s old life don’t even come close to how Gibbs feels about them,” Steve replied simply, staring at Malachi the whole time.

Malachi drew in a deep breath knowing that Gibbs would not let countries and politics stop at accomplishing his goals. “I mean nothing but purest intentions. Whatever Liat has done, it was done so without my knowledge. Had I known that something like this was planned, I would have warned Ziva right away,” he explained.

“See Danny, that I do believe, because if Ziva were to find out that he had anything to do with it, he knows she wouldn’t hesitate in ending his sorry life. She killed her brother after all… a trusted friend would be a piece of cake.”

“And on Director David’s order,” Malachi pointed out, immediately regretting the slip.

Steve wrapped his hand around his gun again. “Elaborate.”

“Ahh – well, it was to be his in at NCIS with Ziva’s friendship with Director Shepard. He knew it would become a showdown with Agent Gibbs and Ari Haswari so he ordered Ziva to kill him if it came to it to earn Gibbs’ trust. Not just to save his life. That was her own reasoning for doing so that she would be able to sleep at night after,” he said softly.

“You want me to believe, that he ordered Ziva to kill her brother?” Steve replied, “If only to get in good with NCIS? I don’t buy it. There’s more to it than that.”

“You can ask Director Vance. He informed Agent Gibbs not long after they managed to get her out of Somalia alive,” he said. “He is that devious which is why you need to get Ziva back soon if he should decide to force her back to Israel.”

“He’s not going to force her anywhere. Danny?” Steve kept his anger in check and looked to his friend. “Anything?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Danny replied waving him down. “Anything else Chin? No. We’ll figure something out. Bye.” He hung up the phone and sighed. “The phone was traced back to an encrypted satellite phone but couldn’t get a direct location. Kept showing different spots all over the planet but he thinks its most likely on one of the islands here. He’s working to see if he can get it more pinpointed.”

“One of the islands? That’s it,” Steve said, “Tell Kono to run down a list of expensive houses recently bought or rented in the last few weeks. Tell her to check out where the money came from.”

“Yeah and what do you want to do in the meanwhile?” Danny asked as he began typing out a text message to their teammate. “Any ideas?”

“I need to call in some favors,” Steve reached for his phone and began dialling. “Lets take our friend here back to the office… Hey Sam, Steve McGarrett. You busy?”