Chapter 20

After nearly a full day of reports and giving statements to Five-0 and HPD, Ziva just wanted to forget everything. The experience had given her a headache that she could not shake and once she returned to Steve’s house with him, she just wanted to try to sleep it off, silently praying the whole ordeal was a nightmare that she would soon wake up from.

There was still a significant amount of her vacation left, granted that she had the extra few days from the weekend that she could extend it before returning for Monday morning. After a long afternoon of sleeping, she stretched in the bed and sighed as she looked up at the ceiling. Her father’s words haunting her now.

Steve watched her quietly from the doorway as he had suspected she may wake soon so he prepared a cup of tea for her. “You know most of what happened but there was something I did not say for the reports,” she said quietly before rolling onto her side to look at him. Her eyes shifted down to his hands. “Is that for me?”

“Yeah,” he smiled as he entered the room and placed the cup on the bedside table. “I’m not sure it’ll be up to your usual standard. I don’t make tea often.”

“You made it for me. It will be just fine then,” she smiled as she sat up to take a sip before turning back to him. “He wanted me to return to Israel and – the Mossad,” she said, of which half he knew from her report.

“I figured that wanting you back had something to do with the whole mess,” Steve replied as he walked around the bed and laid down beside her, holding her close to him.

She let out a humorless laugh. “Yes. Well wanting me to come back with him to be a family or something was one part. The other was that he expected me to take his place eventually as Director. It seems that one of his many enemies has finally found a way to him and poisoned him. He says he is dying.”

“Do you believe him?” Steve asked, a little too bluntly than he had intended. Secrets and lies were a second nature to a man like Eli David.

“I do not know. He did appear quite ill but I would not put it past him to make himself appear sick to earn my sympathy. You did not tell Gibbs about all this, did you?” she asked, turning inhis arms to eye him warily.

“I’ll be honest. I came very close to picking up the phone more than once,” he said reluctantly. “I was worried. It took us time to figure things out and part of me figured Gibbs and your friends would help me find you sooner. But in the end, I didn’t. We caught a lead and I called in my cavalry.”

Ziva nodded understandingly as her fingers played with his shirt. “Good. I do not want them knowing if at all possible. Promise you will not tell them, ever? If it comes up on their end, I will deal with it then but Gibbs is about as fanatical as you are when it comes to his team. I did say how obsessed he was with hunting Ari down, yes?”

“You did,” he smiled softly. “And Sam gave me a similar impression when he talked about Abby’s trip to LA. He won’t hear a word from me.”

“All of us had tickets booked to fly out when we got word that she was finally safe. And thank you,” she smiled, tightening her arms around him. “I have a few days left still despite the last two days. Do you want to go out? I suppose we’d have to rent a car for awhile.”

“It’s already taken care of,” he smiled, “One of the benefits of being Governor Jameson’s top LEO means paperwork gets rushed through. My new truck arrives tomorrow. But to answer your question, no… I don’t want to go out. I get the feeling you don’t either.”

“I can’t let the experience make me a prisoner Steve. I also don’t want to stay inside the rest of the time. My nap I think is more of some of the drugs still working its way out but I can’t help but to feel slightly trapped now that I am awake.”

“I never said that we’d be staying in the whole time,” he smirked. “And just because I don’t want to go out, doesn’t mean we’ll be staying indoors either. I have the grill set up outside. Danny, Grace, Chin and Kono are coming over… if you’re up to having company?”

Ziva chuckled as she leaned up on her elbow and looked down at him. “Sounds great. So…your cavalry. Is there a reason you contacted those specific friends?” she smiled knowingly.

“Well, they know you. They oweyou. You earned their respect and their friendship during our time in Nam,” he replied truthfully. “Plus I couldn’t risk my team on this. Sending them up against mercs was too much to ask.”

“Did they leave to go back home yet?” she asked curiously, kissing his chest.

“Unfortunately, yeah,” he sighed, “They all have to get back to work, Sam especially. You know how NCIS is run by slave drivers.” He smiled gently at the soft touch of her lips on his skin.

“OSP is difficult to work in. It is very much like the unit I was on for awhile in Mossad,” she replied before sitting up. “What time is your team supposed to be over? I should take a shower and change while there is time.”

“They’ll be around in about an hour, so you’ve got plenty of time,” he explained as he placed a soft kiss on her temple.

“Well go. Prepare dinner. Tony has told me much about a man’s desire to grill meat outdoors,” Ziva shooed her boyfriend away. “I will be down soon to help.”

“Take your time, you’ve got an hour,” Steve smiled as he reluctantly left her side, pausing at the door. “And about your father… if you want to talk more, I’m here okay?”

She smiled at him as she canted her head to the side. “I know. Thank you but I believe that I am fine for now. If – If I need to get more off my breast I will certainly find you.”

He grinned widely. “Uhh… I think you mean chest but I’ll be ready to help if you need to get something off your breast too.” With a sexy smirk and a sly wink, he made his way downstairs, leaving Ziva to her thoughts.

After he was gone, Ziva sat for another couple minutes as she looked around the room, taking deep breaths before letting herself smile and it not feel forced by herself. Tossing the blanket aside, she set about pulling out clean clothes and taking a long hot shower.

Steve’s friends began to arrive a short time later, beginning with Danny inviting himself into the house and carrying Grace on his back through the house. “Hey look! It’s Uncle Steve!” he greeted as he set a bag on the table beside the grill containing beer and juice.

“Hey! There she is! How are ya Grace?” Steve asked as he set his tools down and greeted his partner’s daughter with a hug. “Did your Dad tell you?”

“Tell me what?” Grace asked, shooting her father a confused look.

“He and Aunty Kono really helped me and some of my Navy friends yesterday,” Steve explained, “He got to drive a big speedboat.”

“Cool! Danno? Can you take me on a boat?” the girl asked her father as he set her down.

Danny shot his partner a glare before he handed Grace her stuffed monkey. “We’ll see. I would have to talk to your mom about that first. Go uh find some shells for her,” he said, sending her off for a private moment with his friend. “How’s she holding up?” he asked quietly.

“She’s doing okay, all things considered. She’s still not told me the whole story, but I’ll be patient and wait for her to come to me with it,” Steve replied. “She’s told me some stuff that has pretty big implications. For her personally and for the Mossad and its relations with the US.”

“Wow,” he mused in response as he stuffed his hands into his pockets. “I can’t imagine the knowledge she has to live with. Not just for what she’s done in NCIS but with them. At some point she’ll have to snap from the pressure of it all.”

“Yeah,” Steve sighed. “God help us all if that happens. I guess that’s one of the manyreasons why I want us to try and make this work. I wanna be there for her through that.”

“You know, if the way she looks at you is anything to go by, I’m sure it’ll work. Of course the biggest hump to get over is the long distance thing,” Danny replied as he popped a potato chip in his mouth.

“Well, we’ll make it work. DC isn’t on the other side of the world. Vacations, weekends… whatever it takes, y’know?” Steve had it all planned out in his head, and he had confidence in those plans, but being a SEAL meant that he knew that plans didn’t always work out as expected. He still had to try.

“It’s a lot of money,” Danny pointed out. “You’d likely have to take a second job to fund your airline piggy bank.”

“I have savings, and I have a lot of favours to call in,” Steve replied. “And its not going to be every weekend… I get that. I’ll be lucky if I see her once a month. But I have to try Danno…”

He smiled as he turned to watch Grace. “I’m not saying not to. Have you considered trying to talk her into transferring out to their office here?”

“I don’t wanna push things,” he replied honestly, “I’ve made enquiries with Jameson and we have sort of broached the subject. But talking to her about it outright… it seems a little too soon.”

“Maybe. But it wouldn’t hurt to put it out there as an option for the future. Let her know that her future doesn’t have to be just DC.”

“I’ll think about it,” Steve nodded with a grateful smile. Truth was, he had thought of very little else since rescuing her.

“Hello?” a voice called out from inside the house before Chin and Kono found their way through. “Hey McGarrett. Sorry – door was open and no one answered the bell,” Chin greeted as he held out his hand.

“No problem guys,” Steve nodded, “Have a seat, grab a drink. I’m just going to check on Ziva. Danny, watch the grill?”

He made his way over and took the tongs before poking at the meat. “Yeah sure.”

Upstairs, Ziva was in the process of pulling her hair back into a ponytail when Steve walked in. “Hey you. Can you give me a hand and zip my back?” she asked.

“With pleasure,” he smiled, placing a kiss on her shoulder as he slowly pulled the zipper up. “Everyone’s downstairs. And Danny’s minding the grill so we better hurry, or he’ll burn something or eat it all.”

“Sure,” she said as she finished up quicky before slipping on her sandals and following him, her hand in his. “Did you get anything aside from steak? Something a little lighter?”

“Burgers, chicken, hot dogs,” he replied, “no pork, I promise.”

“Thank you. I know it is silly of me but after so long – I can’t bring myself to eat it now. I know pork is huge here too,” Ziva smiled as she leaned into him while they made their way through the house.

“I get it,” he smiled as they reached the bottom of the stairs. “It’s just going to be hard for me to live without it too. I mean, no ham and pineapple pizza, no gammon, no pork chops. Bacon!”

She laughed and shook her head. “You can eat it by all means. I just won’t. And you would have to have your own pizza. I can eat one all on my own,” she smirked. “I am used to being around foods I do not eat. Do not change completely just for me.”

“No,” he smiled. “It wouldn’t feel right. Especially if you’re going to be staying here a lot. Besides… I’ll be interested to try some alternatives.”

Ziva sighed as she pushed her way outside. “Hello everyone,” she smiled as she went straight for the bottle of wine that Steve had taken out before everyone arrived.

“Ahh, there she is. What are ya in the mood for Ziva?” Danny asked as he served Grace a cheeseburger.

“Um, you can grill some chicken. I believe there are some mixed greens for a salad in the refrigerator.

“Ooh, sounds great,” Kono said, “Mind if I give you a hand?”

“Nope, come on,” she smiled waving her to follow as she turned back into the house passing Steve, with her wine in hand. “Do not let him burn the chicken please.”

“Danny, sit, I’ll take care of the cooking. Boss’ orders,” Steve smiled as Danny gratefully stepped aside and sat down to eat a burger with his daughter.

“So – what’s the story?” Chin asked as he took a pull on his beer before popping open a bottle for his friend. “You guys going to take advantage of what’s left of her ruined vacation?”

“You know it,” he replied with a goofy smile.”I’m gonna take her shopping tomorrow. She’s got gifts for her friends back in DC, but I want to treat her.”

Danny snorted. “Every girl’s dream. A man with unlimited credit,” he laughed.

“It’s not like that,” Steve shook his head. “Ziva doesn’t care about money. I just want her to have some fun. Fun that she rarely got to have in her old life.”

“I believe it but I firmly believe it to be true. Every woman loves to shop. It’s therapeutic, right Chin?” he asked looking over at the man.

“Oh yeah, that’s why its a good idea,” the native grinned. “Just be prepared to carry bags by the truckload.”

“You two are overexagerating,” Steve laughed. “She’s not that bad.”

“Steve… my daughter isn’t even a teenager yet and she’s managed to fill the trunk of my car and the back seat with shopping bags,” Danny sighed, remembering the credit card bills.

Chin chuckled and shook his head. “I’m glad I haven’t had any children. You have to do that every year, multiple times.”

“See… he gets it,” Danny grinned. “Just don’t say that we didn’t warn you.”

Ziva and Kono came back out with bowls of prepped salad and eyed the men warily, the three of them with cheesy grins and large eyes. “I do not want to know,” Ziva commented before turning to Steve and kissing his cheek. “You did not have plans for us tomorrow afternoon, did you?” she asked. “Kono and I were talking about going out for a girls’ afternoon.”

“Well uh, I was considering taking you on a shopping spree,” Steve admitted sheepishly. “But you should go out with Kono. We can do it another day.”

“Oh,” Ziva frowned, looking back at the girl. “We were talking about shopping actually.”

“Well you kill two birds with one stone then,” Steve smiled as he pulled out his wallet. Taking out his credit card, he held it out to her. “You girls have fun. I can go to the office, catch up on some paperwork.”

She rolled her eyes and pushed his hand back. “I have my own money to pay for things. I do not need yours,” she said. “And do not insult me by insisting. I could take it but I would not use it.”

“Fine,” Steve sighed before looking to the youngest member of Five-0, “Kono. As your boss, I order you to take this card and to ensure that it gets used to buy Ziva at least one full outfit, including accessories.”

“Oh don’t pull her into this,” Ziva said as she turned back to face him with her arms crossed across her chest.

“Then take the card and let me treat you to something,” he replied defiantly. “I know you have your own money and I know you like to be independent. But they’re just clothes Ziva. It’s a gift. I would have bought you something anyway. At least this way you’ll get something you’ll actually like. Just ask Kono how bad I am at buying gifts for women. Her birthday present did not go down well at all…”

Danny and Chin had their beers pressed to their lips as they watched the two as if it were the greatest thing on earth. Kono held up her hands as she backed off. “Like she said, leave me out of it. That *ITEM* was – cute though.”

Ziva hadn’t taken her eyes off of him as she seriously considered taking the card just to throw it into the grill to keep from using it. “Steven. Save it for when you come to Washington to see me. I will let you treat me then. Okay?”

Steve considered her words carefully for a few moments. He knew that she would likely protest when he visited her and that they’d have the samediscussionabout it then, but he can tell from the look in her eyes, she wasn’t going to budge. Throwing her a disappointed look, he slid the card back into his wallet and returned his attention to the chicken he had promised her, which was almost ready.

She wrapped her arms around him and smiled. “Thank you though. When you and I go out together tomorrow night, I will let you buy me something then. How is that?” she asked with a small pout.

Steve groaned, she was using his kryptonite against him once again. “Aaaaalright. Just promise me one thing?”

“What is that?” she smiled, stealing a pepper from the grill and popping it in her mouth.

“Have fun tomorrow,” he smiled. “That goes for you too Kono. You’re not off the hook.”

“Yeah yeah,” she waved him off. “I’ll remember that too Boss.”

Ziva laughed as she let go of him and went to finish helping with the rest of the set up. “So what is going on?” she asked as cheerfully as she could, looking around.

“Not much, we’ve been working cold cases and catching up on paperwork mostly,” Danny replied before shooting a teasing smirk at his partner. “Aside from that, we’ve been helping Stevenhere with some relationship advice.”

“Good advice I hope,” she smiled at him. “Anything particularly interesting for me?”

Danny gave her a sideways glance. “Oh, you know, we just talked about where you two are-.” He stopped himself short as Steve shot him a look.

She stared at him expectantly, waiting for him to elaborate. “Yes?” she blinked innocently.

“Uh… going tomorrow. But it seems those plans are over with,” Danny added, hoping his tone was as believable as possible. “You know, you’ve only got a few days left, our boy here doesn’t want to leave without having a good time.

Ziva glanced between Steve and Danny a few times. “You are not saying everything. Steve – what have you not been saying?” she asked.

“Uh, give it up Danny, she’s a human lie detector,” Steve sighed. “I was going to find some way of doing this later but uh… look can we talk in private?”

She raised an eyebrow, sipping on her wine. “Okay. Let’s talk,” she replied and headed back inside the house, waiting for him.

Following her in, he shot Danny another angry look, mouthing “I’m going to kill you!” before joining Ziva in the living room.

“Okay uh. Like I said, I really didn’t want to talk about this so soon, but Danny sort of put a dampener on that,” he began, taking a really deep breath. “I’ve been thinking about the future… ourfuture.”

“Please tell me that you’re not proposing,” she said carefully, her eyes immediately growing large and taking a step back. “I love you yes but I am not ready for that level of commitment Steven.”

“Proposing? What! No! Ziva… relax, this isn’t about marriage,” he explained placing his hands on her shoulders.

She stared into his eyes, waiting for him to continue as she began to calm down some from the nervousness that she had built up.

“See, this is why I wanted to wait…” he pinched the bridge of his nose and clamped his eyes shut. “We’re about to face a long-distance relationship that’s going to be difficult for us both. And this isn’t me saying I want out… so don’t even consider that. And please don’t think this is me jumping the gun or anything. I just asked a question… nothing’s set in stone.”

Ziva smiled and leaned back onto the head of the couch as she smiled. “Steve – just spill it please,” she laughed finally.
“Alright…” he took another deep breath. “I spoke with Governor Jameson a few days ago. I asked her whether hypotheticallyspeaking, she had the funding available for additional members of Five-0. Given the work we’ve been doing for the state, she was open to the idea. And she asked me if I had anyone in mind for the positions that will open up.”

“You are asking if I’d considering quitting NCIS for Five-0?” Ziva asked with a frown.

“No, not quitting,” he replied. “The state of Hawaii is important to the Navy. I feel, and the governor agrees with me that NCIS and Five-0 could benefit from stronger relations.”

She began to chuckle. “Another liaison position, yes? Well – I admit that it is tempting and I will consider it for the future. Okay? As of right now, I do not know but it is certainly something to think on later,” she smiled as she played with his fingers.

“That’s all I ask. I didn’t expect it to be a decision you’d make right away,” he explained. “But I know how much working with Gibbs and the others means to you. That’s why I wanted to handle this better than I have.”

“No. You were terrified that I would react badly to it,” she grinned. “It’s not like you went and committed me to something before talking to me about it. You only made an inquiry. Nothing wrong with that.”

“Well, there was that. I’ve seen you throw things,” he smirked as he wrapped his arms around her, relieved by her reaction. “I don’t want to presume anything when it comes to our relationship.”

“I know, I know. Just don’t commit me to anything and we will be fine. Well to things without talking to me first. But talk to me. Okay? Yes it will be difficult but we can make it work. Tomorrow during dinner we can discuss how we will work it out. We will be fine.”

“Okay,” he chuckled as he kissed her forehead. “Can we go back and have fun with our friends now?”

“Yes, yes,” Ziva smiled as she kissed him. “You and I will have plenty of time later together.”

As they made their way back to the others, Steve heard Danny say, “Well, he’s still walking. Looks like you owe me twenty bucks, Chin.”

As Chin sighed, pulling out a $20 bill from his wallet, Ziva calmly continued walking as Steve returned to the grill. She went right up to Chin and took the cash from his hand before going back over to the table where Kono sat with their salads. “Thank you!”

Danny was about to protest when Steve interjected, “You two should have learned your lesson from the other day. At least this way Chin’s money gets put to good use.”

“Yes. Lunch for Kono and I tomorrow,” Ziva smiled as she stabbed her salad with her fork. “Any more bets that we should be made aware of?”

“Uhh, no… not at all,” Danny said, hesitantly. “I’ve got a kid to raise… I’d like to be able to put her through college.”

She chuckled as she flashed a wink at Steve. Looking around as the conversation switched up eagerly and smiled at them. It wasn’t home, but it felt like it. She greatly enjoyed the company of Steve and his friends.

~o.O.o~

Later that night, when everyone had gone home with filled bellies and happy memories, Steve stood at the sink in the bathroom, staring into the mirror. And for the first time in a long while, he was able to smile. While the investigation into what happened to his father was still important to him, as well as the work he did with Five-0, they weren’t the only important things in his life anymore, and that made him smile even wider.

Twisting the faucet, the expected jet of water shot out. Only the water was spraying directly into Steve’s face as the faucet had broken off into his hand. “Aww god, Ziva! ZIVA!” he said as he hopelessly tried to shield himself from the water.

“What?” she asked, as she came into the bedroom before making her way to the bath where he was. “Oh my!” she exclaimed, quickly moving to grab a heavy towel and throwing it over the sink. “Hold it…do you have wrench or something around?”

“There’s a toolbox in the study,” he replied, concentrating on keeping the towel around the gushing faucet.

She nodded as she turned to run back down the stairs quickly, looking around before finding the beat up box near the desk. Throwing open the lid, her hand brushed over the tools on top not seeing anything that would help nowand set the tray aside. Moving the tools around underneath, looking for a wrench, she frowned at the items she found. She looked at the photos quickly, blinking at the images clearly as a result of a car bombing. Setting them down on the table, Ziva shook her head as she continued to look for the wrench. Grabbing it, she ran back upstairs, taking two steps at a time. “Here you go,” she said as she handed it to him before taking over with holding the towel to keep the water from spraying them down.

Quickly tightening the faucet, the drenched Lieutenant Commander wrung the equally soaked towel into the bath. “Thanks,” he smiled. “I’ve been meaning to get it fixed.”

“It’s not a problem. Looks like you might be due for some upgrades around the house soon,” she said as she got him a fresh towel to dry himself off. “I am sure that there are more things than just plumbing that will need to be worked on, yes?”

“Yeah, my dad was usually pretty good at keeping on top of that stuff, but I guess he had other stuff on his mind before I came home,” Steve explained. “I’ll make a to-do list tomorrow.”

Ziva nodded quietly as she watched him try to clean up. “Steve?”

“That’s my name,” he grinned as he finished drying himself off.

“What is going on? What’s going on that you aren’t telling me?” she asked, looking at him carefully.

“It’s not that I’m not going out of my way to avoid this, Ziva,” he sighed, “I just… I wanted to wait until wewere on track.”

She frowned and looked down at her hands where she had wrapped her fingers up in each other. “What are those photos and things in the toolbox?”

“It’s evidence. I found it the day I returned home to bury my father, the day I set up Five-0 and met Danny, and Chin, and Kono… I found that toolbox in the garage,” he explained, leaning against the bath. “Before I came home, I was working on a top secret prisoner transfer assignment. During the op I got a call from the prisoner’s brother. He was holding my father hostage and wanted to cut a deal for his brother’s freedom. The prisoner was killed and my father paid the price. I came home to find the man that killed him and to put him to rest. That’s when I learned that my father was conducting an investigation outside of the HPD. An investigation hampered by red tape, Internal Affairs, more questions than answers…”

Ziva’s face softened as she crossed the small area to pull him into a hug. A move that when they knew each other previously she would not had done but it was one of the many changes that occurred with her. “I am sorry,” she said. “IA investigations are very difficult. We have been through more than enough in NCIS. You have not been able to get the guy, have you.”

“I thought I did,” he explained. “But I only got the trigger man, Victor Hesse. It turns out that he and his brother answered to another man, someone far more dangerous. But other than a name and a few sketchy details. What’s in the box is all I have.”

Ziva left a small kiss on his cheek. “Let’s clean this up and focus on the rest of the time. You can, if you wish, give me what you know before I leave and I can see what I can find out through NCIS. Okay?”

“That’d be great,” Steve’s smile faded a little. “But I’ve already used up just about every resource I can trying to get a lead already.”

“You did not have me before,” she smirked. “Come on. It looks like we’ll be spending nearly a whole afternoon in here to get this sink replaced. I can look at some while Kono and I are out tomorrow for you if you like.”

“You don’t want to spend what little time you have here traipsing around hardware stores looking for a new basin. Like I said, I’ll make a list of projects to do when you go back home and I’ll have them done by the time you get back,” he smiled. “I’ll just replace the faucet for now.”

She gave him an exaggerate sigh. “Alright, fine. I thought I might help at least. So, for tonight – let’s go get ice cream or something. Is there anything in walking distance?”

“There’s a place just up the road,” he smiled before planting several gratefully reassuring pecks on her cheeks. “Or we can get something from the shaved ice hut?”

“Your big friend that helped us?” Ziva asked curiously. “Sure. There are flavors that I saw that I would like to try after the one I had then.”

“It’s a good thing he stays open late,” he grinned as he took her hand. “Come on, I’ll drive.”