Chapter 21

By the time Ziva and Kono stopped off for lunch, the trunk of the red Cobolt was full with bags. Neither woman was really one for the female pursuits of shopping but they chose to indulge a little and most of the items were actually for their friends rather than themselves.

Resting their feet at the restaurant, they were chatting when the older waitress made her way over to their table and made a face. “Oh my dear,” the woman said as she immediately took notice of the very large and discolored black eye that Ziva sported. While the pain was gone when she did not think of it, the memory and thought of the man that she fought with returned along with the throbbing. “I hope you choose to leave that man. No man should beat on his lady.”

Ziva smiled at her as Kono laughed. “You should see the guy. He’s far worse than she is,” she said.

She shook her head and shrugged a little. “It an occupational hazard,” Ziva commented, giving Kono a pointed look.

“That’s good dear,” the woman smiled, patting Ziva’s hand. “What can I get you two today?”

“What is good?” Ziva asked, eyeing the menu. As the waitress chatted on about their food options, she eventually settled on an easy salad and iced tea and Kono ordered something similar.

“Did you get all your presents for your friends?” she asked.

Sighing, Ziva shook her head. “I am still unable to find something appropriate for Gibbs. He has done a great deal for me and nothing simply feels appropriate. I feel as if I should buy him a boat except hebuildsthem.”

“Well, he certainly looks like the type of guy who’s good with his hands,” Kono smirked. “Kinda like Steve.”

“Yes. We are all still trying to figure out how he gets the boat out of his basement. It is a huge mystery. Abby had to take one apart as it was involved in a case we worked while I was getting my citizenship and it is the one thing she had not been able to find an answer for either.”

“What other hobbies does he have?” Kono asked, “Maybe you could find something for him based on that?”

“Aside from coffee and headslapping the rest of us? I don’t know anything,” she sighed.

“Well maybe now is the time to introduce him to something new?” Kono suggested as the waitress brought their drinks. “You could buy him an art set?”

Ziva chuckled. “Gibbs and art? I do not see it. Maybe I could see if boat rentals have gift certificates I suppose. It would force him to take a vacation himself in order to use it, yes?”

“He doesn’t strike me as the type of guy who’d go on vacation if he can help it,” Kono nodded, “But I guess the promise of a boat to sail, especially out here is as tempting as anything else you can come up with.”

“He has before. When his god daughter was living in Mexico he would go down to visit time to time. I think he might be willing to bring Ameera and her mother to get away. It has not been easy for them either,” she mused as she stirred the ice in her glass thoughtfully.

“All the more reason that it’s a good idea,” Kono replied, not wanting to be nosey. “But if it doesn’t work out, you can always buy him an introduction to knitting kit.”

“True. I cannot help but wonder what Steve is doing right now,” Ziva admitted. “As much fun as we are having and I am not in a rush to return to him, a part of me is…Does that make sense?”

“You’ve got it bad, girl,” Kono grinned, “It makes perfect sense. You two are really good together.”

She looked out the window and made a face. “Maybe but while I know he wants me out here with him, I do not know if I could. Not yet at least. My life is in DC and it took long enough to get thatlife.”

“I think he understands that, I know I’ve only known him a little while but he’s a very patient guy,” Kono replied. “I mean, he’s Navy. He’s had to deal with long distance relationships before, I’d bet. The only difference is that this relationship is with you. I hate to say it, but you’re both going to miss each other a lot. It’s not gonna be easy, but for a man like McGarrett, it’s soworth it.”

“Yes. I know,” Ziva smiled but couldn’t say more as she spotted the waitress returning with their lunch. “Time to eat then more shopping?”

“Yeah,” Kono replied, “You know… I may not have a good suggestion as to what to get Gibbs, but I think I’ve got an idea as to what to get Steve as a going away gift.”

Ziva raised an eyebrow as she looked over at the woman. “Oh?”

~o.O.o~

“Okay, so we get the two webcams with the microphone headsets thrown in?” Kono asked the store clerk.

“Yeah, and the good news is, they’re on sale this week. You can have it all for 50 dollars,” the clerk smiled, “They come with a year’s warranty thrown in too so if anything goes wrong, you can bring them back here for a replacement or refund.”

“What do you think, Ziva?” Kono asked her friend. “Anything to keep you and Steve in touch, right?”

Ziva smiled. “Yes except there is one other small problem with this,” she said, raising an eyebrow. “He does not have a computer at home. Just the one at the office.”

“Well we do have a wide selection of laptops, notebooks and netbooks,” the clerk suggested. “Prices start at around a hundred and fifty dollars and depending on the model you purchase, I could maybe give you a further discount on the webcam deal.”

“Can we see them?”

“Certainly, please follow me,” the clerk smiled warmly.

The girls followed the man around the store towards the back where the computers were on display. “Oh lord. Now I wish I had McGee here,” Ziva hummed as she looked around at all the selections.

“I could call Chin for some advice?” Kono offered. “He doesn’t know as much about them as an MIT graduate, but he can probably help.”

“I do know that I wish to get myself an Apple computer. It is what I’ve worked with in Mossad and Israel so I am more familiar and prefer it over what I have to endure at NCIS,” she answered. “But yes. Chin would be of great help for Steve’s.”

Retrieving her iPhone, Kono dialled her cousin’s cell. “Hey Cuz, is the Boss around?”

Yeah, he’s in his office doing paperwork. I think he got bored without Ziva,” Chin explained. “Want me to get him?

“No! We could use some advice on computers. Can you meet us at the computer store in the mall?” Kono asked, her tone pleading.

Sure, I was heading there for lunch anyway. I’ll see you in 10,” Chin replied.

“Great… just don’t say anything to Steve, okay?” Kono smiled, giving Ziva the thumbs up.

Oh-kaaaay. See you soon.”

True to his word, Chin arrived at the store about fifteen minutes later and helped Ziva choose a not too pricey notebook for Steve to use during their webchats. The clerk did indeed give her a discount because she not only bought the cameras, microphones and the laptop, Chin also helped her choose an Apple MacBook for herself.

“I remember him not being very technologically knowledged unless it was his military equipment,” Ziva explained to Chin. “And of course his cell phone but anything else was a fool’s attempt.”

“He’s gotten a little better,” Chin smiled as he sipped the coffee she had bought him as a thank you. “Though he has kicked the situation table more than once.” He visibly winced at the last comment, a look that Ziva had seen on McGee’s face many times before. “I’m sure with a quick demonstration, he’ll be fine. And I’ll be on hand to help when you leave.”

“Thanks but what one could we get that won’t be too difficult for him?” she asked eyeing the counter. “And not too expensive?”

“Well I know this much, he’ll appreciate what you’ve done,” Chin smiled. “He’s going to miss you, we all will.”

She smiled as she walked the aisle to look at the models again. “Thanks. You all are welcome to visit me in DC too. It’s not exactly a paradise like here but there is still a lot of tourist things to do as well.”

“We’ll keep that in mind,” Kono smiled, “It would be interesting to see Abby’s lab. McGee said something about her choices in music. Not what I’d expect to find in a government building.”

“No. It is not but that is one reason why we love her. She isone of the best forensic scientists in the country after all.”

“I’m hoping to score some bootleg CD’s from her actually. I’m a huge Gothtronica fan, and I love Numeriklab, Lo-Ball, Stop Making Friends and Brain Matter,” Kono explained, having found the time to talk with Abby in length about music, art and other hobbies and interests.

Ziva laughed and nodded. “Yes. She has a great variety. I am sure she would be happy to create a mixed disc for you. And knowing her, she would confiscate your iPod and add her entire collection for you.”

“Well, I gotta head back to the office soon,” Chin replied.

Looking at her bags, Ziva nodded. “Maybe we should head back as well. I think we did enough damage today, yes?”

“Yeah,” Kono replied with a cheeky smile as she eyed her cousin. “Mind helping us get this stuff to the car?”

With a groan, Chin got up and picked up several bags, “Why do I feel like I’ve been played?”

“Aww quit complaining. It’s good exercise. Plus it got you out of the office,” Kono grinned.

Ziva was too busy laughing as she followed them but all she could think about really was Steve and how he would react to Kono’s suggestion. A suggestion she loved the idea of. “Hey, let’s stop off and bring Steve and Danny some food. I’m sure they would appreciate it.”

~o.O.o~

The next few days went by pretty slowly for Steve and Ziva, they spent the rest of their vacation hanging out and enjoying their time together. Whether at Steve’s place or around the island. They swam, they hiked, they saw the sights, they even visited Pearl Harbour and the Midway museum.

Steve was taken aback by the computer, webcam and microphone. It was such a thoughtful gift, one that Steve took comfort from. He would be able to see Ziva every day and not just have a relationship via emails, instant messages and telephone calls. But their final day together before her flight home soon rolled around and it was bittersweet for the both of them.

Ziva laid in bed beside him with only the sheets to cover her body and smiling. “Hey,” she said after they had begun to wake from an afternoon nap and interpersonal activities.

“Hey yourself,” he smiled softly before planting gentle kisses along her exposed arm. “What time is it?”

“Does it matter?” she asked, pulling herself over to rest her chin on his chest.

“I suppose not,” he sighed, “But time has been on my mind today. You go home tomorrow…”

“Not so much. We will have each other by computer now. Until one of us is able to fly to the other. Which – I was thinking about…”

“It’s gonna be a little while isn’t it? I mean, we’re on vacation now,” he replied sadly.

Ziva smiled and shrugged a bare shoulder. “No. Not really. I was just thinking of a schedule. It would get expensive I think though but we can do like a weekend either every month or every other week, taking a turn on who flies to who? Unless of course a case comes up and interrupts that.”

“Which on our line of work can happen,” he sighed. Thinking about it for a nanosecond, he looked into her eyes and said “I’m willing to try if you are. What say I fly down to see you in DC for the weekend in two weeks? I can leave late on Thursday and make it a long weekend?”

“Sounds like a plan,” she grinned and leaned in to kiss him. “Except you will be running risk of my not wanting you to leave me then.”

“Well, I guess you’ll need to know how it feels eventually,” he smirked. “So, what do you want to do for the rest of the day?”

The grin on her face grew as she looked back at him. “Exactly what we have been doing today,” she answered, assuming the position over him. “Unless you have objections?”

“The mind is willing, but the flesh is spongy and bruised,” he joked. “But I could be persuaded.”

“Uh huh,” Ziva hummed into his chest as she resumed her kissing and began making her way down his body, further beneath the covers. “And I have my ways of persuasion…”

~o.O.o~

The rest of the day was filled with love making, talking, eating and generally enjoying each other’s company. As sunset rolled around, they sat out in the back yard and watched as the light danced off the seawater. With his arms wrapped around her, Steve kissed her neck softly before whispering a simple “Thank you,” into her ear.

“I believe I should be thanking you,” Ziva grinned as she shifted against him. “This is not the end. I will be back to visit often.”

“I know,” he replied, “I meant, I wanted to thank you for this. I didn’t expect to have you in my life again. At least not like this. I hoped of course but seeing you again, having you back in my life… it’s been the best thing to happen to me in the longest time.”

She nodded quietly and sighed. “And I as well. Of course it was even more so after my father admitted to me about intervening with your letters. I am pleased that at least that situation has been cleared now. The past is the past and we have the future to look to.”

“I can’t wait,” he gave her a gentle squeeze. As darkness finally fell over the island, he suggested that they go inside for a surprise. Knowing of her growing love of movies, he had selected several of his favourites.

“You are nearly as bad as Tony when it comes to choices in movies. Except yours has explosives and his is a bit more…eclectic,” she laughed as she looked through the options he set out.

“Well it’s either this, or something starring Elvis.” Steve grinned.

“Elvis Costello?” she asked.

“No… Elvis Presley… you know, the king of rock and roll!” his grin broadened. “He made three movies right here in Hawaii. Did a lot for tourism on the island back in the ’60’s and ’70’s. My mom was a huge fan.”

She stared out at him before smiling. “You and Tony would really get along if you each would give each other the chance,” she said. “I would be pleased if you two became friends.”

“We have an understandingright now,” he explained. “Whether that becomes something more in the future, I don’t know. But I’ll promise to make the effort when I’m in DC.”

“Good,” Ziva grinned as she pulled him towards the couch after slipping a disc in the player. “Tonight it is you, me, the television, and a bowl of popcorn.” She was happy and she knew it. This was the most that she was in a long time.

~o.O.o~

The next morning was the start of a very difficult time for Steve and Ziva. In just a few short hours they would be saying their goodbyes, at least for a short time. Even though there was a painful knot in Steve’s stomach whenever he thought about it, he decided to make her breakfast.

Waking was not easy for Ziva. The smell of eggs and coffee made her more hungry and had a pull on her that got her out of bed after laying and enjoying the sun coming in through the window. Making her way downstairs in another one of Steve’s shirts, she moaned. “Coffee?”

“In the pot,” he smiled as he served up her breakfast. “Sleep well?”

“Did you?” She asked back, pouring them each a cup.

“No,” he admitted honestly. “I ended up just laying there, pretending for most of the night.”

“I know. But please promise that you will not let my going back to DC bother you. I will come back to see you. One way or another. And know that Gibbs will be sure that I will come. He did set this time up for us after all. It is not the end. Far from it.”

“I know Ziva, we’ll see each other soon,” he reassured her, “It’s just that it’s going to be tough to say goodbye.”

She made her way back over to him as she took his face in her hands. “You are strong. It is always hard to say goodbye but this is not the same as the last time. We do not have anyone between us anymore.”

“You’re right,” he sighed. “I’m being stupid I guess. Don’t worry about me, let’s just eat up. I promised we’d stop by the office so that you can say your goodbyes.”

“You are not stupid either. Silly maybe, but not stupid. You are a SEAL. Act like one,” she argued playfully as she straightened her back to stand against him. “You do not get like this when your sister leaves from a visit, do you? Or when your partner goes home to New Jersey to visit his other family?”

“No, but they’re not you. I miss my sister, yes… but we’ve never been really close. And I guess I’m comfortable with Danny around, so yeah, I miss him when he’s gone. But it’s not the same,” Steve explained. “They’re not you.”

Ziva smiled as she let her head fall against him. “I’ll be back. I promise.”

Enjoying their embrace for what seemed like an eternity, Steve sighed contently before asking, “You all packed?”

“Yes,” she answered after a long deep breath. “My luggage is still in your bedroom and the majority of the shopping bags are down here. I should probably get everything cleaned and arranged soon.”

“Well don’t be surprised if you come across something you didn’t expect in your luggage,” he smirked as he let her go so that they could eat.

She narrowed her eyes. “What did you do Steven? I told you that you did not need to get me anything,” she said as she started to to make her way to her things.

Grabbing her by the hand, he pulled her toward the breakfast table. “It’s nothing to worry about,” he smiled. “I just noticed that you’ve taken to wearing my shirts the last few days. So I packed some of them with your clothes.”

“They were convenient. And smell like you,” Ziva shrugged. “Could you blame a girl?”

“Not at all. Now eat, you’ve got some goodbyes to make and a plane to catch,” he smiled softly.

~o.O.o~

After a brief stop off at the office to allow Ziva to say goodbye to her new friends, including Governor Jameson who asked Ziva to pass on her personal gratitude to Director Vance and Agent Gibbs, they arrived at the airport.

Helping her with her luggage, Steve felt like he was on the walk of the dead. It wouldn’t be long before he’d have to say goodbye to her. Nothing she could say could reassure him at that moment. He knew they’d be seeing each other very soon and he knew that this wasn’t the end, it still hurt. And he believed she felt the same, given her silence since leaving the office.

They reached terminal 2, departing for mainland with very little time to spare, which Steve was upset and also relieved by. Placing all but her carry-on luggage on the carousel, he turned to face her. Looking into her eyes intently, the only word he could find to say was, “So…”

Ziva smiled up at him as she placed her hand against his cheek. “So…you will be coming to me in a few weeks, yes?” she asked with as much enthusiasm as she could pull together. She did want him to visit but the energy was not with her during this goodbye and struggled to reamin upbeat for him.

“I’ll email you with the details early next week,” he nodded as he took her hands in his. “The last few days have been incredible, Ziva.”

“I agree,” she smiled as she leaned into him. “I am sure that the time will pass quickly before our trips. It won’t be long.”

“I’m already counting the days,” he smiled before leaning in and claiming her lips with his own for a long, slow, lingering kiss.

She hummed into his mouth as she deepened the kiss. Neither person was willing to pull back when the overhead speakers announced boarding for her flight. She groaned as her arms tightened around him in an intimate hug, pressing her face into his neck. “I will set up my computer when I get home. I also will send my information for the webcam at work so that while we may not be able to speak, you can see me.”

“Of course,” she replied, kissing him again quickly when the staff announced the final boarding call. “Soon. We will see each other again soon.”

As Steve stood at the terminal, watching Ziva walk down the tunnel to her plane, there was a man reading a newspaper across the way. He pulled out his cell phone, dialing a familiar number from memory and though he smiled when the phone was answered, he was not pleased.

“McGarrett is seeing the girl off. I believe you were hired to extract her,” he said in greeting.

Yes sir but the Israeli had left her behind as he made his escape from the siege of the house. She is returning to her job and life on the east coast. It will not affect our plans for McGarrett,” the other person on the call replied.

“See that it doesn’t,” the man said simply before hanging up. Folding his newspaper that he had been reading, he stood and walked away, disappearing into the crowd.

~o.O.o~

to be continued…