Do to unforeseen circumstances, Ducky was actually unable to perform the autopsy when they returned from the crime scene with Petty Officer Pekelo forcing the procedure to begin the following morning after the young man’s discovery. It wasn’t long before Gibbs strolled into autopsy with his coffee and another for his friend, setting it in front of the older man seated at the desk wordlessly. Sitting down in the chair beside the desk, he sipped his drink as he looked back at his friend.
“I know how you feel about apologies Jethro, but Director Vance needed autopsies conducted for the OSP division. Mr Palmer and I didn’t finish until around one this morning,” Ducky explained, looking exhausted. With a grateful smile he accepted the cup of coffee, even though he was more of a tea drinker, and began working on it heartily.
“I know,” he said simply.
After swallowing the mouthful of coffee, the coroner stood up and crossed the room. “Your petty officer’s autopsy didn’t take long, thankfully. The cause of death is pretty apparent in this case. My initial determination was correct, he suffocated to death.”
“Suicide or homicide?” Gibbs asked. “McGee found what appears to be a suicide note in the man’s car when he tracked it down.”
“I don’t believe this was a suicide. He struggled for one, someone willing to commit suicide wouldn’t be clawing to get the bag off his head. Also there is the matter of the tape around the bag,” Ducky explained.
“He could have taped it to keep himself from getting off,” Gibbs threw out, knowing as well that even he doubted a suicide.
“Doubtful, when one is struggling to breathe they wouldn’t be able to make such precise movements as placing tape around the bag and breaking the roll off,” Ducky countered. “This was definitely murder Jethro. A steak dinner says that the letter is a forgery.”
Gibbs smiled as he nodded and made his way back upstairs to find the rest of his team. “What do you have?” he said briskly, passing Tony as he was leaving something on Ziva’s desk.
“Looked into his background Boss,” McGee began. “Hawaiian native with skills in engineering. He’s received several commendations from his CO’s in the four years he’s been with the Navy. His current supervisor, the Chief Engineer of the Seahawk, recommended him for a promotion for his outstanding service.”
“Seahawk is in dock at Norfolk,” Gibbs said as he stared at the plasma. “Go talk to the CO. His bunk mates. Someone had a grudge against this guy. Bring back anyone that seems even slightly suspicious. And stay away from her desk DiNozzo.”
“On it boss,” Tim replied. “Should I go alone or…?”
The man raised an eyebrow as he looked pointedly as a sheepish Tony slunk back to his desk. “What do you think McGee?”
McGee grabbed his gear and headed for the elevator, only pausing in front of Tony’s desk to say, “I’ll meet you at the car. We’re gonna go see your old ship.”
Tony glared at him as he slid his gun onto his belt. “Watch it Probie,” he warned as he took a quick glance back at Ziva’s desk before following him.
Steve sighed with relief, Ziva had finally gotten a few hours of solid sleep after a night of coughing fits, nausea and general restlessness. Taking the opportunity to sleep himself, he awoke to find her watching him, a soft smile on her face. Although she still appeared unwell, she looked better than she did the previous night. “Hey… do you want something?” he asked, staring back at her through sleepy eyes.
“No. Just enjoying watching you sleep in my bed,” she replied, her voice filled with congestion as she had a fistful of tissues in her hand that had woken herself up again. “I am happy you managed to come out, despite my ability to truly entertain you. Maybe, if the others are not too busy with the case, they may be able to take you out and around.”
“Ziva, will you stop trying to get rid of me. I didn’t come here to see DC, I came to see you,” he replied as he wrapped an arm around her. “We can do stuff together when you’re feeling better.”
“I am not trying to get rid of you but I also do not wish to see you sitting around especially when I am unable to stay awake for periods at a time. You should go out and have fun. Otherwise you’d be sitting here watching television or movies or whatever,” she said. “And I managed to schedule an appointment with a doctor later this afternoon. I doubt that what they have to say will be a pleasing prognosis.”
“Not going anywhere,” he grinned as he planted a kiss on her forehead. “Not until I drive you to the doctor’s at least.”
Ziva narrowed her eyes on him although she smiled. “Must you be stubborn?” she asked. “Regardless, you still need to eat and I am nearly positive that I do not think that you would wish to live on tea and salad.”
“Alright, I’ll go buy some groceries,” he sighed. “See, that constitutes as going out.”
“You are a pain,” she chuckled as she leaned in to kiss him quickly. “I am going to make some tea. Are you coming and helping with a list? Or do you wish to rest some more. I doubt that you slept well last night with my episodes.”
“Nah, I’ll be fine,” he said as he swung his legs out of bed and got to his feet. “So do you have a preference in where to buy groceries?”
She was distracted by the view, her face flushed slightly both with her attraction to Steve and with a slight fever she begun to develop. “Huh?” she asked, blinking and shifting her gaze from his back to his face. “Oh – no. Not really although I do shop mostly at Whole Foods. Simply to have a gelato on my way out of the store. Wegmans is also good. They have the marketplace that offers a great deal of fresh made hot food to take out.”
“Okay,” he smiled as they walked through to the kitchen. “So what are your must-haves?”
“Tea and honey right now,” Ziva said. “Pre-made, bag salads are fine. Um…” she trailed off as she tried to think about what else. “Meats?”
“Anything but pork,” he grinned as he found a pen and a pad and began to jot everything down.
“Turkey bacon,” she pointed out. “I know how you enjoy your bacon and eggs. Fresh veggies. Though some frozen bags would be good to have in case the fresh goes bad.”
“I’m guessing you’ll also be wanting some soups? Any preference in flavor?” Steve asked, nodding along with her suggestions.
She made a face as she blew her nose into a tissue. “No. No preference. Whatever you think is fine,” she replied before making her way to finish making herself tea before curling up on the couch and wishing for death. “I’d offer to let you use my car but I do not think you would fit in it.”
“I’ll take the rental. It’s got that GPS built in should I get lost,” he smiled as he followed her through to the living room. “Right, well I’ll grab a shower and head out.” He paused suddenly as his phone rang. Retrieving it from his pocket, he flipped it open. “Yeah, McGarrett.”
Ziva looked up at him as she pulled her throw blanket over her legs. “Something wrong?” she mouthed to him, concern on her face from the expression she saw on his.
“Okay, I’ll be there in an hour,” he frowned, glancing at his watch after a few moments and ended the call. “That was Director Vance’s secretary, he wants to see me right away.”
She frowned slightly as she swallowed. “Did she say why?” she asked carefully. After she returned from her original trip to Hawaii, she had begun to look into Victor Hess and Steve’s father’s case using her NCIS resources. Vance had discovered it when he stopped by the bullpen while Gibbs was out and she chose to stay in for lunch simply for the privacy and had to come clean about it. After an initial disapproving look, he allowed her to continue as long as it was done on her own time and hadn’t mentioned it since.
“No,” Steve replied, believing that the Director wanted to discuss his ideas in greater detail before making a decision. “But I guess I’ll find out soon enough.”
“You go deal with that then. I got the phone and plenty of Asian take out in the area that delivers. I can order something to have waiting for you when you get home,” she smiled. “Just call before you leave.”
“Okay,” he smiled before heading to the shower and get ready.
Gibbs sat in the office with Vance as they waited for McGarrett to arrive. He knew that he would have to deal with Ziva at some point and that the man would likely not react favorably for what they would ask of him, but his team was short handed and he had come to trust the man’s instincts. It took awhile to sell the Director on the idea but eventually he caved on asking if he would offer his help.
They would need his help regardless. After the recent events with the NCIS satellite office on the island, Gibbs preferred having Five-0’s help from there to check on Pekelo’s residence and other local frequented locations when he was home. Considering that McGarrett and Gibbs shared a similar ‘cowboy’ style of investigating although the younger man had more freedom than the older did.
Vance’s intercom buzzed a little earlier than scheduled, giving Gibbs a small smile, he hit the button. “Yes Rochelle?”
“Lt. Commander McGarrett to see you sir,” the woman said from the other side of the wall.
“Send him in,” Vance said, before standing to greet their guest.
“Director Vance, Agent Gibbs,” Steve nodded to them both respectively. “You wanted to see me?”
“Yes Commander, please have a seat,” Vance replied after sharing a handshake with Steve. “Can I get you something to drink?”
“No, thank you Director, I’m kind of in a hurry,” Steve replied, wanting to get this, whatever it was, over with so he could get back to Ziva.
“Understandable, how’s Ziva doing?” Vance asked simply.
“She’s still not feeling great, but she’s resting up and taking some meds. She should be back in no time,” Steve replied, glancing at Gibbs momentarily.
“Good, give her my best wishes,” Vance added, receiving an affirmative nod from the Lieutenant Commander. “I guess you’re wondering why we called you in.”
“You guessed right,” Steve replied, “I figured you wanted to discuss my proposal about having an NCIS agent liaise with my Task Force on a permanent basis.”
“Unfortunately not, although Agent Gibbs and I would like to sit down with you and discuss it at some point. There is a more pressing matter we need your assistance with,” Vance replied.
“Is this about the case you’re working Gibbs?” he asked, looking to the silver haired investigator. “Whatever it is, I’m on vacation.”
“And knowing Ziva, she wants you to get out from under foot… for your own good,” Gibbs replied simply. “I wouldn’t be asking if the victim wasn’t a Hawaiian native. But we’re a man down over here and could use an extra pair of hands.”
“Look, I just got lucky with the flower thing, you guys have handled hundreds if not thousands of murder cases. And you have a whole building full of agents,” Steve countered.
“Agents who don’t have your skills,” Gibbs replied with a small smile. That was about as close to a compliment as he would give McGarrett at that moment.
“Plus the Hawaiian NCIS office is still going through some changes, under the supervision of the Assistant Director,” Vance interjected. “We could use your team’s help on this. Now I’ve already spoken to Governor Jameson and she assures me that Five-0 will be happy to assist NCIS, but only if you’re on board.”
“And if you’re worried about Ziva, I’ll make sure that you or someone can check in with her until she’s better,” Gibbs added.
“Then I guess I’m working with you for the time being,” Steve relented. Gibbs was right about Ziva, she did want him to get out and see DC, so technically he was going to do just that. And reaffirming his and Jameson’s commitment to the liaison position would be good for both NCIS and Five-0 in the long run. He just didn’t have to like a working vacation.
“Great, sign this,” Vance smiled as he placed a document in front of McGarrett. “It’ll permit you to carry and use a weapon while you’re working with us.
Gibbs stood from his seat while their guest dealt with the paperwork as he went over and refilled his glass with water. “The only thing I ask of you for today is to call your people and have them check out Pekelo’s house and talk with his family then you go back to Ziva. We’ll hit the pavement first thing tomorrow.”
“Well I’ll need to be brought up to speed on the case, and my people need an updated case file too,” Steve explained as he signed the forms. “I’ll need access to MTAC and Agent McGee’s help to set up a connection to my people.”
“Consider it done,” Vance said. “Good luck gentlemen. And Commander-.”
“Yes Director,” Steve replied as he and Gibbs paused at the door.
“Thank you,” he nodded before slipping a toothpick into his mouth and returning to his mountain of paperwork.
In the squad room, McGee was busy doing forensic work on the Petty Officer’s digital life having spent several hours interviewing his shipmates aboard the Seahawk while DiNozzo was busy writing a report on their findings there, which didn’t add up to much.
“Good, you’re back,” Gibbs announced as he strolled into the bullpen with Steve following behind. “What have you got?”
“Not much Boss,” DiNozzo said as he focused solely on McGarrett for the moment. “We spoke with his immediate CO and his shipmates that didn’t get the leave time.”
“And?” Gibbs asked simply.
“Not a whole lot to be said. He was well liked, respected, hard-working. Nobody had any problems with him that we could tell,” Tony replied.
“McGee?” Gibbs turned his attention to Tim.
“Well I’ve looked a little deeper into the Petty Officer’s records boss, seems that he did have one blemish on an otherwise spotless record. Aboard his last assignment, the USS Ranger he and several crewmates were involved in reporting their supervisory officer for misconduct. The Ranger’s out at sea but they’ve assured us that the reports on the incident will be sent to us early tomorrow.”
“Good work,” Gibbs nodded before tossing the form at Tony. “DiNozzo, requisition a weapon for McGarrett to use. He’s gonna be helping us until Ziva gets back.”
“Are ya sure he’s gonna be around long enough to need a weapon boss?” Tony asked, looking the form over.
“Did I stutter DiNozzo? Just do it will ya,” Gibbs snapped.
“On it boss,” Tony replied before rushing off to the armoury.
“McGee, bring McGarrett up to speed on the case and he’ll tell you what to do from there,” Gibbs told the Elf-lord, exchanging a glance with Steve briefly.
“Sure thing boss.”
“You can use Ziva’s desk til she gets back,” Gibbs said as he made his way to the elevator. “I’m gonna check on Ziva, call me if you have anything.”
An hour before Ziva’s appointment and Steve not being back yet, she sat at the window with her home phone as she dialed his personal cell. Getting his voicemail, she sighed. “Steve? It’s me. I am assuming that Gibbs locked you up at the office so I’m about to leave for the doctor…call me when you are done.”
Crossing the room, she let out a cough as she went over to the door and pulled on her coat before heading downstairs only to find Gibbs making his way up. “Gibbs? What are you doing here?” she asked.
“I figured you’d like some company,” Gibbs replied simply, before offering her the cup of coffee he’d bought her, “Where are you off to? You should be resting.”
“I have a doctor’s appointment. Steve was supposed to go to the market and come back to take me. Is he still at NCIS?” she asked, pulling her coat closed as much as she could around her throat as the cold felt as if it were getting in between the layers she wore.
“Yeah, McGee’s bringing him up to speed. He should be back by the time I get you home,” Gibbs explained. “Come on, I’ll give you a ride to your Doctors.”
Ziva blinked as she nodded. “So he is working the case? Please do not tire him out or over work him please. He did not come here to work. At least let him out in time to come back here for a decent dinner and so that I can spend some time with him when I am not unconscious from the cough syrup?”
“Don’t worry, we won’t monopolise his time,” he replied as he escorted her to his car. “He’s already been a big help to Abby. Helped her pin down a flower that we found under the victim’s body.”
“I wanted him to get out and see the area but he is not here to work either,” she sighed. “And – if the doctor gives me the all clear to work, I am coming in to help. I do not want to hear anything else from you about it.”
“Alright, but you’re not going in the field. I’ll handcuff you to your desk if I have to,” Gibbs replied with no hint of humor in his voice before they both got in and set off for her Doctor’s office.
“Fine,” Ziva sighed as she went to settled in his car. “Did you actually leave Steve alone with Tony?” she asked, changing the subject some. “Aren’t you concerned about his safety?”
“Whose safety?” Gibbs asked with a slight smile. “I doubt Tony would be dumb enough to mess with a SEAL. Plus I left McGee there to referee.”
She sighed, shaking her head. “My doctor is on Madison Avenue, about two miles from the Navy Yard. When I am done there, we can go to the office, yes?”
“If your doctor gives you the all clear,” Gibbs chided. “And that’s non-negotiable too.”
“Right,” she said. “Let’s go already.”
After she was given a healthy dose of antibiotics and more cough medicine, Ziva was let out from the doctor with order not to overexert herself. Work was acceptable if she paced herself and was recommended she rest more before going in again. “She only recommended it. It was not definitive,” she said to Gibbs in the car. “I want to work where I can.”
“Alright, but I meant it when I said you’re on desk duty,” Gibbs sighed as they pulled out of the lot and proceeded toward the Navy yard. “And you take a fifteen minute break for every hour you work. If I see you pushing yourself too hard, I’ll send you home and revoke your access to the office for a week. Clear?”
Ziva’s mouth fell open in protest but said nothing. “Fine. Can you update me on the case at least?”
“Petty Officer Pekelo, Hawaiian native specialising in Naval engineering. His death was made to look like a suicide but Ducky determined that he was murdered. Abby’s working on the suicide note and the last of the evidence from the crime scene. McGarrett helped by identifying a Hawaiian flower left underneath the body and his people are checking into Pekelo’s life back home,” Gibbs explained. “McGee can fill you in more when we get there.”
She nodded. “Good. Anything else you are not telling me?”
“Pekelo’s career is unblemished. He’s a model officer according to his shopmates and CO aboard theSeahawk. McGee did find something from his time aboard the Ranger, but they’re out to sea. Records won’t be available while tomorrow morning. So you can help McGee sort through it all. In the meantime, your boyfriend and I are going to look into this flower,” he replied. “It’ll be a good opportunity to get to know him better.”
Ziva went silent from the next question she intended to ask as she looked at him. She did not know what to make of his words. Sure, she and Steve spoke briefly and they wished to connect as they had previously but other than the trips, they never defined their status but everyone just assumed. She could not but wonder at the word. “Okay,” she said slowly, thinking about what she would be able to do to contribute.
“Well, we checked out Pekelo’s place,” Danny said as his image was splayed across the large monitor in MTAC.”There’s nothing out of the ordinary. His landlord said that he kept up his rent payments even when he was at see. When he was home he was a pretty quiet guy. She didn’t notice many visitors or anything unusual.”
“Sounds like the song his shipmates played for Tony and McGee. Save for the flower and the lead on his Ranger tour, we’ve got nothing,” Steve sighed.
“Abby hasn’t found anything? She’s supposed to be one of the best, right? Even Max is in awe of her work,” Danny replied with a frown.
“She is the best,” Gibbs interjected as he and Ziva entered MTAC and joined Steve in front of the large monitor.
Ziva immediately smiled at seeing Steve before making her way to his side and waved up at the screen. “Hello Danny,” she said with a sore voice.
“Ziva, Gibbs,” Danny nodded. “Steve told me that you’re not feeling great. Hope ya feel better soon.”
Steve instinctively slipped his hand into hers and squeezed it gently. “Well she’s here, so she must be feeling a little better,” the Lieutenant Commander replied before looking to her. “You are feeling better right? The Doctor said you can work?”
She smiled with a slight nod. “Yes, with restrictions,” she replied glancing at Gibbs briefly. “How much have we missed? Gibbs briefed me on the way.”
“You haven’t missed much. Danny just told me about Pekelo’s home life. He was quiet, kept to himself, kept up with his bills. Nothing really stood out, right Danny?” Steve replied.
“Right. We’re gonna follow up with his family and friends though. A Lieutenant Carson at Pearl said that Pekelo’s parents have been informed and are waiting on Ducky to release the body. Kono and I will pay them a visit to see if they can tell us anything more,” Danny explained. “In fact, we should get going because they live on the other side of the island. Is there anything else we can do for you guys?”
“This flower that was found…How common is it? Is it grown here on the mainland anywhere?” Ziva asked looking around as she thumbed through the file Gibbs handed her.
“Chin said its native to the island and generally grows wild. It can be grown in greenhouses so I’d recommend checking local flower ships to see if they supply it,” Danny replied. “We’ll keep you guys informed of any developments at this end.”
“Good,” Gibbs nodded, before waving their Hawaiian friends off and the feed disconnected. “Ziva – go make calls about the flower. I don’t think it’ll be all that common.”
She nodded before smiling up at Steve. “You – don’t let him boss you around too much. Okay?”
“Alright,” he said as he planted a kiss on her cheek. “So long as you promise not to work too hard.”
Gibbs sipped on his coffee before speaking up for Ziva. “She better not or she goes home for the week,” he said before looking over at the two. “Let’s go see DiNozzo about that sidearm, McGarrett and we’ll go talk to Pekelo’s CO while Ziva works on finding the flower.”
“Yeah,” Steve nodded before smiling at Ziva. “I’ll be back soon okay. I’ll bring back some soup or something.”
“Okay. Behave. Both of you,” Ziva said to them before making her way out of MTAC to head to her deak, leveling a look on her boss that made him smile and laugh lightly.
For the first few minutes of their drive, they were silent. Gibbs was driving. It’s not that Steve didn’t know the way, but it was Gibbs’ town afterall. So he spent the first few minutes of the ride checking his SIG over.
“Make sure Ziva gets her rest when you two leave tonight,” Gibbs commented, breaking the silence.
“Already way ahead of you,” Steve replied, looking to Gibbs as he slipped his gun back in its holster. “I just hope that she isn’t pushing herself too hard as it is. I’d hate for her to feel worse before she feels better.”
“It’s Ziva. Little stops her,” the older man replied thoughtfully as he glanced over.
“Oh, I know. She actually wants me to go out and see the sights while I’m here. It’s not like I haven’t been in DC before. When I told her I came here to see her she got all pissy. I’m guessing she’s okay with me working with NCIS again as a blessing. At least now I’m not getting under her feet,” Steve replied.
Gibbs nodded before taking a breath. “Where do you see yourselves going?” he asked.
“During the trip or…?” Steve asked before shaking his head. “Well, I have her in mind for the position with Five-0 as you know. I lost her once Gibbs… we both had jobs to do and reasons to do them. Having her back in my life again has made me realise that I was a fool to let her go and walk away myself. So as much as I want her to join me in Hawaii, I’ll do the long distance thing for as long as she needs.”
“Yeah I heard about your job offer to her and Vance. What if she did or didn’t move? You are really willing to fly back and forth forever or until one or both of you can’t deal with it anymore?” Gibbs continued with concern. “She’s been through hell and back…”
“I know, Somalia was just the tip of the iceberg,” he replied. “She might not like to admit it, but even she needs someone to take care of her sometimes. I wanna be there for her, that’s part of the reason why I want her to transfer to Hawaii. If she wants to stay… and believe me, I get why she would… then we’ll keep travelling or I could maybe come out here.”
“Can you really see yourself out here though?” Gibbs asked honestly because as well travelled as he knew the man was, he was most comfortable on the tropical islands.
“It’d take some getting used to,” Steve replied honestly. “My work at Five-0 is important to me, more than I think even Ziva realises. I have friends there, my life is there. But I think, for her, I could give it up. Either Danny or Chin could lead Five-0. We could use my place as a holiday getaway… I have thought about this as a possible outcome. I’m not raising my expecations any higher than they are because she could say no. You know that just as much as I do.”
He didn’t say anything because he suspected that at some point, Ziva would move on after she accepted herself. He knew she was ready, as much as Tony, now to branch off on their own, but she may not believe so. Of course there was more she could learn, there in DC with him, but she could still thrive successfully with the man beside him. “Okay,” Gibbs said simply.
“So do I pass the test?” Steve asked with a slight grin. “I mean, I get how much you care about Ziva. Even if you won’t admit it, I know for a fact that Ziva feels that you’ve been a better father to her than Eli David ever was. As much as I know that she’s hurting now because of what he told her-.”
Gibbs looked over with a pronounced frown. “She spoke to her father? When?”
“She didn’t tell you?” Steve asked with a slight frown. “No… of course she didn’t…” With a heavy sigh, he looked at Gibbs apologetically. “There was an incident not long after you left Hawaii. Liat had a team of former Mossad officers and a group of mercenaries kidnap Ziva. She was brought to her father so that they could talk. He told her that he was dieing and didn’t have long. He wanted her to stay with him until his death. He also wanted her to rejoin the Mossad on the fast-track to becoming their next director.”
Gibbs’ hands tightened dramatically on the wheel as he let out a low growl and the car’s speed increased. “That bastard will do anything to get his hooks in her,” he mumbled. “If Eli David was dying, Vance would know. He hasn’t alluded to much. Communications with Mossad is extremely tight already.”
“Why didn’t anyone call us when this happened?” he asked, anger filling his voice.
“That was my call,” Steve replied carefully. “I know how much you care about your team Gibbs, you saved her in Somalia, you went racing to LA to help Abby… if Ziva does decide to come to Hawaii, are you going to come running everytime she’s in danger? Because I have to tell you, you’re going to collect a lot of airmiles.”
He looked pointedly at Gibbs for a moment, knowing that he was taking a big risk. “I had a SEAL team assisting me, as well as all of Five-0’s resources. We found her, we got her out. Had I felt that I needed the help, we would have called.”
“We still should have been notified,” he growled back. “Never mind about it right now. We have work to do,” he said as they arrived at the Norfolk yard.