McGee shot upright at the sound of his phone ringing. Having worked late into the night getting more info on the Ranger case and looking into Petty Officer Foster, he finally finished his work at around 3am but decided against making the trip home as it would waste valuable sleep time. Instead, he crashed on the floor of his cubicle, something that Gibbs’ team had gotten used to over the years.
“Special Agent McGee,” he yawned after fumbling for his phone.
“This is your wake up call Probie,” the voice on the other end replied. “Did you find anything out that will close this case faster?”
“Damn it Tony,” McGee sighed. “I spent half the night doing the gruntwork of two agents. I’ll brief you when everyone comes in.”
“I’m on my way to check out this former CO now. I doubt our ninja and pretty boy will be on time.”
“Oh yeah? How much?” McGee asked as he spotted Ziva stepping off the elevator with a huge grin on her face. She was walking hand in hand with McGarrett, whose grin rivalled her own.
“Does it matter? Just tell Gibbs where I am. I’ll be back sometime this afternoon,” Tony grumbled.
“Come on. A hundred bucks says that Ziva and Steve are in before 9am,” McGee grinned, offering the pair a silent wave.
The man was silent on the other end for a moment. “I don’t think so. Not falling for that. Just tell Gibbs will ya?”
“Yeah yeah,” McGee replied before putting the phone down. “He didn’t go for it. Morning guys.”
Ziva smiled. “Good morning McGee. How are you today?” She asked as she dumped her belongings at her desk and taking Steve’s coat from him.
“I’ll be alright after a strong cup of coffee, a shower and a change of clothes,” McGee replied before stifling another yawn.
“Well I can help you out there Elf Lord,” Gibbs said as he strolled into the bullpen with a cup of coffee in each hand before handing one to McGee.
“Thanks boss,” Tim smiled gratefully as he reached for his monitor remote. “Uh Tony asked me to tell you that he’s going to speak with former Chief Petty Officer Leo Hiu.”
An image of the discharged Engineer as well as his biographical details filled the plasma screen by Gibbs’ desk.
“This the guy our victims testified against in the JAG case?” Steve asked with a slight frown. “And DiNozzo went alone?”
“He is an idiot,” Ziva mumbled. “I will talk to him later and hopefully set him forward. He is beyond ridiculous now. Gibbs, I am feeling better. I can go try to catch up to him…”
“Alright,” Gibbs nodded, wondering whether on not to tell her about DiNozzo’s plans. “McGee, the shower’ll have to wait. Back her up. McGarrett, you’re with me.”
McGee was about to groan with frustration only to earn Gibbs’ death glare. “Grab your gear.”
“Be careful won’t you?” Steve asked, looking intently at Ziva.
Ziva rolled her eyes and said, “I always am. You do not let Gibbs boss you around too much.”
“So you keep saying,” he grinned as they began walking away from one another in opposite directions. “See you soon, okay?”
“We’ll go home at 5 pm no matter what today.I’ll be back after I strangle my partner.”
“And then I’ll take you out to dinner, wherever you wanna go,” he called as he reached the aft elevator, only for Gibbs to get frustrated and pull him inside.
Ziva chuckled and found herself in a coughing fit as she and McGee headed out. “What were you and Tony talking about on the phone?”
“Just Tony being Tony. He figured you and Steve would be late getting in,” McGee replied. “How are you feeling by the way. You look much better than you did yesterday.”
“I feel better but still have to deal with the antibiotics from the doctor. Steve took very good care of me last night,” she smiled cheekily.
“I thought he would, he’s a nice guy,” McGee replied, the innuendo in her comment completely invisible to him. “I guess that’s why Tony’s acting like he is. The last time you were sick, he was the one bringing you soup and calling to check on you. He never did handle jealousy well.”
She sighed as they rode the elevator down to the garage. “I know. I also believed that after our joint investigation in Hawaii that time, they were looking better at becoming friends. I suppose I misread that. Makes me wonder what else I misunderstood over the years.”
“I’m not blind Ziva, I know you two have a history. But you’ve both had plenty of chances to be honest with each other about how you feel or once felt. Whether you choose not to out of respect for Gibbs or out of fear is on you both. Tony just can’t handle the fact that you’re moving on. Just be gentle with him when you do talk to him,” Tim replied. “You’re going on vacation when this case is done. I still have to work with him.”
Ziva nodded knowing it wasn’t going to be easy. She would always have feelings for the man but she was happily in love with Steve even if she couldn’t admit it aloud yet. “Let’s get this case over with.”
Gibbs and McGarrett strolled into autopsy to find Ducky and Jimmy just finishing up. “Ahh, Jethro, Steven, right on time.” the Scotsman smiled.
“What do you got for me Duck?” Gibbs asked going right over to peer over the body.
“Not much I’m afraid. I can confirm that Petty Officer Foster was murdered and his body was arranged to make it look like a suicide. And he fought his murderer. His ribs were bruised and broken quite violently. You already know about the defensive wounds he received…” Ducky trailed off. “It must have been excruciating Jethro. The noose was already pulled tight around his neck and he was struggling to breathe, then his attacker beat his torso with a blunt object to make it even harder for him to breathe. Catch this bastard…”
“But nothing linking the two scenes together? All we have is their history and that isn’t enough,” Steve replied.
“Well, there was another one of those Hawaiian flowers. It was in his shirt pocket. Mr. Palmer has already delivered to Abigail along with the rest of his clothing,” Ducky smiled, sharing a look with Gibbs.
“It’s still pretty circumstantial,” he added rubbing his hand over his stubbled jaw.
“My dear boy, haven’t you learned by now?” Ducky asked with a grin. “Abigail does her best work when the evidence is circumstantial.”
“Thanks Duck, if you find anything else,-” Gibbs said as he began strolling out of Autopsy.
“You’ll be the first person I call,” Ducky finished his sentence.
As the men walked out, Steve looked at Gibbs. “We should have gone to that commanding officer as a group. This didn’t feel right.”
“DiNozzo can handle himself,” Gibbs replied as they stepped into the elevator. “But you’re right, he should have gone with McGee or Ziva. Your girlfriend will talk to him and get his head on straight. The last thing he needs is to piss Vance off before the case is over.”
He didn’t say anything to what Gibbs said but it made him think. Ziva and him never actually classified themselves but he liked it.
McGee and Ziva pulled up outside Leo Hiu’s current address, a small apartment building by an industrial estate on the outskirts of DC. Tony’s car was there, but empty. “Hiu found work at one of the factories in their neighbourhood,” McGee explained as they got out and looked around Tony’s car. “No sign of Tony though…”
“He might be upstairs,” Ziva shrugged. “Come on.”
“Right behind you,” he said as they made their way into the building. Checking the mailboxes in the foyer, McGee frowned. “Uhh, we have a problem.”
“What is that McGee?” Ziva asked as she pressed the button for the elevator.
“Hiu isn’t listed on any of the boxes. He’s either living with someone else who leases the apartment or he’s using an assumed name,” McGee sighed.
“Who’s name is on the apartment listed for him?” She asked, turning to look at him as the elevator arrived.
“That’s just it, there was no number listed. Just the block’s address,” McGee sighed. “We’re going to have to knock on every door.” As soon as the words escaped his lips, a very loud crash could be heard coming from upstairs. It was the sound of something breaking, like glass or pottery.
Ziva pointed to the door a she ran for the elevator. “Watch outside. I’m going up!” She ordered as she slammed on the button for the next floor.
McGee didn’t even have time to respond before Ziva was on her way up.
When the elevator came to a stop, the sound of more crashing and smashing could be heard. As Ziva approached the sound with her weapon drawn, the door was ripped open and Tony stepped out. He had several cuts and bruises and one of his lips was split open.
He looked up at Ziva with a frown. “Don’t bother. He got away.”
“What happened?” She asked as she holstered her weapon and made her way over. “Are you okay?”
“I’ll be fine. I was questioning Hiu about his involvement in the Ranger case and I guess I asked the wrong question. He flipped out, we had a fight and he took off down the fire escape. Hopped onto his motorcycle before I got up from under the bookcase he tipped on me. “You know, for a scrawny guy, he’s pretty strong.”
She nodded as she continue to observe him to make sure he really was fine. “You should have waited for backup or taken someone with you to begin with…”
“I didn’t expect him to flip out the way he did,” Tony replied, “Plus everyone was busy. I want to get this case over and done with as soon as possible.”
“Tony…you are bleeding,” Ziva said ignoring his tone. Pulling a napkin from her pocket she reached up to press it to his lip.
“I’m fine!” he snapped, pulling away as he made his way downstairs. “There’s a first aid kit in my car. Just get a BOLO out on Hiu’s motorcycle.”
She frowned as she watched after him before following slowly. The talk needed to happen much sooner then she had thought it would.
Tony entered the foyer, finding for him.
“Tony, are you alright?” he asked as he holstered his weapon.
“Do I look okay Probie!” DiNozzo snapped. “Get a BOLO out on Hiu’s motorcycle will ya.”
“Uh sure,” McGee replied, retrieving his PDA with Hiu’s info on. “Will you tell me what happened at least?”
“No!” Tony grumbled before heading for his car.
McGee looked at Ziva who followed Tony out who only shook her head. “I’m going back with him. Will you be okay on your own?” She asked not waiting for a reply as she got in on the passenger side before her partner could drive off.
“Uh sure…” McGee called out. He was about to tell her that Baltimore PD were on their way anyhow but the car took off, heading back toward the Navy Yard.
Ziva was silent in the car as they drove, looking out the window mostly. She tried to think of how the conversation would turn once it started but the possibilities saddened her if Tony continued his current attitude.
“I take it that Gibbs is with Captain Wonderful?” Tony asked snidely. The bleeding had stopped thankfully.
“Steve? Yes, they are but I am sure that they will grow tired of one another soon enough.”
“Shame you can’t say the same,” Tony replied, his foot pressing down on the accelerator.
“I think you know what,” Tony growled. “We don’t need McGarrett on this investigation and yet he’sthere. Its bad enough I have to listen to you, McGee and Abby go on about him and that team of his, now he has to come here and interfere with my team.”
“Let me get this straight…he did not want to be working here. He is supposed to be on vacation and Gibbs insisted on it. I thought you liked him anyhow. That you and Steve settled issues when we in Hawaii yet.”
“It won’t matter after this case,” Tony replied. “I’ve asked Vance for my own team.”
She stared at him, hurt and saddened. “I…wow. I did not expect to hear that.” She sat in the car as he continued to drive unable to speak or find any words to say.
“Why? You’re gonna be gone soon and Gibbs thinks I’m ready. What reason do I have to stick around?” he asked.
Ziva just shook her head and looked out the window, fighting the urge to cry over the potential loss of a friend. She did not wish to think about it or acknowledge it yet.
When they pulled into Tony’s parking space, Gibbs was waiting for them, his trademark scowl seemed to be glued in place.
“Uh oh, someone’s in trouble,” Tony muttered, speaking for the first time since his revelation. “And given that he’s looking at me… I guess you’re off the hook.”
“Oh dear,” she murmured. “Good luck.” Making a quick escape to leave the two alone she went to find Steve for details.
“Uhh, hi boss,” he said as he made the short walk of misery and stood before Gibbs who seemed to stare right into his soul.
“You mind telling me just what the hell you were thinking?” Gibbs whispered, which made Tony cringe. He knew he was really in trouble.
“It’s bound to happen at some point Boss. You know that. Now seemed to be a good time…”
“I’m not talking about you wanting your own team, DiNozzo,” Gibbs snapped, “I trained you, I know you’re ready. I even told Vance you were. And then you go pull this… something a probie learns not to do on his first day! You questioned a suspect without back-up!” The anger in his voice rose and yet he was still whispering.
“Oh…that. I had a thought and wanted to chase it down…”
“Now is not the time to get smart with me DiNozzo,” Gibbs growled. “Hiu was involved in an accident not long after he got away from you. He’s dead!”
Tony paled significantly. “Oh man… I’m sorry Boss.”
“Not as sorry as Hiu,” Gibbs sighed. “Ducky and McGee are handling the scene. I’m on my way up there now. You… get yourself cleaned up. Vance wants to see you in an hour.”
“Yes Boss. Will do Boss…”
“And DiNozzo… apologise to Ziva,” Gibbs said before clipping him upside the head. “She doesn’t deserve your attitude. And if I were her or the SEAL, I would’ve knocked you on your ass long before now.” With that, he patted his protege on the shoulder and headed for his car.
Tony didn’t say anything but he knew he was going above and beyond being an asshole by that point. Still he did not want to quite give in yet.
Steve left Vance’s office to find Ziva waiting for him in the reception area. “Hey, I can see why you like being with NCIS. The pay’s not half bad,” he grinned as he showed her his cheque for services rendered. His smile soon faded when he realised she was upset. “Is something wrong? Is Tony okay? Is McGee?”
“Yes. Everyone is alright I suppose but … I do not know. I am sure everything will be fine,” Ziva replied. “I just wanted to wait for you.”
“Come on, lets go talk somewhere,” he smiled, draping an arm over her shoulder. “You can fill me in on what happened with DiNozzo and I can tell you about Hiu.”
“Alright. I just want to go get something first. I’ll meet you by my desk?” She smiled.
“Okay, see you soon,” he smiled, planting a kiss on her temple before they parted ways.
Tony had gone into the men’s room to compose himself, nodding at Agent Jenkins who walked in at the same time. Sighing he went straight to the urinal.
“Hey DiNozzo, you still owe me ten bucks for the fantasy football league pot,” Jenkins said before noticing the state Tony was in. “But uh… get it to me whenever. It’s cool.” As Jenkins got into theflow of why he was in there, the door opened once again.
Tony turned and looked around, rolling eyes at the sight. Zipping up his pants he went over to the sink, effectively ignoring him.
Steve didn’t care that Jenkins was in the room, he just stood there and stared at the back of Tony’s head. “You’re an idiot, you know that.”
Jenkins froze, stopping mid-flow. He had to get out of there, but he needed to finish too.
“I’ve been told as much,” he sighed as he washed his hands. “If you excuse me, I have work to do…”
“No, you gonna stay and you’re gonna listen,” Steve said, standing his ground. “Ziva cares about you alright. She’s your friend, your partner and a lot more besides. I know you guys have history. I can tell that by the way you look at each other. But you acting like a jerk and putting yourself at risk won’t help her or you. You’ll push her away and then you’ll lose someone special in your life. Take it from me, because I lost her once. I’m grateful I got the chance to get to know her again, to be in her life. And if all she wanted from me was friendship, I’d count my lucky stars at the end of the day. You should too.”
Jenkins’ eyes widened as he started to finish his business. Just as he turned, he heard the door open again as Agent David enter with a murderous glare in her eyes.
“Oh for the love of… this is a men’s room!” he said as he hastily zipped up his pants and buckled his belt, edging toward the door, giving McGarrett and Ziva a very wide berth..
“You do realise that you’ve just earned us another lecture on inappropriate behaviour in the workplace,” DiNozzo said nonchalantly.
“He did not wash his hands again. Yuck,” Ziva shuddered. “Leave us Steve.”
“You know where to find me,” he said, looking into her eyes. With that, he left.
“I see the obedience training’s paying off,” Tony said, checking his now clean face in the mirror.
“Do not be such a donkey’s butt. He has been nothing but friendly with you and I know that he would be honored to be your friend if you let him. Yes, I have considered joining his team and the more you act like this it makes it harder to make any decision.”
“Come on Ziva, we both know you’re going to go. I’ve seen the way you look at him. You’ve never looked at another man like that, not while I’ve known you.” Tony replied. “I’ve never got that look from you. So who are you kidding. You love the guy and its not as if he’ll move here after what you’ve told me.”
She ran a tired hand over her head. “Maybe but that also does not mean that I wish to end my relationships here which is the way you are making it seem and that…that was never my intention. Hell, I actually was looking forward to having everyone over if I did go. And you to help me the most. You are my best friend here. You know me better than even Abby. I can’t lose you…”
“But you will. If you go to Hawaii, you’ll get new friends, a new partner, a whole new life that I can’t be a part of because I’d have to watch you love another man again. And I can’t do that Ziva… I’m sorry but I don’t have it in me. So I’m going to get my transfer and leave or I’m gonna quit,” he replied before brushing past her on his way to the door. He paused for a moment, his tone lighter than before. “I will say this though Ziva. I hope you are happy… I really do.” And then he left, leaving her alone with the home truths she didn’t want to face.
It took her several minutes to compose herself before she returned to her desk where she immediately started her work again. Avoiding looking at either man, she knew she had made her decision and it was one that no one would be pleased with.
When Tony made his way upstairs to see Vance, Steve took the opportunity to check on Ziva, having completed his report. “Hey… I take it that things didn’t go well?”
She let out a breath and shook her head. “No. Which makes this more difficult to say…I’m sorry Steve. I can’t do this. Not now. I can’t be with you romantically and I cannot join your team either. I do not wish to lose any of my friends here. Not one.”
“Ziva…” he was taken aback by the sheer amount of information that escaped her lips. She didn’t want to be with him, for her friends sake. “Can’t we talk about this?” he asked. “Let me talk to Tony.” But he could tell just by looking at her, she’d made up her mind and she wasn’t about to change it.
Fighting the urge to storm into Vance’s office and confront Tony, he pulled the weapon he had loaned and placed it on her desk. “Well I hope a man that makes you choose between his friendship or your future happiness is worth it… I really do.” He placed his hand against her cheek. “I’ll leave your spare key under your mat. Say goodbye to everyone for me, tell them that it was great to work with them again.” Reluctantly, he stepped away and proceeded for the elevator.
Blinking, she looked over at him. “Please do not leave…”
“What would you have me do Ziva? Stay and spend my vacation knowing that you’d rather be here than with me?” he asked, “After everything we’ve been through together… I could have handled carrying on the long distance thing for a while longer. But to choose not to be with me for a man who doesn’t care about your feelings enough to want to see you happy… I’m sorry… I just can’t.”
Boarding the elevator, he slammed his fist into the wall of the car and then pressing the button to head down.
Swallowing hard, she sat back down fighting the urge to cry. All she could do was stare at her desk surface and still was when Tony finally returned some time later.
“Where’s McGarrett?” Tony asked, not even looking at her as he rounded his desk and sat down, slipping an large envelope into one of his drawers.
Bracing herself, Ziva returned back to reality. “He left. He will most likely return to Hawaii tonight,” she answered softly, keying up get notes on the computer.
“Good,” Tony replied. He was about to say something else, but his phone rang. “DiNozzo.”
Even from her seat across the bullpen, Ziva could here Gibbs’ distinctive tone.
“Are you sure?” Tony frowned before listening to his mentors response. “Uh, there’s a problem there boss. McGarrett’s on his way home…” He looked up at Ziva with a frown.
“They found a third body, he died after Hiu’s accident. Gibbs wants all hands on deck, including Steve,” he told her before listening to Gibbs once more. “He wants to talk to you?”
She glared at him as she made her way across the floor and took the phone. “Hello Gibbs.”
“What happened?” Gibbs asked bluntly.
“I do not wish to lose any of my friends. That is all,” she said, looking directly at Tony. “It – was not meant to be…”
“Where is he?” Gibbs snapped, already planning to talk to them all individually.
“Gibbs…he is likely packing his belongings from my apartment. I am sure he has his travel arrangements by now.”
“I want you and DiNozzo to meet us at the crime scene. Jimmy’s on his way back with Hiu’s body and the evidence from the crash. Warn Abby that she’ll be pulling an all nighter,” Gibbs explained. “McGee will text you the info.” With that, the call ended.
Hanging up the phone, she returned to her desk to collect her coat and looked at Steve’s sidearm with a frown. “Gibbs wants us to meet him on the scene. Call Abby to let get know no one is going home tonight.”
“No one?” Tony asked also eyeing the gun, “Does that also mean…?”
“I do not know what he is doing. I am not asking either. You wanted him gone and he is. I do not wish to dwell on it any more,” Ziva snapped, full of pain as she shoved McGarrett’s weapon in her desk and walked away.
Steve didn’t waste no time in packing up his stuff. It’d be difficult to get a flight out to Hawaii on such short notice so he planned to stay at a hotel and fly out the next day. He wasn’t about to wait, nor was he prepared to fight a hopeless battle with Ziva, she’d made up her mind.
Yes, Tony meant a lot to her. Steve knew that already, but he didn’t think she would end things with him because of Tony’s disapproval. He wondered whether to write her a note, to tell her that he was sorry things got to this, to call her a fool for making the choice she did and a lot more besides. Instead, he left the gold pendant he had bought her before coming out to DC on her pillow and left.
Putting the key under the mat, he made his way down and out into the street where Gibbs was waiting for him, leaning against his car. “I don’t want to hear it,” he said simply. “I’m going to a hotel and tomorrow I’m going home.”
Gibbs smiled lightly. “So you’re leaving without trying? I have a spare room you can use but I need you for this case.”
“Ziva’s made up her mind already. All I have to do is look at her to know that,” Steve growled. “And in case you hadn’t noticed, Hiu’s dead. I filed my report and now I just want to get the hell out of this city and away from DiNozzo before I do something I’ll regret.”
“And we have another body. Killed after the accident with Hiu. She just needs time to cool off. She’ll change her mind. I’m sure of it,” he said. “Stay around and wait it out. For Ziva…unless you don’t think she’s worth a couple more days.”
Of course she was worth it, she meant the world to him even if she had just ripped his heart out. Staring back at Gibbs with a scowl, he walked around the car to the trunk and tossed his bags inside. “Keep them both out of my face,” he said, “I mean it Gibbs. I’m here to finish the case and then I’m gone.”
Gibbs knew that he knew that would be next to impossible but the fact that he was staying for now was good. First thing he needed to do when they got to the scene was give DiNozzo the head slap of his life.
As they set off for the crime scene, Gibbs had filled him in on the discovery of the body and how Ducky had determined that the third member of the group of sailors who had reported Hiu had died after the accident which cost Hiu his life occurred.
“So Petty Officer…”
“Malcolm Travis,” Gibbs said as they turned down the street leading to the crime scene.
“So Travis was the key witness in the case against Hiu. Travis, Foster and Pekelo all accused Hiu of misconduct, but it was Travis who really had the beef with Hiu. Over the bad performance reviews?” Steve asked, putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
“And covering up drug smuggling that he tried setting him up for,” Gibbs added. “More than enough motive for murder.”
“Yeah, except Hiu didn’t do it. Not the last murder anyway cos he was already dead. He wasn’t married and wasn’t in a steady relationship. So he either had an accomplice or was innocent all along,” Steve shook his head. “Hiu could have died for no reason.”
The older man didn’t say anything as they pulled up to house. “Find out from McGee and Ducky what they need you to do. I need to talk to DiNozzo.”
Nodding, Steve spotted Ziva and Tony off by the MCRT truck. She was talking to a uniformed cop, he could tell just by looking at her that she didn’t want to be there, working. She was hurting. He knew because he was too. Tony had just finished interviewing an older woman, presumably a neighbour when Gibbs approached him. Shaking his head, Steve went inside the house to find McGee and Ducky, telling himself to concentrate on the job so that he could leave as soon as possible.
“Hey Boss,” Tony greeted before filling him in on what they learned but he knew that wasn’t what was on the man’s mind. “Boss?”
He spotted Jimmy arriving in the ME truck over Tony’s shoulder and knowing that Ziva was in earshot and had wrapped up her conversation with the LEO, he shot her a look. “Ziva go help Jimmy with Ducky’s gear. DiNozzo and I need to talk.”
She looked at the two and frowned. Nodding, she began to make her way over to see Steve talking to McGee. Ziva looked back at Gibbs who was still watching her to make sure she left the area.
Tony eyed her and McGarrett with a guilty frown of his own as he waited silently for his lecture from his mentor and friend.
“When did you start leading this team, DiNozzo?” Gibbs asked, snapping his fingers to get Tony’s attention focused on him.
“What do you mean?” He asked. “You are the team leader…”
“So what gives you the right to dictate who and who doesn’t help us with our cases?” Gibbs asked, his cold eyes not leaving DiNozzo’s.
Tony cringed and avoided his eyes. “I don’t have an answer for that. We…we have handled larger cases on our own. And it was his decision to leave.”
“No, you forced Ziva to choose between her family and a man that she could be happy with. A man you should be thanking for making her so happy, someone you should at least try to get along with for her sake. He does. You know, he was genuinely worried when you went off to interview Hiu alone,” Gibbs explained. “He’s making an effort. You should too or take some leave until your transfer comes through. Either way, you make this right. I won’t ask again.”
He blinked with a quick nod that let Gibbs walk off to talk to Ziva. Running his hand over his jaw, he looked over at the man and sighed. He had gone back on his own word after their talk in Hawaii that time and he knew it. Did he really want to leave or was the transfer request made just out of spite? That was easy.
“Thanks for the help Ziva, but I got it from here,” Jimmy smiled as he hoisted the gurney up the stairs, having spotted Gibbs enter the house with a sour expression before approaching Ziva.
She stood there unsure what else to do that allowed her to avoid both Steve and Tony for the time. “I do not want to talk about it Gibbs.”
“That’s funny, because you don’t lead this team,” Gibbs replied with a small grin as he pointed to the kitchen. “It’s like I just told DiNozzo… I do!”
She flashed a glare at him. “Nor did I ask Steve to leave. I ask him to stay in fact despite my ending our romantic involvement. You cannot blame me for that.”
“No, but I can blame you for letting DiNozzo get to you like you were one of his one night stands,” Gibbs whispered. “Do you love Steve?”
“Yes but sometimes it is not enough because while I could be happy with him a part of me will never let myself give into it completely if I lost any of you here because of one relationship,” she argued, her own hurt clearly visible for all to see.
“You’re not going to lose us Ziva, that’s the point. We’re not gonna let it happen,” Gibbs replied. “Abby’s already talking about what it’d be like to visit you if you did move to Hawaii. So what if DiNozzo isn’t happy about it. We’re not exactly jumping for joy at the possibility of you going either, but we accept it because we know that you’ll be happy.”
“And Tony? I really do want them to be friends. I want him to be a large part of my life if I did go as well but that isn’t going to happen if he doesn’t try to put our past behind him,” Ziva cried as she looked over towards them trying to work the scene at the same time causing her body to stiffen with uncertainty of the two.
“Maybe someday they will be friends… but you can’t expect Tony to get along with him from the get-go,” Gibbs replied. “Look at Fornell and I. There was a time when we barely spoke.”
Ziva rolled her eyes. “I know that. I do expect however Tony to at least be civil to him. He was more behaved with Michael than he is with Steve!”
“That’s because Michael wasn’t a threat to him back then. He knew that if you had to choose between Michael and the team… and Tony, it was a safe bet,” Gibbs explained. “You were contemplating leaving the team for Steve so of course Tony did something to fight his corner.”
“He had no problem believing I turned my back on NCIS before he killed him. Nothing will change. You know that. Not until Tony realizes that I can have them both in my life. It just won’t happen. I have work to do Gibbs. Is there any thing else?” Ziva asked feeling more irritated.
“You’ve got until the end of the case to make things right with Steve,” he said simply. “If you don’t, you’ll be making a huge mistake. And when you realise it, you’ll want to leave anyway.” With that, Gibbs headed back into the house.
She looked after him asks shifted her gaze onto Steve and frowned with the pain she knew she inflicted on him… on them.
“What have we got McGarrett?” Gibbs asked, snapping the younger investigator out of his deep thoughts.
“Uh, another faked suicide. Travis was found in his bathtub by his wife. She says that the note’s not written in his handwriting and you’ll never guess what was found in the sink by the tub,” he said as he looked over his notes.
“The same flower we found at the first two crime scenes,” Gibbs nodded, handing Steve his car keys. “Lets get everything to Abby. I’ll get a ride back with Ducky, you and McGee take my car with everything bagged and tagged.”
“You got it,” Steve replied, waving McGee over.
Ziva felt the urge to call after him as she watched him and McGee walk away but held back. Making her way back over to Tony, who was busy working and lost in concentration over something. “I am ready to leave whenever you are,” she said, unable to look at him directly.
“Gibbs wants us to wrap things up here,” Tony explained as he began to pack up his equipment. “You know uh, I can get Probie to do it. If you want to try and talk to McGarrett.”
“Why do you think I would need to speak with him?” she asked simply before shoving her camera into its bag and pulled out her scratch pad. “There are a couple of neighbors that I need to finish speaking with. Anything else?”
Sighing, Tony just continued to work. “Just do your job and lets get back to the navy yard…”
Ziva gave him a curt nod and walked away, glancing at the dark sedan that drove away and let out a breath. Gathering her composure again, she set about collecting the stories from possible witnesses and piecing together the day’s events.