Relaxing in the quiet dining room of the hotel’s restaurant, Ziva rested her chin on her hand as she watched Steve with a smile. “You know, tapping the table won’t bring our food any quicker,” she commented.
Realising what he was doing, he stopped immediately. “Sorry,” he said with a sheepish smile. “I guess I’m more hungry than I realise.”
“I am sure they will bring us bread sticks or something shortly. Just relax,” she chuckled. “Have some wine.”
Nodding, he took the half-filled glass of wine and sipped it. “So, have you been to LA before?” he asked as a waiter approached with some bread rolls and tiny squares of butter wrapped in foil that were still too hard and cold to be able to spread easily.
“A time or two before. For work,” she answered, pulling apart a seeded roll. “You come here often?” Ziva asked, her eyes glancing around the room.
“I’ve visited Sam here on occasion,” he replied. “And my family had a vacation here once when I was a kid. My sister wanted to go to the Hollywood sign and I wanted to surf out here. I still say Hawaii has the better surf.”
“Of course. Doesn’t Mary Ann live in LA now?” Ziva asked before finishing off her first glass of wine, knowing she’d be sleeping hard that night with it.
“She is, yeah. But she’s on vacation with some friends, skiing in Aspen,” he replied as he picked up one of the rolls and proceeded to smear butter on it. “I would have liked for her to meet you. I guess we’ll have to set something up the next time you come out to Hawaii.”
“Sounds like a plan in the making,” she said softly as she leaned into him, to feel closer to him.
Enjoying the closeness, Steve kissed her temple and draped an arm over her shoulder. He was about to ask her what she’d like to do the next day when the hotel’s night manager entered the restaurant flanked by hotel security.
“Mr. McGarrett, Miss. David, would you come with us please?” he asked them in a hushed voice, even though they were the only people sitting in the restaurant at the time.
“Can’t this wait, we’re both hungry,” Steve replied. “If there’s a problem with my credit card, I can pay in cash or with another one.”
“No sir, that’s not necessary. One of our security officers found a dead body in the entrance to your room, the police have asked us to bring you to my office until they arrive,” the night manager explained.
“A dead body?” Steve’s police training kicked in. “Do you know who it is? Was it a member of your staff?”
“No sir, I’m afraid I don’t know who it was. And I’ve been instructed not to discuss the details with you until the police arrive. Please, come with us.”
Ziva looked from the men to Steve and back, sighing. “So much for getting awayfrom our work,” she commented as she reached for her glass of water. “Could you at least have our meals brought to your office while we wait? Because neither of ate much today – at all.”
“Yes of course, Miss. David,” the night manager nodded. “Please, follow me.”
Reluctantly, Steve and Ziva separated, got up and followed the night manager into his office. It wasn’t long before LAPD Homicide Detectives arrived to question them.
Ziva found her patience growing thin with the poorly veiled questions from the detective that showed up. “You are really bad at this. We did not do this,” she snapped, pacing the floor behind Steve’s chair after being unable to sit still any longer. “We told you ten times already that we left the room and came straight downstairs to eat. We worked the entire day before deciding to just leave and get away for a few days withmy boss’ approval and took a flight right here where we fell asleep before dinner. What more do you want us to say? That we killed that man? We did not! Now I am understanding how Tony feels every time someone accuses him of murder. Remind me to apologize to him when this is over…”
“And you work at NCIS?” the lead detective, Sawyer asked. “Here in LA?”
“I am an NCIS agent in D.C., the headquarters. He works for Five-0 in Hawaii under Governor Jameson. We told you this all already. Do you have tar in your ears or something?” she argued.
“She means wax…” Steve sighed as he earned confused looks from Sawyer and his partner. “Surely you have CCTV camera up in the corridors and in the restaurant, what hotel doesn’t these days?”
“They do, and we have people looking over the footage right now,” Sawyer explained. “So why don’t we start from the top. You arrived at the hotel at what time?”
“That won’t be necessary Sawyer,” a blonde haired man dressed in a colourfulshirt said as he entered the office.
Ziva narrowed her eyes on the new face. “You have a clown on your team?” she asked seriously.
“No, you have a clown on yours…” Sawyer sighed. “What are you doing here Deeks?”
“Aww come on Sawyer, where’s the love?” Deeks grinned as he slapped the homicide detective on his shoulder.
Leaning over Steve’s shoulder she continued to watch the LA men as she whispered in his ear. “Do you know this man and what they are talking of? I do not.”
“Never seen him before,” Steve whispered as the two men talked.
“Well we’re about to become best friends McGarrett,” Deeks replied. “A mutual friend sent me to clear this up when we heard the scanner. Well he’s not really a friend… more like he’s my Yoda… a very scary Yoda…”
“Who is this mutual friend?” Steve asked with a frown. “And who are you for that matter?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m Detective Marty Deeks, LAPD liaison with the NCIS LA office,” he said as he held out his hand for them to shake, but neither of them shook it. “Oh…kay. Sam said you’d be a little friendlier than this.”
“Hanna? Why isn’t he here?” Ziva asked, still suspicious of everyone present and accused them of something they clearly did not do.
“He’s on his way with Callen, they’ve been working a deep cover case… anyway. I’m here to spring you. Our techs have already gone over the CCTV footage and have determined that you aren’t responsible,” he said as he patted down his pockets only to retrieve a business card and hand it to Sawyer. “This is my boss’ number. She wants you to call her right away.”
“Oh yeah Deeks, like I’m gonna jump through hoops for your boss,” Sawyer scoffed.
“You haven’t met my boss, Sawyer,” Deeks replied seriously. “She’ll have you working mall security by next week if you don’t call her.”
Sawyer simply nodded and he and his partner left the office, along with the hotel manager. Closing the door behind them, Deeks turned to Steve and Ziva. “Okay, so now the adults are gone, care to tell me why you two have a high class assassin sprawled across your hotel room floor?”
Initially, the two looked at each other, a very brief thought shared between the two in the look they gave each other, remembering a comment that Danny had said in reference to them on one of Ziva’s trips to visit and he learned of her true history in Mossad. “Um – I do not know…” she said slowly. “Do you know whothe victim was exactly?”
“We’ve got several names for this guy, Eric and Nell are trying to pin his real name down. But Scotland Yard, Interpol, the FBI, CIA… they all have a file on this guy. But there was one that stood out. Have you guys heard of Gerard Matteo?”
Ziva sucked in a deep breath of impatience as the man continued to talk before he finally gave a name. She did not react but she had certainly seen the name somewhere, but it would require her to verify it first and it was something she did not want to share with Steve yet so she only shook her head. “No. Who is he?”
“Well this identity has some very dangerous friends in some very high places, but we can discuss that back at the office. Hetty has arranged for the two of you to stay at a safehouse.”
“What about our belongings? Can you get our bags from your idiot friends out there? I would rather not have to spend money on clothes that I do not need to. And of course my medicines.”
“My partner’s already working on it,” he nodded. “It’ll take a little time because of the whole crime scene issue, but we should have everything secured by morning.” He was about to say something else when there was a knock on the door.
Opening it, Deeks smile returned. “Hey guys, how was the club?”
“Half naked women shaking their asses on a dance floor, you would have loved it Deeks,” Sam grunted as he entered the office dressed in a bright white suit with a black shirt, belt and shoes.
“What are you? A pimp?” Ziva snorted as she leaned back against the table with her arms crossed. “You do play the role oh so very well after all.”
“Thank you, thank you,” he smiled. “It’s good to see you again Ziva. Shame it’s under these circumstances.”
“Thanks for the bailout Sam,” Steve nodded. “That’s another one I owe you.”
Sam nodded as he reached out to fist butt his old friend. “No shit. I will cash in one of these days you know. Maybe a nice freevacation on an Hawaiian beach, lots of beer and pina coladas – and gorgeous local women. Yeah I’ll cash in when I get the time off.”
“The room’s always available,” Steve smiled before nodding at his partner. “You must be Callen. Good to finally meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too. And you in person Agent David. I’m sorry our last form of communication wasn’t on better terms. I am glad that you seemed to have found what you were looking for though.”
Ziva only nodded from where she stood, not wishing to elaborate on her colleagues’ trip to LA that time, just before Michael had been killed. “It is fine. Any chance we can leave soon from here? I am going to have to contact Gibbs about this.”
“Hetty’s scheduled a conference call with Gibbs and Director Vance first thing tomorrow… or should I say later today,” Callen said, glancing at his watch. “We’ll drive you to the safe house.”
“So much for a romantic getaway,” Ziva sighed as she went over to the table to pull on her sweater. “Let’s go already. Maybe we can get some sleep in and if we are lucky, we’ll wake and this will all have been a bad dream.”
“Well let’s hope so,” Steve replied as he draped an arm over her shoulder and pulled her close to him as if to shield her from the cold night air they’d yet to feel. “I promise you, we will get our vacation.”
“A deserted island with absolutely no one but us around?” she asked, teasingly but with some seriousness in her eyes.
“Save for someone who can make those fruity drinks you like, sure,” he smiled as Sam and Callen escorted them through the hotel while Deeks went off looking for his partner.
Sam nodded to Callen who increased his pace toward the car, leaving the three friends with some relative privacy. “Do you guys think this has something to do with what happened a couple of months back?” he asked, his voice hushed.
“My father has not made any contact with me so I do not believe he is involved. Director Vance has been keeping a critical eye on Mossad affairs,” Ziva replied.
“Well, Hetty’s putting her ear to the ground, and I’m going to get in touch with some of my contacts,” Sam replied. “We’ll find out what happened and who’s behind it.”
“It could be random too. We did not decide to come to Los Angeles until this evening and no one in DC knows that we came here,” she pointed out.
“You’ve both had resourceful people after you before. You flew here, it wouldn’t be hard to track you by your flight itineraries,” Sam countered. “You don’t send an assassin like Gerrard Matteo after a random target.”
“That is possible. Thanks for depressing me more Hanna,” she snapped.
“Anytime Ziva,” he replied as they reached the entrance where Callen was waiting for them with their ride. “Gives my boy here more reasons to cheer you up.”
She raised an eyebrow as sure looked back at Steve who had been silent. “What’s the matter?”
“Aside from the fact there’s a dead assassin on our hotel room floor?” Steve asked with a small smile. “I don’t know. Something feels off. I’ve had this nagging feeling in the back of my mind. Even before your staywith your father.”
Ziva frowned as she got into the car and he slid in behind her. “What do you mean? Do you think someone is after you?”
“I don’t know… maybe,” he said as he slid his seatbelt on. “This could have something to do with the case my father was working on before he died. Or it could be something else… but lately there have been times when I’ve felt like someone was watching me.”
“We were followed that day and I am sure they had been before then,” she said. Her head fell back against the seat with frustration.
“Guys, I hate to say this but you’re gonna drive yourselves nuts with all this speculation. We’ve got our best people on this. The best thing you can do now is just get some rest and we’ll work this out tomorrow,” Callen said as they drove away from the hotel. “Is there anything we can get you other than your luggage? Some food perhaps?”
“Some weapons would be nice,” McGarrett replied. “No offense to you, to Sam or to NCIS, but I’d feel better if I were armed. And I know Ziva feels the same.”
“Hetty anticipated that,” Sam said as he opened the glove compartment and retrieved a pair of SIG’s with two extra clips for each. He handed the weapons to his friends. “And just so you know, I’ll be staying with you tonight.”
Ziva’s eyes flew open and looked sharply at Steve. She still wanted her alone time with him and was not okay with Sam or anyone else around.
“That won’t be necessary Sam,” Steve said, squeezing Ziva’s hand gently. “We’ll be fine with the weapons. Besides, you’ll have Agents watching the house. I know how NCIS works, and I know how you work. Go home and get some rest.”
“Oh I get it, I can get you guys out of a jam, but we can’t hang out afterwards,” he grinned. “Alright, but I’ll leave you with an emergency number. If anything happens, you dial and the cavalry’ll come running. Okay?”
Steve smiled and pulled Ziva closer to him. “We would love you to hang out for awhile but we did come out here to be together and get away from everything,” he said.
“Don’t worry,” Sam said, looking down at his left hand absent-mindedly. “I guess I should get some sleep while I can.”
“Sleep does sound verygood,” Ziva yawned. “How much further? Did your clown’s partner get our things?”
“I’ll text her and find out,” Sam said, reaching for his phone.
“How are you feeling?” Steve asked Ziva as they waited to find out more. She didn’t have any of the meds her doctor had prescribed and he didn’t want her to feel the effects of her cold again without the ability to treat them.
“Tired now. I had been taking the cough medicine regularly but I haven’t had any in over two hours when I should have taken a dose,” she said. He voice had slowly been sounding more congested again as a result. “I had thought LA was supposed to be warm. It is not. We should have gone to Mexico instead.”
“Ahh, the Mexicans don’t really like me, or Sam for that matter,” Steve grinned as he pulled her closer to him.
“You were the one that pissed off the cartel leader,” Sam interjected as he typed a message into his phone.
“Youshot him in the leg!” Steve retorted.
“He went for his gun because youpissed him off. What was I supposed to do, let the guy shoot you?” Sam replied. “Kensi says that most of your belongings, including the medicines she found are being loaded into Deeks’ car as we speak. They’re gonna follow us down.”
“Most? What did those idiots keep?” Ziva asked, turning to rest her head against her boyfriend’s shoulder and slipped her arm around him and under his jacket to take as much of his body heat that she could.
“Nothing, do you honestly think we’d let LAPD handle this?” Sam asked with a grin, but it quickly faded. “They found a medium range tracking chip amongst your belongings. The signal’s being blocked until Eric can tell us more about it.”
She groaned, hating the feeling that they had been violated like that. “I do not wish to deal with any more of this tonight. I just want to crawl into bed and pass out.”
“We’ll be there soon,” Callen reassured her. And right he was because roughly ten minutes later, the car came to a stop in a suburban area.
Escorting the couple inside, Sam and Callen waited for Kensi and Deeks to show up with the suitcases before leaving Steve and Ziva alone to process what had transpired and to let them get some sleep.
For a safehouse, it was surprisingly clean and tidy with a well stocked kitchen. Steve had managed to find a bottle of bourbon in one of the cupboards. Pouring them a glass each, he returned to the living room where Ziva was getting antsy.
“Ziva, honey, sit down. Drink this and try not to worry,” he said softly as he sat on the couch, placed their drinks down on the coffee table in front of it and patted the seat next to his. “There are agents covering us, and we’re armed. Everything’s gonna be okay.”
She only shook her head as she continued to pace the floor, lost in her thoughts. “I do not understand. I cannot believe I let my guard down so much that someone that dangerous come so close. It never should have happened…”
“Ziva, you didn’t let your guard down, you weren’t even there to begin with. Had you been, the coward wouldn’t have even come close,” Steve explained. “Like Sam said, we’re going to get to the bottom of this but I need you to calm down because I’ll need you at your best if we’re going to find out who the hell’s been tracking us and why.”
“Do you have any idea who would want to trace you? I have plenty of enemies but most are left in Israel. I believe coming across someone from there would have been fairly obvious,” she sighed.
“I’ve made my share of enemies Ziva, so I couldn’t say for certain. But if these people are tracking me, and me only. The only person with the resources capable of doing it is dead already. Remember me telling you about Victor Hesse? The man that killed my father?”
She stopped in her pacing and looked at him, nodding. “Of course. Very good at the smuggling trade and hiding beneath the radar.”
“Well he couldn’t hide well enough from the bullets in my gun,” he sighed as he pictured Hesse’s face as he realised he’d been shot. “I don’t know, maybe one of his associates has something to do with this, but we won’t know for sure until Sam and the others find us more to work with. So will you please sit, drink this and help me try to recover what we can from this disastrous getaway?”
“I am sorry,” Ziva said as she dropped her arms to her side and went over to fall onto the couch beside him. “Really, I believe the last thing you and I need is liquor Steve. It will not fix anything. Besides, I am not supposed to drink with the medication the doctor put me on.”
“Fair enough,” he replied as he took her glass. “But it’s calming me down. I guess we’ll have to do somethingto help you relax.”
Ziva raised an eyebrow at him. “I do not think so. At least if what I am thinking you are thinking is true. Finish your drinks so that we can go to bed. We can find out what our Los Angeles friends have planned for us in the morning. I at least now know what it feels like to be on the other side…”
Drinking down the last of the bourbon, he took her hand and squeezed it gently. “It’s gonna be alright Ziva. I promise.”
“I know. Come. Let us get some rest. We won’t have much time along again until this is over,” she said. “I know we are not alone as it is now but it is unavoidable.”
Standing and pulling his girl up with him, Steve led her upstairs to the bedroom. Like the rest of the house it was clean and tastefully decorated. “Do you ever get the feeling that this isn’t your bog-standard safehouse?” he asked, reluctantly letting go of her hand so that he could pull back the sheets on the large double bed.
“Looks more like one of their on homes. NCIS does not spring for a safe house like this no matter who we are protecting is,” she replied, looking around, making her way over to the bed to feel the fabric. “Egyptian cotton. Definitely not an NCISsafe house. Who’s home do you believe it is? Sam does not have enough style for this.”
“Callen’s perhaps?” Steve asked. “I doubt someone like that Deeks character would go for this either.”
“No. I had heard about Agent Callen through other agents in DC, especially after he was shot after Gibbs made the trip out here for the case we were working. He does not seem the type like this. Living out of a motel room, perhaps. But not this. Where are the bags?”
“They’re in the dining room, I’ll go get them,” he smiled as he made his way back toward the door.
By the time Steve returned and they changed for bed, Ziva chose to forgo her own pajamas and took one of his larger t-shirts to sleep in. Not long after her head hit the pillow, she was just about out cold from exhaustion.
Steve lay there for a while, watching her sleep. He smiled as the worried frown she’d had on her face since the hotel manager first informed them of what transpired in their room, softened and left her features completely. Leaving a soft kiss on her forehead, he slid the weapon that Sam had given him under his pillow and allowed himself to drift off too.