Chapter 10

“So when’s Uncle Steve coming home?” Grace Williams asked her father as he tucked her into bed. “You both promised you’d take me out on a boat next weekend.”

“I know monkey, and we will. Uncle Steve talked to his friend at the docks and everything. He’ll be back long before we get to go out and see those whales and dolphins again,” the New Jersey native replied as he planted a kiss on his daughter’s forehead.

“And the seals! The real ones, not like Uncle Steve!” she yawned before snuggling up with her favourite stuffed animal. Within moments, she was sound asleep.

“G’night monkey,” he smiled as he gently closed the door to her bedroom.

“So when will Steve be back?” Rachel asked with a soft smile. No matter how badly they treat each other during their failed marriage, it always amazed her at just how good a father Danny really was.

“Hopefully by the end of the week. He and Ziva decided to take what was left of their vacation and spend it in LA. They had some trouble and they’re now working with NCIS to resolve it. They can never get a break those two…” Danny sighed. “But anyway, I gotta get to the office. Thanks for letting me take her out.”

“I understand, you miss your friend. So who else would keep you company?” Rachel grinned as she showed him to the door.

“That hurts, it really does,” Danny replied, a small smile of his own. “You should come out with us next time you know. I think it would be good for Gracie if she sees us getting along.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Rachel said thoughtfully. “Maybe I will tag along on Steve’s boat. Get to know the man who get’s my hus-… ex husband into so much trouble.”

Danny’s eyebrow raised slightly at her faux pas but decided against commenting. “Goodnight Rach. Be sure to lock the door alright.”

“Yes yes, you worry too much, you know that?” she smiled before finally closing the door behind him.

~o.O.o~

From 5-0 headquarters, Chin hung up the phone quietly, not responding to the look that Kono gave him. “Do you know if McGarrett left his sister’s information in his office anywhere, in case of an emergency?” he asked softly.

“Might be in his locked drawer. I can pick it if you want,” she replied, confused. “What happened?”

“That was the LA office for NCIS. Steve was shot trying to track down Victor Hesse. He’s been taken to UCLA and is in surgery,” Chin answered as his cell phone rang. “Seems to be pretty bad too. Hang on, it’s Danny…Hey – you on your way back yet?”

Yeah, five minutes away, why?” Danny asked from the drivers seat of his car

“You might want to take a detour past your place and pack a bag. I’m going to make arrangements for you to head over to the mainland to sit with Steve when he gets out of surgery,” Chin replied as he and Kono started their attempt to break into their boss’ desk.

Surgery? What the hell has that crazy bastard done now?” Danny asked, shaking his head.

“I haven’t a clue. I just know that he got shot and it doesn’t sound too good. Kono and I are going to take care of things at the office but you should go be with your partner. Victor Hesse is involved.”

Alright, I’ll see you soon.” Suddenly, Danny’s fear factor shot off the scale. Steve had been shot and Hesse was involved somehow. Hitting the sirens, he put his foot down and headed toward his place.

Kono let out an ‘Aha!’ when the drawer popped open and was able to look through it for his address book. Finding it buried far to the back of the area, she flipped it open. “Wow, a lot of Navy people in here. A lot of admirals and other high ranking people. I didn’t know he was so well connected,” she commented before finding the man’s sister’s information.

“Sam Hanna said something about contacting a Joe White? See if you can find a contact for him too,” Chin said as he completed the booking for Danny’s flight out.

She flipped through towards the end of the book and nodded. “Yep. I’ll give him a call right now,” she said as she started dialing. “How’s Ziva taking it?”

“I’m not sure, but knowing how she feels about Steve, I wouldn’t want to be anyone standing between them right about now,” Chin replied as he dialled Governor Jameson’s assistant’s number to fill them in.

~o.O.o~

By the time that Steve made it out of surgery and into recovery, it took quite a bit of convincing, Mossad style, for Ziva to be at his bedside. They did not keep him there long before transferring him to an ICU bed where she continued to remain at his side, checking the ID and logging every person that attempted to come into his room.

Down the corridor, Sam and Callen did the same for the ward in general but remembering the faces of the staff that they were confident did belong if they had to rush in for an emergency. Everyone was next to positive that this attempt would not be the last should he survive.

The passage of time became a blur to Ziva as members of Callen’s team took turns in helping to keep Steve out of harm’s way while the others worked on finding out who had shot him. How they found out where he was and whether or not they’d try to kill him again.

Gibbs and the rest of her friends had all offered to be on the next flight out to LA to help Ziva and OSP but Ziva was confident they wouldn’t be needed. She knew Steve would pull through, she couldn’t let him die without fixing what had transpired earlier that day.

Steve’s eyes fluttered so lightly that no one was able to see. He managed to get glimpses of his friends and loved ones, and being in the state that he was – he didn’t know how bad he was, only that he hurt, it was unsettling. Unfortunately, he did not have much time to dwell on the thoughts because unconsciousness took over again.

The staff at the hospital had done everything they could to accommodate the NCIS agents but even they had rules about visiting hours. Still, despite their words and empty threats, Ziva sat in her chair, not leaving except to use the restroom attached to the room and even then, it was with the door open so she can keep an eye on her love.

Eventually, the waiting for him to awaken lost the battle against the exhausted of the day, the fight, the learning of his injuries, and the painful hours while he was in surgery, repairing the damage to his lungs, small intestine, and spleen from the gun shot wounds. Ziva barely listened while the surgeon explained the rest of the damage that seemed inconsequential as he had assured her that they were corrected. Succumbing to sleep, she was at his bedside still, her head on the bed and his hand held tightly in hers as the beeps of the monitors filled the void of silence.

“Ms. David?” Hetty tried to rouse her. “Ms. David?” she placed a hand on her shoulder and gently nudged her. “Ziva?”

Sitting up sharply, Ziva’s hand went down to her waist where a knife had previously been but the hospital insisted on the agents only being armed with the sidearms. “What?” she asked, demanding of whomever was disturbing the moments of peace she had found.

“Ziva, you need to get some sleep dear,” Hetty said softly.

Rubbing her eyes she shook her head. “I was until you woke me,” she said, sitting back down into her chair and looking Steve over for any changes in his status.

“No, I mean real sleep, in a bed. There’s a car waiting for us in the parking lot,” Hetty replied.

“I am not leaving this room. You will have to shoot me before I will go,” she said evenly, glaring at the short woman with ice in her eyes.

When he opened his eyes again, if just a crack as the brightness of the room was overwhleming, he did manage to take notice of Ziva and Hetty speaking. Damn Ziva and her stubbornness. Why won’t she just do as she is asked, he thought, but her words in response got to him.

“Let her stay Hetty,” Sam said softly. “I’ll wait with her. G will be here too.”

“Very well. Contact me if there is any change, Mr. Hanna,” she nodded to her agent before taking Ziva’s hand and squeezing it gently. “And you call me if you need anything.”

Ziva said nothing as she leaned back onto the bed, watching Steve. The tiredness was clear in her eyes but the determination and hope for him to wake up was more evident as she held his hand in hers, careful to not have the IV tubing disturbed.

“I spoke with Chin Ho Kelly from Five-0 earlier,” Sam announced as he closed the door behind Hetty. “He’s trying to reach Mary.

“She is somewhere skiing. I do not remember where he said she was,” she replied softly. “One of her friends may know where.”

“If Kelly can’t reach her, I’ll have Eric work his magic,” he said as sat in the chair across from her. “He ran the plates of the car that the shots came from. It was stolen a few hours before the shooting. Kensi and Deeks are on it and Nell’s picking apart the footage from the CCTV cameras. We’re gonna get to the bottom of this Ziva, I promise you.”

“I believe you,” she said after several moments passing before laying her head back down again and tracing his hand with her finger, slipping into a state of sleep again.

Sam remained in the room, watching them both quietly. Next to his friends at NCIS and his family, Steve and Ziva were some of the most important people in his life. His years of service with Steve and what they went through with Ziva had forged a bond that would never be broken between them. Had he been there, he would have gladly taken the bullets for Steve… had he been there. Once again he questioned why he hadn’t gone after Steve. He shouldn’t have let him go at all, but he did and his former CO’s blood was now on his hands, in every sense of the word.

Several hours passed and a gentle knock at the door broke the silence that had gripped the room. It opened gently to reveal Callen.

Ziva looked up, tired and drained. The toll of the day clearly making itself evident with the paleness of her skin.

“Uh, there’s someone here to see Steve,” Callen said, he was just as exhausted as they were, but he tried his best to keep them from noticing.

“Who is it?” she asked, her voice raw.

“Danny Williams? He says Steve is his partner?” Callen frowned a little.

She gave him a small smile and nodded. “Yeah. From 5-0. He can come in. Lord knows Steve will want to see someone he isn’t upset with when he wakes up.”

Callen stepped aside and Danny practically burst into the room, an old beat up duffel bag slung over his shoulder. “I can’t leave you two alone for five minutes, can I?” he muttered as he pulled Ziva into a hug. “How’s he doing?”

“He’s hanging in there I suppose. They repaired damage to his lungs and spleen. By passed about a foot of small intestine that got damaged. Now everyone is just waiting for him to wake up, but it feels as if he doesn’t want to,” she said, trying not to cry.

“Naw, he wants to. He’s made it his life’s work to torment me day in and day out. And he manages to do it when he’s not around too!” Danny joked as he just held her. “He’s gonna wake up Ziva. I know this guy… he’s not gonna lay on his ass while the man who killed his father walks free.”

“Thanks,” she smiled weakly as she pulled back. “How long are you in town for? I’m sure that you can stay at the house that they were putting us up in, at least until this morning. Or yesterday. I do not remember what time or day it is now,” she admitted.

“I figured I’d crash here,” Danny said as he sat in one of the empty chairs. “Deceptively comfy.”

“Yes, I have sat in much worse,” Ziva replied as she returned to her chair that everyone knew not to go near. She caught Callen’s eye as he indicated on his way out the door that he was going for a round of coffee, and pulled Sam out with him, who was not at all pleased.

“So… you gonna fill me in?” Danny asked. “Chin said the details he got from someone at the LA Field Office were sketchy.”

“Victor Hesse is alive,” she said simply, knowing that he understood the seriousness of it. “I had my suspicions as I tried to see if his body came up anywhere or where he could have gone had he survived. I didn’t tell him, and he was not pleased with me for keeping it from him but I did not want to say anything without being sure. He was angry that I looked into the case at all.”

“I can understand why,” Danny replied. “Not that I don’t get why you did it and why you kept it from him. We spent weeks trying to talk him down from trawling the ocean trying to find Hesse’s body. But the guy is a dangerous son of a bitch. If something had happened to you, there’d be no turning back for Steve.”

“I just wanted to protect him and he left to deal with it on his own. Look where it got him. I only did my investigating from my desk. I did not go anywhere to hunt the man down. I only listened to the intel that came in from different areas and piece together parts that sounded related. Nothing more that any low level intel analyst would do!” she argued, upset and hurt.

“Alright, Alright, I’m sorry,” Danny replied, holding his hands up. “It still doesn’t stop the ones that love you and care about you from worrying.”

“I’m… I’m sorry too…” Steve groaned from beneath an oxygen mask.

Ziva turned from glaring at their friend to him and smiled softly. “Just take it easy, do not take that off yet. Get the doctor…” she said to the man quickly before turning her attention back to the patient.

“I…l uh… right! It’s good to see you up buddy,” Danny said quickly before darting to the door. “Doctor, DOCTOR! WE NEED A DOCTOR IN HERE!”

She ran her hands over the side of his face softly. “Just take it easy, do not move. You have quite a few holes in you. I do think however that Agent Callen has you beat yet,” she smiled weakly, trying to appear more chipper than she looked with the tired and dark bags under her eyes.

His mouth was drier than the Iraqi desert, he found it hard to speak but he managed to ask, “Hesse?”

“I do not know. They have not spoken about it with me but maybe. Possibly. Or someone he is working with to keep the heat off of him so that he could get away. Please do not concern yourself about that now. I just need you to rest and get better,” she said, her hands unsure of where to touch him, needing to be on him somewhere.

Carefully he reached out and took her hand in his. Even though it felt as if his whole body ached, as soon as his skin came into contact with hers, the edge was off. “I’m sorry Ziva…” he said, trying to lift his head, but not having the energy to do so.

“I am too,” she whispered, holding his hand up to her lips when the doctor came in with Danny. Ziva nodded to the man, knowing him from his attempts to speak to her after he performed the surgery but she never heard or registered his name.

“Well, well, well. You sir have been giving everyone quite the scare today,” he said as he checked the monitors and then over to Steve himself. Gently pulling off the oxygen mask, the doctor checked his retinas briefly before asking, “How are you feeling Commander?”

“Like I’ve been shot,” he croaked. “Sore, could use something to drink. And my clothes.”

“I’m sure we can get you some ice chips for now and see how you are in a little. Your clothes I am sorry to say has been taken by your colleagues at NCIS,” the man replied. “Do get some more rest. I’ll have the nurse come and change out your morphine drip for the pump so that you can give yourself a little extra if needed.”

“Thanks Doc,” Steve mumbled. Waiting till he left the room, he shot Ziva a look. “They took my clothes?”

“Evidence,” she said. “You know the drill. You’re the victim in an ongoing case.”

“You sure you didn’t take my clothes to stop me from walking out of here against doctor’s orders,” Steve grinned, looking at her slyly.

She soon found herself smiling. “The thought has crossed my mind but no. Most of it was unusable after being cut off by the staff when you were brought in.”

“I just spoke with Chin,” Danny said as he re-entered the room. “He and Kono send their love. They wanted me to tell you that Joe White is on his way. And will be here in a couple of hours. Sam said something to Chin about calling him.”

“Who is Joe White?” Ziva asked as she wove her fingers in his.

“He’s a Lieutenant Commander in the Navy. He and my father served together, they were best friends even. He’s been like a second father to me, helped train me,” Steve explained simply.

“Well then, you should focus on resting more. I know you just woke up finally, but you really do need to sleep. I’ll be right here. I’m not going anywhere,” she replied, leaning in to kiss him gently.

“Well you need rest too,” he replied looking to them both. “Why don’t you both go and get some rest at the safe house. It’s not like I’m going anywhere.”

Ziva and Danny looked at each other before turning back to him with a grin, shaking their heads. “I don’t think so,” Danny replied. “Knowing you as well as I do, you’d be up and out of that bed the moment you had two seconds without being sore.”

“I’m not going to win this argument am I?” Steve sighed as he tried sitting up.

“No,” Ziva said simply as she smiled at him. “Should I have the nurse get you anything?”

“The ice chips will be fine for now,” he replied, finally getting a good look at the damage. “Looks like I’ll be out of commission for a while.”

Her smile fell with her eyes as they found the multiple patches of gauze across his chest and abdomen. “It would seem so,” she said in a small voice.

“This is my fault, okay,” he said as he took her hand, raised it to his lips and gently kissed the back of it. “I went out there angry and unarmed. I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings.”

“Steve, not here. Not now. We will talk about that another time when you are physically capable, okay?” she replied with a familiar glint in her eye as she looked up at him.

“Whoa whoa whoa,” Danny said as he looked out of the hospital room’s window. “He just admitted that he was wrong! And you want to discuss it later? We should discuss it now, with a video camera in the room so that we have evidence.”

Ziva pursed her lips as she kept her eyes on Steve. She raised an eyebrow and shrugged. “You don’t suppose that he’d be interested…I mean, you know how our arguments tend to end after all.”

“I’ll need some way to prove to Chin and Kono that he said he was wrong! They won’t believe me otherwise,” Danny protested before going to the door. “I’ll check on those ice chips, and maybe find a video camera.”

“Bring back something hot for me please?” she called after him. Turning back to Steve, she could only chuckle. “Are you in much pain? I believe they put you on a pump for morphine.”

“It’s tolerable,” he replied, adjusting his position carefully. “I don’t want to depend on painkillers too much, just in case.”

“You do not need to be so macho for me. If you hurt, then you hurt. I can care for you,” she sighed. “I want to be there for you, but sometimes – sometimes you just make it very difficult.”

“Whoa, whoa. This isn’t about being macho okay,” he replied softly. “This is about staying lucid if they decide to come after me again and I don’t have back-up.”

“The way we have the floor locked down, it would not happen. And even then, I am sure once Sam hears of your being awake, he will come with your sidearm to keep with you under the covers. And you do have back up. You have me here. I am not leaving you.”

“You can’t stay here until I’m well enough to leave. You’ll need to sleep sometime,” he replied. “In a bed. I know how cranky you get when you don’t get enough sleep.”

Ziva shrugged. “I’ve slept. I will survive a little discomfort. Just do not argue. It would just tire you out quicker.”

“Not arguing,” he replied with a slight yawn. Okay, so she was right on getting tired quickly.

“I am not leaving you,” Ziva said softly as she settled back down beside him on the bed before leaning in to kiss him. “You would have to kill me first, as I have already told you.”

“Fair… fair enough…” he yawned again as his eyes became heavier. “I uh… I’ll speak to you…” And then he was gone, succumbing to the fatigue from the surgery and from the meds still in his system.

Ziva reached out an cupped his face with her hand, making a mental note to have one of the guys get his toiletries when they had a chance. “Sleep. I’ll be here when you wake,” she whispered before sitting back, with his hand wrapped loosely around hers, just watching him.

~o.O.o~

When he awoke, Steve’s mouth wasn’t dry, nor was he in a lot of pain. He could sense Ziva beside him and Danny by the window. They were both asleep. Opening his eyes he looked at the foot of the bed where a third person was standing, completely silent.

“You took your time,” Steve smiled.

“Couldn’t get a flight out,” Joe whispered softly. “Then I had to sneak in here after calling in a favor… how you feeling son?”

“I’ve been better, but I’ve been worse too,” Steve replied.

“I remember, at least you were brought to a hospital faster this time,” he replied. “I’m guessing you and David are back on? I heard she left Israel and hooked up with NCIS. Jenny always had a soft spot for this one.”

“You’ve been keeping tabs on her?” Steve frowned. “Why? It’s not like I advertised that things happened between Ziva and I in Vietnam in my report.”

“I can read between the lines, kid,” Joe smiled. “So, you wanna tell me what’s going on?”

“Not now, not yet,” Steve replied. “They need their sleep. And so do you by the looks of things.”

Joe nodded. “I’ll be in the parking lot. I’ll see you in a few hours.” With that, he left the room just as quietly as he’d entered.

It was not long after the man had left that Ziva started to waken with a slight groan as she lifted her head and rolled her neck. A quick glance around the room assured her of no threats before her eyes fell on Steve who was awake and watching her. “You should have woken me,” she murmured softly. “Can I get you anything?”

“No I’m fine, but seriously Ziva, you need a proper bed,” he said as he carefully reached out and placed a hand where her shoulder and her neck met and rubbed it gently.

“I will be fine. You won’t make me leave you now. So stop trying,” she replies as her eyes closed to his touch. “They are looking to see if you can be let out with supervision.”

She was exhausted, no matter what she said. A soft smile crept across his lips. Placing a hand on either side of the bed, he carefully hoisted himself up and moved several inches to the side. It wasn’t much, but if she snuggled up to him and slept on her side, at least she’d be more comfortable than sleeping on a chair. “C’mere,” he said simply as he patted the space beside him.

Ziva smiled and nodded as she piled herself up and curled against him, careful of where his injuries and surgical sites were located. “Hanna is tracking down the shooters from fingerprints taken from the car they stole. He should be back later to see you. He was upset to keep missing when you woke.”

“I’d rather that he be out there doing what he does best than being here watching me rest,” Steve said honestly. “Of the six people I trust enough to track Hesse and his people down, two of them are here, two of them are in Hawaii and Sam’s already on it.”

“Who is the sixth?” she asked, turning her head to look up at him confused.

“Joe,” Steve said simply. “He’s getting some rest in the parking lot. He’ll see me when visiting hours begin.”

“Can’t wait to meet him,” she yawned before seeking back down and dozing off again.

Steve smiled and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. before drifting off himself.

It was another couple hours before Ziva awoke again. Danny had returned to the room with fresh coffee and pastries for them and Kensi and Deeks who were still outside guarding Steve.

“Good morning,” Steve smiled down at her. He was sat upright and was looking much stronger.

Ziva looked down at her watch as she pulled herself up. “It is afternoon. You should have woken me,” she replied. “Did something happen?”

“I wanted to wake you but Steve wanted to let you sleep,” Danny replied as he placed a cup of coffee on the table beside her along with the selection of pastries.

“Sam and Callen found one of the shooters,” Steve replied. “They’re interrogating him now.”

“I just spoke to Kensi,” Danny interjected. “Apparently this guy is a tough nut to crack. He’s not very cooperative.”

“Thanks,” she said reaching for the drink. “Do you know who it is? Do they need help with anything?”

“His name is Goh Min, apparently he’s the cousin of an old friend of ours,” Danny explained. “Apparently Sang Min vouched for his cousin a few weeks before we caught him. Goh isn’t giving Sam a lot to go on.”

“I want to see him,” she announced, feeling more awake and began to try to get off the bed.

“Whoa whoa, you sure that’s a good idea?” Danny asked. “I mean, no offense but the guy tried to kill your boyfriend. We need him and the information he has and you could uh… well knowing you like I do, you could kill the guy.”

She raised an eyebrow and looked at their friend. “In my experience the fear of death is an excellent motivator into speaking,” she said. “Do you plan on stopping me?”

Danny immediately held his hands up defensively and took a step back “Whoa, whoa… I never said that. I was simply trying to appeal to your common sense. Besides, if you’re going to interview Goh, who’s gonna watch this knucklehead, huh?”

That shut her up and she settled back down for a moment. “I want my shot at him. At some point, I want it. Any word from the doctors?”

“A nurse came in and changed my dressings earlier, she said that someone would stop by to check on me soon,” Steve replied. “They’ll let me out of here.”

Suddenly there was a knock at the door and Kensi called out. “Uhh Steve, there’s a friend here to see you.”

“Good, send him in,” Steve called out.

In stepped an older bald gentleman with a bag slung over his shoulder and a smile on his face. “How ya feeling son?” he asked simply as he placed the bag at the foot of the bed and shook hands with Steve.

“Feeling a lot better today. Still hurts but I’m getting there,” Steve smiled. “Ziva, Danny, I’d like you both to meet Lt. Commander Joe White. Joe this is Danny Williams, my partner with Five-0 and-.”

“Ziva David, daughter of Eli David the director of the Mossad. Currently living and working as a US citizen for NCIS’ Major Crimes Response Team under Jethro Gibbs,” Joe interjected, nodding to Danny before his eyes settled on Ziva. “Her profile has crossed my desk on more than one occasion. “It’s good to finally meet you Ziva. I just wish it were under different circumstances.”

“I have heard nothing of you for all the time Steve and I spent together,” Ziva replied, eying the man. “How long are you in town for Mister White?”

“As long as Steve needs me,” he explained simply with a small grin. He knew that the Davids didn’t trust easily and Ziva was definitely no exception. “I spoke with Sam earlier, you hear about Goh Min?” he asked. “I’m glad that little cockroach is finally getting his.”

“Yeah, we heard,” Steve replied. “How goes the interrogation?”

“Slowly, but that’s not why I’m here. I brought you some information on Hesse and Wo Fat that isn’t common knowledge,” he replied as he dug into the bag for some files. “There isn’t much and it’s a big risk just showing it to you now but it is something.” He handed the files directly to Steve who immediately opened them and started flipping through them.

“How reliable is this intel?” Steve asked with a hopeful look.

“Hard to say exactly, but even if Hesse isn’t there, it’s likely that someone or something tied to him could be,” Joe replied. “I spoke with Hetty Lange this morning, she’s agreed that it would be best if I lend a hand in checking it out. SECNAV agrees.”

Ziva leaned in to get a look at the documents before looking up at Steve. “I told you that you should have had NCIS get involved sooner.”

“I’m not with NCIS Agent David, I work for Naval Intelligence. While I’m grateful to you and the LA Office for protecting Steve, these documents never would have reached you if Steve chose to involve NCIS. Hell, the FBI and the CIA would be lucky to get a look at these,” Joe explained. “Which brings me to what I’m about to ask next. You can’t be involved in taking down whoever or whatever is in this apartment. Your job is to keep Steve safe. The only person I’m allowed to bring is Sam.”

“Another SEAL thing? Lovely,” she muttered, displeased with the idea of being forced out of the loop. It was one thing if she wasn’t who she was or she didn’t have the experience. But she did.

“It’s got nothing to do with Sam being a SEAL, it has to do with the fact that I had to call in a lot of favors just to get SECNAV and my superiors to sign off on this,” he explained honestly. “Given your training, I would’ve liked for you to join us too but my hands are tied.”

Ziva said nothing as she stared back at the man, knowing that he would be the type to go against orders, much like Gibbs, if he knew it would get the job done. She felt torn, wanting to catch and beat the bastard herself and staying at Steve’s side.

Steve looked from Ziva to Danny and then finally to Joe. “What if Ziva and Danny were to accidentally discover the apartment location in the files? And they just happened to head to one of the stores round there to pick me up a few things?” he asked Joe with a raised eyebrow.

Joe gave him a sideways glance before smiling. “Just like your father. I’m uh.. I’m gonna go to the bathroom. I’ll need those files back before I go and hook up with Sam.” With that, he wandered into the bathroom and locked the door behind him.

“Guys, I want you to go and back Joe and Sam up okay. Now I know you don’t wanna leave because you wanna keep me safe. But Kensi and Deeks are right outside, and I am a SEAL you know, it’ll take more than a few bullets to stop me from fighting back,” he said, his attention focused more on Ziva than Danny. He showed her the address within the file. “Just promise me you’ll be careful.”

She looked at the page carefully before nodding. “Of course. You be careful as well. Do not over exert yourself,” she replied and reached out to cup his face. “We will be back soon. I promise.”

“Danny… you watch her back okay,” he said, as Danny trailed behind the suddenly excited Ziva.

“You got it partner. Tell Joe we’ll see him there,” Danny replied before leaving the room.

A few minutes later, Joe re-emerged from the bathroom. “I’ll keep an eye on her too son, don’t worry. We’ll be in touch when we have something.”

“Thanks Joe,” Steve replied. as the older Commander left the room only for Deeks and Kensi to enter.

“Uhh, the crazy ninja lady said we had to keep you company in here,” Deeks said as he plopped down in the chair that Danny had occupied for most of the night.

“Hetty is working with the hospital administration about getting you released into her care. She’s making arrangements with some contacts of hers to provide you with private care until you are cleared to return home – or go wherever else you want,” Kensi shared after she quietly closed the door to speak privately amongst themselves.

“Pass on my thanks will you,” Steve replied with a soft smile, at least in private care Ziva would be able to sleep better. “So which one of you knows Joe?”

Kensi snorted. “He knew my dad. I worked a case out of Peddleton a years back when I first got started with NCIS.”

“I figured you were the one to let him slip by,” Steve nodded. “According to Danny and Ziva, Deeks had passed out around 11. You sure you guys don’t need to go grab some rack time?”

“Compared to other assignments we been on, the entire time here has been rack time,” Deeks replied. “But we been trading off when needed.”

His partner only rolled her eyes as she shook her head with amusement before speaking again. “Don’t worry. Everyone is getting their rest. Even Ziva and your partner Danny, in their own way.”

“I wish they’d get some proper rest though,” Steve replied. “Instead of having a few hours here and there in the chairs. It’s not good for either of them.”

“Neither is pissing off your girlfriend then running off to get shot,” Deeks shrugged as he pulled over a magazine to flip through.

Both McGarrett and Kensi shot Deeks a scowl that would make Gibbs proud but it went unnoticed as the LAPD Detectives attention was already focused on the bikini-clad models in the magazine’s photo shoot.

“You’ll have to forgive Deeks, his brain and his mouth rarely work in unison,” Kensi said, shaking her head.

“It’s not like everyone else isn’t thinking the same thing. It’s just that no one is saying it,” he grinned.

“It’s not like I asked to get shot,” Steve snapped. “At the end of the day, Ziva put herself and her friends and family at risk by running her own investigation. My father died at Hesse’s hands. The last thing I want is for Ziva to die the same way.”

“So you don’t trust her to be able to fight for you. Understandable. She’s a chick – a hot one – but still…”

“Deeks…” Kensi warned, but it was too late.

“I trust her more than anyone I’ve ever trusted in my life. Including Sam,” he snapped. “She and I have risked our lives for one another on more than once occasion.”

Deeks looked up and right into Steve’s eyes, unfazed and getting to the point. “So then what’s the problem?”

“The problem is I don’t want anyone else to die for me!” he growled. “Least of all her.”

Kensi shook her head and sighed. “I think I get where Deeks is coming from now. If it were me, and my boyfriend did that, I’d want it to be my decision to get hurt or more for the one I love.”

“Would you? Would you really?” Steve snapped. “What if it was Sam’s life you were putting at risk? Or Callen’s? Or your partner’s? If you could protect them by not getting them involved, wouldn’t you do that?”

“We’ve been there already,” Deeks whined, rubbing his shoulder from when he was shot in that convenience store when the guy was after Kensi that time.

“So would you change the outcome, knowing that he got hurt?” he asked her. “I know what Hesse is capable of. He and those like him wouldn’t hesitate in putting a bullet in his head or in yours if you got in their way.”

“I’d do it again for Kens if I knew it all would happen again,” Deeks muttered as he and Kensi held a gaze before she smiled. “Not for a moment would I change it.”

“Well, we’ll see if you still feel that way if one of you has to bury the other,” Steve sighed. “Now if you wouldn’t mind waiting outside, I wanna get some sleep.”

Kensi and Deeks only rolled their eyes as they settled down with their magazines, shutting up. Talking to the man was like talking to a brick wall, and even then they would have had better results.

“It wasn’t a request,” Steve growled. “Either get out or I will.”

“Commander you know we can’t do that. We,” Kensi said, glaring at her partner, “promise to drop the conversation, completely. We’re here waiting for information on our team just as you are on your friend and Ziva.”

Steve swung his legs out of the bed carefully and lowered himself to the cold the IV from his hand, he steadied himself and slowly took several gentle steps. Yes the wounds hurt, but he could move. It wasn’t like he hadn’t been shot before.

“McGarrett, you need to stay in bed. Please do not make us get the doctors to sedate you,” Kensi begged as she quickly went to her feet to get to his side.

“I don’t need a babysitter Agent Blye,” he replied simply. “Especially one with a smart mouthed partner who’ll likely get her in trouble some day.” With that he walked into the bathroom, shut the door and locked it.

Sighing she looked over at Deeks who quietly stood and walked out of the room. “Alright, he’s gone but I’m staying,” she said firmly at his back. When she was alone, she let out a breath and shook her head, pulling out her phone to send out a text.

~o.O.o~

“Looks like Deeks pissed of McGarrett,” Sam rolled his eyes as he, Joe, Ziva and Danny were busy gearing up several blocks from the apartment block.

“Your friend doesn’t strike me as the type to have a death wish,” Danny said as he checked the sights on the SIG he’d been loaned.

“You’d be surprised,” Sam replied with a grin.

“We can worry about Steve later. Right now we get up there. If someone’s inside we take them alive if possible. If the place is empty, we search it from top to bottom, clear?” Joe asked as he looked to the three of them.

Ziva cocked her sidearm and nodded as she came up on the group. “Yes please. I would like to return to Steve when this is over,” she said, moving into place. Something inside her had her anxious and just simply not wanting to have been there after hearing of Steve’s growing irritation when he should be resting.

“You heard the lady,” Joe smiled softly. “We sweep the apartment in pairs. Sam, take Danny. I’ll watch Ziva’s back. We go room by room.” Without another word, Joe began moving toward the apartment block and to the concrete stairs which led up to each floor.

Ziva followed suit, keeping her back to the wall, waiting for Joe and Sam to kick the door in before continuing. As they took a breath she and Danny moved forward on point, sweeping through the rooms on the floor quickly. “It’s clear,” she announced as she made her way into the last room and kicked an empty coffee can that was used for cigarette butts in frustration. Pulling out her phone, she tried dialing Steve to share the news that their lead was a dead end.

“Steve McGarrett’s Phone. Kensi Blye speaking,” Kensi answered, her tone less than cheery.

“Where is he? Did something happen?” Ziva asked quickly as she lifted her head in concern, her eyes focused on nothing in the room but thoughts of the man.

“Weeell Deeks ran his mouth off a little about Steve wanting to keep you out of this investigation,” Kensi replied, visibly wincing. “Steve decided to go into the bathroom and to lock the door.”

Sighing Ziva nodded understandingly. “May I speak with him?” she asked softly.

“Sure, hold on,” Kensi replied. “Commander McGarrett. Ziva would like to speak with you.”

Before she managed to finish her sentence, Steve had unlocked the door and snatched the phone from her. “Ziva? Are you okay? Are the guys okay? What happened?”

For some reason, his frenzied questions calmed her down and put a smile on her face. “I am fine. Everyone is fine. We got to the location and it was vacated. They are working the scene but I am going to grab a taxi back to the hospital to be with you. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine, Deeks just pissed me off, that’s all,” he replied, leaning against the tiled wall. “Stay with the others. I’d feel better if there was four of you together.”

“Next time just shoot him. Do you want me to bring you anything?” she asked as Joe silently gave her signals to communicate their understanding of her desire to leave now that there was no one for her to assist in interrogating. “Steve, I am fine. I want to be there with you now. The guys are more then capable of handling the scene alone.”

“Some clothes would be nice. These gowns don’t exactly leave a lot to the imagination,” Steve replied. “Just be careful, won’t you?”

“I have plenty of imagination of you Steve McGarrett but clothes I can do. And I always am careful but – please go easy on Agent Blye and her partner. They both wished to do more as well and mean well,” she replied softly. “Go back to bed. Hiding in the shower won’t do your injuries any good.”

“I’ll be okay,” he said softly, “I just needed some quiet time. I’ll see you soon though, okay?”

Ziva smiled into her phone. “I’ll bring you some strawberries. And anything else you like. I’ll be there soon.”

“Okay,” he smiled, loving the fact that she remembered how much he enjoyed strawberries. “Love you.”

“I love you,” she said before hanging up and making her way to the curb to call and wait for a taxi. Looking around as she made the call, she felt as if someone was watching her and was careful to take the long way back to the hospital, detouring through a nearby mall where she made other arrangements for transportation and having had her original taxi sit waiting for her as a decoy.

By the time she returned, she had a new set of clothes for herself that she changed into, sweats and light weight t-shirts for Steve and a box of fresh chocolate drizzled strawberries from a chocolate shop that she had passed along the way.

Unbeknown to her, Hesse had been watching her the whole time, tracking her movements no matter how slippery she tried to be. He wasn’t going to do anything. He had other ideas. As she entered the lobby of the hospital, he had one of his men drop a message for McGarrett into one of the bags she was carrying. Within seconds of her crossing the busy lobby, the message had been slipped into the bag in her left hand without her noticing.

Smiling to himself, Hesse decided to head for LAX. His job was done for the moment.