Ziva entered the hospital room with a bright smile on her face, pleased to see that Steve had made his way back to bed. Kensi was seated in the far corner away from him, looked at her relieved. “If you want to go take a break, I’ll be here. Besides, I believe he would like to change to something more comfortable and less revealing,” she said cheerfully before setting the bags in another chair to start going through them to pull out the pants for the man.
“Yeah… I’ll do that,” Kensi replied, slowly making her way to the door before pausing. “Look, Commander… about before.”
“Forget about it,” Steve said, “It wasn’t your fault. Besides, Joe would stamp my ass with his boot if we didn’t get along.”
While the two talked, Ziva quietly sorted the bags out and frowned as she found a paper in one bag. She glanced up at the two quickly before setting it aside after glancing at its contents. “Here you go,” she said, setting the sweats and t-shirt on the bed next to Steve before stepping to his side to help him.
Smiling at Steve, Kensi made a discrete exit, hoping that Callen and Sam would take over the protection detail soon.
“Feeling better?” Ziva asked quietly as she worked to untie the gown from behind his neck.
“Yeah. While you were gone, Hetty called. She’s arranged for a suite in a private hospital just outside of the city. Her people can return to their duties because the security at this place has passed her approval… and somehow I find that comforting,” he smiled softly as he began to undress
“It will be a project to get you out. I think – I think that we will have to set up our new friends to escort another patient out of the building while we make our way some time after. Apparently I did not lose the tail I had acquired from the apartment location,” she commented. “And I was at my best for evading.”
“How can you be so sure?” he asked, “Don’t get me wrong Ziva, I trust your abilities. But you’re tired. Are you sure you were being followed?”
“Oh yes,” she sighed, helping lift his bad arm and pleased to see that they had disconnected his IV for the time. She helped him pull on the t-shirt before saying more. “As I was going through the bags, I found this.” Making her way over to the window sill where she set one of the bags, she pulled the folded paper out from underneath and passed it over. “The only time I would have missed someone slipping that into the bag was at the exit of the mall and in the lobby downstairs where it is quite crowded.”
Frowning, Steve slowly opened the piece of paper. It read:
How ya doing McGarrett,
So sorry to see your girl isn’t busy planning your funeral. But there will be time for that later. Consider this a warning to you and everyone you care about, especially the Israeli beauty. Stop poking your nose where it doesn’t belong. You killed my brother, I killed your father. An eye for an eye.
I mean, if I can get close enough to drop this note in her bag, just imagine what else I could do to her before it’s too late…
“It’s signed Victor Hesse,” Steve growled, resisting the urge to screw the note up into a ball and toss it in the trash. “Son of a bitch… this is what I was talking about… by using NCIS resources, you may as well have lit a signal fire right in front of you.”
“I hardly believe that using NCIS has anything to do with it. He is looking for anything to get to you and right now he knows that we are each other’s weakness,” she sighed, leaning against the sill. “There is something that I believe you are much closer to than even I got. The note was targeted at you. Look – I do not wish to get into this argument again. It ended badly the last time and I do not want that again. I am here, with you. I won’t leave again.”
“I don’t want you to leave either,” he replied sincerely. “And I don’t want you to get hurt. I’ve had to tread carefully with my investigation. The evidence from the toolbox, the suspects I’ve met and profiled. Every step taken I’ve had to be careful because there’s no telling how far this goes. I mean for all I know, Wo Fat might be paying people off in NCIS and in HPD.”
“You think he has connections in NCIS? It would have to be someone pretty high up and I have doubts that it is Director Vance. He may not be squishy clean but he has proven himself to be trusted, I think.”
“Squeaky clean,” he corrected her, a small smile playing on his lips. “And no, not Vance. He doesn’t strike me as a man who would betray his country, even if he has his own agenda. You once told me that you had leaks in the agency before, maybe you didn’t route all of them out. And HPD has had its fair share of corrupt cops over the years, who knows what information’s been passed back and forth.”
Ziva nodded slowly. “Fair enough. Until this event is over, I am by your side now. Do you need help with your pants?” she asked with a sly smile at him sitting on the edge of the bed in just the t-shirt and the sheet covering his legs.
“Usually you enjoy removing them,” Steve grinned. “I would have thought you’d want me to stay like this so you could enjoy the view.”
“Trust me I do enjoy the view, however I do not wish to share the view with the women working in the hospital here, nor our allied agents,” she pointed out. “I have always had an issue with – sharing – my things. Particularly you.”
“I remember,” he grinned as he carefully slid his pants on and hoisted himself back onto the bed. “But I doubt any of the nurses will even consider flirting with me, the way you’ve been watching over me.”
“They are here to do their job. That is all. Hopefully we will be able to secure this transfer soon. We will have to find someone about your height and weight to use as a decoy to send Sam and Joe with so that whomever is watching us may believe it to be you. It may be good for me to join them as clearly, this Hesse will know I wish not to leave your side. As much as I hate to leave you for that, it may just be the safest option.”
“Let’s not worry about the arrangements now,” he sighed, patting the space on the bed that she had occupied the previous night. “Let’s just relax until Danny, Sam and Joe get back from the apartment.”
Ziva pushed herself off the wall to grab the box of sweets and made her way over with a nod and smile. “Okay,” she said softly as she curled up to him, careful of his injuries. “How are you feeling otherwise? I got your strawberries for you.”
“Hmm… you’re too good to me,” he smiled, plucking one of them from the box and biting into it. Having only eaten hospital food since waking from his injuries, Steve was grateful for the change. Even if it wasn’t loco-moco from the Rainbow drive-in. Savoring the taste for a moment, he took another strawberry from the box and held it to her lips. “I’ll be okay. I just need to heal up.”
Ziva bit into the fruit as she looked up at him. When she swallowed she raised an eyebrow. “You need to rest so that you can heal. Do you plan on getting more tattoos to cover the scars again?”
“Why? Do you think I need more?” he grinned.
“If you wish but I think you are were fine before these even. Not that I’m saying I dislike them – I do…” she let out as her voice shifted to one that she often used when they were in bed together or in the process of. “I do like these on your arms. Not sure about the rest of your chest or back however.”
“I’m not planning on getting anything done any time soon so don’t worry,” he said as he planted a kiss on her neck and closed his eyes.
“Get some rest. I’ll probably just watch the television or read some while we wait. Perhaps I can get them to bring some decent food. Healthy – but better than this place. Soups and salads should be fine from somewhere local.”
The only response she got was mumbling that sounded vaguely like “What did I do to deserve you?” as Steve succumbed to his weakened state once again.
Several hours later, Ziva, Danny, Joe, Sam and Callen were hanging out in the room, talking quietly about what the guys had found at the apartment. Kensi and Deeks were sent out to start making the arrangements to have Steve moved, taking in the suggestions Ziva made regarding the decoy after their earlier surprise.
“I still do not like it,” she said carefully to them. “We should move him first, without anyone in NCIS other than ourselves knowing about it. Then the official transfer would go on record with the decoy and us with it to the alternate location. These people know that at least one of us would be staying with him the entire time.”
“I know Hetty Lange, she won’t put anything on record about this until absolutely necessary,” Joe said before looking to Callen. “Am I right?”
“This’ll be off the books until Steve’s safe. If there is a leak within NCIS, he or she won’t know about the transfer until it’s too late,” Callen replied with a nod.
“I’ll stay with Steve,” Sam said, “And I think Ziva should too. That’s if you don’t mind hanging out with the decoy, Danny?”
“Makes no difference to me so long as Steve gets from A to B without a problem,” Danny replied, glancing at his partner. “The only question is where we’re gonna get someone who fits Steve’s appearance and body-type.”
Ziva nodded in agreement. She was not sure either of who they could get to fool someone from watching as they did not know exactly who was doing the watching. Just that they were there. “That I do not know. He does not exactly fit the more common of us. Any friends on one of the nearby bases that you can think of?” she asked, looking at Sam.
“I believe that we can be of some help Ms. David,” Hetty said as she entered the room with a familiar face in tow.
“Nate?” Callen asked, sharing a glance with Sam before shaking hands with the psychologist. “What are you doing here?”
“I was delivering some field reports to Hetty when she asked me for a favor,” he replied as he looked over at Steve who was still sound asleep. “I’m supposed to pass for him?”
Ziva looked at the new person and raised an eyebrow.
“With some loose fitting clothing and a baseball cap, I’m confident that you will,” Hetty replied. “The body type’s close enough and the hair colour is fine. The style would be hidden by the cap.
“Perhaps a few layers of loose clothing. Steve has a lot more defined muscle structure than he does. Height wise, he looks taller but if he’s in the bed that shouldn’t be a problem,” Ziva commented.
“Sorry, Doctor Nate Getz, you’re Ziva David right?” Nate asked as he offered the Israeli his hand.
She politely shook his hand and nodded. “I am. Do you think you are up for this? There is a high chance that the decoy unit may be attacked.”
“I’ve spent some time in the middle east,” he replied simply, not wanting to dwell on what that exactly meant.
“Ms. Blye and Mr. Deeks will be assisting Detective Williams in Dr. Getz’s protection,” Hetty explained. “He’ll be fine. They both will.”
“Thanks for the vote of confidence,” Steve said with a mild yawn. “I guess we’ll be leaving soon?”
Ziva turned around and smiled as she returned to his side. “Yes. You and I will be going in the morning, after breakfast. Our decoy will be going out at the same time, however, through a less populated route that this facility uses for other high profile clients. We will be going out through the emergency room in another ambulance that Miss Lange contracted.”
“I’m gonna need a weapon,” Steve said simply. “And some additional support wouldn’t go amiss.”
“Mr. Beal is taking care of that as we speak Commander,” Hetty smiled softly. “I trust that you’re feeling better?”
“With each passing day ma’am,” he replied before shifting his gaze to Ziva. “It’s all thanks to those who have been taking care of me.”
“I’m sure,” she nodded. “Commander White, may we have a moment in private? I’d like to discuss something with you.”
“Of course,” he smiled, fully expecting what was coming.
Watching them leave the room, Steve exchanged a frown with Ziva before Nate spoke up.
“So how long have you two been dating?” the psychologist asked bluntly.
Ziva had eyed Joe and Hetty leave before shifting her attention to the new member to the group. “Why do you ask?” she asked curiously.
“Curiosity mostly,” Nate replied. “You obviously care a great deal about one another. I’d say you’re even willing to die for one another. Your posture is defensive… like you’re protecting him from an unseen threat, even though there isn’t one in sight. Should I go on?”
“Steve and I have been through – a lot,” she said, looking down at the man instead at the psycologist. “We must work harder to keep each other than others would considering our histories. Be more – defensive and protective.”
Nate smiled. “Well you’ve got nothing to worry about if she’s going to be watching your back, Commander.”
“Jeez Doc, he doesn’t need to be a shrink to work that one out,” Danny said as he spotted the strawberries on the bedside cabinet. “Ooh!”
Ziva’s eyes locked on Steve’s. “You touch that box I will rip your arms from your body and hand run them through a meat grinder to feed to my teammate’s dog.”
“A simple ‘they’re for the patient’ would have sufficed,” Danny said as he stopped dead in his tracks. “So uh… I think I’ll go check in with Chin and Kono.”
She only raised an eyebrow at him as he left the room. “Is there anything we can get you?” She asked, returning her attention to Steve.
“A pizza and a couple of beers would be nice,” he grinned. “And for you and Danny to get some sleep too. You look exhausted.”
“When we get you to the other facility we will rest. There will be a second bed in the room Miss Lange assured me. We will be able to take turns to sleep on it,” Ziva replied. “Anything else? That you know is more doable than pizza and beer. How about a nice chicken salad and iced tea?”
“Always trying to take care of me, huh?” he smiled warmly. “Sounds good.”
“You tried to do the same for me last week. Did you not?” Ziva asked, sliding the cart over for him to have better reach of his strawberries.
“True,” Steve conceded as his stomach growled.
Sam let out a snort as he looked on. “Yeah. Eat up and rest as much as you can now because if shit its the fan later, then you may need to run. I’ll call Kensi to bring us something,” he said as he pulled out his phone to begin texting.
She returned a short while later with take out from the team’s favorite Italian restaurant, distributing the order accordingly before settling down on the window sill to eat her own. “So, everything is set. About 19:00 we’ll start moving out. You ready for this Commander?” she asked, shoving a mouthful of the antipasto in her mouth.
“Ready to get out of this place and let everyone get some proper sleep without having to worry about me?” he asked as he dug around his chicken salad with a fork to see what was in it. “You bet I’m ready.”
“Eat, don’t play,” Ziva grinned as she tapped his nose with her fork while she worked on her own meal beside him. “I’ll help get you cleaned up when we’re done eating.”
“Feisty,” Callen muttered as he tucked into his chicken and pasta. “With a girlfriend like her, you’ll be back to work in no time, Steve.”
“Only because he’d be rushing to get away from all the healthy food and drinks she’s gonna ply him with,” Sam grinned
She looked up wide eyed. “Yes! That reminds me. Someone will have to stock the room with tofu and hummus.”
“Thanks guys… that’s great…” Steve sighed before finally tucking into his salad.
“Don’t worry, you’re in LA. They’re sure to have a decent pizza place that doesn’t have pineapple on everything. I might have a chance to educate you, finally,” Danny grinned.
“Oh thank goodness,” Ziva said letting out an exaggerated sigh. “Although that papaya one wasn’t too bad. But I can only handle so much pineapple too.”
“Carry on talking like that, I might just have some competition,” Steve grinned. “You’d really seal the deal if you agree with him that ties make him look professional.”
She blinked at him before looking back and forth for a moment. “He looks like he’s working when he has it on. At least the Hawaiian version of work for someone from the east coast. I have no issues with Danny and his tie like you. Gibbs wore his blazer like I said he would after all.”
“We don’t wear ties in Hawaii…” Steve replied. “You do realise that he’ll use your opinion to justify wearing it.”
“You’re damn right I will,” Danny interjected.
“If my work brings me out there again, I’ll be sure to wear what I usually do to the office. You will see,” she smiled, looking at Steve hard.
There was a knock at the door, Joe, Hetty and Nate had returned. Joe had a bag with him. “It’s nearly party time Steve. Miss Lange has got an outfit for you.” The Naval Lieutenant Commander placed the bag at the the foot of the bed.
“After he finishes eating and gets washed up,” Ziva repeated even toned before reaching over to pull the bag to her to inspect its contents.
“Of course,” Hetty replied. “I’ve spoken with my friend at the private facility. He assures me that everything is in place for Commander McGarrett’s arrival. Mr. Deeks, Ms. Blye I’ve arranged the transportation for this evening’s festivities. Be sure to check the vehicles over before we move Mr. Getz and Commander McGarrett to their respective vehicles.”
“We’ll get right on that after dinner Hetty,” Kensi replied around a mouthful of a large burger with the works on it that had Danny jealous the moment she opened her box.
Deeks echoed similar response as he worked on his own but looked up with large puppy like eyes as everyone had turned their attention on him. He had a thick piece of onion covered in mayonnaise sticking out of his mouth. “Whut?” he mumbled.
Steve had been the only one that said anything initially. “Trade you for that burger. I beg you,” he said holding out his tray causing the man to scowl andhug his burger and retreat closer to the wall away from him.
“On that note, I think I’ll head back to the office,” Hetty smirked. “I have a sneaking suspicion that Mr. Beal is breaking my rule about having drinks in Ops.”
“We’ll give you a call when we are done later,” Sam replied just as Callen reached over to steal a fry from their teammate and get smacked on the hard sharply for his trouble. “Again after I find the closest nursery school for my colleagues here to drop off at.”
Without another word, Hetty made a discrete exit.
“Can’t say I haven’t missed this,” Nate grinned before moving over to the window.
“Your spot is still open,” Sam replied. “You’re more than welcome to it.”
“I’m doing good work,” Nate replied sincerely. “But I’ll keep this in mind.”
“Be sure that you do,” Callen smiled
“Alright. Everyone just eat so that you all can find somewhere else to be so that I can help Steve get ready for the transfer,” Ziva said, speaking up as she began packing her tray up after having enough.
“Help him get ready… yeah, sure,” Danny scoffed. “You’ll do anything to get him naked.”
“He needs to wash up – something he is incapable of doing on his own right now with an arm requiring support. Of course, you are more than welcome to helphim yourself if you wish,” she replied then looked at Steve. “You don’t mind Danny getting you cleaned up – do you?”
“A choice between you and Danny?” Steve asked with a raised eyebrow. “You, definitely you!”
Danny let out a relieved sigh. “You picked the right person, thank god…”
Having had enough Ziva got up with a triumphant smirk as she moved around to get things together. As if on cue, the rest of the group quickly decided that they were done eating or would eat the rest of their meals elsewhere. Once the room was emptied, save for Steve and Ziva, it was back to business as she turned to him in a no nonsense posture that she would not even welcome a little of his flirtacious play until they were moved to their next location.