Chapter 07

Throughout getting breakfast and returning to the office, Ziva skillfully avoided the subject of Steve’s ex-girlfriend. Even though she knew it was irrational of her to have such hostile thoughts towards a woman she’d never met. It didn’t help her sour mood when she went for her coffee only to remember that she really couldn’t drink it. It wasn’t like she was much of a coffee drinker before but she really wanted a cup that morning, and had to settle for tea. All it did was make her want to ask the doctor, whenever she found one, just how harmful one cup every now and then would be.

Being new to the team, barely two days then after signing the necessary paperwork, the office had yet to be arranged to give her own space so she settled down in an extra plush armchair behind the situation table and bite into some Portuguese sweet bread that she was forced to order. Hawaiian breakfast choices in the fast food setting was very limited for her as most of the options include pork in some form. Another reason for her mood to continue spiraling downward.

“Now what’s so important I get dragged away from fishing?” Joe White asked as he entered the situation area. “Where’s McGarrett?”

Ziva looked up as she continued munching on her breakfast, as had everyone else. She pointed towards the office. “Tell him he needs to eat too,” she mumbled around a mouthful. Her eyes followed him as he went past the group with a nod. Sighing, she sat back in her chair and turned to their friends. “Have we found the friend yet?”

“Yes, Amy Sheridan, 19 year old psych major at UH. HPD are bringing her in for questioning,” Chin replied as he punched up her image on the monitor. “She attended the same highschool as Marissa, they were on the debate team together. Took vacations together… the whole nine yards.”

“So she wouldn’t leave such a good friend alone, without good reason. Unless she…” Kono trailed off when a woman dressed in casual attire entered the room.

“Uh, hey guys… is McGarrett around?” Catherine Rollins asked, glancing around the room only to pause on Ziva for a few seconds.

“He’s in with Joe White right now, briefing him,” Danny said, stepping into her gaze. “You might wanna go in.”

“Okay, sure. Uh, thanks…” she said before slowly making her way into McGarrett’s office.

“You okay?” Danny asked Ziva as he flipped open a file and casually began to read it.

She pushed her half eaten piece of bread away. “Just fine. Although I think I just lost my appetite,” she replied, trying and failing at avoiding the glass window that separated the team from their guests. “Was this really necessary?” she asked him.

“It’s a precaution, remember. Having Catherine and Joe close to the Governor until we catch whoever killed Marissa. For the Governor’s protection and to keep an eye on her in case she knows more than she’s letting on… like you suggested,” Danny replied. “Hey… he’s crazy about you, okay. He wouldn’t bring you here if he was just gonna dig up the past with her. They’re history, nothing but friends. And besides, I heard she hit it off with McGee.”

“Perhaps but history and feelings do not leave one so easily. I may trust him but I do not trust her. I do not know White all that well either, outside of our experience in Los Angeles.”

Danny sighed. He knew that this was going to cause problems. “He trained McGarrett, and Rollins has helped us out from time to time. Look, Ziva I really-.”

Ziva turned to face Danny eye to eye. “My father trained me,” she said succinctly.

“Fair point,” he conceded. “Look, talk to Steve, let him know how you feel and I’ll bet you that you won’t have anything to worry about.”

“I will if it comes to it. I do need to trust him and maybe I am overreacting. I blame the hormones.”

Chin couldn’t help but to laugh. “You were there through Rachel’s pregnancy with Grace. I’m sure you are used to that reasoning. I think it’ll be quite a show as Steve tries to – adapt to these new changes.”

“He’s Commander SEAL, I doubt that a hormonal Ziva… oh wait, I see your point,” Danny smiled sheepishly and darted to the other end of the table, far out of Ziva’s reach.

Kono let out a loud laugh as Ziva threw her empty water bottle at him. Glancing back at the office, the group looked towards them as they evidently was loud enough to interrupt. She tried to calm herself down and turn away, focusing on the file that Chin slid over to her with a knowing smile.

Steve exited his office with Joe and Catherine in tow. “Are we having fun?” he asked with a scowl. “Because I seemed to recall we have the Governor’s niece lying on Max”s autopsy slab.”

“Just waiting on you Boss,” Ziva smiled up at him sweetly. “We haven’t forgotten about Marissa. We were just discussing the friend when Danny made a comment that was just funny.”

“Chin, take Joe up to the Governor’s mansion. Kono, it’s almost ten, call Fong at CSU, tell him to call me when he’s got some results with the evidence. Danny, Cat, Ziva… we’re off to see Max,” he wasn’t smiling. he strode out of the office without another word.

Ziva’s smile slowly dropped before she turned to clean up her breakfast. Meeting Chin and Danny’s worried looks, they tried to give her a reassuring smile. “Yes, this is going to be a wonderful day.”

~o.O.o~

Steve could hear the ivories on Max’s piano tinkling away even before they reached his floor. In any other situation, the music would have been soothing, but today it was simply indicating that Max had completed his work on schedule and was likely contemplating the results.

Following behind a few steps, Ziva was more reluctant than usual to enter the examination room. She stayed further away than that of Steve and Catherine, her face changing to subtle shades of green. Danny seemed to be the only one initially aware and stayed at her side in support. “You need some water?” he whispered.

Her answer was slow but she eventually shook her head. “No, not yet at least.”

“Hey Max, you in here?” Steve asked as they reached the door to his office.

“Ahh, Commander McGarrett, Detective Williams. Please come in,” the native said with a small smile as he closed his piano’s lid and stood. “I see you’ve brought Agent David and Lieutenant Rollins with you. Welcome also.”

Danny waved at him before shoving his hands in his pockets. “Thanks but I’m fine back here,” he smiled though it was more of a mirror grimace to that on Ziva’s face.

“There’s is no cause for alarm, Detective. I have completed my work in the lab. There is no… ahh, the smell of disinfectant. Of course. My apologies,” he dismissed the Jersey born detective’s reaction before his eyes settled on Ziva. “I wasn’t aware that you shared Detective Williams dislike for the smell, Agent David.”

“Normally I am fine. It seems that my – stomach is disagreeable today,” she smiled at him before covering her nose and mouth with her hand.

“Which would likely indicate a reaction to bad food or preg…nancy,” he nodded. “Could I interest you in some green tea? To help settle your stomach?”

Her answer was quick with look to Steve who was busy staring at the bullet holes in the victim. “Bad food. I’ll just get something when we leave here.”

“Max, could we move this along?” Steve asked impatiently, partly because he knew what Ziva was going through, and partly because he was in need of some solid leads.

“Of course. The victim was indeed shot with precision. both the heart and brain were fatally wounded with the first shot to both. I theorise that the killer is a trained professional, likely with a military background due to his or her need to ensure the victim was deceased with additional rounds to both organs,” he began. “The weapon used was a 9mm pistol. Probably military issue, but Charlie will be able to confirm this by testing the bullet fragments.”

Catherine was rather quiet since leaving the office. “Any signs she was raped?” she asked as she walked around the tablet to get a better look herself.

“I performed a full examination and there are no signs of sexual contact, penetration or forced penetration,” he replied. “There were also no defensive wounds or additional wounds to speak of. I do not believe she expected her death until the last possible moment.”

“Did anyone find her cell phone? Maybe we could track her movements over the previous few days…”

“CSU already has it and the provider is going to send the logs to us by the afternoon. They’re stuck in the middle of system updates,” Ziva interrupted her, looking at Max’s collection of trinkets on the shelves.

Danny received a message from Kono, looking at his phone and swallowing down the urge to vomit again. “Uhh, Fong’s ready for us with initial findings and Amy Sheridan’s been brought in by HPD. Kono wants to know if she should question her.”

“Ziva, why don’t you go back to the office and help Kono interview Sheridan, find out what she knows about what happened last night?” Steve asked noting Ziva’s growing discomfort around the fumes and most likely Marissa’s body.”

She narrowed her eyes on him briefly before turning to leave without a word. She let the swinging door to the area swing freely as she pushed her way out where she sucked in a deep breath of the clean, odor free air.

“Smooth move, genius…” Danny shook his head, only for Steve to bolt passed him after Ziva.

“Ziva… hey Ziva, wait up!” he called after her. “What is it, what’s wrong?”

She glanced back at him before opening her hand where Danny had slipped his keys to her before she rushed out. “Nothing is wrong,” she replied, her voice wavering. “You need me to do anything else at the office?”

“Don’t do that, don’t lie to me,” he said, closing the gap between them and placing his hands on her shoulders affectionately

Her eyes flickered up at him and then out towards the view of the ocean in the distance. “I never felt so weak at the sight of a body. I was fine at the beach, I don’t know,” she offered, avoiding her nervousness about her own issues.

“It was likely the antiseptic, it’s strong stuff and you have our baby growing inside you,” he replied, planting a kiss on her forehead. “But there’s something more… talk to me.”

Ziva closed her eyes and pressed her fist against them. “Steve, now is not the time to go on about my insecurities. It’s really nothing. If it makes you happy I’ll ask Kono to call a few doctors in the area to find an appointment to make sure that everything is going normal. Okay?”

“Okay, but we’ll talk later,” he reassured her.

“Do me a favor Steve?” she asked, looking up at him sadly. “Keep Danny with you. Don’t go anywhere without him. Even if you’re with someone else.”

“As if I could get rid of him,” he half joked. Dismissing her request out of worry for his continued safety. “But I will okay. Won’t let him out of my sight. Just try not to crash his car.”

She rolled her eyes with a smile. “His car has survived your driving. Just remind him that he gave me his keys without anyone asking,” she remarked as she dangled the keys from her fingers. “Might stop off to have a copy made.”

“It is a nice ride. But I guess we should consider getting you a car out here since Jimmy bought yours back in DC,” he replied as he escorted her to the Chevy.

Pausing before getting in, she looked back at the medical examiner’s office where she could make out Danny’s figure peeking out, but also the other feminine one. “I’ll see you at the office, if not then at home tonight.”

“Sure,” he leaned down and captured her lips with his. “Love you. Sorry for being a jerk earlier.”

“I can be a jerk too. At least I have an excuse to fall back on that is widely accepted for any sort of misbehavior. What’s your excuse?” she smiled cheekily.

“No excuses… save for the need to find out what happened to Marissa. Jameson met me when I first landed on the island for my father’s funeral. She and my dad were friends. She offered me her condolences and gave me the team I needed to stop things like Marissa’s death from happening more often. I owe it to her.”

Ziva reached up to place her hand on his cheek. “You will need to separate your friendship from her in this case. Believe me I know how hard it is but right now, you know the Governor is behaving too suspicious.”

“I know you’re right. And I’ll try… but…” he pressed his face into her hand, as her touch was soothing to him. “It doesn’t mean that I don’t hope you’re wrong.”

Inside, they were watched by Danny and Catherine. She kept her face impassive but could not help reacting to the intimacy between them. Even if they weren’t together anymore, it still hurt. He explained that he was involved when they ran into each other at the bar back in DC but he didn’t offer any details. Especially just how involved.

“How long have they been together?” she asked Danny, looking to him quickly to see his reluctance to her question. More likely the topic if she was accurate.

“Uhh… a while. It seems Steve met her when he was leading a SEAL team, some joined mission with the Mossad. They apparently pulled each others asses out of the fire more than once,” Danny shifted uncomfortably as he watched Ziva drive away. “I know that he loves her. Wants to spend the rest of his life with her. That’s not saying he didn’t care about you because I happen to know that he did, and he still does. But everyone has that special someone in their life that they can’t shake. For me it’s my daughter’s mom, for Steve it’s Ziva.”

Catherine let out a long, suffering sigh. “I don’t see how. She’s not even that friendly. Why hasn’t he ever mentioned her before?”

“Did you ever talk about your exes around him?” Danny asked as he watched Steve make his way back inside.

Scowling, she glanced at him. “Point taken, but still doesn’t mean I have to like it,” she muttered before turning her back to the window. “It’s not like he’s the type that gets married anyway. I don’t have to worry about that at least.”

“Uhhhh. yeah…” Danny suddenly found the copy of Max’s autopsy report overly interesting.

His sudden aloofness caused a stir of surprise in her as she stared at him dumbfounded. “You’re joking!” she exclaimed, practically shouting.

“I didn’t say anything!” his head shot up. “How am I supposed to… he said that you two were… I didn’t say ‘ANYTHING’!”

“Say anything about what?” Steve asked as he jogged up the last few steps, only to be welcomed by a scowl and a sheepish head shake.

Catherine immediately closed her mouth and smiled quickly. “Nothing,” she replied. “Danny and I were just taking the moment to – catch up. Is Agent David okay? She was kinda green there for a bit. Getting used to the local food difficult for her?”

“I didn’t say anything!” Danny added quickly as he discreetly made his way back to Max’s office.

She rolled her eyes at him as he left, leaving her with her former lover who stared at her suspiciously. “What? I didn’t do anything,” she muttered uncomfortably under his eyes. Shifting in place, she looked away in hopes that he would just let it go.

“Cath… we talked about this back in DC,” Steve folded his arms. “Ziva and I are in a relationship now. What you and I had was special, but we both knew it wouldn’t last.”

“Steve,” Cath sighed then backed off. “Sorry. I just didn’t realize how much it hurt to see it in front of me.”

“Well I’m sorry. I should be more mindful of your feelings, but Ziva and I went through hell and back together. When I was with the SEALs and when we found each other again. I lost her once and it’s one of my biggest regrets,” he explained. “You and I… we agreed that we were just having fun, our careers were more important. And that was your idea… that’s why I hoped you’d moved on… with McGee. I figured you were okay with being friends.”

She shook her head as she stepped away. “Tim is great but it just didn’t feel right. He’s actually kind of hung up by some girl he works with. We ended up just playing video games. He’s pretty good.”

“So, you had fun,” he smiled softly. “If you’re looking for more, find someone. You’re an amazing woman who deserves someone who’ll love her and treat her right. And he’s out there for you Cath. I know it because for a while, I thought I was him… but I was wrong.”

“Alright, can we drop this now? I feel sufficiently guilty over my behavior and would like to get back to work. What’s next?”

“Next, we go to CSU for the preliminary on the evidence found where Marissa was discovered,” Steve nodded as he began to make his way back towards Max’s office to fetch Danny and have a final word with Max himself.

~o.O.o~

“Please have a seat Miss Sheridan, thank you for agreeing to come in at such a difficult time,” Kono said as she waited for Amy to have a seat at the interview table before she and Ziva joined her. She was visibly distraught. Her freshly applied eye makeup was already running from the amount of crying the student had done since hearing about her friend’s fate.

“You’re sure it’s Marissa?” Sheridan asked for what seemed the tenth time since the officers from the Honolulu Police Department visited her at her dorm and informed her that 5-0 needed to speak with her. “I knew I shouldn’t have let her go…”

Ziva set down a box of tissues that she retrieved before answering. “Yes, we are positive. Can you tell us about when you last saw or spoke with Marissa? Where was she going?” she asked gently, moving to sit across from her.

“We… we were outside Koloka’s Bar. We were gonna go onto a club to dance, listen to some music… Marissa… she recognised some guy that pulled up in a limo. Went over to say hello and they started talking. He was some friend of her aunt’s or something…” she replied. “She was way into him… hanging on his every word, but the guy was seriously creepy. He kept shooting me these looks, like he knew I was waiting for her…”

“Did he speak to you at all?” Kono questioned curiously.

“No, his driver did. Asked where we were going so that he could drop Marissa there after she had a drink with his boss,” she replied. “I told him and tried to persuade Marissa to come with us once again but she said to go on ahead… stupid…”

Ziva narrowed her eyes as she thought about her story. “Would you be able to recognize their faces if you saw them again? Did you notice if any of them stood out, something small could mean a lot.”

“I guess… I mean we had a few drinks and it was dark, but I’ll try… those eyes… The guy in the limo. I think Marissa called him Ho… something. He had these mean looking eyes, even when he was smiling,” Amy explained. “But maybe they had nothing to do with it. Maybe Marissa decided to walk to the club. I could be wasting your time.”

Before she could ask another question, Ziva noticed Kono appearing deep in thought. Raising an eyebrow at her, she glanced behind her quickly to silently ask to speak with her outside. Smiling at Amy, she excused herself before heading outside the small conference room. “What are you thinking of?” she whispered.

“Someone connected to the Governor in some way… politicians make enemies and this has all the signs of a professional hit… I think whoever killed Marissa… if it is this Ho character, has only just started,” Kono replied. “We need an ID on this guy as soon as possible. And Amy saw him, he saw her. He may come after her to silence her.”

“Protection detail it is then,” she murmured but was still stuck on other things, some she wasn’t even sure of exactly. “The thing I don’t get is that as creepy as she says this guy is, Marissa seemed to have no problem going up to him like he was family. She did say that she told her that he was friends with the Governor.”

“You said that the Governor reacted strangely to the questions you and Steve asked her when you gave her the news about Marissa?” Kono asked as she watched Amy through the one-way glass. “I hate to say this, but maybe she suspected something like this might happen?”

Ziva shrugged a shoulder. “Who knows? Anyone who felt threatened by a person would have a bad feeling about what could happen. I do think she knows more – but doesn’t realize it herself yet. If you have a mug shot collection, I say let her sit and go through it. It would keep her safe here for awhile yet while we wait for the others to get back.”

“Good idea. Let’s hope Charlie has some leads, McGarrett won’t be happy if the killer’s a ghost,” Kono replied before going to get the mug shot data for her laptop.

~o.O.o~

“Okay, so I went over everything we pulled from the scene twice. The sand and sea water contaminated the victim’s clothing, she was laying there for at least an hour before she was discovered,” Fong explained. “But Max did manage to retrieve the slugs from her wounds. There’s no doubt they came from a 9mm suppressed glock. The striations on the bullets were matched to several other homicides over the last 3 months.”

“Where the victims anyone high profile or connected to?” Catherine asked as she stared at the bullets he had in protective displays.

“Tara’s getting the info together for you now, but it looks like it. Japan, China, Here and the Mainland. All successful politicians and businessmen and women by the looks of it,” he replied. “There’s no doubt that you’ve got an assassin on your hands. One who’s good at getting away quick and clean. No fingerprints, no DNA.”

She looked over at Steve, who seemed to be in his own world. “It doesn’t help us that they dumped the body where the salt water would eat whatever trace they might have left. Did they find her cell phone? Other personal belongings?”

“We’re having trouble with the cell, saltwater damage being what it is. I was thinking maybe Chin could have better luck. As for the rest of it, the contents of her purse… there’s not a lot to it,” Charlie explained.”

“Thanks Charlie, we’ll take it from here,” Steve nodded before stepping away with Danny and Cath to talk. “Cath, you think you could work with Chin and get that cell working? Or at least get us some info from it as to her movements?”

Fong came over quickly with a clipboard and the evidence bag with the cell phone. While Danny signed for it, Catherine took the bag and studied the phone as she answered. “Sure. What are you going to be doing in case we need to get you?” she asked.

“Danny and I will be going over the other cases back at the office. Chin should be on his way back there now so we should get moving,” Steve replied before thanking Charlie once again before they left and skirting the curious glances his ex had been giving him for most of the day.