"Are you sure about that, honey?" asked a very concerned older woman. "I can go with you if you want to..."
"Don't worry, mom," replied the teenager with a forced smile.
There was nothing cheerful about that moment. Her child was about to board on an airplane that would take her far away, to the Old Continent.
"I need to do this," she continued as they waited for her flight to be called.
The older woman tried to push back a tear but she didn't succeeded and it fell down her cheek, leaving a glowing path where it passed.
"It's gonna be okay, mom," she tried to reassure her mother but she knew that was something quite impossible. It was hard to see someone you care about going away. Even if it's what they have to do. "I'm gonna be okay..."
The sixteen year old girl felt her mother's arms closing around her and the two women gave in to the sadness of the moment. The imminent separation was hurting them both, so much more than they could bear. So they just held onto each other while they could... Until a loud voice hit their ears, making them pull apart.
"HEY! CASEY! WAIT UP!"
The young brunette looked at the woman who had just called out her name. A smile played on her lips one more time; even though it was still sad.
"Hi there, sis... Training for a marathon or something?"
The young woman slowed down until she reached her sister. Her breathing pattern was slightly disturbed but not too much; she was quite an athlete.
"Yeah," she said, waving her head to the sides softly. "Something... Were you trying to run away without saying goodbye?"
"I didn't want to bother you..."
"Oh, shut up!" she replied annoyed, but with a gentle and playful tone. "I'd be bothered if you just left without telling me anything. Actually, I'd be pretty damn mad."
Casey smiled weakly; she knew she wasn't joking. "I'm sorry. I know have an important day tomorrow and I didn't..." She let go of her carry-on bag and took one step closer to her older sister. "I'm really glad you're here."
The two young women hugged each other but only for a very brief moment; Casey's flight was soon announced and she needed to board.
"Take care, will ya?" said the older sibling as she placed a kiss on the teen's head. "And don't forget to call."
"I won't," she promised. "Give everyone a kiss for me. Tell them I'm sorry I had to leave in such a rush... And tell dad I love him."
Just like her mother, a tear fell from the older sister's eyes. Casey was only sixteen and, my God, she was strong... Not all sixteen year old girls could handle hearing about their parent's death and cope so well with it. Sure she hadn't lived with her biological father since she was three, but they had talked every once in a while...
"I will," promised the older girl when her little sister brushed the tear away. "And come back soon. I'll miss you."
"I'll miss you too," she replied and then she turned to her mother. "Mom..."
"I know, honey." The woman's arms soon closed around her daughter again. Even though they didn't share the same blood, there was nothing in the world that would say they weren't family. "You need to go there, I know. It's just..."
"I know." Casey pulled a few inches away and saw dark eyes that were very familiar to her; they were red and watery. "I love you too, mom."
They called Casey's flight once again and she had to put up one hell of a fight to let go of her sister and her mother.
"Don't miss me too much," Casey said as she grabbed the handle of her carry-on bag and headed to her boarding gate. "See you guys soon."
The three women waved at each other one last time.
Despite the promises of seeing each other again, such a reencounter didn't happen. Casey boarded a plane that took her to London...
Days turned into weeks that turned into months. Years passed, and Casey didn't return.
Chapter One. Homeward Bound
Once again, she was on an airplane, going from one country to another. Casey had lost count of how many times she'd found herself doing that exact same thing; she was almost willing to bet she'd have more flight hours than a decent experienced pilot. She was so used to it that when the flight attendant started the instructions for the landing procedure, she didn't even waste energy paying attention to it — she knew it by heart.
Fasten seatbelt: checked.
Tray table and seat back into their full upright position: checked.
Remain calm: not checked.
For the first time that Casey could remember, she felt nervous. So nervous than when the plane started loosing attitude, she felt like she could be sick. She wasn't — Thank Heavens! That would be embarrassing... — but she came very close to throwing up.
About fifteen minutes later, Casey was walking through the doors of the Honolulu International Airport.
She was quite a contrast to everyone that was leaving the airport. Some were hugging their families, some were with their families and she guessed they were tourists, some (and those were very few) seemed to be people that were there for some professional reason — business men and women. And then there was her.
She felt completely out of place there. Even though she had come to Hawaii willingly, she was now starting to regret that decision, or at least second guess her idea that had sounded a lot better when she was in London.
Casey had come to Hawaii because that's where she knew her sister was living. Sure she missed her older sibling dearly, but, right now, she couldn't deny the simple and irrevocable fact that it's been almost ten years since they last saw each other. And if that wasn't bad enough, Casey promised she would return soon. And she didn't.
There was one thing that Casey was sure about: this visit could go wrong in so many ways. But she also knew that there was a possibility, as slim as it was, that they could work it out. And she was stubborn enough to not leave without trying.
Since she was here already then, what the hell, might as well just go for it. Casey wasn't a coward. So she hailed a cab, gave the driver an address and was now doing something that she long ago learned to not be reliable: hope for the best.
"Alright," Danny said to the group that was gathered around the smart table. "Kono, go talk to the victim's sister. See if you can find anything about him. If he had any enemies, anyone that would want to harm him, if he was involved with something illegal. Anything. Chin, check with HPD if they had any luck with that deposit. I'll call Steve and tell him to head to Pearl. See if anyone can help with anything."
They all nodded and muttered a unison "got it" as they headed to do what Danny had delegated, as Steve had been subpoenaed to give his testimony on a case that they were involved in.
Their new case involved the Navy — a Lieutenant that was currently on Reserve was murdered — so it was only wise that Steve was the one to try any communication with the Naval Base. Normally that would be NCIS's jurisdiction, but since the victim in case was a friend of Steve's, he and his team were allowed in.
Danny had just ended the phone call, telling Steve to visit his former work place when he noticed someone had just entered the HQ. He walked out of his office to meet the young woman in the middle of the war room.
"Excuse me, miss." Danny said, trying to attract the woman's attention. She stopped looking around and her green eyes met his blue ones. "Can I help you?"
She hesitated for a while when he asked her that question but she was able to work on that fairly quickly — not without scolding herself mentally for still being nervous.
"Hi. I sure hope so," she said after a brief moment. "Uh- My name is Casey and I am looking for my sister... I was told she works here..."
Danny didn't respond immediately. He didn't exactly mean to study the woman in front of him — Casey — but that's exactly what he did. She seemed to be in her early twenties, had this curly long blonde hair, green eyes and very fair skin. He also couldn't miss the British accent; it wasn't anything heavy like Rachel's but it was most definitely there.
At first, when she said she was looking for her sister, Danny thought that she was looking for a missing person, but when she said that the sister she was looking for worked there, he felt a bit bad for the girl. Especially because shestill had her luggage with her, clearly showing she did not live there.
"Uh— It's Casey, right?" She nodded. "Look... I'm very sorry you had to come here," he said sincerely. "But your sister doesn't work with us anymore."
"Yeah. I'm really sorry," Danny said softly, gesturing with his hands just a little. "But Agent Weston went back to the mainland a couple of months ago... She was—"
Casey shook her head a couple of times before interrupting Danny. "I'm sorry, who?"
"And... Who's Lori Weston?" asked the young woman curiously.
"My sister?" Casey furrowed her eyebrows, but then she smiled. "No. Actually, I have never heard of any Lori Weston. Ever."
Danny frowned lightly. He had assumed Casey was Lori's sister since they were, not exactly alike, but that seemed to be more likely. Then he remembered Jenna Kaye. "Then who...?"
Danny was about to ask who was Casey's sister when the doors opened.
"Hey, Danny, we ha—"
Kono was walking towards the blonde detective but she stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the woman that was talking to him. Her voice also disappeared into thin air, leaving her speechless.
Chin was coming right behind his cousin and he was also pretty shocked when he saw the young woman. Not as much as Kono though. In a couple of seconds, he had recovered his ability to speak and walk.
"Well, hello there, stranger," he said, half amused, half serious, when he approached Danny and Casey.
"Hi, Chin," she muttered an answer and smiled slightly as they hugged.
"It's been a long time, honey girl," he said when they pulled apart. "You look great!"
"Thanks," she replied shyly. "You do too."
Chin smiled at her once more and took a step forward, almost like he was gonna talk to Danny, but he wasn't really. He stood there, watching as Casey's eyes found Kono's.
Danny heard that odd conversation. He looked from Casey to Chin then to Kono. Was that... No. Was it?
"How do you know her?" Danny asked Chin quietly, but he didn't need to wait for him to answer.
Casey took a couple of steps towards Kono, but she stopped before invading the Asian's personal space.
"Casey..." Kono's voice was just a whisper, and it showed how surprised she still was.