AN: Last chapter everyone. Thank you for your reviews. And for one of the first times in all my writing, I actually cried when writing it. So enjoy. And look out for the meaning behind the Title, which hasn't been explained until now. Thank you again!
"Guess I'm not the only one who's changed over the years." Gibbs offered as he poured himself a drink.
"And what's that supposed to mean?"
"Apologize pops? Come on, since the day I could talk that wasn't an option."
He tried to smile. "With age comes wisdom."
"You were old then."
"I'm older now…and it's always come with a qualification. It's not weakness between friends."
Gibbs nodded and sipped his drink. "I don't think a simple apology will have them welcome me with open arms. They think I abandoned 'em."
"You welcomed me."
"That's different. You're a parent…"
"From the look in your eyes…I can see it pains you that you hurt them. You were distraught, I think even they would be understanding of that."
"Like you were?"
He nodded. "I deserve that."
Gibbs set down his glass and examined his Father. "I left the marines so I could catch the bastard who took away my baby girl…my family…why couldn't you understand that?"
"You could've taken leave…"
"Leaving was what kept me from them in the first place…I needed a change."
"Some change…working for the Navy? Come on LJ, if you would've stayed you'd be at least a Major…highly decorated."
"That stuff never meant anything to me, you know that."
He nodded and managed a smile. "I know son…I apologize for trying to live vicariously through you…I suppose when you left the marines a part of my dreams for you left too, and I had a hard time with it…"
Gibbs gave him a look as if he understood. "I missed you…I missed Mom."
"I missed you too son…and your Mother, well she adored you….sat by the phone every Friday night waiting for your phone calls."
Gibbs smiled. "Yeah, I miss hearing her voice."
"Me too." He reached for his glass and held it up. "To your mother."
Gibbs lifted his glass to meet his Fathers. "To Mom."
Harry swallowed hard and lifted his glass once more. "To Abby."
Gibbs shut his eyes and fought back tears as he lifted his glass slowly. "Miss you Abs."
"What do you think he'll be like?" McGee asked as they entered the elevator.
Tony shrugged. "If he's anything like Gibbs, I'm gonna need a helmet."
"Not every son is like his Father…" Ziva added with a tone that both of them quickly picked up on.
"What'd Ducky say when you called him?" Tim tried to ease the tension of Ziva's comment by changing the subject.
"He said he had other plans."
"Sure he did." Tim replied pouting slightly.
"Yeah, he was pretty adamant on not coming…so I didn't press it."
"You didn't press it? I find that hard to believe." Ziva commented with a half hearted smile.
"I was taught to respect my elders David…and he's about the oldest elder I know."
"So LJ tells me you snuck in through his basement window…"
Tony didn't expect that to be the first phrase he would hear when he came through the door, but then again he wasn't sure what to expect at all. "Uh, no sir…well yes sir…but he left me no choice sir."
Harry couldn't help but smile. "He also told you me you were gonna call me sir…"
"I don't have to…I'll call you whatever you'd like sir…Mister Gibbs…Gibbs Senior…Almighty one."
He stifled a laugh. "Just call me Harry."
Tim and Ziva could do nothing but roll their eyes as the conversation unfolded in front of them. "Timothy McGee…pleased to meet you."
Harry took his hand and smiled at Ziva as she extended hers. He lifted it up his lips and gently kissed it. "And you must be the one woman on earth that my Jethro is afraid of?"
She blushed slightly. "I'm sure that is far from true Mr. Gibbs."
"Harry." Tony corrected with a slight smile. "Where's the boss?"
"If by boss, you mean my son…he's in the dining room, setting the dinner table."
All three of them never thought they'd live to see the day when Gibbs would be setting up the dinner table. They almost stumbled over each other to see it.
"Well, don't just stand there; get me those napkins will ya?" Gibbs motioned towards the group and watched as each reached for them simultaneously. Tony ultimately retrieved them.
"Here you go boss." As he handed them to him, Gibbs and he shared an odd moment.
"Thanks DiNozzo. Could always count on you to come through for me."
Even if it was just napkins, Tony got the underlying message. "Thanks boss…glad to help."
The team quickly took their seats, and though it was awkward at first; they allowed Gibbs to wait on them.
"He looks better." Tim whispered to Ziva who was smiling across the table at Tony.
"Thanks McGee…feel better too." Gibbs responded as he slipped in behind him and topped off his glass of wine.
Tim's face turned a little red and he smiled. "That's great boss."
Ziva reached for her glass. "So Harry, how do you like DC?"
He shrugged. "Well, for one thing the women are gorgeous…" he stopped mid sentence as he received an elbow from the man sitting next to him. "What I say?"
"I have to agree with you there Harry…" Tony responded with a smile. And though he may have been far enough from Gibbs to avoid an elbow, his stare was scary enough to shut him up. "But never mind that…what's for dinner?"
"Ah Italian." Tony rubbed his hands together and smiled. "You make it boss?"
"It was Abby's favorite…" the room suddenly quieted and their smiles softened a bit. "We used to go out every night before her birthday to this little Italian place on Sixth Avenue…it was kind of a tradition…" He got up and began to set the pasta on their plates. "She loved it."
After the food was settled on their plates, Tony received a quick head slap as he lifted his fork. "DiNozzo…forgetting something?"
He scratched his head and watched as Gibbs was eyeing him with his hands folded. Eventually he got the hint, closing his eyes and bowing his head. When Harry was done he motioned that it was okay to begin eating and watched the smiles return back on their faces.
"Remember when Abby got that new tattoo on her finger Probie? And you thought she'd just drawn it on with a permanent marker?"
Tim laughed slightly. "Yeah…that was the same week she dragged me to a Black Death concert…I think my ear drums are still suffering adverse effects…"
"You should've worn ear plugs McGee…"
Gibbs chimed in. "I sure as hell did."
They all shared a laugh when Harry broke in. "I'd imagine she would've loved to be here tonight."
No one responded but only smiled and nodded. And each of them knew in an odd sort of a way; Abby was smiling right along with them.
Just as dessert was being served; Gibbs stood up to answer a knock at the door. When he opened it, he wasn't sure how to react and watched as Ducky managed a smile.
"I hope I didn't miss the Baked Alaska…"
Gibbs tried to smile and examined the box in his friend's hand. "What's that? A housewarming gift?"
"It was something Abigail left behind…I thought she would've liked us to share it together."
Gibbs nodded and stepped aside, slowly closing the door behind him. Everyone sitting at the table stood up when he walked in and greeted him. Harry was last. "You're the man so dear to my son's heart?"
Ducky looked over at Gibbs then back at his Father. "I'd imagine saying that very thing to you actually." After a few moments, Ducky brought out the box and opened it slowly. He took out a pile of photographs and held one up.
"This was taken the first Halloween at NCIS…she insisted I dress as King Henry the Eighth…and she as one of my wives…it was quite memorable." He handed another to McGee who stared at it for a few moments before sniffling a bit.
"She loved that dog…" he stopped to laugh. "Now every time I go home, I remember her…" He shed a lone tear and Ziva gently placed a hand on his shoulder as Ducky handed another to Tony.
He smiled instantly. "Ah man, I remember this night…it was that Brandon case…remember that boss? I slept at the office for a week straight…and every morning she'd be ready with a donut and coffee…God I miss her."
Ducky then handed another to Ziva. "Oh my…she swore to me that she tore this up." She tried to smile. "She always tried convincing me to get a tattoo, but I refused…so one night she penned a rose onto my hip…said it reminded her of Kate…" She took in a long breath. "To be honest, it didn't look that bad."
Gibbs got up and stood by his friend as he handed him the final photo. His eyes became misty as he almost burned a hole into it with his stare. They all watched as their fearless leader shed the first tear they'd ever seen him shed…It rolled onto the photo and he quickly reached for a napkin to wipe it clean. "She came over to work on my last boat…well she got a hold of the paint and brushes and before you knew it we were both covered from head to toe…that was the first and last time she was ever allowed to touch my boat…" He tried to laugh but only managed a straight face as he placed the picture in his back pocket. "Thanks for brining these by Duck…you were right…she would've loved it…"
Harry then stood up and motioned towards the living room. "I brought along some home videos of LJ as a boy…anyone interested?" He watched as his son's team looked over at him for permission before leaving the kitchen and was proud to see the loyalty they had for him. After getting the okay, they raced into the living room; leaving Ducky and Gibbs behind.
"Ready to see me embarrassed Duck?"
He reached down into his bag and pulled out an invisible object; then put it on top of Gibbs head.
"Anthony and the others helped me put it back together…we thought you might be needing it."
Gibbs looked up at the invisible halo and threw his arm around his friend. "That's not all I'm gonna need Duck…but we're gonna be okay…"
"That we are Jethro…that we are."