Gibbs was habitually an early riser, a lifetime of service in the military and law enforcement had taught him to wake early and instantly without the need for an alarm. This was especially true today. He found himself lying awake even earlier than normal, humming with a kind of excited anticipation that made him feel like a youngster again.

Today was a very special day.

He glanced over at his closet, where his Marine dress blues hung, pressed and polished to their original shine. Today, he would don it again for the first time in a great many years. And for the first time in even longer, he would not be wearing the uniform as an undercover NCIS agent. Today, he was simply Gunny Gibbs again, attending a commissioning ceremony, much like dozens of others he'd attended in his career.

But this one was special.

In a few hours, Midshipman Leigh McGee would graduate from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and be commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. At which point, as a commissioned officer, as she had told him gleefully many times, she would outrank him, a mere NCO. His usual response was to growl that he was still her godfather, and to remind her sternly never to forget the value of her NCOs.

But truth be told, he didn't think he'd ever been more proud to be outranked in his life.