"I didn't get up here today to tell you how hard his life has been. Although that explains how he's won the Meritorious Civilian Service Award so many times.
"So, now some good stuff.
"Besides being the most kickass NCIS agent the world will probably ever see, Gibbs has shown that he can not only rough the criminals up and whip us into shape, he can also be a kind and caring father figure for all of us. Except Abby, obviously, because his feelings for her are anything but fatherly.
"A few years ago, we caught a man who is now known as the Cyber-Vid Killer. When we found the live video surveillance of Abby's lab, Gibbs went into superman mode. Which makes sense, one of his people was in trouble. But, even after we caught the bastard and the case was closed, Gibbs took everyone's favorite goth scientist home with him.
"It was supposed to be only until she felt comfortable and safe at her apartment by herself. Apparently, in the time it took for her to go back home, they finally admitted the feelings we had seen develop between the two since they met."
The crowd in front of me laughed and I saw Abby subconsciously twist her wedding ring on her finger as she dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.
"They actually got married about a year and a half ago and we all got to see Abby become the fifth and final Mrs. Gibbs.
"And about six months ago, we added a new member to team Gibbs. And he fit in right away. But that's probably because his parents are the two most important members of it.
"Little DJ – short for Donald Jackson – has been a constant observer at NCIS since Abby was cleared to come back to work. All of us loved him and he was the reason his father began being so nice to all of us.
"Gibbs actually left on time whenever he could, rather than staying until two or three in the morning. We thought it was very weird the first couple times it happened."
The audience laughed again and I had to blink away a few tears before I finished my speech and let someone else come up and speak.
"I never thought I would see this day. The day when I wouldn't get to see Gibbs every day at work or get headslapped for doing something stupid but that day has come. Gibbs is gone from NCIS yet again, only this time, he won't be coming back. I am permanent team leader. Only this time, I won't have to be told to stop acting like Gibbs.
"Because, like I said at the beginning, no one can ever come close to the very special Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Although I can't call him that now because he's not a special agent anymore. He's now NCIS Special Agent retired Leroy Jethro Gibbs."
I raised the glass that I had brought with me up to the podium.
"I love you, man, and I'll miss working with you. I would say see you but I know that you'll visit often to check up on us."
I stepped away from the microphone as the audience clapped but I turned back to stay something else.
"And to keep us from snooping around your basement tryin' to figure out how you get the boat out whenever we come to visit you, Abs, and DJ."
The clapping and laughing resumed as I stepped away from the microphone and headed back to my seat next to Abby and DJ. Gibbs met me right before I sat down. He held out his hand and then pulled me into a hug as I went to shake it.
"Thanks, DiNozzo," he whispered in my ear.
And then he did something I had predicted in my speech. He headslapped me.
I laughed. "You know, you could be arrested for assaulting a federal agent, right?"
He smirked. "Yeah, I know."
I pulled him into another hug.
"I'm gonna miss you, boss."