Disclaimer: I do not any percentage of CBS, NCIS, the NCIS characters (unless I've made them up), and so on and so forth...

Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo stared down at his dull, black tie. It wasn't anything special really--not Gucci, Dolce Gabanna--nothing but a bland old tie that had been long forgotten since they buried Paula Cassidy. The piece of clothing clung loosely to his white dress shirt, and he couldn't help but stare at it with as much awe as catching a koala on a submarine.

The sky was grey and threatening; the worst possible day to be outside in a dark suit. A drip of water his his cheek, sliding down to the edge of his chin, and he let it dangle there, not bothering to wipe it off or to even run for cover.

"Tony?" Ziva placed her hand on her partner's shoulder, bringing him back into the current reality.

"I'm fine," he muttered, keeping his eyes down. "Just...gimme...a minute, okay?"

Ziva moved closer to him, sliding her hand down his arm until it grasped his hand. "Tony."

Another drip of water hit his cheek, followed by a few more as his eyes swelled up with a puddle of tears. He leaned closer to Ziva. "I-I-can't dothis, Ziva. I can't." He turned to leave, but another hand grabbed his shoulder. It was Abby.

"Tony, don't go," the forensic scientist pleaded. She and Ziva gently pulled him back to the center of everyone's attention. "You have to say something."

"I have nothing I can say," Tony murmured. "Nothing."

Ziva leaned in even closer until her mouth was next to his ear. "He wouldn't care what you say, Tony. You're here, and that's what matters. In his memory, say something, please. Everyone's waiting."

Tony brought his head up, glancing around at the congregation of black-dressed figures circling the polished casket in the center. He saw McGee step up to hold Abby's hand, to let her cry on his shoulder. Ziva stayed between them and him, watching him sadly. Everyone was there; Vance, the SecNav, Jackson Gibbs, Ducky, Palmer, Keating, some suspicious-looking redheads who Tony suspected to be some ex-wives, and a handful of other agents, including Callen, Sam Hanna, Kensi, and the rest of the OSP clan.

And all of those people, with teary eyes, were gazing back at him, waiting. No one envied his job. No one could picture themselves being there in the first place. This wasn't supposed to happen. None of it. And what was worse: no one knew the truth of that day. Everyone stood around the wooden casket, unaware that the reason they were all meeting was because of Tony. Not even Ziva, Ducky, McGee, Palmer, or Abby knew.

"I left Baltimore PD quite a while ago," he began. "It just didn't feel right, the things we did over there. I wanted something more, something far more challenging and something that would make me wake up in the morning and be overjoyed to go to work. I moved to DC, looking for that job. And one day, something magnificent happened to me: I got into a car accident."

Everyone gave Tony appalling looks, curious to wonder if he had been suicidal back then.

"A mile down the road, a Marine, under the influence of alcohol and drugs, killed a man, fleeing from a blue car that sped in pursuit of it. He was so focused on that car, that he didn't see mine crossing the intersection ahead. We collided, and I blacked out. When I woke up, I was out of my car, and some guy was pointing a gun at me, yelling 'Put down your weapon!'" Tony smiled at the memory. "I was freaking out; a gun pointed at me and for what reason, I didn't know! Then I realized that someone was holding me up; the Marine, and he was holding a gun to my head."

The crowd gasped. Vance looked like he was about to strangle Tony for saying such a speech at the moment.

"I thought the Marine was gonna shoot the officer, and I didn't want that to happen, so I took a risk and made a grab for the gun. I threw wild punches around, hoping to God that I was hitting the Marine and not myself, but I didn't know because I couldn't feel a damn thing."

Everyone waited for Tony to continue.

"And then it was all over. Before I knew it, I was lying on a stretcher, being loaded up into the back of an ambulance. Before the doors shut, the officer jumped in and sat beside me, right next to my head. I thought he was gonna thank me, and brought my hand up to shake his, and then..." Tony laughed, suddenly. "I felt a searing pain on the back of my head. The man had headslapped me."

" 'Don't ever do something stupid like that again, ya here?' " Tony mimicked the voice, eliciting laughter from the congregation. "And then he held out his hand and said, 'Gibbs.' When I looked into his hand, there was a golden badge sitting in his palm." Tony didn't realize that his eyes were still dripping. He had gotten so used to the tears, he couldn't tell the difference anymore. "Leroy Jethro Gibbs gave me that job that I was looking for. He took me under his wing, taught me everything I needed to know about how to be an NCIS field agent. I had years to say something to him--some kind of thank you or something--and I didn't. I missed out on that opportunity, and that'll never happen now. It's too late."

The words sunk in to the crowd, and they all watched as Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo stepped forward, walking towards the casket. He lifted his hand and ran it along the smooth cover of his boss' casket. His eyes cast over his own hand. "Thank you, Boss. Semper fi."