Rite of Passage

Summary: Tim and Abby's daughter Leigh is home on leave and marks an unexpected milestone. Set in the Future Perfect universe.

Disclaimer: Katie and Leigh are mine; the rest belong to other people.

A/N: This is set in the Future Perfect universe, which features the twin daughters of Tim and Abby. This takes place the autumn after Leigh's graduation from the Naval Academy and commissioning as an officer. It follows draggon-flye's fic Silver Dollar Salute.

Leigh watched as Gibbs hauled the turkey out of the oven and stabbed a thermometer into it to check that it was done. It wasn't actually Thanksgiving, but she had a three-day leave now, and it was close enough that they'd decided to have the full traditional meal while she could get home. Katie, whose grad school lifestyle was more flexible than her naval officer sister's duty schedule, had been happy to go along, and had joked about them celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving this year. It wasn't that early, but they did have to make do with the canned cranberry sauce because fresh berries weren't available yet in any of the local markets.

Satisfied that the bird was done, Gibbs moved it onto a platter. He glanced around the kitchen, taking in Tim's efficient final touches on the salad and Abby, roux in hand, descending on the roasting pan with the clear intention of making gravy from the drippings. Katie was still laying the table in the dining-room next door. Only Leigh wasn't doing anything at the moment, and he told her to mash the potatoes, the words sounding more like an order than a request.

She took two steps towards the drawer where he kept his kitchen gadgets, then suddenly stopped, crossing her arms in front of her chest and grinning at him.

'You know, I outrank you, Gunny,' she told him mischievously.

She'd taken her first salute from Gibbs after her commissioning ceremony, and had seen more than just pride in his eyes as she stood before him in her dress uniform, her ensign's bars newly pinned to her collar. She'd always felt a special connection with the man after whom she was named, and knew that he was proud of her decision to follow his example and pursue a military career. But, returning his salute, she'd realised that the bond between them had subtly shifted; they now shared a duty as well.

And this man, whom she'd grown up calling 'Uncle', who had been as much an authority figure as her parents, who had taken her over his knee more than once, was saluting her, acknowledging her authority over him. She'd known that command came with responsibility, but she'd never really felt it until that moment. And the idea that, if somehow by some surreal turn of events they found themselves in a combat situation together, she'd be the one giving the orders, had shaken her to the core.

But now she was finally enough at ease with the idea of actually being an officer to be able to joke about it.

So, leaving the 'you can't tell me what to do anymore' unsaid, she giggled, spun on her heel, and headed towards the dining-room.

A moment later, she felt a sharp impact on the back of her head.

She yelped and turned around quickly.

'Smartass,' Gibbs said with a laugh, tousling her hair as he deposited the potato masher in her hands.