Boats were his expertise. Simple household furniture in between wives…projects. And once, just once, he offered to build a coffin bed with Abby.
A real coffin for his long-time friend and mentor. That's what he'd been asked to build all those months ago, then carry a few days ago. He'd been clinical in the construction but seeing his friend actually inside the ornate box had been heartbreaking.
Carrying it alongside those five Marines nearly made him lose his composure. But he didn't. Amira and Leyla needed him to be strong. As did his team.
He watched with a heavy heart as the emblem he'd worn for years was lowered into the ground and disappeared from view. The tearless goodbye he'd said in autopsy wouldn't suffice. But the tearful one he kept conjuring in his mind wouldn't do either.
Mike would have his ass if he knew his "probie" was even thinking of tearing up over him, even if his death was sooner than expected. Gibbs smiled sadly at the slowly disappearing coffin before turning his eyes toward the sky. He wasn't sure what he was looking for, or if he'd ever find it.
The folded flag was placed in his hands but he didn't feel the weight or hear what the Marine who'd handed it to him murmured. He just moved to Amira and handed it to her.
After the service, he let the others go ahead of him. Then, with no one watching, he stood at a firm attention and saluted.
He may have been out of the Corps for several years, and a civilian now, but he knew to always salute a superior officer.
He gave a brief nod and smiled to himself. That'll do.