To a friend I never really knew:

Why didn't I try to know you? Why couldn't I see you as the person you are and not the one that I perceived you to be? Why did I profile you as someone not worthy of me? My parents taught me better than that, and yet, I still looked at you as a young probie who couldn't measure up to me. Was I really that biased? Yes I was and I can't figure out why.

I watch you now, I see the growth, I see the hard work you've done over the past few years and I can't do anything to show you how exceptionally proud I am of you. I always thought of you as an outsider, trying to waltz your way into our circle or our triangle: me, Tony, Gibbs. You were just a computer geek or so I thought.

When you wrote that letter to Erin Kendall's parents, that was the first time in ages that I remembered what it was like to feel humble. YOU made me feel humble and I couldn't handle that feeling. Me, the one with three older brothers and a Catholic upbringing and you brought me to my knees with a simple letter.

I had after all been Secret Service and protected the President, in my eyes you didn't deserve to be one of the boys so to speak. You had no specialized training, you hadn't ever been in the military or even worked as a law enforcement officer.

Ari, he couldn't shoot you but he killed me. I was angry about that for a long time and then I realized that maybe he couldn't shoot you. That maybe he needed you to live and to be a positive influence for someone else. When Ziva came I knew why he let you live. You need to be there. You need to be her rock when all Hell breaks loose.

More than that, you need to be there for Tony and Gibbs as well. You need to be Tony's little brother, the one that he needs to pick on if only to reassure himself that he's not alone in this world. That he does have someone watching his back aside from Gibbs.

Gibbs needs you to be there too. He needs the steadfast person that you are. The person that sighs when Tony plays his pranks, that can type a report with one hand and hug Abby with another. He needs that younger agent to depend on when it seems nothing is going right but a computer search proves everyone wrong.

Over the years, you've persevered and become someone that if I had lived, I want to say I would have been proud to acknowledge you as a partner and as a friend.

Forgive me for being too proud to acknowledge you as the man you were then. If I had known then, what I know now, would I have tried harder to be more of a friend, more of a partner? I want to say yes, but I can't guarantee that. Knowing what I actually do know now, I might have edged further away, away from that smile, that gentle man, that friend.

But for now, while I can only stay on the outside and look in, I can watch you grow into a fine young agent, gentleman and friend and I hope that one day, we'll meet again.

The End