Chapter 343: Retired
On Friday Gibbs was…
He doesn't know.
Resigned is probably the best word for it.
All day people have been stopping by his desk to pat him on the back, wish him fair wind and following seas and tell him how much they're going to miss him, and... It's not really touching him, beyond feeling fairly proud of himself for not snapping at them or rolling his eyes, or storming off and hiding in the elevator all day.
He's got his stuff boxed up and is trying to not think too hard about NSA girl sitting at his desk, using his stuff, working on his team, doing his fucking JOB.
He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, lets it out, and goes to get another cup of coffee (number six of the day, and it's only 10:37.)
After lunch, he heads down to HR. The slow route, which means taking the stairs and visiting the whole damn building.
So much history here. So much of his life is bound to this building, woven through the bricks, flowing through the air.
The HR lady is nattering away about how wonderful retirement must be, and how many plans she's got for when she goes, but he's not listening as he gives her his ID and begins to fill out the mound of release forms.
He's seeing Tony stepping out of interrogation, joking with Ziva, Tim sitting at his desk working on something, Abby dancing in the lab, Duck and Jimmy leaning over one of the tables talking in the morgue. He's in Vance's, Jen's, Morrow's office, talking with them about… whatever.
He's smelling the coffee that goes with those moments, feeling the purpose of knowing what he was doing and why he was doing it.
Nothing lasts forever, Probie. Mike's leaning against the desk he's sitting at, watching him fill out the forms. You had a good long run, and now it's time for something new.
I know, Mike.
Knowing doesn't mean liking.
Mike laughs. Don't I know that!
"Hold down the fort. If the batphone rings," Tim jerks his finger toward his phone on his desk, "give me a call, okay?"
She nods. "If someone needs you?"
"You've all got my cell number. I'll be taking texts."
"Where are you going?"
"Upstairs, probably be an hour or so."
"Nah. Just offering some moral support."
She looks at him curiously, and he smiles. "Text if you need me."
Tim timed it right. He gets out of the elevator just as Gibbs is getting ready to step in.
"Here for Leon?"
"No." He steps back into the elevator with Gibbs. "Here for you. How'd it go?" Gibbs shakes his head. Tim pulls him into a hug. "Yeah, I know."
Several moments later, he pulls back. "Now what?"
Gibbs rolls his eyes, wipes them off, and looks at the ceiling. "Grab my boxes and go."
"Want a hand?"
"Nah. Tony and Ziva'll have that. They're waiting for me to get down and 'help me to my car.'" Gibbs knows that's code for get out of the building so they can cry a bit with him, too.
"Then I'll see you at the diner, later." Tim says, nodding, blinking, hard.
"Yeah." Gibbs takes a deep breath, and lets it out slowly. As of 16:30, Leroy Jethro Gibbs is no longer a NCIS Agent.
It's a bizarre party. Usually parties are to celebrate something, and this… There are people celebrating. And it is fun to get everyone together. But the guest of honor is basically going through the motions.
New plan or not, he's not relishing giving up being a cop, and plastering a smile on his face about it is proving even harder than giving up his badge and gun two hours ago.
But, you retire, after twenty plus years, and everyone you've ever worked for or with wants a chance to suck down some free drinks, say a few vaguely true but complimentary words, and pat you on the back before putting you out to pasture.
So, he's there, at the diner, half-sitting on one of the stools, greeting people as they come in and out.
Apparently, Tony and Ziva did a great job of making sure everyone in the entire universe knew he was going. Even Tom Morrow's dropped by to pat him on the back, commiserate on the whole retirement thing (he gave it up last year), and wish him luck. Jarvis has been by, joking about how he's going to have to actually start showing up for those distinguished service medal ceremonies, because the guy who wins them now'll also probably show up to collect them.
Borin's been in. Only for a minute, she got a call before she even got the drink to her lips, but she promised to make sure they got together, soon. He's actually pretty interested in seeing her for more than a minute. Still no ring on her finger. And she did kiss his cheek on the way out.
Burley flew in from Pearl. Cassius Pride, who he hasn't seen in at least a decade, is here from New Orleans. Callen's here, telling stories of Russia. Those three are getting along great, and he's made sure that he'll get a shot to spend some more time with them later. (The idea of the post-party party is actually cheering him up a bit.)
Fornell and Diane have both dropped in. (Not at the same time.) Leyla and Amira. Slater cousins, whose names he doesn't remember, are here to wish him well. (Along with Ed and Jeanie.) The whole extended family is here.
Leon, Lara, and the kids are here. And at some point, Vance'll make some sort of dryly amusing speech about how Jethro's been a pain in his ass for a decade now.
Rachel stops by for half an hour or so. He's not sure if she's watching to see how he handles it, or is offering support to get through it. Either way, and even with not seeing her anymore, he finds it comforting. She smiles and nods at him as she leaves, and he can feel the, 'You're going to be fine' she's thinking at him. He smiles back; he will. Just, not today, and probably not tomorrow or the next day.
Emily, Kyla, and Amira are in the booth in the corner, giggling with each other, eyeballing James, Elaine's youngest son, who's tending bar for this. Amira's really too young for that, but she idolizes Emily, has for years, so she glommed onto her as soon as she got in. Vance's son is glued to his phone, texting rapidly, visible 'why did you drag me to this' rays vibrating off of him.
The food and booze are good. Vance's speech is mercifully short (and genuinely funny).
In only four excruciatingly long hour, the send-off is done.
And Leroy Jethro Gibbs is officially, retired.