The old man looked to see from where the voice came. He found himself looking up at a very young, dark haired woman. Attached to her belt a very familiar badge.
"You NCIS?" he asked.
"yes, Sir." the girl replied.
"Then you ought to know I haven't been called that for quite some time."
"I do know that, Sir"
Gibbs looked at her closely. There was something about her, something he couldn't quite put his finger on.
"Have we met before?"
Her voice lowered to a near whisper. "Yes. A long time ago, when you gave me this."
She produced something from a pocket, an object he recognised as the badge of an NCIS Special Agent, of an older design than the one she wore. Yet it was shiny as if new.
"It belonged to my Sister," the girl continued. "You gave it to me the day she died."
Gibbs eyes widened and he suddenly looked every one of his seventy plus years, as painful memories of a night long ago returned.
"You're...you're Amanda Lee."
Shaken, Gibbs steadied himself before saying anything more. It took him long seconds before he could put his feelings into words.
"There's something I've always wanted to say to you. Something I should have told you the first time we met. Something I never thought I'd ever get the chance to say."
"What's that?" asked Amanda, almost fearful of what it might be.
"I wanted to say that I'm sorry I had to kill your Sister."
The young Asian woman just smiled. "I knew that you were sorry, just as I know you still are now." she knelt down by his side. "Just one thing puzzles me though." she asked.
"Oh, and what's that?"
"Your rules are almost as legendary as you are. Isn't one of them about never having to say you're sorry?"
Gibbs returned the smile. "Rules are made to be broken." he replied.
Amanda turned the badge over in her hand. The sunlight catching it, causing it to shine even more brightly.
"You were right that "Michy" would want me to have this. It's what inspired me."
Gibbs nodded. "That's what I'd hoped for. Now maybe something good will come out of what happened all those years ago. But whether it does or not will all be down to you."
"It's a great responsibility," she said "but I know I'm up to it."
"So, how long have you been an Agent?"
"Not long. A couple of months."
"Probie, huh? Still wet behind the ears," Gibbs chuckled. "and all of you getting younger every year".
"In my case, with a lot to prove, as you know."
"The brave little girl, all set to be a brave young woman. Like your Sister was at the end."
"Thank you Sir. I want you to know I won't let you down. Not you, not "Michy" not anyone. You can trust me to do my duty. That's a promise."
Gibbs gently took her young hand in his old one. "I know you will, probie. I know you will."