The next morning Gibbs and Serena were waiting to hear flight being called.
"Usako!" she heard Mamoru call her.
She looked up and saw him standing there, "Mamo-chan!" the she looked at Gibbs, "Daddy is it okay if we just take a moment?"
Gibbs nodded in permission, he then watched as Mamoru put his arm around her and stepped just a few feet away.
"Anata to hanarete sabishiku narimasu," Serena said. "Watashitachiha kono yōna mama ni suru hitsuyō wa arimasendeshita nozomimasu"
Watashi wa anata ni amarini mo ketsujō shimasu," Mamoru replied as he stroked the promise ring on her finger. 'Kankei naku, anata wa arimasen doko ka watashitachiha hanarete watashi no kokoro wa itsumo anata ni dono kurai ni zokushimasu sa rete imasu."
Finally Gibbs heard their flight being called, "Serena!" he called her back.
Serena looked to him and nodded then quickly looked to Mamoru again and kissed him passionately on the mouth. "Watashi wa, Mamo-chan ga anata o aishite."
"Watashi wa, Usako o anata o aishite," Mamoru said before letting her go.
As Gibbs led her towards the plane he looked seriously annoyed, he was not ready to see his daughter be so affectionate with a guy and he couldn't help but be a little less sorry he was putting a globe between them.
On the plane Gibbs observed Serena as she quietly looked out the window. They had only been in the air a few hours but looking at her she looked completely exhausted, it was obvious that the past few days had taken a toll on her. When he saw her fighting to stay awake he reach over and squeezed her hand. Serena jumped a bit then turned and looked at Gibbs.
"Hey, we still have a long flight, you might as well sleep for awhile," Gibbs said.
Serena nodded her head then she lifted the arm rest between them, she scooted herself a little closer to him she leaned over and rested her head on his shoulder. While she was sleeping Gibbs studied her again. She had changed so much since he last saw her, but that was to be expected when he hadn't seen her in two years. Why the hell he agreed to let her stay in Japan the last two summers he'll never know. He could still hear the plea in her voice as she begged him to let her stay, she wanted to spend the summer with her friends. He could still feel the hurt and the extreme disappointment when she didn't want to come to visit. He wasn't the only one disappointed his entire team had come to look forward to having Serena for the summer. Abby in particular had come to love Serena like a kid sister, and she couldn't quite keep the tears from rolling down when Gibbs told her Serena wouldn't be coming.
Gibbs was pulled out of his thoughts as Serena shifted slightly. It was at this time that Gibbs noticed the broach that Serena was wearing, he wondered what made it so special to her. To him it looked like a peace of costume jewelry, but he noticed in the last two days if she wasn't wearing it she had it tucked in her pocket. She even took it to bed with her as it rested next to her pillow.
Serena stirred again her face twisted and her eyebrows scrunched together. Then suddenly Serena's breathing heavily and she clung to Gibbs' arm.
"Hey, hey Serena, wake up," Gibbs shook her to wake her from the nightmare she was having.
Finally Serena bolted straight up in her seat. As she looked all around trying to remember where she was at and regain her composer she involuntarily clutched her broach.
Gibbs reached out to pull her close, "Serena, are you okay?"
She looked at him still trying to calm herself, "Yeah, yeah I'm fine," she said.
Gibbs couldn't help but notice that she still had a white knuckle grip on her broach, which only served to fuel more questions in his head.
"You want to tell me what it was about," Gibbs asked hoping she would confide in him.
"It's nothing," she said, "just a bad dream about snakes, I hate snakes."
Gibbs could tell she was still holding back from him. This frustrated Gibbs, what happened to the little girl that used to tell him everything? The one that would call him several times a week just to tell him what was on her mind. Whatever it was she was guarding must be something huge to cause such a change. As he looked at her now, gone were those ever cheerful sparkling blue eyes of her. Now when he looked at them he saw fear, pain and grief. Now more then ever he was determined to get to the bottom of things.
After along flight Gibbs and Serena finally arrived at home. Gibbs helped Serena take her bags to her room, Luna did have to spend the night in quarantine but Gibbs promised her he'd work on having her home by tomorrow. As they placed the bags on the floor Gibbs looked at Serena, "You tired?" he asked.
"It's been a very long day but I think I'm to wound up to sleep," she said, " How about dinner first?"
"Only if you help," he smiled at her.
"Are you sure you want my help, my cooking skills haven't improved much," she laughed.
"Oh I'm certain we can find something for you to do," he assured her.
They went down to the kitchen and they worked together to make dinner. While they were working there seemed to be an invisible wall between them Serena was polite and smiled when Gibbs talk to her but he could tell that her mind was still back in Tokyo.
Serena set the table and they both sat down together. "So tell me about your friends," Gibbs asked. "How did you meet and how you get to be so close?"
"Wait one moment I'll be right back," Serena ran upstairs quickly, in a few moments she came back with the scrapbook her friends had given her. She placed it in front of Gibbs and opened it. "Okay, here we go, first we have my friend Ami Mizuno." Serena pointed a studious looking young lady in a perfectly pressed school uniform and a pile of books in arms, "She's a class mate of mine, not only does she have the highest GPA in our school, she reads anything she can get her hands on, she writes poetry and music, she's a computer genius, and her greatest dream is to become a doctor. Best of all with all her accomplishments she remains humble and kind towards everyone."
Sounds like she'd get along with Abby," Gibbs said with a grin.
Serena agreed whole heartedly, "Absolutely, though she actually reminds me of Tim more then Abby. I debt Ducky would love her too."
"This is Minako Aino another classmate of mine," Serena pointed to a bubbly looking blond with a big red bow in her hair. "She my favorite mall trolling, video gaming companion."
"Then there is Makoto Kino," she pointed to a tall brunette. "When I first met her she had a bit of a bad reputation for fighting I actually became friends with her because I was the only one in school who wasn't afraid of her. She's settled down a lot but she's still a very talented marital artist, plus she is the best cook I've ever met."
"Now this is Rei Hino," Serena pointed to a girl with long black hair, and was wearing a temple robe, "I first met her at her grandfather's temple. When we first met we actually did not get along very well, but now is one of my most trusted friends. She's a priestess at the temple, plus she has many musical and artistic talents.
Serena flipped through the pages until she found the photo she was looking for. "Now these four ladies really add class to the group This is Haruka Tenoh I met her and her partner Michelle Kaioh at the video arcade. Haruka is a race car driver on the Asian and European circuits. When she's around she takes it upon herself to be my own personal body guard. Michiru is a talented artist and violinist she's almost always on tour with her orchestra. That is Seteuna Meioh she's a REAL good friend of the family. Finally that is Hotaru Tomoe she is the foster child of Seteuna , Haruka , and Michiru."
Gibbs looked and listened as Serena told him about her friends, he was amazed by just how much she seemed to love them. Like each one of them was a best friend. Gibbs casually flipped through the scrapbook until he saw a photo that caught his eye it was a picture of Serena standing next to the same young man he met the other day he had his arm around her shoulder and Serena was leaning into him while they smiled at the camera.
"Tell me about this young man?" Gibbs asked. He couldn't help but smile when Serena's cheeks turned and she stared at the floor.
"Mamo-chan," Serena whispered as her face lit up. "I met Mamo-chan about two years ago, when we first met I actually hated him. Every time we saw each other we would fling insults at each other. But as I got to know him more I came to realize that all the insults were to mask his true feelings. When Mamo-chan was four years old he was orphaned in a car accident, suffering from amnesia he grew up in an orphanage where he had very few friend. So to save himself he built up a wall around himself and he would push away anyone who would try to get close. Once I found out what his problem was I sunk my heals in to the ground to try to prove that there were people in this world who did care about him. Now I love him more than life itself I would do anything to keep him safe.
Gibbs felt a slight twinge of guilt and a little bit of sympathy for the for the young man he remembered the tone in Mamoru's voice when he talked about his feelings for Serena.
Serena put the scrapbook away, then she and Gibbs finished diner. She was helping him with dishes when Serena spoke up again. "Daddy?" she asked, "Now that I'm here what's the plan for me now?"
"Well Serena, you and I seem to have a trust issue, you were keeping secrets from me in Japan and you still are. So until we rebuild the trust between us you are going to be on a very tight schedule. Now I have already talked to Director Vance and until you start school next week you will be coming with me to NCIS. While you are there you'll have a little job with the supply department, basically if anyone in the building needs office supplies you're going to get them what they need. When school does start you will ride the bus to school and after school you will take the bus to NCIS where you will go to Abby's lab and find a quiet place to do your homework until I come take you home. On nights I work late Abby has already agreed to come and stay with you here.
Serena couldn't help but let out big sigh, so she was still grounded, was anyone ever going to appreciate the sacrifices she had to make. She knew that there was no point in arguing with her father. Once he made a decision it might as well be set in stone. Serena sadly nodded her head in agreement.
Gibbs turned and looked at the clock, "Well young lady it's starting to get late and we do have to go to work tomorrow so you better get to bed."
Serena turned to head to her room, but she turned back and put her arms around his neck, "Daddy, I know I haven't told you everything, and I know how much that bothers you. Please try to understand my secret has nothing to do with me not trusting you. It's simply a matter of burden and responsibility it's mine to bare and no one, not even you can help me carry it.," she said sadly, "I promise I will do whatever you require of me, I love you."
Gibbs held her close for a moment, what burden could she be baring that she felt she had to do it on her own, "I love you too," he said has he kissed the top of her head. "Come on now, off to bed."
Translation 1: I will miss you, I wish we didn't have to leave this way
Translation 2: I will miss you too, no matter where you are or how long we are apart my heart will always belong to you
Translation 3: I love you, Mamo-chan
Translation 4: I love you, Usako