It wasn't often that he was able to enjoy a stroll outdoors. Like most technophiles he spent way too much time interfacing with the Network, his occupation consuming more and more of his time, leaving far too little for personal relaxation. However, recent events had reminded him that there was more to life than the proverbial 1's and 0's, and it was time for him to reconnect with his past, albeit briefly and painfully.
One tradition that had survived the future's march of progress was society's treatment of the dead. Cemeteries still occupied prime real estate, their occupants still revered and the earthly memorials to those occupants still tended.
He stopped in front of the first marker he had come to visit in this particular graveyard. While he had not been completely surprised that the owner of this particular marker had been the first of his team to succumb to the ravages of time, it had still been painful, almost as painful as not being able to be there for the rest of his team when their oldest member had passed on. It was, of course, his own fault. He had broken one of the first rules Gibbs had given him, don't die in public, and had been forced to leave his life behind to start a new one. Such was the curse of Immortals, and he had gone through it more than once already in his relatively short lifetime, but the first time had hurt the most.
He knelt down to read the inscription, a small smile crossing his face as he read the epitaph: This reminds me of a story...
"I miss your stories, Ducky," he whispered, tracing the letters with his finger before rising and continuing on.
His short walk brought him to another marker, considerably newer than the first. It contained headers for two people, husband and wife, but only one had the death date inscribed. His heart ached for the survivor, because he knew what it was like to lose someone so close, but he also knew he couldn't offer her comfort. He was dead here, to all outside his immediate circle of friends.
Again, he crouched down to read the inscription, chuckling softly as he read it: I told you I was sick.
"Oh, Jimmy…" He shook his head at the image of the younger man, a goofy grin on his face as he penned his own memorial. It was sadly fitting, in more ways than one.
He rose to his feet and continued on. Two of his former teammates were not buried here. One had been laid to rest next to his wife and daughter, reunited in death as he had longed to be in life, his tombstone bearing the simple inscription "Semper Fi". The second had been returned to her homeland, and he had not yet been able to make that journey. One day he would, to thank her for all she had done for him before they had been forced to part company.
He entered a section of the cemetery that housed those of Catholic faith and stopped again in front of a plain, flat, black stone sunk into the ground. This epitaph was longer than the rest, but it was the best fit of all.
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
"I wish that was true, Abby. I really do."
Of course it's true, McGee. I'm always right.
He reached up and wiped a stray tear from his face. He could almost hear her reply, see that slightly wicked grin she wore when she was teasing him. Odd, how much he could miss something that had so annoyed him at the time…
Finally he rose and walked to his last stop, the most recent of the graves he had come to visit. He had to admit, he was surprised that this was the last of his team to go, considering the man's propensity for trouble. When he crouched down in front of the stone, he almost laughed out loud. Apparently Tony had been surprised by his own longevity, and had offered an explanation: Only the Good die young.
"You were good, Tony. Despite everything, you were a good friend." He reached out and touched the stone. "I miss you. All of you. I wish things could have been different."
"We all wish that at one time or another, Tim."
He sucked in a breath and looked up at the other Immortal that had joined him. He had sensed that he was being followed, but one advantage of being on Holy Ground was he didn't need to worry about a fight. He had already suspected who it was, anyway.
"I know, Tobias. Still, as Abby would say, 'sucks'."
"What are you doing here?"
"Making my own visits."
"Come on, let's find a more cheerful place to hang out."
"In a minute."
"Fine. I'll meet you at the gate."
After Tobias left, Tim decided that he did have one more stop to make, to the oldest of the graves he would visit: his own. He had never seen it but he knew where it was. He decided it was time to give himself that closure, and to see what epitaph his team had picked for him.
It didn't take too long for him to find it, slightly worn from over forty years of weathering. He crouched down to read the inscription and choked back a soft sob: Memento mori.
Remember your mortality.
The one thing he had feared that he would forget, and his friends had made sure he would be reminded of it. He smiled. They still had his six, and not even death could change that.
"'Bye guys," he whispered as he rose and walked toward the gate… and towards a future much emptier than his past had been.