Ghost Disclaimer-- Max Steel doesn't belong to me. It is the property of Mattel and Sony/Tristar. "Dante's Prayer" doesn't belong to me either. It's the property of Lorena McKennit. If either of them sues, they'll only get some cheap Gundam merchandise and a collection of action figures spanning two decades. Cool, no? This songfic is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for sad things.

Ghost Songs

When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone.
I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars.
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me.

It was a clear, beautiful night. That wasn't right, Jefferson Smith reflected. It should be dark, stormy. The clouds should be gathering, obscuring the moon. Instead the stars were brilliant, and only a hint of wind gusted along the beach, whipping the water into a froth. It shouldn't be this way, Jeff thought, as he sat on the sand. How could the world be so calm and clear when his best friend was dead?
A few feet away from Jeff, another man stood watching in the darkness. Despite making no particular attempt to remain hidden, he went completely unnoticed by the other occupant of the beach. This was not particularly surprising, considering that he also left no footprints in the sand, and the wind was blowing through him without obstruction. His name was Jim McGrath, and he was dead.
"Jeff," Jim sighed, knowing his friend couldn't hear him. "Don't do this to yourself. It doesn't solve anything. You told me that, remember? Four years ago, you found me crying on the beach by myself... after I lost Molly. I was trying to keep it all inside... McGraths can't show weakness, after all. And then you came and kicked my butt into letting it all out. You know, I don't know if I ever thanked you, buddy... for that, and for everything. For helping me raise Josh these past few years, for helping me get through college-- I would have failed every course if it weren't for you, you know."
Seeing Jeff's head bend a little, Jim moved a little closer. In this half-asleep state, his friend could hear him, though he likely wouldn't consciously remember it. "Josh is going to need you, Jeff... He's going to need you a lot. You're strong, you'll get through this. And if you ever need me... you know you can always find me here."

Then the mountain rose before me
By the deep well of desire
From the fountain of forgiveness
Beyond the ice and the fire.
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me.

Viciously, Jim lobbed a rock at the blue ocean before him. What right did it have to look so calm? How could it be so clear and undisturbed, when it had taken his wife away? At the stab of pain that thought brought, he shut his eyes, trying to block out the image of Molly, slowly sliding beneath the waves as he and Josh could only watch helplessly.
"Some secret agent," he growled to himself. "Couldn't even save your wife, hero."
"It wasn't your fault, Jim," a soft voice answered him, though he couldn't hear it. Molly McGrath stood less than a foot behind her husband, close enough to reach out and touch him... had she been alive.
"I know you can't hear me... I'm not sure you'd listen even if you could. You always were stubborn. Jim, please don't do this to yourself." Tears of frustration welled in her eyes.
"All those times we fought about your absences; why you never came home, why you were always late. We always made up again, but... Oh, Jim. I'm so sorry. I never knew, I never understood. I wish I could tell you now how sorry I am, but I can't.
"Don't cry, love. It won't be that long until we're together again. You were always there for me, no matter what, Jim, and I'm always there for you. I'll always be here... don't forget me. Please."

Though we share this humble path, alone
How fragile is the heart
Oh give these clay feet wings to fly
To touch the face of the stars.
Breathe life into this feeble heart
Lift this mortal veil of fear
Take these crumbled hopes, etched with tears
We'll rise above these earthly cares.
Cast your eyes on the ocean
Cast your soul to the sea
When the dark night seems endless
Please remember me
Please remember me.

It was a cold, gray, foreboding day, a perfect counterpoint to Josh McGrath's mood. The young secret agent sat on the beach behind his house, staring out at the slate-colored ocean, chin propped on his knees.
"Let's make a list of all the ways my life has gone into the toilet recently," he announced, his words directed to the sea before him. His biolink was shut down, and for once, he was truly alone.
Or he thought he was. A few feet away, two spirits watched him with worry, but even his enhanced senses couldn't detect them.
"Rachel has a promotion. Normally, that would make me happy, but it means she's not going to be working with me anymore. And I can't shake the feeling that that's exactly why she took it. I don't know what I could have done... but God, I miss her.
"And then there's Laura. A year at sea on a research ship? She might as well have just tacked a 'Dear John' letter to my door... which, to be fair, is probably the only way she could have gotten it to me. She deserves better than me, I know, but I still love her; and now she's gone."
Josh made a face. "And let's not forget the fact that Dredd decided he was going to kidnap my best friend to get at me. He may be behind bars, but Psycho's still loose. This is why I BECAME Max Steel, so my friends wouldn't be in danger. So it looks like I'm a personal AND professional failure. What am I even doing this for?" He buried his head in his knees.
"Josh." Jim McGrath knelt beside his son, calling him softly. "You know why you're doing this. Because no one else can. I know it's hard, Josh, but you have to keep going."
On Josh's other side, his mother knelt as well, reaching out to him helplessly. "You give them hope, Josh, something that's in short supply. When you were born, you were everything your father and I could have possibly dreamed, and though I only had a short time with you, I loved you more than I could ever have said."
"We're both so proud of you, son," Jim continued. "More than you can ever know. It's hard, but you have to be strong. You can handle it."
Even though he couldn't hear them, Josh seemed to absorb his parents' words. Lifting a tear-stained face from his knees, he stared out at the calming ocean, where a hint of blue was beginning to peek through.
"Josh?" Though quiet, the voice seemed to catch Josh's attention. Turning, the teenager looked over his shoulder to see Jefferson Smith coming down the dunes.
"I thought I'd find you here," the older man continued, sitting next to the boy he had raised as his son. "Seems like this beach is the place to go when you want to think."
The blond gave him a sideways look. "Dad, I really don't want to talk right now..."
Smith nodded. "You don't have to. Did you know your parents got married on this beach? And after your mother died, your father came here a lot, just to think and throw rocks at the tide. I used to come here often, too. I guess I just feel... a little closer to them here."
"You know what?" Josh said, slowly. "Me too."
Unseen by either of the living, Jim and Molly McGrath exchanged a smile. "I think our work here is done," Jim said softly, putting an arm around his wife's waist.
"Mmm... I think you're right." Molly smiled. "Come on, Jim. Let's go home."
In the space between two breaths, they were gone, leaving Josh and Jeff to their thoughts... and each other.