Fading into the Light.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of character in this fic, They belong to Marvel, no offense intended.

"It was once said that to be forgotten is worse than death. I've experienced death. They're right."

Salem Center. A lonely night. A graveyard. Contary to popular belief, ghosts do exist. Most often however, they do not wander near their loved ones unless they have somehow been invited to do so. Instead, they stay in the place of their final rest. However, they are able to stay on Earth... as long as they remain in the hearts of those who loved them.

For the ghost of one young boy, his time may be at an end. He had many aquantances over the years, but most of them had come and gone. He had gotten to know some of the new spirits, always making an effort to help someone adjust to their new status. Seasons came, and seasons went. He started to feel it. The waning of his self.

"I suppose I should be glad in some way. It means they moved on." He said to himself. "Rahne's probably happy with someone now. It's been awhile since her last visit. Funny how you lose track of time when your like this."

He stood up from where he was 'sitting', on top of his simple gravemarker. Stretching out of habit than any real need. "She's the last of the of the old squad to visit regularly. I kind of figured it'd be either her or 'lock. Haven't seen him since he went out on that crusade to rid the world of the technarch virus. I wonder if he's off-planet now? He's certainly got the power." he mused, "Mom and Dad prefer to just think of me from time to time than visit, but they'll never really forget...but it's pretty weak. Not enough to keep me around. Magneto...probably better not to dwell on that. Kitty just visited that one time. She's probably the one I'm hurt the most by all this. Yeah, Betsy's never even bothered to visit me, but really, I was just a kid, and she was an adult. But Kitty...we were friends. Or at least I thought we were. When Illyana was still around, before she got Kitty's soul invitation to watch over her, she used to say that Kitty visited her regularly. But for me? Once. A five second visit, and she was gone. Like I was an afterthought. Well aside from that time she phased down to see if I was really dead. A quick in and out job. Then...nothing."

He looked up at the sky and sighed. "Weird. Thought I meant more to her than that. Guess I was wrong. But maybe it is better this way. Like I said, they moved on. I won't be a burden to them anymore. I guess for some of them it was easier than others."

Out of the corner of his eye he spotted someone. Young. Very young.

"You ok?" he asked the little girl, kneeling down and putting a hand to her shoulder.

"Mommy and Daddy...they're gone." she said, sniffling. "They came and visited me, and then they left."

"Hey, it's ok. Don't cry." he said, patting her head, offering her a smile. "They'll be back. You're special to them. Never forget that."

The crying seemed to stop.

"Do you mean it?" she asked, looking up with shining eyes.

"Yeah, I do. No matter what, they'll never forget you."

The girl thanked him for his kindness and went on his way. He walked back to his marker.

"Well, I had a good run." he said, "and I gave her hope. That's good enough."

He looked up.

"Well, unless you got some suprise in store for me, I'm ready when you are."

He closed his eyes. Feeling his spirit getting lighter. If it's time for last words, might as well keep it simple.

"Goodbye."

Then...

End.

Notes/Comments: I was inspired to write this by re-reading Peter David's "Tribute the Second", and by a few random thoughts I've been having lately. The "To be forgotten is worse than death." line is lifted straight from Final Fantasy 9, that line has always stuck with me. I've also been told that a lot of this story echoes Peter Beagle's "A Fine and Private Place", which I'm unfamiliar with.

I realize I might have been a little harsh on Kitty. It had struck that she mentions Doug very little in comparision to other people she was close too that she has lost, and I distinctly remember reading Chris Claremont's 'Contest of Champions 2', where in Kitty's little mindscape fantasy wish prison (it's complicated), she's with Illyana again, and Doug is nowhere to be seen, and thinking how odd it seemed that she'd wish to only have one of her friends back. I imagine some of that attached to me as I writing.

As for Psylocke, well we've never seen her visit Doug's grave, let alone even mention him in ages, so I wrote her piece in as I did. I wanted to include mentions of Rahne and Warlock, because they were rather important to him in his life, and I thought about putting in refereces to some of the other New Mutants, but nothing absolutely clear could come to me, and I also didn't want to sideline myself too much from the main beat of the story.

Still, I'm not 100 satisfied with this. I'll probably revise and retool this with time. Still, comments and feedback are helpful, and greatly appreciated.