21 Guns

None of us had been expecting his death; we had never even though of the possibility of losing him. Now that he was gone, we finally noticed how big of a hole he had left. I would look up from my desk, expecting to see his smile staring back at me, but I was now only looking at an empty desk.

Abby stayed with me the night before the funeral. I couldn't bear to be alone. Gibbs had insisted that we go to the funeral together so Abby and I met with the rest of the team outside of the church. We were given family honors since his mother was dead and his father hadn't wanted anything to do with him. We all sat in the front row, Gibbs, McGee, Abby, Jenny, Ducky, and even Palmer. When it came time to carry the coffin out, Gibbs, McGee, Ducky, and Palmer along with two of his old frat brothers served as pallbearers. Abby, Jenny, and I followed behind them silently.

When we arrived at the graveyard, they were all ready set up for the graveside ceremony. Jenny had pulled some strings and gotten him a full officer's honor, since he was a police officer and all.

For a half an hour, the minister droned on about things that he had already talked about in the church. Then came the part that I was dreading; twenty one gun salute. Seven guns shooting three times in a row and then taps. The thing I hated most about military and officers funerals. The first time the guns went off, I flinched slightly and I felt Gibbs place his arms around my shoulders. The second time, I still flinched and a few tears managed to escape my eyes and trail down my face. After the third time I was practically sobbing and Gibbs had fully engulfed me in his arms and I could feel Abby rubbing my shoulders.

Then came the haunting sounds of taps, the sound had never failed to chill me to my very core. A Navy officer stepped forward and handed the folded flag to Gibbs, who in turn, handed it to me.

"He would have wanted you to have it," was all he said.

Gibbs and McGee walked on either side of me as we exited the graveyard, each keeping their hand on my elbow so I didn't fall. I stole one more look back and saw them lowering his casket into the ground and then, I turned forward and allowed Gibbs and McGee lead me to the car.

Years later, when I would tell the story to our son about how his father died protecting me, trying to save me, his eyes light up.

"Daddy was a hero, wasn't he?" he would ask and I would smile and ruffle my son's hair.

"Yes, Anthony, your father was a very big hero," I said.

To this day, I cannot stand the sound of a twenty one gun salute or taps, the memory, will forever haunt me.

A/N: I'm depressed this week, so bear with me. I got the idea for this from watching ER re-runs on TNT. Please review, it lets me know how much I am loved.