Here Lies a Great Man by AndromedaMarine
Author's Note: The title is inspired by a recent visit to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, and the memorial – gravesite of President Ronald Reagan.
Shoulder to shoulder they stood, statues of sorrow and grief. Four in a straight line, hair sticking to their necks as the rain thundered down in mocking sheets.
They'd all lost a great friend; a great boss.
The crowd thinned after the service ended, but the four remained, unmoving as if waiting an order to move out. An order that would never come. Their cheeks were soaked, but by tears. Abby's gloved hand tightly clutched Tim's, and Tony had his fingers weaved through Ziva's. Ducky stood several feet away, alone in his grief, unwilling to stand with the others to say his goodbye.
Ducky reached out and set his hand lightly on the lid of the casket. He pulled in a shuddering breath, glancing up to the cloud-covered sky before fixing his eyes on the wooden head of the coffin. "I can't talk to you like anyone who passes over my table, Jethro... I know you. My questions and comments needn't be asked... Jethro... You don't know what you've left behind...your legacy is in the team. They loved you." He took in another deep breath, staving off an onslaught of tears. "You were a great man, Jethro. A great leader...a hero. And we were not ready to say our goodbyes. Even now I am still far from ready."
Dr. Mallard looked over his shoulder at the three agents and scientist, observing Tim's downcast eyes and features, the mascara stains on Abby's cheeks, the redness of Ziva's eyes, and the shuddering of Tony's shoulders.
"You once told me you were not afraid of death... And that leaving behind the team was the only thing you worried about. How Timothy and Antony would cope... If Miss David could remain at NCIS. There is no logic in fearing death, as well you know... Simply the next step in the journey of life. Life cannot ever return to normal, Jethro, with you gone... There is no comfort for the sorrowful." Ducky sighed, patting the coffin. "Old age claims the best of us. I regret that it claimed you before me." He shifted his gaze to the perfectly folded flag held tightly in his hand, running a finger down the edge. "Nothing is harder to accept than this."
Abby turned and buried her face in Tim's neck, wrapping her arms around his waist to hold on to the world. Ziva tightened her grip on Tony's hand, reaching her other arm across to fist it in the lapel of his jacket. DiNozzo lifted his other hand to place it over Ziva's fisted one, and McGee kissed the top of Abby's head, putting his arms around her shaking body, to pull her closer. Tim watched through watery eyes as Ducky spoke to Leroy Jethro Gibbs, saying his last goodbye.
"I will always miss you, Jethro." Ducky stepped lightly over to where the team stood, nodding to each one of them. "Here lies a great man," he whispered, first to himself, then he repeated it with firmness. "Here lies a great...great man."
Tim blinked furiously, automatically tightening his arms around Abby. He looked Ducky in the eye, nodding once. "He'll always be here, Duck."
Tim and Abby McGee walked slowly into Arlington Cemetery, hand in hand. They made their way down the rows and rows of white crosses. Abby's hand was shoved into her pocket, fingers curled around the stone inside. Their pace slowed, and they came to the cross that read "Leroy Jethro Gibbs."
A year had passed to the day of Gibbs' death, and Abby dropped to her knees in front of the cross, Tim's hands resting on her shoulders. She pulled the stone from her pocket, traced the engraved words, and placed it in front of the cross's base.
"He's still here, Abs," Tim said, squeezing his wife's shoulders. "I can feel him here."
Abby lifted her hand to place it atop her husband's.
She read the stone. "Here lies a great man."