A sparkling American flag was draped over the casket. It lay in a freshly dug hole in the ground. People milled around, some crying, some weeping and somber, but all wearing black and all there for one specific, heart wrenching purpose . . .
. . . Saying goodbye to NCIS Special Agent Caitlin Todd . . .
Gibbs, Tony and McGee stood with Abby, Ducky and Director Shepard in a small huddle just off to one side. They were all clutching roses as one by one the mourners approached the casket to say their final farewells to the brave agent who lost her life in a tragic accident.
Abby was crying; tears poured down her face and she wondered if they would ever stop. Ducky and Gibbs were solemnly stoic, having taken on the role of team support even though they were aching inside. Jenny was doing the same, but her eyes were moist. McGee was sniffling, trying to keep up the façade of a calm and collected professional, but failing miserably. And Tony, he was staring blankly into the distance, unthinking and unhearing.
"I can't believe she's gone," Abby hiccoughed, prompting a fresh wave of tears from the slightly hysterical Goth. "I mean, she was team Gibbs and team Gibbs has more lives than a cat has!" She tried to wipe her eyes, a poor attempt at trying to quell the tears, but all she did was smear mascara across her tear streaked face.
"It's okay, Abby," McGee responded, trying to be both calming and sympathetic at the same time . . . and failing hopelessly. If he didn't believe his own words, how could Abby?
"Don't say that, Timmy," Abby wailed, "because it's not true. Kate's gone. Gone. For good." Tears trickled down her face and she flung her arms around Gibbs' shoulders. She buried her face in his neck.
"We'll get through his, Abs," he assured her quietly.
"How?" Abby continued to sob. "How can we when one of us is gone." Even Gibbs didn't have an answer for that.
A man dressed in a suit approached the small group. He looked familiar and the team remembered that he'd introduced himself as Rory Todd, one of Kate's older brothers. Rory glanced at the NCIS contingent and gave Abby an extra soft smile.
He spoke quietly and thickly, saying, "Kate would want you to go next." He smiled gently; only immediate and very close family had been given their chance to say goodbye. "She always considered NCIS her family, sometimes more so than her own."
The aftermath of Kate's death had ruled it as an accident. Mechanically something had gone wrong with the vehicle during the transfer to Mossad custody. Officer Ziva David had managed to escape from the vehicle before it exploded, but NCIS was unaware of how injured the officer was because she had been whisked to the Israeli embassy and shipped back to Tel Aviv before they had a chance to question her. Kate's body had been released to her parents, though they had not been allowed to identify her as that wouldn't have been impossible; there was too much damage.
And now, they were at the final step . . . the funeral.
Rory smiled tearfully at them again and gestured for them to step forward. The NCIS group got some odd looks from some of the mourners because it seemed as though the isolated group were cutting into the family time portion of the memorial. Only one person, standing way up the back, did not think this was odd.
Her slight face was framed by dark, curly hair and there was a foreign look to her. None of the mourners had bothered to look right at the back, and if they had, they would have seen a young woman dressed in black, apparently mourning the sister-in-law she never had.
She watched as the NCIS team approached the casket one-by-one. None of them lingered there very long, though the Goth lingered there the longest, but she could see their lips moving as they said their final goodbyes. They placed their roses onto the casket before turning and walking away.
As it started to rain and the mourners scrambled for their umbrellas, she glanced once more at the devastated NCIS team before turning away and walking freely into the rain without even looking back once.
The warm Australian heat shone down on the roofs of the simple and modern red-brick houses. They were all similar, yet each one on the street had a slightly different look and feel to it. Through the gate of number ninety-one, laughter echoed throughout the house. There was an average car in the carport, it was tastefully furnished and the walls were fashionable and bright.
To everyone, it was just your average Australian household.
But, to a more curious eye, if they dared to look closer they might see the few books on the bookshelf not in English. They might notice a lack of photographs, a lack of truly personal items. If they looked very, very closely, they might have even seen the dark hat emblazoned with "NCIS" shoved in the bottom of a cupboard.
The bedroom door of number ninety-one opened and a couple came tumbling out, laughing. Both had dark hair and brown eyes, though the male had darker skin than the female. She stumbled, but the man immediately reached out and wrapped his arm around the waist of his wife to steady her. She smiled back adoringly at him and he kissed her on the cheek, murmuring something that made her blush.
To everyone on the street, Leanne J. Grey and her husband Michael Z. Grey were just their newlywed neighbors.
To each other and to a group of people half way around the world, they were something special.