Memorial Day 2007
Consider this a sequel to my story, ‘Not Forgotten.’ More importantly, know that this piece honors the many men and women who have dedicated their lives to protect the freedoms we so casually take for granted. It is a sacrifice that should *never* be forgotten.
Yawning, Gibbs stretched his arms over his head. His body was aching in places it had no business aching, but luckily it was a soreness he enjoyed beyond belief. The person responsible for his early morning aches and pains had been abusing him for a total of 12 months now, and Gibbs secretly hoped the abuse would continue until he was old and completely gray.
He turned on his side, an honest, joyful smile taking shape as he reached for the man he loved with each and every beat of his heart.
His query was met with silence, his hand with empty space.
Opening his eyes, Gibbs levered up on one elbow and worriedly examined the spot his young lover normally inhabited. The mattress still bore the indentation of his body while the sheet, unfortunately, was cold to touch. It informed him that Tony had been gone for some time.
A splash of color caught his eye. Gibbs halted his tactile exploration of the spot that had cradled the luscious twin mounds of flesh his manhood had plundered hours earlier. Lifting his gaze he frowned in confusion when he saw the miniature flag lying on Tony’s pillow.
Gibbs ripped away the sheet tangled around his legs and vacated the bed. He pulled on a pair of discarded sweats before going in search of his missing lover. After a quick trip to the bathroom to relieve his complaining bladder, he went directly to the kitchen and heaved a loud sigh of frustration when he saw the dormant state of his coffeemaker.
He contemplated the empty pot for a full minute before his frown of annoyance turned into a grin of blatant lust. Shortly after they’d moved in together Tony had discovered that a caffeine-depraved lover was absolutely no fun at all. Without any prompting at all, he’d willingly assumed the task of preparing the coffeemaker before they retired for the night. Rarely did he fail in his self-assigned task and when he did it was more than likely not his fault.
Gibbs tapped the visible bite mark on his left pectoral. Tony’s lapse of concentration had definitely been his fault last night. It went without saying that his lover’s mind had been thoroughly distracted by the insatiable mouth inhaling his dick.
“You’re forgiven, DiNozzo,” he mumbled, “this time.”
Opening the freezer door, Gibbs searched for a fresh pack of coffee beans. He collected the cellophane-wrapped container and upon closing the door, caught sight of the calendar tacked to the wall beside the fridge. He noted the date.
“Ah, hell. I’m an ass. A complete and total ass.”
Gibbs jerked open the freezer door and threw the pack of coffee beans back inside. The door was then slammed shut with enough force to dislodge one of the many magnets Tony collected.
Gibbs stared at the magnet. It had landed face up, displaying the photograph of two naked men glued to its surface. The embracing couple reminded him of Tony and himself. It also reminded him of the reason his lover was missing in action.
Leaving the magnet where it lay on the floor, Gibbs hurried back to the bathroom. Exactly ten minutes later he was standing half-naked in the bedroom, digging through the clothes in his closet. He bypassed the frayed t-shirts and jeans he normally wore on his days off and reached for the uniform he reserved for the more somber moments of his life.
He was almost out the door when he remembered the memento Tony had left behind. He turned smartly on his heel and returned to the bedroom. The miniature flag was collected and carefully tucked inside an interior pocket of his jacket.
“You had no business leaving me behind, DiNozzo. We’re a team. In everything.”
Gibbs cursed the increased number of people crowding the sidewalks. He understood their presence but that knowledge did not halt the offensive words of impatience that sprung to mind every time his pathway was blocked. Finding his lover was his main objective and those who prevented him from reaching his goal were declared impediments and dispatched with the barest of civility.
“Move it or lose it,” he ordered a wide-eyed preschooler. The child was toting a poster with the image of a larger-than-life soldier drawn on it. He and the younger sister he was holding hands with quickly vacated the sidewalk. The look of grief-stricken confusion directed at him by their mother sidetracked him, and he stopped to mumble an apology.
Resuming his trek, Gibbs took a little more care weaving his way in and out of the crowds, often consulting the map he’d obtained upon his arrival. His patience was wearing thin by the time he located the section he and Tony had visited six months ago. Setting his foot upon the correct path he noted the sun had finally broken free of the horizon. The light that spilled across the perfectly manicured lawn and its inhabitants caused him pause, and he stopped to utter a brief prayer.
The second his prayer was concluded he opened his eyes, and the first person his gaze lit upon was his lover. Tony was standing directly in front of him, dressed in his best Armani suit. In his left hand, the one that bore the physical proof of their commitment to each other, was a single red rose. Gibbs felt his throat tighten with emotion as he watched Tony lean down and tenderly place the delicate bloom upon the simple, unadorned grave marker. The white marble headstone was engraved with the name of the man that had once laid claim to his lover’s heart.
Gibbs silently took his place beside Tony. He raised his white-gloved hand and sharply saluted the grave. Maintaining his self-imposed silence, he then took possession of Tony’s hand and squeezed it hard. Without hesitation his demonstration of support was returned with equal strength.
“Thanks, Jethro,” Tony whispered. “Thanks for coming.”
Glancing sideways at his lover,
Gibbs cleared his throat. “Jeff’s not forgotten, Tony.” He indicated the
countless graves scattered throughout the renowned Arlington Cemetery. “None
of them are forgotten.”