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PostPosted: Sat Jun 21, 2014 9:56 pm 
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Director
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Title: The Witchery Way
Characters: Tim, Tony, OCs, brief appearances by Gibbs, Ellie and Vance
Genre: Mystery, supernatural/horror, drama
Rating: FR15
Word Count: 30,725 words


A/N: I really hope you like this, Lia. I did quite a bit of research for it and I hope I got it right. :yes: I chose the third prompt for my story:
Quote:
Painted desert, peyote rain, Lord don’t let me go insane… Two or more of the team travel to the American Southwest and they have an encounter with a local legend. Supernatural/horror or case file.

It was a lot of fun looking into Navajo history and Navajo legends.

This is a multi-chapter fic (a prologue, 11 chapters and an epilogue). So I have a discussion thread for it. And special thanks to Linda for making me a banner for this story!

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Prologue

Before...

He saw the track. He had been searching for days. Now, here it was. The yee naaldlooshii couldn’t be far away. Softly, he began chanting. He would need as much help as he could get.

There was a ominous presence. His target was close by.

He tried to feel the location, but something seemed to be blocking his senses.

Suddenly, a flash of movement to the side of him. He whirled.

Too late.

Sharp teeth chomped down on his wrist. Blood began to pour onto the ground.

He managed to pull away, but that tore the blood vessels even more.

“You are too slow. Too old.”

The voice was soft and menacing.

“Look in my eyes and I will relieve you of your suffering.”

“Lies,” he said in reply. “The followers of ’ánt’iizhi do not relieve suffering. They only cause it.”

A laugh. He kept his eyes on his wound. He would not give evil purchase inside him.

“Soon, I will become clizyati and those who resist me will die...even as you will die.”

“You will fail.”

“And how will you stop me? Your blood feeds the ground and soon you will be dead.”

He smiled.

“Hashkeh Naabah of the 'Iich'ah dine'e out of the 'Ashiihnii.”

There was a long silence.

“And now,” he said, “now, you also will die.”

He shrieked and ran, leaving the dying man alone. After a few steps, a coyote was running away. The dying man fell to the ground, knowing that there was no time to be saved...but he had succeeded.

For now, the war against evil had been won. It could not be permanent, but it gave good some time to regroup and strengthen itself.

As his blood continued to pour out of his body, his vision changed. He rolled onto his back and stared up at the sun.

He smiled and inhaled deeply.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Robbie Natani crept quietly out into the cold night air. It might be too late, but he had to try. He couldn’t let his brother fall without trying to help him. It was just a matter of seeking out the right place.

He was about half a mile into the desert when he heard someone following him. He stopped, searched for some cover and then hid himself. His tail came into view.

“Jack! What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be asleep back at the house!” Robbie said with irritation.

Jack Miller, who had come with Robbie on his visit home, smiled a little sheepishly in the dark.

“You going to give me the lie that nothing’s going on again, Robbie? I know you too well.”

Robbie sighed. “No, I won’t give you the lie, but you must not be out here, shik’is. There’s more going on than you can understand.”

“Fine, I can’t understand it, but I can’t just leave you out here. I can tell by the way you’re talking that it’s going to be dangerous. Isn’t it.”

“Probably.”

“Then, let’s go, and I’ll be right on your six.”

“I’d feel better if you weren’t here at all.”

Jack grinned. “I know, but let’s just say that I’m a glutton for punishment. If you didn’t want me here, you shouldn’t have brought me along. Will you tell me what we’re looking for?”

“At best...my brother. At worst...death.”

Robbie was surprised when Jack didn’t ask any more questions. He just nodded and gestured for Robbie to go on.

They walked together for a couple of miles and Robbie was starting to think that they’d have no luck tonight. Maybe Jack’s presence was keeping him away.

Then...

“What’s that?” Jack asked in a whisper, pointing to the north.

Robbie followed his gaze and he knew that all his worst fears had come true. He stepped in that direction.

“Please, shínaaí, you go too far,” he said. “You can still come back!”

His voice carried across the desert. The figure didn’t move at first and then...

Jack cried out in pain. Robbie turned just in time to see his friend taken down by a coyote with strange, dull eyes.

“No.”

He pulled out his gun and fired at the animal.

He missed.

A voice whispered in his ear.

“Too late, shitsilí. You are always too late.”

And he was.

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 Post subject: Chapter 1
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:26 am 
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Director
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 1

Washington, D.C., now...

“So...how long does the probie thing go on for?” Ellie asked as she tried to squeeze more water out of her hair. “There has to be an end to it, doesn’t there?”

Tony grinned. “Probie?” he asked.

Tim made a show of looking at his watch.

“I think it lasted for ten years for me, Bishop. So you’ve got...approximately nine years and ten months to go.”

“Great. Just great. Can some of it not involve falling into a canal?”

“I was falling into ditches just last year,” Tim said.

Ellie nodded. “Figures.”

“Remember. You wanted to be here,” Tony said.

“You were a lot nicer before I was on your team,” Ellie said.

“That’s because we have to be.”

“I’ll remember that for the next job.”

“Good. Now, you can run those bags down to Abby,” Tim said.

Ellie groaned, but she took the bags and left the bullpen.

“Good going, Probie,” Tony said. “And that was a good find.”

“Thank you.”

“DiNozzo, McGee. Upstairs.”

Gibbs walked by so quickly that Tony and Tim barely had time to clue into what he had said before he was halfway up the stairs. They exchanged glances and ran after him.

Gibbs headed to MTAC; so they came along behind, barely getting inside behind him.

As soon as they were inside, they saw a photograph of a dead man on the screen and another man inset who was very much alive.

“What’s going on, Boss?” Tony asked in a low voice.

“Agent Gibbs, DiNozzo and McGee,” Vance said. “This is Agent Sandoval from the FBI’s Albuquerque office. Would you mind giving them the summary, Agent Sandoval?”

“Not at all, Director Vance. This is Petty Officer First Class John Miller. He was found in the desert on Navajo Nation lands just this morning. The Navajo LEO called the feds when he was ID-ed. He was there with a friend, Petty Officer First Class Robert Natani.”

“Was Petty Officer Natani a member of the Navajo Nation?” Vance asked.

“Yes. They actually can’t find him.”

“Cause of death for PFC Miller?”

“Exsanguination. You can see the injury on the throat.”

“Cause?”

“Looks almost like an animal, but not quite. There’s something off about it.”

“What does the officer say?”

“As little as possible. He was reluctant even to report it, I think. Unless I miss my guess, he knows more than he’s saying.”

“All right. We’ll look into it on our end.”

“I’ve really got a lot on my plate right now, Director. Normally, I’m the liaison with the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, but... seeing as he’s one of yours...?”

“We’ll take it on.”

“Thanks. I’ll send you the contact information for Officer Derrick Lapahie. He’s a good officer, but he won’t say more than he thinks he needs to.”

Agent Sandoval signed off. Vance turned to them.

“Agent Gibbs, I want to have someone on hand in New Mexico to figure this out. We have one dead petty officer and another is missing. I’d like to have something to tell their families.”

“Actually, only one,” Tony pointed out. “If PFC Natani is from that area, his family already knows about him being missing.”

“And why is that?” Tim asked. “Why were they out there? If Agent Sandoval was right, why would the officer hide something? Did PFC Natani kill PFC Miller? Or is it something completely different? Something we’re not even considering?”

“Those are all good questions, Agent McGee,” Vance said. “That’s what I want you to find out.”

“Right.”

“Decide who’s going and who’s staying, Agent Gibbs.”

Gibbs nodded and the three of them left. Gibbs said nothing as they walked down to the bullpen. Tony and Tim exchanged glances and then started making their case.

“Boss? You’re not going to send Bishop out there, are you?” Tony asked.

“I know she needs experience and all, but I just don’t think that this is the kind of case to send her out for,” Tim added.

“We’re more than willing to go,” Tony said. “We know what to do and you could be here to make sure she doesn’t destroy anything.”

Gibbs raised an eyebrow. “Who will make sure you two don’t destroy anything?”

Tony didn’t miss a beat. “We’ll keep each other in line, Boss.”

The eyebrow moved even higher. There was a heavy pause.

“What are you waiting for?” he asked. “Get going.”

“On it, Boss!” they said in unison.

Then, they hurried to the elevator and got on. Once the doors closed, they gave each other a high five.

“Yes! Finally!”

“We’d better not screw this one up,” Tim said suddenly. “Gibbs will never let us go anywhere again.”

“Sure, he will. But we’d still better not screw up. We meet back here in an hour to make our flight arrangements.”

“All right.”

“And if there are any horses out there, you’re riding them. Not me.”

Tim grinned. “No way. No saddle sores for me.”

The doors opened and the two men hurried off to get ready to go.

------------------------------------------------------------------

Officer Derrick Lapahie was meeting with the chapter of the remote part of the Navajo Nation where Robbie had grown up.

“There are two NCIS agents on their way to investigate what happened,” he said.

“This can’t help us.”

“I know,” Derrick said, “but there’s nothing we can do about it. Two Navy men, even if one is only missing...”

“Agent Sandoval understands the way things are. Why is he not investigating?”

Derrick smiled a little. “He doesn’t understand, either, but he’s part of the FBI, not NCIS.”

“Robbie should not have brought his friend here. We warned him what was happening.”

“Not too many believe that story anymore.”

“It is why we are here at the edge of the world. We are the only Diné who have been entrusted with this task. It has fallen to us through the ages to guard against this happening. Your fathers...”

Derrick nodded.

“It’s possible that they’ll be satisfied with a preliminary investigation and will let us tie all the loose ends,” he said.

In his experience, many of the non-Diné who came to the Rez didn’t generally stay long. Tourists were common in some parts of the Navajo Nation, but not here. They were left to themselves.

...except when an outsider was killed. It only added to the problems they always faced.

“When will they arrive?”

“It should be soon.”

“We will entrust them to you.”

One more nod and Derrick left the room. He got into his truck and went to meet the NCIS agents.

He really hoped they wouldn’t stay long.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Man, it’s hot out here. It’s like being under a blow dryer,” Tim said. “How long will we stay?”

“Until we figure out what’s going on...or Gibbs gives up.”

Tim scoffed at that. “Gibbs doesn’t give up, not if someone’s been killed. Besides, PFC Natani is still missing. He could be alive, maybe hurt out there.”

“Or he could be our killer.”

“Yeah, but they were supposed to be friends.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Tony said. “Oh, this must be our ride.”

A truck pulled up which was labeled Navajo Nation Police. The officer who got out seemed reluctant to approach them. Tim glanced at Tony who just shrugged. Agent Sandoval had suggested that the officer knew more than he’d said, but not that he would have been involved in anything shady. Why wouldn’t he want them there?

Still, it wouldn’t be the first time people hadn’t wanted them around. Sometimes, they were seen as invaders and Tim wouldn’t be surprised if that was all this was. They both walked over.

“Officer Lapahie?” Tony asked.

“Yes.”

Tony shook hands.

“I’m Agent DiNozzo and this is Agent McGee. We’re here from NCIS.”

“Yes, I know. You’ll want to see the man who was killed. Come with me.”

“Thanks.”

They got into the truck after tossing their bags into the back and headed over to the morgue where Jack Miller’s body was being stored until it could be sent to his family.

“He’s right in here,” the mortician said. “Cause of death seems pretty obvious.”

When he pulled out the body, Tim had to agree. The man’s throat looked like it had been ripped out. He wasn’t generally squeamish anymore, but this was nasty. There was something about it that just didn’t feel right. He couldn’t explain what it was. Tony didn’t seem bothered.

“How long had he been dead?” Tony asked.

“We found him in the morning. It was kind of cold during the night,” Officer Lapahie said.

“He’d been dead at least six hours when he was found,” the mortician clarified. “More than that, I can’t say for sure. The FBI medical examiner did check him out before you guys got called in. Here’s the report she left.”

Tony took it and passed it over to Tim. He glanced at it. The pattern of the wounds wasn’t exactly right for any conventional animal, like a coyote or a dog. That was a problem, but the alternative was rather gruesome to contemplate because the pattern was definitely from teeth, not a knife.

“All right. Thank you. PFC Miller’s family should be in touch to begin arrangements for transferring the body, but it may be a few days while our investigation is going on.”

“I can keep him here,” the mortician said quickly. “It’s no trouble.”

“Thanks.”

They quickly finished up, taking a few pictures, collecting the effects that had been with him when he was found. Then, Officer Lapahie led them out of the mortuary.

“Officer Lapahie, could you take us to where the body was found?”

“Yes. There won’t be much left out there, you know. It’s not like a city. Animals will have taken care of whatever was left behind.”

“We still need to see where he was killed,” Tim said.

“If that’s what you want,” he said, dismissively.

Tim furrowed his brow at the man. He couldn’t figure out why, if he wasn’t part of it, the officer would be so reluctant to help. They’d had problems with local LEOs not wanting their help before, but there was something about his stance that screamed that he didn’t want them there.

Still, he got in his truck and drove them out into the desert. How he knew where to stop was beyond Tim’s ken, but he supposed that, once one got used to the desert, one learned how to identify locations. He was definitely more used to wet weather instead.

It was a few miles out. Tim looked around.

“How did you find him out here?”

“They were missing in the morning,” Officer Lapahie said. “Someone had seen them go out in the night and that can be dangerous. So we went out looking.”

“Who is we?” Tony asked.

“Me and a few others. We are few out here and we have to stick together to survive. Robbie’s parents died when he was young, and there was no one else to look for him but us.”

“No other family?”

“A...brother. Older.”

“Where was he?”

“He’s been...gone for years.”

“Where?”

Officer Lapahie shrugged.

“He has gone far astray. It’s hard to know where he ended up.”

Tim nodded. Even if he couldn’t understand a lot of what was going on, he felt like the idea of a family member going off the rails was something he could get.

With practiced ease, he and Tony began to spread out over the area, looking for the precise place where PFC Miller had been found. After a few minutes, Tony gestured to both of them. Tim joined him. A definite sign of a body. The ground was still slightly discolored. The air must have been very still to keep dust from scouring the site.

“Looks like he was here.”

Looking slightly impressed, Officer Lapahie nodded.

“That looks right.”

“Okay. McGee, photos.”

“On it.” Tim pulled out the camera, thinking how odd it was that Tony wasn’t cracking jokes like he usually did. He was extremely professional and had been ever since they first met Officer Lapahie. He followed Tony’s lead, but it definitely felt strange.

They completed their investigation of the immediate area, and then, Tim looked around at the landscape. For a moment, he thought he saw something moving. The shape was wrong, though. He couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Hey, look at that!” he said, pointing.

Tony and Officer Lapahie turned, but whatever it was had disappeared.

“What did you see, McGee?”

“I’m not sure. Something moving.”

Tony smiled a little. “That’s specific.”

“I couldn’t...tell.”

“Probably a coyote,” Officer Lapahie said. “They’re common out here.”

Tim shook his head. “No. It didn’t look like that. I don’t...”

He took a few steps in that direction.

“Don’t wander off. We don’t need to be looking for you, too,” Officer Lapahie said.

Tim felt himself bristle a little bit at the implication, but Tony just shook his head. Not worth it. He looked off into the desert again. Whatever he’d seen was long gone. He suppressed a sigh and turned back to the truck

After they finished Officer Lapahie drove them to a small house.

“The council has opened this house to you.”

“We’re not putting anyone out, are we?” Tim asked.

“No. It’s been empty. It’s small, but we got rid of the snakes and there shouldn’t be any way for them to get in. If you’d like to stay off the Rez...” He sounded a bit hopeful.

“No, this will be fine,” Tony said.

They got out of the truck and grabbed their bags. As they walked toward the house, a few people were standing there watching them. One of them was really old. His skin was weathered, almost like leather. He wore very simple clothing with a number of necklaces. Tim only noticed him because, unlike the others who were staring, he looked...welcoming. In fact, he winked at Tim from the back of a small knot of people. Tim smiled and then followed Tony into the house.

Inside, it was basically one open room with a couple of cots, a wall where the kitchen was and a door which Tim hoped led to a bathroom.

“We got the water working, and the propane is hooked up; so that you can cook,” Officer Lapahie said. “Is there anything else you need?”

“Not for now,” Tony said. “Thanks.”

Officer Lapahie nodded and then left them alone in the house.

Tony waited until they heard Officer Lapahie drive away. Then, he let out a loud exhalation and sat down on one of the cots.

“Wow. Vance sent us into a big mess,” he said.

___________________________
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 Post subject: Chapter 2
PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:19 pm 
Online
Director
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 2

Tim sat down on the other cot.

“Man, you must have noticed how much Officer Lapahie doesn’t want us here,” Tony said.

“Yeah. I noticed,” Tim said. “There was one old guy out there that looked friendly.”

“Really? I didn’t see him,” Tony said distractedly. “I was too busy deciding how many lies we’ve been told.”

“I don’t think he’s outright lied to us.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right, but he’s trying to tell us as little as possible. He probably hopes that we’ll just leave.”

“We should introduce him to Gibbs,” Tim said. “I can’t imagine Gibbs letting us leave until we’ve tried every possible solution at least twice.”

Tony laughed.

“I hope your satellite connection works here. I don’t think we’re going to be getting the Internet otherwise.”

Tim got out his laptop with the satellite link and started it up. He had told Gibbs it would work, had promised Tony it would be fine no matter what the situation was. Now, he was silently praying that he hadn’t lied. It seemed to take forever for the laptop to load and for it to connect as he wanted it to. Sure, they could work with just the sat phones, but it would be harder without a connection.

...but finally, there was the icon that indicated they had Internet.

“Got it,” he said, managing not to show any of his own private concerns about whether or not it would work.

“All right, let’s see if they’ve found anything back in civilization.”

Tim smiled and called NCIS.

“Hey, Boss,” Tony said, as soon as Gibbs’ face showed up on the screen.

“–bby is sending McGee some emails from PFC Miller,” Gibbs said with no preamble.

The connection was a bit garbled, but it was better than nothing.

Tim moved around to face the camera. “What are they?”

“Some gibberish, it looks like, but maybe something.”

“Anything else?” Tony asked.

Ellie’s face appeared. “Yeah. Apparently, PFC Natani was really worried about something back home. When people would ask about it, he’d just say it was something with his family and that it wasn’t a big deal. PFC Miller had told his family he was going with Natani to be moral support for something. He didn’t seem to think it was going to be dangerous. He even told them that he might stop by before his leave was over.”

“Have you seen anything?”

“Officer Lapahie doesn’t want us here,” Tim said.

“But we don’t think he’s lied about anything,” Tony added.

“And Miller’s body...well, it’s clear how he died, but not what killed him. The M.E.’s report states that the wound isn’t consistent with a coyote or any other predator native to the area...unless we want to believe that a person did it.”

“What?” Ellie asked.

“Yeah. The marks are more consistent with human teeth marks than animal.”

“Okay...that’s gross.”

“Yeah,” Tim agreed. “We went out to the place where they found the body. It’s out in the middle of nowhere, but it looked like it was probably the real place. We’ll send you the photos. Maybe you’ll see something we haven’t yet.”

“Vance doesn’t think that we should spend too much time on this unless there’s evidence of it being murder,” Ellie said.

“Human teeth ripping a throat out is enough for me,” Gibbs said. “You find out what happened, and where the other petty officer is. If they’re trying to cover for him out there, you find out that, too.”

“On it, Boss,” Tony said.

Gibbs walked away, and they heard Ellie say that they needed to actually disconnect, not just walk away...and then, the connection was shut down. Tony chuckled.

“This is going to be good for her, I think.”

“Are you sure? We’ve left her with Gibbs without any prep for how impatient he is.”

“She’s been around him. She knows that.”

“But without us there to act as buffers?” Tim said.

“Good point. Well, sink or swim.”

Tim laughed and pulled up the emails. There were a couple of them that Miller had sent before leaving. One was, as Ellie had mentioned, full of comments about stopping in at home after being some moral support for his buddy. The other one had the gibberish.

“Listen to this, Tony,” Tim said. “I heard Robbie say he didn’t want to find a yen naladoni. The spelling probably isn’t right. I tried asking him about it, but he said he was just babbling.” He looked up. “Yen naladoni?” He tried typing it into a search engine. “All I’m getting is some pages from the Ukraine.”

“Well, he said he probably spelled it wrong. Maybe it’s Navajo.”

“You think we could ask Officer Lapahie?”

“We could ask, but if it does mean something important, he probably won’t tell us.”

“And if it’s gibberish?”

“He’d probably tell us.”

“So...nothing or nothing. Great.”

“The joys of being the outsiders,” Tony said. “So...tomorrow.”

“We should try and help them look for PFC Natani,” Tim said. “Even if they don’t want us here, having more eyes looking... We should at least offer to help.”

“Maybe. We can ask Officer Lapahie about that phrase, see if we can get the details about what happened. For now... which cot do you want?”

Tim looked around the room.

“I don’t care. They look the same. I’m more interested in getting something to eat. Do you think we’ll need to go somewhere else to buy some food?”

“Man, I don’t know. I didn’t see any stores around here. Let’s see if we can find someone to tell us.”

“Okay.”

They walked out of the house together. There didn’t seem to be anyone there. Not at all. They must have scattered after Tony and Tim had gone inside.

“Okay, Probie. Divide and conquer. Let’s see what we can find. We meet back here in ten minutes at most.”

“All right.”

Tim walked the opposite direction from Tony, looking around the small cluster of houses that he could see. This place seemed so rundown. He knew that there were a lot of challenges the different Native American groups faced, but this was the first time he’d really seen what that meant. If the whole Navajo Nation was like this, it was really sad...but he didn’t think it was. This area seemed a lot more remote than other parts. ...and from a selfish point of view, that meant less likely to have a grocery store.

He didn’t see anyone, though. The people who had been watching them were all gone.

Then, he thought he saw someone walk behind a house.

“Hey! Wait!” he called out and ran over.

As he walked around the house, he saw a...hut. That’s the word that came to mind for him, but the person he’d seen was there beside it. It was the same old man he’d seen before, the only one who had seemed friendly.

“Hi,” Tim said.

“Hello.”

“What is this?” he asked, momentarily distracted.

“It’s a hogan. It’s a traditional Diné dwelling.”

“Diné?”

“You call us Navajo.”

“Oh. So...what is Diné?”

“It is the People.”

“Oh. That’s what you call yourselves?”

“Do you think we’re inaccurate? That we don’t qualify?” the man asked.

“No! No, that’s not what I meant!” Tim said quickly, not wanting to offend the one person who had seemed welcoming.

Then, the man smiled.

“I know.”

Tim exhaled in relief.

“Oh, good. Hey...uh...is there a...a grocery store or something around here?”

“Not here in this part. We’re out of the way, even for the other Diné.”

“Where’s the closest store, then?”

“About five miles. I saw Derrick go that way,” he said, pointing to the right. “He would give you a ride.”

“Could you tell me something?”

“I can tell you something...but I can’t tell you whether or not it will be useful.”

Tim smiled. “When we got here, the other people who were out here...they seemed...wary.”

“They were. You’re an outsider, a representative of a culture many still do not trust.”

“You don’t seem worried.”

“I’m not. The relationship of the Diné with the United States is complicated at best. You’re not going to understand it in the short time you are here.”

“You’re probably right. We are here to help, though,” Tim said earnestly. “We just want to know what happened. We’re trying to get at the truth.”

“The truth can sometimes be...not what you want it to be or think it is. Are you sure that’s what you’re looking for?”

“Yes! That’s our job,” Tim said, and then, he felt like he couldn’t leave it there, as if his job wasn’t enough of a reason. “But even if it wasn’t, I’d still want the truth...whether it’s easy or not. These men served the country. They sacrificed to do so. They deserve my respect and my effort.”

The man looked at him for a long time, so long that Tim started to feel uncomfortable under the pressure of his gaze.

“I think I believe you.”

“Uh...Thanks. Could you tell the others here?”

“I don’t think they’d hear me. It’s hard for people to hear things sometimes.”

“I guess so. That way?” he asked, pointing.

“Yes. That way.”

Tim started to walk in that direction and then turned back to thank him again. The old man was gone. Tim furrowed his brow. He couldn’t see any sign of what way the man had gone.

“Faster than he looks,” he said to himself.

Then, he walked off to the right. As he did, he caught some movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned quickly, thinking it was the man again.

It wasn’t.

What it was, Tim couldn’t say. As he looked, squinting into the low evening sun, he started to feel strange. There were glowing eyes. Glowing eyes? He staggered backwards and then tripped over a badly-placed rock and toppled to the ground.

Cursing to himself, Tim rolled over and stood up, quickly brushing himself off and hoping that no one had seen him trip. Then, he looked toward the... What had he been looking at? As he looked for what he’d seen, all he managed to do was momentarily blind himself by staring at the sun.

“Agent McGee? Can I help you?”

Tim turned around quickly.

“Officer Lapahie,” he said. “I thought...” He looked off into the desert, but there was nothing there. He didn’t want a repeat of that afternoon. “Never mind. Agent DiNozzo and I were hoping to get to a grocery store or something. I understand that there’s a store about five miles away. We don’t want to bother you. I know you have a lot to do, but...”

“I can take you. I’m going that way already.”

“Thanks. Tony, uh...Agent DiNozzo should be back this way.”

Officer Lapahie nodded and walked with Tim without comment. As they headed back toward the house, Tim glanced at him and decided to take a chance.

“Officer Lapahie?”

“Yes?”

“Agent DiNozzo and I... We’re here to investigate the murder, but I know you must be worried about Petty Officer Natani. If you need more help in searching for him...”

“We have enough people searching,” Officer Lapahie said gruffly.

“All right.”

“...but thank you for the offer,” he added grudgingly. “You and Agent DiNozzo don’t know this area. You would be more of a hindrance.”

That made sense, but Tim chafed a little bit. Still, this wasn’t his place, his culture. He was a stranger in more ways than one, and he could admit that he was far from an expert tracker, scouting experience notwithstanding.

“Hey, McGee, you found him.”

“Yeah, with some help. Officer Lapahie said he could take us to a grocery store.”

“Great! Thanks,” Tony said.

“No problem.”

Officer Lapahie took them to a grocery store. Tim and Tony quickly bought things that didn’t necessarily need a lot of cooking. It would keep it simple while they were out here. Then, Officer Lapahie took them back. He said nothing about giving them a ride, and when Tony suggested that they could get a rental and stay out of his hair, he said it was no trouble. He just took them back to the house and left them to their own devices.

They ate some dinner, talked about what little they knew, made sure there were no openings for snakes to get into the house and then bedded down on the cots. The night was quiet. The cots were mostly uncomfortable, but they both slept well enough.

When they got up in the morning, they discovered that the shower was working, but the water was cold. That kept them from lingering, even if they’d been tempted. Officer Lapahie had promised that the water worked, but he hadn’t made any promises about said water being hot. Breakfast was unexciting; so they didn’t linger there, either.

Instead, they hurried out to find Officer Lapahie in the hopes of getting some information.

...and they were disappointed. Officer Lapahie said that the council was too busy to speak with them that day and he had other things to do. That meant they were again left to their own devices. They tried speaking with some of the others who were out and about, with no success. Either they genuinely didn’t know anything or they just weren’t going to tell the two NCIS agents anything.

After a few hours of that, they went back to the house, talked to Gibbs back in DC and described their lack of progress.

Another boring meal for dinner and then, they turned in, disappointed by the lack of progress and frustrated by the lack of help they were seeing everywhere they turned.

The sun set and the clear desert air cooled quickly. It was quiet and they anticipated another uneventful night, with the hope of more success in the morning.

-----------------------------------------------------

He sat before the fire in the cave. A feral smile crossed his lips as he began to chant softly. It didn’t have the power it would if he could get a hold of a personal belonging.

But he had made a start. Perhaps it was time to see what more he could see.

He doused the fire and left the cave. Then, he got down on all fours and concentrated.

A coyote began running toward the main settlement.

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 Post subject: Chapter 3
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:48 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 3

Tony woke up with a start, unsure why. It was dark, quiet.

...but wait, it wasn’t quiet.

What was that sound?

He sat up in the dark house. As he looked toward the window, he saw a lot of movement from Tim’s cot.

“Hey...McGee.”

No response.

“Tim, what’s up?”

Suddenly, Tim sat up, too, but instead of talking to Tony, he stood and started toward the door.

“Tim, where you going?”

Still, no response.

Tony got up and hurried over, grabbing Tim by the arm just as he got to the door.

“Hey! Probie! Wake up!”

He could barely make out Tim’s eyes in the darkness, but he saw Tim blink a few times. Then, Tim looked around.

“What’s going on?” he asked.

“I’d like to ask you that,” Tony said. “No walking in your sleep, all right? That’s just too weird.”

Tim laughed. “Well, I don’t usually, but I don’t know that I have a lot of control over that.”

“Were you dreaming?”

“Not that I remember.”

“Okay. Back to bed, then. Please?”

Tim chuckled.

“Gladly, even if that cot isn’t very comfortable.”

Tony grinned. “That’s because you’re wussy.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

Tim went back to his cot and lay down. Tony followed suit and fell asleep again.

-------------------------------------------------

The pounding woke Tim up, his heart thudding wildly in his chest. He sat up and saw Tony doing the same.

“Who would that be?” Tim asked. He looked at the display on his phone. “It’s three a.m.”

“I don’t know,” Tony said.

He got up and started for the door.

“Who is it?” he said loudly.

Then, the pounding was on the wall behind them. Tim jumped again and spun around.

The pounding continued as whatever it was seemed to be running around the house really fast.

“Okay. This is ridiculous,” Tony said. “If they’re trying to scare us, they’re not. I’m just irritated.”

Tim couldn’t explain why, but he was scared. In fact, when he realized that Tony was about to go outside, it was like something momentarily took control of his mouth.

“Don’t go out there!” he said.

Even to himself, his voice sounded strange. He saw Tony turn away from the door.

“What’s wrong, Tim?”

“I...don’t know, but I really, really don’t think you should go out there right now, Tony.”

Then, they heard what sounded like something on the roof.

“I don’t know what’s out there, but don’t open the door. Please, don’t open the door.”

“Okay... Okay, Tim. Whatever you say.”

Tony’s voice was extremely calm, as if he was worried about Tim’s sanity and was trying to calm the crazy person. Tim didn’t really blame him. He took a deep breath and tried to calm down. He walked back to his cot and sat down on it.

The pounding on the walls resumed, and he was terrified by it, but he tried not to show it. Tony walked to his cot and sat, facing Tim.

“What do you think is so dangerous?” he asked.

“I don’t know. Honestly, I have no idea.”

“Then, why are you so worried?”

“I don’t know that, either.” Tim looked toward the window, and let out an undignified shout. “Look!”

Tony turned, but he was too slow. The...the thing was gone. The pounding didn’t start up again.

“What?”

“There was something in the window. Not someone. Something. The eyes were glowing...like when you shine a light on a dog’s eyes.”

“Tim, are you nuts?”

“I don’t know. Maybe...but I feel like I’m awake and sane.”

“Okay. Well, we’ll see what happens in the morning. If you still feel that way...”

“I’ll let you know. Maybe it’s just my imagination working overtime after what happened yesterday.”

“What happened?”

“I thought I saw something out in the desert while I was looking for Officer Lapahie. I tripped over a rock and fell. I couldn’t tell you what I saw, but there was something out there. And with the way that PFC Miller was killed... Maybe I’m just on edge.”

“Okay. I’ll buy that...as long as you don’t try to hide anything.”

“I won’t.”

“Okay.” Tony took breath and sighed. “I’m still tired.”

“Yeah. Me, too.”

“I’m going back to sleep. See you when the sun comes up. Sweet dreams, Probie.”

Tony lay down and was asleep in just a few minutes. Tim still felt extremely tense after what he’d seen. That had not been his imagination. Now, he couldn’t deny that it was possible someone was just playing a trick on them, but still, there had been something in the window, something that was moving very quickly...and could climb. Whatever it was, Tim was sure that he didn’t want to see it without a barrier between them.

Tim didn’t get back to sleep until about an hour later.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Tony sat up and yawned. The sun was up, thank goodness. The night had been strange enough. With that thought, he looked over at Tim who was still asleep. What had got into him during the night? His reaction had been strange at best, disturbing at worst. If Tim had sounded any less terrified, Tony would have ignored him and gone outside anyway, but there had been something in Tim’s voice, something that had stopped him in his tracks. Even if he had been worried about Tim’s sanity a little, he couldn’t have gone outside after hearing that fear.

He decided to get ready for the day. He thought that maybe the tiny bathroom might have improved...maybe the water was magically hot.

Nope. Well, he’d had cold showers before. Quickly, he got himself clean and then out of the cold water. By the time he dressed and came out of the bathroom, Tim was awake, just stretching as he stood up from the cot.

Tony scrutinized him. There was no sign of the near hysteria that Tim had expressed during the night. Tim turned and smiled at him.

“How was the shower?”

“Still cold,” he said.

Tim grimaced. He seemed completely normal now. Still, they should probably talk about it by the logical light of day.

...after breakfast.

Tim went into the bathroom and Tony got the water heating up on the propane stove so they could have some coffee. Just instant, but it was better than not having anything at all. The water in the shower stayed on for all of two minutes, and Tony grinned to himself. Clearly, Tim had no desire to linger, either.

“I hope the coffee’s hot,” Tim said as he came out of the bathroom, “because the water was freezing.”

“Hot, yes. Tasty? That’s a different matter.”

Tony held out the cup of instant. Tim wrinkled his nose but drank it. Then, to Tony’s surprise, he went to the topic on Tony’s mind.

“I can’t explain what happened last night,” he said, staring at his cup. “I don’t feel anything like I did last night. I must have just freaked out. I know I overreacted.”

“Do you really?”

Tim looked up and smiled.

“Almost. From a logical perspective, it makes a lot more sense that it was someone trying to scare us...kids maybe, especially after all that time we spent yesterday trying to talk to people. It makes sense. It really does.”

Tony smiled back. “But?”

“But...just for the sake argument?”

“Okay. Go for it.”

“If it wasn’t some kids trying to scare us...what was it?”

“What do you think it was?”

Tim hesitated, hitched his shoulder and looked away quickly.

“You were going to say something, Probie. What?” Tony asked.

“Nothing!”

“Remember, this is just for the sake of argument.” Tony raised his eyebrows. “Come on, Probie. Say it.”

“I have no idea what it was...but it was evil. If it wasn’t some kids playing a trick...of course.”

Evil. Tony didn’t say anything about that, but that was pretty strong. Tim smiled.

“But that was just for the sake of argument.” He finished his coffee. “So...what’s first?”

“You have that gobbledy-goop that Miller wrote in his email?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay. When Officer Lapahie comes by, we’ll ask him about it if we get a chance to say anything. Then, we’ll get the time line from him or whoever can tell us. He said the council would speak to us today.”

Tim nodded and went to grab his stuff. Tony watched him. Tim paused and looked back at him.

“I’m fine, Tony. I think I was just letting myself get spooked.”

“Uh-huh.”

Tim just raised an eyebrow. “Are you coming?”

“Yeah. I’m coming.”

------------------------------------------------------------

“He was near here in the night.”

Derrick nodded. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t surprising.

“He went to the house the agents are staying in. Sunnie Zah saw him through her window. She’s sure.”

“Did he get in?” Derrick asked in concern. They wouldn’t have known what they were hearing. “Did they open the door when he knocked?”

“No. It doesn’t seem that he got in.”

“Why would he go there? His focus has always been on us. They’re strangers.”

“Perhaps that’s why. He could have seen them out in the desert.”

Derrick thought about what Agent McGee had said the first day the agents had been here. He had seen something. What if it had been him?

“It’s possible. Should we tell them, warn them of the danger they could be in?”

“No.”

The answer was immediate.

“They won’t believe us. They’re outsiders. They’re here because Robbie brought someone with him when he should have kept it to himself. Let them investigate that and then leave.”

“That may put them in danger.”

“We have bigger problems, and it is our decision that you do not tell the agents about what is going on. It is not their concern. The sooner they finish and leave, the better.”

Derrick nodded in acceptance. He understood the reasoning and even agreed with it. Mostly. If the agents were being targeted, it might be worse if they weren’t warned of the danger. Still...maybe it was just a fluke. Maybe he was just going through and tormenting as many as he could. That would fit.

He hoped so.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Tony and Tim left the house and headed toward what looked like the main gathering spot of this area. A few cars were on the road. There were some kids getting into a large van. Some older people were standing together talking. Officer Lapahie was with them. As soon as he saw them, his expression closed off.

“I’m tired of seeing that,” Tim said. “I wish he’d trust us. The old man I talked to our first day took the time to talk to me and he said he believed me.”

“Don’t let him get to you, McGee.”

“I know. I’ll work on it.” Still, Tim couldn’t deny that he still felt edgy after last night. Officer Lapahie’s lack of trust wasn’t helping that feeling.

“Good. I don’t want to have to keep being the more reasonable of the two of us.”

Tim chuckled and then schooled his expression as Officer Lapahie approached them.

“Good morning, Officer Lapahie,” Tony said.

“Good morning,” Officer Lapahie said, neutrally. “How did you sleep?”

“Fine,” Tony said without batting an eye. There was no reason to bring up the sounds in the night or whatever Tim had seen.

Tim could have sworn that Officer Lapahie looked a little surprised by that easy answer.

“Good. What can I do for you?”

“First, a quick question.”

“Yes?”

Tim held out the paper with the phrase that PFC Miller had written.

“Do you recognize this? Is it a Navajo phrase?”

He looked and Tim watched as he examined it. If he recognized it, he gave no sign at all.

“No. It’s not Navajo.”

On a whim, Tim decided to probe a little bit.

“Are there any other dialects the Diné speak that this could be? Any variations or even other languages?”

This time, Tim knew he’d surprised Officer Lapahie, although he didn’t know why. However, Officer Lapahie did check it again more closely.

“No. I don’t recognize this at all. I’m sorry.” He handed the paper back. “Why?”

“Petty Officer Miller wrote about it to his family, said that he probably had spelled it wrong but that it had something to do with why Petty Officer Natani was coming here.”

“Either it’s so wrong that I don’t recognize it or it’s not a Diné word.”

“All right. Thanks.”

“Is there anything else?”

“Yes,” Tony said. “Could you, or anyone else for that matter, tell us what happened from the time that Natani and Miller got here to when Miller was found dead?”

Officer Lapahie took a breath and considered the question. Then, he looked over at the small group who were clearly watching and waiting for something.

“None of us were with them all the time, but all of us can give you parts. If this is important...”

“Yes, it is,” Tony said.

“All right. Come on.”

He led them to the group.

“This is the council. They make decisions for the clans that live here. They are also neighbors and friends.” He looked at them. “Agent DiNozzo and Agent McGee would like to ask about what happened.”

“Of course. Come inside and we can talk about it.”

“Thank you,” Tony said.

Tim caught the formal tone. Once again, Tony was keeping himself completely professional. The same closed-off expression was on the faces of all the men on the council. Tim caught a glimpse of the people who had stopped to watch them, but before he could feel self-conscious about the attention, he noticed the old Navajo man again. He smiled and nodded to him. The man smiled back.

Then, it was inside. Tony and Tim sat down and the council sat across from them.

“Robbie and his friend came here a few days ago.”

“What was the reason?” Tony asked. “We haven’t been able to figure that out from what Petty Officer Miller told his family. Was it something personal?”

“Yes. It was about his brother,” Officer Lapahie said.

The others stiffened, and Officer Lapahie said nothing more.

“What about his brother?” Tim asked. “You said before that he had...gone astray? Was that why?”

“Yes,” said one of the council. “His brother was...betraying his upbringing.”

“In what way?”

“He was rebellious.”

“Was?” Tony asked.

“Probably still is,” Officer Lapahie said. “It was more a last effort to reach him that led us to ask Robbie to come back.”

“Are they close?”

“Not for years, but they are each the only family they have left. It was worth a try.”

“So...where is he?” Tim asked. “Petty Officer Natani’s brother. Where is he?”

“We don’t know.”

“What about when they came here. Where was he, then?”

“We don’t know.”

“Then, why ask him to come here if you didn’t know where his brother was?”

“He’d been seen, here and there, but no one has known where he is staying, where he is hiding.”

Tim looked sideways at Tony. This was one of the more frustrating interviews they’d done. Tony leaned forward.

“Do you think that Petty Officer Natani’s brother could have killed Petty Officer Miller?”

They all exchanged significant glances.

“We would hope that he would never do such a thing.”

“But it’s possible?” Tony persisted.

“Many things are possible.”

Tim felt himself getting tense. Why was he so on edge? It didn’t make sense, particularly when Tony was so easily keeping himself cool.

“Where were they staying?”

“Two houses north of here.”

“Would you mind if we looked at it?”

“The other man’s belongings have already been taken out.”

“We know,” Tony said. “We need to look into every angle.”

“Yes, that would be fine,” Officer Lapahie said. “I can let you in.”

“Thanks. So...after they got here, what did they do?”

“Robbie introduced his friend to many of us. He showed him around. Then, after they’d been here for a couple of days, in the night, Robbie left the house. His friend went with him. When they were both gone in the morning, we went out looking for them and found Robbie’s friend, but not Robbie. We’ve been looking for him ever since.”

“Is there anything else you can think of that we might need to know?”

“No.”

“All right. Thank you for your time.”

Tony looked at Tim and they stood up together. Officer Lapahie left the building with them.

“Robbie’s house is just over this way,” he said.

“Thanks,” Tony said.

Tim started looking around as they walked. He said nothing, but he was searching for that thing again. He couldn’t get rid of the feeling of being watched...no, hunted. It put him on edge, and made everything else worse. ...but what bothered him was that no one else seemed to see what he’d seen, and he knew he’d seen something. This wasn’t his imagination. He just didn’t have the slightest idea what he was seeing.

“Hey, McGee. You coming?”

Tim scanned the area one more time and then nodded.

“Yeah, I’m coming.”

He followed Tony and Officer Lapahie into the house. It was a little larger than what Tony and Tim were staying in, but not by much. However, it had been kept up quite well. Tony walked around the room. Tim could tell that he didn’t expect to see anything in here.

...but Tim saw something that pinged on his brain. There was a photograph of two young men. He walked over to it.

“Who is this?”

“Robbie and...his brother,” Officer Lapahie said.

Tim looked up. “What’s his name?”

Officer Lapahie hesitated. “Does it matter?”

For no reason that Tim could explain, his patience suddenly broke. He was frustrated that there were so many road blocks being put up. He was worried about whatever it was that he kept seeing. He was afraid for reasons he couldn’t articulate. ...and he felt lost in what he was starting to feel was a completely different world. He was not in the mood for more mistrust.

“Officer Lapahie,” he said, trying to keep himself from shouting, “we are trying to figure out how a man died! We are here because a petty officer of the U.S. Navy is dead, by unknown means! Another petty officer is missing, someone that, apparently, you know! We’re not here to take over. We’re not here to do anything but investigate a crime! That’s your job, too. The least you could do is stop trying to keep us from doing our job. I get that you don’t want us here, but we’re not leaving until we find the truth, until we figure out why one man was killed and another has vanished! If he’s alive, we want to find him. If he’s not, we want to know why. If you have more important things to do again today, please go do them and let us do our job.”

After he stopped talking, he was embarrassed, but he refused to apologize. He was still irritated...as much because he felt like he should say he was sorry as he was because of the way Officer Lapahie was acting.

There was an awkward silence.

“McGee...maybe you should go out and get some fresh air. Clear your head a little,” Tony suggested/ordered.

Tim took a breath and nodded.

“Excuse me, Officer Lapahie,” he said and then walked out of the house.

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 Post subject: Chapter 4
PostPosted: Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:29 pm 
Online
Director
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 4

When Tim got outside, he stalked away from the house, still a little angry about it. The area was mostly empty. People had gone on with their usual routines. He sighed and started walking back toward their house. He figured that Tony was going to be annoyed, and with good reason. Tim knew he should have kept his mouth shut. He shouldn’t have said those things. Like the old man had said, there was a complicated relationship and he couldn’t understand it. It wouldn’t help anything to start ranting, especially at the local law enforcement. He’d have to apologize...but it would take time to be sincere about it.

“You’re looking pretty preoccupied.”

Tim was startled and looked toward the voice. There was the old man again. He smiled a little.

“I was just lecturing myself.”

“About what?”

“Oh, I lost my temper and I shouldn’t have.”

“About what? You don’t strike me as the kind of person who gets angry easily.”

Tim laughed. “You don’t really know me, but I don’t usually get like that.”

“So what was it this time?”

“You’ve heard about the man who was killed?”

The man nodded solemnly. “Of course.”

“Yeah. Well, that’s why we’re here. We’re investigating his death and the disappearance of Petty Officer Natani. I feel like everyone here just wants us to go, but we can’t do that until we find out what’s going on.” And something made Tim add more. “...and then...I keep seeing this...thing and...”

“What thing?” the man asked. He was very serious now. Tim was preoccupied and didn’t notice the change in the man’s tone.

“I don’t know. While we were out in the desert before, I saw something, but it was so far away and moved so fast that I couldn’t tell. Then...I can’t even tell you what I saw, but it was...something, staring at me, just after I talked to you before. And then, last night, I saw it again in the window. But the problem is that no one else ever sees it. It moves so fast and I can never quite see it clearly myself. It just...it’s frustrating because I know I’m seeing something, but it’s nothing I’ve ever seen before. ...and I’ll admit that it’s a little...frightening.”

The old man was silent for so long that Tim looked at him, and the old man looked him in the eye intently. That same intense gaze he’d turned on Tim before.

“I know what’s going on here,” he said softly after a few seconds.

“You do?” Tim asked, a little incredulously.

“Yes. I do.”

“Can you tell me?”

“Yes, but not here and not now.”

“Why not?”

“Some things need to be told at the right time and in the right place. This is one of those things...and this is not the right time or place for it.”

“So...when is the right time and what is the right place?”

“Come here tonight, midnight. Normally, I wouldn’t start so late, but I need you to come by yourself, without your friend.”

“Why? Tony is a good man. He wants to figure this stuff out, too.”

“I haven’t looked in his eyes. I need to have time to see what he’s like. We don’t have that time. If you come here tonight at midnight, I’ll tell you what you want to know, but you need to keep it to yourself until you know the whole story, and you need to come alone.”

Tim didn’t like the idea of not telling Tony about the meeting, but if they were going to get some answers, finally, he figured it would be better to go along with the old man’s strange insistence. After all, the man looked old enough to be his great grandfather. Tim was pretty sure that there’d be no physical danger. ...unless this was a trick and someone else was involved.

As if he’d read Tim’s mind, the man smiled.

“I promise. This is not a trick. I am promising you the truth. I swear it.”

“How did you–?”

“You have very expressive eyes. They tell me what you’re thinking.”

Tim flushed a little, but smiled.

“Yeah, I could be better at that.”

“Honest feelings are good. Much better than hidden ones. Tonight.”

“I’ll be here.”

“Good.”

There was a sound behind him and Tim turned around to see what it was. He grimaced as he saw Officer Lapahie and Tony coming out of the house. He turned back.

“Are you sure that–?”

The old man was gone.

“Man, he’s fast,” Tim said to himself.

Then, he waited for Tony to come over. He knew he was going to get a lecture, a deserved lecture. However, they walked to the house together in silence. Tim was silent because he was mulling over the old man’s demands, weighing the need for keeping it a secret with procedures that stated he shouldn’t go off by himself. Tony was silent because he wasn’t going to give Tim a dressing down in public.

When they got into the house, Tim decided to bite the bullet.

“I’m sorry, Tony,” he said.

“Man, McGee, what’s wrong with you? Since when are you the one acting irrational?” Tony was serious in spite of his choice of words.

“Honestly, Tony, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything about it. I know that. If you give me until tomorrow, I’ll even apologize and mean it.”

Tony smiled grudgingly. “You wouldn’t mean it today?”

“No, I wouldn’t.”

“You seem calmer.”

“Yeah, I was talking to that old man again. He must not have much to do because he’s always hanging around.”

“Maybe he’s following us,” Tony said with some suspicion.

“He’s always with a group of people when I see him other places. When I’ve talked to him we’re alone, but he’s so old, Tony. I can’t imagine there’s much to fill his day at this point.”

“I haven’t even noticed him, actually. I’d liked to think that I’d be able to catch an old man following me. What’s his name?”

Tim laughed. “You know what? I have no idea. He’s never said.”

“You never asked?”

“No.”

“Nice, McGee.”

“He hasn’t asked my name, either, actually. Anyway, I had already started lecturing myself when I ran into him. It’s just kind of nice to have someone not avoiding us.”

“Well, he’s still avoiding me. I haven’t seen him.”

“You’re right. Maybe, the next time I run into him, I can introduce you,” Tim said, thinking of what the man had said about not having had time to evaluate Tony’s trustworthiness. “So did you find anything in there?”

“No. I didn’t think we would. Whatever happened, it’s not because of what’s in that house. It’s about Natani himself and his brother.”

“Yeah. If only someone could tell us what’s going on.”

“I’ll bet there are some who could...but they won’t. There’s so much context we don’t have and we need that to find out what happened.”

“Yeah.” Tim decided that he would see what the old man had to say. He was the only person in the entire area that seemed willing to tell them what was going on. If he wanted to be secretive for now, Tim would let him.

“All right. They’ve told us something. Did you notice that they didn’t like that Officer Lapahie told us it was about Natani’s brother?”

“I did.”

“That means it’s important that he was coming out here because of his brother. Maybe there’s some kind of record. If they don’t know where he is...maybe he’s been getting into trouble. We still didn’t get the name, but we can see in Natani’s record. He must have family listed.”

“Yeah. Abby could work her magic and Ellie could get more used to asking people questions.”

Tony chuckled, but then, he sobered.

“You can’t let this lie with Officer Lapahie,” he said.

“I know,” Tim said. “I won’t let it. I’ll apologize to him, tomorrow. Promise.”

“All right...then, I’ll let it go. ...but why is it that this is getting to you?”

“I don’t know.”

“You’re not a probie, anymore...even if I call you that. You’re used to people being rude.”

“That’s just it, though, Tony. They’re not. It’s not rudeness. It’s... I don’t know how to describe it...but something about it gets under my skin. But I know that’s no excuse. I need to deal with it and I will.”

“Okay. Let’s call the boss and get them working on it from their end.”

They called NCIS and told Gibbs about what little they knew and asked for the crew in DC to see what they could find out about Natani’s brother. He warned them that Vance was thinking about giving up on it, given the lack of progress and the fact that the Navajo Nation wasn’t exactly thrilled about their investigation. They weren’t protesting, but they could all feel it. He wasn’t pulling the plug yet, but the possibility was there.

Tim could almost agree...except that he didn’t like the idea of leaving without knowing where Robbie Natani was and what had killed Jack Miller.

So they went on with what they could do, which wasn’t much, but they did their best. Tim used the satellite connection to see if he could find bite marks that corresponded to an animal. He knew that Ducky would be making the same efforts, but he didn’t like just sitting around.

Feeling a sense of marking time, they both went to bed early again. Only this time, Tim didn’t go to sleep. He lay where he was, staying as quiet as possible, hoping that he could get out of the house without waking Tony up in the process. He’d already written a note, letting Tony know that he’d be back.

As the minutes ticked by, Tim thought, once again, about what he could have seen last night. It had been in his mind over and over.

He could have sworn it was a person...only not. People’s eyes didn’t glow...with that strange animal-like greenish hue, looking like bright discs of light. It had been the most frightening thing he’d seen...mostly because this wasn’t a movie. This was real life.

But what could it have been if it wasn’t a person? Could it have been a dog? A big one that was just up on its hind legs, looking in the window? Tim didn’t think so. He hadn’t seen a dog nose. Just those eyes. Besides, dogs didn’t climb on house roofs or knock on doors and walls.

He looked at his watch. Getting close to midnight. He’d better start trying to sneak out. Quietly, he sat up and looked over at Tony. Tony was asleep, breathing deeply and evenly.

Good.

Tim stood up and crept to the door, carefully stepping over the floorboard that creaked. Then, the door itself. He took a deep breath and opened it. No creak.

He stepped outside and closed the door after him. Then, he headed to where he’d said he’d meet the old man...and he’d ask his name.

The air was surprisingly cool after the heat of the day, but it was still unbearably dry. Tim had felt parched the entire time he’d been here. He complained about the humidity back in DC, but this was the other extreme.

When he got closer to the Natani home, he saw the old man standing there, looking the same as always. He walked over.

“You came,” he said.

“I told you I would.”

“But you weren’t sure about it, were you.”

“No, but I came.”

“Yes, you did.”

“By the way, Tony reminded me that I never asked your name. I’m sorry.”

“It’s no trouble.”

“I’m Agent McGee. Tim.”

“You may call me Sani.”

“Okay. So...what’s going on?”

“Not here.”

“This is where you told me to come.”

“To meet with you so that I can lead you to the right place.”

“Where is the right place?”

“Out in the desert.” He pointed away from the houses.

Tim looked out into the emptiness of the desert. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to go wandering around in the desert at night.”

Sani smiled. “Then, it’s a good thing I know exactly where I’m going, isn’t it.”

“I guess so.”

Tim was unsure of this, but he followed Sani as he started walking. Surely, they couldn’t be going far. He was too feeble.

Wasn’t he?

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 Post subject: Chapter 5
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 8:48 am 
Online
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Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
A/N: This chapter contains the Navajo creation story and I have condensed it a bit in order to tell it in one chapter. I'm not taking any credit for it. Also, I hope it's not boring to anyone reading that I have, essentially, included another story within my story. ;D


Chapter 5

“How much further do we have to go?” Tim asked, feeling more winded than he wanted to admit. They must have been walking for a couple of miles, and the higher elevation, the thinner air, the drier air. They’d all conspired to make him feel like a complete wimp while the old man seemed completely unaffected.

Sani turned back and smiled.

“Not far, Tim. A young man like you should be fine.”

“Higher elevation. I’m not used to the air,” Tim said.

Sani stopped and let him catch up.

“You see those rocks ahead of us?”

“Yes.”

“That’s where we’re going. Almost there. You can rest there.”

“Do you have any water? I didn’t realize we were going hiking first. I would have brought my own.”

“Yes. You’ll have something to drink when we get there.”

“All right.”

Tim stumbled as they walked between two craggy cliffs. For just a moment, he felt as though he had walked through a wall. It resisted him just enough to put him off balance. Then, the resistence was gone and he was walking again. The cliffs weren’t particularly high, but it looked as though the wind had carved out a small, circular space. He looked up and could see the stars. It was like standing in a bowl. In the center of the open-air room was a small fire. That didn’t seem safe.

“Why did you leave the fire unattended?” he asked. “It could have spread and it’s so dry out here.”

Sani just smiled. In the flickering firelight, he looked different. He sat down and handed Tim a flask.

“Are you still thirsty?”

“Yes, absolutely,” Tim said.

“Then, have a drink. As much as you need. I have plenty.”

Tim sat down beside him and took a drink. The stuff was vile, but he was so thirsty that he drank it all.

“Thank you,” he said without commenting on the taste. That seemed rude. “Is this the right place?”

“Yes. It’s the right place. If you will be patient, the right time will come soon.”

“It’s not the right time now?” Tim asked.

“Not quite. Just sit and relax. Get your breath back.”

There was a different feeling here. Tim couldn’t figure out what was causing it. He stared at Sani who was sitting calmly, unhurried. The silence was such that Tim didn’t feel like he could break it by asking what was going on.

No, not silence. There was something, just on the edge of his hearing...but he couldn’t tell what it was. He looked at Sani and found that the old man was staring intently at him. His eyes seemed to go right through to Tim’s soul. He couldn’t look away from his eyes.

Then, he started to feel strange himself. He looked around and could have sworn that his vision had changed.

“What’s...”

That was the only word he got out. Sani leaned forward and smiled at him.

“I think it is the right time now.”

“Why?” Tim asked.

“Because you need to learn to listen with more than your ears. If I told you the story before you were able to listen with your soul, you would ignore what I have to say. Many do. With your mind prepared, your body in the right space, you will hear and then think about it later. Are you ready to hear?”

Tim nodded slowly. He felt as though he was looking through a thin film that was changing what he could see.

“Good. Not many know the story of creation that the Diné know. Even some of the Diné have forgotten it or they don’t believe it. They think that because the words used are different from the modern words that they can’t be true. Truth is truth. Words merely try to symbolize truth. Don’t be afraid of what you see. In the morning all will be back to normal, and you’ll be able to think about the truth again...with your mind and your soul.”

“What is the truth, then?” Tim asked slowly.

“I am going to tell you part of the Diné Bahane', the story of my people. First, the Holy Wind was created. It is the mist of light that surrounds the Spirit People. They lived as spirit beings before they had a physical form. This was the First World. It was small, black, an island in the middle of four seas. Each of the four seas had beings who ruled them. Frog, Big Water Creature, Blue Heron and White Thunder. Those who lived on the island were the Spirit People, Coyote, the mist beings and insect people.

“Above each sea was a cloud, all different colors. There was a black cloud, a white cloud, a blue cloud, and a yellow cloud. The black and white cloud joined together. The breath of wind from that joining created First Man. The blue cloud and the yellow cloud joined together and the wind formed First Woman. They were not together at first. They were on different parts of the island, but each one kindled a fire. First Woman saw First Man’s fire and went to see what it was. She found it and First Man asked her to bring her fire and to join with him. She did and they were together.”

As Tim listened, the words seemed to take on a life of their own, creating strange geometric images of First Man and First Woman. Then, the words faded and he didn’t hear Sani speaking. He experienced what he was saying instead.

Great Coyote came out of the water and approached First Man and First Woman.

“I hatched from an egg. I know everything in the water, everything in the skies. I am Great Coyote Who Was Formed in the Water.”

First Man believed him, but then, a second coyote appeared. He was not happy with what the three were saying.

“I am First Angry. I was living when you were formed. I existed before you. You were not first.”

The Spirit People began to fight with each other. They made so much noise and so much commotion that the rulers of the seas became annoyed.

“Your fighting is disturbing the whole world,” Big Water Creature said. “You have to leave! Now!”

They forced all the beings on the island to leave the First World. First Man, First Woman, Great Coyote and First Angry climbed up to a hole in the sky, leading the others, and climbed into the Second World, the Blue World.


Tim watched as the spirit beings were forced out of a world made of darkness and soot. The world they climbed into was completely different. His gaze kept returning to First Angry. He didn’t know why. ...but the movement continued and he fell back into the story.

There were already people living in the Second World. All blue birds. Blue hawks, blue jays, blue herons, blue-feathered beings. The world was blue. They lived in blue houses. The powerful swallow people lived there, too.

“Welcome. Come dwell among us,” the swallow people said.

First Man, First Woman, Great Coyote and First Angry were happy to come. The others were, too. They lived happily together with the people of the Second World for twenty-three days.

Then, one of the spirit people approached the wife of the chief of the swallow people. He wanted to sleep with her.


“No!” Tim said. “Why are you ruining this world?” He forgot that they couldn’t hear him. “Stop!”

The next morning, the chief was angry with them.

“We welcomed you here. We let you live here with us in peace. This is how you repay our kindness? You are no longer welcome here. Leave!”

They couldn’t stay. The swallow people drove them away. They looked for a way to get out of the world.

“Come this way!” called the Wind from the South. “I will show you a way out.”

They followed him and found a slit in the sky. First Man created a way up to the slit and they all climbed out of the Second World, into the Third World, the Yellow World. The bluebird had come with them from the Second World. He got there first. Then, the First Four were after him and then, the others.

The Third World had two rivers which flowed perpendicularly through each other, the Male River and the Female River. There were also six mountains. Four Holy People lived on the mountains. First Man and First Woman were called to the Holy People, but the Holy People would not speak to them for four days.

Black God said, finally, “You must be clean. Clean yourselves and we will come back in twelve days.”

First Man and First Woman did as they were told and then, twelve days later, the Holy People came back. The White Wind blew through the space while the Holy People walked around First Man and First Woman. They became human beings with powers instead of the spirit people they had been.


Tim sighed, feeling happy at the marriage of First Man and First Woman. As he saw their children, many of them, being born, he thought that they would finally have a permanent home. Things seemed to be going so well for them. ...but it wasn’t to last.

For a moment, the flickering of the fire before which he sat penetrated his consciousness. He struggled to see what there was beyond the images.

“The story is not yet finished, Tim. You must hear it all. It is not yet over.”

Tim subsided and let the words wash over him again.

Men and Women began to fight with each other and ended up separated for four years. They were both unhappy with the separation and finally, they spoke to each other and healed the breach. The women sailed across the river separating them from the men and rejoined their husbands.

But a woman and her two daughters were left behind. They had been away when the reconciliation was made.

“We can swim this river. It is not too far,” the mother said.

Her daughters agreed and they began to swim...but Big Water Creature came up out of the water.


“Look out!” Tim said, trying to warn them. The two girls were not fast enough.

Big Water Creature pulled the two girls beneath the waters of the river and took them to her dwelling place.

Three days, the people searched for the girls. Finally, with the help of Talking God and Sprinkling God, the people brought bowls to the river’s edge and began to spin them, creating a tunnel in the water down to the house of Big Water Creature.

First Man and First Woman went into the tunnel...but First Angry snuck along behind them. When First Man and First Woman found the girls in the house, they led them back through the tunnel to the land...and First Angry took the two daughters of Big Water Creature and hid them beneath his skin coat.

The people celebrated the return of the missing girls, but then, were disturbed by a number of animals who were running away from something. Deer, antelope, squirrels until finally, the people sent locusts to discover what was happening.

“A wall of water is coming from the east and tides are coming up from north and south!” the locusts reported. “We will all be drowned here!”

Quickly, the people ran to the top of one of the mountains, to get away from the water. First Man took dirt from all the mountains. The Holy People came. Turquoise Boy brought the Male Reed and planted it. All the people gathered around it and blew on it until it grew to the top of the world. A woodpecker made a passage through the reed and the people climbed up into the Fourth World, the White World.

...but they weren’t safe yet. The water kept rising and rising, higher and higher, until it looked like it would break through and flood the Fourth World, too.

They saw the shape of Big Water Creature in the water as the seas threatened to drown them. First Man approached.

“Why have you come here?” he asked. “Why are you bringing the waters up to drown us?”

“Maybe it’s because of this,” First Angry said, uncovering the two daughters of Big Water Creature.

First Man was not happy at First Angry’s trickery, but it was more important to stop Big Water Creature from destroying them. Turquoise Boy filled a basket with turquoise. On top of the turquoise, he placed four different types of pollen. Then, he gave the basket to First Angry. First Angry put it on the horns of Big Water Creature and then put the two children on the basket. Big Water Creature left them and the waters receded.

They were safe once more.

After they got off the island they had climbed to, First Man and First Woman built the first hogan and had the first hogan-raising ceremony.

Inside the hogan, First Man and First Woman thought sacred thoughts and planned for the new world they lived in. Great Coyote joined them in their sacred planning. They planned to make a sun and a moon, a day and a night. They did not want First Angry with them. He had been the one who had made their flight from the Third World necessary. He brought unhappiness. They lied to him when he asked what they were doing. They hid their plans for orderly days and nights, for months and years. They hid their plans of making the sun and the moon. All the time, they planned and created and left First Angry out of the plans.

Then, he found out, and he was angry with them.

“You have been making all these great and wonderful plans and have been keeping me out of it. You blame me for our misery, but I have done nothing before. ...but now, I will. Now, I will mess up your order and mix it with chaos. The sun and moon will not travel on the same course. They will not move in the same way. The rains will not be regular. They will come at times and not at other times and you will not be able to know. You will have drought and flood. Chaos instead of order will rule time.”

Then, First Angry left after his declaration. He stayed away for a time, and then, he returned to see the others making stars and constellation. He joined them in their making until he got tired of the careful way they were placing the stars in the sky.

“It is too slow your way,” First Angry said. He grabbed the blanket holding the rock-star mica and snapped it, flinging all the rest of it into the sky with no order.

First Man and First Woman, with Water Sprinkler and the Black God, decided to recreate the mountains from the Third World. They did this together and then taught the people about these sacred mountains and how the chants should be sung for them.


Suddenly, there was silence. Silence and more silence.

Silence and then...then, a sound.

The crackling and popping of the fire.

Tim looked and saw the fire. The images he had seen were gone.

“The story isn’t over!” he said.

“No, but the story has much left in it and what you need to know has been told.”

“What do I need to know?” Tim asked, still looking for the other parts of the story he had been hearing. He turned around and around the small space, looking for First Man and First Woman, for the other people, for Great Coyote and the Holy People.

Sani knelt in front of him, drawing his eyes back.

“The coyote called First Angry. He is the one who brings chaos to order. He is the trickster. He is evil and yet he is not. He will help one day and hurt the next. ...and some say that he brought the Witchery Way. Others say that it was First Man and First Woman. In either case, the Witchery Way is ancient, as old as mankind itself.”

“The what?”

“The Witchery Way. It is a way that harms not helps. There is nothing good in it. It is all evil. Those who follow it do so because they want to. It is not something you can do accidentally or without knowing. We, out here, far from the rest of the reservation, far from other Diné, we face the dangers of those who follow the Witchery Way. Long ago, we were trained to find and defeat them when they arose. It has been so long that many have forgotten. Not all, but many. We do not share this with outsiders often. It is something we keep to ourselves...and even then, we don’t speak of it much among ourselves.”

“Then...why did you do this...for me?” Tim asked, looking around again. How many had experienced something like this? Did all of them? If so, he was almost envious. He’d never had such an intense experience. It was like watching a movie on steroids...or something.

“Because...I believe that you wish to discover the truth, and the yee naaldlooshii has seen you, knows you...and may pursue you. You have looked into his eyes. If you don’t have the knowledge, how will you escape him?”

“Yee naaldlooshii?” Tim asked.

“A skin walker. One who can change into an animal at will, a witch. This is what you are seeking. This is what killed the Navy man.”

Tim tried to be skeptical, but he found himself listening, believing, unable to question. Sani’s voice seemed to reverberate in the small space and Tim’s brain vibrated with the sound.

“Why?”

“He was in the way, I would assume. His brother was the target.”

“His brother...Natani?”

“Yes.”

“Why would he go after his brother?”

“To become clizyati, evil. Pure evil, if he wasn’t already. He is surely dead now, and they all know it. They search for his body, not for his life.”

“What do I do about it?”

“If you cannot leave...”

“No, not without evidence of what happened.”

“Then, you must take care. You must learn to recognize where the yee naaldlooshii has been. He is no longer human. He is evil. He is a follower of the Witchery Way. He is clizyati.”

“How will I know?”

“The tracks. You will sometimes see them change from human to animal or from animal to human. You may see a coyote whose eyes don’t glow or a seeming human whose eyes do.”

“What if I see him?” Tim asked, the questions coming to him easily, as if they were being placed in his mouth by something other than his brain.

“Hope you are not alone. You cannot hope to kill a skin walker yourself. You have no training, no experience. The most you can hope to do is have someone else save you...or hide yourself from him. Do not pursue him if you see him. He will kill you...or worse.”

“This is real,” Tim said softly.

Sani smiled. “Yes, although perhaps not in the way you would define it as real.”

“What does that mean?”

“Here, in this place and time, everything I say is real, is true, and you have experienced it. Outside this place and time, you will question. That’s the nature of man, but I urge you to remember what you have heard and seen this night. Don’t dismiss it simply because it’s different from what your life is like.”

Tim was silent, trying to understand it, trying to get what he was hearing. Then, Sani leaned over the fire.

“I don’t like to do this, but it may be that you will need more than the tale I have told you. You may need to see what you fight against without knowing it.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know you don’t.”

Sani began to chant softly. Tim couldn’t understand the words this time, but a new image appeared before him.

A group of men stood around a fire in a cave. All wore skins of various animals. One did not. That one was tied up on the floor of the cave, his eyes open and frightened.

No...more than frightened. One of the group approached him, knife in hand. Then, with preternatural quickness, he leapt at the man and...

Tim backed away from the vision, his eyes wide with horror.

Somehow, he was
part of the story, not just watching it and he was being sucked into the terror the now-dying man felt. Then, the group turned, chanting and dancing. They closed in on the man. They got closer and closer, their faces filled with a kind of frenzy that terrified him. As they knelt down, the one who had killed the man raised the knife again.

Tim fell back onto the ground, shouting in fear.

Sani was kneeling beside him.

“It’s over now, Tim. It’s not happening now.”

Tim blinked quickly and he could see the stars above him, twinkling high in the sky.

“That is what you are facing, only you’re fortunate that it’s only one, not many. So far.”

“How?”

“Who knows? Every time we think we’ve got them all, someone arises with the same abilities, the same corruption, the same evil. Perhaps one of the ancients whispers in the ears of those who could be persuaded. I don’t know.”

Tim was still lying on the ground. He couldn’t bring himself to move.

“You are searching for a yee naaldlooshii, Tim. He killed his own brother. He killed the Navy man to get him out of the way. He has seen you. He knows you’re looking for him. Don’t wander alone, especially at night. ...and you can trust Derrick Lapahie. He has been reluctant to trust you, but he is a good man who is doing his job as best he can with the restrictions he has. Remember these things and remember what you felt. They are real.”

Sani got up and walked to the pathway leading back out into the desert and he paused.

“He’s out there now. He tracked us here. I didn’t think he would. We can’t leave yet. It would be dangerous for you.”

“But not for you?” Tim managed to ask. He started to sit up.

Sani returned to him and gently pressed on Tim’s eyelids, forcing them closed.

“Stay where you are. Don’t move. Let the night pass in silence. He’ll move on.”

Tim lay where he was. It was so quiet that he could hear his own breathing echoing slightly in the small space. It seemed to echo the sounds he had heard during the story. Over and over the different elements arose in his head.

He didn’t quite sleep, but he wasn’t really awake, either. He couldn’t move and he couldn’t open his eyes after Sani closed them.

All he could do was listen to the echoes.

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 Post subject: Chapter 6
PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2014 4:50 pm 
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Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 6

Tony woke up when the sun got in his eyes. He squinted and groaned.

“Oh, man, McGee, this cot is going to break my back before we leave here.”

There was no response. Tony sat up and looked over at Tim’s cot.

It was empty.

A note was on the cot.

Worried, Tony got up and walked over. He picked up the paper and read it.

Tony, I had to go out. I’ll be back.

That was it. It was definitely in Tim’s handwriting, but why hadn’t he just waked Tony up and told him? Why sneak out?

...unless Tim had left really early, like in the night. ...but why would he do that? Where had he gone?

Quickly, Tony got dressed and headed for the door. He hurried out of the house and started looking around. There was an old man standing outside. He was really old. Tony wondered if this was Tim’s friendly Navajo. He walked over.

“Excuse me,” he said, trying to be excessively polite. He didn’t want to give anyone a reason to dislike him by his usual exuberant behavior.

The man looked at him and smiled. “You must be Tony DiNozzo,” he said.

“Yeah. I’m looking for Agent McGee. Have you seen him?”

“Oh, yes. I’ve seen Tim. He’s just coming that way.” He pointed off into the desert. Tony could see a figure coming toward him.

“Where has he been?”

The old man chuckled a little and walked away. “Where hasn’t he been?” he called back over his shoulder.

Tony thought that was a strange response, but Tim was coming. He chose to focus on not ripping Tim a new one in public. When Tim got close enough for Tony to see his face, he was a little concerned. There was something weird going on.

“Tim, where have you been?”

Tim blinked at him a few times.

“I was...in the desert.”

“Why?”

“Uh...there was...something that...” Tim looked around. “Uh...”

“Tim! Talk to me! What’s going on?”

Tim took a deep breath and let it out loudly. Then, he finally looked at Tony directly, seeming to reconnect with reality.

“I need to talk to you, Tony.”

“Okay?”

“Not out here. Inside.”

“Okay.”

They started to walk back to the house, but they were interrupted. Officer Lapahie was walking around the house, clearly looking for them.

“Officer Lapahie,” Tim said. He looked at Tony and then back. “I’m sorry for how I spoke to you, yesterday. It was uncalled for and I apologize.”

Officer Lapahie looked at Tim with a strange expression, as if he was trying to figure Tim out, but he didn’t say anything about it. He just nodded in acceptance of Tim’s apology.

“We’re going to be searching for Robbie again later in the morning, in about an hour. Would you be able to help us in the search?”

Tony was surprised and he looked at Tim who seemed equally surprised.

“Yes. We’ll help search for Petty Officer Natani. We’ll be ready in an hour.”

“I’ll come and drive you out where we’re searching.”

“Okay. Thank you, Officer Lapahie.”

They went inside. Tim sat down on his cot and dropped his head into his hands. He didn’t say a word. Tony sat down on his own cot and watched him. For a few minutes, it was completely silent in the house. Tony waited, wondering what was going on. It was clear that something had happened, but nothing physical since Tim had no injuries. He was a little loopy, but not hurt.

How much longer would the silence last?

Then, Tim took a deep breath and sat up. He appeared to steel himself to speak.

“I’ve been trying to figure this out in my head, trying to make it...make sense. It just doesn’t, not here and now...but it did then and there. I don’t know how to change that. I don’t know...whether it was all in my head or not. ...but at the same time, I know it couldn’t be all in my head because I know what happened. I was there. I was awake. I saw it all happen. All the way back here, I kept trying to organize things. Make them fit in a logical fashion...but I can’t.” He sighed. “Sani seemed to be enjoying my confusion.”

“Sani?”

“The old man. I asked him his name.”

“He knows?”

Tim smiled a little although he didn’t meet Tony’s eyes. “Yeah, he knows. He’s the one who...explained it to me. If you can call what he did explaining.”

“Can you please try to be clear, McGee? I don’t get this at all and you’re acting really weird.”

“Yeah, I know.” He looked at his hands and then around the room. Then, finally, he looked at Tony. The expression in his eyes was strange. “If I’m not crazy...if Sani isn’t crazy...then, I know who...or what killed PFC Miller. PFC Natani is dead by now and what we’re going to be doing is looking for his body. And they all know it.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning that...last night... Yesterday, Sani told me that he would tell me what was going on if I was willing to meet with him last night, without telling you about it.”

“And you listened to him,” Tony said.

“Yeah, I did. I probably shouldn’t have, but I did.”

“So what happened?” Tony just really wanted to get at whatever was making Tim act so oddly.

“I’ll cut out the stuff I know you won’t believe and just say that he showed me the...creature who...killed PFC Miller.”

“And that would be?”

“A skin walker.”

“And just what is that?”

“A man who has learned to use a kind of...magic...to turn into an animal...in this case, a coyote.”

“A werewolf,” Tony said carefully. “You’re telling me that it was a...werewolf.”

Tim actually smiled a little. “A werecoyote, actually.”

Tony couldn’t help but laugh.

“But even then, that’s not what it is. Werewolves and such, they’re cursed to be that and they change at certain times. He can change himself into a coyote whenever he wants to. PFC Natani’s brother is who we’re looking for.”

He turned himself into a coyote?”

“I know you don’t believe me, Tony. I know that, and I don’t blame you for thinking I’m nuts. Actually, I didn’t get much sleep last night. Do you mind if I sleep until Officer Lapahie comes?”

“You could sleep longer,” Tony said. “I could go out with him myself and you could catch up on your sleep.” ...and maybe sound a little more sane.

Tim smiled as he lay down, as if he’d heard what Tony hadn’t said.

“No. Just a few minutes will do me fine...and Sani said I shouldn’t stay by myself while we’re here. The skin walker might come after me.”

Then, Tim rolled over and seemed to go to sleep.

“Okay,” Tony said softly.

He pulled out the laptop and booted it up. Normally, Tim did this stuff, but he’d seen what Tim had done to connect, and he really wanted to check in...maybe get some advice.

What will I say? If I say that Tim’s acting crazy, he have more trouble than any of us wants him to. ...but if I say everything is fine, I’m completely lying.

He took a deep breath and then chickened out on the face-to-face conversation. He shut down the computer and stepped out onto the front steps. He pulled out his cell phone and called Gibbs.

“Hey, Boss,” he said.

“What’s up, DiNozzo?”

“Uh...unofficially.”

“Wait, then.”

Tony heard Gibbs snap at Ellie to stay where she was and then a ding of the elevator. Good. No one to hear.

“Talk.”

“So...uh...McGee says that he knows who killed PFC Miller, that some old Navajo told him that it was a kind of werewolf.”

There was a long silence.

“What?”

“McGee went somewhere during the night with this old guy and when he came back he was a little out of it, and he said that a werewolf killed PFC Miller and that everyone here knows it. ...and he was serious, Boss. He wasn’t kidding or pretending. He believes it.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. He wouldn’t tell me that, but he knows that it seems crazy and he knows I don’t believe him.”

Another long silence.

“What do you want to do?”

“I’m open to suggestions.”

“Do you think he’s dangerous?”

“No. That’s the weirdest part of it. Except for what he’s saying, he seems normal...almost.”

“It’s your choice. If you think it would be better, you can pull out.”

“I don’t know if we should. Officer Lapahie just stopped by and asked for us to help them search. It’s the first time he’s actually suggested that we be a part of it. I don’t know that it would be a good idea to back out of that.”

“All right. Keep in contact and don’t lose sight of him. If this is a real problem...”

“I know. I don’t want to ruin his life by jumping the gun.”

“Don’t let him wander off again.”

“I won’t.”

“Good luck.”

“Thanks, Boss.”

Tony hung up and sighed. Of all the things he could have imagined happening when they came out here, Tim suddenly believing in werewolves was the last thing he would have thought would come up. He went back into the house. Tim was snoring. That was nicely normal. He could hope that Tim just needed some sleep and everything would be fine when he woke up.

That would probably be too easy.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Tim woke up, feeling really tired, but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity Officer Lapahie had given them. Better to be tired and sleep well tonight. Maybe the surreal feeling he still had would go away with a full night’s sleep.

Then, there was Tony. He knew Tony thought he’d lost it. Maybe Tony was right, but there was something about what he’d experienced last night that made it impossible for him to maintain the kind of skepticism that he would have expected of himself. If Sani had wanted to make Tim a reluctant believer, he’d succeeded. He could no more reject the idea of skin walkers than he could deny that the sun rose in the east.

So...what to do now...

Well, at the least, he needed to sit up and get himself alert.

That was enough for the moment. He sat up and yawned and stretched.

“Awake, McGee?”

Tim smiled and stood up. Tony’s expression was nothing less than cautious.

“Yeah. Not enough sleep, but it’ll do me for now. All I want is some water. I’m parched.”

He walked over and got a bottle of water. It tasted much better than the water Sani had given him the night before. ...come to think of it...what if it hadn’t been water? What if it had been something else? Something that would make his mind more malleable. That made him pause. There was no question that he’d been seeing things differently during the night...and there was no question that he had felt weird as he’d come back.

...but drugged? Tim had to admit that he didn’t have much experience with that kind of thing, but he didn’t really feel drugged. The feeling was...different, like his brain had been dragged, kicking and screaming, into another universe and was struggling to process twelve dimensions when it was used to only four.

Again and again, he came back to the feeling that what Sani had showed him and told him last night was somehow real, even if it made no sense in the world he usually inhabited.

“McGee? Earth to McGee?”

Tim jumped a little and realized that he was staring off into space. If he wanted to convince Tony that he wasn’t crazy, that was not the way to do it.

“Sorry, just thinking.”

“About what?” Tony asked.

Tim smiled. “Stuff.”

He finished off the entire bottle and then went into the bathroom to splash some water on his face. There didn’t seem to be any point to changing when he was going to be outside all day.

“How are you feeling?” Tony asked.

“Fine. Tired, but fine. I’m ready to go help.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. If Officer Lapahie is willing to let us help, we need to do what we can.”

“Yeah. That’s what I think, too.”

“I’m not crazy, Tony,” Tim said, knowing that just saying that wouldn’t really help.

“Yeah, sure. You just believe in werewolves.”

“It was a coyote,” Tim said and smiled.

He could see Tony trying not to smile...but he failed.

“Just try not to embarrass me, Probie,” he said.

“I’ll do my best.”

Then, they heard Officer Lapahie’s truck outside and they went out to meet him. He said very little, just indicated that they should get in. They drove out into the desert and stopped.

“This is as far as we tracked him the last time we were out here.”

“Who?” Tony asked. “Natani or his brother?”

“Either. We keep losing the trail and picking it up again.”

“Okay.”

Tim got out and started looking. Then, he noticed that there were a couple of other small groups. No one was searching alone. He remembered what Sani had told him about making sure he didn’t go anywhere alone. Maybe that was just common knowledge for all the Diné around here and not a warning specific to him.

They were looking for more than an hour before anyone found anything. Officer Lapahie suddenly called out.

“Here!”

Two other small groups hurried over. Tim and Tony also came.

The tracks were strange at best. Tim stared at it for a few seconds and debated whether or not he should say what he was thinking. He looked at Tony and then at the Diné.

“That’s a strange track,” Tony said. “What is it?”

“It’s a yee naaldlooshii...isn’t it,” Tim said.

“A what?” Tony asked.

“A skin walker.”

Tim saw the skepticism on Tony’s face as he looked to see what Officer Lapahie would make of that declaration. To Tim’s surprise, Officer Lapahie only looked surprised, not disapproving or skeptical.

“Isn’t it,” Tim said again. “In mid-transformation. He took a step while he was changing.”

A long silence as the Diné looked at each other and then appeared to leave it to Officer Lapahie to answer.

“Yes. How did you know?”

“Sani told me.”

Now, Officer Lapahie didn’t looked surprised. He looked shocked. Tim didn’t know what to make of it. Maybe Sani didn’t usually talk to other people. Tim could see that being the case.

“Wait...you believe this, too?” Tony asked.

“It’s not a matter of believing. It’s a matter of knowing, Agent DiNozzo. And I know. So do the others. We have known from the beginning when we first found Robbie’s friend. There hasn’t been a yee naaldlooshii around here for many years, so long that some stopped believing in it. We hoped that time was over. It wasn’t. It isn’t. ...and we don’t know if we can stop him, but we have to try. That’s our job.”

“Your...job.” Tony took a breath. “Then...what do we do...now?”

---

He saw them standing out in the desert. They’d found his tracks...as he’d hoped. There they were. Plenty of opportunities to go for. Who should he try to get?

Derrick? He was trying to bridge the gap between the modern outside world and the traditional world. He remembered him from his younger days. The game wouldn’t be as much fun with him out of the way. The others...he was risking more determined hunters if he took any of them out.

...but the outsiders. He’d already killed one. He had been very easy to kill. So easy that he wondered how it could be that these people had dominated the land. One of them? They wouldn’t be missed by anyone here, and if he did it right, it wouldn’t look like he’d actually killed them. They knew nothing about reality.

They were prey.

He rubbed the dust in his fingers. His brother had given him much.

He laughed softly to himself.

If he had worked it right, then, he would be able to see that death come, without hope of cure. The outsiders knew nothing of him, but one had seen him which made it more important to get rid of them.

Decision made, he began to take a roundabout path to intercept them. The others would start to try following his path...which went in more than one direction.

He laughed again.

Fools.

He concentrated and changed into a coyote. He had to get close enough that he could run, attack and retreat before they could fire on him.

Slowly, he got closer and closer, watching as they began to disperse from the tracks. As he got closer, he heard voices.


“What do we do now?”

“We find him.”

“And when you do find him?”

“We kill him...if we can.”

You won’t kill me so easily, Derrick.

Now was the time. There were only three of them together. The one who had seen him had paused and knelt down to look at the ground.

Perfect.

No more slow, cautious approach. Time for speed.

He began to run, faster and faster out into the open. As he got closer, he would be visible.

...and he was.


“Tim! Look out!”

He jumped at the outsider, his teeth bared, but as he leapt, he changed back to his human form. He brought up his hand and blew the dust into the face of the outsider. He jerked backward and coughed.

Success!

He was tempted to take a bite as well, but he decided to make sure he got away instead. There was plenty of prey left over after this one died.

He heard the bullets being fired at him, but they weren’t nearly fast enough to catch him. He ran away into the desert, leaving them all far behind. As he ran, he howled triumphantly and heard responding howls from the real coyotes elsewhere.

The outsider didn’t know it, but time was now ticking away before he would die. There was nothing he could do to prevent it.

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 Post subject: Chapter 7
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:35 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
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Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 7

Tim wiped at his face as Tony and Officer Lapahie ran over to him. Tony fired some shots at the...the skin walker as he ran away.

Tony wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t seen it.

At that, he wasn’t sure what he’d seen. All he knew was that it was the strangest attack he’d ever seen.

“Tim, are you all right?” he asked.

Tim sat up, coughing a little bit.

“Yeah...I’m fine. I...” He coughed again and wiped some dust off his face. “I don’t know what he was doing, but...I’m glad he didn’t...rip my throat out.”

“What did he do?”

“I’m not even sure. There was a coyote. Then, there was a man. Then, it was a coyote again. It was so fast. I’ve never seen anything move that fast.”

“Are you sure you’re not hurt, Agent McGee?” Officer Lapahie asked with great concern.

“I’m sure. He just knocked the wind out of me when he hit me.”

“Good. I didn’t expect him to come after anyone during the day. They usually save their activity for night, when it’s dark, when they can scare people more easily and hide more easily.”

“What now?” Tony asked.

“I need to tell the council about this behavior. Such a change...it’s worrying. The others will keep searching.”

Officer Lapahie looked out into the desert and sighed.

“I don’t think you should stay out here. I don’t know if he’s coming after you because he’s focusing on you, or if you were just a convenient target, but I’d feel better if you were back at the house. He won’t come in if you don’t invite him.”

“Well, I don’t plan on inviting him in,” Tim said and cleared his throat. He seemed to have inhaled some dust. No big surprise after he’d hit the ground. There was plenty of it in the air.

“Good idea.”

They walked back to the truck, keeping their eyes out for the coyote...for the yee naaldlooshii. Tony didn’t want to be taken unawares again. Tim was right about one thing, at least. That had been the fastest moving animal he’d ever seen. Coyotes weren’t supposed to be so fast.

They reached the truck without any further excitement.

Officer Lapahie drove them back, dropped them off and then headed over to the main building, pausing only to ask Tim once again if he was all right.

They went inside and Tim plopped down onto the cot.

There was a period of silence.

“Well?” Tim asked.

“Well, what?” Tony asked.

Tim smiled and raised an eyebrow.

“You saw it. Didn’t you.”

“I saw something moving really fast.”

“What did you see?”

Tony shrugged.

“I don’t know.”

“You saw the yee naaldlooshii, the skin walker. I know it and you know it. ...but if it takes you some time to admit to it, that’s okay. I’m actually feeling really tired. I’m going to take a nap.”

With that, Tim coughed again, lay down and closed his eyes, leaving Tony to stare at him. That something weird had happened out there...yes, he could admit to that. That it was a man who could change into an animal? That was a little harder to accept.

As he sat there thinking, he suddenly realized something and got out the copy of the phrase PFC Miller had written to his family.

“Yen naladoni,” Tony said. “Yee naaldlooshii. If he had no idea what he was saying, it could be the same thing...”

Miller had heard Natani talking about it and misunderstood.

“That’s why he was coming here...because someone had warned him about it.”

The world had suddenly become a place where werewolves could exist...or coyotes, at least. Could he really accept that? He wasn’t sure.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Tim woke up, feeling awful. It was like someone was sitting on his chest and squeezing his lungs. He sat up and tried to catch his breath.

“Hey, McGee. You’ve been asleep for hours. You feeling better?”

Tim turned to Tony. He was facing away from Tim, sitting at the laptop.

“Tony...”

“What?”

“I don’t...feel very good.”

Tony turned back to him and his expression went from teasing to grave. He hurried over.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Can’t breathe...very well. I...”

“Yeah, you’re looking gray, Tim. I’ll go find Officer Lapahie. We’ll get you to a hospital, have them check you out. Maybe it’s the altitude getting to you or something.”

“Okay.”

Tim fell back to the bed and closed his eyes tightly. This was the strangest feeling he’d ever had.

--------------------------------------------------------------

Tony hurried out of the house and saw the same old man nearby that he’d seen before. He hurried over.

“Hey, have you seen Officer Lapahie?”

The man looked at him in surprise.

“No, not recently. Why?”

“Agent McGee isn’t feeling well. I’m kind of worried and I think he should get to a doctor.”

“Let me see him.”

“Uh...I really just think he needs to get to a doctor.”

“There are...illnesses that are common here. I can tell you if this is something that will go away or if it’s something that needs other treatment. I will save you time.”

Tony hesitated and then nodded.

“All right.”

He led the old man back into the house. The man followed right on his heels, moving much faster than he would have thought the man could.

As soon as they were inside, he scooted around Tony and over to the cot. He knelt down by Tim.

“Tim, you’ve looked better.”

Tim’s eyes opened and he looked at the man.

“Sani...what are you doing here?”

“When did you start feeling like this?”

“I was tired when we got back from the search, but I didn’t sleep much last night. When I woke up...something...making it hard to breathe.”

“Did something happen out there?”

Tim nodded. His breathing sounded horrible. “Yeah...I was...attacked. The...skin walker...he jumped at me.”

“What happened? I don’t see any marks.”

“He didn’t hurt me. Just...knocked me down.”

“That’s all? Are you sure?”

Tim nodded and closed his eyes again. He was actually trembling a little. The old man got up and turned to Tony.

“Did you see?”

“Uh...yeah. Why?”

“What did you see? Don’t leave anything out. I need every detail.”

“Look, I really think we should just get Tim to a hospital, not hang around here talking about it.”

“No! Tell me!” The man seemed to radiate authority.

“All right, fine. Tim had stopped check something, another track, I think. Officer Lapahie and I were ahead of him. Then, there was this thing coming at him. It looked like a coyote, but it wasn’t right because...when it reached him, it looked more like a person. He jumped on Tim and then ran away...looking like a coyote again.”

“And how did Tim react?”

“He had the wind knocked out of him. He was coughing and stuff like that.”

“Coughing?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Was there dust on him?”

“I think so. He’d just been knocked to the ground. Of course, there’d be dust. We were out in the middle of the desert. Now, can I–?”

“You need to get Derrick here and we need to move Tim.”

“Yeah, to a hospital.”

“No. That won’t help.”

“Now, just a minute,” Tony said. “He’s having trouble breathing!”

“Yes, and if this was a normal illness, a hospital would be the place for him, but it’s not and they won’t help. If you’d like to stand and watch him die, surrounded by doctors, by all means, Tony, take him and go. I don’t want that to happen.”

Tony suddenly felt helpless, as if he was completely powerless to do anything.

“You have been stuck in a place with things that don’t make sense to you. I know that, but you’re not going to make it normal by ignoring it or pretending it doesn’t exist. There is too much at stake.”

“Then...what do I do?” Tony asked.

“Go and get Derrick. Tell him that Sani needs him to come here. He’ll listen to you.”

“Are you sure about that?”

“If you mention my name, he will.”

“Then, what?”

“Then, we go to the right place. Hurry.”

Tony suppressed his desire to ask just where the right place was. Instead, while Sani knelt beside Tim again, he left the house and ran toward the council building, knowing that was where Officer Lapahie had been at one point. Thankfully, he was outside, talking to a few other people.

“Officer Lapahie, I need your help.”

“With what?”

“Agent McGee is sick, and Sani says that he needs you to come over and give us a ride.”

That same shocked expression came over Officer Lapahie’s face. The others fell silent. Tony didn’t have time to wonder about that reaction to a simple name. He was too focused on getting Tim whatever help he needed.

“How do you know that name?”

“He told me. Can you come? It’s important. Tim looks really bad.”

Officer Lapahie looked at the others he’d been talking to and then nodded.

“Yeah. I’m coming.”

“Thank you.”

Instead of walking back, they got in the truck and drove the short distance to the house.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sani was worried. Tim shouldn’t have been this vulnerable after what he’d given him the night before. That probably meant that he should have died almost instantly, not hours later.

“Why...are you here?”

He looked down at Tim.

“Because you’re in a lot of danger, Tim.”

“From what?”

“From the yee naaldlooshii.”

“But he didn’t do anything to me.”

“Yes, he did. You just didn’t realize it.”

Tim winced and pressed his hand over his heart. A less-knowledgeable person would assume that Tim was having a heart attack and take him to a hospital as soon as possible. He would die and it would be considered a freak occurrence...but that wasn’t what was happening, and Tim didn’t have much time left. The regular healing sing wouldn’t help. Tim needed more than that to save him now. He needed time. Time he could only get in one place. The right place.

The door banged open and he saw Derrick, staring at him in shock. As well he should, Sani supposed. It had been quite some time.

“What are you doing here? With them?” he asked.

“Later. For now, Tim needs help that I can’t give him here. You know where I need to take him.”

Derrick nodded reluctantly.

“Then, we should get him there before darkness sets in. Tony, you help Derrick get Tim to the truck.”

“And you?” Tim asked weakly.

“I’ll meet you there,” Sani said.

Was it time to reveal something of what he was to these two men? Perhaps.

“Don’t let me down, Derrick,” Sani said and then turned and walked through the wall, knowing he’d be leaving considerable consternation behind him.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tony swore in shock.

“Come on, Agent DiNozzo. He’ll be waiting.”

“Where? Did you just see that? He walked through the wall!”

“Of course, he did,” Officer Lapahie said. He bent over and lifted Tim to his feet.

Tim’s skin was gray. His breathing was awful. Tony wanted to say that they were going to forget this Navajo weirdness and go to a modern hospital, but somehow, he couldn’t. Not after he’d seen an old man walk through a wall.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

Tim was the one who answered. “To...the right place, Tony.”

He laughed and then groaned and grabbed at his chest.

“Are you sure this is the right thing to do?”

“It’s the only thing to do, Agent DiNozzo, if you want him to have a chance of surviving,” Officer Lapahie said. “Come on!”

Finally, Tony gave in and let himself get pulled into this world. Somehow, he knew that by going along with this, he would be changing his perceptions forever. There was no going back once he went along. He was walking into a world of werewolves and witches and men walking through walls.

However, with Tim’s life apparently hanging in the balance, he didn’t feel like he had any other choice. He helped Officer Lapahie guide Tim out of the house and into the truck. They lay him in the bed of the truck and Tony decided to sit back there with him.

“Tim? Can you hear me?” he asked.

Tim nodded.

“Are you sure this is the right thing to do?”

Tim shook his head.

“But...this isn’t...normal, Tony. I don’t know...what else to do.”

“We’re going into the desert, you know.”

“Yeah. I think...we’re going to...the right place.”

“The right place being?”

“The place...I was before, I think.”

Tim grabbed at his heart again and his face scrunched up in pain. He began to wheeze.

“Okay, Tim...if I’m going along with this craziness, you have to survive it. Got it? I’m not going to deal with all this by myself, and it’s not worth it if you don’t make it.”

Tim smiled.

“I’ll...keep that in mind.”

“Good.”

Derrick drove them out into the desert, toward some low-lying cliffs. He stopped the truck, seemingly at random and got out.

“Here,” he said.

Tony was about to ask how he knew, but then, there was Sani appearing out of nowhere.

“Bring him in. Quickly,” Sani said.

Tim tried to sit up on his own, but he had weakened considerably, much too quickly. Tony was hoping that he hadn’t made a terrible decision by agreeing to take Tim away from medical help rather than toward it.

Officer Lapahie helped Tony get Tim out of the truck. Then, they mostly carried him between two cliffs. It was a narrow pathway into a space that looked like a bowl carved out of the red rock and sandstone so common to this part of the country. When they stepped into the space, there was a brief moment of resistence, but that passed quickly. In the center of the bowl, there was a crackling fire.

“Bring him here,” Sani said.

They did and lay Tim down very near the fire.

“What are you going to do?” Tony asked. “What’s wrong with him?”

Sani didn’t answer at first. He picked up some plants and threw them onto the fire where they gave off a great deal of smoke. Then, he began to chant softly. Tony couldn’t hear the words, but he saw Officer Lapahie sit down in a cross-legged position. He felt as though there was nothing else he could do. So he sat down beside Officer Lapahie and tried to be patient.

He watched for what felt like hours as Tim lay limply by the fire and Sani chanted and wafted the smoke over Tim’s body. It seemed counterproductive to Tony when Tim was already having trouble breathing. ...but something kept him from saying so.

More plants. More smoke.

Strangely enough, the smoke didn’t fill the space. None of it reached Tony or Officer Lapahie, in spite of the fact that they were both sitting only a few feet from the fire. It swirled around Sani and Tim and then up into the sky.

When he looked up, Tony realized that it was completely dark, that the stars were out. They hadn’t been there that long.

Had they?

Still, the soft chanting continued. It was almost soothing. If Tony hadn’t been so worried, it might have put him to sleep. It seemed to have done that for Officer Lapahie. He was lying on the ground. Asleep.

Then, Tony was startled by a different movement.

Sani knelt beside Tim, lifted him up and made him drink from a small vessel. Tim coughed and sputtered and then was quiescent. Sani didn’t seem satisfied by that. He made Tim drink more. And then more, until it looked as though he’d emptied the vessel of its contents...whatever they were.

All was silent for a minute or two.

Then, Tim began to gag and cough. Sani rolled Tim onto his side, toward the fire and Tim began to throw up. Whatever he brought up must have gone straight into the fire because Tony didn’t see any sign of it on the rocks.

Then, it was quiet again.

Sani rolled Tim onto his back. Tim’s eyes were closed, but his skin was no longer gray. Sani threw more of the plants onto the fire, but he looked at Tony.

“I think I have saved him,” Sani said, answering the question Tony had asked hours before. “He was poisoned.”

“With what? That...thing didn’t have time to...”

“It had plenty of time. Corpse dust. ...and, yes, Tony, it’s exactly what it sounds like. What corpse he used, I don’t know, but that doesn’t matter as much as it matters that Tim took it into his body. The only reason he didn’t die right away is because I gave him an infusion of special herbs last night to protect him in case he was being targeted by the skin walker. It kept him alive, but it wasn’t enough to counteract a direct attack inside his body. These herbs I’ve also put on the fire, and I gave him a special mixture to drink to get the poison out of his body. I think I’ve done that. Now, we need to wait and see.”

“How long?”

“As long as it takes. We have time to wait. You can sleep here if you’d like, but you shouldn’t leave. It’ll be dangerous at this time.”

Tony looked at Tim and then, he looked at Sani.

“Who are you?” he asked. “What are you?”

“I’m Sani. I’m a man.”

“I don’t know too many men who can walk through walls.”

“True. Generally, you can’t do that when you’re alive.”

“You’re...a ghost?” Tony asked.

“Not the word I’d use, but, yes, you can call me that.”

“But you were doing things here, holding things. Ghosts don’t...do that.”

“Yes, I was. This is the only place where I can...do things.”

“The right place,” Tony said.

“Exactly.”

“What now?”

“Wait. As I said.”

“Can I sit by him?” Tony asked.

“Of course.”

Tony scooted forward and sat by Tim...who didn’t move a bit for a long time.

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 Post subject: Chapter 8
PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2014 9:41 pm 
Online
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 8

This awakening was much better than his last one, Tim decided. Whatever had been sitting on his chest and squeezing his lungs was gone. That was wonderful.

After a few minutes of savoring the sensation, he noticed that there was someone’s hand on his shoulder. He opened his eyes and stared up at the night sky.

“Awake, Tim?”

Tim craned his neck and saw Tony sitting by him. He smiled.

“Yeah. I’m awake.”

“How are you feeling?”

“A lot better.” He started trying to sit up. Tony leaned over and helped him.

Tim felt a little lightheaded, but not too bad, otherwise.

“We’re still here?” he asked.

“In the...right place,” Tony said.

Tim nodded, feeling tired but much better than he had before.

“Where’s Sani?” he asked.

“I don’t know...but I guess ghosts don’t have to be around all the time.”

“Ghosts?” Tim asked, feeling shocked.

“Yeah. You didn’t know?”

“No. He looked...really solid to me.”

“I wish. I saw him walk through the walls of the house. He vanished and appeared out of nowhere.”

“But...I could have sworn he was holding onto me. He closed my eyes...with his hands. I didn’t imagine that.”

“Yeah. That’s why this is the right place, I guess.”

“Oh.”

Tim looked around. This didn’t look like a special space. It was different, but it looked like they were just in an interesting part of the desert.

“It’s nighttime?”

“I guess.”

“You guess?”

“It’s looked like that for...hours. More hours than it should.”

“Oh. So...am I okay, now?”

Tony shook his head. “You’re asking the wrong person, Tim. I have no idea what’s going on in this crazy funhouse. Do you feel better?”

“Yes. Very much so.”

“You look much better, Agent McGee.”

Tim looked over Tony’s shoulder and saw Officer Lapahie walking toward them.

“Officer Lapahie...I didn’t realize you were here. I guess I should have.”

Officer Lapahie crouched down in front them. He looked intent on getting answers.

“You can understand Sani when he speaks?”

“Yeah. Obviously,” Tony said.

“How did you learn our language?”

“We didn’t,” Tony said.

“I don’t speak Navajo,” Tim said.

“That’s what I hear from him.”

“You do?”

“Yes. He speaks English to you?”

“Yeah. Always. ...well, except for when he was chanting or whatever. I didn’t understand those words.”

“It’s called a sing,” Officer Lapahie said. “It’s meant for healing. I’ve never heard that one before.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s to heal from the corpse poison.”

“Corpse poison?” Tim asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Sani said that’s what you were given.”

“Sounds disgusting.”

“I’m sure it is,” Tony said.

“And it’s all gone, now?” Tim asked, looking at Officer Lapahie.

“Sani seemed to think so. I think you’d be dead if it weren’t.”

“Okay...uh... So...how do you know who Sani is, if he’s supposed to be dead and all?” Tim asked, feeling awkward. Officer Lapahie had been holding them back constantly since they’d come, and now, he’d somehow become an ally. He’d helped save Tim’s life.

“He’s...the old man,” Officer Lapahie said, clearly feeling awkward himself. “That’s what Sani means. Old one. He’s a kind of...protector for our clan, has been for so long that no one remembers when he wasn’t. ...but most don’t see him.”

“You have?” Tony asked.

“Yes. When I was a...teenager. Old enough to know better but young enough not to care.”

Tim smiled. Somehow, it was comforting to know that the same sense of irresponsibility could cross cultural lines.

“I went out into the desert to be alone, to...prove that I could manage on my own. My parents didn’t want me to, but I did anyway. I got lost. Really lost. I was starting to get worried that I wouldn’t make it back home. And then, I saw this old man. He asked if I needed help. I said no. He knew I was lying, but he just smiled and started to walk away. I swallowed my pride and asked him to help me. I complained about my clan doing nothing, living out here in the back end of nowhere, even compared to other places on the Rez, that it was embarrassing and I couldn’t wait to leave.”

“Really?” Tim asked. “I would never have guessed that. You seem so...content here.”

Officer Lapahie nodded. “He brought me here, told me the story of my clan...of our clan. He’s my ancestor, and he explained why we live out here. It gave me a goal, a purpose beyond just being angry at my situation.”

“Why?”

“Because...we were tasked with suppressing those who would follow the evil Ways. There are always a few of them. Robbie’s brother...he’s following the Witchery Way, but there are others...and there have always been those who do so. This place is so isolated that it became a harbor for them. We are here to keep them from growing strong in secret. It’s hard enough to fight them in small numbers.”

“And every time we think we’ve got them all, another one shows up, no matter how well we think we’ve hidden the evil Ways. Somehow, they have always survived.”

They all jumped and turned toward the voice. Sani was there.

“You’re looking much better, Tim,” he said.

“Thanks...Sani. That’s not really your name, is it? You weren’t always old.”

“No, but then, Derrick isn’t his name, either,” he said with a smile at Officer Lapahie.

“It isn’t? That’s what’s on his record,” Tony said, looking at Officer Lapahie.

“It’s not illegal, Agent DiNozzo,” Officer Lapahie said with the merest hint of an eyeroll.

“It’s a form of protection,” Sani said. “Knowing someone’s true name gives you power over him. That can be for good or bad. The yee naaldlooshii that killed me long ago... he didn’t know my name, but I knew his. That’s how I was able to kill him.”

“I don’t get it,” Tim said.

“I spoke his true name. A witch cannot hear that and live.”

“We have two names. What we all use from day to day is a nickname of sorts,” Officer Lapahie said. “Many of the Diné have chosen to use the English naming conventions of a first name and surname. That’s not what we used to have, and most of us here in this clan still have another name that very few know. We don’t talk about it to each other. Usually, only family members know the names but they are rarely used...to keep us safe.”

“Then...how did you...?” Tim began and then trailed off at the expression on Sani’s face.

“He was my brother,” Sani said. “He learned the Witchery Way from my father’s brother. It is often passed down in families.”

“I’m sorry,” Tim said softly.

“When I died, I chose to stay to help in whatever capacity I could. It’s only here in this small place that I can have a physical form.”

“Why here?”

“Because this is independent of time and space.”

“The right time and place?”

“Yes, because here, I can be alive...more or less,” Sani said with a smile. “Out there, I’m dead. In here, I can be alive.”

“So...no one knows the name of PFC Natani’s brother?” Tony asked.

“He’s probably killed the only person left who might have known. If Robbie knew he chose not to use it. Their parents died years ago. They had a grandfather who disappeared.”

“Do you think that his brother–?”

“We don’t know,” Officer Lapahie said.

“What are you going to do about him? Is there another way?”

“I don’t know. Nothing as certain as using his name.”

“He’s not...invincible or anything, is he?” Tony asked.

“No. If you could hit him, he’d be hurt.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“Hitting him. You saw how fast he was, how easily he was able to get away. That’s the problem.”

“And we didn’t help, coming when we did,” Tim said, realizing how difficult Officer Lapahie’s job had been. “Just another complication for you, weren’t we?”

“To a degree.”

“Well...” Tim paused, hesitating a little to make the suggestion that had popped into his head. “...maybe we could help, now, instead.”

“How?” Officer Lapahie asked, justifiably skeptical.

“What if someone who had been a target was...bait?”

“Whoa! Wait just a minute, Probie,” Tony said. “You don’t know what you might be getting into!”

Tim laughed. “Tony...with all due respect, I think I do know what I could be getting into. I’ve already experienced it once.”

“He’s not stupid, Agent McGee,” Officer Lapahie said. “He’ll expect something like that. He’ll expect us to try trapping him.”

“But that doesn’t mean it can’t still work. All we need to do is distract him long enough for someone to take a shot, right?”

“And if he’s ready for a trick, how will you distract him?”

“I should be dead...shouldn’t I?” Tim said.

“Yes,” Sani said. “It was a near thing. I wasn’t sure if you were too far gone to save.”

Tim swallowed, trying not to dwell on that too much.

“So...if I suddenly show up alive in a place where we might expect to see him...”

“That might be enough of a surprise that he’d investigate,” Officer Lapahie finished. “Maybe.”

“But who’s to say that he won’t just run at you, rip your throat out and go on?” Tony asked.

“Thanks, Tony,” Tim muttered.

“Gotta think about that, Tim.”

Tony was right, even if Tim didn’t want to admit it. He looked at Officer Lapahie.

“What do you think, Officer Lapahie?”

“He’s always been proud, arrogant. That’s one of the reasons he was able to be swayed that Way. He might take the time to find out how you survived. Might. I can’t say that Agent DiNozzo wouldn’t be right about him simply trying to kill you to finish what he started.”

Tim took a breath and looked at Sani. Sani said nothing. He seemed content to listen.

“I’m willing to take that risk if it’ll help.”

Officer Lapahie was quiet for a moment.

“I can’t make this decision myself. The council will have to weigh in. This affects all of us, not just me and not just you.”

“Understood.”

“How much longer do we need to stay in here?” he asked Sani.

Sani closed his eyes and then opened them and looked up at the sky.

The stars were gone. It was day.

“Whoa,” Tony said. “I don’t know if I like the implications of that.”

Sani chuckled.

“No implications. I just cued this place up with the outside. I can’t change the Sun and the Moon at will. Coyote already did that.”

“Huh?”

“First Man and First Woman wanted the Sun and Moon to move regularly, evenly with perfect order,” Tim said. “But when First Angry, Coyote, found out that they were planning without keeping him in on it, he got mad and messed it up.”

Tony raised an eyebrow, and Tim looked at Sani.

“Right?”

Sani nodded.

“Good memory.”

“What you showed me here was...unforgettable. How did you make me see all that?”

“The world outside of here might call it hypnotism. I prefer to describe it as helping you open your mind.”

“So...no peyote?” Tony asked.

“No. That particular method came into use by the Diné long after I lived.”

“How long ago were you alive?” Tim asked.

“A long time. That’s all you need to know. It’s safe to leave now.”

He walked over to Tim and held out his hand. Tim hesitated and then took hold of it. It felt solid and Sani’s grip was strong.

They began to walk out of the space, back into the world. Just before they stepped out, Sani grabbed Tim’s arm and made him pause while Tony and Officer Lapahie continued.

“Tim, I’m glad you survived, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to survive a second time. This isn’t your fight.”

Tim smiled a little. “He made it my fight when he chose to kill a member of the U.S. Navy. I can’t walk away, not if I can help. If you think my idea won’t work, then...”

“Actually, I think it will work, but you should know how quickly they move.” He held out his arm. Tim could see a long gash. “This is what killed me, but I would rather have died from bleeding out like I did than I would have if I had listened to his words while I was dying.”

“What do you mean?”

“If this works, you will be very close to him. He’ll try to fool you. He’ll try to take control of your mind, make you into a puppet. Don’t listen to him. The followers of the Witchery Way have no good left in them. They have determined to do evil and only evil. No matter what he says, don’t listen to him, don’t believe him. He might tell you some truth, but it’s safer to believe he’s lying.”

“There’s no chance of them changing their minds?”

“Don’t even consider it. This is a man who has killed his brother, perhaps his grandfather. He killed one of the Navy men. He tried to kill you. If you looked into his eyes, you would see nothing left of a human being...but don’t look in his eyes.”

Tim nodded.

“All right. I’ll remember that.”

“Do. Your life...your soul may depend on it.”

Then, Sani pushed Tim forward and they left the protection of the place and returned to the real world.

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 Post subject: Chapter 9
PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:17 am 
Online
Director
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 9

The sun sank toward the horizon. There was some movement that he could see, but not much. In fact, he hadn’t seen any sign of panic or worry as he would have expected after he had attacked the outsider.

Then, he saw Derrick’s truck heading out into the desert.

So close to nightfall? Where could he be going?

He threw on his skin and shifted to coyote form. Then, he began to run after the truck. For fun, he howled and heard the answering howls from the other coyotes in the desert. He reveled in his power.

The truck slowed and then...it wasn’t Derrick who got out.

It was the outsider.

He was shocked. The man should have been dead. How was he still alive? Why was he out here alone without anyone else?

Suspicious now, he began to search. This was a trap, he was sure. A trick of some kind. He should just leave and make other plans.

...but the outsider was alive. How?

He couldn’t tolerate that. He watched as the outsider made a small fire and sat down beside it.

This had to be a trick.

But he was alive. That was no trick.

He began to make a circuit around the outsider and his fire. He ran at top speed, searching for any sign of someone watching. They would be trying to get him. He didn’t want to present such an easy target. They were still unbalanced. They didn’t know how to deal with him. He was glad. It gave him a thrill that he could frighten them and make things harder for them.

Three circuits around the outsider and he saw no sign of anyone.

He began to run toward the fire.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tim took a breath, trying to keep himself calm. He wasn’t sure about this, even though it had been his idea. It had quickly taken on a life of its own. It had been decided so quickly once Officer Lapahie had spoken to the council. It seemed like, before he knew it, he was driving the truck out here to sit alone in the desert and hope for something to happen. Something... He stirred the fire, sending hot ashes skyward.

How long would it take for something to happen...or not happen?

Then, there was a sound. He whirled around and saw the figure rushing toward him at top speed. Much too fast. He fumbled in his pocket, and then, he was thrown down to the ground by a large coyote with dull eyes. He lay there, staring at it for a long moment, staring into those strange, evil eyes. Then, he remembered Sani’s warning and closed his eyes. If he was about to die, it wasn’t going to matter if he could see it coming or not.

The pressure changed.

“You are alive.”

The weight shifted and then vanished. Tim opened his eyes and sat up, rubbing at his chest.

He hadn’t inhaled any dust this time. He was sure of that.

There was a man standing before him now. He hadn’t heard any sound that had indicated a change, only a change in the weight. ...but it was a man, not a coyote there now. The coyote was gone. In its place was a man wearing a coyote skin and nothing else. A man who gave off an aura of...evil. That really was the only word to describe the feeling Tim got from being in this man’s presence. And evil aura...and a horrid stench. His eyes glowed like a dog’s, that strange, inhuman green.

Even if he hadn’t been convinced before, it would be easy to believe that this man was a witch.

“Yes, I’m alive,” he said. He chanced a look at the man, but avoided the now-glowing eyes that threatened to draw him in. It was all he could do to keep from cringing.

“How?”

“Why should I tell you?”

The grin was feral.

“Because the longer you keep me interested, the longer you will live.”

“You’re just going to kill me anyway, aren’t you?”

“If you thought that, why come here, outsider?” Before Tim could answer, he continued. “Of course, you are thinking that you can trick me, trap me. I know that is your goal, but you are a fool. You should not have come out here. You will die, but if you wish to put off that moment, you can keep me interested.”

“Maybe you’re just not as powerful as you think you are,” Tim said.

The sound he made was almost a growl.

“How did you survive, outsider? I know you breathed in the poison. I saw it.”

“Yes, I did.”

“Then, how?”

Tim took a breath. “I didn’t do anything.”

“You must have.”

He leaned forward.

“Your time is running out, outsider.”

His face seemed to elongate. The eyes were right there.

“Are you finished telling me what I want to know? I am losing interest.”

Tim started to back away as the man in front of him began a transformation. He leaned forward onto his hands and feet. His face changed. His mouth became full of teeth.

“I will not waste my time if you are finished,” he said, although his voice was swiftly changing to a coyote growl. He crept forward.

“There was an old man!” Tim said loudly, scrambling back away from the yee naaldlooshii.

The coyote stopped and sat back.

“The old man helped me!”

The coyote changed back to a man who was still smiling cruelly. He began walking in circles around Tim, continually moving, making Tim feel more and more hemmed in. It was like he was being hunted, like he was prey.

“How?” he demanded.

“I don’t know,” Tim said, pressing on his pocket as surreptitiously as possible, hoping that this would work. If not, he could see a painful death coming in his near future.

“What do you know?”

“They took me somewhere. There was a lot of smoke. I heard...chanting or singing or something. When I woke up, I felt better.”

“That shouldn’t have worked. You should have died anyway. What old man?”

“I don’t know! Some old man...he was in the main settlement,” Tim said, desperately hoping that his lies wouldn’t be obvious.

He really hated the way the witch kept moving around him. Even if he didn’t want to look in the man’s eyes, he didn’t like that he couldn’t always see him, but if he started turning in tandem, he’d start getting dizzy.

“What is his name?”

“Sani,” Tim said, glad that Sani had told him that wasn’t really his name. He didn’t want to weaken Sani’s power, spirit or whatever, by revealing it to this horrible person...and he was afraid enough that he might let the real thing slip if he knew it.

Then, the man was right behind him, breathing on his neck, hot and smelly breath. Tim flinched away.

“Sani?”

“Yes.”

The man shoved him toward the fire and Tim had to regain his balance quickly to keep from falling into the flames. Before he was sure on his feet, the man grabbed him and turned him around. Tim avoided looking in his eyes but it was difficult. He was so close. Not only was he evil, he also reeked with an unsanitary stench.

“Do not lie to me, outsider,” he growled.

“I’m not lying! That’s what he told me!”

He threw Tim to the ground and then leaned over him, beginning to change again.

“I’m not lying!” Tim said again, pulling back as much as he could.

For a long moment, Tim was afraid that he was about to die the way PFC Miller had. Was this how he had felt? Had he had the time to dread his death?

Then, he changed back to a man and laughed at Tim’s cringing. He spat at Tim and let him up.

“Sani,” he muttered. “Why would that one save an outsider?” He paced back and forth a couple of times and then stared at Tim again. “How did he do it? How?”

“I told you. They took me to a place and...”

He bared his teeth at Tim. They were more than a little canine in a appearance.

“Quiet! Your words mean nothing!”

“Then, why ask me?”

“Sniveling little man. You do not belong here. Like that other one.”

“You killed PFC Miller, then?”

“If you mean the other outsider, yes.”

“Why?”

“He was in my way. He did not belong. Like you do not belong.”

“He hadn’t done anything to you.”

Another smile. Tim had never liked that expression less.

“And PFC Natani?”

“My brother?”

“Yes.”

“He is dead. He has performed many services to me in death that he could not in life.” Then, he smiled again. “You have experienced some of his service to me.”

Tim felt sick at the implication.

“It would have been better to have made the poison from a different body. Twins are better for that task, but my brother’s body was adequate.” He gestured to the north. “I have kept it safe. He will still serve me well. ...better in death than he did in life.”

“You’re disgusting,” Tim said.

“And you are not wanted here. I do not have any more poison available, but I do not need it for this. I can kill you and use your body as well. Perhaps, the corpse of an outsider will be as powerful as that of a Diné, but I doubt it. I am willing to try. Your blood will taste the same.”

He grinned and began to walk toward Tim. As he did, he began to change. Tim got the feeling that he was deliberately taking his time, enjoying the fear that he could no doubt sense.

Tim figured the skin walker could feel it because he was terrified.

------------------------------------------------

“I don’t like this plan,” Tony said...for the twentieth time, at least.

Officer Lapahie said nothing.

“What if he doesn’t have the time to send the signal?”

Officer Lapahie still said nothing.

“How long will it take us to get there?”

Officer Lapahie sighed.

“It will take the same amount of time I told you the last ten times you asked,” he said.

Tony sighed, too.

“I don’t like waiting,” he said.

“I don’t like relying on outsiders to do my job. We all have things we don’t like, Agent DiNozzo.”

“But you’re doing it anyway.”

“I don’t see that I have much choice, and if Agent McGee is willing to risk his life a second time...” Officer Lapahie shrugged. “If I had listened when Agent McGee mentioned seeing things before, perhaps he wouldn’t have had to go through that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Why do you think that he was targeted and not you or me or someone else? It’s because of what he saw. It’s because, even without knowing it, Agent McGee became a witness. Witnesses bring danger. An outsider seeing something that might require investigation is riskier than the Diné who already know and will tell no one.”

Tony looked at Officer Lapahie and decided to ask the question he’d been wanting to ask since they had first come here.

“Do you hate us?” he asked.

Officer Lapahie looked at him without expression.

“You’re tolerating us now...I figure it’s probably because of Sani, but from the first moment we met you, I’ve had the feeling that you hated us. Am I right?”

“In a way,” Officer Lapahie said, “but...”

There was a beep on Tony’s phone. He looked at it, saw that it was from Tim.

“Let’s go,” Officer Lapahie said.

They both left their hiding place, two miles from where Tim had planned on stopping. It was the only way they could come up with to make sure that Natani’s brother wouldn’t know that he was in a trap.

The problem with this trap is that it would take time to spring.

Hopefully, not too long.

They began to run. Officer Lapahie was not wearing his uniform, choosing instead to wear something much more simple, more traditional that gave him greater range of movement. Tony had running shoes on (thankfully, not the crazy colors that were in vogue at the time). They ran side by side, neither outpacing the other.

Tony didn’t know what Officer Lapahie was thinking, but he couldn’t stop worrying that they wouldn’t get there in time, that they’d reach Tim just to see him dead.

Finally, he could see the small fire Tim had built, the method they had decided to use to make sure that they could see exactly where he was without arousing suspicion.

Closer and closer.

Would they be too late?

Officer Lapahie gestured to Tony and then veered off to the right, quickly vanishing from view. Tony veered to the left, still fearing that it was already too late.

As he got closer, he could see two figures...and the closer he got, the more unreal it seemed. One was backing away from another...that seemed to be turning into a big dog or something.

Then, there was a loud shout and the...thing leapt at the human figure.

Tony picked up speed, pulling out his gun as he did so, but he was afraid he’d be too late.

Then, there was a loud report. The figure jerked in the air and the two silhouettes fell to the ground.

He was out of breath, but Tony began to sprint.

“Tim!” he shouted as he got close enough.

In the flickering light of the fire, neither of the figures were moving.

“Tim...”

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 Post subject: Chapter 10
PostPosted: Thu Jun 26, 2014 11:44 pm 
Online
Director
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 10

“Tim,” Tony said again.

Officer Lapahie came running from the other side, rifle in hand.

“Is he all right?” he asked.

There was a sudden movement from the tangled mass on the ground.

“Get him off!”

“Tim!” Tony said and grabbed at the coyote skin.

He and Officer Lapahie pulled the dead weight up and Tim pushed from the bottom.

Tim sat up and scrambled back from the yee naaldlooshii. He stared at it and then looked away when the eyes suddenly opened one more time.

The man whispered something that Tony didn’t understand and then shuddered and was still.

“What did he say?” Tim asked softly.

Officer Lapahie just shook his head.

“No words worth repeating,” he said looking at the body. Then, he looked up at Tim. “Are you all right?”

Tim nodded. “Yeah. I think so.”

He took a deep breath and let it out noisily.

“You sure?” Tony asked.

“Yeah.” Tim closed his eyes and swallowed.

“You’re bleeding, Agent McGee,” Officer Lapahie said.

“I am?”

“He is?”

Then, Tony looked at Tim’s arm. He grabbed it and turned it over. There were four deep scratches on his arm. It didn’t look too serious, but then...

Tim looked at the blood and then at Officer Lapahie. He chanced a weak smile.

“I’m not going to turn into a coyote now, am I?” he asked in a shaky voice.

For almost the first time, Officer Lapahie gave a genuine smile.

“No. That’s not how it works.”

“Good.”

“...but if you feel strange at the next full moon...”

Tim’s eyes widened just for a moment before Officer Lapahie laughed.

“Thanks,” Tim said with a relieved chuckle.

“Seriously, though, you should make sure you get the scratches looked at. Human or coyote...”

“...or right in between,” Tim whispered.

“...no matter what, infection is something you should worry about. He’d been out here for a long time, not exactly in the most sanitary of places, nor living the most sanitary life.”

Tim nodded.

“That I can deal with,” he said.

Tony crouched on the ground and looked at the body.

“He’s human now.”

“He’s not changing his form anymore,” Officer Lapahie said. “Death brings about the natural form.”

“That was a good shot,” Tony said. “I only heard one.”

“That was all I needed.”

Tony smiled and nodded in agreement. There was no question. The witch had been leaping when Officer Lapahie had fired. That required some serious skill.

“Well, I’d have you backing me up any time with that kind of aim.”

Officer Lapahie nodded with a bit of a smile and walked to the truck and pulled out a first aid kit. He knelt down and began treating Tim’s scratches.

“What now?” Tim asked. “We have the guilty party but...”

“...but no one is going to believe it outside of this place,” Tony finished.

“We don’t need the scrutiny,” Officer Lapahie said. “Our task isn’t over with his death and more outsiders knowing will lead to people coming as tourists, trying to catch a glimpse of a witch. That’s dangerous and unwelcome.”

Tim looked at his bandaged arm and then over at the dead man. Then, he looked up at the sky. Finally, he looked at Tony for a moment before shifting his gaze to Officer Lapahie.

“We don’t want to make this harder for you. This... all of this, it’s nothing that we could have imagined when we were sent out here to investigate the death of PFC Miller. We can’t pretend that nothing happened, but we’ll figure something out. I promise, Officer Lapahie.”

There was a pause and then, he stuck out his hand. Tim grasped it and Officer Lapahie helped him stand.

“I think I believe you,” he said.

Then, he turned his attention to the dead man.

“I don’t want to leave the body out here on the ground. Who knows who might find it.”

Tony looked at the body and then at Officer Lapahie. There was not even a suggestion of documenting how he had been killed. This was something that would have to remain vague.

“What do you want to do, then?” he asked.

“Bury him out here. Now.”

“Here? The ground must be hard as a rock.”

“It is, but I have tools to break up the dirt in the truck. I knew, if this worked, we’d have a body to bury. We don’t tend to move bodies very far for burial...and many don’t like even being near the dead.”

Even knowing that this was the way it had to be, essentially covering up what had happened felt wrong, but Tony said nothing about it. He wondered if Tim would, but Tim still seemed distracted. No wonder after what he’d seen, and he had no idea what had been happening before.

Officer Lapahie walked to the truck and grabbed a tamping rod, along with two shovels, from the bed. He walked back to the fire and raised an eyebrow at Tony.

“Well, Agent DiNozzo?”

“All right.”

Tim walked over.

“I’ll help,” he said.

“Nah, McGee. You’ve already done your part. You can rest on your laurels. If I wimp out, you can take over.”

Tim smiled a bit and didn’t insist.

Officer Lapahie began breaking up the ground near the body. Tony watched until there was enough ground that he could start shoveling.

“How deep do we need to go?”

“Just enough to cover the body.”

“Good.”

After a few minutes, Officer Lapahie had opened up enough ground to join Tony in digging. They dug together in silence. Tim contributed nothing.

Then, suddenly, Officer Lapahie initiated a conversation, perhaps for the first time.

“It’s not exactly that I hate you,” he said in a low voice.

Tony paused and looked at him, but Officer Lapahie was focused on his task. Tony decided to follow suit.

“Then, what is it?”

“I grew up very angry. Angry at the people who had ruined the land, taken it from us and made a hard life even harder. You don’t need to tell me that you didn’t do it. I know that. We all do. You...and any outsider is a representative of the people who did it. It’s a complicated relationship the Diné have with the rest of the United States. It will take longer than it’s been for all of us to figure out what the situation should be, how we will fit. It’s not your fault. It’s not our fault. We all experience the consequences of decisions made years before we were born...but our consequences are much harder to deal with than yours because you can leave and escape them. We can’t.”

Tony looked at Officer Lapahie again. He paused and glanced at Tony.

“Resentment is something I still have to work on, Agent DiNozzo. Logically, it shouldn’t be my reaction, but I’m human and logic doesn’t often figure into it.”

“After what I’ve seen, I can hardly disagree with you. Nothing that’s happened tonight fits into what I would call logic.”

Officer Lapahie chuckled a little and went back to work.

They finished digging the hole and then Tim helped them shove the body into a sack. Then, it was unceremoniously placed in the hole and covered with dirt.

“That’s enough?”

“Yes. We don’t want to take the body of a witch back to where the living are. That’s inviting trouble.”

“That sack won’t protect the body, though.”

“Of course not. It’s not supposed to. It’s supposed to contain it until it’s...decomposed and there’s nothing left of it to tie the witch to this place.”

“So...we’re done?”

“Yes. We can go back.”

“Officer Lapahie,” Tim said suddenly.

“Yeah?”

“He said that he had PFC Natani’s body...somewhere north of here.”

Officer Lapahie looked to the north.

“There are some caves up that way. We’ll check. Thanks.”

Tim nodded and fell silent again.

Tony and Officer Lapahie carried the shovels and the rod back to the truck. Tim followed them, rubbing at his arm.

“You sure you’re all right, Tim?” Tony asked.

“Yeah. Just...a little edgy.”

“Understandable,” Officer Lapahie said. “No one likes confronting a yee naaldlooshii alone.”

“Yeah.” Tim looked back at the shallow grave and shuddered a little bit. “I’ll be glad to have that...thing far away from me. The farther, the better.”

They got into the truck, and drove back to the house.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Officer Lapahie said that he’d report on what had happened to the council and then left them.

Tim walked inside and sat down on the cot with a whoosh. He’d tried not to show how freaked out he was while Officer Lapahie was around. He was just starting to respect them a little bit. He didn’t want to ruin that by revealing how he felt.

Tony came in after him.

“Tim, you all right?”

“I will be,” Tim said. “Later.” He looked up. “Tony...I don’t think I’ve ever felt...what I felt out there.”

Tony sat down across from him.

“What do you mean?”

“Evil. That’s really the only word for it. He was...evil. Every moment he was there, I knew that he could just decide to kill me and there would be nothing I could do about it. He was so fast. He moved so...fast. It wasn’t... It was unreal. It was...” Tim sighed. “This isn’t our world, Tony. This is another world, another set of rules.”

“It was your idea to do this, you know.”

“I know, and I think it worked, but even with the warnings...there’s nothing that could really have prepared me for what that was like. I...I’m not going to...forget this. Not for a long time, if ever.”

“So...does that mean that you’re not tired?”

Tim smiled. “Nope. I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much tonight.”

“Okay. So...what are we going to report? We can’t say that Miller and Natani were killed by a werewolf...”

“Coyote.”

“Whatever. We can’t say that and we can’t say that we killed him and buried him out in the desert, either. That’s not exactly procedure. ...but I’m not going to lie to Gibbs. He’ll know.”

Tim was happy enough to think about something other than the awful, evil eyes of the witch. He considered for a moment.

“Can’t we just say that Natani’s brother was the killer, that Officer Lapahie killed him when he attacked me and leave it at that? It’s true. The Diné could easily have requested to deal with that themselves. It happened on their land, after all...and to their people.”

“Well...that might have worked...”

“But?” Tim asked, confused.

“But I called Gibbs and told him about how you were acting weird and talking about werewolves.”

“You did? When?” Tim asked.

“When you were sleeping before we went out to look for Natani.”

“Oh. What exactly did you tell him?”

“That you seemed crazy, that you believed that a werewolf...”

“Coyote.”

“Whatever! ...had killed Miller. I told him that you went somewhere and that an old man had told you about it and you believed him.”

Tim looked at Tony and then up at the ceiling.

“So...you told Gibbs that I was nuts.”

“No. Not in...so many words.”

Tim sighed.

“Right. So...what are you going to tell him about it, then?”

“Me?”

“You’re the one who told him in the first place. It’s not my fault Gibbs thinks I’m crazy. I didn’t say anything.”

“You’re the one who went off by yourself with an old guy...who turned out to be a ghost!”

“I left you a note.”

“That didn’t help. You were acting crazy when you came back. You’re lucky that all I did was call Gibbs.”

“That doesn’t change anything. We still have the same problem since you couldn’t keep your mouth shut,” Tim said, although he couldn’t help smiling as he said it. “We can’t lie to him and since you implied that I was out of my mind, we can’t expect him to accept whatever we say. So...what are we going to do?”

Tony was silent for a few seconds, clearly trying to figure something out. As soon as the silence descended, Tim felt himself get tense, thinking about what had just happened.

“We’ll have to tell him the truth, the real truth,” he said, mostly to break the silence.

“Tell him that a werewolf...coyote killed these guys?” Tony asked incredulously.

“What else can we do? He’s going to ask about what I said, and I’m not lying to him. He’s going to ask about how it fit in with the murders, and you won’t be able to put him off. ...but you probably shouldn’t call it a werewolf. It’s not. It’s nothing like that. The only similarity is that there’s transformation. He completely controlled that, Tony,” Tim said. “He knew how to do it and it wasn’t something that was done to him. It was something he chose to do. That’s what he wanted.”

Tim couldn’t help grimacing at the image that brought up in his mind.

“And what do you think Gibbs is going to say about that?”

“I don’t know...but really, I’m the one who stands to lose the most by it,” Tim said. “You don’t have to admit to seeing it.”

“Yeah, right. Gibbs isn’t going to believe that...and if he did, he’d be mad at me for letting you wander off again. Either I’m in it all the way, or not at all.”

“So...what do we do, then?”

Tony took a breath and sighed.

“You’re right. We’re going to have to tell him...but I don’t have a clue what he’s going to say.”

“Can we depend on safety in numbers?” Tim asked.

“Probably not...and we can’t put it in our official report.”

“I know.”

“So...we agreed, then? We tell Gibbs...privately...when we get back and don’t mention it at all in the report.”

“I’m okay with that.”

“Good. I’m ready to try sleeping. You?”

Tim shook his head.

“No, but go ahead. I’m going to need...more time to think.”

“I can stay up.”

Tim shook his head again.

“No. No reason for both of us to go without sleep. I just need to adjust to everything. I’ll be fine.”

“Okay.” Tony lay down and Tim listened as his breathing slowed. He was envious that Tony could fall asleep so easily.

He didn’t plan on sleeping at all tonight. In fact, he got up and walked to the door. He hesitated before opening it.

There’s no one out there to hurt you now, he told himself.

He stepped outside and sat on the steps. He looked around and then up at the sky. Where there had been stars before, now, there were mottled clouds. Maybe rain. It hadn’t rained at all in the time they’d been here. He stared up at the sky for a while and then looked down and let out a strangled cry when he saw someone sitting right beside him.

“Sani!” he said and then took a number of deep breaths, trying to slow down the beating of his heart. “What...”

“I wanted to see how you were doing. I knew that he’d been killed, but I didn’t know about you.”

“I’m fine. Got a little scratch, but that’s all.”

Tim looked at Sani. He seemed normal, like a real human being. He hesitated and then reached out a hand toward Sani.

The old man grinned as Tim’s hand passed through his body.

“Feel better?”

“No. Not really.”

Tim waved his hand through Sani’s torso a few times and Sani laughed.

“It’s not going to change, Tim.”

“You don’t look like a ghost.”

“I’m a spirit.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Ghost sounds more negative.”

Tim smiled a little.

“There are worse things,” he said softly, remembering what he had seen that night.

Sani looked at him intently until Tim felt extremely uncomfortable. He was half afraid that Sani’s eyes would start to glow.

“You looked in his eyes.”

“Yes...for a moment, and I never want to again.”

“He gave you fear, fear of him, fear of the world around you.”

“I don’t think I needed him to give me any fear. I was scared enough,” Tim said.

“He amplified that fear, made it worse. The followers of the Witchery Way have that power...if they get the chance to use it, and it appears that he did.”

Tim didn’t want to think about that. He stood up and walked away from Sani, knowing that he really couldn’t escape the ghost, the spirit...whatever.

“Why did you show me all that? You didn’t need to. You could have told me about what I needed to know without...all that.” He turned back. “Are you sure you didn’t drug me?”

Sani smiled. “If it would make you feel better to believe so...”

“Not if it isn’t true.”

“I couldn’t just tell you.”

“Why not?”

“You wouldn’t have believed it. Some can believe when they hear the truth. You wouldn’t. Even some of the Diné have become skeptical of the old stories, choosing this modern idea that if it can’t be literally true, it’s a lie. Truth is truth, but sometimes, the truth is hidden from those who aren’t ready for it. You weren’t...unless I shuffled the cards a bit.”

“If you didn’t drug me, then, how come I saw all that?”

“Because you were in the right place. That hollow is a special part of the desert. I discovered it after I died. As a spirit, I can continue to learn...although my staying behind isn’t normal.”

“Why did you?”

“Because I was given a choice. I could go on, as most do, or I could stay to help my clan. I chose to stay. That’s not what we’re supposed to do. Death is a part of the cycle and not going on breaks that cycle. The Diné don’t particularly like the spirits that don’t move on, but I’m tolerated because I help.”

“How long will you stay?”

“Until it’s time for me to go.”

“When will that be?”

“I don’t know. I haven’t any idea at all. I just know that when it’s time, I’ll be done here and go on.”

“And you showed me all that...how?” Tim asked, going back to his previous question.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure it would work when I started. I thought you might only hear my voice and nothing more. You’re an outsider, and the Diné have been taught to see more. Your people have been taught to see less.”

“What do you mean?” Tim asked, feeling a little annoyed.

“You decide that the only things worth knowing are those you can see directly. If you can’t, then, they aren’t true. I see it creeping into the Diné and it saddens me. When I took you to that place, I put you in a place that can change a man’s mind, change it and put it into a different state. I helped you get there with the wind that resonated inside you. It moved you out of yourself and into another place. You experienced the story, not just heard it.”

“I don’t think I can forget that. Not ever.”

“Good.”

“I don’t know if it is.”

“It is,” Sani said firmly. “Because you have been introduced to some of the ways of the Diné. There are many places you can read the story. It’s not forbidden or protected, but you saw more, experienced more. Perhaps that will help bridge the wide chasms that separate us. Not today or tomorrow, not for many years, but some day...some day, perhaps both the Diné and the rest of the world will look at each other and not try to emphasize what’s different. Perhaps, we will remember that all of us are outsiders.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning that none of us are truly native to this land. It’s a gift that we have been given, but it isn’t ours. It belongs to those who created it. My people came to this land long before yours, but still, we didn’t originate here.” Sani sighed. “But my hope is that the more we truly know about each other, the more we will resist the separation. What the union will be...that I don’t know and can’t. I’m far from knowing everything, but it could be beautiful.”

“It could fail,” Tim said.

“Yes,” Sani said and smiled a little. “Yes, it could, but if you focus on the possibility of failure, you miss the beauty of the possibility of success.”

“I guess.”

“...and all this talk won’t remove the fear you feel. Avoiding it won’t make it go away.”

Tim smiled.

“Guilty as charged.”

“I can help.”

“How?”

“Look at me.”

Tim hesitated.

“I’m not a follower of the Witchery Way, Tim.”

“I know.”

“That is the fear. You need to risk it. Look in my eyes.”

Tim took a breath and looked up. Sani was right there. Obviously, he didn’t touch him, but he was so close to Tim that Tim wanted to back away. Somehow, though, he couldn’t. He found himself falling into Sani’s eyes.

“Let go.”

Tim heard the voice. It seemed to take over another voice, a voice he hadn’t realized was there telling him to be afraid.

“Let go.”

Everything started to go fuzzy for him, but the voice was still there, drowning out the other voice, destroying the other voice.

“Let go.”

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 Post subject: Chapter 11
PostPosted: Fri Jun 27, 2014 1:03 pm 
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Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Chapter 11

“Tim! Wake up!”

Tim heard the voice, and it wasn’t Sani’s voice anymore. And he couldn’t hear that other voice telling him to be afraid anymore. It was all silent inside his head. So...where was the sound coming from?

“Tim! Can you hear me?”

He suddenly realized he was being shaken. He opened his eyes. Tony was leaning over him, looking concerned.

...and he wasn’t outside. He was on his cot inside the house.

“How did I get here?” he asked.

“Get where?” Tony asked. “Please, McGee, don’t start acting crazy again. I’m just adjusting to one part of the world making no sense.”

Tim managed to smile a bit and sat up. Yes, he was inside the house.

“I thought I was outside.”

Tony sighed in relief. “You must have fallen asleep and had a dream.”

“Yeah...must have.”

Tim agreed, but he didn’t think so. He had no idea how Sani had got him back into the house, but he had no doubt that he’d managed it. He wouldn’t put anything past the old man.

“Don’t start that again, McGee,” Tony said.

“Not starting anything,” Tim said. “I promise.”

“Good. Let’s just get everything wrapped up here so we can get back to the real world and forget about all this.”

Tim shook his head. “I’m not going to forget, Tony. ...and really, I don’t think I should.”

“Feel free. I can’t wait to put all this behind me. I’m not ready to believe in werewolves...and if you correct me again, I’m going to smack you.”

Tim laughed. “Okay, I won’t, but this happened whether you believe it or not.”

“You’re acting pretty chipper for someone who was almost eaten by a...coyote.”

Tim realized that he was feeling better. He was feeling free, light... The darkness inside his mind was gone. The darkness that had been there from the first time he’d seen the skinwalker.

“I’m feeling a lot better...by the light of day.”

“Ah, I see. Let’s get ready to go.”

“Okay.”

Tim could very easily admit that he wouldn’t mind leaving, that he would be glad to get back to a hot shower and electricity and the Internet and his computers.

He could admit to all that, but there was a part of him that had changed. Sani’s desire to give him something more to think about had worked.

For now, however, they had to think about getting everything ready for their departure. After breakfast, they called Gibbs, gave him an abbreviated account of what had happened, promising a fuller account when they got back. They also met with the council one last time and then went out with Officer Lapahie and a few others to search the caves north where Tim had said the witch had indicated Robbie Natani’s body might be.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

“This is the only other cave that I know of in this area,” Officer Lapahie said softly as they approached it.

There was an oppressive feeling in the air. Tim would swear that this was the place even before they went in. It felt like he had felt when in the presence of Natani’s brother the night before. He thought that Officer Lapahie and Tony felt the same. They both seemed reluctant to step into the cave.

Finally, though, Officer Lapahie took the first step, turning on his flashlight as he did so. Tony and Tim followed behind. It wasn’t a large space, but big enough that they could split up to search it.

“Over here,” Tony said after only about a minute of searching. He sounded a bit ill.

Officer Lapahie and Tim walked over.

Lying on the floor of the cave, beginning to decompose, lay PFC Robbie Natani. His throat had a long, gaping wound, similar to PFC Miller’s. There was another large wound on the back of his head and bone from the skull was missing. There were other wounds that Tim tried not to think about.

“That’s him,” Officer Lapahie said in a low voice. “We’ll take him from this evil place and bury him as he should be.” He looked at Tony and Tim. “I know you have to document this for your records, but could you make it fast?”

“Yeah. We will,” Tony said.

Suiting actions to words, they took photos of the space, of the body, and Tim tried not to think about the fact that he had likely ingested some part of Natani’s body.

Another body, or rather the bones of another body, were found in a corner of the cave. Officer Lapahie said he would take care of that part of the investigation, but he thought they could possibly be Natani’s grandfather who had disappeared years before.

After an hour, they were finished and Natani was taken from the place of his desecration.

Tony and Tim went back to the house. It was too late to leave that night, but they would be leaving in the morning. Their transportation had been arranged. PFC Miller’s family had come to claim his body. They met with Tony, Tim and Officer Lapahie.

The night was uneventful, thank goodness.

Officer Lapahie came to the house early the next morning to take them to the airport.

“Case closed?” Tony asked as they headed away from the Navajo Nation.

“As far as the Navy is concerned,” Officer Lapahie said. “We have more to do.”

“What more?”

“Making sure that he was truly alone, that he had not gathered others to the same Way.”

“Can you do that?” Tim asked.

“We have to try.”

“I guess so.”

They pulled into the airport parking lot and got out of the truck. Tim looked at Officer Lapahie one last time.

“Thank you for letting us come,” he said.

Officer Lapahie smiled. “I didn’t let you, but I don’t think I mind that you did.”

Tim laughed a little and shook his hand. Tony did as well.

“Good luck.”

“Thanks.”

Then, they flew back to DC.

-----------------------------------------------------------------

“Are you ready for this, Probie?” Tony asked as they walked to the entrance to NCIS.

“No, but it won’t go away if we put it off.”

“It would if we put it off for long enough.”

“I’m not willing to wait that long to go to work,” Tim said.

“Me, neither.”

They went in and rode the elevator up to the bullpen. The doors opened and they walked into the bullpen. Gibbs and Ellie were at their desks.

Ellie looked up.

“Welcome back!” she said and then, added in a low voice, “I’m so glad you’re back, Tim. How do you manage the computer stuff with Gibbs? I feel like he was resenting me just for trying to tell him how things worked.”

“Years of practice,” Tim said with a smile.

Ellie gave an exaggerated sigh.

“I’ll bet you appreciate us a lot more now, don’t you, Probie,” Tony said.

“I appreciated the quiet,” Gibbs said. “Your reports?”

Tim and Tony both walked over and handed them to Gibbs. They had decided to wait and see if Gibbs would ask for more information. As it was, he looked at Tim with a raised eyebrow. Tim raised his eyebrows in reply.

“How are you feeling, McGee?” he asked.

“Feeling fine, Boss,” Tim said. “I got a bit of a scratch from Natani’s brother.”

“What?” Ellie asked.

Tim held up his arm.

“He was a little whacked out. He jumped at me and scratched me before Officer Lapahie managed to shoot him.”

“From like half a mile away,” Tony said. “It was an amazing shot.”

Gibbs didn’t say anything else, but the expression on his face said that there was more coming.

...but for the moment, it was over.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

“McGee, DiNozzo, my office.”

Tony and Tim exchanged glances and then got up to follow Gibbs to the elevator. They had known this was coming even after giving a report to Vance and having him accept it. Gibbs wouldn’t accept the obvious hand-waving they’d done.

The elevator jolted to a halt.

“What happened out there?” Gibbs asked with no preamble.

Tony looked at Tim who looked back. Now that the moment was here, Tim was worried about actually doing this.

“You called me and told me you were worried about McGee,” he said. “And now...”

“He’s not crazy, Boss,” Tony said.

“Then, what’s going on?”

“It was all true, Boss,” Tim said. “As unbelievable as it is...it’s true.”

Both eyebrows went up.

“All what is true?”

Tim took a breath, looked at Tony one more time and then launched into his explanation.

“PFC Natani and Miller were killed by Natani’s brother just like our reports said, but... Natani’s brother... had become a...a witch. He had learned how to transform himself into a coyote at will.” Saying the words aloud in an elevator in DC, as opposed to out in the desert of the Navajo Nation, made it seem more ridiculous, more insane. “He killed PFC Miller to get him out of the way. He killed PFC Natani...to use his body.”

“Meaning?” Gibbs asked.

“He tried to kill McGee using something called corpse dust,” Tony said, almost reluctantly joining the conversation. “I saw it myself, Boss. ...and the way that...they fixed him...”

A brief silence.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“Well...a ghost was involved.”

“A ghost.”

“Yeah.”

Gibbs looked back and forth between the two of them, as if he was waiting for the joke to end...and it wasn’t.

“So...both of you are saying that you were dealing with witches and ghosts.”

“Just one of each, Boss,” Tony said.

Gibbs skewered them both with looks, searching for any sign of falsity.

“You both believe this?” he asked.

“Yes,” Tony said.

“Yes, Boss,” Tim said.

“And...were any of the Navajo involved in this?”

“Mostly Officer Lapahie. He knows all about it and asked that we not publicize this part.”

Another period of silence as Gibbs looked at them.

“It’s true, Boss,” Tim said. “I know it seems impossible. I know it’s incredible. ...but it’s still true.”

“Are there any lies in your reports?”

“No. We’ve not told everything, but what we put in there is true.”

“And you won’t spread this around?”

“Are you kidding?” Tony said. “If I hadn’t seen it myself, I wouldn’t have believed it and I don’t think anyone else will believe it, either.”

Gibbs looked at Tim.

“Never, Boss.”

“Okay. Then, whether I believe you or not...doesn’t really matter.”

“Because you don’t,” Tony said.

Gibbs, typically, didn’t answer. He just turned the elevator back on and returned to the bullpen. Ellie looked a bit confused, but didn’t ask any questions.

They worked for the rest of the day and then left.

As they walked out of NCIS, Tony looked at Tim.

“Well?” he asked.

“Could have been worse,” Tim said.

“Yeah. Could have been better.”

“Yeah.”

“What now?”

“Now...we go home...and sleep in a place where we don’t have to worry about witches.”

“Sounds good to me. Will you be sleeping?”

“Yeah. I will.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

Tony gave him a thump on the shoulder.

“I’m glad it was you out there and not me.”

“Yeah, I’m sure you are,” Tim said.

“No, really. You dealt with it better than I would have. ...and both of us would be better than Ellie. Maybe in another year we can trust her that far.”

Tim grinned.

“You trusted me after only a few months.”

“No. I just pretended I did.”

They both chuckled and then went their separate ways. Back home, back to reality.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Late that night, Tim sat on his bed, in his room, thinking.

Not about Natani’s brother. Not about the yee naaldlooshii. Not even about his brush with death.

No, he was thinking about what he had seen, what he had experienced with Sani in that strange alcove.

He wasn’t the same. He knew that. More than Tony, he had changed with all that had happened to him, all that he had learned.

Gibbs might prefer to dismiss it as ridiculous or unbelievable. Tony might want to forget that it had happened.

Tim couldn’t dismiss it. He couldn’t forget it. ...and most of him didn’t want to. This was a culture, a world he hadn’t even known existed and now, he had seen something more, something new.

“It did happen,” he said softly to himself.

That was what mattered.

He lay down and went to sleep.

...and he dreamed..

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 Post subject: Epilogue
PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 10:05 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2008 7:05 am
Posts: 52863
Location: Here and there. Everywhere and nowhere.
Title: DOCTOR!
Aliases: Scurvy Gums Ramona
Gender: Female
Epilogue

After...

Sani sat in the alcove alone. He sat for a long time beside the fire, waiting. Waiting for that feeling that would call him out into the world again to fight, to help, to be where he was needed.

He sat, every so often chanting snatches of a song.

Then, he smiled.

There was a mind searching. It was a familiar mind.

He closed his eyes and concentrated on that mind. It took him far beyond the boundaries of the Navajo Nation. It took him to the outside world, far from what he knew.

It took him to a small apartment in a noisy city.

A man slept.

A man dreamed.

There was more to him than met the eye.

Sani watched him and then leaned down.

“There is more to the tale I told you. There is always more to learn. If you will hear, you will know the story. Listen and I will tell you of Changing Woman and her sons the Monster Slayers...”

The man twitched a few times, but then, he lay quiet, seeing the story that he was being told. It was easier than it had been the first time. After telling another part of the story, he withdrew to his space with a smile on his face.

Sani’s smile widened and he looked up at the sky. Was this necessary, this sharing, this change? No. Not at all, but the mind was open and willing to learn. He would learn and know more.

Sani laughed. There was no escaping what had begun.

...and even if there was, where was the fun in that?


FINIS!

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