Sorry for the delay on this. I've been writing insurance articles for a living as well as proofreading an omnibus version of Cato's Cavalry.
Nate looked at the Feds and then spread his hands. "What friends in the treeline?"
Gibbs nodded at the trees. "Oh, the people coming towards us now, who are making the mistake of pointing guns at us. Very dumb thing to walk whilst holding a loaded weapon that you're pointing at someone. If the safety isn't on and you trip over some wet grass you might shoot someone by mistake."
"Crap," Dwight muttered and Nate looked over his shoulder at the trees. Shit, Vince, Jordan and about another eight members of the Guard were walking towards them. Vince at least wasn't holding a weapon. The others unfortunately were. All looked uncertain, although Jordan also had a certain hint of sneer on her face. Not a good combination.
He sighed. "Come to join the craziness?"
"Nate, what's going on?" Vince asked. "Why are you all here?"
"We're here to look at the door that is apparently in front of us, even though all but three of us can't see it. Apparently Audrey's on the other side."
This got him some utterly baffled looks. "Door?" Jordan almost spat the word. "What door?"
"It's over there," Gibbs said flatly as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "In the meantime you people want to tell me why you're pointing guns at Federal Agents? Because my people do not take that lightly."
Nate looked at the Feds quickly. David and DiNozzo looked like a pair of terriers, bristling visibly with anger. Anger and… something else. Maybe anticipation? Maybe confidence? Their hands weren't too far away from the hip holsters containing their guns. As for Fornell, well he had his arms crossed and was looking at the newcomers with what looked like angry contempt. Which just left Gibbs and McGee. The former had his hands in his pockets. The latter had his hands clasped in front of him. So why did the last two look far more dangerous than the first two?
"Just a precaution," Jordan said flatly. "Now – what door? Are you crazy?"
Nate looked back at Gibbs, who tilted his head in thought for a moment, before crooking a finger at Jennifer. "Walk with me."
Gibbs looked as if he was about to laugh for a moment and then pointed in the general direction of the invisible – depending on who was looking at it – door. "Where'dya think?"
"Oh – ok!" Jennifer smiled uncertainly and then followed him.
This annoyed Jordan. "Hey? Who said that you could move?"
Gibbs waved a hand lazily over his shoulder at her. "Oh pipe down. You might learn something."
Well this was a bit of a risk, thought Gibbs as he walked towards the door. Jennifer was following him, looking bemused, worried and more than a bit hesitant. He wasn't that worried though. He knew that McGee and the others had his back. Besides – he wanted a closer look at the door.
The closer he got to it the more it interested him. It was… odd. It crackled with magic, a magic that did not seem to be tainted with whatever the hell it was that was infecting the area. And behind it… there was that void that McGee had mentioned. And it was a great deep roiling damn void.
He slowed as they approached it and stared hard at it. Well, it looked like a normal white-painted wooden door. But it was more than that. He looked at Jennifer, who was staring at it with just as much intensity.
"What do you think?" He asked the question in a low voice, as he had a feeling that she might have jumped out of her skin if he'd been any louder.
"Certainly looks like a door," she said with a strained smile. "Haven't a clue what it really is though."
"Could be a portal. I've been told about them. Never seen one though." He paused. "I wonder if it's locked?"
"Are you going to try it?"
He paused and looked at it again. He couldn't feel a real risk coming from it. "Yeah." He reached out and put his hand on the doorknob. And as he did he felt the door shake slightly. The ground shake slightly. Even the air around them.
"Holy shit!" The call came from behind them and he looked back to see that the non-mage and non-Jedi and non-whatever-the-hell-Jennifer-was contingent were all staring at the door.
DiNozzo recovered first. "Nice door there Boss! Do we want to know what's behind it?"
This was a good point. Gibbs clenched his fingers slightly and then tried to turn the doorknob. Nope, it didn't move at all. "Locked. Jennifer – you try."
She looked at him with a slightly wild expression on her face and then smiled slightly, before reaching out to the mechanism. He could see the tendons in her hand move as she tried to open it and then she looked at him and shook her head. "Locked."
"I wonder what the key is?" He looked at the door again. "Perhaps a time or… did I hear Wuornos say that you could hear Audrey Parker?"
She looked at him and nodded. "I heard her. Or someone I've been told sounds like her."
"And she's still in that barn thing?"
She pulled a face. "I think so. Where else can she be?"
"Good point," he drawled.
"What's wrong?" He looked back. Ah, it was the woman with the gloves and the really bad attitude.
She glared at him. "Open it then!"
He tilted his head and then smiled thinly at her. "How? And why? Why are you so desperate about this?"
She glared even harder at him for a moment before raising the automatic she was holding in her hand and pointing it at him. "Shut up you stupid damn Fed," she spat. "What do you know about this place? Nothing! You know nothing. Nothing about the Troubles. Nothing about what life here means. And nothing about what it'll mean to end this all."
Gibbs looked at her levelly. "You're Troubled."
A ripple of anger crossed her face. She held up her gloved hand at him. "See this? I have to wear gloves, because if I touch someone I can shock them to death. That's my Trouble. That's my life. Can you imagine what's like to live like this? So, yes, I want the Trouble gone. Parker comes back, she kills Wuornos and the Troubles stop. It's that simple."
Tony raise a hesitant finger. "Um, I think that there are some leaps of logic there. How does Agent Parker killing the good detective over there end these Troubles things?"
The woman curled her lip in his direction. "There's a prophecy. She kills the man she loves and the Troubles end."
Gibbs left his eyebrows fly upwards. "Excuse me?" Everyone looked at his exasperation and he flung his hands out. "That's the lamest thing I've ever heard. Prophecy! You could sail the John F Kennedy through the holes in that one!"
The leader of the new arrivals frowned ponderously. "I'm sorry, and what makes you an expert on prophecies?"
Gibbs shot him a look. "How many people has Audrey Parker been before she was Audrey Parker?"
The man opened his mouth, closed it and then frowned. "Ah, well, quite a few, so…"
"So which one of those people does the prophecy refer to? Parker by name? Or the original person? Who is who exactly? And if it's the original person, who did she love?"
The man rubbed his chin slowly. "Oh. Ah. You might have a point there. Tricky. Jordan, we might have to think about this."
The black-gloved woman, whose name must be Jordan, looked at him incredulously. "You can't be serious Vince! You're listening to this Fed?"
Vince took a step towards her with a face like thunder and she took a nervous step back. "I'm listening to a very good point. I want the Troubles to end as much as anyone in Haven. I just want to be absolutely sure about what we do and when we do it. Do you understand?"
They traded glares for a moment and then seemed to come to a reluctant decision to call a truce, as they then turned back to the door. "Well," Vince sighed. "Let's get Audrey back at least. If we can work out how to do that."
"Step away from it!"
Gibbs blinked. Another man had appeared from the trees. This one was about the same age as Vince, was balding, had glasses and also a look of terrified determination. Oh and he was waving a rifle around. A rifle that he didn't seem to be too familiar with. Gibbs looked at McGee, who flickered an eyebrow at him to say that he had things under control, and relaxed ever so slightly. The Jedi would make sure that none of the guns being pointed at them would be fired.
He looked back at Vince. "Did you people sell tickets for this event?"
"Dave, put that damn thing down!" Vince hissed angrily.
"No – you can't do this. I want Audrey back as well, but the writings of the local Indians are very clear – if you open that door you could unleash powers far beyond our control!"
"Damn it," Vince groaned before looking at Wuornos and Hendrickson, who were looking baffled. "He's been studying the history of Haven for mentions of the door. And it's driven him a bit, well, odd."
"Shut up!" Dave quavered, shaking the gun slightly at them all. "And get away from that door!"
Jordan, Gibbs noticed, had started to slowly move towards the new arrival and was stripping off one glove. "Hey!" She stopped and looked at him. "Did I say you could move?"
She looked at him, baffled, before laughing scornfully. "Oh come on, Fed! Do you really think that you're calling the shots here?"
He smirked at her. "Yes." Then he looked at McGee. "Disarm them all. The quiet way."
"Yes Boss," the Jedi replied, before turning to the confused group around Jordan. "Put the guns down, all of you, and then step back."
There was a moment of stunned silence and then the men around Jordan all placed their weapons on the ground in front of them and then stepped back. Three did not. Vince, who didn't have a gun, Dave, who for a moment looked as if he was about put the gun down, but who then snapped out of it, and Jordan – who blinked very hard. "What was… what the hell was that?" Jordan snarled.
McGee raised an eyebrow. "They're strong-minded Boss," he muttered. "I'll have to disarm them the old-fashioned way."
"Pick your guns up!" Jordan was barking at the men, who looked terminally confused. "Pick them up!"
But before any of them could grab for their firearms McGee flipped an idle hand and suddenly the weapons on the ground were flying through the air – straight to the feet of Ziva and DiNozzo, who both looked as if they were torn between laughing and gloating over which one to pick up.
Every Haven resident gaped at McGee, who smiled slightly. "The Force is strong with me," he said. "I'd advise you two – Jordan and Dave? – to put your weapons down. If fingers are near triggers then I might hurt you when I get your guns as well."
Jordan's eyes were very wide and she looked at McGee as if she had no idea what he was. "How did you do that?"
"Like I said – the Force is strong with me. Fingers off triggers please. I won't ask you again."
"What the hell are you? No way in hell are you getting this and I-" She yelped as the barrel of her gun jerked upwards at the sky and then flew out of her grasp. It floated in the air above her head for a moment and then sailed over to land neatly on the outstretched hand of the Jedi Knight, who promptly ejected the magazine, worked the action to remove the one up the spout and then dropped weapon and ammunition at his feet.
McGee looked at Dave and raised an eyebrow. "Drop it," he said shortly. "Now."
The older man looked about dazedly and then slowly lowered the rifle, placing it on the ground as well. McGee gestured and it too joined the pile at the feet of the NCIS agents.
"Good job Tim," Gibbs muttered. It had been very nicely done indeed. "Now – let's take a look at this door. Tony, can you and Ziva please watch our guests?"
"On it Boss," DiNozzo replied chirpily. He was holding a shotgun, whilst Ziva had her personal weapon in her hands.
Gibbs looked back at the door, where a very wide-eyed Jennifer now had an equally stunned Duke Crocker next to her. "Is it still locked?"
Jennifer blinked almost audibly and then snapped out of it, reaching out to the doorknob and trying it again. "Yes."
He rubbed his jaw. "Odd."
"Gibbs – does not every door have two sides? What is on the other side of it?" Ziva's words were thoughtful and he found himself nodding at them.
"Good point." He stared at the door. He could almost see the magic bleeding out of it in the air around them. It felt…. Neutral. Almost good. There was nothing spiteful about it. He put out his hand and held it about an inch before the surface of the door. Nothing. And then he reached out and grasped the doorknob. Something sparked, almost like static, but the doorknob felt like metal should indeed feel. He tried to turn it. It felt… locked. He placed his left hand on the smooth painted wood for the door and again he felt a spark of something.
What's behind you? he thought, let us in. We want to help. We can help. Let us in.
The door seemed to quiver for a moment and then he felt a clicking sensation in his right hand, which was still curled around the doorknob. He looked down and then turned it. And then he opened the door. On the other side was a howling void.