Author's Note: I have decided that it's in the best interest of my audience for me to put a "MATURE CONTENT" warning on this chapter. There's nothing explicit, nothing even really that bad - there's just a lot of raunchy humor, and it's pretty clear EXACTLY what transpires at certain points.
That said, read on with discretion, and enjoy!
At 4:30 AM on Sunday, March 8th, 2009, the phone in the Marilyn Monroe Suite of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel rang, dragging both occupants from a far-too-short night of sleep.
"Phone's on your side," she grumbled.
"No, too early," he muttered back.
She sighed, and rolled over on top of him, reaching across his body to grab the phone. "Hello?"
"Good morning, Mrs. Bartowski. This is your 4:30 AM wake-up call."
Sarah smiled. She definitely liked being called that. "Thank you."
She replaced the phone on its base, turned the lamp on to low, and ran her fingers through Chuck's hair. The dim light reflected off the narrow gold band on her left ring finger as she did so.
"4:30, Chuck." she said, leaning down to whisper in his ear.
"Uh-uh," he grumbled. "Alarm clock says it's only 3:30."
"Daylight Savings Time starts today, sweetheart. It's time to get up, Chuck."
He smiled sleepily. "Well, THAT shouldn't be a problem, as long as you keep laying on top of me like that."
"That is NOT what I'm referring to, Mr. Bartowski," she replied, swatting his shoulder playfully.
"Oh, alright, Mrs. Bartowski," Chuck grumbled as Sarah rolled off of him.
As Sarah headed into the bathroom, Chuck shot a look of admiration at her naked form. "Better lock that door, or I might be joining you in the shower."
She turned and smiled at him sweetly. "Then I will DEFINITELY be locking the door, because we SO do not have time for you to join me in the shower."
And yet, somehow, five minutes later, Chuck had sweet-talked his way through the bathroom door, and joined Sarah in the shower.
So it was that at 5:15, they were running through the hotel like chickens with their heads cut off. "I TOLD you that was a bad idea!" Sarah snapped.
"Oh, but you enjoyed it!"
The car was waiting at the curb outside the Roosevelt, and as soon as the luggage was loaded and Chuck and Sarah were buckled into the back seat, the driver hit the gas, flipping a u-turn that took the big Lincoln across all four lanes of traffic on Hollywood Boulevard, and prompting honking horns and one-fingered salutes from a score of angry drivers.
Sarah's eyes were wide and she had a white-knuckle grip on Chuck's hand as the Lincoln slid into a left-hand turn onto La Brea. "I have been shot at, been nearly blown up, been chased halfway around the world by lunatic terrorists," she hissed into Chuck's ear, "and yet, nothing has ever quite so terrified me as a Los Angeles taxi driver with a deadline to meet. A deadline that he'd have a lot more time to meet if a certain individual with a bad case of morning happiness had refrained from joining me in the shower!"
Chuck looked at her, and managing to somehow keep a straight face, replied, "I simply went in there to get cleaned up. You're the one who bent over and said, 'Take me, big boy!'"
And with that remark, their driver nearly drove up onto the sidewalk, but managed to recover and instead make it look like it was supposed to be a right turn onto Sunset. Sarah smacked Chuck on the back of the head and hissed, "Shut up before you get us killed!"
But when Chuck looked back at her with a "hurt puppy dog" face, she couldn't resist, and she started laughing. "Oh, stop it!"
Chuck's face changed from "hurt puppy dog" to a "charm your pants off" smile, and God knew, Sarah had fallen victim to that smile more than once. "Love you, babe," he said.
Finally relenting, she wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him. "I love you too."
Twenty minutes later, the car pulled up in front of Terminal 1 at LAX, no further incidents having happened to endanger their lives on the way. The driver jumped out, opened Sarah's door, and ran around back to unload the trunk. As Chuck pressed a fifty dollar bill into the driver's hand, the driver put his other hand on Chuck's lower arm, and with a heavy Armenian accent, said, "You are a very, very lucky man."
Chuck nodded. "I know."
Fortunately, at 5:45 on a Sunday morning, the US Airways check-in counters aren't very busy, so Sarah and Chuck got through and got their luggage checked by 6:00, and by 6:10, they were at their gate.
Sarah looked at the destination board. "Oh, Phoenix," she said dryly. "The romantic getaway hotspot of the southwest."
Chuck rolled his eyes. "We just have a layover at Sky Harbor," he explained. "As much as I would LOVE to go to the Valley of the Sun for our honeymoon, I chose someplace a little… nicer."
"Are you going to tell me where?"
He grinned. "If I wanted you to know where we were going, I would've given you your boarding pass for the second leg!"
The flight to Phoenix was just under an hour and a half long, putting them on the ground at 8:15. That gave them plenty of time to get to the gate for their next flight, which didn't leave until just before 10:00.
When they reached the gate, Sarah noticed something strange – there was no jetway. Chuck noticed it too, and then looked further out the window.
"Oh, HELL no," he uttered.
Sarah looked where Chuck was looking, and saw a dual-turboprop DeHavilland DHC-8 puddle-jumper pulling up to the gate. "Not a big fan of small aircraft, Chuck?" she asked, only a very slight mocking tone in her voice.
His face went pale as he explained. "I flew from San Diego to Bakersfield once, in one of these, when I was thirteen. There was a storm over the Grapevine. I thought we were gonna die."
"Well, Chuck," Sarah replied, as she took his hand in hers and gently stroked the back of it, "if you die on this flight, at least it'll be with me, right?"
Chuck looked down at her, a wan smile on his still somewhat pasty face. "I suppose that's true."
Sarah smiled back at him, then looked over at the destination board. "We're going to Durango?"
"Well, that's the last place we're flying to."
Her eyebrows went up. "The Durango-Silverton railroad?"
He cocked his head to the side. "I like your thinking… but no."
"Oh, come on, Chuck!"
Chuck shook his head, the sickly smile slowly changing to a smug grin. "What part of SURPRISE do you not understand?"
Sarah stood on her toes and got nose-to-nose with Chuck. "We may be married, but I still know a hundred ways to kill you."
Chuck stepped back from her, and plopped himself down in a seat behind him. "That may be, but you wouldn't."
"Oh? And why wouldn't I?'
His grin got even bigger, and even more smug – if that was possible. "The sex is too good."
Sarah turned bright red, and a woman sitting with a little girl who looked to be about ten years old, three chairs away from Chuck, gasped, got an indignant look on her face, and covered the little girl's ears with her hands.
"I am so sorry," Sarah muttered, then grabbed Chuck's hand, and dragged him back out of the gate area.
"What has gotten into you this morning?" she hissed at him as soon as they were out of earshot.
His smug grin disappeared, replaced by another look she was very familiar with – the "oh shit" look.
"I'm sorry," he said softly. "I just… I'm… I'm so excited about the fact that you're Mrs. Bartowski now that I just can't help myself."
Sarah's expression softened, a smile beginning to tug up at the corners of her lips. "Well, okay, I suppose that's a good excuse."
Chuck smiled. "And while I'm not sure what's gotten into me this morning, I'm pretty sure that I've gotten into you!"
Chuck actually did okay on the flight from Phoenix to Durango. He had a white knuckle grip on the armrest for most of the way, and almost hyperventilated while the plane was on final approach to Durango, but the rest of the time, he merely had a death grip on Sarah's hand.
The plane landed in Durango just before noon, and once Chuck was able to breathe normally again, he headed directly to the Budget car rental counter. He got the keys, and they headed outside – where a silver Mustang convertible awaited them.
"Okay, so we're obviously going on at least a little bit of a roadtrip," Sarah said. "Otherwise you wouldn't have gotten a convertible."
Chuck nodded and smiled, but still wouldn't tell her where they were going. It wasn't till an hour and a half later, when they crossed the state line into Utah, and she saw a mileage sign, that she realized.
"We're going to Moab!" she exclaimed.
Then she thought about it for a moment. "That does seem a little weird, though… given our history with that particular town…"
"Oh, come on," Chuck replied. "Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park are RIGHT THERE by Moab, and besides which, if it weren't for what happened in Moab, who knows if anything ever would've happened between you and me."
Sarah couldn't deny that, and she had to admit, the two national parks were pretty good justification for being there. She had never heard of any particularly nice hotels around the Moab area – and she'd been to the two parks a few times – so she was suitably impressed when Chuck pulled into a place called the River Canyon Lodge. She was even more impressed when the bellman took them to a suite that was, in its own way, even nicer than the one they'd been in the night before at the Roosevelt.
That evening – after sufficiently breaking in the bed, of course – they visited a place called the Moab Brewery for dinner. "Who knew they brewed so many different types of beer in such a small town?" Chuck asked, astonished.
A full rack of St. Louis ribs and accompanying sides later, they were both stuffed. As they were leaving the restaurant, though, Chuck turned right onto Highway 191, instead of left to go back to the hotel. "Where are you going, Chuck?" Sarah wanted to know.
"You'll see," he replied quietly.
Ten minutes later, he turned off of the 191 onto Mill Creek Dr. "Oh…" Sarah whispered, realizing immediately where he was going.
It was closed down. The building was boarded up, and eight foot tall, razor-wire topped cyclone fence surrounded the complex. The guard shack had never been repaired, the gates never replaced.
"I can't believe it's been over a year since I was in there," Chuck said, staring at the abandoned CIA facility. "There's some days… it seems like it was yesterday."
Sarah spoke quietly as she looked at the building. "I thought I had lost you," she said. "When I woke up with that hangover… and then Casey said you were missing… I knew almost immediately what had to have happened."
She shook her head. "And to this day, the only reason I can think of that they used Rohypnol to knock me out was to try to make everybody think that you had raped me and then run."
Sarah sighed, reliving in her head those four horrible days in March of 2008. "The thing is, when Devin saw my blood results, and saw Rohypnol, everybody knew it couldn't have been you. Ellie said there's no way you could have done it, and Casey said there's no way you would have known how."
Chuck smiled at that. "Casey just has no confidence in me whatsoever, does he?"
"Oh, he does, Chuck, believe me. He just has no confidence in your criminal ability, because he thinks you're too good a person to do anything like that."
She had moved closer to him while she was talking, and now she leaned into him, trying to get him to take the hint. Her signals finally getting through to him, he put his arm around her, and she snuggled up closer to him. "I knew it couldn't have been you, either, and I told them that. I told them… I told them that you wouldn't have needed it, not with me."
"Even back then, huh?" Chuck asked quietly.
"Chuck, when I kissed you at the San Pedro Docks, I had made a conscious choice that you as a person were more important to me than as an asset. Granted, there were a few things that threw me off track, but after Valentine's Day, all you would have had to do was ask."
He nodded. "Well, the way I look at it, I still got the best end of the deal anyway."
Sarah smiled. "You also seem to be learning how to say the right thing at the right times," she gently teased him. "Anyway, your sister still insisted on examining me, and I think they all let go a big sigh of relief when the rape examination was negative."
She looked up at Chuck – and realized that his face was wet with tears. "Chuck?" she asked concernedly, sitting up. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah," he said. "It's just… you thought you had lost me… but I almost DID lose you because of this place."
His hand had moved to her right shoulder, and was unconsciously tracing the scar that had been left when she was shot and subsequently operated on. "I don't think I could've gone on living if that had happened."
Sarah felt a lump growing in her throat. Despite the fact that they were married, hearing Chuck say that just confirmed again how lucky she was to have found him. She slipped an arm behind his back, and hugged him tightly.
"But I did live," she said softly, "and you went on living, and now, here we are, living our lives together."
Chuck smiled. "You're right. And this is depressing. Let's get the hell out of here."
Sarah sat back in her seat, and buckled her seatbelt. Chuck fired up the Mustang, put it in gear, and burned rubber out into the road, leaving the CIA facility behind them, and putting it permanently in their past - at least, that's what they thought.
The next two days, they did a lot of hiking – and they had a lot of sex. In the hotel, in the car, in Arches National Park – you name it, they did it.
The third morning they were there, Sarah woke up before Chuck. She tickled him awake, and then showed him what she had in mind for that moment just then.
"Noooo," Chuck groaned, pretending to be dying. "My batteries arrre… runnnnninnnng… loooooooow…"
"What happened to the guy who called himself the Energizer Bunny two days ago?" Sarah teased him.
"He turned into Bob Dole," Chuck grumbled.
Nonetheless, he was somehow able to rise to the occasion and start Sarah's day off right.
After their morning repast (and the encore performance in the shower, which Chuck was much more enthusiastic about), they headed out to Dead Horse Point State Park. Less a hiking park and more of an attraction, that was probably for the best, since both of them were a little bit worn out.
"That's a pretty spectacular view," Chuck commented, looking out from Dead Horse Point over the neighboring Canyonlands National Park.
"As spectacular as what you saw this morning?"
"Not quite," Chuck replied, "but close."
"Must be pretty spectacular."
"I'm glad you have such a high level of self-confidence."
Sarah smiled and wrapped her arms around him from behind. "I'm sure you are."
At that point, Chuck broke the mood as thoroughly as possible by announcing that he had to go to the bathroom. "You're a real romantic, Chuck," Sarah grumbled.
He had been in the restroom for maybe thirty seconds when he came back out, eyes wide.
"That was quick," Sarah said.
"No," Chuck replied. "Come here."
"Chuck, I would ordinarily love to, but not in – you're not joking."
Sarah jogged over to the restroom and followed him in. He pointed at a door that said "Out-of-Order".
"So? Public restrooms have out of order signs all the time."
"Do you notice that it smells terrible in here?" Chuck asked.
Sarah sighed. "Again, public restrooms tend to smell bad."
"Do out of order stalls also generally have somebody sitting in them?" Chuck said, pointing toward the floor.
Sarah craned her neck down and looked in – sure enough, there were a pair of shoes connected to a pair of legs in there.
"Shit," she whispered.
Reaching into her left hiking boot, she withdrew one of her throwing knives – "Yes, I'm going to take my weapons with me, even on our honeymoon," she had explained to Chuck – and slid it between the door of the stall and its support frame. Carefully, she slid the latch up, and let the door swing open.
"Oh God," Chuck exclaimed, and then turned around and vomited in the sink behind him.
Sarah held her hand over her nose and mouth as she looked closely. The man was dressed all in black, and had clearly been dead for several days. His body was beginning to decompose, and flies rested on several parts of him.
It was pretty clear what had killed him – the gaping gunshot wound in his forehead was evidence of that. Trying not to look, or touch his skin, Sarah gingerly reached in his pocket, and withdrew his wallet. She opened it to reveal an Arizona driver's license.
"Marion Wallace," she announced. "Who the hell did you piss off?"
She quickly vacated the restroom, handed the wallet to Chuck, and pulled out her phone. "I'm going to call the police," she said. No response from Chuck. "Chuck?"
Sarah turned around and looked at Chuck. He was holding the wallet in his right hand, open, his arm out stiff in front of him. His eyes were rolled back in his head.
Just as suddenly, though, he snapped out of the flash. "Marion Wallace," he said. "Big time drug kingpin on the Navajo reservation. Suspected of being in league with the Medellin cartel originally; now he brings in heroin that he gets from the Taliban."
Sarah's eyes widened. "A drug kingpin got offed in a Utah state park?" she said. "This seems like a very unlikely place to do it."
"No," Chuck breathed. "He had a whole distribution network that was based out of Moab. He was moving crystal meth, too, that he got from Cedar City."
Sarah put a hand to her forehead. "So he was moving meth for some drug cooker in Cedar City, and he was moving heroin for the Taliban."
She shook her head. "This was one stupid guy. He had to know that somebody was double dipping and take him down eventually."
"Do we call this in?" Chuck asked.
"Not a chance," Sarah replied. "It's like you said, he had a distribution network. If the CIA finds out that you're sitting right in the middle of it, you're gone – into their custody, no questions asked."
Chuck looked at her as if she'd just said the sky was green. "So what the hell do we do then?"
Sarah had already made up her mind. "We go talk to a Marine."
Gunnery Sergeant Mitchell Tucker, United States Marine Corps Reserves, had one of the most boring jobs in the world – manager of Grand County Airport, Moab, Utah.
There were perhaps twenty combined take-offs and landings per day at Grand County. There were never any security problems. There was never any excitement. Except for that one time a year before.
The time that that Learjet had landed here, and the two people onboard said that they had to go fight terrorists. He could still remember the name of the one man – John Casey, Major, United States Air Force. But he had never gotten the name of the woman…
The blonde woman who had just walked into his office.
"Holy shit!" he said, jumping to his feet. A taller man with curly brown hair entered the office behind the woman.
"Sarah Walk- uh, Bartowski," she said, extending her hand to him.
"Gunnery Sergeant Mitch Tucker, USMC," he replied. "I don't think we were ever properly introduced."
"We were… in a bit of a hurry," Sarah explained. "This is Chuck Bartowski. He's my husband, and in fact, is the individual who Major Casey and I came here to extract a year ago."
"No joke," Tucker replied. "Well, what can I do for you folks?"
Instead of answering him directly, Sarah had a question of her own. "How would you feel about a little bit of extra excitement in your life, Gunny Tucker?"
He nodded his head. "Things do get a little boring around here," he said. "I wouldn't mind a little something to do."
"Do you know who Marion Wallace is?" she asked.
"Drug trafficking scum mother fucker," Tucker grumbled. "Yeah, I know who that son of a bitch is. He tried to bring drugs in through this airport once. Came to me, offered to cut me in on it. I kicked his ass and dumped him on the property line."
"Gunny Tucker, he's got a distribution network here in town," Sarah said. "Weren't you concerned that they might come after you for that?"
Tucker fixed Sarah with a look. "Take a look at me, Mrs. Bartowski," he said. "I am a six-foot-six black man who weighs two hundred sixty pounds and almost always wears a USMC battle dress uniform. Do you think a bunch of scrawny little white and Navajo boys are gonna mess with me?"
"I sure as hell wouldn't," Chuck muttered.
"See, there's a white boy with some common sense," Tucker said. "And I tell you what, while those boys in Wallace's distribution network might be stupid, they aren't lacking for common sense. They know not to fuck with me, whether it's because of what I look like, or the fact that I'm a United States Marine."
"I… see," Sarah said slowly. "Well, here's the thing. Wallace is dead."
"Lord be praised."
"We also want to take down his distribution network."
"It's simple enough in theory," Tucker replied. "If you just wipe out his main storage center, that's pretty much the end of that. However, his storage center is pretty well secured, and that makes it kind of difficult."
"You know where it is, then?"
"Yeah, it's over at Mill Creek Drive and Murphy Lane."
Mill Creek Drive and Murphy Lane. Why does that address sound so familiar?
Sarah's thoughts were interrupted by Chuck. "Shit!" Chuck exclaimed. "That's the CIA facility!"
Her eyes went wide. "Oh my God."
Tucker's eyes narrowed, and his face hardened. "So now, I can't trust the Army OR the CIA?"
Sarah shrugged weakly.
Sarah was experiencing a distinct sense of déjà vu as she sat in Tucker's Jeep, across the road from the supposedly abandoned CIA facility, looking at the building through an infrared scope.
"See the people moving around inside?" Tucker asked. "I think they've got some sort of tunnel that comes in from about a quarter mile away."
"Unbelievable," Sarah said, shaking her head. "And you said that the distribution center moved in there six months ago?"
"That's correct," Tucker said. "That's when I came up with the plan to take it down."
"So, you have this plan, why haven't you done it yet?"
"I'm just one person," he explained. "But I put guns in the hands of two more people, and that gives me more than enough manpower to round up everybody inside, get them out, and then burn the place to the ground."
"Wait, wait," Chuck protested. "A gun in my hands?!"
Tucker turned around and fixed him with a glare. "Take this," he ordered, putting a compact machine pistol in Chuck's hands.
"What the hell is this?!"
"Heckler and Koch MP5," the Marine reservist explained. "Impossibly simple to use, and impossible to fire unless you actually mean to fire it."
Chuck nodded. "Huh, I think I can actually handle that."
"Good," Tucker replied, "because we about to invade this bitch."
Sarah buckled herself in as Tucker fired up the Jeep. Popping it into first gear, he hit the gas, flying across the road. "Here we go again," she muttered.
The Jeep hit the fence at just over forty miles an hour, taking an entire section down. Tucker stomped on the brakes, and jumped out. Grabbing a long, thin tube from next to Chuck, he put it up on his shoulder, aimed it at the wall of the building, and pulled a trigger.
There was a tongue of flame, a whoosh – and then a gigantic explosion blew a hole in the side of the building.
"LET'S GO!" Tucker bellowed. He ran toward the hole, Sarah and Chuck hot on his heels.
As they entered the building, Tucker shouted out instructions. "Mrs. Bartowski, you go left; Mr. Bartowski, you go right. Bring anybody you encounter out here at gunpoint. If they resist, shoot them."
Chuck didn't have to shoot anybody. All he encountered were a bunch of scared teenage boys who threw their hands in the air at the sight of his gun. It was pretty clear, however, from the sounds of the gunshots echoing throughout the building that Sarah and Tucker were having to shoot people, or at least, shoot at them.
Finally, they had rounded up all fourteen figures that Sarah had counted through the infrared scope. One of them had an ass full of lead because he had refused to surrender when Sarah told him to, but that was the least of his worries.
Chuck was restraining them all with plastic cuffs on both their wrists and ankles, while Sarah held them under her gun. Tucker, meanwhile, had gone back into the building with a five gallon gas can and a small box of Tide detergent.
He came back out five minutes later, both empty. "Alright!" he shouted. "This building is going to burn down while you watch, and about ten minutes after that, you better believe the police will be here."
Tucker gave them all his best Marine Corps drill sergeant stare. "You're a bunch of fucking idiots for trafficking drugs for that douchbag Wallace, and now you're gonna pay the price. Hopefully, a few years in jail will convince you of the error of your ways."
He got back into the Jeep, and Sarah and Chuck followed suit. "Peace, y'all," Tucker called as he started up the Jeep. Pulling a flash-bang grenade from his belt, he pulled the pin out with his teeth, and then, as he began to drive off, tossed the grenade through the hole in the wall of the building.
A few seconds later, there was a small explosion, followed by a much, much larger one as the Jeep pulled onto the road. "What the hell?!" Chuck exclaimed.
"Unleaded gasoline plus Tide detergent equals delightfully explosive homemade napalm," Tucker explained.
As Sarah and Chuck drove from the airport back to the hotel, Sarah's phone rang. When she answered it, "Walker," Chuck knew that it had to be official.
"Walker, you and your… husband… are in Moab, on your honeymoon, am I correct?" came the voice of Director Graham.
"Yes, sir, that's correct," Sarah replied.
"And would you happen to know why exactly a certain former interrogation facility that still happens to be property of the United States government is currently burning?"
"Uh, I really wouldn't know, sir," she said. "However, I imagine that if you investigate, you might discover that it was being used to stockpile large amounts of crystal meth and Afghani heroin."
Graham was silent for a moment. "Walker, you aren't paid to be a drug enforcement agent. In fact, you aren't even paid to be a field agent anymore. You're an analyst."
"Yes, sir, I'm aware," Sarah answered him. "That's why I leave things like this to the Marines."
Graham sighed. "Walker, I don't want to hear about anything else happening in Utah while you're there. Is that crystal clear?"
She hung up the phone. "Director Graham?" Chuck asked.
"Doesn't sound like he was too happy."
"Sounds like he made you cranky."
Turned out that Chuck knew exactly how to make Sarah not cranky any longer. It really was for the best that their suite had very thick walls.
There was a limo waiting at the curb when they walked out of LAX, the chauffeur standing on the sidewalk with a placard that read, "BARTOWSKI."
As soon as they were in and the luggage was loaded, the chauffeur got in and closed the door. "So," he said, pulling away from the curb, "did you two hump like bunnies for the last week and a half, or what?"
Chuck let go an exasperated sigh. "Jesus Christ, Casey, is nothing sacred?"
"We've had this discussion," the NSA agent replied with a grin. "Just the Second Amendment.
"Anyway," he continued, "heard that a certain place that we busted a year ago happened to go boom in the night."
"It was being used for drug storage," Sarah replied. "We found the kingpin who ran it dead at a state park, and we really kind of wanted to keep it quiet, so we got Gunny Tucker to help us out."
"Good man," Casey said. "Good taste in guns."
"But that was just one night of our stay," Chuck interjected. "All the other nights, we –"
"Please," Casey stopped him, holding up a hand. "I really don't need you to describe."
"Well, if you'll excuse us, our honeymoon isn't quite over yet," Chuck said.
Chuck hit the button to raise the privacy screen, causing Sarah to laugh in surprise. "Oh, no, no, for God's sake," Casey groaned.
The screen came to a stop against the ceiling of the car. Casey couldn't see anymore, but…
Yeah, that was definitely a giggle and a moan he had just heard.
"I hate this job."