After Roan Montgomery had broken the news to the team that Dianne Beckman had been kidnapped, Stephen Bartowski had decided that the situation had officially gotten out of hand. "I am taking command of this operation," he had declared, there in the hospital. "This is now Operation Homecoming, a secret operation of the Central Intelligence Agency. If anybody has a problem with that, you can kiss my ass."
Having ensured that both Alex Coburn and Rebecca Franco were in the very capable care of the staff of the University of California – San Diego Medical Center, Stephen Bartowski ordered EVERYBODY back to the house on Clairemont Mesa, over Roan Montgomery's strenuous objections. Obviously, Roan wanted to go kick ass and take names until Dianne Beckman was found, but as Stephen reminded him, there was no way that would be helpful.
At least, not for right now.
Chuck couldn't remember having ever seen his father like this before – but then again, he had only ever known his father as a relatively meek scientist, then as a broken man after his mother left them, and then, as a clearly lucid but definitely eccentric individual when he resurfaced in 2009. So to see him as a take-charge CIA agent, in command of an operation, was mildly jarring.
When they returned to the house, Dr. Brown demanded to conduct a briefing. "It's incredibly important," he had growled when Stephen Bartowski rolled his eyes. "We HAVE to discuss the mess that Mr. Carmichael has created here."
He rolled a huge chalkboard into the living room and began drawing a diagram on it. "Dear Lord, he's Glenn Beck," Chuck muttered under his breath.
Brown stopped drawing and turned around. "What the hell does that mean?" he demanded.
"Just remember that name," Chuck replied with a grin. "It'll make sense in thirty years."
Brown shook his head and continued drawing. After a couple more minutes, he stopped drawing. "Alright, ladies and gentlemen, this is the situation we face," he announced.
In the upper left hand corner of the board, he had written "1980" and drawn a straight line next to it, all the way across the board. "This was the timeline up until approximately seven o'clock last night," he informed them. "1980 as it was until Mr. Carmichael arrived."
He then pointed to a diagonal line that went down to another line, one with hashmarks on it. "This is 1980 as we now know it," he said. "Mr. Carmichael's arrival has disrupted our timeline, with the following events occuring:
"One. Upon his arrival, Mr. Carmichael's car crashed into the team bus for the San Diego Clippers professional basketball franchise." That proclamation was immediately greeted with looks of confusion. "Doesn't seem to matter, right?" Brown asked. "Mr. Carmichael. In 2010, where do the Clippers play?"
"Uh, they play in Los Angeles," Chuck replied. "Same building as the Lakers."
"Do they now," Brown said dryly. "And pray, tell, who is their owner?"
Chuck grimaced. "Donald Sterling," he replied. "Biggest tightwad in the NBA."
"Is that so," Brown said, his tone of voice unchanged. "Well, Mr. Carmichael, you seem to have messed that up pretty good."
Chuck frowned. "I'm not sure I understand."
"Try reading the newspaper every once in a while," Brown grumbled, throwing down the November 5th edition of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
CLIPPERS SABOTAGED, the headline declared, with a sub-header of Levin rejects Sterling offer.
Eyes widening, Chuck picked up the newspaper. "San Diego Clippers owner Irv Levin today rejected real estate tycoon Donald Sterling's offer to purchase the franchise, after months of negotiation," he read. "Citing an unknown act of vandalism that resulted in nearly $10,000 in damage to the team bus, he announced that he would not be intimidated into selling the team. With Levin's change of heart, this likely ends talk of a potential move by the Clippers to Orange County."
Chuck set the newspaper down. "How could you have known that was a change, though?" he asked, confused.
"Because it's been in the news for months!" Brown shot back. "I'm a huge basketball fan! I didn't want the Clippers to move to Los Angeles, but it was gonna happen!"
"And now it's not," Chuck sighed.
"Yes, well, that's not all you've screwed up," Brown said. "May I continue?"
Chuck sighed again, but nodded.
"Two. Immediately following the accident, Chuck was discovered by one Ms. Rebecca Franco, emergency medical technician for the San Diego Fire Department. This particular development is problematic, because it turns out that Ms. Franco is the mother of the currently seven month-old Samantha Lisa Delacroix, or as she is known in 2010, Agent Sarah Walker of the Central Intelligence Agency. In any other situation, this might not present a problem, except that Agent Walker is Mr. Carmichael's partner and girlfriend.
"Three. Mr. Carmichael then came here last night, and while traveling, encountered Mr. Alexander Coburn, a student at San Diego State University and a cadet in the US Air Force ROTC program there. Again, this would not have been a particular issue except that, once again, in 2010, Mr. Coburn is better known as Lt. Colonel John Casey, of the United States Marine Corps and the National Security Agency. He is another member of Mr. Carmichael's team in that time.
"Four. Upon his arrival here last night, Mr. Carmichael demanded that we make contact with Stephen J. Bartowski, or as he was known to us prior to last night, Agent Orion. Upon invoking the code words 'Kali' and 'Omaha', Orion and his partner – Agent Frost, a.k.a. Mary E. Bartowski – abandoned their post to come here. Unfortunately, from what we can determine, upon abandoning their post, their surveillance station was discovered by the individual on whom they were conducting surveillance, Soviet arms dealer Alexei Volkoff. We will return to THAT little problem in a minute.
"Five. Upon determining what had occurred, Mr. Carmichael, Agent Montgomery, the Agents Bartowski, and I returned to the home of Ms. Franco in order to retrieve the damaged time machine. Upon arriving, Mr. Carmichael had some sort of... episode," Brown said disgustedly, rolling his eyes, "brought on by a less than intelligent line of questioning initiated by MRS. Agent Bartowski."
"Hey, wait a minute," Mary interrupted angrily. "Are you telling me that if you had a kid and you had the opportunity to see what they were like thirty years from now, you wouldn't take the chance?"
"No, I WOULD NOT," Brown shot back. "I am a scientist. Now, may I finish?"
Mary shook her head. "Whatever."
"Six. Following Mr. Carmichael's episode, Ms. Franco demanded that he remain under her care for observation. As she is a medical professional and I am not, I did not believe I was qualified to question her judgment." Brown sighed. "I see now that that decision was less than wise.
"Speaking of less than wise decisions," he continued, "seven. The following morning, Mr. Carmichael, having apparently lost his mind, decided to attempt to have sex with Ms. Franco."
"I thought she was Agent Walker," Chuck mumbled.
"Good for you," Brown deadpanned. "May I suggest you add Oedipus the King to your summer reading list?"
Stephen Bartowski raised his hand. "Um, if I may, I understand where you're going with that, but unless Mr. Carmichael kills me and tries to sleep with my wife, you're a little off kilter -"
"Agent Bartowski, shut up," Dr. Brown said.
Damn, Chuck thought, he's really on a roll.
"Eight. Following his unwise decision, Mr. Carmichael departs Ms. Franco's house and encounters Cadet Coburn once more. Upon learning that he was denied a transfer by his training officer, US Air Force Captain Dianne Beckman, Mr. Carmichael confronted Captian Beckman and, using his status as a federal intelligence officer, demanded that she transfer Cadet Coburn to the Marine Corps ROTC program.
"Nine. While this was ongoing, Ms. Franco's husband, Jackson Burt Delacroix, a.k.a. Jack Burton, returned from a 'business trip' to Atlanta – which, according to the FBI, was in fact a con job – and discovered evidence that led him to believe that his wife had slept with another man. This caused her to flee their house.
"Ten. Following Mr. Carmichael's successful recommendation of transfer for Cadet Coburn, he and Cadet Coburn were leaving the campus of San Diego State University to come here, at which time Cadet Coburn's car was struck at a high rate of speed by a car being driven by Ms. Franco. The resulting accident landed both Ms. Franco and Cadet Coburn in the hospital.
"Eleven. Returning to the matter of Mr. Volkoff, after determining that the Agents Bartowski were in the company of Agent Roan Montgomery, a.k.a. the legendary Agent Aeon, Mr. Volkoff kidnapped Agent Montgomery's secret lover, the aforementioned Captain Beckman. He is now holding her and threatening to kill her unless Agent Montgomery turn over to him the Agents Bartowski."
Dr. Brown finished marking on the chalkboard and looked at Chuck. "All of this, Mr. Carmichael, is as a direct result of your presence here."
"We don't necessarily know that," Chuck replied. "I could just be a pawn in some grand galactic scheme."
"Please," Brown scoffed. "This is causality, Mr. Carmichael. It's science, not religion."
"Or it could be destiny."
Brown actually laughed in Chuck's face. "Mr. Carmichael, give me a break. Did you turn into a Calvinist when I wasn't looking?"
Chuck sighed. "I didn't necessarily say I believe in everything John Calvin had to say, no," he replied. "But I can't deny that it seems like there's always some sort of reason for things to happen. Neither you nor I know that I'm not actually supposed to be here, affecting the course of events in November of 1980."
"Then explain to me the picture of Colonel Casey and Agent Morgan Grimes," Brown shot back. "Why exactly are they fading from view, Mr. Carmichael?"
"Uh..." He had Chuck on that one. "I'm, uh, still working on that."
As Chuck and Brown argued, Stephen and Mary Bartowski slipped out of the room. "Stephen," Mary said once they were out of earshot, "I think it might be time for you and me to initiate the X Protocol."
Stephen looked at his wife in disbelief. "You're kidding."
"I'm not," Mary replied. "There are too many people involved with this now, too many people we have to help – the man our son will become being perhaps the most important one here."
"Mary," Stephen Bartowski said with a sigh, "I understand what you're saying. And obviously, we have to do everything in our power to help Chuck. But after everything that's gone wrong with Volkoff so far, do you really think that now is a good time to initiate the protocol?"
"Stephen, we've been on this for nearly a year," she said. "And if initiating it will get Captain Beckman out of danger, then I think it's time."
After the argument with Brown, Chuck sat by himself at the table in the kitchen of the house on Clairemont Mesa, racking his brain for solutions to the problem with John Casey. The fact that the picture of him and Morgan was fading indicated to Chuck that at some point Casey ended up dead, and Morgan subsequently ended up dead from a situation where he should have been protected by Casey.
But what? Chuck thought to himself.
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath. The exact incident where Morgan died wasn't important at that moment. As much as it pained Chuck to even think that way, he knew that he had to figure out how to keep Casey alive first.
Chuck knew that his best bet was somehow accessing the Intersect information on Casey. But how?
Getting up from the table, Chuck crossed to the drawers by the sink. If this house was like any other, it had to have a junk drawer by the sink, and there would be notepads and pencils in that drawer.
It took Chuck six drawers to find the junk drawer, but then he hit pay dirt. He withdrew a notepad and a Magic Marker from the drawer, and sat back down at the table.
ALEX COBURN, he wrote in big block letters on a sheet of paper, and waited to flash.
ALEXANDER COBURN. Nothing there, either. Next sheet of paper: JOHN CASEY. MAJOR JOHN CASEY. LT. COL. JOHN CASEY.
Nothing, nothing, nothing. And Chuck was starting to notice some strange fumes. He lifted the Magic Marker to his nose -
"Good God," he uttered, after getting a strong whiff of the fumes. "I'm gonna get high if I'm not too careful."
Blinking a few times, he returned the marker to the paper, and decided to try one more thing. On the same sheet of paper, he wrote – one on top of the other –
And that did it for the Intersect. Immediately, it set off a flash of information, but when Chuck came out of the flash, there was one piece of information that interested him more than any other.
Alex Coburn was recruited by the Ring on March 15th, 1989. That much, Chuck already knew. However, what he did not know was that Lieutenant Alex Coburn, United States AIR FORCE, had been rejected by the USAF's training program for the top-secret F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter-bomber on December 27th, 1987. He had been so disappointed that he had applied for – and received – a transfer to the United States Marine Corps.
Chuck felt like the blood was draining from his head. "Oh, Christ," he whispered. "Oh, God, I screwed up. If Casey had been denied that huge an opportunity... he probably would still have been upset fifteen months later... and would've jumped at the opportunity to do something big – but he would've been very tentative about it, knowing that the rug could be pulled out from under him at any point."
He frowned. "But now... if he's a Marine to start with... either he turns down the Ring... or he joins up, and is utterly loyal to Colonel Keller."
"Hmmm..." Then Chuck laughed. "Uh-oh..."
He brought the Magic Marker to his nose again. "Oh, yeah," he muttered upon getting a whiff of the fumes. "I am DEFINITELY high."
Alexei Volkoff had decided it was time to leave the Holiday Inn. In fact, he was going to go somewhere that there was no way that Frost and Orion could follow him.
Marko Andropov had, several months before, set up a safe house for Volkoff in Oceanside – and that was where Volkoff was, accompanied by Andropov and the terrified Captain Dianne Beckman (USAF). "And now that we're all settled in," he announced to the empty office in which he sat, "it's time to make a phone call."
Lifting the receiver on the desk, Volkoff painstakingly dialed the full eleven digit phone number for Roan Montgomery's cellular phone. That was the rottenly painful thing about contacting the man – even though both the house in which Volkoff sat and the cellular phone itself were in the 619 area code, because Montgomery's phone was one of those new cellular phones that was transportable with nothing more than a briefcase, Volkoff had to dial it as a long distance call.
Pacific Bell's going to charge me up the ass for this call, of that I'm certain, Volkoff growled inwardly as he heard the ringing of the phone on the other end. After three rings, it was picked up – but it was not Roan Montgomery that answered.
Volkoff grinned. THIS was going to be fun. "Why, hello, Agent Frost," he said. "What a pleasant surprise to hear your voice on the other end."
"I think you know very well why I'm answering this phone, Volkoff."
"Why, could it be that I have Agent Montgomery's dear Dianne Beckman in my custody?" Volkoff replied. "Does he not trust himself to talk to me?"
"Something like that," Frost replied. "Now listen to me, Volkoff. We want Beckman back, and we can either do this peacefully, or we can do it violently."
"Violently?" Volkoff laughed. "My dear Frost, I am quite certain that neither you nor your Orion are going to inflict violence upon me."
He heard Frost sigh on the other end. "Clearly, you don't know us as well as you think, Volkoff," she shot back. "However, we would prefer it if we could sit down and talk about this with you."
"I will agree to that," Volkoff replied. "But there will be no 'we'. You will come and see me by yourself, and if you and I can come to agreeable terms, then I will permit you to take custody of Captain Beckman."
There was silence on the other end for a long moment. "Agent Frost?"
"Fine," she finally said. "When, and where?"
Volkoff grinned – and had anybody been in the room to see it, they would've likely been terrified by the remarkably wolfish visage of the Soviet arms tycoon. "Five o'clock, Agent Frost," he replied. "Come to 614 North Clementine Street, in Oceanside. And come alone."
The grin disappeared from his face. "Do not attempt to double-cross me, Agent Frost," he added. "If you do, Captain Beckman will not be the only one I kill this afternoon."
When Chuck recovered from his Magic Marker high, he presented his plan to course-correct John Casey's life to Dr. Brown – and it was immediately shot down. "There is no possible way that will work," Brown laughed at him. "Come on, Carmichael. Think realistically here."
Chuck sighed. "Dammit," he said, frustrated. "I mean, what if – I don't know, what if we tried it, but through hypnosis? Even if it didn't work, it's not like he would remember!"
He stood up and started pacing around the living room, oblivious to the fact that Brown's eyes had gone wide and he was staring at Chuck. "I mean, I've gotta figure out how to make this work, or I'm simply screwed," Chuck grumbled. "That's not pressure or anyt-"
"Hypnosis," Brown said softly.
Chuck turned to him with a frown. "What?"
Brown looked back up at Chuck. "Of course!" he said. "Hypnosis! It's a brilliant thought, Mr. Carmichael! And I know just the man to hypnotize Cadet Coburn for us!"
Half an hour later, Chuck and Dr. Brown were waiting outside of the UCSD Medical Center when Chuck saw a tall, thin man walking toward them. "Wait a second," Chuck said, recognizing the man. "I know him. That's Dr. Leo Dreyfus!"
"Indeed it is," Dr. Brown said. "He's one of the best psychologists on the government's payroll, and if anybody can put your Cadet Coburn into the sort of suggestive hypnotic state we need, it's him."
Then he turned to Chuck. "And how exactly do you know him, Mr. Carmichael?"
"Uh, I had to go through some counseling a couple months back," Chuck replied, trying to not say any more than he had to. "I'd rather just leave it at that."
Brown frowned, but nodded. "Fair enough."
Alex Coburn was not expecting visitors. He was certainly not expecting to see Charles Carmichael, with two particularly geeky looking individuals with him. "Mr. Carmichael!" he said, pleasantly surprised. "Didn't expect to see you again today!"
"Well, I just wanted to let you know that your car's been taken care of," Chuck replied. "San Diego PD has it in impound, and they'll be happy to release it to you as soon as you're out of here."
The smile fell from Coburn's face. "Thanks, Mr. Carmichael, but I think it might be time to let the Galaxie go," he said with a sigh. "She got beat up pretty bad in that accident." He looked down. "Anyway, who are these two folks you've got with you?"
"Alex, this is Dr. Brown, and this is Dr. Dreyfus," Chuck replied, introducing the two men. "Dr. Dreyfus wants to make sure you're alright, make sure there's nothing wrong with your head."
"Mr. Coburn, I understand you took a rather nasty crack to the head in the accident?" Dr. Dreyfus asked, with no preamble.
"Uh, yeah -"
"Alright then. Here's what I want you to do. Close your eyes and listen to my voice," Dreyfus said, his voice turning very neutral, devoid of variation, and dropping a few levels in pitch.
"Uh, okay," Alex said, looking confused, but complying nonetheless.
"Now, Mr. Coburn, I want you to breathe in and out, very slowly," Dr. Dreyfus said. "Continue doing that. While you're breathing, I want you to clear your mind. Don't think about anything, just keep breathing, and focus on my voice."
As Chuck watched, Alex's breathing got slower and slower. "Good," Dr. Dreyfus said. "Now, I want you to picture yourself on the bluff above La Jolla Shores Beach. The sun is setting over the Pacific Ocean, and you're all by yourself."
Chuck turned to look at Dr. Dreyfus, confused. Dreyfus nodded, as if to say, Trust me. "In a moment, Mr. Carmichael is going to walk up to you, and want to talk to you. When he says the words, 'For God, Corps, and country,' you will leave La Jolla Shores and return to this hospital. Do you understand?"
Alex Coburn's voice sounded like it was coming from underneath ten feet of water. "Yes," he said quietly and slowly.
"Very good. You hear Mr. Carmichael approaching from behind you, and you turn to greet him..."
Alex Coburn sits alone on the bluffs overlooking La Jolla Shores Beach, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. Below him, to his left, lies the pier for the Scripps Institute; to his right, an enormous, mansionesque house is being built into the bluffs.
He hears the scrape of feet on dirt behind him, and turns to see Charles Carmichael approaching him. Alex marvels at the fact that he met Mr. Carmichael not even twenty-four hours ago, but Mr. Carmichael has already been able to get him into the Marine Corps.
"How's it goin', Alex?" Mr. Carmichael asks. "You like the view?"
"Yes, sir, yes I do," Alex replies. "I can't thank you enough, sir –"
"And you don't have to," Mr. Carmichael stops him. "But Alex, there is something I need to ask you to do. Alright?"
"Sure," Alex says. "What can I do for you, sir?"
Mr. Carmichael sighs. "Alex, the first thing you need to understand is this: I'm an agent with the Central Intelligence Agency, and I'm from the future. From the year 2010, to be exact."
Alex's eyes widen. "Wow," he breathes. "I mean... I guess that explains how you know me."
"That's exactly right," Mr. Carmichael replies. "Now, I'm here to give you a mission that you have to carry out."
"A mission from the CIA?" Alex blurts out. "Are you kidding me?"
Mr. Carmichael shakes his head. "Not at all, Alex, and I need you to listen VERY carefully."
"On September 7th, 1988, you will volunteer for a unit of elite Marines that will be going to Honduras to conduct a very black operation. While in Honduras, on March 15th, 1989, you will be approached by a man named Colonel James Keller, who will recruit you into an organization known as the Ring.
"Alex, the Ring is a domestic terror organization, and joining Colonel Keller is going to involve a great deal of sacrifice, a sacrifice you may not wish to make. But for the sake of the country, you must do this. Do you understand?"
"Uh, yes sir..."
"Twenty-one years later, Colonel Keller is going to approach you and order you to steal an item from the Central Intelligence Agency. You will steal that item, but you will then turn it over to your team, and at the end of the mission you will kill Colonel Keller."
"Yes, Cadet Coburn. You MUST DO THIS."
Alex looks unsure. "ALEX. I'm not joking. The fate of the United States of America is dependent upon you doing this."
And that is all that Alex needs to hear. Coming to attention, he salutes Mr. Carmichael. "Yes, sir!"
"Now, in a moment, you're not going to remember this conversation, but you WILL remember to do everything I just told you," Mr. Carmichael says. "And one more thing..."
"The new LTD Crown Victoria, the one that Ford just started production on last year? It's a good car. You should look into it to replace the Galaxie."
"Uh, yes sir."
"Now, remember, Alex," Mr. Carmichael says, "you're doing this for God, Corps, and country."
Alex's eyes snapped open and he looked around the hospital room. "Whoa," he said. "Uh, what just happened?"
"Nothing at all," Chuck replied. "Dr. Dreyfus checked you out, and you're a-okay. You just fell asleep there for a second."
"Oh, well, cool," Alex said. "Uh, thanks for coming to see me, I guess, Mr. Carmichael."
"Yeah, no problem. Uh, you need anything?"
Alex shook his head. "Nope. Just, can you let Captain Beckman know about what's going on? I tried to call her office, but she's not picking up the phone."
Chuck sighed. "Yeah," he replied. "When I see her, I'll let her know."
With that, he turned and exited the room. "I've got to get out of 1980," he muttered as he walked away.
1980 Roan Montgomery – Chris Pine
1980 Stephen Bartowski – Ryan Eggold
Chuck Bartowski – Zachary Levi
1980 Emmett Brown – Charlie Sheen
1980 Mary Bartowski – AnnaLynne McCord
1980 Alexei Volkoff – Christian Bale
Leo Dreyfus – Christopher Lloyd
Alex Coburn – Sterling Jones
Author's note: Yes, I'm aware that I've got the same actor playing Leo Dreyfus in this story as plays him in the season 3 episode "Chuck vs. the Tooth". To that, I give two points: 1) Christopher Lloyd has pretty much appeared to be the same age since about 1982, and 2) this is a Back to the Futurehomage. I HAD to have Christopher Lloyd show up at SOME point, and I may yet throw Michael J. Fox in there somehow!
Now, I've had a couple of questions so far asking how I'm going to handle Alexei Volkoff, in light of the revelation from last night's episode ("Chuck vs. Agent X"). The answer is: it will be revealed in due time. I know exactly how I'm going to handle it, and after the next chapter, so will you!
By the way, I appreciate everybody who's submitted reviews of this story so far. This story has, to date, one of the highest average review-to-chapter ratios I've ever had. But if you really like the story, do me one more favor -
Go over to the TWoP Kicked Us Out, But We Still Love Chuck! forum at "forum . fanfiction . net / forum / TWoP_Kicked_Us_Out_But_We_Still_Love_Chuck / 49974 /" (make sure you remove the quotes and spaces), and nominate my story in the appropriate Awesome Awards categories. This story is eligible for the Stephen J. Bartowski Award for Best Feature-Length Story, the Lt. Colonel John Casey Award for Best Alternate Universe Story, and the Chuck Bartowski Award for Best Overall Story.