Hi there. I know it's been almost two months since I've submitted a story, but things got a little busy and I have to admit not coming up with any new ideas for a while. I guess a new season of Chuck, especially one where you know they'll have 24 episodes, is a good inspiration. The big changes I'm going to make for this story are two-fold. Firstly, I'm not going to try and kill myself by trying to crank out huge chapters every single week. This chapter is a bit shorter than my average chapter length, and that's how it will be for the story. I'll also try to keep this story in the 30-40,000 word range. Secondly, I'm just gonna let the reviews fall where they may and not get uptight about a lack of reviews. Sadly, I'm one of those people who will only do hobbies they're good at, and I couldn't keep myself from equating review counts with quality. I'm not going to worry about it this time.
This story takes into account all episodes through 4.5 - Chuck vs. the Couch Lock. Actually, I was shocked to see nobody has attempted this story yet. If you haven't seen any Season 4 episodes yet, there will be parts of those stories here, so I don't want to spoil anything for you. This story falls within the canon of the show. This is not AU, at least as of Episode 4.5, so there's no Anna, no Alex Forrest, Stephen Bartowski is no longer with us, and there's no Jimmy Slade. Although I do have a couple of ideas for new "Forrest and Slade" stories I'll do once this story is completed.
The story gets mildly racy at times, but nothing worse than we've seen on TV. Enjoy and please leave reviews. Let me know if you like it and/or if you have suggestions for it.
Los Angeles International Airport
October 25, 2010
It was not the most pleasant flight Anton Grishenko had ever been on, but flying for fifteen hours…to say nothing about the layover in New York…was never a pleasant experience. He had to admit the weather in Los Angeles would be far more agreeable than the weather he left behind in Moscow, even though winter hadn't yet sunk its full claws into the streets. He'd take 22° C degrees over -10 any day of the week, even if he had a difficult assignment to go along with it.
Alexei Volkoff lost a valuable customer when The Ring was dismantled several months ago. They could be relied on to provide a steady stream of revenue, something a bit unusual from the United States. Alexei dealt mostly with South American dictatorships, rebel guerillas, and drug cartels. Not exactly the types of groups you felt comfortable about extending a line of credit. However, business was business, and the nature of Volkoff's work meant dealing with people he looked upon with significant revulsion.
If nothing else, Volkoff knew an opportunity when he saw it. Following the death of Marko, which still remained a mystery at this point, Volkoff decided to investigate what happened to the considerable assets The Ring left behind throughout the world. If possible, Volkoff wanted to seize those assets. Grishenko was in charge of taking a team to Los Angeles, one of the last known strongholds The Ring had, to find their secret base.
As Grishenko and his men slowly made their way to the hotel, he wondered how much of a waste of time this assignment may be. Instead of worrying about a dead client, Grishenko thought Volkoff should concentrate his efforts on eliminating the competition, which was always a concern in this business. Perhaps he could have scouted potential clients in Mexico or Central America to replace the missing revenue. But Volkoff had good instincts when it came to his empire. Besides, even the ordinary hotel they were staying in was a luxury palace compared to some of the dives he's had to stay in over his lifetime.
October 26, 2010
The smile on his face couldn't be removed with a hammer and chisel.
Chuck meant what he said when he told Sarah he wasn't looking to get married yet. Even if you knew you were getting married to someone as stunning and amazing as Sarah Walker, the concept of marriage was still an intimidating one. He thought about marriage back when he was dating Jill, but that was almost a lifetime ago. He hadn't thought much about it since then. But when he heard those words whispered sweetly into his ear by the woman with whom he was indisputably in love, that she loved him and would marry him if he asked, nothing ever sounded so beautiful.
He was spooned against Sarah in their bed and completely enjoying the moment. But he needed a drink of water badly. He started to slide out of the bed, only to have Sarah hold on to his arms to keep him in place. He sighed and smiled, planting a kiss on her ear.
"I was just getting some water, baby," he gently whispered.
Sarah didn't say anything, but she took his hands and moved them under her slip to her breasts.
Chuck playfully growled. "Mmm, you're not going to make it easy for me to get out of bed, are you."
Sarah remained quiet but reached behind her to caress Chuck. He moaned in pleasure.
"You do not play fair," he pouted.
Sarah gave a triumphant grin. "If you're going to make me cuddle, be careful what you wish for. I don't do anything halfway."
"I'll get you something if you want."
She raised an eyebrow. "I think I already have what I want."
He gave her a gentle laugh. She always loved his laugh. "I meant like some orange juice or some water."
Sarah exhaled and smiled. "Some orange juice, sweetie. But don't take long."
Chuck kissed her ear again. "Promise." He got out of the bed and went quickly to the kitchen. He stuck his head into the refrigerator to reach into the back for the orange juice pitcher.
"AAAGHHH!" Chuck growled from hitting his head on the top of the refrigerator. He pulled out of it in a huff to stare at the very haggard Morgan, who looked like he hadn't slept in days.
"Morgan, what the hell are you doing up?" Chuck hissed at him.
"Dude, I'm totally sorry. I'm just…I'm in trouble here. I'm freaking out, and I can't sleep at all."
Chuck tried to process this information as he rubbed his aching head. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Morgan, but aren't guys supposed to relax when they have a girlfriend? Especially if they already have Dad's blessing?"
"No! that's exactly the problem, Chuck! You know who her dad is. He could literally…uh, Chuck, either you need to cover up or you managed to keep a big secret from me for twenty years."
"Huh?" Chuck was confused until he looked down. His eyes widened, and Chuck hid himself behind the refrigerator door. "Dammit, Morgan! You're…you've caught me at a bad time."
"Well, uh, yeah. That much is obvious. But what am I supposed to do about Alex? I mean, I'm going out of my mind trying to figure out how not to upset her, OK? I don't want to end up in a shotgun wedding that's no wedding and all shotgun!"
"Morgan, will you stop worrying about Casey? Just…Alex is a well-grounded person. If there are problems in the relationship, she'll tell you. In the meantime, just be calm and be yourself."
Morgan looked at Chuck like he just cheated on him in Halo. "Be myself? Dude, that's the worst advice you can give me! Even I know I shouldn't be myself around her."
Chuck growled but gathered himself. "Look, it's not that hard. You're a really nice guy, and you're a much more responsible person these days. You manage the Buy More, right? So, that requires prioritizing. Your relationship is the same thing. You make your decisions with the relationship in mind. You don't freak out about commitment, you don't spend hours on end playing videogames, you don't make stupid purchases just because they are "so epic, man!", and you consider how Alex might feel about something you do before you do it."
Morgan paused momentarily. "I do most of that videogame playing with you, Chuck."
Chuck shrugged and nodded his head. "I'm as guilty as you are, I admit it. Sarah's been asking me to cut down on the hours, too. We just have to kick the habit. It's like…quitting smoking. You know, we just play on breaks at work or while they're away. That'll be, like, our X-Box patch."
Morgan thought about it and nodded in consent. "Yeah, you're right Chuck. I just have to…just be in the relationship. Alex is beautiful, smart, funny, and I should concentrate on that. Keep it out of my head that Casey would take extreme pleasure in taking a pliers and a sledgehammer to my…personal space…if I even forget to open a car door for her."
"Chuck, what's going on?"
Morgan turned and did a double-take at seeing Sarah in her lingerie. "Oh, sorry Sarah. Uh, OK. Now I know I was interrupting something. I should…let me go…quickly."
Morgan retreated to his bedroom, taking great care not to gawk at Sarah as Chuck shook his head and moaned in frustration.
"Everything OK, Chuck? I was wondering if you were bringing me the orange juice."
"I'm sorry, Sarah. Morgan was just freaking out about being with Alex. I think he's trying to screw up his relationship before it even starts."
Sarah smiled. "That sounds like a very Morgan thing to do. But to be fair, he's grown up a bit in three years. If it wasn't for him, we'd be buried somewhere in Iran right now."
Chuck poured her a glass of orange juice while still behind the refrigerator door. "You're right. He'll work it out. Casey doesn't hand out his approval to just anybody."
Sarah looked at him oddly. "Why are you hiding behind the refrigerator door?" Sarah stepped forward and peeked behind the door. She grinned. "Oh, so you're doing that mostly because of me?"
Chuck looked down in embarrassment as he put the pitcher back in the refrigerator. "Sorry. I'm just out of my element here."
Sarah laughed and took Chuck's hand to pull him away from the refrigerator. She wrapped her arms around him and gave him a passionate kiss, pressing her body up against him in the process.
"OK, that's not solving my problem," Chuck said with a light air around him. "In fact, you're making it worse."
Sarah pulled herself up on Chuck to be at eye level with him, and Chuck held on to her.
"Well, let's resolve that issue, shall we?" Sarah purred as she kissed along his neck and nibbled at his ear.
Chuck smiled and carried her back to the bedroom. "I'm at your service, Mrs. Carmichael."
October 26, 2010
John Casey walked around the store and lamented the fact it only took a month for the Buy More to revert back to being the Buy More he knew and loathed. Even worse, it took Morgan to point it out to the NSA they were running the store way too efficiently for comfort. He liked how well the new Buy More ran, but even he had to concede people would figure out something was wrong very quickly. Devon snooped it out, and Morgan was successful in not only bringing back the crew of losers that infested the store before, but he was also now in charge of it. However, Morgan had the good sense…or at least had the knowledge of what Casey actually did for a living…to grant him all of the real estate he desired. Things were an improvement in that department over Big Mike. Or worse…Emmett. Casey may not have been doing cartwheels when Emmett was murdered, but he found Morgan more tolerable than Emmett as a manager. Being given a proctologic exam with a chainsaw was more tolerable than Emmett as a manager.
Casey did a quick left turn when he saw the two people he did not want to deal with at this hour of the morning. Unfortunately, Jeff and Lester spotted him, and Casey was still somewhat limited in his walking ability from being shot several weeks ago. Ignoring rest and going on dangerous missions didn't exactly make his leg better, either.
"Casey, we heard you helped unload a shipment of 3-D televisions last night," Lester said in his typical devious tone.
"Yeah, Chuck and I finished setting up the demo model in the theatre room after we closed," Casey cautiously replied. "The Blu-Ray DVD player is also hooked up, and we have three sets of glasses for it.
"Oh, then we have the perfect thing to test the new TV with. See if it's up to specs."
Casey growled. "Don't say it. Don't even think it..."
Jeff held out the DVD. "Mammary Madness…in 3-D!" he said in a dramatic voice as he pushed the DVD back and forth in Casey's face to sell the 3-D aspect of it.
Casey tried to keep in his breakfast but was failing fast. "Don't even THINK about…"
"Oh, we'll wait until our lunch break, Mr. Play-By-The-Rules," Lester replied in a condescending tone. "But think about it: you get the full naked experience."
"It's almost like they're having sex with you," Jeff drooled.
"For you two, that's actually a huge improvement on your social life," Casey spat out. "But don't even think about it. Keep your perverted videos at home."
"Casey, come on. We need to make sure the TV works," Lester pleaded.
"Plus, they don't have the new Jackass movie on bit torrent yet," Jeff added.
Casey pointed behind them to Big Mike, who had walked up to the trio. "You'll have to clear it with the Assistant Manager."
"What are you three talking about?" Big Mike asked in his traditional booming voice.
Casey's phone beeped with a message from Sarah. She asked Casey to bring Chuck and Morgan to Castle. "Uh, they'll explain it to you, Mike." He lowered his voice so only Big Mike could hear it. "You didn't eat a big breakfast this morning, did you?"
"Full Grand Slam Breakfast at Denny's," Big Mike beamed.
Casey shrugged. "Life's full of risks." He quickly went to find Chuck and Morgan.
Castle Underground Facility
October 26, 2010
"This is an important mission, and it will require all four of you," General Beckman told the group as they met over videoconference. "Mr. Grimes' technical skills will actually be of some use to us."
"Sweet!" Morgan's smile was more noticeable than his beard. "I get to contribute without sending 10,000 volts through myself! Oh, wait; it's the amps that are bad. Chuck how many amps were in those cables…"
"I don't recall saying we'll have a discussion about how much you like this assignment, Mr. Grimes," Beckman admonished. Morgan went instantly silent as Beckman continued. "After your initial encounter with Volkoff Industries, Russian FSB started receiving intel Volkoff was sending teams all over the world to investigate and seize assets of The Ring. So far, the best they have done is some caches of rifles and automatic weapons. But we're afraid of Volkoff seizing any high-tech weaponry The Ring may have developed, including their Intersect computer."
"But we dismantled that computer in the subway five months ago," Sarah said.
"Correct, Agent Walker. However, our analysts recently came across some files indicating The Ring had a few front companies we didn't know about before. One of those companies owned a warehouse in City of Industry."
"With all of the warehouses and businesses there, it would be very easy to hide," Casey noted.
"That is exactly the reason we did not find it before now, Colonel. Like any organization with front companies, Parker, Devereaux, and Associates was completely clean as far as the SEC and IRS were concerned. But we reviewed satellite imaging and electrical power usage during the last eight months for that company. SoCal Edison's files indicated considerable usage from that warehouse until the time The Ring was taken down, at which point usage dropped to almost nothing. Satellite thermal imaging confirmed they had a lot of electronic equipment in there. We have to get to it before Volkoff does.
"I want the four of you to go to the warehouse. Investigate and inventory all of The Ring's assets you find there, right down to the pencil sharpeners. Once we have your report, we can send technical teams to break down the equipment."
"Understood, General," Sarah replied. Beckman disconnected the link.
"Casey, are you sure you're up to this?" Sarah asked him with some concern. "You're supposed to be using a cane to walk around right now after what happened with your old team in Iran, and I have yet to see you use it."
"I'm fine, Walker," Casey replied while trying to keep his annoyance in check. That damn Bartowski influence had rubbed off on her, and she was far more concerned about everybody than she used to be, particularly him. "Bartowski, you and Grimes get in there and figure out what The Ring has been hiding. Anything you think needs to be taken out immediately because it's too risky to leave there, you let us know. Walker and I will keep an eye out for trouble. Let's get moving."
Chuck and Morgan went to configure a pair of laptop computers for their use while Sarah drew weapons and Casey called the local NSA office for the appropriate vehicle.
City of Industry, CA
October 26, 2010
Chuck and Morgan couldn't believe what they found. It was like a computer nerd's wet dream come true.
The warehouse owned by Parker, Devereaux, and Associates was filled wall-to-wall with computer equipment. Judging by the dust and dry air, it appeared Beckman was correct about the facility being out of commission for five months. But the equipment in there was as sophisticated as anything they had in Castle. There was no question Volkoff Industries would find it useful.
Chuck shrugged. "Well, the journey of a thousand computers begins with one program. Right, Morgan?"
Morgan continued to stare in amazement at what he saw. Chuck was fairly certain Morgan couldn't be more shocked if Alex showed up and asked him to marry her right then and there.
"Morgan?" Chuck waved his hand in front of Morgan's face. After a few seconds, Morgan returned to his present location.
"Uh, sorry Chuck. This is just epic, man! I can't believe they did all this. You could run just about anything from there. An entire country if you wanted!"
"Uh, Morgan, that isn't exactly a good thing. Remember who used to have this equipment."
"OK, you're right. You're right. Yeah, getting rid of this so it doesn't fall into enemy hands is the right move," Morgan replied as he took pictures of the equipment and catalogued them on his laptop.
Sarah joined them. "Chuck, Casey found something you better take a look at."
Chuck looked at her briefly. "Uh, no problem. Could you keep an eye on Morgan? Make sure he gets everything? There's a lot of stuff here."
"No problem," she replied as Chuck went to locate Casey.
"Sarah, come on," Morgan said in annoyance to Chuck's request. "I admit I'm not up to the talent level of you three, but I manage the Buy More. I know about having to inventory things."
Sarah looked at him with curiosity. "Is it my imagination, or is it much easier for you to talk to me here than in the apartment?"
Morgan hemmed and hawed for a second. "Well, it's a lot easier to talk to you when you don't look like you should be in a Victoria's Secret commercial."
"I would hope you find it easier to talk to me now that you have a girlfriend," Sarah replied as she gave Morgan a glare indicating he better agree with her in a hurry.
"Right, sorry. You're right. Oh, you heard Chuck and me talk this morning?"
"Morgan, I don't get how you can have so much trouble with relationships. A few quirks aside, you're a decent person with a good job. Now, anyway. You shouldn't be intimidated by women anymore."
"Uh, Sarah? No offense, but you're really the last person who should talk about not being intimidating. You are a walking, living, breathing intimidation."
Sarah nodded. "OK, but I trained to be that way. Confidence is the first thing they teach you about being an agent. But do you ever see me try to get anything or make people do what I want with my looks if it's not mission-related?"
Morgan looked a bit humbled. "No. You're actually one of the coolest people I've ever known. I mean, you put up with me. That's a hundred instant cool points right there."
She laughed. "Well, I do have Chuck to thank for that. I've never felt more at ease than I have since being with him. But that's the point. You have to get past that part of it. Alex is a great girl, but she's no different than any other woman. And she really likes you. Just relax and enjoy being with her. Forget about who her father is. I mean, you wouldn't want to break her heart even if Casey wasn't her father, would you?"
"No, you're right. You're right. I just have to make sure I don't do anything stupid. You know, not act childish, spend all night in line for the latest Call of Duty game, or buy the Bluesmobile off of eBay or whatever."
"Look, you're on the team now, right? We didn't do that out of pity; you earned it. And what you did for us in Iran, if that didn't show how more mature you are these days, I don't know what does."
"OK, OK. I have to relax and just realize Alex likes me."
Sarah smiled. "Exactly. You're a…"
Sarah was interrupted by her mobile phone beeping incessantly.
"What is it?" Morgan asked.
"Chuck tied our phones with the surveillance cameras around the building. There are eight or ten people heading this way."
Morgan was already in a full panic. "What-what do we do?"
Sarah quickly looked around. She then pushed Morgan to a gap between the servers.
"Stay back here. Don't move," she commanded. Morgan put his hands up in agreement.
Chuck walked through the warehouse to Casey's location. He saw Casey in the center of the room, but the room itself is what made him stop dead in his tracks.
A computer sat in the center of the room with no other equipment surrounding it. Along the walls were rows and rows of monitors. There was nothing on the monitors at this point, but Chuck knew all too well what this room was designed for.
Casey knew that as well. "When do you think they built this?" he asked Chuck.
Chuck quickly went to the computer in the center of the room and tried to boot it up. He analyzed the files on the computer. "It looks like the files on the computer are about a year old. This must have been the prototype for the Intersect computer we found in the subway station. They were likely testing this around the time they told Daniel Shaw about his wife. After he came back from Europe, he probably told The Ring to build the one in the subway for him."
Casey shook his head. "This can't wait for our report. We have to tell Beckman right away and have her send a team to guard it."
Chuck finished loading the startup program. "This computer didn't need the Cipher material. It was good to go."
"Hey, hey!" Casey warned. "Don't start the thing. You don't need another Intersect."
"Sorry, Casey. I'm being careful not to activate it. I was just trying to find out what was in these files."
Both of their phones began to beep. They looked at the display screen on their respective phones.
"Damn, whoever it is got inside," Chuck said with considerable alarm in his voice. "They're going to find Sarah and Morgan first."
Casey pulled out his Sig Sauer P226 gun. "You go help them. I'll guard this room. Give them the full treatment and get back here quickly."
"No buts, Bartowski. I can't run very fast, so guarding this room is where I can be best put to use. Go help Sarah and Morgan."
Chuck briefly hesitated, but he figured he wouldn't win arguments from Casey concerning tactics. He ran out of the Intersect room and headed towards Sarah and Morgan.
A team of six men slipped into the warehouse. Their leader spotted a shadow being drawn by the late-afternoon sun. He pulled out his mobile phone.
"Mr. Grishenko, someone is here and there is a tremendous amount of computer equipment in the warehouse. We'll call you back once we've captured the intruder."
He signaled his men to remain silent as they advanced forward. He quietly got on his radio and told the other three men to enter from the other side. The men with him streamed into the room where Sarah was and surrounded her. The leader looked her up and down.
"What are you doing here?" the man asked her with a leering gaze.
Sarah decided to play off of that. She gave him a lustful but business-like glance. "Just waiting for my customer to arrive. If you have a couple of Benjamin's, maybe we can do something while I'm waiting."
The man's look turned even more lascivious as the entire group turned towards her. "Kind of an odd place for you to do business, isn't it?"
Sarah shrugged. "The Five-O doesn't exactly check these places for us working gals."
Behind the group, a server's hard drive flew through the air and landed with a crash that echoed through the room. All six men turned towards the noise. Sarah immediately spun on her heel and landed a roundhouse kick at one of the men and threw a fist at the man on the opposite side of him. She kicked out the knee of a third man and pulled herself back near a pair of desks so the men couldn't attack her all at once. She landed an elbow at one man and then flipped him to the ground. The first man came at her again, but she pushed off of the desks on either side of her and landed a vertical kick on him. The second man tried to charge her, but a chair was slid across his path, and he tripped over it. Sarah quickly looked back to see Morgan grabbing another chair to smash it on the man who tripped. She was pushed from behind and stumbled forward to be grabbed by one of the men, who held her wrists behind her back. She struggled against the man but couldn't break free.
The man Morgan tripped got up and started to move towards him when everybody heard the noise behind them. The leader turned to see Chuck standing there.
"Get him," he commanded. Two of the men went after Chuck. His eyes fluttered as his Intersect located the proper program. He spun in the air and landed a kick to take one of the men out. He threw a roundhouse at the other man. Two more men went to attack him, including the one who was going after Morgan. Morgan ran with the chair and smashed it over the man holding Sarah. He didn't go down, but his grip on Sarah loosened enough for her to turn and send a butterfly kick at him. The leader went after her as Chuck took out the other two men with jabs. Sarah sent her boot to the middle of the leader's stomach. He staggered back but righted himself as Sarah landed a hard right cross at the man who held her. The leader went to attack Sarah again.
A laptop was smashed across the leader's face, and he went down. Chuck and Sarah turned and stared at Morgan in surprise. Morgan shrugged and then noticed the destroyed laptop.
"Oh, don't worry guys. I saved all of the data to a USB drive before I did that."
Chuck looked at his best friend in awe. "We should electrocute you more often."
"What about Casey?" Sarah asked.
Chuck's eyes widened. "Damn, he's still limping. There has to be at least two people heading towards him."
The three quickly ran down the warehouse to find Casey.
Casey kept his gun out as the first man attacked. Casey fired at the man, and the man went down when he took a bullet through the middle of his chest. The second man opened fire at him from just outside of the room. Casey was pinned back behind the Intersect computer. The third man used that distraction to sneak into the room on the other side. The man who was firing at Casey popped out to fire again, and Casey took him out with the last two bullets in his magazine. He tried to reload quickly, but the third man was already on top of him. The man nailed Casey with a hard cross, and Casey went down. The man tried to pull out a gun, but Casey flailed blindly with his arm and managed to knock the man's gun away. Casey got to his feet slowly and tried to move. The man attacked him and tried to get him into a choke hold. However, Casey had at least thirty pounds on the man, and he threw the man away from him. The man crashed into the Intersect computer. He pushed himself up and lunged at Casey. The two men fell to the ground as the lights began to turn off in the room. The lone door to the room began to slide shut as the man held Casey down by his throat. The man pulled out a knife and was about to plunge it into the middle of Casey's chest. Casey brought up the knee of his good leg into the man's groin. The man howled in pain as his grip on Casey's throat loosened. Casey rolled on top of him and landed a wicked haymaker on the man to knock him out. Casey looked up.
It was at that exact moment the monitors filled with thousands of images.
Casey could not close his eyes, as the images froze him in place. He could not move or look away.
"NO! CASEY!" Chuck tried to run at the door, but the door slid shut on him before he could get inside.
The images continued to flicker, and Casey saw all of them. The monitors then went blank, and Casey collapsed on top of the man he subdued.