A/N I wrote the first half of this today. The second half I wrote yesterday.
"You could have done everything but that."
"We need Charles Carmichael."
"I need the body."
Please find me wasn't much of an instruction, but there weren't really all that many places she could be hiding, especially when you left out the obvious places, like under the bed and stuff like that. Not that that stopped him from looking, a quick peek, but he didn't really think so. There was the kitchen, and the dining room, of course, but he knew she wouldn't be there. He got up and walked out of the room.
"Target is no longer on primary site. Activating secondaries. Target is…in the bathroom again."
"Bring up the attic."
"There's only the one mike up there, sir. On audio."
"Any CIA bugs?" His man shrugged, shaking his head. "Suppress the house, just in case."
Once again Morgan was glad his phone had such a bright screen, he could see the trail of their footprints in the dust very clearly. After everything that had happened, the last thing he wanted was for anyone to have to worry about more intruders. He followed the trail of nails across the floor to the door of the secret room, which apparently wasn't so secret anymore. The dust he'd stirred up was getting quite visibly sucked into a crack in the wall, so he felt along there for some way to open it, glad that movies were just movies and old secret rooms really weren't all that hard to—dammit, where was that thing?
The door opened, and he jumped back. Nothing came out at him, so he grabbed the panel and opened it wider, taking a peek inside.
Carina sat on the floor, a bottle of something in her hand. "Took you long enough."
Sometimes she made it really hard to be a gentleman. "So that's where he keeps it."
"Mrs. P thinks that Mr. P is on the wagon," said Morgan, gesturing at the bottle.
She held it up, sloshed it around. "He is now."
The bottle wasn't the only thing that sloshed. "You really did a number on yourself, didn't you?"
I was alone, I was cold, it was there. "Why not, all my friends are doing it," she said, taking another swig. "There'll be a 'pickoncarinaday' hashtag soon, haven't you heard?"
Drunk Federal Agents were a little out of his league. "Have you asked Sarah what to do? Or Chuck, maybe?"
Carina threw her nearly empty bottle at him. "Those two traitors."
Leader held up a finger. The man on the audio board started recording.
Morgan caught the bottle, so it wouldn't fall and make a noise. "They didn't betray anyone."
"Not you, maybe. Not their country. Me, not a problem. Leave me twisting in the wind, abandon me in the middle of an operation, oo, I've got your back, Carina." She held up her hand in the familiar gesture. "You got this, buddy. I thought I could trust him at least."
"Trust who? Chuck? You brought Chuck along on an operation?" Taking his friend into danger?
"God, you're so clueless, Martin, maybe that's what I like about you. I didn't bring him on my operation, he brought me on his."
"What are you talking about? They're not spies."
Carina giggled. "Sarah Walker is the most natural, most effortless spy in the world. She's an artist." She frowned woozily. "Seeing her married to that…nerd, is like seeing the Mona Lisa hung in a meat locker. But no matter what I did she just wrapped herself around him, tighter and tighter. I thought Chuck saw that, he said he was making himself the man she deserved…"
"Did he know she was a spy?"
She stared at him. "Did your parents find you in a dumpster? How could he not know? Everything Charles Carmichael's done for the last three years has been to make himself a spy worthy of Sarah Walker, and boy, did he succeed. When that guy puts his mind on something…"
"My friend Chuck is a spy?"
"I knew it," shouted Leader. "I knew he was the link!"
"Your friend Chuck is the greatest spy the world has ever known."
"You just said Sarah was."
"She got her skills the old-fashioned way. Chuck's were surgically implanted. He'd be nothing but an analyst with the interest…innersept…" She shook her head, annoyed that her tongue wouldn't do what she wanted.
"Carina, you're completely toasted." Morgan held out his hands. "Come on, let me get you into bed, and you can sleep this off."
"Gimme your phone," she said imperiously. "I am gonna prove to you that your friend Chuck is a spy. Give me your phone."
Morgan handed it over, knowing he would regret it. Hopefully Chuck would forgive him letting her wake him at this hour of the morning.
She scrolled through his list of contacts, and touched the screen, putting the phone to her ear. "Chuck, we need you," she suddenly said. "There's Ring agents everywhere, and I can't find Casey or Sarah." She shrugged. "Uh…I guess so. I think I saw him. Just get up here, will you Chuck? We need you. We need Charles Carmichael…Fine, be that way. You want the code, I'll give you the damn code. Orange, orange, green, red, orange, red. Chuck? Chuck? Oh, sorry, Mister Carmichael. We're at the B&B, in the attic. Just get your ass over here, will you?" She tossed the phone back to Morgan. "Jeez!"
"Now what?" asked Morgan.
"Now we wait," said Leader. "Abort the mission. We have a new priority. Begin infiltration. Ready the delaying tactics."
Sarah sat in the van, bored. Morgan had gotten home an hour ago and Carina had yet to show her face. Time for another check-in. "Casey?"
Dammit, Carina, where are you?
A few blocks away, a red Porsche parked, and a man got out.
Morgan and Carina were huddled together, sharing warmth, when a loud thwack! brought them out of their light doze. "What the hell was that?" asked Morgan.
"Probably a cable dart, shot into the masonry of the chimney on the other side of this wall," said Carina calmly. "Now you'll see."
Leader nodded to the men with the delaying tactics. "Go."
The door flew open, Charles Carmichael stood in the entrance, ready for business. "Carina?"
Morgan stood. "Chuck!"
Charles Carmichael froze. "Morgan Grimes?"
"Chuck?" said Sarah, unbelieving. Then she flipped a switch, "Casey!"
"We heard. We're moving."
Sarah's response was lost to the sound of the van walls echoing as something large and heavy slammed against them.
With the magnets in place against the van doors, the glue team inserted the nozzles of their guns into the seams and sprayed epoxy over the locks and every available surface. "Delaying tactics deployed."
Leader nodded. "Infiltration team, go." He turned to his man. "Suppress the house. I'm going in. In one minute, begin playback."
Leader left the van, joining his delaying team as they sprinted away from the wildly rocking van.
"Casey, they sealed us in! Van doors are blocked somehow!"
"Corporal Hollis, take your team to the van, free them up. This will slow our advance, Sarah."
"Tell me something I don't know. I just hope Chuck can hold them off somehow. Open the goddamned door!"
Charles Carmichael toppled, three tranq darts shot into his back from close range. More men, their weapons clearly not tranq pistols, took aim at Morgan and Carina. "Leader, the room is secure."
Leader mounted the attic stairs, crossed to the room. He stared down at Chuck's unconscious form. "Excellent. Take him away."
The sudden crackling in their earpieces took everyone by surprise. The agents in the van stopped, but Casey's team continued their steady advance as he listened.
"They didn't betray anyone."
"Not you, maybe. Not their country…"
"I can't let you do that," said Carina, struggling to her feet.
"I don't see how you expect to stop us," said Leader. "Stay out of this, and all shall be well between us. But if you prefer, I will allow you and your friend Mr. Beam to go two on one against my friend Heinrich here."
Heinrich flipped out his straight razor with a practiced move. "I got a new one, bitch."
Carina wobbled into a fighting stance.
Morgan hit her over the head with the empty bottle, knocking her to the floor, unconscious.
Leader looked at the fallen agent, then at Morgan. "Most sensible, Mr. Carmichael…" He smiled, a shark's smile.
He dropped the bottle. "It's Grimes." Morgan cleared his throat, suddenly gone dry. "My name is Grimes, not Carmichael."
Leader smirked. "I'm sure it is. Mr. Grimes, you are going to do me a service today. I'm in need of a messenger."
Morgan looked down at Carina. "What if I don't want to carry your message?"
"In exchange for your service, I will restrain Heinrich here from having his way with you and your lady friend."
"Please say no," said Heinrich.
"Heinrich," said Leader with a touch of frost in his voice, "Unless my eyes deceive me Miss Miller has my flashdrive in her pocket. Do fetch it."
Heinrich took a step forward and swung his blade at Carina's leg. One layer of cloth parted, and the flash drive fell to the floor. Heinrich picked it up and handed it to Leader.
Leader looked it over, and put it in his pocket. He said to Morgan, "An artist, is he not?"
Morgan watched Heinrich play with his razor. "What's the message?"
"That's the entire message?"
Leader nodded, amused.
"Who do I give it to?"
Leader shrugged. "Anyone you please. I'm sure the most deserving recipients will make themselves known to you in due course." He dismissed Morgan from his attention. "Gentlemen, we go. Be careful with our prize. Bump his body if you must, but not his head. We have plans for that."
"Colonel Casey! " Hollis' voice overrode the sound of Carina and Morgan talking. "The van's been secured with magnets and some kind of glue, sir. We're bringing up pry bars."
"Understood." He understood everything.
Morgan jumped at the sound of the trapdoor slapping open behind him. By the time he turned someone with a uniform and a very large gun was blinding him with a spotlight. "Don't shoot!" he yelled, "I'm unarmed!"
"Yeah, that's not the only thing you don't have, moron. Any hostiles left over?"
"Casey?" The big man with the big gun grunted a warning at him. "No! They took Chuck, they took her flashdrive, what the hell's going on?"
"Later for that." Casey pulled Carina's hands behind her back and cuffed them. He turned to his team. "You two. Feet, shoulders. Take her down the shaft. Come on, Grimes."
"Is Sarah around? Shouldn't we wait for her?"
"I don't think that would be a very good idea." Casey pulled out his earpiece, and made a call on his personal phone. "Corporal Hollis?"
"Colonel? Why are you calling me on this line?"
"What's the status on the van, Hollis?"
"Any minute now, sir."
"Give me ten minutes, Hollis."
"You heard me."
"Sir! It'll be, uh, about ten minutes, sir."
"You're a good man, Hollis. I owe you one."
"You'll understand in ten minutes, Hollis." When you open that door.
Seven minutes later he got a call. "Colonel Casey?"
"What is it, Hollis?"
"Agent Carmichael's free, sir. She ripped the interior partition out of its housing and shattered the side window." The window was supposed to be shatter-proof. Casey wondered if they'd tested it from the inside.
"Thanks for the head's up." He dropped the phone, no time for chit-chat.
Casey drove like a wild man, moving his Crown Vic in and around the slower-moving roadhogs as if it was a much lighter car. Every so often he flicked his eyes to his mirrors, but no Porsche had caught up to him yet. Morgan wrestled his seatbelt into the catch, having been thrown against parts of the car three times and Casey twice.
"Stay on your side of the country, Grimes."
The car was softer.
A noise from the back seat drew Morgan's attention, and he suddenly remembered that Casey'd just casually tossed Carina's limp form back there like a bag of clothes he didn't care about very much. Plus she was cuffed. Even if she was awake there was no way she could—
"Casey, what the hell!" shouted Carina in her slurred voice. "Get these cuffs off of me! What the hell are you—Hey!"
Casey changed lanes and she slid over against the door.
Morgan thought someone should buckle her in, and it looked like he was that someone, since Casey was driving (and he put major air-quotes around that word in his head) and probably couldn't do that very well with his feet, but unbuckling himself to do it was a very scary proposition just now. He fumbled with his seat, found a handle and pulled, dropping the back a few inches in a reclining position. He reached back and pulled Carina to the middle of the seat, and sat her up.
"Martin! Get these things off me!"
"Sorry, no keys," said Morgan, fumbling to get the belt around her while upside-down.
"And I took your FRODO," added Casey.
"What you go and do that for?" she groused. "Dammit, Casey, I like being able to get out of handcuffs on my own terms."
"I'm sure you do, but Hurricane Sarah is on its way and I really don't need the distraction. You stay put for now." He swerved, making them all sway side-to-side.
"I think I'm gonna be sick."
The window went down. "Stick your head out if you're gonna puke."
"I'm not sticking my head out the goddamn window!"
"Then shut up." The window went back up.
"Come on, Casey, you don't have to be rude," said Morgan.
"Grimes, do you know who the hell I am?"
"John Casey…who sells Beastmasters?"
"Colonel John Casey, United States Marines and NSA. My mission, our mission, is to protect the most valuable piece of US Government intelligence apparatus in the world, and your girlfriend here just handed him over to the bad guys! Is that comic book enough for you, Grimes, or do I need to break out my box of crayons?"
Morgan looked over his shoulder at Carina, who wasn't looking at anyone. "Is that what was on the flash drive they took? What about Chuck?"
"I'm talking about Chuck, moron! The flash drive was just icing on that cake."
Morgan groped for a ray of sunshine. "Come on, Casey, I'm sure she didn't mean to."
"I know she didn't 'mean to', Grimes. I don't think she meant to do anything. I do think she was flailing around in her spastic 'poor-me' angst, spilling classified beans in an unsecured environment to anyone who might have been listening, most of whom are considerably smarter than you."
"What are you talking about, Casey?"
"Chuck and Sarah, idiot. She's been wanting to split them up since she got here."
"She deserves more!" shouted Carina from the back, cuffed and belted and still trying to hit something.
Casey beat him to the punch. "Chuck gave her more."
"He turned her into a hausfrau!"
Casey growled. "He gave her a bigger pond to swim in, nitwit, one with room in it for her to try being a hausfrau if she wanted to. She only looked smaller. You're the one who wanted to surround her with small things and tell her how big she was! Now shut up and let me get us, and that means you, into protective custody before Mrs. Bartowski catches up to us and wants to know where you put her husband, 'cause that's not a conversation I want to be a part of."
"Can it, Grimes. I may be a Marine, but I'm not stupid."
Morgan heard something from the back seat, and started to turn and look.
"Eyes front, soldier."
Morgan turned away, staring out the window as Casey turned the radio on, loud. Both men would go to their graves, honestly able to say that they'd never seen or heard Carina Miller cry.
Carina hadn't managed to bring her hands around front while sitting there belted in, a circumstance that only surprised Casey, even though Morgan knew how flexible she was. Casey grunted once, then picked her up and slung her over his shoulder. "Come on, Grimes, she's gotta be close by now."
Fortunately Casey called ahead, so the halls between him and the holding cells were blessedly free of people he'd have to step on or knock down.
He stood Carina up in the holding cell and spur her about like a toy. "Grimes, here," he said, handing the smaller man his keys. "Get those off of her, I've got to get to the security booth pronto."
Morgan saluted. "Sir. Yes, sir." He grinned. "I've always wanted to say that."
Casey rolled his eyes and left.
Morgan removed the cuffs, and stood back as Carina rubbed her wrists. She turned, saw his face, and decided to sit on the other side of the room. She opened her mouth.
She looked at his face again, wondering.
"The person you need to apologize to isn't here, and may never be again. Your apology will have to wait."
She shrugged, anything but nonchalant. "I'm not going anywhere, not with two bloodthirsty monsters out there ready to rip me apart."
Casey returned, palming open the door, and Morgan took a step back. "Carina."
She watched his face as the thick glass moved in front of it, sealing her in. She remembered the last time she'd seen that look on his face. You mess with my best friend, you mess with me!
"Make it three," he said, and walked away.
Sarah left a trail of dented walls and swinging doors behind her, except for one that would need a new hinge. She saw no one between one portal and another, not because no one was there but because of a serious case of tunnel vision. Even Muffin knew better than to say or do anything but hold the next one open.
The locked entrance of the security wing held her up slightly, but her rage built as she waited, vibrating slightly in place as the circuitry took its electronic time processing her handprint. Eventually the electrons in the wire caught up with her mood and released the lock. She slammed the heavy metal door open, bringing Casey out of the interview room as she ran for the holding cells and—there she was! Sarah dashed down the hall, pausing to palm the pad by the cell, throwing herself forward in anticipation of—
The lock did not buzz. The door did not pull out of her way.
She turned and slapped at the pad again. The door ignored her again, and she kicked at it. "Open!" she yelled, the only coherent word she could form.
"No," said Casey.
"Casey, open the door! She gave them Chuck!" She kicked it again.
"Maybe," Casey grunted. "But no one deserves what you'll do to her."
"Fine," she snarled. "Then I'll find someone who will!"
Casey waved. "There's only one handprint that'll open that door now." She looked at him, assessing. "Don't even think about it, Bartowski. Both it and I have to be alive, and that's a load even you can't swing." That didn't stop him from backing up.
Howling with rage, Sarah flung her knife at Carina's face, scratching the door before it bounced off. For a second she stood there, panting. She stalked up to the door and stared at Carina through the heavy bulletproof glass, before she knelt to pick up her knife.
She stood there, staring at Carina, her knife busy between her fingers. Slowly, delicately, she used the razor point to pierce the skin on each of the fingers of her left hand, the center of her palm. She made a fist as she put the knife away with her uninjured hand.
She stepped as close to the door as she could and not be inside, and pressed her bloody handprint onto the blemished glass. "If anything happens to him, I will kill you. I want you to know this."
Carina stepped up to the glass, put her hand opposite Sarah's. "If anything happens to Chuck, I want you to kill me. I hope you know this."
If Sarah knew or heard anything her friend said, her face didn't show it. She peeled her hand off the door, inch by sticky inch, turned and left.
Carina watched her go, tears in her eyes, both sorrow…and joy. She's still Sarah. She's still my Sarah.
Casey watched her go, then looked at Carina, still standing there with her hand against the glass. He walked up to it and put his hand in the blood. "If anything happens to Chuck, I'm opening this door."
A/N2 I hope the wait was worth it. Whatever will happen to poor Chuck? Or is that Charles?