She’d picked the lock on his office door, readjusted her shirt and blazer, and settled on his desk — legs crossed or not? damnit — and had only just managed to make herself presentable, palm down on a slippery stack of essays, when the professor opened the door. He was juggling his briefcase and an armful of books and folders, and he flicked on the light.
And by the surprise in Indy’s eyes, then sharp understanding, then the glint of interest, Marion knew she had hit just the right note.
Jackpot, she thought, as some of his papers fluttered to the floor and he didn’t even look down.
“What are you doing here, Marion?” he demanded, a familiar gruffness in his voice. He nudged the door shut with a knee, almost slipped on the papers underfoot, then consciously avoided her eye as he bustled about the office, putting the books away into their given shelves. But she could tell by the stiffness in his shoulders and neck how he wanted to turn around.
She could always tell.
“I have a lead on something,” Marion said, “and I find myself in need of a sidekick.” She straightened up, uncrossed her legs, and re-crossed them again at the ankle. They’d parted ways after a heady month together in D.C., bidding each other a fond farewell — more than — and she’d tucked an up-to-date forwarding address into his breast pocket along with a kiss. That was a year ago now. But it was always inevitable that they would find their way back to each other, like compasses spinning towards north.
“I’m not a sidekick,” the man said, aggrieved, turning to look at her now. (God, he’s so easy to needle.) She flashed him an impishly affectionate smile, then pulled out a roll of paper, a hand-copied map. She waggled it like a carrot before a donkey and, predictably, Indy came drifting over. He stepped against her knees and caught the paper. “What’ve you gotten yourself into this time?” he asked, distracted, starting to unroll it and hold it up to the light.
“Now that we know that the occult is real, I’ve been throwing myself headlong into research. Taking advantage of being stateside again, getting in touch with all of dad’s old contacts. Finding some new artefacts.”
Marion leaned back on her palms again, one foot snaking out to hook an ankle around his thigh, pulling him closer into the cradle between her knees. He jotted there perfectly; just the right height, as they knew from past experience. He cleared his throat, still trying to focus on the map, but the bob of his Adam’s apple betrayed his distraction.
“What is this place?”
Curiosity was starting to light his eyes again, but as usual, Indy was too stubborn to come to it too quickly or eagerly. “So? If they’ve stumbled across some healing waters, what do we care? We could just go and enjoy it. I pulled my hamstring last month on a dig in Peru and it’s been killing me.”
“It’s real but stolen, Indy. Its powers supposedly come from a Sami totem, but it’s been repurposed to line the pockets of rich businessmen and Nazi financiers in the Swiss Alps.” Marion flashed him a smile. “Now how do you feel about taking it?”
“Hmm. Better,” he said, setting the map on the table and leaning in. “Only married women, you say?”
Her legs locked around him, her hands lifted the glasses off his nose (he barely needed them anyway). “Don’t get ahead of yourself, Dr. Jones. I just need a sidekick, like I said. To maintain my cover.”
Marion could see his transformation right in front of her: his spine starting to straighten, standing taller, a keener look in his eye — morphing from Doctor Jones, professor of archaeology, to Indiana Jones, obtainer of rare antiquities. She liked arguing theory and history with the former, but she needed the latter right now.
“I could do more than that,” he said.
Indy captured her in a kiss, or she captured him, hands knotted around his tie to pull his mouth to hers; it didn’t matter, because she could feel her heartbeat starting to leap in her chest, that old familiar siren-call of adventure beckoning, the knowledge that it’d be her and Indiana Jones together again, a ticket with Pan Am’s Yankee Clipper from New York to Southampton burning a hole in her coat pocket.
She’d already bought both tickets before even coming to Marshall College.
It was, as we’ve already said: inevitable.
“Sure is fancy,” her companion pointed out. “Better than my usual trick of hitching a ride on cargo planes.”
“A girl deserves to treat herself once in a while.” The Clipper was practically humming with excitement and the flurry of boarding, Pan Am stewards greeting them in freshly-pressed uniforms and gloves and crisp smiles. Everything was buttoned down for takeoff, but they caught glimpses of the galley and dining lounge while on their way to the passenger compartments, sauntering past the sleeping berths. Marion didn’t mind roughing it, but after a lifetime of following her father’s coattails, sweating in hot sun and the reek of camels and two rough grimy years on a mountain, it was nice to vary it up a bit.
“Besides, it helps the cover,” Marion mused. “We’re a rich couple, flying off to the continent to enjoy the very best spa treatments for your anxious condition.”
“You know what else might settle my anxious condition?” He gave her a significant look. “If my darling wife kept me company in our bunk.”
She grinned and tweaked his cheek. “Sorry, fella. They’ve got separate berths and dressing rooms for the men and women.”
Indy groaned aloud, and they were ushered into the passenger compartments amongst hollers of Everyone please be seated. Marion shoved her backpack into Indy’s arms and promptly took the window seat, nose pressed against the glass to watch as the plane started thrumming with a deep bone-rattling, teeth-vibrating rumble.
It beat ship travel.
Before them rose a low, projecting, meadow-like plateau, on which, facing south-west, stood a long building, with a cupola and so many balconies that from a distance it looked porous, like a sponge. In this building lights were beginning to show. It was rapidly growing dusk. The faint rose-colour that had briefly enlivened the overcast heavens was faded now, and there reigned the colourless, soulless, melancholy transition-period that comes just before the onset of night.
– Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain
“Oh, this is nice.” Stomping snow off her boots as they entered the Schatzalp chalet bedroom, Marion strode over to the window, flung the curtains wide, and peered through the glass out at the snowy mountain peaks. After hefting with the latch for a moment, she managed to crack the window open, letting in a blast of freezing air (“Marion!”), and leaned out so she could calculate how far the drop was below. Always good to have a second exit in mind.
She breathed deep. This whole trip was going to be expensive, but it was also worth it. It was a chance to shake things up again, always climbing onwards and upwards to the next summit, the next challenge. The professor in her room grumbled while he fetched his pistol from the hidden compartment in the briefcase, and went about checking and re-checking the firing mechanism with numbed hands. “This is nothing compared to Nepal,” she pointed out, while Indy made a noise of discontent.
“I prefer the desert,” he said.
It didn’t take them long to unpack (they weren’t planning on staying here longer than a few days), but when they slipped out into the courtyard to do some reconnaissance, Indy suddenly went stock-still and she collided with his back.
“I thought this country was supposed to be neutral,” he muttered out of the corner of his mouth, a hand tightening on her elbow as he watched a gaggle of Nazi officers strolling past, laughing, talking. Indy’s blue eyes narrowed in ferocious anger, that tell-tale muscle in his jaw leaping.
“It is,” Marion explained, reaching up to tug his chin back towards her and averting his gaze from the group (mostly so they wouldn’t feel the man glaring daggers into their backs). “So Switzerland winds up washing their hands of the war entirely and looking the other way. It’s bullshit, I know. But believe it or not, there are some American pilots here too — they crash-landed a few weeks ago. And there’s some Jewish refugees, taken in. They’re all welcome. And, miraculously, no one kills each other.”
“You always take me to the best places,” Indy said dryly, dry as bone, and she laughed clear and bell-like.
“Gotta keep up with you, Jones.”
The daily prescribed routine at the spa included hiking in the nearby woods, which neither of them especially minded — and lying out on deck-chairs for hours in the cold, which both of them did.
“Why,” Indy demanded, his breath steaming in the frigid air, “did I let you talk me into this?”
“Eyes on the prize, Jones,” Marion said, her chin buried in the scarf wrapped tightly around her lower face, but she half-agreed.
The next day was more productive. Indy was good at sweet-talking the other guests, flashing them dazzling smiles and linking his arm with Marion’s, introducing her as my charming wife. She got revenge by explaining about his anxiety, his panic attacks, sighing wistfully about how they hoped the Schatzalp would help him. He scowled at her from behind the other guests’ heads as they exclaimed in French and German, tutting over the poor professor’s frayed nerves.
When they asked about the mythical cure-all boasted by the doctors here, the descriptions were vague — not everyone merited the treatment, only the very richest were allowed access to the springs — but everyone agreed that the entrance was in the east wing, a door through which the elite guests were escorted.
And they all agreed: the changes were miraculous. A mere week of the advanced treatment, and people left with healthy ruddy colour restored to their cheeks, their lungs breathing free and easy.
After midnight, Marion hunkered down to pick the lock on the heavy wooden door while Indy kept an eye out, hands shoved into his pockets, fingers laced around the stock of the pistol.
“Eureka,” she murmured under her breath as it swung open, revealing a dark spiral stone staircase cut into the mountain and leading down, down, down. The stones were slick, the walls slightly damp the further down they went.
“You know, I was thinking,” she said softly, one hand splayed between his shoulderblades as they descended, “if it is actually healing tuberculosis, then…” Her voice trailed off into a thoughtful pause. Then who are we to meddle?
“But not so long as they’re profiting like this,” Indiana said, voice firm and his hand steady on the pistol. “If it’s real, then it belongs in a museum or back with the Lappish people. The spa might say they’re neutral, but when the only people who can afford this magic treatment are rich Nazis…”
Two hours later, Marion Ravenwood was clutching a small drum of stretched reindeer hide inside her jacket, pressed tight against her ribs as they slip-slided down the mountain in powdery gusts of snow, gunshots pinging off the rocks and trees around them.
“I really prefer the desert!” Indy shouted, occasionally catching himself against a tree-trunk and pausing to fire shots behind them. The mountain was almost pitch-black even under the moon and stars, and it was impossible to get a good bead on their pursuers — but his bullets kept them thinking twice about following too quickly, at least.
“Doesn’t matter! Get to the train!”
They hurtled towards the abandoned funicular that had carried them up here to begin with; they came crashing through its open doorway, and Marion shoved the lever forward. Rumbling into life, the train rattled its way down the cable, set at an almost impossibly-steep angle as it descended the mountain. The pair of adventurers kicked snow off their boots, shaking themselves off like wet dogs.
Indy absentmindedly reached out and dusted some snow from Marion’s hair, his hands chilled, cold knuckles brushing against her cheek. Her heart was pounding a tattoo against her chest, and she couldn’t seem to unclench her hands around the frame of the drum.
“Think we lost them?” she asked, glancing to the darkened windows but keeping her distance.
“We’d better. The other trains won’t be running tonight, so once we get to the town at the bottom, we should rent a driver. We need to get to another town, prevent them from following us.”
Which is exactly what they did: finally checking into another hotel for the evening, now using a different married name. When she saw the names Indy had scribbled into the guest-book, she saw that they were now Mr. and Mrs. Abner, which made her heart twinge with a sudden ache. They were exhausted, their change of clothing lost back at the Schatzalp chalet, living off the bedraggled francs that Marion had sewn into the lining of her jacket. In their new bedroom, she shrugged out of her sopping wet coat and hung it in front of the fire to dry. Behind her, Indy winced as he tried to get out of his, and she wordlessly helped slip it from his shoulders.
“Well, this is familiar,” Marion said as he settled gingerly in the nearest chair, nursing his bruised and battered ribs. He’d taken a bad tumble on the slopes.
“Yeah, that’s kinda how it goes with us.” He had a wry smile.
But it was better now. After Egypt, ten years of silence had slipped into communication, into a joyous sort of playfulness with each others’ presence; they stayed in touch, wrote letters, had the occasional phonecall. And the most important: he’d agreed to come with her on this harebrained voyage, almost without question, just grabbing his hat and saying When do we go? His college must be so exasperated with him by now.
As she carefully set the drum on the table, she glanced back and saw a thoughtful cast to the man’s face. Something on the tip of his tongue, sitting unsaid and heavy.
Unfortunately, she could read him like a book.
He shook his head, and Marion wandered over, swung one leg over his and settled in his lap, examining a shallow cut at the edge of his forehead. It had been bleeding earlier — scalp wounds tended to do that — but it wasn’t serious.
“Is there something you wanted to say?” Marion’s expression was canny, and too-knowing, and his stomach lurched and flip-flopped at the very sight of it. That familiar smirk in the corner of her mouth. The one that he wanted to kiss over and over and over for every day of his life, if he could.
“Just this,” he said, and hefted her into his arms as he rose to his feet, carrying her in a stumbling walk towards the bed, and she clutched at his neck and her giddy laugh rang out through the chalet.