A/N This is the last chapter of the first season. It's got a bit more of a plot than the last three, but for a good reason. A wedding is a pretty scripted event, so there was no need for me to plot anything out, but this chapter has to do a bit more work. Two chapters ago there were three separate deathtraps that got foiled without anyone even knowing they were there. I tried to put more about them into that chapter when I was writing it, but it would have ruined the mood, so I pulled all of it, and used it here, so this chapter starts a little back in time, and then picks up in the reception from a different set of perspectives. It also has some of my favorite Casey moments in it.
At the time I wrote this I had no plans to write a second season, so I gave this story the ending I wish canon had used.
The man sat in his car, watching with a small case of nerves as the florist delivered the roses. Maybe three was overdoing it. Leader wouldn't have approved, if only because some of the death traps he'd arranged overlapped others and could potentially cancel each other out, but Leader was dead. Elegance be damned, sometimes you needed a little brute force and collateral damage to get the job done.
Orion stared at his last hope with bitter distaste. There's no fool like an old fool. That all of his hopes, dreams, fears and sacrifices should come to this!
He'd been doomed from the start, he saw that now. After Roarke, he thought he'd been more careful. He'd known from the start that his new backers were government, known that they had other plans for his project, but he needed the money, he needed the security. He'd needed…no. He couldn't let himself think about her, not now.
Not when his children, her children, needed him. Charles was always getting into trouble, especially Intersect-related trouble, and this time he'd pulled Eleanor into it with him. At least he could trust her to have Charles' back, trust her to try to make the Intersect work for Chuck and not against him, until he could do what a father should do, keep his children safe.
Then he'd gone and made it worse, like the fool he was and always had been. They'd never listen to him now, and they'd be right. He'd acted as a spy, not as a parent, while Sarah was acting as a wife, even while she was acting as a spy. She'd made him move twice already.
He couldn't stay, but he couldn't leave. She would expect him to be watching over their children, when she got back. If she go–no! She would come back! She would come back! She would see what fine people her children had become, even if it killed him.
Later. Too many things to do here first, things he should have done long ago. He closed the case on his current torment and got out the wrapping paper.
I've got a wedding to go to.
The man in the car checked his watch again. Nothing. What could have gone wrong? The chemical bomb in the vase should have gone off by now, unless they'd put it back in the fridge and who would do that? Roses go to the bride on her wedding day.
Pure poetry. Not to mention precise and painful, both qualities he approved of.
The C4 in the CD player was neither. He checked his watch again. It'll have to do.
Stephen Bartowski was a schnook. The look of it, the feel of it, suited him. No one looked at schnooks, or took them seriously. Neither a threat nor a prize, he slid under everyone's radar and penetrated areas that should have been off-limits, simply because no one noticed him at all.
In this case he helped carry in the ice sculpture. The sculptor thought he worked for the hall, the caterer thought he was the sculptor's assistant. Neither noticed as he stepped away from the group to leave a slim package on the woefully underpopulated gift table. He'd hoped it would have more cover but…he slid it under the edge of a large tray. That would have to do. He looked up as the sounds of the Wedding March came through the floor, visualizing the scene that his system was recording back in his Orion-cave. Then he gathered up the debris and took it out to the trash, never to return.
Four-ten. And the wedding was supposed to start at four. He could make allowances for any number of screw-ups but surely the ceremony should have started by now. No one from the bomb squad had arrived, so they couldn't have discovered it, but the place wasn't a smoking ruin either. More important, no panic-stricken mob, milling around like sheep. He needed that mob to get to his target. They must be covering it up, he realized. They'd defeated two of his lethal death-traps and they were still going on with the ceremony!
That broad must really want to be married.
Or…it was a trap for him. Leader always said, look for the hidden motives of others. They'd found his bombs, they must be hoping to catch the bomber.
Too bad for them his last trap wasn't a bomb!
Morgan paraded around the room, smiling amiably and nodding absently in response to the congratulations he hadn't noticed he was no longer receiving. He was on autopilot, Look at me, I'm with her running around in his head, along with I hope she likes my song and I can't believe I pulled it off!
Behind them they heard a familiar grunt.
"Hmm, well, if you absolutely must know," came Casey's voice, pitched so they could hear it, "The 'hot babe' is my daughter." Somebody started to mutter furiously, but Casey overrode him. "No, no, it's quite all right, I understand you meant it as a compliment. As for how the 'little runt', that was your phrase, wasn't it? 'Little Runt'? Well, whatever, I admit you seem to have it all over him, training, guns, and I have no doubt your seduction skills are first rate. And what's the runt got? Nothing, really, just enough guts and wits to get him two Medals of Valor. Tell me, Agent, how many Medals of Valor do you have…?"
Morgan never heard the answer. Loud and vibrant guitar rang out, and almost everyone turned to the dance floor, Alex included.
Carina was fighting with Sarah!
"Wow, look at that," said Alex in awe. "It's beautiful."
Morgan took a second look, and noticed that neither of the combatants seemed to be hitting the other. It was like watching a Sonny Chiba film, only with, um, longer hair.
Alex pointed. "You broke up with that?"
"Yeah, well…she pissed me off."
"You're either the bravest or the most suicidal person I've ever met."
"You know, your father said the same thing."
The music stopped, and the two ladies hugged and laughed.
"It's nice to see them friends again," said Morgan.
Chuck slapped Carina right across the face!
"Oo, that's gonna leave a mark."
Carina jumped on Chuck, gave him a big hug and a bigger kiss.
"Wow. Not what I expected at all."
Chuck moved in to kiss Sarah–again!–but Alex caught sight of Carina and her date leaving the room, hands giving every sign of their intentions. She turned away, dragging Morgan with her, as the DJ spun up something classical. "Oo, True Lies."
"Care to tango?" asked Morgan, misquoting.
"No I don't," she said, breaking the mood. "Let's go say hi to Ellie."
The General was standing over by the wedding presents, glaring at the table.
"Something wrong?" asked Alex, as they came close.
Ellie twisted her pen in the air. "There's something different about this table, I can't put my finger on it. Do either of you notice anything odd?"
Morgan moaned, and they both looked at him as he moved like a man in a dream to the table. A bunch of DVDs tied with a ribbon, sat on top of a heavy crystal dish. "Oh my God, is that the complete Criterion Science Fiction collection on Blu-Ray?" He lifted it up, cradled it to his cheek lovingly.
"Yes," said Ellie, pulling it away and putting it back where it came from. "The Lensmen sent it, or one of them did. They both got promoted and couldn't attend." She looked down to make sure the package was centered. "What's this?"
"What's what?" asked Morgan, reaching out a hand to touch the item she stared at.
"Don't touch it," she snapped, and he pulled his hand away. Ellie turned, and scanned the room. "I have to find Sarah. Don't touch that, don't let anyone touch it until I get back, understand?" Morgan and Alex nodded. Ellie walked away, wondering how it could be so hard to hide a tall blonde in a white dress.
'Aunt Diane' was keeping a weather eye out for her namesake. The reception was going beautifully, although she didn't know most of the songs and wasn't about to try dancing to any of them. The current selection was more her style, but Mr. Barker had found himself another companion, and without Roan–something was the matter, Ellie looked upset.
Did she actually just position Mr. Grimes and Ms. McHugh as guards? What needed guarding? Where was Ellie going? She wasn't coming to…She was looking for Sarah!
"Mr. Clark," she said peremptorily, and the nearest of her detail turned instantly. "Find out what those two are being so protective of."
Mr. Clark raised his hand, and issued quick instructions to his team.
Ellie forced her way through the crowd at the edge of the floor. No wonder she couldn't see Sarah, she and Chuck were–oh my! Devon never taught him how to dance like that!
Mr. Smith came up to her, relieving Mr. Clark to get some punch.
"She doesn't tango." He held out his hand, holding a small screen in it. The image was askew, taken with a lens in his boutonniere as he'd been asking Alex to dance. A large boxy thing, wrapped in ribbon. A glass dish. Under the edge of the dish–"Orion." Ellie would definitely take that news to Sarah first. She looked up at her man's face, tapping the screen. "Get that package. Quickly."
With Mr. Smith at her side, Mr. Clark was free to use the bathroom. Just after he left, another of Chuck's 'four large unsmiling cousins' came over to chat with the young lady by the gift table. Morgan didn't take this well.
As the encounter progressed, neither side raising their voices for fear of spoiling a happy occasion, Mr. Clark scuttled underneath the table and reached up an arm, feeling for and finding the slim rectangular box.
Ellie came back, defeated by the tango, and immediately noticed the absence of the package. "What happened? Where'd it go?"
As Morgan and more importantly Alex pointed out that only a couple of Beckman's men had even come over, and neither of them had gotten close to the table, Ellie scanned the room, finding three of them easily. Where was the fourth?
Just then Mr. Clark came in the door, and Ellie studied him. Something a little odd about–then another of his detail came up, blocking her view, and when they parted she could no longer see whatever she thought she'd seen. "Dammit." She went hunting, looking as if she was just going about her usual rounds.
"What was that all about?" asked Morgan.
"I don't know," said Alex, her curiosity aroused.
The man sat in his car, eating stale take-out.
Suddenly he smiled. "You eat hearty now," he said to a room full of people, none of whom could hear him, and laughed some more. Dance. Get that blood moving.
"Something romantic," Alex called to the DJ, as she dragged her boyfriend out onto the floor. When the music started she took the opportunity to pull him in close. "Morgan, I found it."
"You've been looking for that all this time?"
"Of course. What did you think I was doing, silly?"
Planning to break up with me. "No idea. So where is it?"
"The General has it."
"Ellie has it? So why was she looking for it?"
"Not that General, Morgan, the other General. Aunt Diane. Her men have been passing it around all night but they gave it to her a little while ago."
"We have to get it back."
"Maybe we should talk to Ellie first…"
"Are you kidding?" At Ellie's fourteenth birthday Morgan had stayed under her table all night and no one had noticed, but he decided not to mention these qualifications to Alex. "I can do this. Just get Ellie to talk to Beckman, I'll do the rest."
The music stopped.
"Chuck?" said Sarah, sounding distressed, and Morgan looked over there, as did everyone near.
Ellie looked exhausted, poor dear. Aunt Diane knew that feeling. The crisis averted, you suddenly realize you haven't eaten for half a day and practically fall over. She had assistants to make sure she ate and rested, but Ellie had no one. If Chuck's song truly was the last song, she'd be feeling the same release. Beckman moved her bag under her seat as 'the General' made her way over to her, and pulled out a chair. "Sit. You've been on your feet all night."
"Thank you, Diane." Ellie sat, nibbling on some of the cold buffet food Alex had handed to her, before mentioning that Aunt Diane had been looking a little lonely all night. "Did you have a good time…?"
Morgan must have had a touch of schnook in him too. No one noticed him now.
Some time later, as Ellie stood to leave, the man on watch turned to verify his principal's safety. "Ma'am, your bag is open."
Beckman pulled it out from under her chair. "The box!" Did Ellie–? No. There was Grimes rushing over to Miss McHugh, looking like a man with a secret, and she had no doubt what that secret was. Who was nearest? "Colonel!" she called to Casey, "Stop him!"
Casey snagged Morgan by the collar, bringing the smaller man to a sudden stop. "What's the matter, Grimes?" he muttered in low tones. "What do you have there?"
Morgan gave up quickly. "It's Chuck's," he yelled, holding up the package as various heads started to turn. "They took it, we were just taking it back!"
Casey snatched the box and pushed the bearer away as people converged from all directions, including, dammit, Chuck and Sarah.
"Hand it over, Colonel," said Beckman. "It's a matter of national security."
"What is?" asked Sarah.
Ellie frowned at the General. "Dad's wedding present."
Chuck spotted the little box, slightly larger than an eyeglass case. "Is that what I think it is?"
This was getting out of hand. "Colonel," said Beckman, holding out her hand.
Casey looked down at the little box, and up at her. "I've worked with Chuck Bartowski for three years now. He's saved my life and my honor countless times, and I trust him with both." He stepped over to the groom and tucked the box in an inside pocket of his jacket. "I think we can trust him with this."
Beckman's face went as red as her hair. "I gave you an order."
"It's Chuck's present. Unless someone here thinks they can take it." He stood in front of Chuck, and Sarah moved to stand next to him.
"Hey, Ladyfeelings, is there a problem?" Dimples and his crew positioned themselves behind Beckman's team, and loomed. "Something we can help out with, maybe? I'd hate for anything to spoil Tough Guy's wedding day."
Casey looked at Beckman. "Is there, General?"
Generals don't cave, that's what strategic withdrawals are for. "Colonel, a word with you, please." She stepped over to a spot near the kitchen, with all the food already served the clearest and quietest spot in the room. It got a little clearer, as everyone got as far as they could from something that promised to be unpleasant.
The man got out of his car and walked into the kitchen entrance, looking and acting like he belonged. He'd waited long enough! This is why he hated poisons. At least with blades you knew when your target was dead. He looked through the window into the banquet hall, anticipating the wonderful sight of people everywhere dying from his special sushi, medical personnel scrambling, chaos.
He didn't see that.
Government agents were standing there, staring at the door, staring at him! Probably a horde brining up the rear right now.
The refrigerator door cracked open.
His right hand pulled out a gun, the left flicked out his straight razor, and with a bellow of rage Heinrich kicked open the door, grabbing the first hostage he could find, somebody's grandma. "Nobody move or the old bat dies," he shouted, razor at her throat. He pointed the gun at the big man, the only man anywhere close. "Back off!"
Casey backed off, as just about everyone in the room pulled out a gun and took aim.
The server with the corroded pot of wilted flowers didn't hear the shouting over the pounding of her own heart. She'd tried to keep the flowers from that handsome blond guy for herself, but now she had to get the smelly mess out of the refrigerator and into the dumpster as fast as she could, before the manager found it. She'd be fired for sure!
"You're gonna kill me, I know you're gonna kill me," said Heinrich, "You all should've been dead three times over and I don't know why you're not, but I'm going to do one thing before I go. Leader promised me I would get to kill Martin Carmichael, and I'm here to collect!" He turned and pointed the gun at his target.
A knife flew out of nowhere and lodged itself deep in his hand! He dropped the gun with a cry of pain.
Beckman jerked her head back, slamming her skull into his nose. Casey jumped forward, grabbing the straight razor with his bare hand!
Heinrich shifted hands, holding on to Beckman with his wounded hand as he twisted the blade, trying to dig it deeper, force Casey to let go. The nerves in the center of Casey's hand were already dead, though, and he held on doggedly, blood flowing without pain.
No one dared to fire at the struggling trio. Morgan stared around from his position all the way at the back, all these guys with guns and no one doing anything! He'd show them. Well, he would if he had a gun. He looked around. Come on, there's gotta be something I can use!
The tray! And because Morgan was Morgan, he had a Marty McFly moment, wondering in that infinite second if this was what Chuck felt like all the time. Then the second ended, and he threw down his pie–well, he would have if he'd been holding a slice of pie–and picked up the tray, flipping it over. He cocked his arm back and started to swing.
Sarah dropped her skirts to free up her legs for fighting.
Morgan's brain slagged, just for a moment but the moment was enough, and the heavy disk pulled out of his fingers early, the improvised weapon flying slow and wobbly towards–"Chuck!"
Chuck saw the danger and reacted instantly, snatching the disk out of the air and spinning about. He flung out his arm, tray spinning with perfect control and flying straight into the side of Heinrich's head, dropping him where he stood.
The sound of the dish falling to the floor was the loudest sound in the room.
"Yeah!" shouted Chuck, raising his arms triumphantly. "Me and Bryce! Stanford Quad Frisbee Champions, four years running!" He dropped his arms, staring at all the people staring at him. "What?"
A few days later…
Sarah opened the door, of course. He wasn't expected. "Casey? What are you doing here?" She tried not to stare at his heavily-wrapped hand.
He hated it when people did that. "General Beckman said to be here." He moved inside, looking around. "What do you got there, Bartowski?"
Chuck held it up. "It's a Frisbee! Dimples and all the guys signed it and everything."
Casey gave Chuck's trophy the once-over, smirking. "Yeah, they like to throw stuff, and you've displayed your mastery of the deadly art of Frisbee-fu."
Chuck lowered his trophy. "Casey, what have I told you about acting like a human being?"
The big man sighed. "It's Grimes. The little twerp's rubbing off on me."
Sarah grinned. "Sorry to hear that." She tried to close the door.
"Hey!" yelled Carina from the other side. "Watch the nose, it's real!"
"What's the matter, Miller?" asked Casey as Sarah reopened the door and the redheaded agent came in. "Tired of your little cop chew-toy already?"
She gave him a look that made him very uncomfortable. "Lots of play left in that one yet, but no. I was told to be here before noon, which you'll be happy to know–" she made a show of checking her watch "–I am."
Sarah grabbed her wrist and took a look for herself, and let out a puff of annoyance. "Great. Chuck, you think we can be ready for distinguished high-ranking visitors in less than five minutes?"
He set the Frisbee carefully on a shelf. "Watch me, wife."
Her favorite thing. "Make me proud, husband."
Casey and Carina missed half of it just from rolling their eyes. Somehow all it looked like was Chuck walking once around the room, but things just seemed to vanish as he passed.
"You flashed on housekeeping, Bartowski?"
Chuck laughed. "If Dimples is in my head, I doubt it's for his janitorial skills. Please, sit. You look like you just got here."
"We did just get here," said Carina, placing her bag down carefully before flopping into the nearest chair. Some things never changed. Sarah went to the kitchen to make coffee just as the doorbell rang.
Casey went to get it. "Aunt Diane? Uh, hi?" He went to salute.
"At ease, Colonel," she said quickly, as his bandaged hand came up. "By rights I should be saluting you. But neither of us is in uniform right now so let's just let it be."
Chuck smiled, and held out his arms. "Hugs?"
She sighed. "It's your dignity."
"Bending is only undignified if you do it for the wrong reason." Chuck got his hug, but no one else was quite willing to follow suit.
"Okay, now that you've gotten that out of your system, I brought lunch," said Beckman at last. She went to the window and made a signal.
"That's not why you gathered us here." Casey opened the door to admit Mr. Clark, with an armload of bags from Chuck's and Sarah's favorite Chinese restaurant.
"No, it's not, Colonel," said Beckman as Chuck directed the assistant to put the bags on the newly-cleared-off table. She didn't say anything more.
Mr. Clark put the bags down and offered his hand to Chuck. "Thank you for your actions, sir," he said, and turned and left the room.
His boss watched him leave, and turned to her host. "He never does that." Sarah came out with some plates. "Well, dig in, everybody," said the General as she set them down. "I hope you were all accurate in your reports since that was my source for picking out your favorites."
They were accurate.
Beckman waited until they were all ready. "Chuck, I have something for you." She pulled a velvet box from her bag and handed it to Casey, who passed it on.
Chuck opened it, and looked up in shock. "This is a DIC, General."
Sarah dropped her plate, spilling her water. Carina started to choke.
"I know it is, Chuck." Beckman cleared her throat. "For his service to his country, the CIA has awarded the highest honor it has to give, the Distinguished Intelligence Cross, to Agent Daniel Shaw." Her tone changed, less formal. "However, he died without family, and has no one to receive it. We could have put it on display somewhere, but considering that his service to his country was also service to you, I thought it more fitting that you and yours should take care of it."
Chuck handed the case to his wife. "It would be our honor, General."
"The citation is inside." Diane looked at Carina.
"My turn?" Carina looked…flustered. She went and got her bag and took out a gift box, shirt-sized. "Chuck, this is my most treasured possession, but it's not a 'wedding reception' sort of present so I'm giving it to you now, because I know it's your most treasured possession as well."
Chuck took the box and set it on the table, pulling on the ribbon. He lifted the lid, pulled aside the paper…and stopped, staring. He looked up at Carina.
"Well, what is it, Bartowski?" snapped Casey.
Chuck lifted it out, a clear acrylic plaque with a base, and set it upright on the table. Preserved within the plastic was a handprint made of blood. He touched his fingertips to it. "All that love and devotion, boiled down to you."
"That's not what I said, Chuck."
"I know, Casey. But it's what you meant."
Sarah put down Shaw's medal. "I promised to kill you, Carina. You treasure that?"
"You are doom to your enemies, Sarah. That's what you promised, and that's what I treasure." She picked up her soup, and grinned a Carina grin. "I don't think I'd have treasured the actual doom so much, though, so I'm glad we managed to skip that part."
Casey slurped his hot and sour soup appreciatively, raising an eyebrow. "'Doom to her enemies'?"
"I told you I had to upgrade my banter, Casey. How'd you expect me to talk, hanging around with Mr. Lord-of-the-Rings all the time?"
Chuck gave her a thumbs-up, his mouth full of lo mein.
Casey grunted an acknowledgement. He held up his hand, not quite touching the plaque. He'd touched that blood once already and had no desire to do so again. "How'd you get it off the door?"
Carina focused on catching a wonton with chopsticks. "Ask Muffin. He used wax, I think he said. Not sure what else."
"A problem for another day," said Beckman, taking back control of her meeting. "Oh yes. Sarah, I have something for you, too." Beckman handed her a throwing knife. "We recovered it from that man with the razor. That was an excellent toss."
"But General, that's not–"
"I'm quite sure that it is, Sarah, although having seen you in that bodice and without your skirts I must say I don't know where you had it hidden. But that toss must have been yours. The only other person there was Chuck, and we know he didn't make it, don't we?"
"An analyst? Please," commented Carina. She glanced at Chuck. "No offense intended."
"By you," muttered Sarah.
"Here, let me hold the knife," said Carina quickly.
"Sorry, it's mine."
"So," said General Beckman, satisfied. "We have the deeds of the past properly honored, and the unfulfilled promises of futures that we succeeded in making sure never happened. For the present, though, we have this." She spread her arms, taking in the whole table. "The NSA's coldest killer–" Casey seemed pleased by the description "–the CIA's greatest agent, and–" For a second the General seemed to be at a loss for words. "And Carina."
Sometimes there were no words.
"You did this, Chuck. You got these three people to stand by you and even swear by you. I don't know how you managed it with them, but I know what you did for me. I was prepared to have those glasses your father made taken by hook or by crook, Mr. Bartowski, and I'll make no apologies for that. But now I think, I believe, as Colonel Casey does, there are no safer hands than yours."
"Thank you, General. Some day, far in the future, I hope, I may want, or need, to use those glasses, but that day is certainly not now." He didn't bother to mention that his father had sent him and Ellie the code, so they could always make more if they chose to.
"No, Mr. Bartowski, I'm afraid that day is not now. I have a mission for you."
"Yes, Chuck, only you and your team can handle this dire threat. The Deadly Scorpion League has raised their evil heads once more. We need a young couple to pose as vacationing honeymooners, to track down their members."
Chuck grinned. "Deadly Scorpion League, huh?"
Aunt Diane shrugged. "You loaned me the movie, and I needed a name." She got all General-y again. "Mr. Bartowski, do you accept this assignment?"
Chuck looked around his table, taking in all the smiles. "Our country needs us, General."
"I expected no less. You leave for Europe tomorrow night. Your quarry seems to favor trains for their meets, so we've booked passage for you on the Orient Express, to be followed by whatever other lines the Intersect may…sniff out."
Sarah cleared her throat. "That sounds pretty…open-ended, General."
"It is, Sarah, and I'm sorry I can't give you a firmer itinerary. This mission could go on for two, possibly even three weeks."
"We won't let you down, General," said Casey.
"I know you won't, Colonel. In fact, I don't see how you can."
They all toasted to the success of the mission.
Chuck turned to his wife. "We'll need new identities, former Agent Carmichael."
"All arranged, Chuck." Said Beckman, grinning with hideous glee. "Or should I say, Mr. Charles?"
Two weeks and five days later…
Chuck and Sarah stood in front of their house, their own front door. "Glad to be back, Mrs. Bartowski?"
"More than ever, Mr. Bartowski."
"I hear you. Who would have guessed so many bad guys use the train?"
Sarah snorted. "I'm betting not the General. Hurry up with the door, I'm beat. I haven't got a single y'all left in me."
"As you wish." He speared the lock and opened their sanctum. "Wait right here."
"What now, Chuck? I want to go to bed." And not in a good way.
"Just a second." He took their suitcases and all their stuff and dumped them just inside the door, then went back outside. "See? That didn't take long, did it?"
"Haven't you forgotten something, Chuck?"
"Only one thing left." He scooped her up in his arms. "A proper homecoming, for a proper wife."
He stepped across the threshold.
"You can put me down now."
"I don't think so. Didn't you say something about wanting to go to bed?"
"Do you still want me to put you down?"
She shook her head.
"Let me just get the door."
She kicked out one foot, shutting the door on everything that wasn't just them. "Got it."
He smiled and kissed her again. "Yes, you do." Chuck turned his back on the door and the world on the other side of it. Tomorrow was always tomorrow, but tonight was their night. "Welcome home, Mrs. Bartowski."
A/N2 This is not the story that I saw in S3. I don't think anyone but Shakespeare could have written that successfully, and I am not Shakespeare. That's just as well, since the story I saw in S3 was mostly tragic, and Chuck was always seemed to be a happier show. Maybe the plan was to go into the valley of darkness and return to the land of light in the fourth season, but they were too successful making the show into a light-hearted romance, and few viewers wanted to follow that story.
So this story is the plot of S3, rewritten to be more in keeping with the tone of the first two seasons, and with a few slight changes due to the shift in locale and the new Intersect functionality, as well as a healthier respect for character and story logic than the original producers seem to have had. Shaw, Bryce, Morgan, and Carina were most often used as plot devices rather than characters, so I changed that. Not everyone liked those changes, which I consider unfortunate, but that's the way the story went. That's what eventually led me to continue the nine2five idea into S4, to fix the story and character logic of Frost and Vivian, which was hopelessly tangled in canon. I will be putting the chapters of that season together in a separate story, which I will call, drumroll please, nine2five season 2. I hope to see you there.