A/N: My first story in general, and my first one for Chuck. Updates hopefully will be weekly, but that is going to depend on how much paramedic school owns my life that particular week.
I do not own Chuck, much to my dismay, but if someone could make that happen please let me know.
Chuck vs. the Job
Chuck Bartowski solemnly hung the last ornament on the Christmas tree as he listened to the soft ministrations of Christmas Carols by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This is the first Christmas in several years that he has had to decorate the tree alone and certainly the first where his mind was in so many different places at once. On the one hand he was missing his beloved sister Ellie as she was working a late shift at Westside Medical Center. Normally this type of activity was something the two siblings would do together, but unfortunately the hectic nature of an accomplished Neurologist and the insanity of Chuck's newfound life as a pseudo-secret agent have prevented any such chance. Chuck even spared a moment of longing for his (probably) soon-to-be brother-in-law Devon Woodcomb. This man who charmed his sister and in turn worked his way into Chuck's heart was missed just as much as his sister. After seeing how much Devon made his sister happy, Chuck happily welcomed this 'awesome' specimen to his family, and couldn't ask for a better partner for his sister.
Chuck's mind was going several different directions as he considered the events of the past few days. First and foremost, the kiss! That passionate, breath taking kiss that he had shared with his angelic CIA handler, Sarah Walker has not left his mind since the instant she began the kiss. That moment, so terrifying as he thought his life was ending, was also the best moment of his life as he finally shared a kiss – a real kiss – with the woman who was quickly beginning to mean so much to him. And mere hours after this moment of heaven-on-earth, his world took a nasty summersault as his former enemy Bryce Larkin returned from the dead.
Chuck mulled over the whirlwind of events that occurred since that particular revelation – being used as a human shield, finding Bryce kissing Sarah, seeing Bryce shot again by his other CIA handler John Casey (and yet still not dying), the shootout in the Buymore, being used as a human shield yet again in 24 hours, and finally the unimaginable pain of being shot in the Kevlar vest by Bryce himself. Well, Chuck mused, I was already stabbed in the back by the son-of-a-bitch; I guess being shot was only logical.
But then again, was Bryce a 'son-of-a-bitch?' After all, the recent recording he and Sarah viewed of Bryce's conversation with Professor Fleming back at Stanford showed that Bryce had been looking out for Chuck all along. No, Bryce was still his friend and always had been. Now that Chuck had that particular knowledge he would never wish his friend ill-will again. Despite that unfortunate debacle he now found himself in with Sarah, when you became friends with Chuck Bartowski, you gained a fiercely loyal friend for life.
With that satisfying revelation of his continued friendship, Chuck's thoughts moved to the subject of his current case of the winter blues – Sarah Walker, the goddess Aphrodite herself. From the moment Chuck's chocolate brown eyes locked with her sparkling baby blue's he knew he was done for. Growing up, Chuck had always been enamored with the idea of love at first sight, but was never sure that he actually believed in it. The idea certainly held a high amount of appeal to him, but the highly logical side of his brain scoffed at such a silly notion. And yet, the day that Sarah Walker fake-broke her cell phone, he knew that it wasn't such a silly idea after all.
But despite that undeniable fact that Charles Irving Bartowski – brilliant, expelled Stanford student and Intersect Extraordinaire – was in love with his CIA handler Sarah, he had never been treated as coldly as he had been by the very love of his life. Ever since he flashed on a counterfeit bill on Lon Kirk's private yacht (after the terrifying few hours where he wasn't sure if she was even still in his life or not), Sarah had not only been distant, she had been downright cold. I guess living in California, it is nice to feel a Christmas-appropriate chill for once, Chuck mused with a bitter smile.
Suddenly, Chuck's musings were interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell. He put the box of ornaments down on the table and opened the door. His breath caught as he caught sight of the golden-haired angel that he simultaneously wanted to be with all night and yet not see at all.
"Ellie or awesome home?" Sarah asked without as much as a hello before she began entering the apartment.
"No," Chuck answered, closing the door. "They're at work, and hello to you too." Jerk. Chuck added in his head, immediately regretting even the silent insult.
"What the hell happened today?"
"I-I don't know, I don't get it. I had a flash."
Chuck could see the look of disbelief flash across Sarah's dark sapphire eyes before she answered as he once again marveled at how her gorgeous eyes changed with her mood.
"Right when I went below deck with Kirk. It's pretty convenient timing I would say."
Chuck furrowed his brow. "What are you talking about?"
Sarah's irritation began to bubble to the surface.
"Just when you thought that I was getting intimate with Kirk you decided to have a flash."
Chuck instantly felt his blood began to boil. How dare she! He didn't ask for this damn thing in his head but he'd like to think he was serving his country honorably. Other than not wanting to be thrown in a bunker (because that is such an overreaction to the situation?) he had gone along with every whim of the government and gone quite a bit out of his comfort zone as Nerd Herd supervisor. He was struggling to make the best of an impossible situation and she had the gull to insinuate that he was lying about a national security concern out of jealousy?
"What exactly are you in implying? That I faked a flash? That I'm a flash faker?"
"You know…I think we need to discuss the fact that you let your emotions get in the way today,"
"My emotions?" Chuck asked, shocked.
"Things have been a little off since the incident, Chuck."
Chuck began to see red. The Incident?
"Really? And what incident are you referring to, Agent walker, huh? Could it be the incident where you planted a kiss on me right before a bomb was supposed to go off, ending our lives? That same kiss right before your boyfriend Bryce came back from the dead, that kiss?"
As Chuck was saying this he watched the emotions in Sarah's eyes as she formulated her response. Anger – definitely anger – and another emotion, as yet unseen by Chuck. Was that fear? Chuck wondered.
"Stop saying kiss, it happened! Ok? What's done is done; can we just not talk about it, please?"
"Ok, fine, absolutely, of course! Just answer me one little thing." Chuck said, holding his forefinger and thumb an inch apart for emphasis.
"Chuck -" Sarah began before he raised his voice, cutting her off.
"Did you kiss me that night because you thought we were gonna die and mine were the most convenient lips around, or was it actually about me?"
Sarah paused with that same mixture of emotions in her eyes.
She took a breath and then proceeded to punch him in the gut – figuratively anyway.
"What happened was a mistake…"
Chuck felt the breath go out of him as Sarah turned and stormed past him.
"One I will not make again."
Chuck closed his eyes and waited, it was several moments before he remembered he needed to breathe. He realized he was in way over his head as the pain began to sear through his heart. If not for the emotional scene that just played out in front of him, he may have seriously begun to worry that he was having a heart attack at 25-years-old. Chuck looked sadly at the forgotten box of ornaments, and then walked to his room. On his dresser he held his mother's charm bracelet that he had hoped to give to Sarah in a few weeks for Christmas.
Chuck walked into the kitchen and grabbed his bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label – he had once been told by Casey that Black Label is the best remedy for a regrets, and of regrets he had plenty. He was sick of being shut down by Sarah, only to be given hope a few days later before having his heart brutally ripped out again. If she would have just stopped sending him mixed signals, he could deal with it.
No more, he thought. It was time to put up or shut up. The last few weeks, he'd been starting to consider the direction his life was taking. After learning that he was already being monitored for CIA recruitment, the idea had already been brewing in his head. He had always known that he was meant for more than just the Buymore, and now he had the means to change his destiny. It was time to become a spy, and give in to what he should have been doing with his life all along.
Chuck smiled as the surreal thought that had just crossed his mind. Now to convince the brass.
Chuck peeked out his blinds at John Casey's apartment across the courtyard – all dark. Better be sure, Chuck thought.
"Ronald Reagan was the absolute worst President that has ever lived, and he was a closet-communist." Chuck swallowed hard as he looked out at the courtyard, ready for the onslaught of bullets that would surely riddle his body if John Casey was home listening to surveillance feeds. All appeared safe, and furthermore he noticed Casey's beloved new Crown Victoria was nowhere to be seen.
"Just kidding, Casey, please no firearms in the courtyard." Chuck stated to the bugs.
Chuck opened his door and walked across the courtyard, remembering the many conversations he had had with Sarah near that fountain. He reached the door to Casey's apartment and took out the key he had given him for emergencies. Chuck opened the door and entered, feeling the immediate and irrational fear that the Ghost of Ronald Reagan was going to chase him from the home of his handler and friend. Chuck walked over to the complex set-up of computers that the NSA had provided the team, pressing the power button on the wall-mounted flat screen.
"Identity Confirmed – Charles Bartowski, Codenamed Charles Carmichael, A.K.A. 'Moron.'" A cool, electronic female voice stated.
"Really Casey?" Chuck fumed. The moron jokes were really starting to get old; he had a flipping 4.0 GPA at Stanford for crying out loud – prior to being expelled of course.
"Agent John Casey not recognized in the vicinity, activating emergency distress protocol."
"No, no, no! No emergency here! Deactivate distress protocol! Everything's under control, situation normal. Everything's perfectly alright now. We're fine, we're all fine here, now, thank you…how are you?"
"Distress protocol deactivated, contacting Brigadier General Diane Beckman."
"Bartowski! What in the world is going on?" The general was lying in bed, her hair disheveled and a sleep mask on top of her head.
"Uhhhh good evening General…I was just wanting to talk about a few things but this may have been a bad time, I guess this could have waited till a more decent time. Not that you don't look decent right now, you look dapper as always but you clearly were asleep and everyone knows how important sleep is to prevent wrinkles. Not that you have –"
"Bartowski, shut up!" Beckman interrupted his babbling.
The screen split and Graham's face entered the left side of the screen, wearing some silk pajamas with a tumbler of amber liquid in his left hand.
"Any reason our homes are being bombarded with emergency sirens and 'distress signals?' What is it Bartowski, and where are Agent's Walker and Casey?" Graham asked, clearly annoyed but more amused by the General's disheveled appearance.
"Sorry Sir and Ma'am, I needed to speak with the both of you and Casey has a fail-safe on his computer for me being alone. I apologize." Chuck began in a respectful tone.
"Get on with it Bartowski." The General growled, but with a curious undertone now.
"Sir, Ma'am, I think it is time that I take a more professional approach to the intersect project. I feel I can be a benefit to this team if I take a more active role, and frankly I think the best way to do this is if I become a spy."
Chuck paused, looking at the two intimidating intelligence officers. He prepared to be yelled at, hung up on and reprimanded, but what he was not prepared for was laughter. General Beckman suddenly burst out into loud, raucous laughter and it was the most unsettling thing Chuck had ever heard.
"Mr. Bartowski, do you mean to tell me that you brutally woke me from my sleep to tell me a joke? Well I appreciate jokes as much as the next General, and that, I must say, takes the cake. Well done, Bartowski, I really needed that."
Chuck seethed. "General, I'm not joking, I'm serious! Director Graham?"
The Deputy Director of Operations of the CIA was the stark opposite of his NSA counterpart. He was stoic and thoughtful, and regarded Chuck with penetrating eyes as he took a long sip from his tumbler.
"Actually Diane, I was thinking much the same thing. But before I entertain this notion, I would be interested in hearing your reasoning, Chuck."
Chuck sat, stunned. First, he was stunned because the director had never, ever used his first name before. Second, he expected to have to argue for several minutes before any attempt at support was witnessed from either party. He decided if he was going to go behind Sarah's back, he may as well fully go behind her back.
"Well Director, it was several things. First, as the missions progress and I find myself in the field more, I feel it would be safer for myself, the team, and the country if I could hold my own instead of tying up my handlers to protect me. Furthermore, I…I've kept something from you. The Intel that Codename: Glass Castle had downloaded was indeed destroyed, but not before I was able to view some of the files." Chuck began. Going behind Sarah's back is not the same as betraying her and throwing her under the bus for hiding the Intel, he couldn't reveal that she was the one who destroyed the evidence. Especially since she did it to protect me.
Chuck took a breath before continuing. "The only file I was able to view before the disc was destroyed was a single entry under the name 'Chuck Bartowski.' The file was supposed to be an interview of myself with Professor Fleming as he attempted to recruit me; however Bryce prevented me from receiving his messages. The data showed that Bryce was planning on planting the stolen tests in my room, framing me to get me kicked out of Stanford so I wouldn't be recruited into the CIA. On the disk, Professor Fleming stated that I demonstrated 98% retention of the subliminal images in the exam and should be considered for Operation: Omaha. General, Director, what does that mean?"
The General was sitting up now with a serious and impressed look on her face as Graham let out a low whistle.
"It means, Bartowski, that you were intended to be the first human intersect all along. Operation: Omaha is the codename for the intersect project. After learning that the only individual to score high enough on the exam was caught cheating, it was determined that the intersect could only ever be a computer. Clearly, we were wrong," Beckman paused, looking at Chuck with a much softer scowl than she usually wore. "Graham, could we talk on a private line? Chuck, wait here."
The screen went blank as Chuck looked around; wondering what was going to happen. Suddenly the door slammed open.
"Moron! What in the hell are you doing here?" Casey was home.
"Heyyy Casey…I bet this looks kind of odd, huh?" Chuck laughed nervously as Casey looked at him with pure death in his eyes.
"Looks odd? Well it sounds a hell of a lot worse. You think I don't monitor surveillance when I'm not home? What exactly is that you had to say about our phenomenal 40th president?"
Casey emphasized his point by shoving the muzzle of his Sig P229 under Chuck's chin.
Chuck swallowed before answering, "He was one of the best and most progressive president's we have ever had?"
Casey grunted as he reengaged the safety on his sidearm.
"So…you think you want to be a man? You think you have what it takes to become a real spy, cover my back?" Casey regarded him thoughtfully, with a new grunt that Chuck classified as #22…grudgingly impressed?
"How did you know? Casey…do you bug your own home?" Chuck asked in astonishment. Casey just smiled a closed-mouth smile and shrugged. "Casey, one day we need to have a serious talk about your trust issues…and you definition of the word privacy."
Casey grunted again – #2, moron – and sat down at his table.
"You never answered my question. You think you can be a spy?"
Chuck paused as he considered his answer. "Casey, I need to do something with my life. I assume you already heard my reasoning to the General and the Director?" Casey Nodded.
"Then you know why I need to do this. This has always been my destiny, Bryce just delayed it. I'm tired of being left in the car while you and Sarah put your lives on the line for me. I'm sure you heard my conversation with Sarah in the living room, we can talk about that later as well, but she's not the only one I've come to care about, big guy. You may laugh, but I've come to consider you my friend, and my partner, and I…I need to do my part in this partnership."
Casey just looked at him after his speech before standing and walking to his kitchen. He came back with two tumblers of Johnnie Walker.
"I thought the Black Label was for regrets?" Chuck asked with a frown.
"This is Red Label, this is for celebrating. While I wouldn't say I am jumping for joy exactly, I'm proud of you kid. This is a huge decision…one you may not live through telling Walker about." Casey said.
"Why do you say that? She doesn't care about anything more than the intersect…and Bryce"
Casey grunted, #2 again. "If you believe that then you're a bigger idiot than even I thought."
Chuck just frowned some more as he took a swig of his drink.
The monitor beeped as the General and Graham came back online.
"Ah, Major Casey, I'm glad you're here," The General Began.
"Ma'am, Sir." Casey nodded to each in turn, as Graham raised his glass to the Major.
"Bartowski, after much consideration, we commend you on a tough choice. Be warned, this decision is not to be taken lightly. Major Casey will be able to discuss the decision at length with you, but if you decide to undertake the task, your training will begin immediately. Due to your highly classified situation, you will need to be extracted from Burbank and flown here, to D.C. for your training. Major, you may call in whatever resources you need to make this happen. Good luck to you both and goodnight."
With that, the screen went black once more and Chuck turned to Casey.
"Chuck, you need to really understand what you're getting yourself into. If you do this, you're going to have to do it all the way. That means no more screaming when you see blood, and you're going to be the one who draws some of that blood eventually. Walker and I can only carry you so far – "
"No, Casey. If I do this, I don't want Sarah to know. Things have been confusing enough between us lately, and I don't want her trying to talk me out of this. She would just freak out, and then make things more confusing for me. If I have any hope for surviving this, I need to become an agent and learn how to deal with this whole cover-relationship thing properly, cause right now it's killing me, man."
Chuck took another drink from his tumbler as he looked into Casey's thoughtful eyes.
"You know kid, I give you a lot of crap, but part of that is because you have taken one of the hardest agents I have ever heard of and flipped her on her head. I still think you should tell her, but that's your choice. For what it's worth, I think you're making the right choice in becoming an agent, I think this will help the both of you start acting like adults and maybe put an end to amateur-hour around here."
"Thanks Casey, you sure know how to give a pep-talk." Chuck smiled as Casey gave another grunt - #6, you're stating the obvious.