My other stories seem to be losing steam at the moment, so I thought I'd try a something different for a while to shake things up. This one will be, at least at the start, mostly AU. That being said, I'll still probably use portions of the back stories from my other 'verses because I'm attached to them, they feel right to me. This will probably be similar to Mr & Mrs C, just pushed further away from canon.
As usual, no rights to any characters portrayed.
Jenny (also known as Jennifer Burton, Rebecca Franco, Katie O'Connell and so many other names since she was a little girl that she couldn't even remember what the last name that went with Samantha Lisa was any more) just looked at Tyler Woodcomb, the jock who'd bailed her up in the library, rather pissed off that he obviously expected her to be swept off her feet by the fact that HE was interested in HER. Yeah the guy was moderately cute, tall, blonde and built, but he was full of shit and thick as two short planks. She'd have to look into the family though, Woodcomb sounded like old money, and she knew she had to pull some cons to scrape up the money to cover the humongous fees that came with doing a triple major at Harvard (not like he or any others of his kind would ever understand how languages, international law and business management fitted together). And while she didn't have THAT many nightmares about what she and her father had been doing to their marks since she was seven, fleecing the trust fund babies and their pompous, overbearing families was far more palatable an idea than taking money from people who might actually need it (and who had actually done something to earn it). With the financial aspects going through her head, Jenny made herself smile at the jock and let him think he had a chance, until she confirmed how much he was worth, anyway.
When the young Mr Woodcomb had gone away, beaming about the prospect of a date with her the next weekend, Jenny thought about how she'd got to be where she was. One of the first thoughts that crossed her mind (as usual) was that she'd been lying to herself when she told herself that she didn't remember her full birth name, she'd inherited her father's almost perfect memory, so she was just blocking it out to keep from breaking down. When she was seven, her father had told her that they weren't going home, or back to Grandma's, because her mother didn't want them any more, she'd gone off to start a new life with someone else, at the time she'd believed him and had cried for days at a time, so when she'd kept begged him for over a month to let her call Grandma, her father had finally given in. When she started dialling, though, he'd left so Emma's mother couldn't get him on the phone to go off at him or ask where they were. As soon as she got past the relief of knowing that her Sammie was OK, Grandma had given her a number that she could call her mother on, and told her to do that straight away, because she'd always be there, waiting for her, but her mother needed to keep moving. As her father was still out she had called the number her grandmother gave her (the advantage of a perfect memory is that you only need to hear something once), her mother tried to stifle her tears when she heard her voice, and quickly explained to her that she'd NEVER wanted to leave her, but when they'd been caught and locked up back when she was little, she'd had to agree to work for those men who came in to prevent being taken away from her. Since then, that was where she was whenever she left for a while, but now she'd gone on the run once she was sure that her father wasn't bringing her back. She'd explained that it would be safer for her to stay with her father for a while, at least until she'd run far enough for the people after her to have lost her trail, but when it was safe she wanted them to be together, if that was what she wanted? Unfortunately her father had come in as she was excitedly talking to her mother and had ripped the phone off her and hung it up, grabbing their bags and leaving town straight away in case she'd told her mother anything that would let her know where they were.
After that, whenever she had a chance to call (every two or three months), she'd call her grandmother to get the new contact number for her mother, and she'd either talk to her mother, or call her grandmother back to tell her where they were if she couldn't get through to her mother. That went on for about five years, until her grandmother died when she was twelve. At first she just thought that her grandmother was out when she called, but when that went on for nearly a month she was starting to panic, until she finally got through and the people who were there cleaning out the house gave her the number that had been left next to the phone. She called the number that they gave her immediately even though she could hardly talk through her tears, and her mother wasn't much better, between losing her mother, being frantic that she'd never talk to her daughter again, and the fact that she'd stayed in one location for nearly five months waiting for Sam's call and she was panicking that the CIA would catch her (she'd told Sam who it was that she'd been working for and was running from now when she was ten) if she didn't run SOON, Emma was a wreck. Given that they were both expecting Sam's father to come back before too long, Emma choked down her tears and told her the details of their new communication mechanism, now that they couldn't leave their messages with Sammie's grandmother any more.
After that, they managed to keep in contact better, but by the time that Sam (or whatever her name of the month was) turned thirteen, she'd discovered that she actually enjoyed being as good a con artist as she could be (she was already better than her dad), and had decided to stick with this life for a while because her mother was still on the run from the CIA. She did have a moral dilemma when innocent people were harmed by their scams, and as she got older she'd understood what was going on when they skipped out on women that her father had seduced and gotten pregnant (taking all their money of course), but the thrill of the game made her push all that down and block it out, just like she blocked out how much she missed her mother and grandmother.
Things had fallen apart when she was sixteen, she'd convinced her father to stay in one place long enough for her to get legitimate school credentials for her to have a chance of getting into University, so they'd become Jack and Jenny Burton in San Diego. She came home from school one day in her little yellow Rabbit convertible, to see their house swarming with ATF agents and her father being put in the back of one of the cars out front, the sight had shocked her, but she drove on past as if it had nothing to do with her, until she was out of sight, and then she floored it to get to the emergency stash they'd buried just out of town for this type of situation as fast as she could. She'd just dug up the stash and made sure that it was intact when she heard a noise, and turned and threw the knife in her hand so that it just missed the tall black man standing beside a tree across from her. When he didn't flinch at all she knew that she was in trouble, but she let him ramble on and make his pitch. Luckily like most men he was an arrogant bastard so he believed that she'd just buckle and do what he wanted her to do, so she convinced him that she'd be turning up when he expected her to, and went home.
She kept going to school for the next couple of months, but she was just marking time while she wound up the cons that her father had been working on to get her stake together and getting the paperwork she needed to start again. As soon as she had what she needed, Jenny Burton of San Diego disappeared, and started an untraceable drive across the country in her Rabbit. Along the way, she built up her stake in hope of getting through university without having to "work", and frumpy, ugly duckling Jenny Burton with muddy red hair, braces and clothes that looked like they came from the goodwill disappeared. Jenny's ugly braces were gone, her hair went back to blonde and silky, she started looking after her complexion and she changed her wardrobe into something that actually complemented her (while keeping to the nice girl next door image). Unfortunately she had to hang onto Jenny Burton's name, as the academic credentials she'd been working on for the last year were all associated with that name. When she got to Massachusetts, she spent several nights making use of the skills that she'd been honing for the past ten years to break into Harvard's records department and make sure that all the paperwork was in place to confirm that Jenny Burton had been accepted into the courses that she wanted, and nothing was going to attract any attention. Once she'd done that, she settled into her snug little off-campus apartment and waited for enrolment day.
There were no surprises on enrolment day, she signed up for her courses and went to work. Because her three majors were spread over three different schools at Harvard, she didn't attract a lot of attention in any one area, her lecture attendance was enough to meet requirements, but marginal enough that most thought she was cruising (because she was juggling three majors, but they didn't know that), and the work that she turned in was always enough to keep her in the top 5-10 percentile. She'd steered clear of relationships and anything that would attract attention to her (just telling the ones pushing her for cheerleader try outs and other groups that she was a bit of a klutz and she was too shy to try drama or anything like that), and had been doing a good job of staying under the radar, but a few years in, the whole Harvard experience was costing a lot more than she'd originally planned for, so she was going to have to risk running some cons to get what she needed to get through, and trust fund babies like young Mr Woodcomb were the obvious source of those funds for that.
On the other side of the country, Chuck (Karol Bartek, or Charles Irving Bartowski to those who really knew him, also known as other names such as Charles Carmichael, John Smith, Charles Gancanagh and Max Powers) was heading across San Francisco in his Charlemagne Computers Etc van, and he was thinking about another Woodcomb, Devon Woodcomb (Jenny's would be beau's older brother, actually). Devon (or Captain Awesome as he liked to call himself) had been seeing Chuck's older sister Ellie (AKA Elana Bartek, or Eleanor Faye Bartowski to those who actually knew her, as well as Eleanor Charlemagne, Susan Jones, Eleanor Winters and Barbara Sommers) for a while now and Chuck wasn't sure how happy he was about that, he seemed to be giving Ellie what she wanted (though THAT was something Chuck REALLY didn't want to think about), but the guy was total frat boy, full of himself, with a constant stream of sexual innuendo (when he was being that subtle) and trying to give Chuck advice about everything when Chuck wasn't sure that he was bright enough to tie his own shoes. How he got through medical school was something that Chuck found considerably suspicious, and the only reason that he hadn't looked into it was that Ellie asked him not to, he loved his sister as the only constant in his life, and he wouldn't do anything to hurt her, so he'd refrained from investigating her Ken doll. Thanks to their parents' involvement in the seedier parts of the government, they'd had to disappear when he and Ellie were still kids, and even though Ellie was only three and a half years older than him, she'd essentially become a single mother to him when she was fifteen (and it had been ramping up to that ever since she was ten and he was seven), so Chuck really owed everything he was to her and her willingness to give up her childhood and teenage freedoms for him.
He and Ellie had been living shitty cover lives since their parents had to leave (well, they were initially only over in Encino, but visits with them were rare because it required considerable care to ensure that they didn't lead others to them), all the way through school, high school and now university, the story line was that they were from a struggling family and their parents were always off working somewhere, and when they got older the story was that their parents had gone back to the old country to take over the family business, so they couldn't do or anything that didn't fit into that story line, and they both had to be seen to have jobs to pay the bills. Ellie had managed to get herself set up in after hours lab assistant work before she was out of high school, the money wasn't great, but it was better than waitressing and let her show an income to explain her car etc, it was also work in her chosen field and didn't involve being groped or propositioned by perverts, so it was a much better option. As soon as he could get his license at sixteen, Chuck cashed in his already solid reputation as the local tech guru and started working "for" Charlemagne Computers Etc as their roving technician, doing installs, repairs, any technical work that he had time for. Charlemagne was really a shell company created by their parents and their influential friends for him, but it served three purposes, it gave him a chance to show a (quite) reasonable income for a kid his age, it gave him a believable reason to have transport (the van), and it gave him reasons to go to the places he had to for his "real" job. As for the name, well he thought it was pretty name when Ellie picked it for her identity, so they'd called the company that.
The thing was, even though they were hiding from some parts of the government, their parents were still working for the government, and their influential friends in the government who'd helped them hide and made sure that Ellie and Chuck were looked after had noted the brilliance and maturity of their children even before Stephen and Mary Bartowski "disappeared" and became Stefan and Marjan Bartek. Diane, Ellie and Chuck's godmother, had made a proposal to their parents that they have (older) fake identities created for the kids and have them do a bit of analyst work for the government, as this could supply the reason for the government to be providing cover lives for the pair. Stephen and Mary weren't thrilled about this, but they understood the need to have a justification for the outgoings, so they'd agreed. That was where things got REALLY strange, because the "team" headed up by "Susan Jones" and "John Smith" immediately became THE hot property in the government intelligence circles, the work they were doing was significantly more accurate and usable than anything any other team did, in any branch of the service, so as their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beckman was flooded with requests for them to analyse intel and provide projections, recommendations and directions on that intel. The problem was that they couldn't push back without blowing their covers sky high, so they had to run with it. Eleanor Charlemagne, as the identity behind Susan Jones, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force when Ellie was sixteen, and Charles Carmichael (John Smith) was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy when Chuck was thirteen. Charlemagne and Carmichael didn't NEED to be part of the military, but as their work was mainly in the military space (with the rest for the intelligence community), it was decided that when questions were asked (not if, question time would start soon enough), they'd need some solid IDs behind them, and while Eleanor Charlemagne and Charles Carmichael were younger than Susan Jones and John Smith (they'd added over fifteen years to Ellie and Chuck's ages for those identities), they were old enough (just) to legally receive their commissions, so Eleanor Charlemagne was officially twenty when she received her commission, and Charles Carmichael was nineteen when he received his. They'd been getting promotions that were in keeping with their performance, so at this point, Eleanor Charlemagne was listed as a twenty seven year old USAF Captain, and Charles Carmichael as a twenty six year old USN Lieutenant Commander (even though Chuck was still a few weeks short of his twenty first birthday).
Because of the layered cover lives they had to live, they never had a chance to enjoy their teenage years, Ellie had to excel in high school to win the scholarships to the universities she was after, while working after school, doing half the work of the most sought after team in military intelligence, raising a teenager, and doing a couple of degrees by correspondence (well, she didn't have to, they were subjects that she was interested in and they set her up to do better in her desired career, but like the commissions the degrees made the Eleanor Charlemagne identity more solid), and while Chuck had another couple of years before he had to really buckle down with all that, he had to do everything she did except be a parent (though he did try to look out for her, too, so even that was similar).
Of course, all the work they had wasn't the only things that took up their time, even though they all believed that they'd muddied the trails of Stephen, Mary, Ellie and Chuck enough for the CIA to have lost their scent (Stephen and Mary had been with the CIA and that was why they had to disappear), Ellie and Chuck's godparents, Diane Beckman and Bryan (Bry) Mills, took their responsibilities to keep an eye out for them and protect them seriously, and as Bry was ex-military (well, he sort of still was as he was part of the CIA's Special Activities Division), he believed that one of the best ways to keep them safe was to make sure that they could look after themselves, so he pulled strings with the people he still knew in the various special operations groups across the services to get Ellie and Chuck put through the special operations trainings. When she was seventeen, Ellie was one of the first women who'd ever gone through those training courses, and she shocked a hell of a lot of people by making the grade, and even beating a reasonable number of the elite soldiers that she went through the training with (Bry wasn't surprised, he'd been Mary's partner and knew just what she could do, and he saw enough of her in her children to be sure that they were capable of just as much), and Chuck started before he was sixteen, doing even better than Ellie had. The people running these courses couldn't believe that this sweet, shy kid was wiping the floor with so many serious soldiers and setting records that others couldn't match, but even with that, Bry wasn't getting the result he was after. Bry was worried that the only time that Chuck seemed confident and happy seemed to be when he was in front of a computer, so he'd thought doing this training and getting respect from men like this would be enough to turn that around, but while Chuck obviously enjoyed doing the training and setting records, afterwards he went back to the quiet, introverted boy again. They were also trying something else that John Casey (the Ex-Marine Captain that Diane assigned to protective functions for Ellie and Chuck when it was deemed necessary) had suggested, and both Ellie and Chuck were taught to fly (starting at eighteen for Ellie and fifteen for Chuck), and they obviously enjoyed it, especially when they started on the jets and helicopters, but Bry wanted to try one more thing on the special operations training and got Chuck put into SEAL training at sixteen. Just as he had with the other special ops training, he blew them away and set more than a few records, and it did seem to sink in a little more that he'd excelled at the training that most men couldn't do, but it was the camaraderie with the SEALs that had a real effect on him, so Bry started getting Chuck (with John Casey) allocated to go along on the various special ops groups' missions in a fairly regular basis. Between this and growing list of planes and helicopters that he was flying, Chuck wasn't the shy boy all the time, it didn't change his personality, but he had an understanding of who he was and how exceptional he was, so he wasn't giving up and backing down from a challenge any more.
Now that Chuck was at Stanford and was on a pretty solid footing, Ellie took his advice and started chasing what made her happy, and that was why Devon was a regular feature of her apartment and her bed now. Chuck did have to concede that Devon appeared to make an effort, he'd bought the whole struggling siblings story, and announced that he was flying them back home to Massachusetts for a big twenty first bash for Chuck on the weekend of his birthday. While the thought was nice (if arrogant and pushy), they tried to beg off, saying that they couldn't get away for the weekend because they had commitments, but he just decided that they were making up excuses because they were embarrassed about the money (a natural assumption for him as his family was all about the money), and he'd already sweet talked the girls in the hospital offices to move Ellie's shifts around so that she was free for the weekend, so they were going to be celebrating Chuck's twenty first birthday with the Woodcombs, oh joy.
When the weekend came, Chuck flew out of San Francisco, while Ellie and Devon obviously flew out of L.A. and they met up at Logan International Airport in Boston MA. Woody and Honey (Devon's parents) were there to pick them up, and the whole way back, Honey made a big thing about not making a big thing about throwing a party for the charity cases. When Ellie gently closed her hand around Chuck's white knuckled fist and met his eye to let him know how sorry she was about all of this, Chuck unclenched his fist to gently squeeze her hand and then spent the rest of the trip looking out the window, trying to block out the harridan's voice. As soon as they got to the Woodcombs' Chuck begged off the pre-party activities that Devon had planned, saying that he'd had a big install the night before and he was wiped out, and he wasn't any good at that stuff anyway, he somehow managed to keep an apologetic smile on his face and laugh as the Woodcombs and their buddies harangued him about "being a man" and went to the guest room that he'd been allocated for a "nap". Ellie watched him go with sad eyes, she'd have to find a way to make it up to him for this shit when they were home. She couldn't believe that he had to put up with this on his twenty first, but as she watched Chuck leaving, she noticed that she wasn't the only one doing so. There was a beautiful blonde girl, Jenny, who was apparently there as Devon's brother Tyler's date, and she was ignoring the jocks (including her date) as she watched Chuck walking away with considerable compassion, but also with quite a bit of calculation in her expression.
Jenny watched the birthday boy, Chuck, walking away and thought to herself that she'd enjoy taking these bastards for everything she could, first they make a big thing about the fact that they flew them in and they're putting a party on for him because he and his sister are charity cases, then they all ridicule him because he doesn't want play their little jock games? Bastards! She hoped that she had a chance to talk to him sometime over the night, though, because he was nothing like the rest of them, she'd heard the Woodcombs talking about the fact that he was a scholarship brat as if that just proved the fact that he was a charity case, but they'd said he was doing a double major at Stanford, even they should be able to understand how difficult it was to get a full ride to cover that at a university like Stanford? Besides which, he seemed really nice, even with the justifiable anger that anyone who looked could see because of the shit he had to put up with there, he was obviously prepared to be forgiving and let them have their fun, it wasn't weakness, this man wasn't weak, he was just being the bigger man and let it go. As she watched him walk away, though, Jenny's eyes narrowed, for all of Chuck's obvious qualities, he was a liar, she watched the way he moved, and even with him holding himself rigidly to cover up his anger to anyone but a trained observer like herself, the way Chuck moved was NOT someone who couldn't do the activities that they had planned, aside from understandably not wanting to have anything to do with douches like that, her money was on his reason to beg out was that there was the risk of slipping up and actually letting them see part of what he COULD do. Jenny smirked a little at that, knowing that Chuck had totally pulled the wool over their eyes with his act, but as she looked away from him, she caught his sister Ellie's eye. Realising that she'd been caught out, and that Chuck wasn't the only one in that family who was far more than they seemed, she smiled at Ellie to concede that she'd been caught out, and was surprised by the warmth of the smile that Ellie matched her's with, well maybe this party wouldn't be a total loss after all, because it looked like there were at least two people here worth talking to. With that thought, she walked over to Ellie to introduce herself.
The party itself wasn't that much different from the pre-party activities, it was the Woodcombs and their buddies doing what they wanted, and expecting Chuck and Ellie to be grateful. Jenny had had a good talk to Ellie while Chuck was having his "nap" and found that she was just as interesting as she'd expected. During the party itself, in between having to dance with Tyler and avoiding his attempts to get her in private to make out (and the rest) because she wasn't the sort of girl to do that on a second date that was someone's birthday party (so it wasn't a date, really), she made time to talk to Ellie and Chuck and she quite enjoyed spending time with them. Towards the end of the night, she did make a show of getting drunk and making out with the birthday boy, then getting so embarrassed that she got one of Tyler's buddies' girlfriends to take her back to Cambridge (some of the other girls were over the shit that was going on, too, and they didn't feel like giving the guys what they wanted so they were glad for the excuse to bail on the whole scene).
The next morning, Chuck and Ellie thanked the Woodcombs profusely for his party and got a lift back to the airport, Ellie smiled to herself when she saw how much happier Chuck was now than he'd been on the way to the Woodcombs', and she was willing to bet that the smile on his face wasn't because he was getting away from the Woodcombs, she'd seen Jenny's face just before she started making out with Chuck at the party and she WASN'T drunk, what's more she was pretty sure that Jenny didn't just do that to upset Tyler, because the looks that she and Chuck had been sharing when they talked were saying that they liked each other. Oh well, Jenny had her number, hopefully she'd call her to get Chuck's number. If she could get Chuck away from that other bitch, Ellie thought, she'd kiss her herself, she didn't know what it was about Jill, but she just didn't like her, at all!
Chuck made his goodbyes to Ellie and Devon at the airport and ran, because "his" flight to San Francisco was leaving, of course, what Ellie knew but Devon didn't was that he had to get that flight because it was the only one going via Washington, because he was catching up with their parents and "Aunt D" at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport before he got a flight on to San Francisco. She really wished that she could have seen them too, but it was Chuck's birthday, so she was glad that it had worked out so that he could.