It had been nearly a year since Chuck's life changed because of an e-mail his former best friend sent to him. He was trying to make the most of it but lying to his sister and lying to Morgan was killing him each time. The fact that these CIA and NSA agents just kept expecting him to leave work at a moment's notice without repercussion didn't help either.
It was one thing to bend the truth but it was something completely different to lie to the one person who had always been there for him. Chuck understood that he was keeping Ellie safe but there were plenty of times she was in danger without evening knowing she was. Like the time she was poisoned.
Chuck was a little depressed by the time he got home and he was glad that Ellie and Devon weren't home and Morgan was still at work. He was feeling sorry for himself, as usual. He was so inadequate compared to Cole Barker. Hell even Casey admired the man! He wished there was a way to prove that he could be more than just an asset but Beckman had to protect the Intersect at the expense of Chuck it seemed.
There was a knock at the door and Chuck was surprised to see Cole standing there. "May I come in?" he asked.
Chuck was confused but stepped aside to let the agent in. "I thought you were leaving."
"I was on my way but I wanted to stop and see you first."
"Why?" Chuck asked. "I'm no one special. Well not personally. Politically I'm a wealth of information but that's all the government seems to care about right? Protect the asset, make sure the Intersect doesn't die. But what about Chuck? What happens when he starts alienating his family? His friends? What happens when they DIE because someone else downloaded a fucking computer into his head?"
Chuck couldn't stop the tears that began to flow. These feelings had been brewing a long time and it was hard to get a word in edgewise to Casey who hated talking about them and Sarah always tried to get Chuck to focus on other things.
Obviously Cole wasn't expecting this rant whatsoever. Chuck took several deep breaths to calm himself. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be telling you all this."
"It's all right, but you need to let General Beckman know how you're feeling," Cole replied. "You have many amazing attributes, Chuck, and that includes your emotions. I've read up on your missions and without those feelings, Sarah and Casey would have been dead a few times over."
He looked up from the floorboard he'd been staring at. "Are you sure because every single time I get out of the car to help them I get, "the government computer in your head is too valuable for you to risk it"? Seriously? The computer? I love computers, I do, but I don't place them above a human life whether I like that human or not!"
Cole regarded Chuck silently as he seemed to be thinking of a response. "I'm sorry, Chuck, I don't know what else I can do. I work for MI-6 so I can't even try to convince the General of anything regarding you."
"I know and I appreciate everything you said. I just wish they would treat me more like a person. I just wish I could get training that could at least help me protect myself or have some competency with a gun because you giving me one didn't help the situation very much. Casey won't teach me anything and Sarah is freaked out I'll shoot my hand off or something."
He chuckled. "Right. I truly thought you had been trained and I was in too much pain and worried about the others to even listen when you tried to tell me."
There was a small bit of relief in Chuck's heart as he heard that. Cole Barker, big bad MI-6 agent, was admitting that he was worried about others. There had to be hope for him as a spy despite what Casey and Beckman said.
"Hey, no worries, it was a stressful situation and I, well, I just wanted to prove myself."
"Understandable. I wanted to give you something. It's not much but if certain things don't work out then this will be just what you need."
Chuck shook his head. "That's really not necessary."
"Trust me, please?"
"Of course!" he replied accepting the gift.
Cole glanced at his watch. "Well, I really must be off. Take care, Chuck!"
Once the agent was gone Chuck went to his room to see what he had been given. He made sure that his back was to the camera as he opened it. He paused for a minute when he realized Casey probably heard their entire conversation. Chuck then realized he didn't care. It was good to actually be able to tell someone his feelings since he couldn't talk to his family.
There was a piece of paper with a phone number on it that said 'Operation Kick Ass'. Chuck realized that Cole Barker wanted to train him if he wasn't able to convince Beckman that it was needed. He grinned and lied down on his bed. At least someone was looking out for him.
"Any idea what the gift was?" General Beckman asked.
"No idea. It just looked like a piece of paper."
"General," Sarah jumped in. "Maybe we shouldn't worry about it. It was from Agent Barker so I'm sure it wasn't anything serious."
Chuck's words had slammed into her hard. She knew he was feeling the pressure with all the lies but she never once stopped to really listen to what he was going through. She just wasn't built that way. Oh sure maybe she used to be before she joined the CIA but now…
No, Chuck wasn't just the Intersect, he was a person too.
"Agent Walker, I will defer to your judgment on the situation for now. Cole Barker is an exemplary agent and the NSA trusts him completely. What are your thoughts for training the asset?"
Casey immediately spoke up. "While he has, on occasion, helped us out, this time proves that Chuck shouldn't be out in the field unless absolutely necessary. He could have killed us and himself!"
Beckman frowned. "Perhaps we need to revisit the bunker contingency. I will get back to you within 48 hours."
"I don't think a bunker is going to help Chuck," Sarah said once the General was gone. "I think it's going to make it worse."
"You do know the alternative, right?"
Sarah glared at him. "What are you saying, Casey? Are you going to kill him if you're ordered to? This is Chuck we're talking about, not a computer! He's a civilian!"
"Are you even listening to yourself? He's no longer a civilian, Walker! He's an asset for the CIA. You know exactly what happens to them!"
"What about you? I know you're starting to like Chuck as a person. He's saved us both countless times but you never acknowledge that. How can we expect him to work with us if we keep alienating him?"
Casey's expression actually softened for a bit as he pulled her to one of the interrogation rooms and turned off the camera. "Walker, I know exactly what you're saying but that's not something we can talk about in there. I don't want to have to kill Chuck. As much as I hate to admit it the kid's grown on me. And he's good at what he does. I just think he could really get hurt out there!"
Sarah sighed in relief. "You had me worried there for a minute."
Casey merely grunted.
After several days of trying to convince both Casey and Sarah of being trained, Chuck gave up. They both kept saying they understood and they would start soon but that "soon" was stretching to almost a week and he still hadn't heard from them.
It wasn't as if Chuck were going to carry a gun around with him every day. He would only have it on him during missions and maybe threaten people who tried to kill him. It wasn't like he was going to play around with it.
Chuck grinned and went to his room. He knew exactly who to call. Again, with his back to the camera, he pulled the case off his phone and followed the instructions on the piece of paper Cole had given him. A few minutes later he dialed the number.
"We're on a secure line?"
"We are now."
"Good. There's another phone in your computer desk. I'll text your instructions to that phone. Follow them to the letter so you're not followed."
"Okay," he replied then hung up.
Chuck found the phone he was looking for and read the instructions. He had to leave anything behind that would be easily tracked. At first Chuck was a little worried about doing that, but Cole had proven trustworthy and he understood what he was going through. He was also willing to help him when no one else would.
With resolve, Chuck moved out of the camera's view and dropped the items behind his desk. He grabbed some comfortable clothes and went to the bathroom to change. Once he was ready he headed down the hall and saw that Ellie was fixing dinner.
"Hey! Are you going to stay for dinner or are you taking Sarah out?"
Chuck knew he couldn't use Sarah as an excuse in case she stopped by so instead he said, "I'm just going for a jog."
"Dude, that's awesome!" Devon said as he came up behind Chuck. "Want me to come with you?"
He smiled. "No, I think I'm good. If I go with you I'll probably kill myself trying to keep up. I should probably go at my own pace, right?"
Ellie laughed. "So I guess we'll see you at midnight."
"Haha! That's real funny, sis!"
"Well don't push yourself too hard, okay?"
"I won't. Later!"
Chuck left with a wave and went out to the parking lot. He fake jogged about two blocks from the apartment where he found the small car that was waiting for him. He hopped in and headed to the location the GPS on the dashboard had been programmed with.
It was nearly 45 minutes before he reached his destination and Chuck was starting to have second thoughts about it. It didn't look very much like a gym and it was in the middle of nowhere.
Chuck grabbed the phone Cole had given him. He needed to call Sarah. How could he have been so stupid? No wonder Beckman wants to put him in a freaking bunker. He was a danger, not only to the world, but to himself!
He wondered about sending Sarah a text but he couldn't think of her number. He couldn't think of any numbers for that matter. He looked out the window. It wasn't like he could just run. Not with that rather large man coming towards him with a gun and the face of someone who works for Fulcrum.
And that's when realization smacked Chuck upside the head. Cole Barker was a Fulcrum agent. "Oh crap!"
Sarah tried calling Chuck multiple times to see about getting some dinner but he hadn't answered. She wanted to see if he was ready to start training. They had put him off for a week so they could get set up in a secure facility. She wanted to surprise him. Sarah knocked on the door and smiled when Ellie answered.
"Hi Sarah!" she said. "Come on in! Chuck's not here but he should be back soon. He went out for a jog."
Sarah stopped in her tracks. "He did what?"
"I know! I said the same thing, but he was so determined to get some exercise in."
"Oh. I guess that's why he didn't answer when I called," Sarah replied. "We had sort of a fight and I wanted to talk to him."
Ellie nodded in understanding. "Well you're welcome to wait around for him. And how about a snack while we wait?"
"Thanks, I appreciate that. I just need to use the bathroom."
Sarah had no intention of using the bathroom. She had to find out why Chuck's GPS said he was in his room but he wasn't home. She didn't see anything out of the ordinary but decided to try something. She called his phone and she heard the ringtone coming from behind his computer.
"Oh my God! Chuck what is going on?" she whispered and was even more worried when she saw his watch with the phone. She put the items in her pocket and went out to the living room. "Ellie, I hate to cut this short but Chuck just called. Apparently his legs can't hold him up much longer."
"I should have known," Ellie said with a chuckle. "I'll keep the snacks until you get back."
Sarah nodded and was out the door in seconds. She ran over to Casey's, knocked, and entered. "What's going on, Walker? Where did that little twerp run off to now?"
"I don't know. Let's review everything since Chuck got home tonight."
They watched as Chuck entered the apartment and sank onto the couch lost in thought. Sarah knew he was still upset about them not wanting to train him.
Suddenly Chuck grinned and he ran off camera so Casey switched over to his bedroom. For the second time in 24 hours, Chuck sat with his back to the camera and was working on something. A few minutes later he was on the phone.
"Wait," Casey said. "I never heard a call go through. What's the kid playing at?"
They couldn't hear the conversation but after Chuck hung up, he got up from the bed and moved behind the camera. Checking the time stamp Sarah noticed that it had been two hours ago. If he was out "jogging" he should have been back by now.
"Something isn't right, Casey."
"What gave you that idea?" he growled. "The fact that the little shit ditched the only way for us to track him or the fact that he seems to have disappeared?"
Sarah was about to answer when General Beckman appeared on the computer screen. "Agents, we have a problem."
They exchanged glances. There was no way she knew about Chuck already. "General?" Sarah asked.
Sarah saw the look of defeat on her face. "Fulcrum has the Intersect."
"What? That's not possible!"
"I'm afraid it is, Agent Walker, and it's my fault."
"What are you saying, Ma'am?" Casey wanted to know.
Beckman took a deep breath as she explained what she meant. "My superiors, and in turn I, trusted Agent Barker but it turns out he's a rogue agent working for Fulcrum. Before I knew that, though, I had him approach Chuck to gain his trust and pretend he wanted to help train him. I was then going to have him bring Chuck to the bunker. The problem is they never arrived. When I tried to contact him, Barker was off the grid. We have no idea where he or Bartowski are now."
Sarah was shaking in anger. She wanted to ask Beckman how she could do that without notifying her or Casey but she knew it didn't matter. Not right now. Chuck was in serious trouble if Fulcrum had him.
Casey, surprisingly, did not hide his disgust at what he was hearing. "You trusted Barker to keep Bartowski safe? Just because he's MI-6 didn't mean we could trust him."
"Stand down, Major Casey, or I will suspend you from this mission!"
"Are there any leads at all?" Sarah asked once she noticed Casey had calmed down.
Beckman nodded. "I'm sending the information to you now. I don't need to tell you that time is of the essence. We cannot allow Fulcrum to be in control of the Intersect. I also need to tell you that if we cannot get it back it will need to be destroyed at all costs."
The screen went blank and Casey growled. Sarah was seeing with each day how much Chuck had grown on him. She didn't say anything to him, just exchanged a mutual silent agreement that they were going to do everything they could to save Chuck.
Chuck was freaking out as he was being led to through the halls of the huge mansion. The big guy who he flashed on was Michael Ferguson. He used to work for the NSA, in fact he knew Casey pretty well.
He tried to appeal to his friendship with Casey, but Ferguson decided that Chuck was nuisance and socked him in the gut. Needless to say he shut up after that. He wasn't sure where he was being taken but he knew it wasn't going to be fun.
And Chuck was right. He was brought into a room that housed what looked like a dentist chair with straps attached to it. Were they seriously going to torture him for information? They already knew he had the Intersect, right?
"Chuck, so glad you could join us."
"I'm not sure why you went to so much trouble with all the spy stuff. You could have just asked me to come with you. I wouldn't have made a fuss."
Cole chuckled. "No, of course you wouldn't because you're a scared little boy. However I had no desire to kill the agents working to protect the Intersect, especially the lovely Agent Walker."
Chuck glared at the rogue agent. He didn't care if he couldn't beat Cole in a fight but if he attempted to hurt Sarah… Whoa, he wasn't sure where that came from. Even if Chuck wanted to protect her he would probably just end up dead.
"Strap him to the chair," Cole replied with an amused look on his face.
He thought back to the last time he was tortured. Cole had pretended he was the Intersect for him but now here he was about to torture Chuck for being that Intersect. He had stupidly trusted this man. He decided he would never trust anyone again.
Cole stepped in front of Chuck, a syringe in his hand. "This contains a stimulant. I pretty certain you know what that is. While you're sitting in this chair I will show you photos and you will flash on them and tell me what I want to know. You will give up any and all intel buried within your mind."
Chuck shook his head. "I'm not going to tell you anything!"
"Oh, you will!" Cole whispered as he injected the chemical into Chuck's vein. He wasn't sure what sort of stimulant was in there but he felt like his eyes were going to pop out of their sockets and his heart was beating way too fast. "Just relax, Chuck, we're going to have some fun."
Cole disappeared from view and all he could do was sit there, eyes moving around wildly. He wasn't sure if he was having an allergic reaction or if he was experiencing the high of being on whatever stimulant he was given. Either way he absolutely hated it.
A few long minutes later Cole appeared with a stack of photos. It looked like his torture was going to officially begin. Chuck took a deep breath as he began to flash. It was like everything was in high definition. He tried to describe what he was seeing but before he could finish with one thing another photo took it's place.
Chuck's head was killing him by the time Cole stopped with the pictures. Everything was blurry and he was having trouble concentrating. "You've been a bit of a disappointment, Chuck. Your descriptions were nothing but your name and date of birth."
"I… what?" Chuck didn't remember doing that. He remembered talking but not what he said. He closed his eyes shaking his head. It was pounding horribly and all he wanted to do was sleep.
Chuck's eyes snapped back open when a smack landed on his cheek. "Don't think you're going to get off so easily," Cole growled at him. "I will get the information I need no matter how long it takes! Throw him in the basement for now, we'll continue in a few hours."
Ferguson unstrapped Chuck and yanked him from the chair. He swayed a bit at the movement but managed to stay on his feet. He had to use the remaining strength he had to keep upright as he was practically pulled to the basement.
Once down there something was shoved into his hand. Chuck closed his eyes for a few minutes while Ferguson went back upstairs. He opened his eyes to see he was holding a note. "Friend of Casey's, he's been notified of our location. Stay strong."
"Oh thank God," Chuck muttered. He realized he needed to do something about the note because if Cole discovered it they would be totally fraked. Not seeing anywhere to hide it, Chuck popped it into his mouth and swallowed.
Casey was getting his weapons together when his cell beeped. He recognized the number but was surprised who it was. Once he saw he immediately went to find Sarah. "Do you remember a Michael Ferguson?" he asked.
"The name sounds familiar. NSA?"
"He used to be my partner but he's been deep undercover for a while. I never knew where he was until now." Casey showed him the message he had decrypted. "He's working undercover with Fulcrum and he knows where Chuck is."
"How sure are you of his loyalties?" Sarah asked. "We just got burned by an MI-6 agent, remember?"
"Yeah, I do. He was my partner for years before he was selected to go undercover. I trust him with my life and I know for a fact that he was against everything that Fulcrum was for."
Sarah nodded. "Good enough for me. Get us some coordinates. Let's bring Chuck home."
They were just about ready to leave when Sarah's phone rang. She winced as she held it up. It was Ellie. Chuck had been missing almost 72 hours now and they knew that she was getting worried. "Just take it easy, Walker. You've been lying for most of your life this should be second nature to you by now."
"I can't, Casey," Sarah replied. "What if I lie to Ellie about where he is and he doesn't make it back? What am I supposed to say?"
He shook his head. "I knew it! You've gone soft! You're compromised. Not only with Bartowski but his sister as well."
"And you're not? I saw the way you acted when you heard what Beckman did!"
"Agent Walker and Casey stand down!"
The two looked up at the top of the stairs to see General Beckman in Castle. "Ma'am," Casey said completely embarrassed and hoping that she didn't hear what Sarah said mostly because it was true.
"We had a meeting with the President and he has decided that we can inform Chuck's family and only his family," Beckman said once she was next to Sarah. "Under no circumstances are we to mention the Intersect though. They are being brought here where you will tell them about what's been going on."
Casey nodded at Sarah's look. "General we received a tip on where Bartowski is. It's from Michael Ferguson."
"Then you need to move! Now!" The two hesitated. "I'll deal with Chuck's sister. Go!"
Casey and Sarah needed no further urging as they got everything together.
General Beckman hadn't needed any further urging about Michael Ferguson because after all he was her nephew. Normally she distanced herself from the asset but there was just something about Charles Bartowski.
"General, we're bringing the Woodcombs down now. The woman is being… uncooperative."
"Understandable. Just bring them down."
"What the hell is going on around here?" Ellie was saying as she came down the stairs. "I tried to find out where my brother is and you apes just kidnap my husband and I from our home!"
Beckman stood at the bottom of the stairs. "Dr. Woodcomb, if you could just try to relax for a minute, all your questions will be answered."
Ellie looked at her as Devon took her hand. Taking a deep breath she nodded and took the seat that she was offered. "I'm sorry, but Chuck's been missing for almost 72 hours."
"It's okay," Beckman replied then explained who she was. "Major John Casey is an NSA agent and Sarah Walker works for the CIA. Your brother is an analyst and asset that they are protecting. He is the best we have to access top secret information."
She could see the disbelief in Ellie's eyes but the wonder in her husband's. "Oh God this is one of those twisted jokes isn't it? Chuck come out now this isn't funny anymore!"
"I'm afraid it's not and I'm sorry to have to tell that Chuck has been captured."
"Whoa, not cool! What do you mean captured? How did that happen? I thought John and Sarah…" he trailed off and Ellie looked at him.
"Oh! No wonder Chuck's been so confused about Sarah," she whispered sadly then shook her head. "We'll get into how he became involved later. How did he get captured?"
Beckman glanced down at the table before gathering enough courage to look Ellie in the eye. "It was my fault. I was worried that he'd become careless by throwing himself into the line of fire so to speak. Chuck is usually told to stay in the car or remain down here while the other two are on a mission. Sometimes it even takes him inside and undercover with Agent Walker. He's taken it upon himself to befriend his handlers and try to save them when they're in trouble."
Ellie had to smile and Beckman eyed her curiously. "I am not surprised in the least that Chuck would do that. It scares the hell out of me but I'm proud of him."
"Well I thought he was risking too much so I planned to have him sent to an underground bunker for his safety as well as yours. The two of you and his friends are in as much danger as Chuck is. The problem is the MI-6 agent who was supposed to bring him there turned out to be a rogue agent and spirited Chuck away."
"Oh my God," Ellie cried.
"We had a lead on where he is and Agents Walker and Casey are on their way there with a team of special ops soldiers as we speak. Chuck will be home before you know it."
Chuck was still in the basement of Cole's mansion and he was still very much awake despite him being there for however long it's been. His heartbeat was almost back to it's normal rate and he knew that meant he was about to crash for good while.
He just wanted to stay focused so that when Sarah and Casey arrived they wouldn't have to carry him out of there. Chuck wondered where Michael had gone to. The man hadn't returned since he dropped him down there. He hoped he was okay.
At least the pounding in his head had decreased considerably. Chuck slowly moved to seated position, leaning against the wall. He tried to keep his eyes open but it was getting more and more difficult. They snapped open when he heard a loud noise.
Cole was standing there and he looked pissed. He went over to Chuck, grabbed him by the collar, yanked him to his feet. "How did you do it?"
"Don't play dumb with me, Chuck!"
"I-I really have no clue what you're talking about."
"Well let's see how well you do with more of my stimulant cocktail."
Chuck tried to get out of Cole's grasp but he was too exhausted to move and the former agent injected the stimulant right into his neck. His fear of needles had tripled exponentially at this moment in time. Once the stimulant was in his system, Cole dropped him to the ground and left him there.
His heart was, once again, beating like crazy and felt dizzy. Chuck got to his feet shakily. He knew Sarah and Casey had to be there or Cole wouldn't have freaked out the way he did. Now Chuck just had to attempt to get out of there without dying.
Using the wall for support, Chuck made his way to the door. He tried to open it but it wouldn't budge. Chuck jiggled the knob and a moment later it opened. Sarah and Casey were standing there staring at him in shock.
"Hey guys! Nice timing," he said as he knees started to give out.
Casey rushed to grab him. "Easy, Bartowski!"
He saw the worried look Sarah gave him and before she could say anything Chuck saw someone behind her with a gun. "Sarah!" he cried shoving her to the ground.
"Chuck, what's wrong?"
He blinked carefully lifting his aching head. "I..." Looking around he saw no one around.
"We already have a team taking care of Barker and his men. You're safe now!"
Chuck suddenly grabbed Sarah and began to seize.
It was a long ride to the hospital. Sarah only had time to worry about Chuck. Oh and be pissed off at Beckman. She could not believe she had trusted Barker. Sarah had to admit that she was charmed by the man's dashing looks at first but Chuck's bravery was for more noticeable in her eyes. The problem was she never told him for fear he would fall deeper in love with her.
Sarah wasn't stupid. She knew how much Chuck loved her and she reciprocated but everything was so damn complicated because of the Intersect in his head. She looked up when she heard Casey heading over to her.
"Beckman's on her way here with Bartowski's sister. I don't think she was very happy."
Sarah nodded, lost in thought. She had just been told that Chuck had slipped into a coma after whatever torture he'd been exposed to. Apparently Barker also used some sort of stimulant to keep him awake the entire time he was being held.
"Walker? How is he?"
She had to smile at the concern in Casey's voice. "He slipped into a coma. We need to find out what Barker did to him and maybe that will help the doctors here. We can't trust anyone in the CIA or NSA right now."
"Well I'm pretty certain we can trust Devon Woodcomb although I doubt he'd be thrilled if we told him what happened and we refused to tell his wife," Casey mused allowed.
Sarah nodded. "Right. I'll talk to Beckman when she gets here. Meanwhile I think you need to go interrogate a certain rogue MI-6 agent."
Casey grinned, cracking his knuckles. "Sounds like fun!"
"Miss Walker," Sarah turned to see Julie, one of Chuck's nurses, "if you'd like to come with me, he's all settled in his room now."
"Thank you, Julie. Chuck's sister and brother in law should be arriving soon. Can you bring them to his room as soon as they get here? He's already been missing for 72 hours."
Julie frowned. "Oh my God, I didn't know that. I've known Chuck and Ellie since I was little. We used to spend a lot of time together. Oh and Morgan."
"Morgan. You can't be friends with Chuck and not have to deal with Morgan," Sarah replied with a chuckle.
"Ain't that the truth! But it's okay, Morgan Grimes is as loyal as they come."
Sarah never really thought about that but Julie was right. Morgan always stood by Chuck no matter what. She longed to know what that felt like to have someone like that in her life. She was getting a taste of it, that's for certain, but how long would it last now that Chuck was going to be ensconced in a bunker. Who knew how long that would take? Beckman certainly wouldn't allow her to stay with him.
She took a deep breath when she realized they had arrived at Chuck's room. "Julie, how bad is it?"
"Well he's very pale and the machines that he's hooked up to make him look very small. I don't know what was done to him beyond the stimulants but it wasn't good. Dr. Paxton will explain more but he may want to wait until Ellie and Devon get here."
Sarah nodded as they entered the room. Julie must have sugar coated it because Chuck actually looked worse than described. She couldn't believe how much of a difference 72 hours had made. She slowly went to his side and Dr. Paxton looked up. "Hello," she said. "Sarah Walker."
"Mark Paxton. You must be Chuck's girlfriend," he said, shaking her hand. "As soon as Ellie gets here I'll go over everything. I hope that's okay."
"Of course. They need to be the first to know what's going on."
Just then Ellie burst into the room and rushed to Chuck's side, taking his hand. "Oh God. Mark, how's he doing?"
"It appears as though he's had some sort of head trauma but there's no indication in the scans of any swelling. Chuck was also repeatedly pumped full of stimulants to keep him awake. He was very hyper and agitated and is heart rate has been erratic since he was brought in. He went into cardiac arrest and has been unresponsive since then.
"Ellie, you know what happens once the drug starts leaving his system. Chuck will experience some apathy and depression and then withdrawal. We found about 25 cc upon arrival. His withdrawal shouldn't last as long as someone who's been abusing the drug but it will not be any less painful."
Sarah couldn't stop the tears that were spilling. She was grateful when Ellie and Devon including them in their hug. She may not be a real part of their family but they certainly made her feel as though she were. "Thanks," she said once Dr. Paxton left. "I'm so sorry this happened. It's my job to protect Chuck and I failed miserably."
"Don't blame yourself for what happened. From what General Beckman said it was all on them but you can't really blame them, can you? I mean that guy worked for MI-6 so how could anyone think he was a rogue agent?"
She immediately thought of Bryce. Not that he ever was a rogue agent but there was a time they all thought he was. In a way, with going against orders to keep Chuck from joining the CIA, he was. Before she could say anything, though, there was a knock at the door. Casey popped his head. "General Beckman wants to talk to us. All of us."
Ellie nodded. "Tell her to come in, John."
Sarah stayed near Ellie because when she heard the story about why Chuck was being protected she probably wasn't going to be very happy about it. Beckman took a deep breath and began to speak. "There was a machine, the Intersect, that housed all intel the CIA, NSA, and other federal agencies gathered. The information was attached to an e-mail file and sent to your brother. When he opened the file all that information was downloaded into his subconscious."
"Whoa," Devon whispered. "How is that even possible? That has to be a lot of data!"
Beckman nodded in agreement. "It is but Chuck's mind is like a hard drive right now. He only accesses the information when he sees someone or something that's already within the Intersect. He came up with the term "Flash" for it."
"Why did the agent e-mail Chuck the file?" Ellie wanted to know. "Did he send it to him in error?"
Sarah decided to field that question. "He knew Chuck and believed he would be the best person to receive the information rather than let it fall into the wrong hands."
Devon shook his head in wonder. "Chuck knew a CIA agent? Who was it?"
Ellie held up her hands. "Wait a minute, Bryce Larkin? As in the guy who got Chuck kicked out of Stanford? I thought he was supposed to be dead!"
"He was undercover as an agent of Fulcrum. Unfortunately he was so undercover we all thought he went rogue. He sent that just before he was killed," Casey replied. Beckman had agreed not to tell them he was the one who shot Larkin even though the agent was still alive.
"I don't even know what to say about all this," Ellie whispered, looking down at her baby brother. "I can't believe Chuck's been risking his life everyday to save people he doesn't know and I was yelling at him for not moving on with his life."
Sarah smiled. "Well it didn't help that we decided that working at Buy More was an excellent cover story for him."
Something flashed in Ellie's eyes and Sarah knew immediately what she was thinking. Beckman and Casey must have seen it too so they quietly stepped out of the room. "Cover story... you and Chuck. No wonder he was so confused and torn. He really does love you but you were only stringing him along!"
"Whoa, babe, take it easy," Devon replied when he noticed the anger in his wife's face. "Why don't you let Sarah explain first?"
Sarah took a deep breath as she explained what she was first sent to do. "Yes, I admit that at first I was just stringing him along, but after we met, after I saw how kind he was, what an amazing person he is I fell in love. I couldn't really admit it to him and hurt him many times because of it.
"Believe me when I say that I took no pleasure in what this was doing to him."
Ellie was beyond angry. Devon couldn't calm her down or stop her from leaving after that. "Ellie, wait! El!" He called rushing after her.
Sarah frowned as she glanced over at Chuck. He didn't move so she hoped he hadn't been able to hear either. "Agent Walker."
"Yes, General?" she replied not taking her eyes off Chuck.
"I am sorry things turned out this way."
She turned around angrily ignoring Casey's hand on her shoulder as he tried to calm her. "With all due respect, General, you never cared about what happened to Chuck as long as the Intersect worked correctly."
"That is where you're wrong, Agent Walker. I care very much for him. All of you. I just had to separate him from the Intersect. It was easier to send him into danger that way. I hated it but I was not allowed to use any type of training on him. Training that could have kept him safe. I have never felt more angry at myself than I do now."
Sarah sighed. "It wasn't your fault, General. We were all taken in by Baxter and you weren't the only one who fell for Chuck's charm."
Ellie took several deep breaths once she stepped out into the hall. She really shouldn't be upset with Chuck. She knew if he had been able to tell her he would have. No doubt he was worried about putting her and Devon in danger.
No the person she should be angry with right now was Sarah Walker. If that was even her name. How could she pretend to be in love with Chuck and now she said she was for real? Was it all an elaborate lie? How can she live with herself when she treats people that way?
She turned to face Devon. "I'm okay. Just worried about Chuck."
"And pissed off at Sarah I can tell."
Ellie frowned. "Aren't you? She had to pretend to fall in love with Chuck while he fell in love with her. I know it was to keep him safe, and I'm grateful for that, but what happens when she gets reassigned? What happens if she dies? It's going to tear him apart!"
"I ask myself those same questions everyday." The couple looked over at Sarah. They hadn't expected her to follow them. "Ellie, I want you to know that I do love Chuck. I admit that, at first, it started as just an assignment, but now... Well I haven't told him how I feel because I really shouldn't be feeling it anyway."
Ellie took her hand. "Sarah, love isn't something you can turn on and off. If you truly do love him then you have to tell him. And General Beckman."
"Telling General Beckman could give myself and Chuck a one way ticket in opposite directions."
"Well she's just going to have to deal with it, isn't she?" Ellie asked.
Sarah frowned. She wanted to admit to anyone who would listen how much she loved Chuck but she knew what that would mean. She would be reassigned and he would be tucked away in a bunker. Chuck was lucky he wasn't in one now.
General Beckman was left alone with Chuck in the room. She felt horrible about what happened to the young man. She tried so hard to remain objective, but, as Agent Walker said, she fell for Chuck's charm.
She thought that if she were strict with him it would get him to understand how serious the situation was. The problem is, Chuck knew how serious it was and sometimes she saw bravery she never saw in 25 year veterans of the NSA!
She turned quickly to see Chuck staring at her through half-lidded eyes. She thought about getting the others but moved towards his side instead. "Chuck. How are you feeling?"
"Terrible." He paused. "I'm sorry."
"What in the world do you have to be sorry for, Chuck?"
He took a shaky breath as he studied his hands. "I betrayed your trust and went with him. I didn't think... I understand why the Intersect is so important. I'm pretty sure I always have but I guess I was just too selfish to see it."
"You are definitely not selfish and no life is worth more than the Intersect. I see that now." She frowned when Chuck winced. "I'll go get a doctor. Also your sister is out there and she knows everything. I told her so don't worry about anything, okay?"
Chuck looked at her in silence and nodded. His eyes slipped shut as she stepped out the door. "Chuck's awake," she told them. "I'll go find his doctor."
Chuck was awake, but barely, although he was fairly certain he was dreaming. There was no way General Beckman would be that nice to him and no way she would tell Ellie about the Intersect. In fact he was probably still with Cole and his evil lab.
His chest felt really sore and his heartbeat was off. Maybe he was awake because those things felt all too real. "Chuck!"
Chuck's eyes flew open when he saw Ellie there. "El?"
She rushed to his side taking his hand in hers and bending down to hug him. "Oh, little brother, I'm so glad you're okay. When the General told me what you've been doing I freaked out at first. What can I say, I'm an overprotective sister."
"What are you talking about? I'm sorry I'm still a little... a little out of it. I..." he trailed off to catch his breath. "Sorry."
"It's okay, honey," Ellie said, placing a hand on his forehead. "You've been through a lot. You're safe now, though."
The door opened again and Dr. Paxton walked in. Chuck recognized the man from a few of Ellie and Devon's work Christmas parties. "Hey, Chuck. This is not how I wanted to spend time with you, my friend."
"Same here, Doc."
Dr. Paxton began to go over Chuck's vitals. "Sounds like your respiration is slowly getting back to normal but your heart rate is still a bit erratic. We'll put you on a beta-blocker and keep you on the EKG for now. I didn't see any trauma to your head and there's no evidence of it but you did have signs of a concussion earlier. Do you remember being hit at all?"
Chuck shook his head. "If I did I don't... remember."
"We'll do a CT scan just verify. If all is well with that you'll be released sometime tomorrow," Dr. Paxton told him. "I'll put the orders in for the beta-blockers and the nurse will come in to take your lunch order. I'm sure you're hungry?"
His stomach rumbled in reply. "I guess so," Chuck said.
"I'll be back later tonight to check on you, but let the nurse know if you need anything or have any questions."
"I will... thanks... Doc." Once he was gone he looked at Ellie to see she was giving him a look. "What?"
"You lied to him, Chuck!"
He shook his head. "No I didn't! I really don't know if I was hit in the head or not!"
"I'm serious. I mean he scrambled my brain... by making me flash on a ton of pictures... he showed me but that's the only thing I can think... of that caused those symptoms without being knocked in the head. The process does leave me lightheaded... no matter how much I'm doing it."
Ellie frowned. "Are you telling me that they all knew what this did to you but they let it happen anyway? Please tell me you have a doctor who monitors you!"
He shook his head. "It's not like... like there's one who would know what... what to do. The guy who... who created it... is missing... maybe dead."
Chuck watched as Ellie paced back and forth. She looked like a caged animal and he knew she was going to snap soon. He couldn't care about that at the moment because his chest was really starting to hurt. Maybe he shouldn't be talking too much.
He glanced at the EKG although Chuck didn't need that to tell him something wasn't right. "El!" he gasped.
"Chuck!" she exclaimed hitting the nurse call button. "Chuck stay with me!"
"M'sorry El..." Chuck said as he lost all awareness.
Sarah sat quietly in the waiting area. Casey left to interrogate Barker and Beckman left to talk to her superiors about why she told Chuck's family about the Intersect. She then told Sarah to make certain she told Chuck how she really felt about him.
She was so lost in thought that she practically jumped out of her seat when she heard "CODE BLUE ROOM 325 STAT!"
"Chuck!" she whispered. She knew she couldn't go into the room but she rushed towards it. It must have been bad because they gently pulled Ellie to the side as they worked to save him. It felt like forever but they finally got him stabilized.
"Ellie! Ellie!" one of the nurses said. "He's okay. He's going to be okay."
She nodded, tears streaming down her face. Sarah took a tentative step towards the door as the team who saved Chuck left. Ellie looked over and motioned for Sarah to join her. She took a deep breath and entered the room.
"What happened?" Sarah asked as Ellie pulled her into a hug.
"I almost killed my brother."
Sarah shook her head. "No, I don't believe that, Ellie!"
Ellie pulled Sarah to Chuck's side. His face was pale, almost gray and they put him on a respirator. "Look at him! It's because I freaked out too. I think I may have freaked him out. I just... I got so upset that you don't have any type of physician monitoring this thing inside his head especially when he ends up with symptoms of a concussion after using it one to many times!"
"Trust me, Ellie, there are so many times I wanted to be there for Chuck. To understand how he processes things whether it be from the Intersect or his own mind. Ever since I became an agent I have this following orders thing ingrained into my brain. From the moment I met Chuck he's been chiseling away at that and I'm starting to feel again, the way I used to before I started all of this."
"He loves you, Sarah," Ellie said placing her arm around the younger woman's shoulder. "I don't think I've ever seen him more in love, not even when he was dating Jill."
Sarah inwardly winced at the thought of Jill but she hid it well. She took his hand in hers. "I... I love him too, Ellie."
That's when Chuck squeezed her hand in response. He didn't speak or open his eyes but she saw a tear slip down his cheek. Sarah reached over to brush it away then leaned him to give him a kiss. "Don't leave me, Chuck, please. I need you."
His eyes opened and she could see the feeling was mutual. "Just rest now. Everything will work itself out, I promise." With one final squeeze of his hand, Chuck closed his eyes.
Ellie gave Sarah a hug. "Let me officially welcome you to the family."
"Thanks, Ellie. It's been a while since I've been a part of one."
Chuck sat down tiredly on the couch. It had been a long road to recovery from the withdrawal and the constant flashing. The welcome home party had been wonderful but exhausting. Of course most of the people who attended never knew the real reason Chuck had been in the hospital. Lester kept asking about the nurses and Jeff kept asking Chuck about the drugs he was given and if he had any to share.
He had to shake his head and laugh at that because it made him grateful to be alive and talk to people that had nothing to do with the Intersect. Chuck leaned his head back and closed his eyes. A nice long nap sounded like a good idea.
Chuck felt the couch cushion shift and he cracked his eyes open as Sarah leaned over to lay her head on his shoulder. "Hey, how are you feeling?"
"Grateful, happy, tired," he paused putting an arm around her. "Loved."
Sarah smiled, snuggling closer. "I feel all of that too."
He could tell there was something else she wanted to say. "What is it?" he asked.
"We don't need to talk about it now," Sarah replied. "We can do that when you go back to work okay?"
Chuck sat up. He wasn't thrilled with waiting and had a feeling that he wasn't going to like what Sarah had to say. "Just tell me, Sarah, or I'm going to think the worst no matter what the verdict is."
Sarah took a deep breath. "There is talk of you getting actual CIA level training but General Beckman's superior is against it. He wants you locked up in a bunker somewhere so you're available when you're needed while putting Ellie and Devon into protective custody. The General is doing everything she can to fight this and Casey has been helping her."
He sat there taking it all in. So basically he ruined the lives of everyone he cared about by rebelling against Beckman and going off to get help from Cole, who was a rogue agent. Chuck sighed running a hand through his hair as he stood.
"I really screwed up this time, didn't I? Maybe it's better if I just go into the bunker."
Before he could answer there was a knock at the door. The two just continued to stare at one another. After the second knock, Sarah finally went to answer it. "General Beckman. Casey. I didn't expect to see you both so soon."
Chuck didn't want to look at them. If they were there sooner than Sarah thought then he had to be going into the bunker. There was no other reason. He turned to greet them and saw smiles on their faces. Well whatever passed for smiles when you worked for the NSA.
"Well, Bartowski, it looks like our request has been approved," Casey said. "Your official training starts in two weeks."
"So I'm going to officially be a real spy?"
"That's correct, Agent Bartowski," Beckman said.
He glanced over at Sarah and frowned. "So..."
"That's been approved too, but only when I'm not looking. Unofficially I have to say that it's about damn time!"
Before Chuck could stop himself he gave the General a hug. He pulled away after a moment and began sputtering. "General, I... I mean..."
She smiled. "You're welcome, Chuck. I'll be in touch."
Casey shook his head with a grunt and followed Beckman out the door. Chuck turned when Sarah placed a hand on his arm. "Congratulations."
"Thanks. I just need you to know something very important."
"I love you Sarah Walker," Chuck replied as he kissed her on the lips.