A/N Hello everyone! First and foremost I want to thank everyone that commented on the last chapter, and also thank you for the new followers and those that made this story one of your favorites. This chapter was a bugger to write, and there is a lot of information in it. I hope you enjoy it!
As always I must give a big shout out of thanks to michaelfmx for his exemplary beta skills. Without him this chapter, really the whole story would be very confusing. So Yay michaelfmx!
Disclaimer: I do not own Chuck or any Chuck byproducts. I do own a pair of very comfortable socks, just thought I would share.
Chapter 7 – She's Just a Devil Woman
Chuck had a hard time falling asleep that night. Mentally, it was hard because he was still worried about Nicky, plus there was a beautiful woman who was just wearing a gray NYU t-shirt and white cotton panties lying on top of him. Physically it was hard… because there was a beautiful woman who was just wearing a gray NYU t-shirt and white cotton panties lying on top of him. He had tried to slip away a couple of times and go back to his own room, but she would pull him tighter, moan something unintelligible and stroke his chest, so it became even harder to sleep. After a couple of agonizing hours of just lying there trying his best to be a gentleman, Chuck was finally able to doze off, but all too soon he heard his alarm going off. As he lay there contemplating opening his eyes, he felt something very strange, once again that sixth sense kicked in and he knew that someone was watching him. He slowly opened one eye and saw Zondra lying on her stomach, propped up on her elbows, with her chin resting on her fist, staring right at him. Chuck gulped and asked, "Is there something wrong Agent Rizzo?"
"Oh come on Chuck, we've slept together now, I think you can call me Zondra."
"But… we didn't… I didn't… "
"Wow! You're just too easy," she exclaimed with a chuckle. "Nice shade of red you've got there Chuck." Zondra then paused and let out a deep breath before continuing, "But thank you for last night. I… I haven't had a full night's sleep in a very long time, so… thank you." With that, she leaned down and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead before bolting out of bed and heading towards the bathroom. Chuck, without even realizing it, found himself watching her leave the bedroom, noticing the little extra sway in her hips. He reached up and gently rubbed the spot where she had kissed him, dumbfounded by this show of vulnerability and emotions from a spy. The strangest thing though, in all of the strange things that had just happened, was that the sleep that he did get, was peaceful and dreamless. As Chuck lay there, contemplating the reason he slept without nightmares for the first time in weeks, thoughts of the kiss returned to the forefront of his mind. What was that? Was it a thank you? Was it because she… no, no, no that couldn't be it! Unable to even consider any other motive behind the kiss other than a "thank you", he eased himself out of the bed and headed to the kitchen to start breakfast.
Zondra gently closed the bathroom door behind her and walked over to the sink. As she looked at herself in the mirror, she grabbed both sides of the sink in a death grip. Anger, fear, and confusion filled her now wet eyes as she whispered in a harsh tone, "What the hell is wrong with you? You're acting like a friggin school girl with a crush." She slowly stepped back from the sink and ran a shaky hand through her long brown hair and sighed, "Chuck Bartowski, what are you doing to me?"
The alarm woke her with a jolt; she had been in such a deep sleep that only the piercing sound of the alarm could reach her. It had been a restful sleep, the best she had had in months, if not years. As she stretched, a smile came to her face as she thought; Finally, things are going my way! She made her way to the bathroom, washed her face, brushed her teeth and then brushed out her long, brown hair. She had done everything that had been expected of her, with better results than anyone had anticipated. Now it was her turn, now she would get what had been promised her some five years ago, now she would get the man she loves; now she would get Chuck Bartowski.
Feeling light on her feet, she almost floated down the hall to her living room, and as she did every morning, she sat down on the couch and stared at the three pictures that sat on the small shelf above her television. Three pictures of people so different by nature, but so intertwined. The first picture was of her adoptive parents, the people who had raised her. The next picture was her birth mother, the woman who had molded her, and the last picture was Chuck, the man who had loved her. As she stared intently at the pictures, the memories came flooding into her mind. She winced slightly as she remembered the day she met her birth mom.
She had just turned 12 years old and, on that fateful day at her school, she was called to the Dean of Student's office. Not one that usually got called to the office, she was extremely nervous when she walked in. As she looked around, she saw a woman in some type of uniform talking to Mr. Kilgore, the Dean. When he saw that she had arrived, he waved her into his office, but he didn't enter, to her surprise only the lady in the uniform did.
"Is your name Jill Roberts?" The lady asked.
"Yes, ma'am," she uttered shyly.
"My name is Diane Beckman, and I'm your mother. I put you up for adoption not long after you were born," the lady offered in a flat monotone voice, without a hint of emotion. Jill just sat still not taking her eyes off this woman who, in a matter of seconds, had turned her world upside down. Soon, the words sunk in and Jill's hands started shaking as tears began to pool in her eyes.
"I know this may be upsetting," Beckman continued in the same emotionless voice, "but I wanted you to know about me. I also wanted you to know that from now on I will be looking after you." Beckman could see the fear building in her eyes and quickly added, "Don't worry, you'll still live with your adoptive parents, but if you ever need anything, all you have to do is call me and you'll have it. Then, someday, I may need your help and I will call you because that is what family is all about, right?"
The memory of meeting her birth mother still sent a chill down her spine, but that hadn't been the only change that happened. Not long after their meeting, her "Uncle" Bernie appeared in her life. Suddenly he was always around, he was at every family gathering, every holiday, and he was always buying her gifts. Her parents didn't seem to mind and quickly welcomed him into their family, her father even claimed him as his best friend.
It wasn't until the day of her high school graduation that her birth mother asked Jill for her help. At her graduation party, Uncle Bernie had pulled her aside and told her that a young man would be starting Stanford at the same time that she was. He told her that her mother needed her to get close to him and report on what he was doing. There were two fatal flaws in this plan. First, there was nothing to report; Charles Bartowski was just a college kid doing college things. He went to class, hung out with his friends and rushed a fraternity, and that was Chuck's college experience. The second flaw, Jill fell head over heels in love with Chuck. Jill was so in love with him that she physically hurt if he wasn't with her. No one could foresee Chuck's infectious personality and that no one could spend any time with him and not become compromised. To Jill's credit, she still did what she had been told to do, she reported in on Chuck.
Jill and Chuck had been dating for nearly 4 years, and Jill was seriously planning for their future. She had never thought that when Uncle Bernie had told her she had to date Chuck things would work out so well. Then one day her world fell apart, Chuck had been accused of cheating and had been expelled. She didn't know what she was going to do, but he had sworn to her it wasn't true. She finally decided that it didn't really matter to her if it was true or not, she was going with him. As she was heading out the door of her apartment with her suitcase in hand, her phone rang. This time, it wasn't Uncle Bernie; it was her mother, Diane Beckman. It crushed Jill when Beckman told her that she had to dump Chuck and that she needed to seduce Bryce Larkin. Jill remembered the shock and revulsion she felt when she heard the word "seduce". She had actually screamed that there "was no way in hell" she would do that to Chuck. Then Beckman reminded her of who was paying for her college tuition, she reminded her of who bought her new car, and she reminded her of all the trips that she had taken.
The next day Jill hooked up with Bryce. Jill had found the experience horrific; the act had made her sick. She had betrayed Chuck. To make matters worse, Chuck came back for her, professing his love. Then her asshole of a roommate told him that she and Bryce were now together. Even though they weren't, she didn't deny it, and she watched her one true love walk away.
Jill had thought her fortune had changed when, just last year, Beckman ordered her to reconnect with Chuck. Those were three of the best weeks of her life, until that bitch Walker got in the way, and ruined everything.
Jill wiped the tears from her eyes; she had hated Beckman for the pain she had caused Chuck. She hated herself for not leaving with Chuck, but she hated Sarah Walker most of all because she was in love with her man and, apparently, Chuck had been in love with her. Jill leaned back in her couch and got a big smile on her face as she remembered the events that had happened just a few months ago. The man she loved, Chuck, had rescued her from prison, then he let her escape, and he gave her an expensive ring so she could have money to live on. Jill folded her hands over her heart and boasted loudly, "He still loves me!"
The rhythmic sound of her shoes hitting the concrete and her own rhythmic breathing melded into a relaxing beat that slowly began to ease her troubled mind. Her blow up at Steven and Ellie earlier that morning had made the atmosphere in the apartment almost volatile. But none of this was her fault. They should know that Sarah Walker comes with some unalienable characteristics; one being that she hates waiting. And now she has been waiting a week to go and rescue Chuck. Sure, they didn't know where this mysterious island was, but wasn't Orion supposed to know everything? She had been waiting to go and make Bryce suffer, but Orion said they still needed him. For what, she had no clue, and now they had to wait for some guy who knew about the island. Sarah Walker wasn't a patient person, she needed to run some more… a lot more.
After a 10-mile run, Sarah had finally cleared her mind enough to see that the whole morning's debacle had been, in fact, her fault. She stood at the door of Steven's apartment, dreading what she was about to face, but as she entered, she saw both Ellie and Steven staring at her with a concerned expression. Sarah was so relieved that she didn't see anger or hate in their faces that she skipped her shower and went straight to the living room to talk with them.
"Ellie, Steven." Sarah started as she looked at the father and daughter sitting on the couch, "I'm so sorry about this morning. I was out of line, and to be honest, I don't know what came over me. I feel so anxious. I'm on edge and it seems that littles things are setting me off and I don't know why."
"Could it be that you're missing Chuck, and you're ready to do anything to get him back?" Ellie said in a sympathetic tone.
Sarah grinned at Ellie and teased, "What, now you're just going to repeat back everything I told you last night?"
"Yep, in all seriousness, it could actually be the reason for you being anxious, none of us likes just sitting around waiting. Believe me, we all want to go and get him now. And knowing now how you feel about my brother, I can only imagine it is double for you."
Although she knew that Ellie was probably right, there was still one question that was burning in her mind, so she turned to Steven and asked, "Do you think the anxieties are a byproduct of the nanobots left in my system?"
Steven thought for a moment and just as he was going to quell her fears, there was a crisp, loud knock at his door.
Steven stood up from the couch, smiled at her, gently squeezed her shoulder, and then strolled across his apartment to answer the knock. When he opened the door, a genuine grin came to his face as he offered his hand and greeted the man standing there, "John, thanks for coming."
"No problem, Steven. It's good to see you."
Sarah stared at the two men standing at the door exchanging pleasantries, not missing the apparent bond that had developed between the two. She slowly walked over to where the two men were standing and acknowledged, "Casey".
"Hey Walker, you doing okay?"
With those few words, Sarah broke down and fell into Casey's arms and hugged him. He looked at the top of Sarah's head in shock, then over to Steven, who just shrugged. Casey gently patted her on the back and slowly pushed her away. She swallowed hard and whispered, "I'm sorry, just seeing you… it's been hard Casey."
Casey let out a small grunt and agreed. "I know."
Sarah patted Casey on the arm and teased, "Enough lady feelings, let's find Chuck." Casey gave an amused grunt and followed everyone to the living room. Casey sat down in a chair, cleared his throat and started his story.
"About six years ago I busted up my knee pretty badly and I was sent to the island. It's a unique place; it is like a small town. There isn't much known about the island outside of the official line, but what I do know is that the same pilot always flies to the island. If he's unavailable or sick, there are no trips. The agents assigned as security on the plane never get off; they stay on the plane and return home as soon as the passengers get off on the island. If while in flight a passenger starts to look just a little curious, he is given something to knock him out. I know this from experience. They don't want anyone knowing where this island is."
Casey paused, took a drink of coffee that Steven had sat on the coffee table in front of him, and gathered his thoughts before continuing, "It's a true island, with water on all sides. At the center of the island is what they call the "town square". It's where all the stores are. They also have restaurants, a theater, a gym, a gun range, and of course the rehab center. I'm sure they have other stuff; I just never explored that much. There are anywhere from 100 to 150 people on the island. I would say 25 to 30 are staff members, they run the stores, rehab center and such. Another 25 to 30 are permanent residences. From the little people would tell me, they are agents that were "killed" and needed to disappear, and some are agents that are on so many hit lists that there is no other safe place. The rest of the people there are agents that need rehab or just some R&R. There is one thing I know for sure, there has never been an asset sent to the island for lockdown before." Casey took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair, he wasn't used to talking that much and he needed a break.
Steven rubbed his chin and spoke, "So it's either off one of the coast or in a big lake. We need to find the plane…
"Or the pilot," Sarah added, also deep in thought.
"Let's work those angles," Steven encouraged, "I also found a way to send Chuck more info than just a line at a time. I'm going to go update him on what we've got."
Steven was steadily typing up all the information to send to his son. He told him that Casey had provided a majority of what the now knew and was helping find him. Steven decided not to tell Chuck that Sarah was there and helping, he didn't see the need in upsetting him. Steven then sent the folder and sat back, whispering, "We're coming, son."
Chuck was used to the morning runs being done in silence. Both Zondra and he usually used this time to think and contemplate, but today it just seemed different. The quiet between them seemed strained. Every time he would look at her, it seemed as if she wanted to say something, but instead she ran faster. Chuck finally gave up, more from exhaustion than wanting to know what was wrong with Zondra. He would have to corner her later and find out what was wrong. He was sure there was something he needed to apologize for, but right now he needed to do his computer work then hit the gym.
He quickly logged into his computer and saw something different. Usually,where there were two folders on his screen, Dailies and After Action, today a third popped up titled Ace. Chuck smiled. Clicking the new folder brought up a screen with a question:
What I promised to make?
Chuck stared at his screen, his eyes narrowed, he scratched his head, he rubbed his chin, and he shifted from side to side in the chair. Then a sideways grin came across his face and he typed:
The file opened up and a cover letter appeared. As Chuck read the first line, he let out a hardy laugh, the line was so great he had to read it again:
You know for a couple of geniuses, we're kind of dumb.
Chuck went on to read the rest of Orion's letter, as it explained how Orion had discovered a way to attach his file to the files that the NSA downloaded onto his computer every morning. He also explained that when Chuck's reports were uploaded back to the NSA, the Ace file would be returned to him. He had created a special code that would make the file undetectable, so both these task would be unnoticed. So now they could send as much information back and forth as they wanted.
Chuck continued reading all the information his father had sent, Stephen's report covered not only the little information he had been able to find himself, but also everything that Casey had shared with him. Steven reassured Chuck that they were on the right track and would soon be coming for him.
Chuck could only smile at his father's optimism and he was happy that Casey was there to help; he had long forgiven him for the "incident", knowing that Casey was a soldier first, and would always follow orders. Chuck was disheartened, though, that there was no mention of Sarah, he assumed that she was where she wanted to be, and could care less about him. She had done her duty and moved on. Chuck had to pull himself out of those thoughts quickly or he was going to get depressed again, and no one wanted that.
Chuck typed up his report for his dad, listing all the anomalies he had noticed. The lack of rain and dew, no waves of any consequence hitting the beach, no air traffic overhead, just to name a few. Chuck also reiterated the few things he had been able to send earlier, like it seemed like they had flown in circles when he had first arrived. He was also able to confirm what Casey reported about being knocked out when he started snooping. Chuck closed out the file and went quickly through his actual Intersect work. Once done, he leaned back in his chair and stretched his arms above his head. He smiled as he thought, As strange as this day had started off, it had turned into a great day!
There weren't any spectacular views from the windows of the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade. From any window you looked out, all that could be seen were cars in a parking lot. There was a tree line past that, but it wasn't much to look at. General Diane Beckman didn't care; she stood in front of the large window of her office and a calm ease came over her as she stared at the blue sky. She let out a happy sigh and returned to her desk, she picked up the tumbler of single malt and took a long sip. Normally, she wouldn't start drinking this early, but she was celebrating. It had been a very good year. She was so close to having everything she had been working towards for the last 28 years, and now it was time to get payback on all those who have had wronged her. She sat in her chair and started making a mental list of people to punish.
She thought long and hard about her enemies, the list wasn't that long, but it was formidable. First and foremost on her list had to be the NSA. The very agency that she now controlled was her worst enemy. The person she had become, the monster that she was, could all be contributed to one event, one caused by the NSA. Beckman set the glass down harder than she intended too, but the hatred this memory brought was overwhelming.
In the late '70s and early '80s Beckman had been on the fast track; she was one of the best and brightest of the NSA. When other agents failed, they sent her in and she succeeded. Then, while on one fateful mission, everything changed. She had been on a mission in Columbia when she met this tall, brown-haired, very good looking Columbian national. Beckman smiled as she remembered how gorgeous that man was. It was nothing unusual for her, she would usually find a plaything when she was on solo missions, mainly to cut out the boredom, but this time, it was different. Andres was different than any of her other "playthings", he was kind, gentle and intelligent. Beckman, in spite of all her training, fell in love, and as the mission came to an end, Andres had decided to move to the States to be near her. There was one other thing very different about that mission. When she had returned home she found out she was pregnant. Being a good NSA agent she followed protocol and reported directly to Admiral Bobby Tinman, the then NSA director, and told him of her condition and that she had decided to keep the baby. Tinman wasn't happy with her decision; he knew if Beckman were to have this baby and keep it, he would lose one of, if not his best, agent. All of his offers and negotiations with her had gone nowhere, and he knew there was only one way to get her back in his fold.
It was on a rainy morning in April when she went into labor; her baby girl was born some sixteen hours later. Beckman was exhausted, her emotions were on edge and she had found herself crying over the stupidest things. She soon found herself staring at the ceiling trying to rest and wondering where Andres was, he had promised he would be there, but he hadn't shown. As she was deep in thought an unknown man walked into her room, threw a copy of the Washington Post on her bed and walked out. She hesitantly picked up the paper which had already been opened to the article they intended on her seeing:
Columbian Drug Lord Found Dead
Andres Rojas, suspected drug lord from Columbia, body was found floating in the Potomac River…
Diane slowly let the paper fall to the floor and began to cry. She remembered how one of the deputy directors had come to visit her, to give the official NSA condolences, for the death of Andres. The Deputy Director, she thought her name was Grace, said all the right things, how sorry everyone was, it had to be a mistake and so on. Then, as she was leaving, she paused at the door and offered, "I hope nothing like this happens to your new baby." Beckman recognized the smirk on the other woman's face; it was the same one she would use whenever she delivered a threat. Beckman made the arrangements for the adoption an hour later. As she lay in the hospital room all alone, everything changed, and just like a light switch her emotions, her feelings and her loyalty to the United States Government were turned off.
Beckman hated those memories and would normally find herself home alone drinking when they came rushing in, but this time she felt that smirk that she reserved for threats come to her face as she remembered being questioned about the death of Deputy Director Grace. It seemed she was found floating in the Potomac.
The only positive thing to happen during that dark time in her life occurred the next day. As she lay in her hospital bed, oblivious to the world around her, General Marcus Meriwether entered her room. He told her he had heard what happened and was appalled at the way the NSA had treated one of their greatest agents. As Meriwether stood over her bed, he gently stroked her red hair and told her that he had friends and they wanted to help her, and if she helped them, they would make her one of the most powerful people in the world. That was an easy decision.
So, that was why the NSA was number one on her list. Beckman smirked as she knocked back the rest of her drink, thinking about how the time had finally come to get her revenge. Beckman poured herself another drink and continued down her list. She then gave an evil grin and growled, "Bryce Larkin… you're next."
She had set everything up, Jill had met Bartowski in college and they were practically living together. Then Larkin butted in and had Bartowski expelled, which ended the CIA's interest in him. She let a small smile cross her face when she thought about all the people that thought she was crazy for putting so much work into Bartowski. Thing was, she knew, she had always known, that Charles Bartowski was Steven Bartowski's son, and that Steven Bartowski was Orion. She would be the first to admit she didn't know Chuck would be the perfect host for the Intersect, she was just trying to find Orion. She had made a mistake by switching Jill from Bartowski to Larkin. She thought that if Orion hadn't contacted Chuck by this time in his life, he never would, that one mistake had set her back years. Getting Bartowski kicked out of school and hiding the fact he had been slated for Project Omaha weren't the main reasons she wanted Bryce's head, the main reason was because he had stolen the Intersect from her. She had her crew ready to go in and grab it, and Larkin went in one day before her team was scheduled to go. If it wasn't for Larkin, she would be an Elder already. Beckman really hated Larkin, but the more she thought about it, she decided to wait on punishing him. She would let him have his fun with Walker in Hawaii. A big part of his punishment would be the guilt he would suffer when he finally figured out what she had made him do to Walker. She let her thoughts turn to what was going on in Hawaii and actually laughed out loud at the thought of the mighty Sarah Walker being under Larkin's control. She was so proud of Jill for getting the nanobots to work just as she had hoped.
When Beckman's thoughts returned to Sarah Walker, she became even angrier. Walker had thought she was so smart, she actually thought that she was hiding her feelings about Bartowski from her. Not even close, she had known from the beginning that Walker was compromised. She also knew Walker was going to run with Bartowski when she told them to put him in lockdown. That's why she had made sure the Fulcrum agents were at the Buy More, she knew it would force her to take Chuck to Castle. Once there, she had no doubt that Casey would follow orders. He always follows orders, well; he usually follows orders, if he had just blown up the Fulcrum base like she had told him to, Orion would be dead. That was the only thing that worried her, Orion was alive. She strummed her fingers on her desk and shook her head, no, no, no, she was not going to let that dampen her mood, she would deal with Orion later.
A knock at her office door brought her out of her introspection and she bidden the person to enter. Beckman's aid quickly made his way to her desk and deposited a stack of folders that contained that mornings intel. Beckman unceremoniously dismissed her aid and took another sip of her drink. As she looked at stack of folders on her desk, she noticed a certain CIA after action report. She smiled as she thought of all the moles she had placed in the Government, and all the secrets they tell her, even top secret CIA files were not out of her reach. She pulled the file out of the stack which caused the folders to slide all over her desk. Not giving the other files a second thought she began to read through the report, she couldn't help but smile as she thought, The little bitch thought she could yell at me, question my decisions, not hardly. All I had to do was make one simple call to that drug pusher she was investigating; now she won't bother me again.
All of Beckman's plans were coming together; even the little annoyances like Nicky Parsons were being taken care of. It had taken a long time; a lot longer than she had expected it too, but the time had finally come for her to turn over the human intersect to the Ring, and for her to take her place as an Elder.
As Beckman leaned back in her plush office chair to bask in her supposed triumph, she had failed to notice a small piece of paper had fallen to the floor. On this small, insignificant scrap of paper were written four words that would haunt her for the rest of her life.
Walker has left Hawaii.
A/N part 2… Now you know the players and the chess board is set, so let the fun begin.