Chuck vs A Second Chance
A/N – Seasons 1 and 2 were superb. Sadly, the first half of Season 3, the Ring, the introduction of Shaw and the hideous 'Red Test', it was all so disappointing.
This story will go A/U at the point Sarah tells Chuck at Ellie's wedding that she is going to leave in the morning with Bryce to work on the new Intersect project.
Thank you to michaelfmx for kindly agreeing to edit my story. No ownership of Chuck, or characters is stated or implied.
The Prologue is first person.
There is a tide in the affairsof men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3,
May 27, 2009.
Air France Flight 8361-LAX to AMS to Basel.
Hi my name is Chuck and here are some things you may not know.
First and most importantly - I'm no longer the Intersect.
The Intersect team, Casey, Sarah and I, with a lot of help from my dad, destroyed Fulcrum. And because he's my dad, as well as Orion, he managed to take the Intersect out of my head.
I'm pretty sure that General Beckman was not pleased about losing me as the Intersect and turning down her offer to become an analyst for the NSA. No thank you.
But I must say she was almost gracious towards the end, as my handlers wrapped up the mission and dismantled Castle.
But at the end of the day, I'm finally no longer of any interest to the NSA. They did, however, pay me for past services. Dollars are always better than a bullet in the head. I'm pretty sure they don't know that I know about the termination order. I suspect Langston Graham was the one pushing for my demise, never suspecting that his reign as Director of the CIA was swiftly coming to an end.
Last month my sister Ellie was married to Captain Awesome. Ellie, of course, looked radiant on the day, and my dad was there to walk her down the aisle. Even now, a month after the event, I still get a little emotional when I think back and see Dad with Ellie on his arm, walking her down the aisle, as Purcell was being played on the organ.
It was a good day for Ellie, in spite of the fact that she didn't get her beach wedding that she always wanted. You know the wedding where she had her toes in the sand with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.
That day started out great for me but went downhill very quickly. You see, I had this great idea and couldn't wait to look into those deep blue eyes, that a man could too easily get lost in. I wanted to ask Sarah a question.
I found Sarah leaving the bridal room in the church. I asked her if I could have a quick word with her.
One thing you need to know about me is that, even though a lot of bad things have happened in my life that would lead you to believe otherwise, I'm the kind of guy who believes the glass is half full and that you will get the girl of your dreams if you fight hard enough for it.
Now, I freely admit there was a short period of time, about four or five years, that I spent getting over being jilted by Jill. I realize now that, during those years, I may not have been the poster child for optimism. Well, the last two years did a lot to change my outlook on life, mostly in a good way.
Then the unexpected happened. My sincere heartfelt invitation to Sarah to go on vacation with me was barely past my lips when Sarah informed me in a flat, cool tone that she was leaving the next morning to work with Bryce on the New Intersect project.
I vaguely remember uttering some platitude. "Thanks for coming to the wedding." I think I also said, "This will be good for the cover," and then wandered off.
Two giant swigs of some quality champagne, in the empty reception room beside the chapel, gave me enough 'Dutch courage' to go back in and be Devon's best man.
I wasn't going to let Ellie down on the most special day of her life. No, not a chance, not after all she's done for me.
I got through the ceremony. But I felt like Casey had just beaten the shit out of me, which he hadn't because he'd already gone back to leading a special ops team.
During the next several hours, I did all that was expected of a best man, I even had one last dance with Sarah. That was one of the hardest and saddest things I've ever done in my life. We barely exchanged ten words. I mean, what could we say to each other, really?
I wasn't going to beg her to change her mind. And Sarah was never much of a talker, so she said very little except to wish me well and hoped I would find happiness.
In retrospect, I shouldn't have been so surprised. Agent Sarah Walker was a combination of a rare natural beauty plus Amazon warrior all wrapped into one. She was an amazing woman. And to top it all off, she was the best spy in the CIA.
Of course she was never going to give all that up to just hang around Chuck Bartowski, who was making $12.50 an hour in his most recent job.
In baseball you get three strikes then you're out.
The first strike against me was Bryce. He and Sarah had worked together and had been in a relationship. I mean their cover was Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. They had been lovers. Carina put me wise because Sarah couldn't bring herself to share that little piece of relevant information. When I saw them kissing in my bedroom, geez, I mean anywhere else but my bedroom, they looked perfect together. And any doubt about their chemistry together vanished when you watched them dance?
Strike two had to be the mission in the suburbs. I suggested we go back and spend a last night there in the old cul de sac. Sarah's response was cryptic and cold. "Why?"
She quickly put me in my place and reminded me that it was just a cover. No more suburban home, no dog and no cooked breakfast from my loving cover wife. The mission was over, end of story.
Strike three was another kiss, except Sarah wasn't kissing me. She was kissing Cole Barker. And I mean not a just a peck on the cheek. I mean a real full out pour on the passion kind of kiss. The funny thing is I really liked Cole Barker. He was brave and, could take out a dozen Fulcrum agents after a whole day of torture. Looking back, I have to admit Cole always dealt with me decently. Cole and Sarah looked great together.
If I had to pick my poison, I much preferred Sarah being partnered with Cole rather than Bryce. Well, I didn't get to pick. Mr. and Mrs. Anderson are once again the premier spy couple.
So there you have it, I swung for the fences, hoping to get the girl. And each time I swung … I missed.
Seriously, I shouldn't have been surprised with Sarah's answer to my invite to go on vacation with me. I mean come on, put me beside Bryce and Cole and do the comparison.
The two of them are everything I'm not. What is it they say? "Water seeks its own level."
So after we danced, I kissed Sarah quickly on the cheek and then went to my room and proceeded to medicate myself with some 18 year old single malt. How is it that something so smooth can burn your throat on the way down?
The next day, just like she said, Agent Sarah Walker, my cover girlfriend, my protector and my dream girl for two whole years …was gone. I was devastated that she left, particularly because she left with Bryce
To my credit though, I handled it much better than I did when Jill kicked me to the curb.
The reason, ironically, was because of Sarah. She had pulled me out of my five year funk, she had built up my confidence in who I was and what I could achieve. She almost single handedly got Stanford to give me my degree.
How could I stay angry at someone like that? I couldn't, but it still hurt badly that she left with that… that bast... I mean Bryce.
My anger over Sarah leaving with Bryce didn't last that long. It changed quickly to me being … well being sad.
Ellie, after she got back from her honeymoon and found out Sarah had returned to Washington to be with her boyfriend Bruce, kept asking me why I wasn't fighting harder to win her back?
Yes, sadly I still have to tell my sister, Devon and Morgan lies to keep them all safe.
Much later, after Ellie had a chance to cool down, she told me to hold onto the good times I had with Sarah and then to move on. Her exact words were, "Chuck, you're a great guy, please get that through your head. For God's sake don't hang around here in Burbank. You've quit the Buy More. Now go and do something!"
So, here I am on this A320 headed for Basel, Switzerland to start my backpacking trip through Europe.
I've estimated that I can easily live and travel for a year before I need to find work. Thank you Uncle Sam and General Diane Beckman for the very kind check you gave me.
Who knows, maybe in a year or so I won't think about Sarah a hundred times each day.
September 27, 2010 – Bern,Switzerland- Offices of Valyrian (GmbH) One year later
Chuck Bartowski looked up at the clock in his office. It confirmed what his grumbling stomach was telling him, time for lunch. On most days Chuck tried to go out for a walk in the older part of Bern. Occasionally he felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, he wasn't in Kansas any more or should he say Burbank.
The only similarity between the two cities was they both started with the letter B.
Bern was established in the 12th century. Valyrian's offices were situated in a building built in 1573.
There was history everywhere he turned. In one of the churches, a plaque listed the names of 32 men who were killed in the Battle of Winterhur, 1799. Their deaths accomplished little as Napoleon and Marshall Ney swept all before them.
Chuck looked out of his window on a crystal blue sky. Chuck pondered the twists and turns in his life.
Being in Bern and meeting Reudi Vischer had been one of the really good things to happen to Chuck. Chuck leaned back in his chair and swiveled it towards the window. He closed his eyes and remembered back a year ago to September 2009.
Chuck had made a special trip to Interlaken. He had taken a train up to Kliene Sheidegg (2,061m). He wanted to hike along the trails that would take him near the north face of the Eiger. The main reason he wanted to go there was because of an old movie his dad had liked, 'the Eiger Sanction'.
Chuck was standing at the start of three different trails. He was looking at his map when Reudi, with seven other men and women came into view.
They all belonged to a hiking club based in Bern. They took pity on Chuck and invited him to join them for the day, which was a good thing because he was pretty sure he would've gotten completely lost.
Reudi was the leader of the group. He was thirty five years old, 5 ft 11 inches tall, with brown hair and hazel eyes that were more brown than green. He had a lanky build and seemingly could hike all day and night without flagging.
Chuck had quickly discovered that he and Reudi had a number of interests in common. Reudi had a master's degree in electrical engineering and informatics. When he left Zurich University he had started a small consulting company in Bern.
Reudi advised companies on cyber security and provided another unique service, one that Chuck was very interested in.
Reudi's company would, with the permission of their clients, attempt to hack their systems.
Reudi asked Chuck some very technical questions about his background. Chuck easily fielded the questions. Chuck didn't tell Reudi that he was one of the hacker elites. No one, including the NSA and the CIA, knew about his secret life as the 'Piranha'.
It was obvious that Reudi was impressed with the way Chuck had answered his questions.
Back in the present, September 27, 2010
Chuck got up from his office chair, grabbed his windbreaker and headed out for a quick walk. He would get lunch in the Bahnof Platz from one of the food stands.
As he walked along the Bundesgasse, he could see that most of the leaves on the trees had fallen. They were heralding that summer was over and winter was not far behind. A soft, cool breeze was coming off the River Aare.
As he sauntered along, Chuck could now acknowledge that a year ago he was just running away. Maybe that was too harsh.
Okay, yes he was running away, but he was also trying to figure out what he wanted to do in a world without Casey and Sarah.
His plan had initially been to travel and hike around Switzerland. After a month or so he would then go somewhere else in Europe. He had money in the bank and the NSA and CIA had no interest in one Charles Irving Bartowski anymore.
He was a free man. But he was also a man with a piece of his heart missing. Sarah Walker held onto to that.
Chuck stopped in a little park and sat on a bench that allowed him to look down into the river valley. In the distance he could see the Alps laid out before him. Soon with the coming of winter they would be covered in snow. Snow meant the ski season.
He wondered if he should try to learn how to ski?
Chuck's thoughts once again drifted back to a year ago.
Chuck had kept in touch with Reudi after the day he spent hiking with him and his hiking club. Reudi invited Chuck to join them for several other outings in July and August.
Chuck and Reudi continued to talk about hacking and cyber security as they hiked in the Alps on the various trips with the Bern hiking club.
After knowing Chuck for three months, Reudi had no doubt that Chuck had very special skills and abilities that his company Valyrian could use. So he offered Chuck a job.
Reudi's connections with his client's, and through his father helped Chuck deal with the immigration hurdles. The Vischers were a rich and established family based in Basel. The combination of his client connections and an influential family would enable Chuck to get a resident's permit and the all important five year work visa in less than a month.
Chuck was really excited about working with Reudi. That is until Reudi mentioned that all of his employess had to go through a security clearance by the Federal Intelligence Services (FIS) or NDB in German.
Chuck's heart was in his throat because he knew as soon as his name popped up the NSA and CIA computers would put up red flags "… shit!"
Chuck told Reudi he was really interested in the job but needed a couple of days to think about it.
Chuck really wanted to stay in Switzerland and work in Reudi's company. It wasn't lost on Chuck that Reudi had done exactly what he had dreamed of doing when he was in his last year at Stanford.
His dream had been to start up his own company and make a success of himself. That, was until Bryce Larkin got him expelled.Then to add insult to injury, Bryce slept with Jill.
Chuck was staying at a youth hostel in Bern. He had a sleepless night as he wrestled with what he should do. Finally, at 2 in the morning , he made a decision. He grabbed his cell phone and his long distance calling card and made a call.
A year ago he had been given two phone numbers. One was from Casey and, being Casey, he had told Chuck never to use it unless his fingers were on fire.
The other number was from General Diane Beckman. It was a private number and she emphasized that he must never share that number with anyone else, only six people knew of its existence.
Chuck really didn't want to call the General. She had offered him a job as an analyst and had played the 'your country needs you' card. Chuck had firmly turned her job offer down.
He fervently hoped that General Beckman didn't carry a grudge.
Chuck wanted the job, so he had no choice. He had to call. He remembered the phrase, 'a coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man only once', time to be brave.
Chuck did a quick calculation and realized it was 6pm in Washington. He made the call.
"Beckman secure." General Beckman sounded much the same, curt, efficient and the tone was damn it .. get to the point.
Chuck cleared his throat, "Ah, hi General its Chuck Bartowski, I need some advice and I think I might need a favor."
Chuck almost dropped his phone when he heard her response, "Mr. Bartowski, this is a surprise. Please proceed." He was so used to her calling him the asset, that any other form of address was a monumental difference.
Chuck then launched into an explanation and the reason for his call.
The advice he wanted from her was about the company that Reudi ran. Was it a legitimate company, and was it in good standing? If the answer was yes, then Chuck wanted her to make sure that no one at the NSA or the CIA went crazy when the Swiss FIS ran a background check on him.
Diane Beckman had grown to like Charles Bartowski over the almost two years of the Intersect mission. She still felt guilty about issuing the termination order and was thankful every day that Casey hadn't carried out the order.
So she decided that the least she could do was help him out. "Mr. Bartwoski, I will send a text to your cell number, if it's okay to proceed with the job. I will need a day to investigate. Is there anything else?"
"Ah, no thanks General."
General Beckman sent him a simple text a day later. Good company. No concerns. Proceed!
The Present -6pm, September 27, 2010
Chuck locked his office door and started to walk home.
As he stood near the train station he was deciding which way to walk home, when Casey's voice popped into his head. "Patterns make it easy to follow a person. Don't be predictable, change it up, moron."
So, as foolish as he felt doing it, Chuck took a different route home.
As he was walking down Sulgeneckstrasse, he realized he would be passing the US embassy. He smiled because, from time to time, he missed home.
Down the street, fifty yards in front of him, he observed a tall woman with raven hair being passed discreetly through a small side door to the embassy compound by one of the marines.
He watched the woman for all of five seconds. She was wearing black Levis and a two colored running jacket. It was blue on the front and black on the back. Her hair was done up in a loose pony tail.
He stopped in his tracks and his mouth partially opened. It was Sarah Walker.
She of the two dozen disguises and a hundred different looks, Sarah was a chameleon but Chuck had memorized endless details about her over the two years they had worked together. How, she walked, how she ate, even how she slept.
He could see through her many personas, her many looks. There wasn't a shred of doubt in his mind, it was Sarah.
Chuck felt an overwhelming urge to shout out her name. He didn't. She would hate him for doing that. He also heard Casey's voice. Moron, you don't shout an agent's name in the middle of the street. Have you learned nothing, while you were with us?
It was obvious she was still a CIA agent. He followed her and remembered to hang back.
Casey's voice was in his head again. Never get too close and make sure to stay in their blind spot.
Sarah walked towards a black Peugeot 208. Chuck knew the drill and what she would do next.
He ducked into a doorway and crouched down low.
Sarah pretended to drop her purse and, as she bent down, quickly scanned behind her. There was no one there. Funny, she had felt a presence behind her. She had grown to trust her instincts. But there was no one behind her, the street was empty. She picked her purse up and continued to her car.
Chuck edged around the doorframe and saw Sarah getting into the car. Sarah peeled away from the curb and down the street. Chuck stood there, long after Sarah and the Peugeot had disappeared from view.
Chuck finally got his legs moving and trudged home. His mind was a jumble of thoughts, of regrets, of recriminations and of what might have been. Chuck was pissed off because he had finally made sense of Sarah leaving him. After a year, he had reduced the times he thought about her to twice a day, once when he got up and once when he drifted off to sleep.
Now all he could think about was her smile, her blues eyes, her voice and her touch.
Then the sadness almost overwhelmed him. He couldn't continue to sit here in his apartment. He had to get out. He quickly changed into his running gear, left his apartment and started to run. He ran and ran some more, until his legs started to cramp.
He felt like Tantalus and was very sure that the Gods must be very angry with him.
October 27, 2010 –One month later
Malina was in Chuck's office pleading with him to help her out. Malina's mother was Swiss and her father was Polish. She was one of the programmers that reported to Chuck. Malina was a cute medium height strawberry blonde. She also possessed a Masters degree in mathematics. She was acknowledged by all as the firm's encryption guru.
Malina was also secretly seeing the economic attaché, Janek Milevski at the Polish embassy. Her father Jacob didn't want his daughter going out with Janek. He worried that if they fell in love Malina would leave Switzerland and go and live in Poland.
Jacob had fled Poland and the communist regime thirty years ago. He still held onto some very bad memories and couldn't easily forgive. Chuck had been over to their house once for dinner. He liked Malina and her family. He hated to be caught up in this tiny romantic intrigue.
Jacob told Malina, if you have to go out with a Polish man, go out with that American Bartowski.
Malina held in her hand a special invitation from the Italian Ambassador to attend a formal evening in honor of the Italian President who was in Bern for a meeting with his opposite number in Switzerland. The invitation requested her presence and a Charles Bartowski to attend. Dress was black tie.
Janek had called in some favors and engineered it so Malina would be invited. His plan was simple, once she was there at the reception they could spend the evening together dancing and having a rare date. Once Malina was safely in his arms, Chuck could stay or head back home.
"Chuck you have to come with me, my father will ask me who I'm going with." Chuck had lost his appetite for formal receptions and occasions. It reminded him too much of times past with Sarah and Casey.
Malina finally played her trump card. . If you do this for me, I will loan you my car for three weekends No, wait four weekends next spring when the hiking season starts."
One look at Chuck and she knew she had won.
Chuck grudgingly said "Alright."
The next night-October 28th, 7 :30pm –Italian Embassy –Bern, Elfenstrasse 14
Chuck and Malina presented their invitation to the security team. Their names were crosschecked against the list and cleared to proceed to a secondary receiving line. They were then welcomed by some low level functionary and his wife. Finally they headed into the main ballroom.
Malina was in a shimmering green dress with one strap on the left side. Chuck was wearing an Armani tux, courtesy of the NSA.
During the final days of closing Castle, Chuck had been hanging around Casey. As Casey was doing a final inventory, he took a look at the tux that Chuck had worn on several missions and noticed that a bullet had nicked one of the sleeves.
He turned to Chuck and said, "Here you go Bartowski, I'm going to enter this item as ruined. Take it to a decent tailor and you might be able to salvage it."
Almost as soon as they entered the main ballroom, Janek swooped down and swept Malina into his arms and away from Chuck. As Malina and Janek left, they both turned and mouthed, 'Thank you, thank you".
Chuck was now solo. To ensure the evening wasn't a total waste of his time, he planned on sampling the food and wine. Then he would have a quick look around before heading back home.
There must have been two hundred people in the main ballroom and another fifty or so in the next smaller room. The waiters expertly glided through the crowd bearing drinks and hors d'oeuvres.
Chuck was trying to take in the kaleidoscope of women's fashions and sparkling jewelry. A few of the men were wearing uniforms. Chuck spotted a US Marine Colonel in his mess dress uniform. His uniform jacket was fastened at the neck but cut away to show a bright red cummerbund. Chuck immediately felt a wave of nostalgia wash over him. But it wasn't Casey, so he quickly moved on.
He noticed several women who were truly beautiful, the kind of beauty that stands out and flashes across the room like a beacon above the waves of the average and the mediocre.
He smiled because he was no longer intimidated and left tongue tied by such beauties. Being around Sarah hadn't made him complacent to beautiful women; rather he appreciated their beauty, but he knew they were meant for other men, not him.
He spotted the buffet table and his stomach reminded him that he had missed lunch. As he approached the table he saw a tall, auburn haired woman who was getting looks from several men. She was tall, maybe five foot eleven.
As he got closer to the food table he could hear her speak Italian to one person and then switch effortlessly into German with another diplomat and finally into English with a woman.
The little hairs on the back of his neck gave him the first warning that all wasn't what it seemed. He took another close look and noticed her physique and dress.
She was wearing a strapless dress made of a shiny, slinky golden material. The dress had a slit on the left side. Chuck noticed her shoulders and arms. She worked out, it was obvious if you knew what to look for.
Then it hit him. This woman wasn't merely beautiful, she was extremely poised and confident. At that moment Chuck thought of Carina who could have the same effect on people, especially men.
A thought sprang to mind, Carina was a dangerous woman.
He took another close look at auburn haired woman. Another thought flashed in his mind.
He softly mouthed the words, 'She's a spy.'
Chuck left the food alone and quickly moved away from the beautiful auburn haired woman. He wasn't certain why he knew she was a spy or how he knew. He just sensed it.
He went into the other, smaller room and noticed a bar with several small tables nestled around it. He asked for a single malt whiskey and sat down.
He took several sips and promised himself that once he finished this drink he was leaving.
He had learned through experience that where there was one spy, there were usually several more. Chuck didn't belong in this milieu anymore, and it cut too close to the bone to be around a woman who reminded him of Sarah and Carina.
Chuck finished his drink and was about to leave. That was the precise moment he heard the rustling of expensive fabric and breathed in the scent of perfume. The auburn haired beauty sat down beside him.
As she sat down beside Chuck, he knew without a shadow of a doubt that his suspicions about her were indeed correct. And being this close to her, he realized she was absolutely stunning.
She spoke to him in German and introduced herself as Emily Summers. Chuck answered first in halting German and then switched to English. "Hello, my name is Charles."
Emily switched to English, with the faintest of Scottish accents. "Well, hello Charles. I noticed you in the other room. I love your tux by the way, it's Armani, yes? Are you a diplomat? Are you perhaps attached to the US embassy?"
Chuck shook his head and asked her if she was a diplomat. She smiled, "I'm with the British High Commission and so far down the pecking order that they keep leaving me off the phone directory. It's so embarrassing."
Chuck noticed her green eyes and the total focus she brought to bear when looking at him. He needed to leave. No good would come of being with Emily Summers.
He thanked all the God's for the time, he'd spent working with Casey and Sarah. Emily moved her head a fraction to the left and Chuck immediately knew that someone was speaking to her in her earbud. It was obvious to Chuck that she had just switched to full mission mode.
Chuck casually looked away as if he hadn't noticed her change of focus.
Emily reached out and touched him, her warm hand on top of his. "Charles, I'm so sorry. I must run. I forgot my purse in the other room. I hope to see you later this evening." And then she was gone.
Chuck got up and followed her, stopping at the doorway that led into the main ballroom. Emily moved to the middle of the room and turned her gaze towards the main entrance.
Chuck's eyes followed in that direction and then he gave an audible gasp.
Coming into the room was Cole Barker, and on his arm was Sarah Walker.
Chuck's breathing and heart rate shot up. He reached out with his right hand on the door frame to steady himself.
Others around the room were starting to notice the very handsome man and stunning blonde in a silver knee length cocktail dress. The cut of the dress allowed for a plunging neckline. Sarah wore her hair up. It was the same style she wore the very first time they went to dinner. Sarah wore a necklace of single pearls that matched her ear rings. The dress sparkled when the light reflected off of it.
Tonight, Agent Sarah Walker had dressed to be noticed.
A/N – I'm framing this story to be six chapters, depending on the interest level.