A/N: Move along! Move along! Nothing serious to be seen here!
No, really. Complete tongue in cheek coming up. A one-shot, stand-alone with absolutely no connections to any part of any story that I've written. Set in its own strange little universe.
Just my (hopefully) somewhat amusing attempt to poke fun at some of the odd things that happened in our favorite show.
Thanks, as always to michaelfmx for his stalwart beta services. (Performed even in the face of illness!)
Oh, don't own Chuck.
Now, on with the show!
PS This isn't the new story I mentioned at the beginning of CVTP Expanded. That multi-chapter one is still in the works.
CHARAH VERSUS THE MACHINATIONS
After knocking, the young woman opens the door and steps into the office. As expected, she receives a withering glare from her boss, General Diane Beckman.
The General's words are terse, harsh. "Clare, I told you I didn't want to be disturbed. Under any circumstances. I'm dealing with a crisis of national proportions here."
"Yes, Ma'am, I know. But you have a very important video call coming in."
"Unless it's the President himself, you can tell them I'm much too busy to speak about trivial matters."
Clare blanches a little. "It is the President, Ma'am. And he appears to be very upset."
"Why didn't you tell me it was the President?"
"But I just—"
"Never mind. Give me thirty seconds and then put the call through."
"Yes, Ma'am." Clare hastily retreats, softly closing the door behind her.
Diane Beckman quickly tries to gather her thoughts. Coincidentally, she'd had a chance to see a copy of the Commander-in-Chief's calendar and had been confident that he would be so completely consumed with the current catastrophic Californian casino cash flow crisis that he certainly couldn't be expected to call her today, or at least not this quickly. She's barely had time to gather the facts together herself.
Diane composes herself, puts a smile on her face as she turns to the monitor and presses the key.
"Good morning, Mr. President. How is—"
"Cut the crap, General."
Clare was right. He is angry. He rarely ever addresses her by her rank during their private conversations.
She gulps. "How can I be of assistance, Mr. President?"
"You can tell me what went wrong this time."
A small bead of sweat trickles down her forehead. "Sir, I was just evaluating the data when you called."
"Are you familiar with the plan we had in place, sir?"
"Refresh my memory."
"We created a situation where the agent would seemingly have no choice but to remove the asset from his current training assignment. An unauthorized action, of course, but one we were prepared to ignore.'
The President nods to show he's following.
"They arranged to meet at the main train station in Prague, sir. The agent had organized everything, including false identities and such. We had intended to let them board the train and have three days together before we'd track them down again. Then we'd present them with a plausible way of returning to the fold."
"Sounds reasonable. So what happened?"
"I'm sending you the video now. We didn't have any audio but our lip readers have a pretty good idea what was being said."
Beckman presses a key and together they watch the brief scene.
"Here's the part where the asset says something along the lines of being able to do some good, be a real spy." The video continues for a few more seconds. "And here's where he turns her down."
"You seriously mean to tell me that he left that behind," the President points to his own screen, "and walked away?"
He mutters something Beckman doesn't catch. "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't quite hear you."
"I said the man has got to be a complete and utter fool."
"Yes, sir. That was our evaluation as well."
"I thought you told me that he's some sort of genius?"
"He is that, Mr. President. But he's also remarkably dense in many ways. None of us had anticipated this response to her offer. It flies in the face of all his previous inclinations."
The President just shakes his head.
Looking at the paused image of the clearly unhappy couple, he asks, "What the hell's wrong with the pair of them? They're obviously crazy about each other. Yet they seem to always find a way to screw things up."
"We're not certain what the problem is either."
"Well, General I suggest you find the answer. You've got my office behind you, the combined resources of the NSA and the CIA. Hell, Subway has even offered to provide free sandwiches for any member of the WTWT task force who has to work through their lunch break. Last, but not least, you've got millions of American citizens rooting for them. What more could you ask for?"
"Mr. President, we've done our best to get a grip on this issue. But our analysts have been completely flummoxed. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why this keeps happening. It seems there's this invisible force driving two intelligent people to make choices that make no sense whatsoever."
Beckman pauses before adding, "It's like deus ex machina, but only in reverse. Instead of some wildly improbable event solving their problems, a continuing series of implausible situations only continue to push them further apart. In fact, one of our analysts went so far as to theorize that somewhere there's some sort of cruelly incompetent Greek god writing the script of their lives."
The President snorts. "From what I've seen, that seems to make as much sense as anything else. After you'd told me of the outline for Operation Barstow, I'd never have thought we'd find ourselves back here."
"Yes, sir. Barstow is a perfect example of how absurd the whole thing became. The lack of a single prophylactic device prevented them from sealing the deal. An unnecessary device, I might add, since all female CIA field agents are on birth control,"
"How could she forget that?"
"We have no idea, sir. Just another one of those incidents that don't make any sense."
The man just shakes his head. "Well, General, you know how I feel about this issue. What are your plans to resolve this matter once and for all?"
"Sir, we developed a contingency plan some time ago. We'd hoped we wouldn't need it, but things being as they are, we've decided to implement it. It consists of introducing an agent by the name of Daniel Shaw into the mix."
"What would that accomplish?"
"Mr. President, the man, while quite handsome, has all the charm and personality of a two-by-four. Given that comparison between him and Mr. Bartowski, we feel that Agent Walker will clearly see what the right course of action would be. We're confident that within a short time the whole thing will be settled."
"For your sake, I hope so, General. Next time we talk, Chuck and Sarah better be a real couple."
"Priority one, General. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Mr. President. We believe this plan of action is pretty much foolproof."
"It'd better be."
Two Months Later
Remembering the last occasion, this time Clare opens with the big guns.
"General, the President is requesting a video conference."
Beckman raises her head from the desk, her face pale.
"Please tell him I'm home, sick with the flu."
"Too late, Ma'am. He knows you're here."
"He asked me and I told him."
"Why, Clare? I thought you were here to take care of me?"
"Truth be told, Ma'am, the whole office is tired of seeing those two messing things up. I'm with the President on this one. It needs to be settled.
Beckman sighs. "OK, Clare. Put him through."
Clare walks out. After a few moments, Beckman hears the beep, presses the connect key.
Like Clare, she's learned her lesson, cuts right to the chase.
She forces herself to smile. "Mr. President, how may I help you?"
"General, you can tell me I'm reading this report incorrectly."
She grimaces a bit. "What report is that, sir?"
"Don't play coy with me. You know which one I mean."
"Yes, sir. Of which part of the report are you speaking?"
"I just told you not to play coy. The part that tells me that not only are Chuck and Sarah still apart, but also that your brilliant plan instead drove her into the arms of Daniel Shaw."
She mumbles something.
"I didn't hear you, General."
"No, sir. You're reading it correctly."
"I was afraid of that." The man sighs. "OK, tell me how this happened."
"Well, it doesn't make any sen-"
The President scowls. "General, if I hear you use those words, even one more time, I swear that I'll do everything in my power to reduce your budget to the point where you won't be able to afford toilet paper, let alone all those gadgets you keep asking for. Am I clear?"
Beckman gulps. "Yes, sir."
"Yes, sir. Agent Walker is a vivacious, drily humorous, witty and fun-loving woman. Naturally, we thought she would recognize that Daniel Shaw is nothing of the sort and would rationally avoid any personal involvement. However, contrary to our analyst's best predictions, they seem to have fallen in together. And against all logic, it appears that she even told Agent Shaw her real name."
"I'm very surprised. From what you've told me, that is quite a monumental step."
"Yes, sir. We were surprised as well. We have no idea as to agent Walker's motivations. We explored the idea that Shaw has been exercising some kind of mind control over her this whole time, possibly assisted by hypnotism or some sort of drug he's secretly administering. Unfortunately, we came up with nothing conclusive."
"What's Bartowski been doing?"
"He seems to have realized how wrong he was about Prague and has been moping around, trying to get back into Walker's good books. Not having much success as of yet."
The President gives Beckman a stern look. "General, I've about reached my limit. I'm giving you a week to sort this out. I will be incommunicado for that time. Some sort of talks about limiting nuclear arms proliferation that I unfortunately can't get out of. We'll talk this same time next week. Please have good news for me."
Beckman hears the steel behind the please, knows it's now or never. "Yes, Mr. President. We'll pull out all the stops."
"I expect you will. Until next week." The image of the man disappears, leaving only the Presidential Seal in its place.
Diane thinks for a few moments before hitting the intercom button. "Clare, I need a meeting with all section heads in one hour. Please tell them in my name to drop whatever they're on right now and come prepared to deal with the Walker/Bartowski crisis once and for all."
Clare eagerly replies, "Yes, General. I'll get right on it. And may I say, Ma'am, how happy I am to hear that. This whole Shaw thing has dragged on much too long."
"Yes, Clare. I agree. Bringing in that man was a serious mistake. Could you bring the records of the meeting where we decided to utilize Shaw? I need to be sure which analyst was the first to suggest it. There's a bunker in Alaska that just had a spot open up."
"Yes, Ma'am. I'll get right on it."
One Week Later
"General, it appears that when you said you'd pull out all the stops, you really meant it."
"Yes, Mr. President."
"I received the official report," he points to the thick file on his desk, "but it brought back too many memories of being required to read Moby Dick. So, instead of plowing through it, I've decided I would like to hear the CliffNotes version directly from you. Why don't you go ahead and surprise me?
"Yes, sir. There's a lot to tell." Beckman pauses to gather her thoughts.
"Shortly after our last conversation, Agent Shaw discovered what he believed to be a major Ring headquarters. He volunteered to help take it out. So, after swallowing a transmitter, he allowed himself to be taken. We then used the tracking information to launch an air attack to destroy the location. Basically a suicide mission."
The President rubs his hands together. "Perfect. He dies a hero and we're finally rid of him with no chance that he'll come back and mess things up again. Chuck would then console Sarah and we're off to the races. Perfect." He sees the grimace on Beckman's face. "Wait. What's that look about, General?"
"Unfortunately, it didn't quite go that way. Agent Bartowski took it upon himself to lock Agent Walker in Castle while he went to rescue Shaw. He managed to get the man out just before the weapon delivered by one of our B-2 bombers obliterated the Ring complex."
"OK. Stop right there. It's all coming together. I was informed about a low-level B-2 flight over L.A. and a mysterious explosion that I'm now beginning to understand was not a gas leak. That was you?"
"Yes, sir. A gas leak is always a good cover up."
"But you used a B-2 bomber in broad daylight."
She replies, somewhat condescendingly, "It is a stealth bomber, sir."
"General, your rank is in the Air Force, right?"
"So you, of all people, should know that the stealth part only refers to how difficult it is to see with radar. Using your eyes, it's pretty easy for a person to see something that looks like a huge black bat, if, oh, I don't know, such a thing was to fly over a major city in daylight, dropping a bomb while only a few hundred feet above the ground!"
There's a rising inflection in the President's voice that causes the sweat to gather between her shoulder blades.
"Perhaps I haven't been keeping up with my tech journals as well as I should."
The words are spit out. "Ya think?"
Beckman sees the man clench his jaw, making an effort to get his temper under control.
"OK. Let's put that behind us, General. We've more important matters to deal with. Chuck rescued Shaw. Correct?"
Beckman is relieved by the change in subject. "Yes, sir."
"Why on earth would he do that? All he had to do it was sit back and let things take their course."
"A number of possible reasons suggested themselves. Likely he believed losing Shaw would devastate Sarah. Or he knew if he didn't try, she would and he couldn't bear the thought of her being hurt or worse."
"The man is either freakishly unselfish or a moron. I'm not sure which."
"I've been trying to figure it out for years, Mr. President. I'm still not sure."
"Let's move on. What happened then?"
"While Shaw was recovering in the hospital, Chuck approached Sarah in Castle's briefing room. We have the video, with sound this time. The camera angle only allows us to see Chuck's face. I'll play it for you."
Beckman puts it up on both screens and the two of them are silent as they watch.
A few minutes later the President exclaims, "That's it? She listens to Chuck open up his heart and says nothing except some blather about commitment to her job? Then allows Chuck to kiss her and still doesn't agree to go with him? Doesn't tell him that she loves him too? Dammit, that woman must have a heart of stone. The man practically had me in tears."
"If it's any comfort, sir, our analysts do feel there was a 92% chance she did have tears in her eyes when Chuck was speaking to her and, as well, an 87% chance she was planning to take Chuck up on his offer."
"Would those be the same analysts who recommended the use of Daniel Shaw as part of your foolproof plan?"
She blushes. "Point taken, sir."
"OK. What's next? You better not be telling me that's where the story ends."
"No, sir. It's about here where it starts to get really interesting."
"Shortly after Chuck and Sarah's conversation, it came to my attention that Agent Walker had, during the commission of her Red Test in Paris, been responsible for the death of Daniel Shaw's wife."
"What the hell? You're telling me you had no previous knowledge of this rather critical bit of information?"
"No, sir. Former Director Graham apparently kept a large amount of information about Agent Walker squirreled away in his private files. There's even a crazy rumor going around that the files indicate that she was decidedly unattractive in high school."
They both chuckle briefly over the absurdity of such an idea. But then Beckman's expression changes and the President picks up on it.
"Somehow, I get the feeling there's more. Spit it out, General."
"It gets worse. It also became clear that, during his time in the Ring headquarters, Agent Shaw had been made privy to the information about his wife's demise."
"And just how did you become aware of this fascinating tidbit?"
Beckman tries hard to ignore the sarcasm dripping from the President's words.
"Pretty much simultaneous with our finding out how his wife had died, Agent Shaw took Agent Walker to an abandoned warehouse under the guise of a mission. There he revealed to her, by means of a video recording playback, that she was responsible for his wife death."
"What was he planning to do? Exact revenge?"
"Clearly, that's what Bartowski thought, because he went over my head and mounted an all-out rescue mission."
"How did he manage that?"
"He managed to convince former-Colonel Casey to give him the information he needed to contact a certain Colonel Sanders."
"The Chicken Colonel?"
"No, sir, this Sanders is a bird colonel."
"Chickens are birds, General."
"Yes, sir, all chickens are birds, but not all birds are chickens."
"So you're saying this Colonel Sanders is not a chicken colonel."
"No. Well, yes. They used to be called chicken colonels."
"Because a full colonel wears an eagle insignia on his uniform."
"An eagle doesn't look much like a chicken. Eagles are a much more attractive bird."
"Yes, I know, sir. I'm not sure how the whole thing got started. I suspect some idiot with a fondness for alliteration was somehow involved. And just to be clear, sir, Colonel Sanders is dead."
"How did Chuck arrange the rescue if Colonel Sanders is dead?"
"No, sir, not that Colonel Sanders. The Chicken Colonel Sanders is dead, he died some time ago."
"I guess that's just as well. What could he have done to deal with Shaw in any case? Threaten to force feed him enough greasy chicken to induce a heart attack if he didn't let Walker go?"
"I agree, sir. That wouldn't have been a viable option."
"So what did happen?"
"The exact details are on pages 338 to 425 of the report. Suffice it to say that our experts estimated that we could've successfully invaded any two of the world's smallest twenty-nine countries with the number of forces that were deployed."
"Well, at least Agent Walker was rescued."
"As to that, Mr. President. By the time they arrived, it appeared agent Shaw had already forgiven Agent Walker. So there wasn't really any need for a rescue."
The man closes his eyes as he rubs his temples, says nothing. After a few seconds, he drops his hands and, looking back to Beckman, asks, "Do I want to know how much all of this cost?"
"That's covered on pages 426 to 511 of the report. Perhaps, sir, it might be best to put that off for another day."
"Yes. That sounds like a good idea. Go on."
"I benched Agent Bartowski for his unauthorized actions, hoping that Agent Walker, who'd been appreciative of his rescue efforts, would be impelled to be sympathetic to his situation. Perhaps they'd find a way to open up some sort of dialogue. Unfortunately, they rather clumsily stumbled around the issue, getting nowhere. So, when Shaw assured me that, despite the circumstances, he had no trouble continuing as Walker's partner, I had to accept it."
"General, didn't that seem unbelievably altruistic on his part?"
"Mr. President, the man had consistently shown himself to be an upholder of truth, justice and the American way. We had no reason to doubt as to where his loyalty lay." She mumbles something.
"What was that, General? I didn't quite catch what you said there?"
"I said, at least at the time."
"Spill it, General."
"I'll have to give you the chain of events to make it clear. First of all, after I told the three of them that I would be sending Agents Shaw and Walker to D.C. to head up our team to defeat the Ring, Chuck apparently went into a little bit of a tailspin."
"There were rumors he went home and hit the bottle."
"I thought there were cameras all over his place. Why would you have to guess?"
"One of our female surveillance technicians decided to erase the footage."
"Why would she do that?"
"Upon being questioned, she admitted that she's had a serious crush on Mr. Bartowski for quite some time. She was the only one who had the chance to see the footage and refuses to reveal what actually transpired. However, she did say, and I quote, 'If that blonde bimbo thinks she can just waltz in whenever she pleases and steal my man, she's got another thing coming! He's mine, I tell you! Mine!' unquote."
The President nods. "Understandable then."
Beckman nods in turn. "Yes, sir. The good news is our technicians are hopeful they'll be able to recover the data within the next few minutes."
"OK, this is getting interesting. What happened after that?"
"Agent Shaw led a mission with Chuck and Sarah to a Ring headquarters. In the course of that mission, information on the Ring's plan to build their own Intersect came to light. Also, it appeared that the Ring Director was killed."
"What do you mean by appeared?"
"Just give me another minute, sir, and it will all be clear. The recovered intel led us to Paris, so I decided to send Shaw and Walker there to investigate."
"What?! You sent Sarah alone with the man whose wife she'd killed, back to the city where she'd killed her?"
"Yes, sir. I'd thought that Chuck would stand up and refuse to let her go with him. I would have then reluctantly agreed. But it didn't work out that way. So, in retrospect, it probably wasn't the wisest course of action."
"General, I get the feeling that's going to turn out to be a massive understatement."
Beckman's embarrassed as she replies, the words coming out in a rush. "In a nutshell, Shaw had gone over to the Ring, wanting to wreak vengeance on the CIA and especially on Agent Walker for the death of his wife. Chuck convinced Casey to join him in a rescue mission. The Ring Director, whom Shaw had earlier only pretended to kill, was captured by Colonel Casey. In order to rescue Sarah, Chuck was obligated to shoot Shaw, who then fell into the Seine, presumably dead, although we didn't recover the body. This morning I ordered Chuck and Sarah back here. An order I didn't actually expect them to obey and it appears they didn't. They dropped off the radar this morning."
"Overall, there seems to be a glaring lack of any action on your part, General."
"Yes, Mr. President. Chuck had previously tried to warn me that Shaw's mental state was precarious, but I waved him off. Then, just after Shaw and Sarah left for Paris, Chuck contacted me with information which, to him, clearly showed that Shaw couldn't be trusted. But I was angry with him for bringing Morgan Grimes into a restricted area, so refused to listen to his evidence."
"Code name, 'Bearded Troll.'"
"Oh, right. Now I remember."
The President gives Beckman a long look. "So, let me get this straight. With absolutely no assistance from you or your department, the Ring was dealt a serious blow and a traitorous agent was uncovered. Most importantly, Sarah Walker was saved, so there's still the chance for the happy ending. Does that about sum it up?"
Deciding that the fewest words possible is the best course, she simply answers, "Yes, Sir."
"OK, I'll let that go for now. But here's the most important question. Are the two of them finally together?"
"Our analysts predict..." Beckman stops as the President glares at her. She goes on, rather meekly, "We think so, sir."
"But you're not certain?"
"No, not as of yet. We're hoping the deleted footage may give us a clearer picture of their current feelings towards each other."
Just at that moment, Clare, after knocking, enters the room, a huge smile on her face, eyes glistening. The sounds of crying and laughing from the outer office follow her in.
Beckman points towards her monitor. "Clare! I'm speaking with the President!"
Clare turns to face the screen. "Excuse me, Mr. President." Then, turning back to Beckman, says, "General, the technicians just sent us the recovered surveillance file. You instructed that I was supposed to inform you immediately."
"Alright, but what in blazes is going on out there?"
"Sorry, Ma'am. The file was inadvertently sent without any indication of its contents, so I screened it as I always do. Once it started playing, there was no way I was going to stop it. I sent the feed to all the other office assistants as well. It's great news!"
"Clare, what have I told you about sharing 'Charah' intel with the rest of the office?"
Beckman sees the puzzled look on the President's face. She quickly addresses him. " 'Ch' from Chuck, the 'arah' from Sarah, sir. Charah."
He nods. "Got it. That's actually quite catchy."
Clare waits until he finishes before speaking to the General once more. "Sorry, Ma'am. I just couldn't stop myself. I think you'll understand when you see it yourself. I'll go back to my desk and stream the file to you both."
She quickly leaves, and, as she does, Beckman catches a glimpse of the other secretaries hugging each other, wiping away their tears.
A few seconds later, the video appears and both the General and President give it their rapt attention. When Sarah answers Chuck's heartfelt question with a yes, not once, but four times, Diane swears she can feel the prickling of tears at the corner of her eyes. Apparently, she's not the only one, for when the clip ends, she sees the President turn away, noisily blowing his nose before turning back to face her. She sees a suspicion of wetness in his eyes, but wisely avoids commenting on it.
"Well.' He clears his throat. "That was certainly good to see. And it's about time. Now, if they can just avoid being hit by the debris from a suddenly out of control Russian satellite or some such, everything should be OK."
"We hope so, sir." There's a beep and a text message pops up in the bottom corner of her screen. Apparently, Clare has decided not to physically interrupt again.
"Mr. President. I've just been forwarded a text message from a DGSE agent who received our BOLO. He's spotted them on a train in southern France. My French is a little rusty, so please bear with me. He appears to say that they seemed reluctant to leave their compartment, so the man posed a food steward in to get close enough to confirm it was in fact them. He then goes on to describe Agent Walker, and I quote, as a 'blond très sexy' who told him, 'Je suis très capable avec des couteaux.' "
"That certainly describes Sarah to a T. Well, General, it seems it's all's well that ends well."
"Yes, sir, it does."
"However, Diane, I must say I'm rather disappointed in the way all this was handled. There's no rhyme nor reason as to why this dragged on so long."
Beckman is warmed by his use of her first name, but at the same time is worried by the direction the conversation is taking. So she's a little wary as she replies, "Yes, sir, you're right. This did take much longer than it should have."
"I'm concerned how you view and handle interpersonal relationships amongst those who work for you. So, I decided to bring in a consultant to work alongside you. Hopefully, his expertise in these areas will prevent any such future occurrences of what we've had to deal with here."
"Sir, I don't-"
"This isn't optional, General. Am I clear?"
She nods, choppily. "Yes, sir. Very clear."
"Good. The first thing he's going to do is help you deal properly with Chuck and Sarah after they return to the fold. Even though I know we can't do it officially, you will demonstrate your approval of them, right?"
"Of course, sir. If I may ask, who are you sending?"
"He's actually in your outer office right now. Just ask Clare to send him after I sign off."
"Very good, Mr. President. Until later, sir. Thank you."
"Goodbye, Diane." The Presidential Seal appears once more.
Beckman sits silently for few seconds, then activates the intercom. "Clare, please send in the consultant."
The reply is immediate and cheerful. "Yes, Ma'am."
A few seconds later, the door opens and a tall silver-haired man walks in. Diane's jaw drops.
His voice is smooth and polished. "Hello, Diane."
A/N: Thanks for reading. Hope you found this a least a little amusing. Another story on the way soon (before the multi-chapter one). Reviews always appreciated.