A/N I usually try to keep these things brief, but…this will be a complicated story. So it is important to read this.

Since there was a small chorus of requests for me to continue my one-shot, Turning Tables, I have decided to do so, but by moving over to a new story, this one, Turned Tables.

Turned Tables will most definitely be a side project. The pace of updating will be slow and uneven. I will work on it as my other, non-fanfic projects allow. So, if you are interested, it would be advisable to follow or favorite the story otherwise you may miss posts.

If you have read my one-shot, "Turning Tables", you have the basic idea. But you should read it again (it is Chapter 1, below) since I have added a bit to it and since that one-shot (a happy little piece) has been reinterpreted and problematized in this story.

This story is AU, but hews fairly close to canon events up until the end of Nemesis. The canon has been reimagined—primarily, there has been a profound shift in Chuck's role in it, in his POV. There has been one in Casey's too, and other characters, like Graham, Beckman, Ellie, Devon and Morgan, but those shifts are easier to correct for.

The story will focus on Chuck and Sarah's precarious new partnership with frequent call-backs or flashbacks to reimagined canon events. Once it gets started in earnest, the basic unit of the story will be the missions that Chuck and Sarah undertake as new partners, the first of which begins in Chapter 3.

I am publishing the first two chapters at once. I recommend reading them as a pair. Be careful to pay attention to dates and locations.

Don't own Chuck.


Turned Tables

Prelude


November 30, 2007
Burbank, California
Wake Up Coffee Shop


CHAPTER 1 Boy Meets Girl


Sarah sat stock-still. Dumfounded. Her fabled icy demeanor shattered like a fallen icicle on a sidewalk.

Chuck sat across from her, still the man she knew—lanky, gregarious, curly-headed. His smile was the same mix of "Who, me?" and "Here I am". But his eyes were newly complicated, as if their brown depths had been stirred. Newly complicated—at least to her.

Between them, on the coffee shop table, was Chuck's CIA badge. He was a special agent. He had always been a special agent. The whole Intersect-in-his-head thing had been a set-up. It had been a massive deception created by Graham as a way of luring Fulcrum into the light and finishing the rogue spies once and for all. But Graham had also had doubts about her—her relationship to Bryce and Bryce's relationship to Fulcrum. So, Graham added a layer of complication: the supposed host of the Intersect was to become her asset. It was supposed to be a test of her loyalty—to the US, to the CIA, to Graham. Graham was worried he had lost his enforcer.

Graham thought they would get clearer about her relationship to Bryce if the supposed handler/asset relationship between Chuck and her was boyfriend/girlfriend. So that was what Graham ordered. Graham used Chuck from the CIA—he brought in John Casey from the NSA to be on the scene and keep tabs on her. Beckman's interest in Fulcrum made the NSA a player at the table.

The battle with Fulcrum had been real. So had most of the missions or at least parts of most of the missions.

Eventually, Bryce showed up, gifted to them by Fulcrum. He tried to pass himself off as loyal to the CIA and as a double-agent against Fulcrum. Sarah had believed it. Bryce tried to get her to leave with him—and it turned out he was planning to turn her or kill her. He was planning to return later for the Intersect, for Chuck.

But Sarah, despite the cost of the decision, had chosen not to go with Bryce. She had chosen to stay with Chuck—even though she was furious with herself about the Incident, their kiss in front of the 'bomb', unsure how she could re-establish herself as Chuck's handler.

Except now she didn't have to. Graham was satisfied that she was not loyal to Bryce, that she was not a Fulcrum agent. The 'Intersect Project' that never really was now really wasn't. They had made a major breakthrough against Fulcrum. Bryce had been captured and he had given up the major players. It was over. She would have new orders soon, although Graham had intimated that he would be willing to let her exercise considerable discretion over her new assignment, and her new partner (if she wanted one). Graham and Casey had explained some of this to her at Casey's apartment. Chuck had been there. She had gaped at him.

Chuck walked her from Casey's to his car—a gorgeous BMW 7 Series, silver. He wanted her to understand his part in it all. He wanted her to understand how he felt. But he hadn't really started talking until they were seated at the table and their coffee ordered.

"...So, you see, Sarah, there really was a thing under our cover thing for me…" He looked at her, a hint of a plea in his eyes.

"Wait. You can resist the truth-serum too?"

He closed his eyes. Then he nodded. "I had to be in complete control of what I 'revealed' to you when we were supposed to be under the influence of the serum. If I hadn't been, I would have been compromised."

"No, wait, say that again: you would have been compromised?" She wanted to laugh. She wanted to rage. She wanted to cry. "All this time, our cover dating was just a cover for you. You were cover cover dating me?"

"Well, yeah, and being the Intersect—pretending to be. But, yeah, cover dating you was my cover."

Her mind was still racing. "And Ellie and Devon?"

"They are a real CIA couple. She is my sister. She is a CIA doctor, but she is so good they occasionally use her in the field. She was perfect for this. You see, our family is sort of a spy family. Our mom is a CIA agent. My sister really does like you, by the way, and she's hoping you'll forgive her and still be her friend."

Sarah was reeling. It was like she was a shirt someone turned inside out and put back on. Everything was different. Everything was the same. Everything was wrong. Everything was…

"What is it you want to say to me, Chuck, I can see something in your eyes."

His grin was apologetic and needy all at the same time. "The same thing I've always wanted to say to you, Sarah."

She leaned in toward him; she couldn't help herself, as outraged as she was, she found him compelling.

"I want to be your partner."

She sat back and could feel her outrage gaining in strength, burning in her chest. That was what he had to say to her?

"Oh," he added, stumbling over the words a little, "I also wanted to tell you that I love you."

Sarah was dumbfounded. Her icy demeanor was shattered. But her feelings were there, like they had always been since she first talked to a nerd—to what she thought was a nerd—at the Buy More. She could have him. He had changed her. He couldn't have done that if he was a spy like Bryce or the other spies she had known. She didn't understand it all. It might take weeks, months…She smiled to herself. It might take years. The feelings were there. She didn't know him but she knew him.

She picked up Chuck's badge and looked at it. "So, what is your real name?"

Before he answered, she suddenly wondered if she could believe him. He'd been lying to her for months. She felt a rising wave of seasickness. Everything she thought she knew, her bedrock, had turned to sand, hadn't it?