A/N: I hear you groaning, not another one, so let me explain. I have Asperger's. Sometimes I find myself fixating on something, and that's been this new fic. So instead of fighting it, I embrace it. This fic has been in many people's hands, but something was wrong with it. I wanted something slow (I feel you rolling your eyes) but as it progressed I realized I had the chance to do something, just fun, and caperish. So, consider the first six to seven chapters the lead in. I have eight of them already completely written, and as I complete a future chapter I will update this. I'm thinking weekly, but if I should get done early...(I'm also the guy who sometimes updates every 24 hours.) As for everything else, I'm working on those to, but I do/did have dry socket, and things have slowed to a crawl, hence why I'm publishing this to give you something to read. Enjoy this one, it's been fun, and it will remain fun. There's a few more angsty moments then I've ever done (save that one shot) but it's kinda necessary. BTW, thank you Zettel for the title name. It's seen at least four different ones.
A/N 2: I need to thank Zettel, Halfachance, Angelgurl0 and Steampunk . Chuckster for help with this one. While I was writing it I was dealing with a tooth issue that turned into dry socket and small things were wrong with this one. These fine folks helped me fix it. This fic has been working its way through my brain for a better part of six months. I knew how it started, how it ended, I didn't know how the middle went and then Angelgurl0 made an innocent comment and I knew. This one is a slow burn (not 40+ chapters like some people I know) (love ya SC). One last thing. Bryce is a GOOD dude in this one (Wade1978 just disowned me) No backstabbing, no nothing, he's a good dude. I hope you enjoy Pros and Cons, Ch 1, Homecoming
A/N 3: Jenny, Sam, and Sarah are all the same person and will soon be Sarah Walker. Hopefully there is no confusion.
Disclaimer: Don't own Chuck,
The cell door buzzed open and Sam walked into the property room, and up to the property clerk. She'd been looking forward to this day for two years. She had survived and there were times she wondered if she would. She took a deep breath to settle her nerves. The property clerk studied Sam for a second, and Sam gave her a small smile. The property clerk picked up a bag beside her, and opened it.
"Samantha Lisa Garrett?" the clerk asked. Sam nodded. This was really happening. She was really leaving. Two long years were finally over and she was free again. "One pair of jeans, blue, one tee shirt, white, one vest, black, one pair of shoes, black, and one pair of sunglasses." Sam nodded. "One purse, forty-three dollars inside." The property clerk studied her. "Sam, you gotta chance, don't mess this up."
"I won't," Sam said, her throat tight. The clerk grinned at Sam, and shook her head.
"If I see you back in here, I'm gonna kick your ass," the clerk said with a grin. Sam smiled. "Bathroom's over there for you to change. Anyone here to pick you up?" Sam shrugged. "Okay, if not, the bus will be here in forty minutes."
"Thanks," she said. "And Harriet, I won't be back." Harriet gave her a smile as Sam went into the bathroom. She changed out of the prison outfit, and began to put on her own clothes. It felt like heaven not to be wearing something from the prison. The clothes still fit, which was good. If anything, they were a little looser. She chuckled to herself, she had worked out in prison, and taken self-defense classes. Guys weren't the only one's who could come out of prison fit. She wasn't jacked up or anything, she was more athletic, she ran, for endurance and cardio. While she was inside she did everything she was asked to do. She didn't cause any problems, and even took a few college courses.
She paused at the bathroom door before opening it and wondered if he'd be there. She told him not to. She told him it was time for her to move on, and he gave her that grin he always did, and those kind brown eyes of his sparkled. Where was she going to live, where was she going to work he had asked. All valid questions she had no answer for. As usual, he insisted to let him help her, even thought he had no reason to. She shook her head and smiled. He was the one person that treated her like a person, through everything, and he wanted nothing from her. Nothing at all, in fact, he had even said something about her getting back with her boyfriend. She didn't have the heart to tell him, again, that Bryce wasn't really her boyfriend, although she was sure Bryce had told him that many, many times.
She looked in the mirror at the woman in front of her, and grinned. She nodded, pleased with herself. She was twenty-four, and she had her whole life in front of her, and someone who wanted to help her. She couldn't let him, he deserved to be free of her. She was the daughter of a con man and also a former convicted felon, he didn't need her associated with him. She walked outside, and Harriet let out a wolf whistle. Sam winked at her, and walked to the door. A buzzer sounded and she walked outside into the sunlight. She had been outside in the yard during her stay, but there was no cage, no bars holding her in. It was a brand-new day for her. She had thought about changing her name, literally starting a new life. She thought about where to live, where to work. She couldn't take advantage of him, but he said he was going to make her work if she took the job. He needed a personal assistant to keep people off of him, and he trusted her. She told him he shouldn't. He gave her that smile he had that made parts of her warm she didn't like to acknowledge and told her she'd never done anything wrong to him.
"Sam," she heard his voice. She looked over, and there he was. Chuck Bartowski, co-owner of Carmichael Solutions, the company that believes everyone deserves a second chance. She snickered at that, knowing how much the tagline drove Bryce crazy. Chuck and Bryce had built it from the ground up. It had started out as a video game company, but quickly had expanded into cyber security, and even a little into the recovery of missing items, persons, and even money when fraud was involved. His breath had hitched a little when he saw her. She was so beautiful, inside and out, and seeing her made his world better. He steadied himself before he spoke. "Need a ride, pretty lady?"
"I thought I told you I had it under control," she replied, grinning, both of them knowing she was messing with him. This was just part of who they were, and he didn't know how much she appreciated him for it. Chuck just grinned like he always did.
"I mean if you don't want to drive," he said, and she realized the car he was driving was her Porsche.
"How'd you get my car?" she asked. Chuck shrugged, like it was no big deal.
"I told you I'd take care of things," he said. He had. When she went in, he told her to trust him, that he'd take care of things and in two years they'd figure everything out. He grinned at her and gave her the line she knew was coming, but was 100% Chuck Bartowski. "Everyone deserves a second chance."
"Enough, it's all I can do to get Bryce not to punch you each time you say that," she said, serious, but a grin on her face. At this point Chuck was so used to saying it just it irritate Bryce it was just automatic.
"Yes, Ma'am," he said. She walked up to him, and he opened his arms. She hugged him, like she had never hugged anyone before. He didn't realize what he was to her, he didn't realize he might be the only person in her life she could actually count on. She had had virtually no human physical contact in two years, and for him to be the first person she touched was perfect. This guy, this amazing guy, that didn't have a clue how special he was. She pulled away, lowered her sunglasses and gave him the best stern look she could.
"We're gonna need some parameters, Chuck," she said. He grinned at her, and nodded. "I'm paying for my room," she said.
"It can come out of your salary if you want," he said, shrugging.
"I plan on actually working," she added.
"Oh, Sam, you are, I need someone to keep the jackals at bay, and I know you can," Chuck said. "Look, do this for six months, a year, if you hate it, fine, but then I can give you a reference, you have a work history, and you can rebuild your life." She relented and nodded. She stopped.
"I'm paying for the car," she said.
"Uh, no, this bad boy is mine now," he said.
"Jessie is a girl, and she's not yours," Sarah said, grinning.
"Jessie?" he asked. "You named your car Jessie." She gave him a playful smirk.
"Deal with it, Bartowski," she said. He grinned.
"Gladly," he said softly. "God, it's good to see you here, in the open," he said, his arms wide as if pointing out how open it was. She took a deep breath.
"Chuck, you need to let Bryce and I go."
"I just think you two are good together," Chuck said. "You two could have a great relationship."
"Chuck, he didn't come see me like you did," she said.
"It hurt him to see you in there," Chuck said, defending his friend. Same old Chuck, seeing what he wanted to see. "You two can pick up in your relationship in no time." This was pointless.
"Chuck, I spent two years in jail, I don't think a relationship is what I need," she said, getting into the car. Chuck nodded, tossed her the keys, and walked around to the passenger side, grinning. "What?"
"You know if a guy got out of jail what he would be thinking about," he began, and trailed off grinning. She bounced a shoulder.
"I never said anything about not getting a hook up," she said winking. Chuck had a look of faux shock on his face, but it quickly faded. He sat beside her, and watched her.
"It is so good to see you out of there, you look good," he said. She did, she looked real good, but she was Sam, and no matter how bad she thought she ever looked, he thought she looked good. He had missed her. She started the car, and sighed contently. She looked over at him.
"I worked out," she said, winking, and took off. Chuck laughed and thought back to the night three years ago when the three of them met.
"Where's Jill tonight?" Bryce asked over the din in the bar. He and Chuck were seated at the bar having a drink. Midterms were over, and the two were celebrating. A half of a semester was left in their collegiate careers and then, they were out of Stanford with their degrees. The two had decided long ago when they graduated they would work together. They had been joking for years about what to name their company, and Bryce had to admit he liked the name Carmichael Solutions, even if Chuck did suggest it. The tagline…it made him want to groan each time Chuck said it. Chuck wanted to fix problems, give people a chance, but they both knew it would never fly out of the gate, so they decided to make a video game first, cash in, and then expand into other endeavors.
"She and some of her sorority sisters are partying," Chuck said, a forlorn look on his face. "I guess. At least that's what she told me." Bryce studied his friend. He thought he knew what was going on, but if Chuck didn't want to see it….He decided to try the straight forward approach.
"Dude, is there someone else she's seeing?" Bryce asked. Chuck shrugged. "I don't mean to be that dude, but things sound weird, off, you know?" Chuck put down his beer and turned toward Bryce.
"I mean I don't think so," he said, as honestly as he could. "But something weird is going on. It's like one minute we're moving forward together, and the next, she's pulling away, and you know how that scares me."
"Man, not everyone is your parents," Bryce said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Jill may go, I don't know, but I'm here, Ellie is there for you, and Morgan can't wait for you to go back home."
"Thanks, Buddy," Chuck said. "Well hello," Chuck said to the blonde that plopped down beside Bryce and grabbed one of their fries. It was obvious he'd had a few, because he never would have said anything to her, or been his normal self and stumbled and stuttered. Chuck was memorized. He chided himself, he had a girlfriend, but this woman, and her blue eyes that seemed to crackle. He forced himself not to stare at her.
"I had to come over here and prevent the crime that was happening," she said. Bryce and Chuck shared a look and turned toward her. She gestured to the fries. "You're letting the fries go cold." Chuck grinned and shoved them toward her. "Really? It was really just a cheesy pick-up line to introduce myself, but I'll never turn down free fries." The two chuckled. "Okay, why the serious look. Wait, are you two together and I interrupted something?"
"Us, no," Chuck said, making Bryce laugh. "I mean, you know dude, if I was, you would make a pretty great boyfriend." Bryce gave him a look. "I mean, come on, you're handsome, smart, know all the movies, and a nerd at heart." The blonde looked at one and then the other.
"Well," she said, eating a fry. "Is it reciprocated?" Bryce studied Chuck, and shrugged.
"I mean he's in the top twenty of guys I'd ask out," Bryce replied. The blonde laughed and Chuck exploded, making her laugh even more.
"Top twenty?" Chuck replied. He stood and gestured down his long frame. "Have you seen all of this? Top twenty?"
"Well, let's be fair, you're a little tall, and I'm secure enough to say that your height would bother me a bit in a relationship," Bryce said. Chuck picked up his beer, looked at Bryce, looked away, and then to Bryce again.
"Well, that's fair," Chuck said, and took a sip of his beer. The blonde was laughing.
"I'd say you're both pretty secure," she said. "Jenny Burton," she said, holding out her hand and shaking first Bryce's hand and then Chuck's.
"I'm Bryce Larkin, and that goof is Chuck Bartowski," Bryce said, pointing with his thumb over his shoulder to Chuck. "He's wallowing in misery worried about whether or not his girlfriend is cheating on him." Jenny raised an eyebrow. Chuck was going to say he wasn't wallowing since Jenny had shown up, but he knew he shouldn't, even thought he really wanted to.
"What did he do?" she asked. Chuck put down his beer, and tried to look offended. She could tell he wasn't and smiled.
"Probably was too nice a guy, if you want the honest answer," Bryce said, shrugging. Jenny looked intrigued. Too nice of a guy? Such a thing existed? "This guy, his parents leave him, his sister raises him, and what does he do, he goes and gets a full ride to Stanford. Then he convinces me, when we get out, to start a company that is about one thing and one thing only, helping people because they deserve a second chance." Bryce turned to him and clapped him on the shoulder, pride apparent. "Most people life takes a dump on, they get mad, pout. Him, he turns it into his life work to be more, to do more." Chuck shrugged, looking a little embarrassed. Jenny studied both men for a second.
"You sure it's just top twenty?" she asked, popping another fry in her mouth, grinning.
"Top fifteen," he said, shrugging, and lifting the beer to his lips. Chuck put his near arm around Bryce's shoulders, pulling him in for a side hug.
"Top two, and you know it," Chuck said.
"Who's number one," Bryce asked, curious.
"Pete down the hall," Chuck replied. Bryce nodded.
"Yep," Bryce replied.
"Who is Pete down the hall?" Sarah asked, about to burst from laughter.
"Oh, he is only the best cook we have ever encountered, and for tutoring him, he makes us dinner all the time," Chuck said.
"Wait," Bryce said, straightening up and looking at Chuck. "You'd take me over Pete?" Chuck shrugged.
"I'm not so sure anymore," he said, grinning.
"Okay, you two have had too much I think," Jenny said, finishing off the fries.
"No, we're just relieved because we're a half a semester away from being done with college," Bryce admitted. "And he's keeping his options open if Jill is cheating on him."
"Jill is an idiot," Jenny said. "No offense." Chuck felt his insides do something with that.
"None taken," Bryce replied. Chuck was standing there, his arms out, as if to say, "I'm standing right here." "See, Jill doesn't appreciate him."
"So she's having just enough sex with him to keep him in line?" Jenny asked grinning. "One of what they're having," she said to the bartender as he came by to check on them. Chuck pulled out cash and paid for it. She gave him a look.
"We're celebrating and I feel like being nice, even if you are disparaging my girlfriend," Chuck explained. Truth be told, he wanted her to hang around, and she could disparage all she wanted to.
"If she was here I wouldn't have to disparage her," Jenny retorted. Chuck made a face mocking what she was saying. She stuck her tongue out at him.
"Neither of you has a clue what that word even means," Bryce added in. "He claims she's not using sex like that, but I kinda agree with you."
"Chuck, you're a good-looking guy, funny, and apparently pretty intelligent. Plus you're just a good dude," Jenny said. "How many guys would do what you're doing? There's someone out there for you if she's not the one." Chuck felt his ears go red and was very warm inside. He was sure it was the beer. He knew it wasn't but he kept telling himself that.
"She's not the one," Bryce said.
"Enough, you two. Let's go find a booth," he suggested, wanting to change the subject, because he feared they might be right. Something was seriously wrong with him and Jill and while if it was over it was best to end it now so he could concentrate on the upcoming finals, he really thought she was the one. Before tonight he thought he was in love with her, but since meeting Jenny…he shoved that thought from his mind.
"Go get us one then, Slugger," Bryce said, giving him a half-push, nearly knocking him off the stool. Chuck got up and went to secure them a table he saw on the far side of the room. As he watched him walk away, he noticed Jenny watching him go. He leaned toward her. "Don't hurt him," he said softly. Jenny looked at Bryce.
"I wasn't here for him," Jenny said, grinning. Bryce looked at her, shook his head, and shrugged.
"They always want him, over me," he said turning to her. "He's Chuck. He's just the best guy I know." She looked at Bryce and then over at Chuck who was waving for them to join him.
"Are you complaining that your friend steals your dates?" she asked as they headed over toward him. Bryce laughed.
"Nope, I'm not looking for long term," he admitted.
"Maybe I'm not either," Jenny said playfully.
"That's what they all say, and then they meet him," Bryce said. He wasn't bitter, he was just honest, and Jenny didn't know what to say. "Jill's cheating on him, loads of women are dying to date him, and he's hung up on her. I can't prove anything without looking like a jerk, and he's going to get hurt." Jenny looked at Bryce.
"Sounds like you need a private eye," Jenny said laughing. Bryce nodded.
"I need someone to care about him as much as I do to stop him from getting hurt anymore," Bryce said, running his hand through his hair. "He's my best friend, and I don't have many friends, period. I want to protect him, but I can't. I can't prove what I think."
"Looks like you two are getting along," Chuck said, grinning. "Watch him," Chuck fake whispered to Jenny. "He keeps saying he doesn't want a relationship, but he's gonna find the right one and she's gonna change his life. Like Jill did mine."
"Jill Robertson is not the one," Bryce said, gently. Chuck waved Bryce off.
"She's just out, blowing off some steam with friends, we're good," Chuck said. "We're all good."
"Chuck, why wouldn't she be here with you?" Jenny asked. Chuck shrugged.
"I don't know," he admitted. Jenny didn't either, and for the first time in her life she felt the need to help someone, and she didn't know what to do about it.
A/N: Like Arrow there will be 5 chapters of flashbacks...mine will just be better. Hope you liked it, reviews and PMs are always welcomed…Take Care