Scene 1: Nightmares
Buy More Sales Floor, Encino CA
"Man Up Bartowski," snarled Casey, as Chuck entered Buy More for another day of work.
"Yeah, I got it Casey," grimaced Chuck, with his shoulders slumped as if he had the weight of the world upon them.
"Your nightmares are keeping me up Bartowski. Do I need to have Agent Walker tuck you in, so I can get some sleep?"
Embarrassment made Chuck's face turn red. "Don't tell Sarah," replied Chuck quickly. He didn't want Sarah knowing about his nightmares. Nor did he want her to know that he had been keeping Casey up, with what Casey described as his girl like wails.
Trying to hide his discomfort, Chuck retorted, "Well Casey, you could always remove the bugs from my room. Then we both might get some peace."
Casey narrowed his eyes at Chuck's tone. The agent started to tell Chuck what an irritant he was, but softened as he took in the younger man's haggard face. While the agent wasn't about to admit to it, he knew about nightmares too.
Resigned, Casey offered, "Chuck in our line of work, nightmares are a professional pitfall. You need to suck it up. It's useless to feel afraid. The feeling only makes you hesitate and hesitation will get you killed. Just remember the assignment and focus. You'll pull through."
Casey felt a bit awkward after his admission and punched Chuck in the arm. He quickly left to find a customer to help.
Chuck frowned as he rubbed his aching arm. He wished it was that easy.
"Have you become that weirdo's personal punching bag," asked Morgan, from behind.
Chuck turned to his friend Morgan. "Yeah, just call me Chuck Punchoutski."
Morgan saw Chuck's weary expression and sprouted a devilish look in his eye. Morgan gave Chuck a sly smile and asked, "So, did the lady keeping you up too late? It must have been a mind blowing, body exploding experience for you to look this bad, my man. No sleepy for the winkie, eh Chuck?"
Chuck grimaced. "Go help a customer Morgan. I am not going to talk about my sex life with you." Morgan was about to reply, when his eyes bulged and he scampered away.
Chuck was puzzled by Morgan's reaction. But realized immediately what had caused his friend to scamper away when he heard a familiar voice behind him.
"What sex life were you referring to Chuck?" quipped Sarah, with amusement in her voice.
Chuck grimaced. "Your timing is excellent, as usual."
She absently brushed an errant curl from Chuck's temple. Chuck was uncomfortable with her familiarity. She grinned, pleased by his reaction. Even after knowing each other for months, she could still make him nervous, with just a small touch.
"Anything I should know about?" She was concerned by the worry in his eyes.
"Sarah, I'm working. No, and stop playing with my hair." She enjoyed Chuck's awareness of her proximity. She smiled and said, 'We will talk about it tonight."
"Tonight, we have a briefing. A date will be our cover. The briefing won't last that long. Afterwards, we an go somewhere and you can tell me what's bothering you. Now kiss me."
Chuck's eyes bulged and he grimaced under his breath, "I don't like people watching."
"But that's the point Chuck. People have to watch in order for them to see that we're a couple." Sarah grabbed Chuck's tie and pulled his face close and forced his lips to hers. She sighed when he gave her an awkward peck on the lips.
She looked at his face for a moment and frowned. "Chuck you need some sleep." She gave him a reassuring smile an released him. She left with thoughts of their date planned for later, dancing through her head.
Chuck watched Sarah leave. When he was with Sarah his anxiety disappeared.
However once he was alone, his worry sprouted. If only he could tell her. If only he could tell anyone. He wasn't afraid that there was some unknown bad guy after him. Instead, he's was afraid that Casey and Sarah were planning to kill him.
It had started with Lazlo. The crazed man had warned him about Casey and Sarah. But he didn't believe the man's words. Not really.
But he couldn't ignore it, when Bryce voiced the same concern. Not that he trusted Bryce that much. But Bryce's warning had worried him because it made sense. He had witnessed so many dark things recently. Having barely glimpsed this darker world, he knew it would be fool hearty to dismiss all of Bryce's warnings.
He remembered his trepidation, when Bryce explained that while he was now an asset to the government, he could quickly become a liability.
"What does the government do with liabilities?"
"What do you think they do Chuck? You're speaking to a resurrected man whose loving ex-girlfriend is now happily partnered to the guy who killed him."
'Are you saying that I can't trust Sarah or Casey?"
"No Chuck. I'm saying that they are professionals, and they follow orders. They might not like what those orders are, but they will follow them. Protect yourself Chuck."
"Even from Sarah?"
"Especially from Sarah. She was assigned to you because she's a girl and can gain your trust. She's been trained to break hearts Chuck. She's had years of training to know how to make men do what she wants. Remember that."
"You sound like you don't like Sarah."
"I like her fine, Chuck. It just that I did you wrong by sending you the Intersect. I did it. I can't change it. So the very least I can do, is make you understand your reality. This way, you might be able to protect yourself, " explained Bryce. How long has it been since I sent you the Intersect?"
"Well Fulcrum always knew that the CIA and NSA was capable of rebuilding the Intersect in six months. That means you have three more months of usefulness and then you become a liability to the government, once the new intersect comes on-line."
"During the next three months, you need to prove your worth Chuck. If you don't, you'll have a bullet between the eyes and either Casey or Sarah will be the one pulling the trigger."
"So I'm dead in three months? Is that what you are telling me Bryce?"
"No Chuck. I'm saying that you need to work on being an asset. Help Casey and Sarah. Show them your worth. You're a likable guy. They know the score. They'll want to write up reports showing your worth. But if it doesn't pan out, you'll need an escape plan."
"What do you mean?"
'I mean that you might need to run. Disappear. Hide Chuck. Because Casey, Sarah or someone else will eventually be assigned to kill you. The government can't have a nerd herder walking around openly with all their secrets in his head. Recognize the reality of your situation. Make an escape plan.'
These words haunted Chuck. It tore at his insides and filled his sleep with nightmares. Every word that Casey or Sarah spoke, he fretted over. He looked for double meanings. Were they planning his assassination?
Sarah had his heart. He had fallen for her even before their kiss on the pier. He just hadn't realized it until that seemingly endless moment, when she kissed him.
Had she already received her assignment to kill him, when he asked her about their relationship under the truth serum?
The worry was making him angry and confused. She wanted to talk, but how could he explain? How could he explain that his nightmares were about losing his heart to the very person that may have been assigned to kill him?
Could Bryce be wrong? He had to know the truth.