Editor's Note: Standard disclaimers about 'Chuck' not belonging to me in any way, shape, or form apply.

This story is a sequel to my fanfic "Chuck vs Auld Lang Syne".

Scene I – Dark Room

A young man hunched over a computer screen, typing at a good pace. The clickety-clack of his fingers on the keyboard and the whine of the computer fan were the only sounds in the room. He paused for a moment, a pondering frown on his face as he wrestled some dilemma in his head. His face lit up as the solution came to him, and his typing quickly regained its former cadence.

Another young man, this one with curly hair and a worried expression, entered the room almost stealthily. He stood behind the chair, his forearm resting on the back, peering over the typist's shoulder. A luminescent, almost cartoonish green glow lit both their faces and not much else as daylight mostly failed to penetrate the slits in the blinds over the window.

The standing figure risked breaking the other's concentration. "Are we there?"

The tempo of the typing never wavered. "Almost. Just need another few hours or so. What's the rush?"

"Our client will be here in two hours."

Fingers hovered motionless above the keyboard. "What?! It's New Year's Day!"

"Yep. He wants the breach accomplished tonight."

The seated developer leaned back in the chair, trying to coax a stubborn kink from his lower back. Resetting, he took a swig from a can on the desk, emptying it. He tossed the can into a large box in the corner, a loud clanging filling the room as the can ricocheted between dozens more like it. "I'm on it," he declared, his face intense. Fingers danced over the keyboard at a frenzied pace.

Scene II – Dark Room

A young man hunched over a computer screen, typing at a good pace. The clickety-clack of his fingers on the keyboard and the whine of the computer fan were the only sounds in the room. He paused for a moment, a pondering frown on his face as he wrestled some dilemma in his head. His face lit up as the solution came to him, and his typing quickly regained its former cadence.

Chuck's fingers froze again. Cursing, he used a command keystroke to highlight all the text on the screen, and pressed delete. He stared up at the TRON poster on the wall in frustration.

In years past, New Year's resolutions had been simple. Try new things. Get some exercise. Get a date. Chuck gave an ironic smile: watch out what you ask for.

Even his old stand-by, knocking out his five-year plan, had pretty much been done for him. After all, he didn't have much say about his job any more. Jobs, he corrected himself. Chuck sighed.

He immediately started a new list of resolutions with, "Sigh less". He was mostly serious about that one.

The real trick with the resolutions was that this year he couldn't post the list in his room as he usually did. He didn't really want Sarah, let alone Ellie, knowing that he wanted to become better at self-defense. And he couldn't very well have Ellie, let alone Sarah, knowing that he wanted to get over Sarah in the worst way.

Catching himself at the last second, he managed not to sigh at the last thought.

Chuck had spent the better part of the morning lying in bed, reliving the New Year's countdown at the apartment. He could almost feel exactly how his heart had beat and how his breath had caught in his throat. If he closed his eyes, he could almost picture Sarah's eyes staring into his with what seemed like nervous anticipation. He could almost feel her body pressed against his. He could almost taste her, almost smell her, and almost feel his lips against hers.

He could almost believe that it was all real.

One problem with perfect moments is that they inevitably move to not-so-perfect moments, and then reality sets back in. The reality was, maybe as it always had been, that nothing was going to happen between the two of them. Sarah had made that clear in the aftermath: she could barely look him in the eye, and her tense body language spoke louder than any words.

All the seeming flirting over the holidays was just for the cover, but he had fallen for it all once again. Fool me once: shame on you. Fool me twice: shame on me.

His only consolation was that all the almost's would fade away over time. At least, he hoped they would.

Again fighting off the urge to sigh, Chuck went back to crafting his resolutions. He decided to keep his list relatively simple.

Resolution 1: Sigh less.

Resolution 2: Get better at job – Buy More

Resolution 3: Get better at job – Agent

Resolution 4: Get over Sarah.

Resolution 5: Lie to Ellie and Morgan less.

Chuck contemplated his list for a moment. It felt like a good list: it was ambitious but achievable, and if he could accomplish those five, it would feel like a major success.

His iPhone rang; a glance at the display told him it was Casey calling.

"Bartowski, we've got an assignment. Come over for a briefing." Click.

Chuck cursed, turning back to his list. He was supposed to have dinner with Ellie that night, but he would likely need to cancel yet again. With a resigned expression, he deleted resolution #5. Resolutions were supposed to be realistic, he thought glumly.

Chuck sighed, and then immediately let out another curse.

Scene III – Street scene

Chuck, Sarah and Casey sat along a dark avenue in the black Suburban, eyeing a five-story building across the street on the next block. From Chuck's vantage point in the back seat, the building looked no different than the other buildings lining the road: store fronts and offices on the ground level, with apartments above.

Their target was a two-person firm called BD Security Consulting. Director Graham's briefing had discussed an attempt to breach one of the CIA's servers earlier today; CIA intelligence traced the attempt to this location. The team's mission was straightforward: storm the offices, capture anybody they found inside, and find out what they were up to.

For Chuck, the mission was even more straight-forward: stay in the car and out of the way.

Ostensibly, Chuck was there to help dig through whatever they found in the office, but Chuck knew by now when Sarah and Casey were just baby-sitting him. The odds of flashing on anything on this mission were virtually zero. It looked as though Chuck wouldn't be able to start working on his resolution to get better at his agent job until another day.

Chuck idly wondered about the particulars of the mission. BD Security Consulting ran a variety of security exercises for a variety of clients. So what were they doing messing around with a CIA server? Was one of them just going up against an unknown server to hone his skills? Or did they know what they were trying to crack?

Paging through the file folder of intelligence that they had printed out, he came to pictures of the two suspects. The way that they looked, either one could have been a buddy of his from Stanford. He closed the folder and looked at the other members of his team.

Sarah was dressed in form-fitting black, her hair in a tight pony tail bound by several bands. As usual, Chuck found her devastatingly beautiful. Finishing her surveillance of the building, she looked across to Casey. "Ready?" she asked.

Casey, also decked out in black action clothes, sneered disdainfully while loading his gun. "Computer programmers. This should be a real challenge." He holstered his gun inside his jacket.

As was normal on a mission, Sarah was all business. "Well, then it shouldn't be any problem to knock this out quickly. Let's go."

The two exited, quickly sliding across the street and making their way along the opposite sidewalk. Chuck glanced in both directions, leaning forward to use the driver's mirrors to help scan the area. There were headlights off in the distance, but other than that, the street seemed deserted.

Chuck slid in his ear wick; at least he'd get to hear what happened. He watched Sarah and Casey cross a side street and proceeding to the designated front door. Quickly dropping to a crouch, Sarah picked the lock while Casey kept watch. Inside of ten seconds, the pair disappeared through the door.

No sounds came through over the radio for a long moment. The team didn't have time to gather any intel on the office layout, so Chuck figured they were carefully feeling their way through the unfamiliar space.

Suddenly, the radio burst to life. Sarah yelled, "Freeze!" and there was a series of crashing and scuffling noises. Casey's voice bellowed, "Don't move!" In the background, an unknown male voice said, "All right! All right!"

Crashing noises came across the radio; the noises seemed somehow distant. Pushing the ear wick deeper into his ear, Chuck puzzled over what he heard, trying to envision the scene. Sarah's voice came through again. "Casey, get him! I've got these guys!"

Suddenly, a door down the side street burst open. A figure raced down the middle of the road, looking back over his shoulder to see if he expected pursuit. He sprinted across the main street, running for the sidewalk.

Chuck's expression became conflicted – what to do? The figure had reached the sidewalk, and his path would take him right next to the Suburban. Remembering his resolution, Chuck set his jaw. All right, Bartowski: you can do this. Even in his own mind, he hardly sounded convincing.

Slipping out of the truck on the street side, Chuck quickly slid around to the rear of the vehicle, using the Suburban's size to his benefit. The fleeing figure was too concerned with checking for pursuit to notice.

Chuck only had a moment; he quickly developed a plan. He would leap out at the last second and clothes line the suspect. He was completely unaware of Chuck, and his momentum would take himself down against Chuck's arm. It was simple enough that Chuck should be able to pull it off.

The figure came closer; Chuck risked a peek out from behind the Suburban. Thirty feet away and closing fast, the fugitive's head was again turned to look back for pursuit. Chuck ducked back behind the car, taking a deep breath and steeling himself as he gathered into a crouch. As the footsteps grew close, Chuck leapt out from behind the Suburban and stuck his arm out.

Unfortunately, his timing was off by about five feet.

Hearing Chuck land on the sidewalk, the figure turned in time to see the ambush. The man dropped under Chuck's arm, landing quick, powerful punches to the kidney and the crotch, causing Chuck to double over in pain and fall to the ground. He felt blood rush to his face.

The fugitive ran past, hardly breaking stride, making a hard left at the next corner and disappearing from sight.

Chuck writhed on the ground for what seemed a long moment before he heard Casey's voice in his earpiece. "Chuck! Chuck! One of them slipped out the back! He's unarmed! Get him!"

Chuck's attempt to answer came out as a squeak. He coughed to clear his throat, and said, "Sorry, Casey, he ducked around me. Bad luck."

Casey's voice found Chuck not through his ear piece, but from directly above, "Sure about that, Bartowski?" Chuck rolled over onto his back to find Casey standing right above him with an evil grin on his face. "Gotta watch those programmer types … they're born killers."

Chuck turned even redder and curled up in a fetal position. Under his breath, he muttered, "Why don't I just stay in the car?"