A/N: First story in a long time, so I'm rusty. Theoretically this takes place after Chuck vs. The Marlin.

Song lyrics are from "Free Fall" by In Flames.

Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Chuck


Chapter 1 – Plans

Three figures huddled around a table in a pitch dark room, the only source of illumination coming from a flashlight that one of them was holding. They were scanning what looked to be a section of a blueprint to a building.

"I still don't believe you were able to get this." One of the figures asked in shocked excitement.

"All you need to know is that this information came at a huge cost to us. Now focus and pay attention the two of you. Our intelligence shows that the shipment will be coming through this door here, about 20 boxes of goods." Another of the figures stated seriously, "Now, what we want is in one of these boxes."

"What about security?" The third figure replied quietly.

"There will be guards posted on either side of the doors located here. There will be between two to four personnel offloading the boxes. They'll be loading them onto hand carts in the truck and depositing them directly here." The second figure responded as he pointed from one side of the blueprint to the other side.

"We can make the grab during the transfer then." The first figure stated as he looked at the blueprint in thought, "there won't be any guards following right?"

"You're right that there are no guards, but there are security cameras all along this corridor. No, our best opportunity is during the offloading from the truck to the hand carts. There's no security in the truck and no cameras that can view into the truck area."

"How are we going to make the grab then?" The third figure asked.

"Oh we've got someone on the inside." The first figure smirked, as a bubble of laughter erupted from his throat. The other two dark figures started to chuckle until all three dissolved into giggles.

- click -

The entire room was bathed in light and had the three figures shielding their eyes as they were trying to adjust to the new brightness.

"What the hell are you guys doing here?" Anna demanded as she walked towards Morgan, Lester, and Jeff. She took a look at the blueprint on the table and was able to see that it showed the Buy More store. She scanned the three men as they looked down shamefully, "Don't tell me you've spent the last hour in here plotting how to steal the new Fracture demo?"

"But Anna sweetie, it has the new terraforming physics engine! Imagine what a well placed rocket would do to a wall or ground! BOOM!" Morgan excitedly responded as he waved his arms around trying to explain the massive awesomeness of the game.

"You two," Anna pointed at Lester and Jeff, "are supposed to be helping me at the desk. You know Chuckles is in the cage all day today and I've been swamped! So get your asses back out there to help me out!"

Anna didn't wait for a response as she headed back towards the door but stopped when Morgan shouted, "Anna, baby, could you hit the lights. Please? Pretty please?"

Anna rolled her eyes and flicked the light switch as she walked through the door, bathing the break room in darkness again. The three huddled figures looked at each other and started to snicker as they once again dissolved into snickers and giggles.

- click -

Their laughter died as they looked at Big Mike standing at the threshold to the door, his coffee and Danish in hand. "I don't even want to know." Big Mike said as he turned around and headed in the opposite direction.

The atmosphere in the cage at the back of the store was a completely different one. Instead of the confused joviality in the break room the back room seemed devoid of life. The sole living being was sitting facing the rear wall, his back to the cage's door and the rest of the room. Chuck Bartowski had been in the cage since early this morning, before anyone had even come into the store, before the sun had even started to peak the horizon. The first thing he had done was redo the personnel schedule, quietly putting his name into the cage slot for the whole week. He then proceeded to enter the cage and turn the work table around so that he would be facing the shelves on the rear wall. His final action before he sat in front of the piles of computers was to close and lock the cage door. As he sat he reached into his pocket and pulled his iPod out, turning the volume to an almost painful level, searched through for a particular song, and set it on repeat.

It was now 3pm and Chuck had not left the cage all day. In the earlier parts of the day the Buy More employees had filtered through and seeing that Chuck was churning out fixes after fixes they had left him in his zone. Casey had grunted and left without saying a word, thinking that if the kid was locked up in the cage there was no way he could cause or get into trouble.

Sarah was now standing at the door to the cage, looking in. She had tried the door to find it locked. While she could easily pick the lock she chose to just take a look at her asset. She had called his name a few times already and he didn't appear to make any movement to acknowledge that he had heard her. Sarah watched for a few more seconds before she walked back out, her face showing annoyance.

10pm rolled by and Chuck was still in the cage, the rest of the store darkened and empty. He had made a sizeable dent in the huge backlog of inventory that had been sitting on the shelf these past few days and weeks. Looking around and seeing that it was completely dark save his work lamp, he decided to stop working as he stretched his back, cracking his neck and shoulders as he stretched and rotated them around, and grimaced from the pain in his abdomen and right arm. The moment he stood up he felt the immediate need to head to the restroom and quickly unlocked the door and ran to the bathroom emitting yelps of urgency.

An exclamation of relief could be heard echoing through the empty store.

15 minutes later, as Chuck moved all the finished electronics from the cage his mind, with nothing to occupy itself with other than the same song that had been playing all day, began to drift back to the events from the previous night.

Mirror mirror,

How far will I go?

Chuck was sitting in Casey's Suburban watching the still under construction building in front of him. The building was located in a new business center and most of the walls still had not even been put up yet, which afforded him an exceptional internal view of Sarah and Casey crouched and slowly making their away up to the 6th floor.

He had heard the first sounds of gunshots tear through the early evening

Despite the foundation,

I am falling.

From his vantage point he wasn't able to see anything other than the illumination in the night from the guns trading shots on the 6th floor. He could vaguely make out voices shouting amongst the shooting but couldn't decipher who they were from, the crackling of submachine gun fire covered up almost all other noise.

Sweet reflection,

Will you save a place for me?

His heart didn't stop until he saw two fighting figures tumble from the 6th floor. One of the dark figures kept plummeting, making an unimpressive thump as it hit the dirt ground. The other person grabbed a steel girder and luckily held on.

With all his focus on the person hanging on for dear life Chuck spied a flash of long blonde hair in the moonlight on a very feminine figure as it flailed in the air. He was out of the car and running as fast as his legs could pump.

Where am I heading?

Could you grant me a haven?

Chuck raced toward the building, his breath raging out his mouth as his only thought was getting to Sarah on the 5th floor ledge. When he stumbled onto the 5th floor his legs were burning and he had to stop for a second to gain his breath and bearings.

For what I am punished,

Could I ever repent?

Chuck spun around trying to orient himself when he saw a pair of legs dangling off the side of the building. His fatigue forgotten he sprinted towards Sarah and grabbing a piece of rope that he saw lying on the ground.

"Sarah! Hang on!" He shouted as he came slamming to a halt next to a concrete column.

Mother Nature, I'm wide open,

Waiting for you to move me.

"Chuck! Get out of here!" Sarah shouted into space, not able to see her would be savior. "There's too many of them!"

Ignoring or not hearing her shout, his system spiked with adrenaline, Chuck threw the rope around the column and tied it down giving it one hefty yank to test it out.

Don't keep it from me!

This is a free fall!

This is a free fall!

Gun fire erupted from Chuck's right as he scurried to Sarah's dangling body. He danced wildly as concrete shrapnel pelted him from all sides, all the while squeaking out "Oh God, oh God, oh God." Having watched Die Hard fanatically he began to tie the other end of the rope around his waste, not really paying attention to what he was doing.

As he came to the ledge, he grabbed Sarah and proceeded to trip off the 5th floor. His only thought as he lost his footing, "John McClane, I am not."

I never seem to understand.

The time, the place, and who I am.

Once the rope pulled taut and pivoted at the ledge, the restraining force snapped into Chuck's abdomen with phenomenal force, ripping his breath from him. By the time their bodies swung back into the cavity of the building he was seeing dark spots in his vision.

When the rope snapped to a stand still again as it reached its maximum travel distance Sarah was flung from Chuck's slack arms and tumbled a few feet while he slammed unceremoniously onto the 4th floor's concrete and into unconsciousness.

Define a way to stay alive,

It's like I'm living a lie.

When Chuck next woke, he snapped to attention from the smelling salt that Sarah was waving in front of his face. He began swatting at her hands while grumbling, "I'm awake, I'm awake." He looked around and realized they were in the car again, Casey in the front driving while Sarah was twisted and leaning to him from her front passenger seat.

Sarah let out a sigh of relief and closed her eyes for a second before opening them again with a fear filled fury that he had not ever seen.

"What were you thinking Chuck! You almost got yourself killed back there!"

Father time, every time I stop and feel,

You're there to tell me I'm already late.

"What?" Chuck asked dumbfounded, shouldn't she have been thanking him?

"What? Your running into a hot zone with no protection! That's what! You're supposed to stay in the car."

"Hey, wait wait. You were in trouble, what was I supposed to …"

"Stay in the car!" Sarah shouted in exasperation, "I had everything under control. We can't risk the Intersect by having you running around getting shot at!"

She knew she shouldn't have said those particular words the moment they left her mouth, Chuck's shocked face added to the guilt. Sarah turned to the front of the car and sighed, "Chuck, what I mean is you have to be careful and you have to obey our orders. We're here to protect you and we can't do that if you're running into harm's way."

Don't keep it from me!

This is a free fall!

During their report to General Beckman and Graham he had found out that CIA and NSA backup had arrived shortly after was knocked out. Casey had fought his way down to them and they were pinned down. With backup they were able to sweep through the hostiles and clear the area. The explosives being planted into the framework of the building were removed by the demolitions team. After they were told of Chuck's actions, the two pair of eyes on the monitor swiveled to the offending target.

As the tongue lashing spewed from their mouths Chuck's head lowered and lowered till he was looking at the bottom of cabinet. Sarah watched him from her peripheral vision and felt a little sorry for him, that was, until Beckman made her last statement.

"If you can't control yourself, if you continue to risk the Intersect in this way Mr. Bartowsky we will either find you new handlers that can control you or place you somewhere that you can't endanger it! Is that clear?" The General demanded.

Chuck's head snapped up and the other two agents went rigid. "Yes ma'am. I'm sorry, this won't ever happen again." The screen went blank, barely registering his reply.

Sarah and Casey silently seethed at the implied threat that they couldn't do their jobs well. They both turned and headed to the door.

"Sarah, Casey, I'm sor…" Chuck began.

"Save it" Sarah snapped, not bothering to look at him, while Casey stared at him hard for a second before marching out.

I never seem to understand.

The time, the place, and who I am.

It's like I'm living a lie.

As Chuck put the last of the fixed computers in order and organized the items to be worked on tomorrow, he stared at the clock. It was now midnight.

He looked down at his hands, staring at the small cuts and scratches from the sharp internals of the computers he was working on all day. He slowly made his way to his Nerd Herder, making a decision as he got into the vehicle. He didn't want to be squirreled away somewhere and he didn't want to lose Sarah.

He had to make this right.

I never seem to understand.

The time, the place, and who I am.

Define a way to stay alive,

It's like I'm living a lie.