Okay, here's how it is. This story picks up sometime after "Chuck versus Santa Claus". Our favorite duo have hashed out the Mauser situation and come out a little stronger on the other side. Use your imagination as to how this happened. (Okay, seriously, why are so many of you imagining drunken sex right now? Perverts.)
While "Unexpected" was a multi-part fic, this is my first true attempt at a serialized story since writing C/A fic in the Angel-verse. That's been years and years ago. So be kind. Feedback is greatly appreciated and will probably dictate how quickly I progress with this fic.
Final note, if you like this fic, give some major kudos to both BillAtWork and tshdow. Both have done some great betawork and have provided numerous thoughts and ideas to this story.
So, get comfortable, grab a moe-hee-toe, and enjoy.
Hugs and kisses,
CHAPTER ONE: VERY STRANGE
Sometimes Ellie didn't quite know what to make of Sarah Walker.
Ellie loved the girl, she really did. Even asked the lovely blonde if she'd be a bridesmaid at her wedding. And the fact she so obviously adored her brother was just aces in her book.
But sometimes, Ellie couldn't shake the feeling something was off about Sarah. Naturally, there was the question of how a woman in the food service industry could afford a Porsche. She never received a direct answer, only vague references to family money.
Then there were the semi-frequent glimpses of something more. Sarah obviously had some taste of an elite lifestyle. She had a vast knowledge of high-class women's fashions. Had at least a working fluency of several European languages. And the way she carried herself spoke of something greater than a middle class upbringing.
That being said, the girl obviously adored her brother. Not that Ellie thought it was beyond the realm of possibility a girl of Sarah's hinted caliber could love him. Even going back to high school, many of Ellie's friends commented on how cute he was. If he wasn't such a dork, they might like to go out with him.
Yet, even with Sarah's obvious affection, there was something strange about their relationship. Not so much a false note, but rather... Honestly, Ellie didn't know how to describe it.
Tonight, for instance. Poker night. Just her, Devon, Chuck, and Sarah playing Texas Hold 'Em and drinking booze until 2 AM. Sarah was, quite frankly, wiping the floor with them. As Ellie watched her, it was almost like watching Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale". While she let loose with the occasional teasing remark letting everyone know how well she was doing, mostly she coolly analyzed her cards and sipped at her red wine.
"Two pair," she slyly declared. She flipped over her pocket Jack and eight, pairing them with the community cards. She chuckled as she raked in her winnings. Chuck tossed aside his pocket cards in frustration.
"If you loved me you'd let me win once in awhile," he pouted.
"Sorry, sweetie. Men are temporary, victory is forever."
"I can drink to that," Ellie retorted. She and Sarah laughed and clinked their wine glasses together in salute.
"Jeez, Sarah, where'd you learn to play poker?" Devon asked.
Sarah shrugged slightly. "I worked as a dealer for three months at a casino in Monte Carlo."
For instance, the way Chuck looked at Sarah when she made that comment. Almost like he couldn't tell if she was joking or not. Ellie found that odd considering they'd been dating for over a year. Even Ellie couldn't judge from her tone.
Devon, of course, was oblivious. "That's awesome. Chuck, I tell you, this one's a pistol."
"You have no idea," Chuck replied, a strange lilt to his voice. Something Ellie noticed fairly often when he spoke of Sarah.
Strange. Very strange.
Sarah poured the last of the red wine into her own glass. It only came about half-full. "Darn. Out of booze."
"Oh, I'll get another bottle," Ellie offered. Maybe some more alcohol would clear her head.
As had become tradition when Sarah slept over, she didn't bother to bring her own sleeping clothes. Instead, she grabbed one of Chuck's baggy old Stanford t-shirts and disappeared into the bathroom. After brushing her teeth and rinsing away her makeup, she returned to the bedroom to find Chuck watching The Twilight Zone on SciFi. Some woman was chasing around a little spacesuit man around her cabin.
"Nice to have a day off tomorrow," she said.
"Mmm hmm," Chuck sleepily replied.
Sarah slid into bed, fluffed up her pillow, and settled in.
"Wanna catch a matinee at the multiplex tomorrow? Maybe follow it with an early supper? My treat."
"Sounds nice," Sarah yawned.
"But I get to choose the movie this time."
Sarah shot him a look. "What? Why can't I pick? It's my turn."
"Because I don't want to watch Twilight for a third time."
Sarah opened her mouth, ready to object. Instead she snapped it closed, folded her arms over her chest and stared straight ahead. Chuck instantly knew he said the wrong thing.
"C'mon. You know I'm gonna buy the DVD for you, right?"
Sarah couldn't help the silly smile that appeared on her face. Placated, she asked, "Really?"
"Really." As Chuck slipped into bed next to her, "You know, you continue to ruin my image of you as a badass superspy."
"Hey, I'm a girl. I'm allowed to like stupid and girly things. Feel privileged that I'm comfortable enough with you to admit that."
Chuck nodded. Fair point. "I also thought after dinner we could go to the beach and watch the sunset."
Sarah smiled. "Sounds like a plan."
The two settled into bed. Sarah angled slightly on her left side, her left arm tucked underneath her pillow, clutching an imaginary pistol. Chuck turned on his right side, facing Sarah. They shared a sleepy smile.
"Night Sarah," he said.
"Night Chuck," she answered.
Both turned their heads to the light fixture on the wall where they knew a video and audio recorder was hidden. "Night Casey," they said in unison.
Neither could be sure, but both thought they heard a grunt in the distance.
She had heard the rumors for months. A Human Intersect. A single individual with the combined knowledge of the US intelligence community stored in his or her brain.
The prevailing rumor was that Bryce Larkin was that person. But she didn't buy it. Larkin was a tremendous agent, highly intelligent. But she couldn't see him as the Intersect. Not after reading his personnel file (which burned about a dozen favors to acquire).
The woman grabbed her pack of Marlboros and lit one. Took a deep drag as she considered the situation.
It started with Larkin. She knew for a fact he destroyed the Alpha Intersect. She was pretty damn sure that beforehand he made a copy of the information. Now he'd want to send the Intersect info to someone he could trust. But not an agent. Couldn't be sure he or she wasn't Fulcrum.
The woman continued to puff as she wore a hole in the carpet of her seedy motel room.
The buzz inside the upper circles of the Agency was that they still had access to the Intersect information. Which meant that somewhere a CIA agent was directly involved with the operation. And for something as big as a Human Intersect – if, in fact, there was a Human Intersect – they would send one of their best to safeguard that person.
Taking herself out of the equation, for obvious reasons, she took a scratch piece of paper and began to jot down the names of possible agents. Jenny Acker, Warren Dorsey, Bryce Larkin, Tommy Malone, Natalie Martinez, Peter Tate, Sarah Walker, and Charlie Zane were among the first wave of names. Twenty minutes later, she added another half dozen to the list.
It took several more favors, but she was able to acquire a temporary passcode into the CIA's Operations Database. It was simply a matter of tracking down the locations or assignments of the agents on her list.
A couple were in DC riding the "bench" as they waited for new assignments. Scratch them off. A couple others she could reasonably ascertain were on assignment abroad. She felt comfortable scratching them off. Then there was...
Hold on. The woman typed "Walker, Sarah" in the search box again and hit Enter. The results page insisted "No Results Found".
They took her out of the system, put her under the radar. Which meant one of two things: Either Walker turned Fulcrum, which she seriously doubted, or she was running a domestic operation, "officially" a no-no in the CIA's book.
The woman grabbed her cell phone and activated it. She only had a few more favors to call in, so she had to make them count. It was absolutely imperative that she found Sarah and the Intersect. And she had to find them fast.
I've got 8 chapters completed, more or less, but because my writing schedule could be a touch sketchy, I'm probably going to keep to a certain publishing schedule. I may post Chapter 2 tomorrow, but after that, look for new chapters approximately every five days.