Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck, nor am I getting any money from writing this. And considering that I spend more time writing than looking for a new job, it's almost like I'm costing myself money by writing, so I like negative own Chuck.
A/N: Alright kiddos. Uncle Wepdiggy has decided to go ahead and publish another story. I've had this chapter in the can for a couple of weeks now, and the second chapter is almost wrapped up as well. I'll try to get an update per week on this one, to keep from over stressing myself with the updates. This story is an answer to a request in the challenge and request thread on the TWoP Kicked Us Out forum on this site. Basically, the request was pretty open ended, but asked for a Chuck in college fic. Well, I went alternate universe before Bryce gets Chuck kicked out. Chuck and Jill are still together at this point, but they are certainly on the rocks, as Jill's Fulcrum requirements are getting in the way. And in this universe, Chuck and Sarah meet way before the pilot. One thing you're going to think as you read through this first chapter is that everyone seems out of character. This may sound like a cop out, but that is intentional. Remember, this is happening five years before the pilot, and the spies, the scientist, and Chuck haven't been changed by their circumstances as of yet. I'm writing the characters as I think they would have been at age 22 or 23. So I hope you enjoy this line of storytelling, and I look forward to you feedback on it. A big thank you to Yokaputo and sm93starbuck for reading through this and offering me some tips along the way, and especially to Coffee for pulling double duty and giving me a beta on it. You gals are terrific. Okay, now, without further ado, I present to you Chuck The College Years chapter 1: Conversations.
Cast in order of apearance
Chuck Bartowski - Zachary Levi
Bryce Larkin - Matthew Bomer
Jill Roberts - Jordana Brewster
Sarah Walker -Yvonne Strahovski
Langston Graham - Tony Todd
Chapter 1: Conversations
(conversations occur in reverse chronological order)
Bryce and Chuck
"I still don't know how you've had someone back home and I've never heard about her. How long have you two been seeing one another, you dog?" Chuck says teasingly.
"Oh, you know. Off and on for a few years now. She goes to school back east, so when I go home we get to see one another. But things really started to heat up over the summer." It's the cover answer he'd been told to give, but it was true in many ways. While most of his classmates had been getting pointless jobs, or vacationing in some resort town, Bryce had spent his summer -his first after being recruited into the agency- becoming acclimated to becoming a field operations officer.
Technically, he was a summer intern with National Clandestine Services, but it didn't change what he'd actually been doing. He'd been paired with a Harvard girl who called herself Sarah Walker. He wasn't positive, but he was fairly certain that she was using a pseudonym. He certainly wasn't going to ask, however. She was generally pretty easy to get along with, if a little intense. It was when her past was called into question that she became withdrawn and dangerously defensive.
The program director had made it clear that she was one of the most promising young talents that the agency had to offer. Perhaps feeding into Bryce's ego, the man had also mentioned that they wouldn't have been paired together had there not been a similar opinion of Bryce within agency circles. That little comment had been all it had taken to really get Bryce excited about their partnership.
"But, Chuck? She's kind of shy, so don't overwhelm her with that big personality of yours, huh?" The weekend could be a lot of fun. It was an assignment, but that didn't mean they couldn't have a good time. And despite the fact that it would serve more of a purpose if Sarah was made to feel a little uncomfortable, it's just Bryce's nature to try to protect those around him.
"I'm sure that won't be a problem, buddy. It might be for the best if I avoided any extended conversations with this girl anyway. You know Jill's jealous streak. And her distaste for all things blonde," the taller man chuckles. It isn't his normal jovial laugh, however. It's somewhere between a laugh and a sigh.
Bryce knows that tainted laugh. That is the one that his best friend in the world unleashes when something is weighing heavily on his mind. He's heard it a lot more this semester, and it's almost always because of Chuck's girlfriend.
"You and Jill still going through a rough patch?" Bryce asks. He uses words that he thinks will soften the blow some. They are the words Chuck always uses to describe his squabbles with the bio-chemistry major. If Bryce was being honest, those 'rough patches' should be deal breakers. Jill continually treats his buddy like crap, and Chuck just takes it. It's not something that Bryce understands, and it's certainly not something that Chuck deserves, in his opinion.
"I think she's just worried, what with this being our senior year and all," Chuck answers unconvincingly. "It's a lot of pressure, after all." He's not sure if that last part was more for Bryce's benefit or his own. He loves Jill, but since spring break she has grown more and more distant. That is really why this weekend sounded so appealing to Chuck. Maybe getting away from everything will finally bring some peace and understanding back to their relationship.
The roommates are left at a bit of a loss for what to say. Chuck doesn't want to talk anymore about the troubles he is having with Jill, and Bryce certainly isn't going to volunteer anything else about Sarah. The less that is said, the less the opportunity for being found out. That was one of the most important things drilled into the heads of the recruits during training for covert ops.
Chuck & Jill
"Come on, Jill, it will be fun," Chuck says.
"Chuck, whenever we do stuff with Bryce, it ends up being you and Bryce and me tagging along. Now Bryce will have someone with him that he will feel like he can pawn off on me so you two can do your bromance thing. Now I'm stuck with someone I don't know, and probably won't like. How is that fair?" she asks exasperatingly.
"It's not like that at all and you know it. Bryce is just as much your friend as he is mine. In fact, I think he knew you before he knew me, and you certainly knew him before we met. Besides, he really seems to like this Sarah, and I'm sure you two will get along fine," he finishes.
"Yeah, I'm sure I'll like her," Jill says sarcastically. "Any girl that will fall for Bryce Larkin is probably a real winner." Jill sighs before looking Chuck in the eyes. "Chuck, let me spell it out for you. Bryce Larkin is a player. Any girl that is with him is undoubtedly some rail thin, airhead blonde, with huge tits."
"Okay, first of all, you're kind of rail thin, Jill. I'm not complaining, but facts are facts." He starts to turn away, but stops, facing back to Jill. "And for the record, the girl goes to Harvard. Give her a little credit, will you?"
"Okay, fine. She's a rail thin, airhead blonde, with huge tits and a big brain. Better? And you know what? It seems like you're hot for this girl yourself, Chuck. How can you already be infatuated with a girl you've never even met? That's pretty pathetic, and it's even more pathetic that you want to drag me along to watch you drool over her all day in Mexico and then screw me at night pretending I'm her."
"You're being ridiculous. I just think we'll have fun. We haven't done anything together in a long time, Jill. I miss you. I miss us spending time together," he says sadly.
Jill sighs, seeing that there is no way she is going to get out of going on this trip without hurting Chuck even more than she already has. It's not even that she wants to hurt him. This group her Uncle Bernie got her into has just been so demanding.
"Alright, fine Chuck. I'll go. We'll go, but I have to make a call first. I was planning on doing something with my family that weekend," she lies. The truth is that she has to clear this trip with her Fulcrum advisor. Chuck is clean, she knows that. The problem is Bryce and his little girlfriend. She'll have to get their names run before they let her out with them. Not that Jill thinks Bryce has any kind of government affiliation, but it's better to be safe than sorry. She'd be in a world of shit if it came back that she was hanging out with some kind of agent over a weekend in Mexico.
Bryce & Sarah
Bryce is glad that Chuck was out of the room, as it would have been difficult to explain the "second phone". The ringing is coming from his agency issue secure cell phone. It was given to him with the instructions that it was not to be used for personal calls, and it was only there for such instances when his attention was required by the agency. He feels a little nervous as he reaches to answer the call. This is the first time he'd received such a call.
"Larkin, secure," he answers, trying to hide the excitement in his voice.
"Walker, secure," says his partner from the other line.
"Sarah? What's going on? Is something wrong?"
"No, Bryce," she says, laughing a little at his worry. "We have a mission," she explains.
"A mission?" Bryce had been led to believe that he wouldn't get any more work until after graduation. Not that he's complaining, it's just a bit surprising.
"Relax, it's nothing big. Our superiors just think that we need work blending in with normal civilians," she lies.
"Huh, so what are we supposed to do?" he asks.
"Well, you guys are on Fall Break next weekend, right?" She already knows the answer, but asking him makes it look like this isn't all planned out too much in advance without his notice. She's been given explicit orders to not let Bryce find out about the true nature of this mission. His psyche profile says that he would likely do something to keep his friend far away from agency grasps if he felt his well being was in danger. That is a risk that cannot be taken.
"Yeah, we are. Why, what's going on next weekend?"
"The CIA has gotten us a house in Cabo," she says.
This excites Bryce. He'd been shocked at just how attractive his partner was when he had first met her. Not that he thought she'd be ugly or anything, but she had turned out to be stunningly beautiful. And he is pretty sure that there is something between them. Maybe a weekend in a beach house is just the thing he needs to close the deal.
"That sounds like a lot of fun, really. That wasn't what I was expecting when you said 'mission'."
"Well, I hope that it will be. But you have more to do," she tells him. "We have classes on Monday, but of course it's not a big deal for me to get out of it for agency business. But what it means is my roommates won't be able to come with me, unfortunately. They do, however, want you to talk your roommate into coming on the trip with us. We need practice maintaining our cover in front of every kind of audience imaginable."
"Chuck? I don't know, Sarah. I don't think he'd really want to come. At least not without his girlfriend," he finishes.
Dammit, then we have to invite the girlfriend. On one hand it makes the cover much more believable. Two friends getting a house and bringing their girlfriends. On the other hand, if Bartowski's woman is there, it's going to be hard to get him alone and talk, or more accurately, fuck him into joining the agency. Oh well, I guess I there's no other choice in this case.
"That's fine. It actually works out great, in fact. The more people we're around, the harder we'll have to work to maintain our cover. What's this girl's name?" Sarah asks, feigning interest.
This might be the best vacation ever. Chuck and Jill can make up, and them acting all couple like will mean that Sarah and I will have to be touchy feely, and something is sure to happen.
"Her name's Jill," Bryce answers, trying to hide his excitement.
Sarah & Graham
Sarah waits patiently in the conference room within the Widener Library. She's been here so many times before, but never has she actually been excited about being here, until now. Of course, it's not every day the director of the Central Intelligence Agency requests a private audience with someone. But then again, she's not just anyone. She is Sarah Walker, and she was recruited in the agency on the word of Langston Graham before he became the director.
She looks down at her watch, and at the exact moment that the second hand reaches the twelve o'clock position at exactly the time specified for the meeting, several large men in dark suits invade the room.
Sarah is immediately on her guard. She's not positive what she could do to fend off a room full of g-men, but she knows she will go down swinging if that is what is required of her. Watching the men move about, she relaxes, as it becomes apparent that they're only sweeping the room for surveillance and mean her no harm.
When one of the men announces the room clear, another group of five enters. Four of the new entries are nondescript bodyguard types like the men already in the room. The man in the middle of the collected however is very familiar to the blonde. It's been a long time since she's seen Langston Graham, but he doesn't look any different than she remembers. She can't really say the same for herself. Agency training had served to wipe away all traces of the geeky, awkward girl that was discovered in San Diego five years ago.
He takes a seat at the chair opposite her, and motions for his guards to leave them in privacy. The other men file out of the room one by one, and she is now left face-to-face with her boss for the first time since he took that title in her life. She tries to school her face to hide the nervous energy she feels in his presence, but she's sure he recognizes the signs anyway. He has to be a fairly perceptive man to have reached the position he currently holds.
"Agent Walker," he addresses her. His voice is even deeper, and more imposing than she remembered. "I have a mission for you," he continues, producing a folder from his suit jacket.
"A mission sir?" she asks. She'd done some low level work over the summer with her new partner, Bryce, but she thought that she'd have to wait until after graduation to really be given anything else to do.
"This is highly classified. Top secret," he clarifies. "Project Omaha is a program that dates back many years. In short, we have technology that could possibly implant subliminal images into the subconscious of an operative allowing them to recall intelligence that they never actually knew they'd seen. Basically, we would be creating a human intelligence computer."
"You want me for this operation, Director?" she asks nervously. She owes him and the agency so much for changing her life, giving her a purpose, and handing her an education at the finest school in the country, but being turned into a human computer seems a bit beyond the reach of what she is willing to do.
"Yes and no Agent Walker. I want you to be a part of this project, but I don't want you to house the information." He watches the girl heave a concealed sigh of relief. "What I want you to do is to recruit the man that I do want to house this information." And hopefully draw his father out of hiding so we can continue to advance this technology, he adds silently. Of course, she doesn't have to know that part.
He offers her the folder from before and she takes it in her grasp. Opening it up, she sees a picture of a man, about her age, curly hair, brown eyes. He certainly doesn't look like a spy. Of course, she reasons, she probably didn't look like much of a spy either before her training.
"Charles Irving Bartowski," Graham exclaims.
"Bartowski –why does that name sound familiar?" Sarah wonders aloud.
"Because he is roommates with your partner, Bryce Larkin," explains the director. "And as it turns out, your partner's friend is the ideal candidate for this project." The large man then pauses, looking down at his hands. "I can't stress to you enough how important Project Omaha is, Sarah. We've not had a program that meant this much to national security in years –maybe ever. Your mission is to bring Bartowski into the fold. You are to get him to join the agency willingly."
"How will I do that, sir?" she asks, already pretty sure that she knows the answer.
"By any means necessary, Agent Walker."
A/N: Alright, there you have it. A bunch of our favorite characters when they were much younger. I hope you liked it. This project excites me because I get to use more canon than I have seen in most alternate universe stories, but tell a completely different story beginning before the pilot. Hopefully you'll stick with me, and enjoy the ride. I look forward to any feedback you may have. I'm kind of writing this one as it comes to me, so your input will certainly influence what I decide to do with the story. Anyway, I look forward to hearing from you, and until next time, you guys are awesome. Peace.