A/N: Well, to those of you still reading, we have reached the end...of sorts. I hope that I managed to do this ending justice, but I'm just not sure. Big thanks to TheJusta for beta-ing this bad boy and getting it back to me quickly. Any mistakes are still mine however. Standard disclaimer of me owning nothing Chuck related applies. I've appreciated all the reviews I've gotten for this story, they've helped motivate at times when I wanted to do nothing. So, read, review, and enjoy.
Chuck vs. The Grid
July 20, 2010 Los Angeles, California CIA Facility
Chuck struggled to open his eyes. They felt a lot heavier than then should have. He tried to bring a hand up to wipe some of the sleep out of them but both his arms were strapped to whatever he was laying on. He tried to move his legs, but they were strapped down as well. His eyes shot open at the realization that he couldn't move.
He quickly had to shut them as the fluorescent lights on the ceiling caused little daggers of pain to flare up behind his eyeballs. He took a few calming breaths and tried to assess his situation. Eyes still closed, he thought back to the previous night. He and his father infiltrated the Fulcrum lab. Orion was able to remove the Intersect. Then his father was gone. The next thing he knew, Casey, Sarah and Bryce were trying to capture him. He leaped from the Fulcrum building to another building across the alleyway and then it went dark. That was it.
He remembered greeting the desk in the office with his face, which must have knocked him unconscious. Sarah or Bryce must have come over and taken his lifeless body back to a CIA facility. He started laughing, but it was forced and hollow, as if he was mocking himself. After everything he had done, after being on the run for over a year and a half, after finally getting the Intersect out, he got caught. 'Just my luck,' he thought bitterly to himself. He opened his eyes again and just stared at the ceiling because there wasn't much else to look at. He knew there was a two way mirror to his left, but he wouldn't give whoever was monitoring him the satisfaction of acknowledging them.
He let out a sigh. One way or another, it was finally over. No more running, no more killing, no more Intersect. That thought alone was enough to quell the anger he felt. Casey, Sarah and Bryce were probably behind that mirror watching him. His betrayers. He knew it would happen, but it still didn't help the fact that people he worked with, hell, people he still liked, would do that to him.
He let out another sigh. Seeing Beckman's smug face when she finally learned of his capture was a picture he was not looking forward to. However, the thing that hurt the most was realizing that he was never going to see Katie or Ellie again. Even though he was going to be locked away in some CIA prison rather than a secret bunker, he knew that Beckman would never let him have visitors. That would bring him a small amount of comfort and happiness, something he was convinced Beckman tried to deny him ever since he became the Intersect.
After a few minutes, Chuck heard a door slide open to his room, but he kept his eyes staring at the ceiling. He was trying to figure out how many tiles there were. He heard a pair of footsteps approaching him. Suddenly, his vision of the ceiling was blocked by the face of middle aged woman wearing horn rimmed glasses.
"Finally awake, I see." She smiled at him.
Chuck kept his face emotionless and said nothing. He was still staring straight up, his eyes never moving.
"Well, you have a nasty cut just below your hairline that I stitched up, and you may have some broken ribs. But other than that, you should be fine."
Again, Chuck said nothing, but thought, 'Who cares?'
"Well, now that you are awake, you are needed in conference room A." She undid the straps on his arms and legs. Chuck still didn't move. 'Why would they want a meeting? Maybe they think I'll become the Intersect again if they agree to lessen my sentence. Fat chance.'
The truth was he didn't want to see any of them. Sarah, Bryce, Beckman. He'd be happy if he never saw any of them ever again. He decided to just lay on the table. After 30 seconds, he heard a gruff voice say, "You better start moving, or I'll move you myself."
'A threat, how original,' he thought sarcastically. Closing his eyes and swallowing, Chuck sat up. He immediately regretted moving so fast. The nurse lady was right, he probably did have broken ribs. He grimaced as he ambled over to the door.
Chuck wore a smirk on his face all the way to the conference room. He had a two man team, both of whom were carrying assault rifles, escorting him. He really must have made a name for himself while on the run. He also saw a few peoples' heads turn when he walked by, almost as if he was some kind of a celebrity. He also heard some people mutter things as he walked by, but couldn't actually hear what it was. All the attention annoyed him.
His bare feet were starting to get cold on the cement floor when they finally reached their destination. The hulking man to his left knocked on the door. The group waited a few seconds before it was opened by Bryce. Chuck had to hide a look of contempt that threatened to form on his face when he saw his former college buddy. Chuck entered the room, deciding it was best to not really look at anything, so his eyes remained unfocused.
A large rectangular table was all the room housed. It looked like one of those absurd dinner tables where the couples would sit on the ends, farthest away from each other. Chuck decided to occupy one of those seats, seeing as everyone else was sitting at the middle of the table. Beckman and Bennett were on one side, while Casey, Sarah and Bryce were on the other.
Chuck looked at his former teammates. Casey gave him a glance, acknowledging his presence. Bryce had a small grin on his face, which infuriated Chuck. Meanwhile, Sarah stared straight ahead, avoiding all eye contact with Chuck. His gaze then shifted to the other side of the table. Bennett had a curious expression on his face as he looked at Chuck, almost not believing that this was the same Chuck Bartowski he had read about. Beckman was staring daggers at Chuck, eyes burning with fury, which confused Chuck. He was sure she would be glad he was caught and would taunt him about it, but maybe it was the fact that he wasn't dead. 'Yeah, that has to be it,' he told himself.
"Well, now that everyone is here," Beckman started, going back to her papers, "let's talk about last night."
'Really?' Chuck thought, 'That's why I'm here. To discuss the other night.'
As Beckman droned on and on, Chuck started looking around the room. He wasn't planning an escape, it was just something to do to pass the time. Beckman, who it seemed wanted every second of last night accounted for and written about, kept asking question after question.
"Mr. Bartowski, do you have anything to add?" chimed in Bennett.
He was staring straight up at the ceiling when he heard his name. He slowly lowered his head and found five sets of eyes on him.
"Never mind," grunted an annoyed Beckman. "Mr. Bartowski, over the past 18 months, you have been a fugitive of the government." Chuck rolled his eyes. "You directly disobeyed orders, operated with no legal power..." Chuck knew he had to cut her off, otherwise it would be an even longer meeting.
"Get to the goddamn point," he said with as much exasperation as he could muster. Beckman's eyes narrowed while Bennett smirked.
"The point," Beckman continued through a clenched jaw, "is that despite all the laws that you've broken, and the fact that you betrayed your country," Chuck's clenched his fists so hard it hurt at that jab, "you are now a free man."
Chuck wasn't sure he heard correctly. He looked over to Bryce and Casey, both of whom gave him looks that indicated it was true. "How?"
"Orion offered himself for your freedom. Since you are no longer the Intersect, you are of no use to us."
Chuck's head dropped. His father gave himself up for Chuck, again. Everything made sense now. That was the plan all along. Having the Intersect out wasn't enough to ensure his freedom. The government had to receive something in return. He cursed himself for not seeing it earlier. Everything made sense now, especially them not telling him. There was no way he would have let his father do this if he'd known about it. Chuck ran a hand through his hair, processing everything. He was free, he had a future, he was going home.
Sensing that Chuck wasn't going to speak anymore, Beckman finished the meeting.
"We will reconvene tomorrow at 0800. We will coordinate efforts to round up all the Fulcrum agents identified by the intel that was gathered."
Chuck's momentary thoughts of his future burst as he thought back to last night. That place was a massacre, orchestrated by FEAR. Judging by what he had heard, the Fulcrum roster was right out in the open, begging to be found. FEAR must be cleaning the house, getting rid of anything or anyone that could tie Fulcrum to them. Chuck cleared his throat. He had to tell them about his flash.
"Umm, yeah, I did manage to flash on something about some organization called FEAR, which Fulcrum was a part of."
He saw Bennett and Beckman exchange knowing glances, but the agents were confused, obviously never having heard of FEAR.
Chuck continued, "It was FEAR who killed everyone there. Fulcrum must have served it's purpose and now they are cleaning up what's left of Fulcrum."
"Well, we'll look into that," Beckman said not looking at Chuck. She continued to the agents. "See you all tomorrow."
Her and Bennett left their seats and proceeded to the door. Beckman never even looked at Chuck while Bennett gave him a once over. He still felt that Chuck could make a valuable operative, what with his ability to hold an Intersect, so he was going to be keeping tabs on him. As the door closed behind the pair, Chuck addressed his former teammates.
"So, you got some forms or something I need to sign before I get outta here?"
"No," Casey answered. "Since you were never 'officially' with the NSA or CIA, there isn't anything to sign. Although by now you should know that certain things need to be kept quiet."
"Yeah, I know the drill. Besides, this is probably one chapter of my life that I'd like to forget." Chuck was about ready to leave when he noticed he was wearing something akin to hospital scrubs. "Hey, where are my clothes and gear?"
"Umm," Bryce started, "hold on, I'll have someone get them."
He got up and left the room, which now housed what once was Team Bartowski. Sarah so far was still avoiding looking at Chuck and Chuck didn't care enough to try and catch her eye. Casey looked back and forth between the two shaking his head. 'Idiots,' he thought to himself.
After a long five minutes, Bryce returned with Chuck's backpack and his clothes for the other night. Chuck immediately took off his shirt, grimacing as he did so. He looked down at his battered ribs, which were bruised heavily, before rubbing a hand over them. Just another injury, nothing more, nothing less. He finished changing in front of the group, all of whom watched him curiously. Chuck normally hated it when people saw him without a shirt and now he was casually changing in front of them like it was nothing.
As Chuck finished tying his shoes, he looked up and saw all eyes on him. They all tried to look away at the same time, resulting in three heads looking at the ceiling. Chuck smiled as he started to dig through his backpack. He pulled everything out and laid it on the table. There were his two 9mm with silencers, his sniper scope, a flash bang, the lock picker, a grenade, his wrist bands with tranq darts, some knives, his Desert Eagle, and a destroyed bullet.
Chuck took the Desert Eagle and stuffed it in his waistband near the small of his back. It was strange how he felt naked without the cold metal pressed into his back. He packed everything up but the 9mm, the lock picker, the tranq darts and the knives.
"Well," Chuck stated as slung the backpack over his shoulder, "looks like I'll be going." He looked at the group.
He went to Casey first and tossed him the bullet that he had pulled from his leg. Casey caught it with a look of surprise on his face. "Thought you might wanna keep that. That is a bullet fired from your gun that I had to pull from my leg. Let the memory of shooting me keep you happy in times of great depression," Chuck finished sentimentally shaking Casey's hand.
Chuck then moved to Bryce. He looked at him for a second before throwing a vicious right hook that connected with Bryce's jaw. Bryce, taken by surprise found himself on his rear end looking up at his friend in shock. "Consider us even for now," Chuck spoke in Klingon. Bryce just grinned and was helped to his feet by Chuck. They shared a hug.
Chuck finally was next to Sarah. She was still avoiding eye contact with him, just looking above his left shoulder. Chuck noticed but didn't care. For the first time in awhile, words failed him with Sarah. He didn't know what to say. So instead of a hug or a kiss, he gave her once last look then simply turned around and walked out of the conference room, out of the CIA facility, out of the spy world.
First Class, En Route to Paris
Agent Weaving was relaxing as he sipped his ice water. FEAR definitely knew how travel, or rather how someone should travel. The stewardess came over to him as he preparing to take a nap, having not slept in almost 24 hours.
"Excuse me, sir?"
Weaving looked at her and his expression became blank for several seconds. He blinked a few times and smiled at her. "Yes?"
"I have a package for you." She handed him a manila folder.
"Thank you," Weaving replied as the woman walked away to try and calm the drunk in the front row who had just ran out liquor.
Weaving opened the envelope and found his new identity. As he stared at his new passport, he began to smile. Things could only get better from here.
Los Angeles, California CIA Facility
Back inside the conference room, the trio are gathering up their belongings, each going through Chuck's strange departure in their mind. Bryce never figured Chuck would hit him, but then again, the man who just left wasn't the same person he knew back in college. Truthfully, Bryce felt like it was deserved and held no ill will. Being the first to pack up his belongings, he left the room first, leaving Casey alone with Sarah. Casey had been intentionally dawdling with his things. He needed to have a chat with Walker and it would be easier once Bryce was gone.
"So," Casey started, "you just gonna let things with Bartowski end like that?"
Sarah let out an angry sigh. It was over. Chuck was going back home where he belonged and she was going back to the CIA where she belonged. Everything was as it was intended.
"Why not? Chuck's got his life back. And besides, it didn't look like he really wanted to say anything to me."
Casey rolled his eyes. "Yeah, because your body language oozed that warm, friendly feeling. I think I felt some frost forming on my shoulder while we were standing next to each other," he finished up sarcastically.
"Look, it's done. It's over. Why can't we both just go our separate ways?"
Casey just sighed and shrugged his shoulders. "Fine. Do what you want. You'll regret it tomorrow, just like I'm sure he's regretting it right now."
With that, Casey left the room. Now Sarah was alone with just her thoughts. The agent side of her was telling her to follow her training. The mission was over. There was no need to contact Chuck. However, the side of her that Chuck had somehow managed to free during their time together screamed at her to find Chuck and work this out. They couldn't end things like this. After all the almosts and maybes, there had to be a better ending.
Sarah quickly gathered up her things and left the facility. For over an hour, she searched all over LA for Chuck. He wasn't at any of his old hangouts, the apartment in Echo Park, Ellie and Awesome's new home, or at the Buy More. When she finally found him, she was kicking herself for not thinking of it earlier. It was the beach where he sat the whole night when he found out he was the Intersect.
She got out of her car and started making her way towards him. He was the lone figure out on the beach, since it was still early in the morning. He was sitting with his arms around his legs, sunglasses on, just staring out into the ocean. He appeared to be in deep thought. Without realizing it, Sarah was standing next to Chuck. She didn't remember her feet carrying her that far, while she watched him.
Chuck didn't say anything, although he knew it was her. It was her smell. He would never forget that about her. She was still standing after a minute, so he decided he finally had to speak.
"You can sit down, you know."
She took a seat next to him. She wanted to lean against him, have him hold her for the first time in what felt like ages, but she took up a position much like his and also stared out into the ocean.
After more silence, Chuck finally spoke. "It's funny. I thought once the Intersect was out I would be happy. But right now, I don't know what I feel. It certainly isn't happiness. Probably more along the lines of apathy." He was more speaking out loud than he was speaking to Sarah.
He shook his head a little. "I'm sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have just left like that without saying something to you. It's just, what do you say?"
Sarah, never being the one who could always find the right thing to say, simply answered, "I don't know."
"So, you must be excited to be able to go home at least. Be part of your family again."
Chuck pondered the thought of a home. "It's just, I don't know how to go home. It sounds weird, I know, but after everything I've done, why would they want me in their lives? I've brought Ellie and Katie nothing but misery. I don't deserve their love or anyone's for that matter."
"Chuck, of course you do. How can you think that you don't?"
"It's what I've become, Sarah. I'm a killer for Christ's sake." He saw her stiffen at his comment. "That's not what I think of you, Sarah."
"If you think that you're a killer, how can you think I'm not one?"
"You're doing a job. You're keeping people safe."
"So were you!"
"Just a side effect of my work. I was doing it for myself, no one else." His head dropped and he mumbled his next words, making it hard for Sarah to hear. "I began to enjoy it. The thrill of a fight, the feel of the gun. It was the only time I felt alive. And after Kristin, I looked forward to it. I wanted it, more and more and more. That's how I'm different from you. I'm sure you don't go into a mission hoping to get into as many scuffles as you can just for the thrill. I had to put these damn sunglasses on in the cab cause I couldn't even stand looking at my own reflection."
"But the fact that you feel this way now, it means your not that same person anymore."
"Aren't I though? My feeling guilty doesn't change who I am or what I've done. I've killed countless sons, daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers. I'm a killer."
"Chuck, those people would have killed you without a second's hesitation. Regardless of what you think of yourself, you were doing good in the world."
"What can be good about taking a life? I know it sounds cliche. They say killing is just a necessary evil of keeping people safe, but it doesn't feel right." He let out a hollow chuckle. "Agent Smith was right, we humans are a virus."
Sarah gave him a strange look.
"From The Matrix." She still had no idea what he was talking about. "It's not important. It's just that, after thousands of years of evolution, the only thing humans as a society have done is learned how to destroy things faster."
Sarah didn't know what else to say to make Chuck not beat himself up over this anymore. She herself had seen a lot of evil in the world and had shared his thoughts about humanity. Sometimes she wondered what was the point. There was always going to be another terrorist, another gun runner, it was never going to stop. But LA had brought her Chuck, who had changed her outlook on life. He had shown her the good in life, friends, family. Chuck's voice brought her from her thoughts.
"I don't blame you for Charlottesville. And you shouldn't blame yourself either."
She was relieved he didn't blame her, but she would always blame herself. She was better than what she had allowed to transpire.
"It was all my fault," he finished.
"Look, Chuck, it wa..."
"Yes, it was," he interrupted. "I should have known better than to get involved with her. I should have stayed away. Isolation seems to suit me best."
"You don't think you deserve to be happy?"
"Maybe before, but not now. Not after everything that's happened."
"So, what? You're just going to go around being miserable?"
"Seems like the easy thing to do. My whole life I've gotten shit on, why should anything change now? Some people are destined for happiness and have tremendous luck. I seem to be on the opposite end of the spectrum. The epitome of Murphy's Law. Just the way things go I guess."
"So, where does that leave us then?" Sarah asked. Chuck actually turned to her. He never remembered her being so direct about their relationship in all their time together.
"I still love you Sarah." He saw her face brighten, but he pushed forward. "But not like that, I'm not in love with you. But after everything we've been through together, a part of me is going to always love you. I mean, how could it not?"
She smiled at him, but it was a sad smile. In reality, she wasn't sure of her emotions anyway. She wasn't sure if she loved him or not because it had been so long and so much had happened. Knowing that Chuck cared for her made her happy. She could count on him. She could always count him.
"Well," Chuck said, getting to his feet. Sarah followed suit. "Take care Sarah. And if you ever need anything, just let me know." Chuck leaned in. Sarah closed her eyes awaiting the contact of his lips on hers. However, Chuck gave her a kiss on the cheek. With that, Chuck turned around and started walking away.
He turned around.
"You do deserve happiness. No matter what you think. I know how good a person you are. You deserve the best."
Chuck smiled at her his big goofy grin. A compliment from Sarah Walker still made him immensely happy and proud. He chuckled a bit as he left the beach. Go figure, it was Sarah who could make him see that maybe things weren't as bad as he thought. He was happy to be going home, and that was okay. 'And she said she's no good with words.'
A/N 2: I know I left some unanswered questions in there. That's deliberate. Also, Weaving is a new character, not Bryce, just to clarify. I do not know when I'll start the new story. I need a break. These last few chapters felt like a chore, so I need to recharge the batteries before I began again. But it will happen. Thanks again to those who stuck with this until the end.