This is it. He's done, his life is over. Yes, it's been a good run for Chuck Bartowski – part-time spy, full-time fuck-up – but now he's crouched in a coffin, hovering over a very wrinkly corpse, waiting for death by giant fist.
With a trembling finger, Chuck pokes at his phone desperately. But what good is it, anyway? Sarah, Casey, and Shaw are at least a thousand miles away by now, not to mention 30,000 feet under him. He's trapped.
Who was Shaw kidding? Chuck's not a spy. He was never a spy. The past two years were just a happy accident, except it wasn't happy at all. It was terrible, and it caused a lot of grief and annoyance and physical pain. And Chuck never had a high pain tolerance to begin with.
Sarah finally answers her phone. Chuck can hear the worry in her tone, though he can't tell whether it's because she's his handler or his sorta-kinda ex-girlfriend.
"Chuck, are you okay? What's happening?" she asks, her voice tight.
Chuck tries to whisper, but as usual, it comes off as more of a high-pitched whine. "Sarah, he's coming for me, and I think he's gonna kill me. What do I do?"
A faint voice from outside the coffin growls, "Try to run."
Suddenly, Chuck feels a rush of chilly air. He's too afraid to turn around. He doesn't want to see Panzer. All things considered, he'd rather die with a corpse in his face and an image of Sarah in his head.
But it seems like he doesn't have a choice. Before he can wriggle out of the way, two beefy hands grab him out of the casket and toss him roughly on the ground. There's a swift kick to his solar plexus, and it's lights out.
Chuck opens his eyes, but he can't see anything. For a second, he thinks he's gone blind. An image flashes into his head of Panzer juggling his eyeballs. Then he realizes that he's just back in the coffin.
But this time, he and his new dead friend are sealed in.
His wrists are bound – duh – but he manages to shift around a little to check if the crypto key is still in his shirt pocket where he left it.
It's not. Great.
There's a loud knock on the coffin lid. "I hope you're comfy in there," Panzer barks. "Because it's another four hours to Paris, and by my math, you've only got about an hour of air left."
Chuck at least has the presence of mind not to scream. "You're probably going to regret this," he says feebly. "Eventually."
Before Panzer can respond, Chuck hears the cargo elevator door open. Hugo kicks the casket as a warning and moves toward the newcomer.
"Hello, darlin'," Panzer snarls. In the coffin, Chuck cringes. "You must be lost. Let me help you back to your seat."
Chuck starts to yell – warning be damned, he's going to die anyway – but he's drowned out by an enormous crash. He hears some luggage fall on the casket, so he keeps screaming. Then, Panzer growls – very Casey-like, Chuck notes wryly – cries out, and falls silent.
Shaw, Chuck thinks. Shaw must have followed him onto the plane. He knew all that "push to succeed" stuff was bullshit. Sarah was right: Chuck wasn't ready, and Shaw knew it.
But when the casket lid flies open and Chuck's eyes adjust to the lights, he doesn't see Shaw.
"Hannah?" he asks.
Hannah's eyelids flutter. "Chuck?"
Rapidly, he sits up, ignoring the pounding in his head. "Oh my god, you're a spy. Of course you're a spy. Why else would you have been so nice to me? Did Shaw send you? Did Sarah?"
"Wait," Hannah says, kneeling. "Are you a spy?"
"Uh…if I were a spy, would I be knocked out and locked in a casket?" He glances over Hannah's shoulder. Hugo's body is sprawled on the floor of the cargo bay, and it looks a little broken. He's surrounded by fallen luggage, and some of it's on top of him. Chuck feels sure that no one person – let alone a pixie – could cause this much damage. "If you're not a spy, how did you take down the Hulk?"
Hannah's face falls, and her eyes harden for just a second. A ghost of a smile appears on her lips. "Would you believe I just know kung fu?"
Chuck gives her a once-over. She's about a third of Hugo's size and there's not a scratch on her – not even her hair is out of place. He cocks an eyebrow. "Frankly, no."
Hannah smiles like she's laughing at a private joke. "Then would you believe that I'm wearing a permanent, high-tech, subcutaneous bio-suit that greatly enhances my strength and speed?"
Chuck can't help but laugh nervously and hope that he hasn't greatly overestimated this woman's sanity. "I would not, no." He laughs again. "But that's not the craziest thing I've ever heard, to be honest."
She tilts her head and regards him with a warm smile that would make Chuck feel gooey inside if he weren't still sitting on a dead body. "I can trust you, can't I?" It's not a question but a statement, like she can just tell.
Chuck's not sure where this is going, but he'd be lying if he said he wasn't curious. "I have been called trustworthy in the past."
Suddenly, Hannah straightens, bends over, clutches Chuck at the waist, and lifts him out of the casket like he's no heavier than a pillow. She sets him on his feet, where he wavers unsteadily, and snaps the bonds at his wrists with manicured, delicate fingers. He looks down at her, dumbstruck.
"My name's not really Hannah."
Of course it isn't. Such is the life of Chuck Bartowski.
"I'm still Chuck," he says. "But we should probably talk."