This has been a long time coming! Finally, Crystal's first attempt at a real and in-depth multichapter project! I've been so excited about this, guys, you don't even know. Factoid: Kill Bryce actually started off as a Chuck adaptation of the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" over a year ago...until I started college, lost track of things, and hit a plot roadblock. Then, of course, it was Frea O'Scanlin who came to the rescue during one of our many chats. She threw an idea at me, it snowballed (like many of her various plotbunnies usually do) and turned into a full-fledged behemoth. Hours of brainstorming and mapping out later, you get this. ;)
Many thanks go out to Frea, who is my partner in crime and is partially responsible for my corruption, a.k.a my leap away from writing adorable fluff fanfiction. She and I had an argument over the amount of credit she deserves in this story, and we've agreed on 12%. (Personally, I think she deserves much more, but she refused. Stubborn girl, that one.) Seriously, guys, I know you know she's awesome, but words cannot express just how much. She's been with me every step of the way, and I can't thank her enough. Similar sentiments go out to the most amazing beta ever, mxpw. He's the guy who's willing to listen to me at any hour of the day and puts up with my constant omg-I-can't-do-this's when it comes to my writing. Also, he just plain rocks. His birthday was this past Friday, y'know. If you haven't wished him a Happy Birthday yet, drop him a quick PM!
Quick note: The first half of this chapter is going to seem very similar to the final scene in S2's Chuck Versus The Ring. I assure you, it branches off into AU territory almost immediately, so bear with me. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck. I also don't own Kill Bill, which doesn't matter anyway since it has absolutely no connection to the title of this story. Heh.
April 20, 2009
Secret Intersect Location, CA
Every so often, Chuck reminded himself that he really wasn't cut out for the whole "super secret agent" thing. This just so happened to be one of those times. With the Intersect finally out of his head, Chuck hoped it would be the last—here, inside of an air conditioning vent that lead straight to the Intersect Vault.
Before he had any more time to dwell on the matter, the opening to the vent gave out from under him, and Chuck fell into the brightly lit room with nonexistent grace. Wheezing, he rolled onto his side.
Yeah, he was definitely not spy material.
The thought came to an abrupt halt as he came face to face with Bryce, who was slumped against the Intersect base. The agent offered him a weak grin.
Chuck frantically scrambled forward on all fours. "Bryce! Bryce, Casey and Sarah…" His eyes widened in panic when he finally noticed the blood spreading across Bryce's side. "Oh my god, you've been shot!"
Bryce gave him a pointed look: Yeah, no kidding. "I'll be fine," he said offhandedly, though his harsh breathing said otherwise. "Look, Chuck, I need you—" He dug a hand into his coat pocket and pulled out an external card. "I need you to use this, put it into the computer. It'll destroy the Intersect."
Chuck blanched. "What? B-but you need the Intersect to fight Fulcrum!"
"Already uploaded it," Bryce replied, tapping a finger against his head. He pushed the card into Chuck's hand. "But they don't know that, and they won't find out. This computer is too dangerous, too powerful. It can't fall into the wrong hands again." He clenched his teeth as another spasm of pain coursed through his body; he was fading fast. "Fulcrum…Fulcrum is only one part of The Ring. They'll use it again us, Chuck, they'll…" He trailed off, eyes fluttering shut.
Chuck was really freaking out now. "Bryce! Come on, hold on, don't die on me now, you can't die on me!"
"Destroy it, Chuck," Bryce repeated, his voice barely audible. "You…have to…"
"Bryce! Bryce—" Chuck's hand shot to Bryce's neck, feeling for any sign of life. The vein pulsed weakly beneath his fingertips. The sigh of relief that escaped Chuck's lips was short-lived; they needed to get out of here now.
With a newfound determination, Chuck sprang to his feet and jammed the card into the computer. Warning signals went off with a high-pitched whine. The computer screen displayed the words "Warning: Power Surge, System Failure" in red before it flickered and cracked. The Intersect cube short-circuited and slowed to a stop. A shockwave swept the entire room, sizzling across the floors and walls like an electrical current.
Before Chuck could use Orion's wrist computer to call for help, the door to the Intersect Vault slid open with a hiss. One of Casey's men stepped into the room, gun drawn and eyes searching. He fixed Chuck with a piercing glare.
"What'd you do?"
No doubt a member of the group Bryce had mentioned. Chuck stared on defiantly. Fuming, the man Casey called Miles walked forward and pointed the gun directly at Chuck's heart.
"What did you do?"
"I destroyed it," Chuck said, a hint of smugness seeping into his reply. "You're too late."
If looks could kill, he certainly would've been dead on the spot.
"For that, you'll die last," Miles snarled, lowering his weapon and stalking toward the Intersect base. Behind him, four more Ring members entered the vault, shoving a handcuffed Sarah and Casey ahead of them.
Sarah looked to Chuck first, sweeping over him to check for any injuries. Then her eyes dropped down to the unmoving body next him, and she stiffened in horror.
Three steps later, she was violently dragged back by two of the Ring lackeys, their guns trained on her. Again she looked wildly to Chuck, who stepped protectively over Bryce as the other two lackeys surrounded them. At her silent question, he gave a subtle shake of his head:
"There's nothing left!"
Casey sneered, expression full of hatred as he glared at his former teammate. "So you lose."
Miles straightened from the ruined computer, eyes narrowing into dangerous slits. "You should know this," he said, walking toward the handcuffed agents. "No one stops us. No one ever has."
"Who are you?" Sarah demanded, her voice wavering.
Miles smirked. "Spies, Agent Walker." With that, he raised his gun to shoot.
"No!" All eyes turned to a very pale Chuck, who'd taken a step forward, hand outstretched. "Wait! Don't shoot her, please!"
The smirk on Miles's face became absolutely wicked. He turned back to Sarah and took aim. "No, I think I'll do just that."
"A deal! I'll make you a deal!" Chuck said frantically, taking another step even with all four lackeys pointing their weapons at him. "I'll get you another Intersect!"
That did the trick. Sarah and Casey's eyes widened simultaneously as the implications behind his offer clicked into place.
Miles paused, surprise flickering across his face. Taking the bait, he turned to Chuck, his gun still trained on Sarah. "You have five seconds to convince me, or I put a bullet through her head."
"Bartowski," Casey bellowed, "don't you dare—"
Chuck ignored him. "Orion! He can make you another one, he's the only one who can do it, I can get him to make it for you—"
"Chuck, NO!" Sarah screamed again, eyes wide with horror. Miles tightened his hold on his gun, ready to pull the trigger.
"I'm his son! Take me hostage, he'll do whatever you want!"
A deathly silence followed the outburst. Miles slowly lowered his gun, eyes boring into Chuck's.
"You're Orion's son?"
Chuck gulped. "Yes." He visibly shuddered as Miles raised the gun again for good measure. "Yes, yes! I swear! Look, the Intersect's been destroyed again, and no doubt my dad will go back into hiding. Which means I'm your only chance to find him!"
Miles pursed his lips. "Alright," he said, facing Sarah again. "But your team still dies."
"No! Please, just—just put down the gun, we can work this out!"
"I don't take risks, Chuck." Miles said, his expression cold. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill them both."
Chuck was starting to hyperventilate. Eyes darting between Sarah and Casey, he wracked his brain for something, anything.
Miles let out an impatient sigh. "If you're done—"
"Because," Chuck interrupted frantically, "because that's the deal! Either they walk out of here alive, or…or we all die." His eyes hardened. "And you never get your Intersect."
Miles raised an eyebrow and cocked his gun.
Chuck flinched. "Okay, okay, that might've come out a bit strong. But the principle still stands!"
They locked gazes, challenging each other, for three agonizing seconds. Finally, a smile crept onto Miles's face. He lowered the gun once more, locking the safety.
"Okay. We'll do it your way." Off Chuck's baffled expression, he barked orders to the other Ring agents. "Dump the agents and Larkin's body outside. One of you, go and prep the chopper." As the lackeys began rounding them up, Miles looked at Chuck, that all-too suspicious smile still plastered across his lips. "You're coming with me."
Reluctantly, Chuck stepped away from Bryce and followed Miles to the door. Something wasn't right. There was no way this could be so easy. His eyes found Sarah's; it looked like she was thinking the exact same thing.
This won't work, she seemed to convey silently, her panic visibly mounting. He's lying. They'll kill us whether or not you go with them.
Chuck got the message. Stepping across the threshold, he stopped abruptly and turned to Miles. "Wait. At least let me say goodbye to Sarah."
Miles rolled his eyes, but nodded his consent to the others. "Hurry up."
Chuck took a deep breath and stepped toward Sarah, only for the lackeys to block his path, shoving her behind them. Chuck relented, stepping back and instead fixing the blonde agent with a meaningful look. Her eyes were wide and searching.
"Promise me something, Sarah?"
"Anything," she whispered.
Chuck offered her a small, sad smile. He saw her put together the final pieces before he even said the words.
"Save me later."
Everyone saw his hand reach beneath his sleeve, but it was already too late to stop him. The building erupted into chaos as Chuck punched in the final keystrokes on Orion's wrist computer. Sirens blared to life as the lights flicked from white to red; the blast door to the Intersect vault slammed shut, crushing the lone Ring agent standing beneath it and effectively locking Miles and Chuck out of the Intersect vault.
Miles spun to face Chuck, his face contorted in rage. Throwing him up against the wall, he pressed the gun against Chuck's throat with a snarl.
"Unlock the door!"
Chuck squeezed his eyes shut, his breathing harsh. "We made a deal! You said they'd get out of here alive. I'm making sure that happens." He let out an audible gulp. "And you…you still need me!"
Miles let out an inhuman growl and shoved him toward the exit, gun still drawn. Throwing back his sleeve, he yelled into his watch, "One man down, two trapped and in combat! Requesting backup to tracked location immediately!" He turned to Chuck, eyes brimming with hatred.
"To the chopper. After I'm finished with you, Chuck, you're going to wish you were dead."
The moment the blast door went down, Sarah went into overdrive. Before the Ring agent in front of her had time to react, she kicked the weapon out of his hands and landed a vicious roundhouse across his jaw. He crashed to the ground, unconscious. She darted out of the way just in time as Casey charged forward, and the other lackey was met with a powerful swipe across the head before he, too, fell to the floor with a loud crack.
She didn't wait to see the outcome. Snatching one of the guns from the ground, Sarah sprinted to the door, searching for a button, a key, anything that could unlock it.
Nothing. She slammed against the door in pure desperation. This couldn't be happening. Not now, not after everything he'd been through, not when they were so damn close.
"Come on, Walker, we have to find another way out of here!" Casey shouted, as he made sure the lackeys were far from conscious.
Sarah fixed him with an incredulous look. "What? No! Chuck's still out there, we have to save him!"
"He just saved our asses, Walker! He did this for a reason, he's giving us time to escape! We'll get Bartowski later, they won't kill him—"
"No!" Sarah practically shook with fury. "Goddamn it, Casey, they're going to torture him!"
"We go back there now and we're as good as dead. Then no one saves Bartowski, and we all lose!"
She knew he was right. Still, Sarah could barely contain a frustrated scream. He was supposed to be free from all of this! Damn it, why'd he have to play the hero this time? Slamming her fists on the door one last time, she slid to the ground, angry tears threatening to spill over.
Casey allowed her to take the moment. "There has to be another way out," he muttered, glancing around the room. "Bartowski wouldn't lock us in here without planning an escape…"
Both Casey and Sarah whirled around at the faint voice. Bryce let out a weak groan, pressing a hand to his head. Within moments Sarah was there, pulling the wounded agent into her lap.
"Oh my god, Bryce—"
Bryce cut her off. "We have to get out of here. They're bringing in reinforcements, they'll be here any moment." He turned his head to Casey, his breath ragged. "Break off the Intersect base. There's a conduit underneath that leads directly into the lower levels of the complex. From there…from there we can navigate through the tunnels. If we take the right path…it'll get us at least half a mile away from this place."
Sarah stared at him in shock. "How…how do you know that?"
The answer was evident in his eyes. Sarah sucked in a shaky breath. If those agents had known…
Before she could voice her thoughts aloud, Casey called out to her; he tossed her a ring of keys, and she quickly unshackled her handcuffs. She looked down at the gunshot wound in Bryce's side and bit her lip.
"This is bad, Bryce. We have to get you to a hospital."
Bryce shook his head. "Bullet just missed my vitals. I'll survive." He let out a weak chuckle, which only made him cringe in pain. "Blood loss is pretty significant, though. At this rate, I'll probably need a transfusion."
Wordlessly, Sarah shed her jacket and pressed it firmly against the wound. Bryce hissed in pain and squeezed his eyes shut. They stayed like that for a couple of minutes as Casey continued to work at the Intersect base. She was fairly certain he'd fallen unconscious again, so she closed her eyes as well, trying to keep the impending dread from seeping back into her gut.
"We'll get him back, Sarah."
Sarah's eyes flew open. She looked down to see Bryce staring up at her, his expression solemn and searching. She quickly turned her head away; he'd catch all of the emotions flashing across her face if she didn't. When she looked back several moments later, his eyes were closed once again.
"I know," she said finally, when she was sure Bryce was out cold.
She hoped to God that he'd be alive when they did.
A deafening blast sounded directly outside the vault, and Sarah whipped her head around in a panic.
With a final clang, the Intersect base toppled over, revealing their emergency exit out of the building. Casey peered in; Sarah imagined that the large, dark hole leading to the depths below wasn't exactly the most inviting sight. At this point, she didn't really care. From the sound of it, the vault door was only a few blasts away from its breaking point.
Casey ran back to his comrades and helped Sarah drag Bryce to the opening. "Drop him through after me," he roared to Sarah, as the walls shook with the aftershock of the explosions, "I'll catch him at the bottom!" With a nod, he disappeared down the shaft.
At Casey's okay, Sarah slowly pushed Bryce towards the hole. He dropped into the darkness; a few moments later, she distinctly heard a loud grunt followed by a muttered "Freakin' deadweight." She gave one last fleeting look at the door before following suit, a silent promise for him and her both.
Wait for me, Chuck.
And there you have it. :) Prologue is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. It's gonna spiral out of control next chapter. Don't believe me? Here are some snippets to keep you interested (and yes, I stole the preview idea from Frea):
"Not dead yet, are we?" Chuck inwardly cringed at the sound of Miles's voice. A hand yanked his face upwards, and Chuck let out a moan as another wave of pain sliced through his body.
Miles grinned back at him. "Good. You're no use to us dead." He patted Chuck's cheek, which elicited an almost inaudible whimper. "Gotta say, Bartowski, I'm surprised your pain tolerance has even lasted this long. Normal civilians crack after a day, but you? You've lasted five. I guess sticking with the government for a year or two has actually done you some good."
Chuck waited until his coworker had walked away from his cubicle before turning back to his computer screen.
Orion's encrypted face stared back at him.
"Holy sh—" Chuck sprang back and nearly fell out of his chair. "Dad?"
The mechanized voice cut him off. "I can't stay on long. It's already dangerous enough as it is, but this is extremely important. Do not go back home, Charles. The CIA is heading over to apprehend you as we speak."
Kill Bryce will be updated on a biweekly basis. Next chapter comes out on the 28th...hope to see you then! :)