A/N: I didn't mean to take this long but life really got in the way and I do apologize for this being such a short chapter.
"They're visiting an old contact of ours, an ex-NSA agent by the name of Jon Sanders. Nowadays he deals in forgery and information brokering," Bryce said, which generated a grunt from Casey in response.
"I know him, a real bastard to work with. He was…messy; always left a lot of cleanup for others. How'd you two end up working with him?" Casey asked.
"We had an off-the-record mission and needed IDs and some information."
Bryce remembered the mission well and Sanders especially well. He was one of those lone wolves whom no one ever wanted to work with. He didn't know what made Sanders leave the NSA, but judging by his behavior, he was likely fired for disciplinary reasons. His contacts were top notch, though; he had provided them information not even the CIA had been able to dig out, and the forged IDs were quality work. Dealing with him wasn't a pleasure, particularly because he kept hitting on Sarah.
"You stay put and keep tracking their car while I'll go and have and talk with our friend."
Casey hurried out of the house before Bryce could even protest. Then again, he couldn't leave the building without risking his cover, and Sanders probably thought he was either rogue or dead. However, sitting around the house and monitoring screens was not what Bryce desired. He was an agent, not a house sitter. It didn't take years of field experience to know Casey was just trying to mess with him. Bryce had yet to come up with a plan to save Chuck's life, but he was confident that he could persuade the general to spare Chuck in case he couldn't come up with a proper plan.
After another visit to an In-N-Out, Sarah parked their car in front of a large, plain gray building. She took a quick glance at the other cars parked close to the building. The surroundings were familiar, and only a few of the cars had been changed since her last visit. She knew that she was taking a risk, but if all went well they would be closer to getting out of Beckman's reach. She had no idea yet how Chuck could return to his family and normal life, so she focused for the moment on getting him out of harm's way. That meant getting out of United States.
They left the car and headed towards the building. They went through the main doors and walked inside. The hallway was filled with doors on each side and a single phone to their left, just like she remembered. Sarah picked up the phone and heard a woman's voice answer. The voice inquired her name and business.
"Sarah Walker, I'm here to see Jon Sanders," Sarah answered.
The voice on the other end sounded different than last time but had a somewhat similar tone. She remembered the slutty secretary from her last visit and, judging by this one's tone, the current one was no different. Sarah heard the secretary tap her keyboard for several seconds. The secretary then told her how to reach Sanders' office, a rather long set of instructions, while Chuck paced around the hallway impatiently. Sarah knew normally he would have pulled out his iPhone and started playing with it, but they had left his iPhone in Burbank as a precaution. Sarah ignored Chuck's nervous pacing as she listened carefully to the secretary's instructions. After she ended the call, Sarah grabbed Chuck by his hand and pulled him towards the doors to exit the building.
Chuck took a quick glance at Sarah. Her face was filled with confidence. Even though Chuck had learned a lot about her, she was still an enigma to him. She had always been the supportive and understanding one, while Casey always mocked and made fun of him. Still, he had considered him his friend…that is, until Casey tried to kill him. But like so many times before, Sarah had saved his life. Every time they talked it was like she understood what he was going through. More importantly, she was the reason why all the spy stuff hadn't made his life totally miserable. But just having her around wasn't enough anymore; he wanted more. He needed to know if her feelings towards to him were real or not. Nobody ever sent so many mixed signals to him. He had already heard her deny him under the effect of a truth serum, only to be on the receiving end of a phenomenal kiss from her on the pier when they found what they thought was a bomb Stavros Demetrios smuggled into the country. She categorically denied that kiss meant anything to her when he blew the Lon Kirk case, but then she was ready to give up her career and even her life to prevent him from being put in an underground bunker. He didn't know if his mind was just clinging to some modicum of hope, but he was pretty sure she felt something for him when they captured Lizzie and Awesome proposed to Ellie. He wasn't sure how Sarah would feel, but he promised himself he was going to do something about it soon.
She took them towards a much taller and fancier edifice opposing the building they originally entered. Below the huge wall of glass was a sleek sign stating the company's name: Branson & Thornton. It sounded like a very high-profile law firm to Chuck, and what he saw in front of them did not change that one iota. They stepped through the large automatic glass doors into a huge and almost futuristic-looking lobby. A colossal round glass elevator rising up to the sky in the middle of the building dominated the view. Almost everything laid in front of their eyes was glossy white, glass, or brushed aluminum.
"Wow! Talk about posh," Chuck gaped, completely baffled by the sight. All of the desks sported receptionists with identical clothing and manners. They all had glasses on their faces and hair pulled neatly into a ponytail. They weren't overly sexualized, although looks had obviously been a part of their qualifications. Chuck was wondering if this was where the models in those old Robert Palmer music videos ended up when they were done.
All of the clients visiting were also dressed in expensive suits and had designer suitcases. Both Chuck and Sarah felt like they didn't fit in the picture and drew quizzical looks from the people around the lobby. Sarah guided them towards an open reception desk. The receptionist hid her surprise easily and greeted them.
"How may I help you?" she asked politely but with a slightly sharp edge in her voice, almost like she despised them for their unprofessional apparel.
"We have an appointment with Josh Stannis," Sarah replied calmly. The receptionist looked at the big and sleek screen on her desk. Like everything else on her desk, it looked brand new and extremely expensive.
"3rd floor, second door on the right," the receptionist said without the sharp tone. Something she had seen on the screen made up for their unprofessional appearance.
Jon Sanders sat in his dark and dull office. The office was small, cramped, and filled with cigarette smoke. Sanders was nearing his forties, but already he looked older than that. His skin was hard, and the features in his face were etched permanently, the result of stress and hard work. He was never his superiors' favorite, always too rash, egotistical, and never cared for the consequences of his actions. He got the job done but usually left a huge mess for everyone else to clean up. One mistake was enough to end his career as an NSA agent. Now he meddled with forging false identification papers and trafficked information, for both the agencies and criminals. The job wasn't particularly rewarding. It paid well enough, but it didn't give the satisfaction of taking down a rogue agent or lawless terrorist. But his extreme methods and ruthlessness had cost him his job, and now he had to pay the price.
Then his door opened. Two figures stepped in, and Sanders instinctively rested his hand on the Glock 17 under his desk. He wasn't going to take any chances with a CIA agent, even though he had offered his services to her before.
"Agent Walker, to what pleasure do I owe this visit?" Sanders asked, forming a small smile on his lips. He made no effort to conceal his eyes roaming up and down her body. The last time she was here, she had ignored his actions completely. This time, Sarah took a step closer to the other figure, who certainly didn't like him checking out Sarah.
Interesting, Sanders thought. Never seen her react that way with someone else.
"Business," Sarah answered coldly and directly.
"He should be coming to any minute," the physician explained. "Their brain activity has increased dramatically but otherwise they both seem completely healthy. Even if they work as predicted, we should do some tests once in a while to see if there are any side-effects to having the Intersect in their heads. We have never seen the brain work so hard, especially as they should be resting up right now."
The tall and buff man lying on the white bed stirred slightly. The NSA agent's angular face had been constantly strained since the uploading process but all vital signs showed him to be perfect fit. Moments later, his arm moved, and the rest of his body followed, lifting him to sit up on the bed. But he crashed back onto the bed almost instantly, holding his head in pain and cursing loudly. The physicians immediately reacted and checked his condition; there didn't seem to be anything wrong except for what appeared to be a splitting migraine. They injected him with morphine, but the hard-boiled agent still whimpered in agony. Eventually, he drifted back to sleep.
Graham's CIA agent was still unconscious from the upload. But just like the NSA agent, his vitals were in good shape. "How long do you think it will take to get them field ready?" Langston Graham asked.
Graham had concerns about this program, but he had bigger problems on his plate. He had just heard rumors of a major Fulcrum operation somewhere in the Middle East, and Graham wanted his Intersect to get there. They needed to know if the computer inside of his head held any information on the operation. They desperately needed some new intel on how Fulcrum worked, and capturing Fulcrum agents abroad could be just the break they needed.
Big Mike read aloud from the scrap of paper regarding the vote on the new assistant manager. Poor bastard. Must have been so out of it, he voted for himself, he thought and picked up the next piece of paper. It also said Jeff. Big Mike checked the rest of the votes. Each of them had either Jeff or Jeffrey written on them. Big Mike took a suspicious glance at the employees standing in front of him. Jeff had a somewhat goofy smile on his face while everyone else looked scared. Lester couldn't hide his guilt.
I'll have your Indian ass for this, Big Mike thought as he shot a deadly glare at Lester, who almost jumped back in fear. Big Mike was stumped, but he had no time to arrange another vote. Not that it would have been any help since the morons had obviously stacked the vote this time. He sighed heavily.
"I guess this means Jeff here will be our new assistant manager, at least for the time being. But if you screw up…you better believe it'll be your severely-medicated ass that will end up in my doghouse," he said angrily as he pointed his finger at Jeff, who had his usual unfazed look on his face. Morgan and Anna, on the other hand, were trying hard to muffle their laughs.
"Now beat it!" Big Mike exclaimed and everyone obeyed. He turned towards his office. "Goddamn racial quotas and regulations," he muttered in disgust.
"Agent Walker, to what pleasure do I owe this visit?" Sanders didn't bother to hide he was looking at Sarah with more than a few unprofessional thoughts on his mind.
"Business," Sarah answered coldly and directly."We need new IDs and fast."
Sanders took a quick glance at Chuck and then looked back at Sarah, continuing to eye her body with a smirk on his face. Chuck already decided he hated that guy. He was like the worst parts of Bryce and Casey combined. Chuck was just waiting for him to spit out some sleazy pick-up line or a cheesy one-liner.
"And the payment?" Sanders crossed in front of his desk and sat on it in an inelegant manner, as if he was inviting Sarah to do something untoward. "If the agency isn't backing you on this assignment, I could think of a few ways to bring down the price."
Sarah took her wallet from the right pocket of her jeans and grabbed a handful of bills, slamming them on the desk. "Here's the money," she stated with a dangerous tone. "You want it or not? If you do, then drop the macho bullshit."
Chuck could see the gears turning in Sanders' head. He took a glance at Sarah, then at the pile of bills lying on the desk, mostly 100's. He opted for the money. "Fine." He handed a piece of paper to Sarah. "Here's the address of an abandoned warehouse. My men will meet you there and you can work out the details."
Sarah paused for a moment. "You wouldn't be interested in making some extra money, would you?" Sarah's voice made the temperature in the room drop another ten degrees. "Some big time money?"
Sanders took a moment to think before answering. "Maybe. What do you have in mind?"
She took the car keys from her pocket and threw them on the desk. "I could use one of those cars you have in front of the office building. I'm guessing they're all insured?" Sanders nodded. "You report it stolen after two days, the police will find it dumped in a ditch, and you get the insurance money. And on top of that you get a 2008 Focus SE, which must be worth at least eight grand."
Sanders took his time pondering his options. He wasn't sure if Sarah really was just offering a good deal or if she was desperate for a car. He thought about just how desperate she might be, but the look on her face made him decide to go with the money. He wasn't going to waste what could be a twenty grand deal just to see if he had chance of having his way with Sarah Walker so he reached behind him and grabbed a set of keys out of the desk. He dangled them in the air. "So, how's Bryce?" Sanders asked with a leering gaze, knowing very well that he was dead...or at least he thought so.
Sarah ignored his futile attempt to mess with her and reached out with her right hand to snatch the keys from Sanders.
"Let's go," Sarah said as both of them turned and headed for the door.
"You sure you don't want to bring down that price? I'm sure we could come to a mutual agreement," Sanders implied in a none-too-subtle sexual overtone just before they reached the door.
With one smooth motion Sarah turned around, grabbed a knife from her jeans and threw it, implanting it in Sanders' desk right between his legs.
"Darn it, I missed. But it is a small target," Sarah answered with a menacing gaze.
She pushed Chuck out of the office before following him and slamming the door behind. Chuck backed a step away from Sarah with a scared look on his face.
"What?" she asked in confusion.
"Remind me to never, EVER, cross you," Chuck answered sheepishly.
"Oh, stop," she replied with a huge grin, giving Chuck a playful punch on his shoulder.
A/N: More like half of a chapter but there you have it. I'm currently working on revising the first few chapters as there were some things I didn't really know how to write when I wrote them and a few things I disliked. It's nothing dramatic really, just some changes regarding Chuck and Sarah and the storyline remains the same but when I do get the revised chapters out, I do suggest reading them.
After that I'm going to get right back on writing chapter 7 which I've already started. It could be another 'stub' chapter but after that, things really start moving and there's finally going to be some good stuff (not just fluff) soon, starting from CH8. I can't really promise the next chapter will be up anytime soon though because I've got a lot going on right now 'cos someone tried to steal my bike and ended up wrecking the fork and ignition, and I have all sorts of thing sort out with the insurance company and police.
Once again, thanks to P.J. for the beta and all mistakes are mine because of some last minute tampering.
Anyway, if you enjoyed this or any other story, please review!
Your reviews keep us going through the hard bits.