Author's Note: This is the end. Thank you all for sticking with me and for all of your great reviews. It took a little longer to get out than I planned, but that's because I kept going over it. Now, I'm at the point where I just have to go with what I've got. Hope you like it.
Recap: Chuck and Sarah have known each other for three days. During their time together they behaved in ways they normally wouldn't have because they thought they would never see each other again. They were wrong. So. Very. Wrong. This is day four and their worlds are about to collide.
One Degree of Chuck and Sarah
September 19, 2007
His plan to evade the party had not gone as he'd hoped. Ellie found him hiding in his room with Morgan and started to tear into him about getting back out there and meeting her very nice, very available friends. That is, until she noticed his bandaged up hand. She immediately hauled him out of the apartment, past the courtyard, and to the hospital where she had x-rays taken of his hand to assess the damage, in spite of Chuck's protests that he was fine. The x-rays showed a small fracture requiring a simple splint; Ellie, however, was having none of that. She ordered his hand be put in a cast. Chuck argued for a black one to deter anyone from asking to adorn it with their "art"; but Ellie told him to stop acting like a baby, he was getting plain white. Well, at least I got out of that party, he'd thought.
Having gotten back to their apartment past midnight, the party was all but over. Devon and Morgan were cleaning up, Ellie and Chuck joined them.
"Thanks for helping clean up, Morgan. I know how much you wanted to go to the party."
"Well, actually, I did go. After you two took off, no one stopped me from joining. I loved the appetizers, Ellie did it again," said Morgan walking into Chuck's room a few moments after Chuck had. "So, how about we finish that Call of Duty mish?"
"Sorry, buddy," Chuck said holding out his cast-plastered hand. "No can do."
"It's cool, I get it," he said. A bleep from Chuck's computer caught his attention. "Wow. Like, blast from the past wow. Bryce remembered your birthday, dude."
"The guy that got you kicked out of school? The guy who stole your girl? Remember that guy?"
Walking over to his computer Chuck responded, "Yeah, Morgan. I think I remember Bryce."
"Well, what uh... what have we got here?"
"Huh." Across the screen the words The terrible troll raises his sword were displayed.
"What is it?"
"Zork... you remember Zork? That old text-based video game? Well, Bryce and I programmed our own version of it back at Stanford using the TRS-80," Chuck said fondly.
"Wow, you guys were really cool," said Morgan shaking his head.
"If I could only remember what was in my hero's satchel..." At the turn of the head and roll of the eyes Morgan gave him, Chuck added, "The weapons that I would use to kill the terrible troll."
"Riiight. You know what? You're still really cool," was Morgan's sarcastic comment.
"And, uh... you're going home."
"Is it that time?"
"It's that time. Pedal safe!" Chuck shot over his shoulder to a retreating Morgan.
The answer came to Chuck, and he typed out the words Attack troll with nasty knife on the keyboard, then hit Enter.
The computer monitor went into full-screen mode and started displaying images and video at an ever increasing speed. Chuck took a step back and began taking it all in. Before he knew it, he was mesmerized by the screen and his eyes began rapidly darting left and right. He stood frozen like a statue for hours as the program ran its course, finally ending just as his alarm went off at 7 am, at which point... Chuck dropped unceremoniously backward straight onto the carpet not knowing how long he'd been there.
A muffled and distorted, "Chuck! Chuck?" came from Morgan.
As he opened his eyes, Chuck saw superimposed images in his vision, ever changing in front of a very bendy Morgan swaying above him. His vision cleared as did his hearing.
"Dude... dude. You okay?" Morgan asked waving his hand in front of Chuck's face.
"Mo-Morgan?" asked the shaky voice.
"Yeah man! Yeah, it's me." Morgan offered his hand and pulled Chuck into a sitting position. "What happened?"
"I was going to ask you the same question," Chuck replied as he sent a look towards his now dormant computer. "Did you spike the punch?"
Chuck got to his feet and they started to make their way out of his room, as Morgan defends, "Something goes wrong you blame me. After all these years, where's the trust?" followed quickly by, "Yes, I did."
September 19, 2007
Chuck couldn't wait for his shift to end today. The Irene Demova virus was running rampant and the headache he'd had since waking up this morning was not helping; neither were the Buy Morons that had been coming after him with a marker all day. Whereas yesterday, he dreaded going home, today he couldn't wait to get to his room, away from everyone. It was disconcerting for him to keep remembering stuff all morning long, and not remembering when or where he'd learnt it. Morgan must have used something really strong to spike the punch last night for it to be messing with his mind so much. Banging his head against his folded arms resting on the desk, he chanted, "I'm losing my mind, I'm losing my mind, I'm losing my mind."
Until Morgan snapped him out of it, that is. "Dude! It's Vicky Vale!"
Chuck's head slowly rose and his eyes followed Morgan's gaze towards the Buy More doors. His heart fluttered because making her way into the store was Sarah, who he'd missed so much since they'd said good-bye at the airport. As soon as he got a clear look at her, his whole body tensed. His pupils dilated, and dozens of images invaded his mind...
September 19, 2007
As soon as Sarah arrived in Burbank, she headed for a hotel. She checked into a room, dropped her bag and dialed Graham.
"Walker, are you settled?" said the agitated voice of Langston Graham.
"Yes, sir; I'm in Burbank, just checked into a hotel."
"Listen, there are some things happening beyond my control. It's proving to be harder than I thought for me to set things in motion. For now, get some sleep. You have a long day ahead of you. Call me back at 8 am, your time." With that, the Director ended the call.
Sleep? So close to Chuck? That wasn't going to be easy.
September 19, 2007
Sarah finally managed to get a couple of hours of sleep, but at 8 sharp, she was on the phone with Graham.
"Last night, Bryce Larkin broke into a highly classified CIA facility and destroyed something called the Intersect computer, but not before sending out an email with all the information stored in the machine attached."
"Sir, I've never heard of any Intersect computer. What is it? What information did it contain?"
"After 9/11, we were ordered to pool all information from every intelligence service together; mine it for patterns, connections, anything that would prevent another attack like that one from happening again. The Intersect was how we did it. It had everything stored within it, and Larkin took it all."
"I assume that's why I'm in Burbank then? How do you want me to handle Bryce?"
"No, Sarah. You don't understand, John Casey has already taken care of him. You're in Burbank because we traced the email he sent to a man in Echo Park. We're working up a file on him. I'll call you as soon as it's done."
"Yes, sir." An uneasy feeling came over Sarah. That was way too close to Chuck. She really didn't want to run the chance of bumping into him. If that happened, she would have to reject any attempt he made toward spending time with her. Not only because she was on the job, but because it could put his life in danger. She didn't want that, she didn't want Chuck to have anything to do with her world. The thought of hurting him, though, tugged at her heart. She really hoped that she didn't run into him. Still, her instincts told her something wasn't quite right. She'd learned to trust those instincts long ago.
Four hours later, Sarah got the call from Graham.
"Sir, if I may, why is it taking so long to get this info?"
"The NSA is not playing nice. Larkin was one of ours; that has consequences. They're using that as an excuse to cut us out of the loop. They've already sent Casey out there and they wanted him to get there before you. He's going after the computer in Echo Park. I want you to go after the man Bryce sent the information to, he may have it on him. Regardless, I want you to get to him before the NSA does. I want to know what he knows."
"Yes, sir. Where am I going?"
"We've found he works at a Buy More. We'll have a photo to send you by the time you get there."
She was given the address to the Burbank Buy More branch, and that feeling she had hours before came back with a vengeance. Chuck worked at a Buy More, he didn't say which one, but this had her insides twisting. It was getting harder and harder to ignore the possibility, no matter how farfetched she thought it.
September 19, 2007
Sarah Walker exited her car and walked towards the entrance of the Buy More electronics store. A few feet from the door her phone rang. "Yes, sir?"
"It turns out the man Larkin sent the Intersect data to, was his college roommate. We didn't know this earlier because there has been no known communication between them for the last five years. I'm sending you his photo now."
She looked down at her phone, and as she stepped inside, the face of a wide-grinning Chuck Bartowski began to fill her screen.
"His name is Charles Bartowski. A loser by the looks of things, but be careful, Sarah. Larkin wouldn't have sent the information to just anyone. This man is dangerous."
Sarah had stopped moving. She heard Graham's voice off in the distance, but didn't register what he was saying. She was too focused on the face on her phone's screen; her stomach felt like it was ripping itself apart. She was going to be sick...
September 19, 2007
Chuck eyes fluttered open and shut a couple of times, and the tension in his body was gone; suddenly he knew information about Sarah she had never shared with him; information that should've had him running scared. Like the fact that she was a government agent; a very deadly and dangerous government agent. But he knew Sarah. He knew the kind of person she was at her core. What he'd seen disturbed him, and there was no way he wasn't going to ask about it, but it didn't change the way he felt about her. So instead, he got upset. Leave it to him to focus on the wrong thing. He rushed around the Nerd Herd desk and made his way towards her, leaving behind him a very perplexed Morgan.
Everything Graham was saying finally started making its way into Sarah's consciousness, but she knew Chuck. Now that she'd found out what their connection was, she knew he couldn't possibly be involved with whatever Bryce was up to. When Chuck talked about his college roommate, he seemed to hate the guy, and why wouldn't he after what he'd done? The reason there seemed to be no communication between the two in five years was because there really wasn't any. Chuck had no reason to do such a thing. As for him being dangerous? Yeah, she'd seen how dangerous Chuck was. She was more afraid of a cold. Bryce had screwed him yet again, this time however, what he did had potentially deadly consequences. The sudden appearance of Chuck right in front of her snapped her out of her ever worsening thoughts.
"Bryce Larkin? He was the partner you told me about?" In a lower but still harsh tone he added, "And you're both spies? What the hell, Sarah?"
Her eyes widened. "Come with me." She grabbed his hand and dragged him back to her car.
"How did you know that, Chuck?" She demanded once they were both seating in her car. "You told me you haven't talked to Bryce in five years! Was that a lie?" She narrowed her eyes.
"What? No! I didn't lie to you!" He responded quickly, feeling wrongly accused of lying. "I've just been having these weird bursts of information all morning. Like memories, but of things I didn't know in the first place."
A worrying thought occurred to her. "Chuck, I know he sent you an email last night. Did you open it?" She asked quickly.
"Yeah. It was just an old line from Zork. A game we used to play back in college." He was still upset, but that was quickly changing the longer the conversation went on.
"Was that it? Was there anything else?" She prodded.
"There was an attachment... it was just a bunch of pictures."
"Did you see them?"
Her tone worried him a little. "Should I not have?" He asked apprehensively.
"Chuck, those pictures were encoded with every secret the government has. They had a theory that if the right person saw them, they would be able to recall the information encoded in the pictures." She continued, "You haven't talked to Bryce in five years, and I know I didn't tell you about what we do. So, it looks like the theory was right. Those secrets are all in your head and you have access to all of them."
Chuck was freaking out. "Sarah, what does that mean? What's going to happen to me now? Why would Bryce do this to me?"
"I don't know, Chuck." She was starting to freak out just like Chuck. If there was ever going to be a reunion between the two of them, this was definitely not how she would have pictured it happening.
"Well, can't we just call Bryce and tell him to come fix me?" He asked with a hopeful look on his face.
"Sorry, Chuck. Bryce is dead. Even if he wasn't, he wouldn't have been able to get the secrets out." If he were still alive however, she could have shot him for doing this Chuck. He had doomed Chuck. She knew he wouldn't be killed, not now, anyway. Not after what she had just discovered. He was too valuable. He was an asset. As soon as he outlived his usefulness though, he would be burned like every other asset. There was no way she would allow that to happen to Chuck. She had to protect him. She would not let him end up locked away or with a bullet between the eyes. "Don't worry, Chuck. I won't let anything happen to you." She was determined about that.
"Thank you." He gave her a small smile and reached out for her hand.
Sarah immediately pulled hers back. At the look of hurt on his face, she offered, "I'm sorry, Chuck. We can't. We're going to be working together soon and if I'm going to protect you effectively, I can't compromise myself."
"Compromise yourself?" Chuck shot back. "After what we did in D.C., I think you are way past compromised here." Sarah stared out the windshield, not wanting to look at him. "I'm not just going to pretend none of that happened, it meant too much to me; and I won't let you either." His hand shot straight to the back of her head and he pulled her in for a kiss. Sarah tried to pull away, but Chuck kept up the kiss until she started kissing back.
Sarah couldn't fight it anymore, she had missed being with him. Who was she kidding? Chuck was right: she was beyond compromised. When the kiss ended, she rested her forehead on his, sighed, and said, "Okay, Chuck. You win. Whether I like it or not, it's too late to start fighting this thing we have. But, we will have to have a talk soon. There are some things I need you to understand. For now, if my boss finds out about you and me, he'll send me away in the blink of an eye. So, as far as every one else is concerned, this is the first time we have ever met. Think you can sell that?"
"If it means you stay with me, then yes," he answered softly.
"Chuck, you have to know, this won't be easy. We'll have to hide us from my boss. It won't be a normal relationship."
"Will we get to spend time together? Just the two of us, alone?"
"Not right away. There's a lot that's going to happen and a lot that needs to happen. But yes, I will find a way to get us as much private time as we can get without arousing suspicion."
"Then, that's all I care about. Normal is overrated anyway," he said with a smile.
"I have to make a call, start sorting things out. Remember, we don't know each other, so this will be the last bit of us time we'll have for a while." After another passionate kiss, she pulled out her phone and dialed. "Director Graham? Yes, I have made contact with the target. There are some things you should know..."
Author's Note: And, there you have it: The End. I know some people want a sequel to see how their personal relationship will affect their professional one, but I feel that's too much of an undertaking. I've thought about it, and there's two seasons' worth of story I think I'd have to cover if I was to write a sequel (I do not want to touch season three at all). I don't know if I could keep the story interesting for that long. So, instead, I tried to hint at that dynamic here, maybe you can just go from there and imagine how that could work. Again, thank you all for the interest and positive response.