A/N: So this is a story that's been in the pipes for a long time now. I mostly blame Frea for it. Not only does she have a seemingly endless stream of yet-to-be-written plot bunnies, but she inspires a similar productivity in others. And it's fitting that I blame Frea for this story, as the first chapter of this new fic is being published for Frea day. For those of you who don't remember, Frea Day is the day exactly half-way between her birthday and mine, on which we exchange fics. This was what she requested, so this is what she's getting. Now, there are some of you that I'm sure will worry about me finishing this story. I do have a couple that have yet to be completed. To those people, I offer, not a guarantee that I'll finish this story, because promises are dangerous when no one knows what tomorrow holds. Instead, I'll just tell you that I already have a pretty healthy buffer with this story. I've written a fair amount, and if I publish at a rate of one chapter per week, I should stay ahead of the curve, and keep you with a new chapter every week. So now that I've written one of the longest author's notes ever, I'll stop and let you (hopefully) enjoy the story. Happy Frea Day, Frea!

Disclaimer: At no point have I had any financial claim to Chuck or any of the characters involved.


Breaking Out: Chapter 1- Worst Hangover Ever

Wednesday September 19, 2007
Somewhere dark and lonely

Chuck quickly decided that there were definite advantages to his current situation. Sure, his cell-and he was pretty sure it was a cell, but beyond that one fact, he had no idea where he was—was kind of creepy, but at least it was dark. That made the marching band in his head feel more like a four piece quartet, and for that, he was grateful. Even if the four piece included a timpani.

Also, he remembered something Bryce once said, back in their sophomore year of college. "It ain't a party unless someone goes to jail."

Well, Chuck had been at a party, a surprise birthday party thrown by his sister, but still a party. And strangely enough, Chuck's last coherent memory before waking up involved Bryce, and that strange, Zork themed email. It really was a small world, Chuck mused.

Of course, since regaining consciousness, his world had become much, much smaller. No longer burdened by heavy traffic on the highway, angry customers, and lame Buy More uniforms, his world now consisted of four dingy stone walls, a door that never opened, a steel toilet with no seat, and a cot that looked like it saw its best days some time during the Carter administration.

Sure, he'd only been there a few hours, probably. At least that he could remember. Still, being all alone had made time drag by, and Chuck was beginning to accept his current living conditions as his life. Maybe he could put a welcome mat outside his cell. That is, if he was ever allowed to see the outside of his cell.

Irrational and defeatist? Perhaps, but if there was one thing life had taught Chuck, it was to always expect the worst, and plan for the equally as bad.

There was another realization that was slowly dawning on Chuck. Jail was nothing like is shown in the movies, or on TV.

There was no phone call, apparently. And he couldn't see a guard sitting outside his cell. Of course, the door to his cell had no bars, and only a small window that was about seven feet off the ground, and covered in dust to the point that he couldn't see out of it if he tried, so perhaps there was a guard just outside. But if there was, Chuck would never know about it.

Deciding there was nothing really better to do, and that he was already covered in whatever germs his bed-like apparatus had to offer, he sank back onto his cot, and stared at the dark, gloomy ceiling. Whoever had decorated his cell, while lacking imagination, had at least shown consistency. The ceiling, floor, and walls certainly matched. And although grimy, at least the cot was pretty soft. That helped, what with the enormous headache Chuck had.

With nothing else to do, Chuck tried to entertain himself by reciting every line of dialogue from The Wrath of Khan. About an hour in, he thought he heard a groan, coming from somewhere. But deciding that there was no one else left on the planet (or at least his planet) to groan, he shrugged it off and continued.

Just as Khan was activating the Genesis Device, Chuck heard something metal sliding against something else metal, then something clatter on the floor. Upon inspection, he saw a tray of food had been shoved through a slot in his cell door. The tray was resting face down on the disgusting floor, and Chuck decided it was a good thing he wasn't hungry. Whoever delivered his food probably thought it was a hilarious prank to throw it face down on the floor. But the joke was on them. Chuck didn't plan on eating it, anyway. His head still hurt far too much to eat.

Eventually, however, his curiosity overtook him, and he got up from his bunk to inspect what meal had been ruined. He sat on the cold, concrete floor and turned the tray over. To his surprise, the tray was wrapped in plastic, so at least the food (if you can call a burnt piece of toast and a green packet that proclaimed to hold a "barbeque veggie burger" food) was preserved. His captors may have been cruel and unusual, but at least they didn't waste things. And at least there was a bottle of water. That was easily the most appetizing portion of the "feast" he'd been provided.

Chuck opened the nameless bottle of water (because God forbid this prison support any corporate water provider) and quickly chugged half of the cool, refreshing drink, before realizing it would probably be hours before he received another. So he stopped halfway, and sighed, staring into the now half empty bottle, and wishing there was more.

He looked at the "food" again, and although his head was still pounding, a rumbling in his lower abdomen let Chuck know that his stomach was no longer agreeing with the rest of his body. He had to eat.

He nibbled on the toast, and it was as awful as he'd feared. Cold, dry, and burnt. So he tore open the plastic wrapper holding the barbeque veggie burger, and was splattered by the sauce. Not that it mattered. There was no one around to see that he'd made a mess of the dingy gray inmate attire someone had fitted him with while he was out.

Chuck took his first bite of the fake meat, and decided it was every bit as terrible as the toast he'd tried to eat before. He took another long pull from his water bottle to try to wash away the taste of the non-food, food, but it was of no use. That taste in his mouth was there to stay.

Chuck sighed again and tossed the rest of his "burger" onto the tray, alongside the discarded toast and shoved the offending items away, closer to the door. He then stood and walked back to his bunk, brining with him only the now three-quarters empty bottle of water.

He screwed the cap back onto the water, and collapsed back onto his bunk, letting the bottle rest next to him. It was his only friend, for the time being. However long he was to be in his own personal hell.

Chuck squeezed his eyes shut, and tried to go back to sleep. He silently prayed that when he opened them again, that he'd awaken from his current nightmare. Or at least that Ellie would be there to post his bail, and he could go back to his life, and try to forget the whole experience.

Ellie. Chuck wondered if she even knew where he was. Was she worried? Well, of course she was worried. It was Ellie. She would worry if he was ten minutes late getting home from his shift at his dead-end job. Disappearing for, well, however long he'd been disappeared probably had her in a panic, the likes of which Burbank had never seen. Poor Captain Awesome.

But Chuck tried to push those thoughts from his head. Worrying about Ellie, well, worrying about him wouldn't make time go by any faster. So instead, not for the first time, Chuck tried to relive the events of his birthday party, to see if he could make any sense of how he'd ended up in his current predicament.

Unfortunately, he was still drawing a blank. He remembered the party. He remembered failing with every woman Ellie invited to try to set him up with. He remembered retreating to his room, with Morgan in tow.

Morgan. That had to be the answer, right? Somehow, Chuck just knew that was the answer. Morgan had probably gotten his hands on something, and who knows what, but some type of drug, probably courtesy of Jeff and Lester (more the former than the latter), and decided it would be a good idea to toss it in Chuck's drink the second he wasn't looking.

When he got out of jail, Chuck decided he was going to invest in some of those special coasters that you could dip into your drink to tell if it was tampered with. With a best friend like Morgan, it would pay to have those around.

Still, there was a huge disconnect. Chuck remembered he was winding down for the night when Morgan left. He was going to read Bryce's email, then call it a night. Then he opened the email, and there were all these pictures, then, well, nothing. He had no memories after that moment, until he woke up in jail.

Was it something in Bryce's email? Was it the pictures? Had Bryce become some super genius, and decided that it would be a fun prank to play on the guy whose life he'd already ruined to brainwash him via some type of subliminal imaging, so that he would go do something really stupid and get himself arrested? Somehow, Chuck didn't think that was beyond the grasp of Bryce's cruelty, even if it was beyond the grasp of reality.

Subliminal imaging was an urban myth, mostly. Or at least Chuck was pretty sure of that.

But however he'd wound up in jail, trying to think about it just made his head hurt more, so Chuck decided to try to shut off his brain. He knew it was a very unlikely possibility, still, he had to try. He just felt drained, which was odd, as he hadn't really done anything, beyond lie on his cot, and eat really nasty non-food.

He was committed to his plan, however. He would get some sleep, and when he woke up, it would all make sense.

Only, when he woke up, when a noise woke him in the middle of what assumed was probably the night, he still had no clue how he'd wound up in jail. The only thing he knew for sure, and for the first time, was that he was not alone.

The noise persisted. It was a light thumping, as though someone was banging something, probably their head, against the wall on the other side of his cell. Perhaps someone else trying to figure out just what the hell had happened.

Chuck looked over the railing of his cot, and saw there on the floor, at the base of the wall, a vent that no doubt connected to what had to be the next cell over.

For a moment he considered trying to talk through the vent to his "neighbor." He quickly decided against this course of action, however. After all, he didn't want to tip his hand, that he was just a big nerd—a big, wimpy nerd—when his neighbor was probably some big, tough guy with multiple tear-drop tattoos and maybe an eye patch, who Chuck would no doubt see in the shower. If he was ever allowed to take a shower.

Chuck hated being alone, but the idea of being someone's, well, bitch appealed to him even less. So for the moment, he made it a point to stay silent. Yes, silence was probably the best policy.

Oh God. Did his neighbor hear him reciting Wrath of Khan? It may already be too late. Chuck tried to swallow back the fear that was bubbling deep in his gut, but it was of no use. He was scared now. It was going to be a long night.


A/N: So that's all for this premiere of my new story. Hopefully everyone enjoyed it. Even more, hopefully Frea enjoyed it. I look forward to hearing from all of you. Happy Frea Day! You guys are awesome. Peace.