A/N: So it has been a looooong time since I've updated this story. Originally, this story was written in celebration of my buddy Frea O'Scanlin and it still is such, but also, I'm updating it in celebration of catrogue's birthday! See how I get two-for-one there? Anyway, I hope you enjoy this. Hope you remember the story (and if not, it's not terribly wrong, and hopefully not too much trouble to go back and read it again—or not to painful to do so). Anyway, now on with the continuation of Breaking Out!
Chapter 6: Enemy of My Enemy
Chuck was irrelevantly thankful that he wasn't in some cheesy comedy. If that were the case, he would have hit his head on a shelf placed strategically over the vent he'd just been crouched around as he reacted to Sarah's startling revelation.
"What do you mean I'm—"
His question was interrupted by a loud shush, and Chuck managed to calm himself enough crawl back to the floor so that he could hear Sarah's whispers.
"You have to be quiet, Chuck. You know they're listening."
"But you said—"
"Chuck, quiet!" Sarah demanded.
Chuck took a deep breath. He didn't even realize he was speaking loud, but then all he could hear was his pulse hammering in his ears.
"What do you mean I am the Intersect?" he asked, finally calm enough to speak in the whisper Sarah demanded.
There was a long pause. Chuck was beginning to wonder if she hadn't heard him. Or maybe fallen asleep. But before he could ask her again, she finally answered.
"It's complicated," she started slowly. "Those pictures you saw, they were encoded with secrets. Government secrets."
"And when I saw them—"
"If you saw them, you know them," she interrupted.
Too much. It was all too much. Government secrets weren't real things. At least not in Chuck's life. They were myths. Or plot devices in spy novels. But somehow real, actual classified information was swimming around in his head. Along with a million thoughts about how his situation couldn't be real. How it all had to be a bad dream. About how Brutus was mistaken.
"But you can't tell anyone, Chuck."
"What?" Chuck asked, his voice louder than he'd intended. He took another calming breath. "Why can't I tell them? They said all they want is the Intersect. If I tell them I have it, they can take it back, then I can go home."
"It's not that simple, Chuck," Sarah said.
He knew he probably sounded like a petulant child. Frankly, he didn't care. After everything he'd been through, after all the crap that had been heaped onto him up to and including being unfairly kicked out of Stanford, having his girlfriend leave him for the guy that got him kicked out, and then having that guy do something that got him stuck in prison, he felt he was justified in being a bit petulant.
"Government agencies just don't work like that," she said. "I know it sounds unfair, but if they know you have it, they'll take you away from here and put you in protective custody."
Sarah's voice sounded far more sympathetic than Chuck knew he had any right to expect after his previous childish outburst. Still, he just couldn't accept that the truth wasn't his key to going home.
"How is that any worse than where I am now?" Chuck argued.
"You're going to get out of here," she said. "They're going to figure out you don't know anything, and they'll make you sign a non-disclosure agreement. Then you'll be followed around for a few months. You'll never see them, but they'll be there. And then, when they figure out you have nothing to hide, you'll be free."
"So you've seen something like this before?" Chuck asked.
"Well, not exactly like this, but yeah, I have. That's how I know what will happen if they know the truth. I've been there when an asset was taken into protective custody. I've actually been the one to deliver them," she said. "And it's hard, and it's not fair, but that's how they operate."
The more questions she answered, the more details Sarah gave him, the more new questions Chuck had. But one stood out above the rest.
"Why are you telling me all this?"
"I mean not that I don't appreciate the truth," Chuck said, cutting her off. "I really do. I haven't gotten a lot of truth since I've been here, and it's a nice change of pace. But wanting the truth, and actually having it are very different things. At least when I was in the dark, I didn't have to worry about lying to someone. I don't know if you know this about me, but I'm not a very good liar."
"But now, the next time they ask me questions, I'll actually have the answers they want, but I can't tell them? That's going to be incredibly hard, you know?"
"I'm sorry," Sarah said. "I guess I shouldn't have told you."
An uncomfortable silence began to creep in then. He didn't mean to lay a guilt trip on Sarah. She was just trying to help him. And now, he was feeling guilty for doing that to her.
"No, I'm sorry," he said, breaking the silence. "I shouldn't have put that on you. It's not your fault, and you were just telling me the truth. So, thank you."
"You're welcome," she answered meekly. "I really am sorry about all of this, though, Chuck."
"Well we're all sorry then," Chuck joked. "Look, I'm really tired, you know, after all that stuff."
"Oh, of course," Sarah said. "You should get some rest, Chuck. I'm sorry about this, but they'll probably be back tomorrow."
Chuck sighed. He knew she was right.
Getting up from the floor, Chuck crossed his small cell and collapsed on his cot. He buried his face in his pillow, and tried to force sleep to come, but as much as he wanted to sleep, as tired as he was, he just couldn't get there.
So it was that he was awake when Sarah started speaking again. And he could tell that she didn't realize that.
"Chuck," she said softly. "I know you're asleep now, but I couldn't tell you all of this when you were awake, so I'm going to do it now."
She stopped then, and Chuck thought she'd probably lost her nerve, or realized he was awake. But then she continued.
"Before I was arrested, I was supposed to find you. That's how I know about the Intersect. I worked with Bryce, I was his partner, and when he went rogue and stole the Intersect, all I could think about was trying to clear my name."
Wait, Bryce was working with the CIA? And Sarah was Bryce's partner? Well, that would explain why she always sounded so disgusted whenever he brought up his former roommate. It turned out that she was the one person who seemed as personally betrayed by Bryce as Chuck. Did she maybe have an Intersect in her head, too? No, that didn't make sense. But at least he knew he wasn't alone on the Bryce betrayal train.
"I flew to L.A. to find you. It was an off-the-books mission, but then most of mine are. I was supposed to clean up a mess. Like I always do. Then, when I got off the plane, there was a SWAT team and this big NSA goon there to arrest me."
She paused again. Chuck had no doubt her arrest was a bad memory for her. He was sure his would've been, too. That is, if he remembered it.
"I should've seen it coming," she said. "If I wasn't blinded by rage, and hurt, and stuff. And a little bit of mourning, I guess. If I hadn't let Bryce get to me, I would've. But I got sloppy, and it got me caught."
Chuck so badly wanted to say something. To let her know that he knew exactly how that felt. Twice now, Bryce had let him take the fall for something that wasn't his fault. Plus, he wanted to ask her what she was mourning.
"There's something you should know about me," she said. "When I say I'm a spy, that's really only part of the story. I'm one of the best, Chuck. Maybe the best, period. Or at least I was. And I know it sounds like I'm full of myself, or cocky or whatever, but I'm really not. I'm good at what I do. And now, because of Bryce, I may never be able to do it again."
Again, Chuck felt like his neighbor was preaching to the choir. If only Bryce hadn't gotten him kicked out of Stanford, Chuck was sure he would've made something of his life. He could've become the best in some field, just like Sarah was saying she was the best in hers. It was almost as if Bryce Larkin's purpose in life was to rob other people of their future.
"Anyway, I just wanted to get that off my chest," Sarah said. "There are a lot of other things I'll tell you about, too. And maybe, one day, I'll even have the courage to tell you when you're awake."
Chuck heard her slide across the floor, and the squeaking of the bedsprings on her cot.
"Goodnight, Chuck," she said.
"Goodnight, Sarah," he answered, soft enough that she wouldn't hear.
After Sarah's confession, sleep came much easier for Chuck. He wasn't sure why. It's not that he wanted her to be miserable, like him. But just knowing that someone else was could identify with what it felt like to get stabbed in the back by Bryce Larkin made him feel better.
Plus, Sarah said she was one of the best spies in the world. It was comforting knowing someone like that had his back.
What was not comforting was the loud explosion that roused Chuck from his sleep. What was not comforting was the face last person he ever wanted to see again standing in the now open door to his cell.
"Bryce," Chuck seethed.
A/N: So that's all for now. It's funny, 99% of this chapter has been complete for over a year now, but I just couldn't get the rest to work, for whatever reason. And I was suddenly stuck on SO much. Then I added that last paragraph (literally the only new part of this story written in 2012), and it all clicked into place for me. I have direction in this story again. Funny how that works. Anyway, thanks for reading, and happy birthday, Cat! You guys are awesome. Peace.