A/N: Hey there. So, this is my first fan-fic ever. The idea randomly came to me after reading a few books during my vacation, and I figured: What the hell. So, I cracked open Word and started typing and this came out. A bit of a better summary now, as I felt I couldn't touch upon every point. Chuck and Sarah are both journalists for the (fictional?) L.A. Daily newspaper. Through several connections, Sarah finds out about the Intersect Project. Except in this instance, lots of people go rogue and try and attain the Intersect for world domination or something else nefarious.
I've already planned out chapters 2 and 3, and depending on how this chapter is received, I'll either drop the project or start cracking ASAP. So let me know in a review what you think, and of course any criticism on how I can improve is greatly appreciated.
Disclaimer: I own a lot of things. Sadly, Chuck isn't one of them. Neither is anything relating to journalism. But I do have a computer, so that has to count for something, right?
Sarah Walker walked into the main building of L.A.'s primary newspaper: The Los Angeles Daily. Her newspaper. Well, technically she didn't own it, but she could've fooled most people. After all, she was the best damn journalist to have ever walked through the door.
As the glass doors swung shut, she picked up her stride and walked past the receptionist desk, giving a small wave to Rebecca, who was busy trying to keep yet another client satisfied with the newspaper. "Damn paperboys, always screwing it up and letting other people pick up the pieces." She thought, as she continued past the desk into the main room of the building.
She'd been surprised when it turned out that this paper still believed in the cubicle system. As such, the room where all the journalists were gathered looked more like an actual office than the buzzing room, filled with journalists discussing current events, that most people would imagine when one would think about newspapers, especially one as popular as the L.A. Daily.
Sarah didn't mind though. Actually, it turned out to work in her advantage. Being one of the best journalists in the greater metropolitan area had it's flaws. Combined with the fact that Sarah was quite… fetching, the whole ordeal gave her more attention than she bargained for. Which wasn't that rare a feat anyway, as there was one thing sacred to Sarah, and that was privacy. The irony of the fact that her job was to disrupt the privacy of people to find out the most important stories wasn't lost on her. She gave a mental shrug, and continued on.
As she was close to the editor-in-chief's office (His name was Langston Graham) she passed the cubicle of the one man that was both the most interesting thing, and the bane, of her existence. She found the object of her (many) fantasies vehemently discussing yet another video-game problem with his furry little friend.
"Seriously, how in God's name can you even compare the two Morgan? I mean, Final Fantasy 7 is CLEARLY superior to 10. I don't even understand how they could call it a Final Fantasy game. Tidus versus Cloud, give me a break. Cloud's got like… seven swords in one. The only thing that Tidus has is a ball that he kicks at your head." Chuck argued.
Sarah got lost somewhere around the words Final Fantasy, but her eyes never swayed from the lanky form of one Chuck Bartowski, nerd extraordinaire. He was also one part of the Chuck and Morgan duo, journalists who took it upon themselves to inform the general public of Los Angeles about the, and she quoted, "Hottest games around." She didn't get the appeal. But the pieces they handed in were well written, and Langston found a good way to incorporate the pieces in the newspaper.
The main issue however, was that due to some strange, unexplainable reason, she was ridiculously attracted to him. That in itself was weird, as when one would compare the statistics here, (Bombshell blonde versus curly haired video-gamer) the bookies were definitely not stacking odds for the main romantic interest coming from said blonde. What was even more odd was that, despite her flirtations, he still hadn't made a move. Yeah, she was old school like that, a man was supposed to ask a woman out on a date… Deal with it. Anyway, she had an inkling as to why nothing was happening on that front. Actually, an inkling was the understatement of the, albeit still very young, century. It was an inkling in the same way that a giraffe wouldn't be noticeable, walking over the streets of Sunset Boulevard. The fact was that he had no self-esteem. And it was easy to trace back to the root of the problem. After all, it was quite the known story, especially in this office.
Oh, she heard the story. Chuck had been dating his fellow student/skank Jill for a couple of years. He'd been planning on proposing, and had everything set. Romantic dinner, rosepetals strewn over the room, soft music playing from a CD he picked up. He went all out for it. Except when he went to his bedroom that morning, to pick up the engagement ring, he found her riding his roommate in pleasure. To say anyone would be crushed when walking in on something like that, would be an understatement. However, apperantly Jill felt it neccesary to pour some salt on the already large wound by blaming him, for not being able to sate her carnal needs.
Not only that, but Chuck had already been blessed with deep-seeded abandonment issues, courtesy of his parents who bailed on him and his sister when they were just kids. She had never quite gotten the full story from Chuck himself, but that was what she pieced together, from all the miscellaneous stories. She had tried to get the story from Chuck but combined with the blush that would reach his face in record time, every time she would speak to him, along with the fact that it was for all intense and purposes, a very depressing memory, he'd shut down every time she brought it up. She learned to stop doing it after the fifth time. Never let it be said that she wasn't persistent. That was probably why she was so good at her job, she mused.
She asked around for a while, trying to get the name of the asshole who actually got Jill to cheat on Chuck, but she never got further than people telling her that apperantly it was his best friend, and his name was something like Bruce or Boris. Something with a B anyway. At this point in time, Chuck packed up his things and left Stanford. He returned home to his sister and pretty much locked himself in his room and played video games for close to three years, doing nothing with his life. That didn't deter Ellie and Morgan, who was not only his partner, but also his best friend (something about him being there for Chuck when his parents bailed) to get him to go to UCLA and follow their Communications course. This enabled him to get a degree, along with Morgan, and start working in the journalism industry. It also allowed them to combine their favorite pastime with their degrees. So it was a win-win situation.
So there you had the history of Chuck Bartowski. A sweet, caring guy who got abandoned and betrayed by all but two people in his life. And, seeing as how he was always trying to find good in people (a personality trait she found out about, not 38 minutes after first meeting him) he thought it was cause of him that everyone left and/or stabbed him in the back. Ergo, his confidence was shot to hell. Sarah found this to be a major pity, as she had seen him when he was happy. His smile was so infectious, that the only way it wouldn't have any power over you was if you were blind. Not only that, but his voice had the perfect pitch to it, that it could be both gentle and commanding, and he could change at will. Not that she knew if he could pull off commanding, as it wasn't in his personality to try and command other people. But she'd heard people with that same inflection before, people who knew that their voice could command other people to do things, and who weren't as opposed to doing so. Langston Graham proved to be an excellent example. But she was once again drawn to his smile.
She'd been at the mercy of that smile once before. She caught a pop-culture reference, which in itself was almost reason for celebration, that Morgan made to Chuck (He waved a hand in front of Chuck, and said something about the disc in his hand not being the game that Chuck was looking for) and in passing said: "Way to go, Obi-Wan." The resulting turn of Chuck's head happened at such a ridiculous speed that she weeped for his cervical vertebrae. He looked at her for a few seconds, his mouth opened the slightest bit, as if not sure how to respond, which she found adorable, only for it to snap shut, and curl into one of the biggest smiles she had seen in her life. The result was that her organs, bones and other tissue had melted into putty, that Chuck could do with as he pleased. That feeling of elation lasted roughly ten seconds, at which point Chuck, who was still silently praising her on her usage of Star Wars, noticed he was staring and immediatly snapped his eyes back to a more interesting location. Like the roof tiles. Still, Sarah didn't mind. After all, she was still trying to find a way to turn putty into usable organs and bone structures. She was only semi-succesful. This happened on the third day after she started working for the L.A. Daily and she was hopelessly lost from that point on.
So that's how she became stuck in this ridiculous limbo with her own damn pride. Hell, she knew he was chivalrous, it was obvious to anyone. And therefore, to her own insane logic, he was supposed to ask her out. That didn't mean that she couldn't nudge him in the right direction. And today was no exception. She walked up to Chuck and Morgan, who had just started discussing the merits of Bandolier versus RPG's in TDM, whatever the hell that meant, and cleared her throat. 'Excuse me?'
"Yes, what can I do for… Sarah?"
"Hey Chuck, how's it going?" she asked cheerfully, while bouncing on the balls of her feet.
"Oh, you know, same old. Morgan thinking that he can convince me of one of his insane ideas again, even though logic is clearly on my side." he answered, looking at Morgan like he ate the last piece of meat, even though he had three servings already.
"I'm sorry Chuck, but you're clearly wrong here. Let's look at the facts. The MP5 has 60 bullets ammunition, and 30 in the magazine, without Bandolier. That's 90 bullets Chuck. Unless you're a complete noob who simply sprays and prays, you won't need Bandolier to rack up the frags. An RPG is so much more effective, especially in TDM. You'll die before you run out of ammo." Morgan retorted. He looked awfully proud with the argument he managed to conjure up. Chuck wasn't about to be bested though.
"Morgan, I don't know about you, but I'm usually averaging 5 bullets a frag, and I'm still alive after I've spent my 90 bullets. That's why my kill to death ratio is still higher than yours… Anyway, can I help you Sarah?"
"Oh, trust me, you're helping plenty." she said, still keeping her cheerful tone. Chuck looked at her like she'd grown a new head. He suddenly realized that once again, he was staring and bashfully averted his gaze. Luckily, the roof tiles were old news. He seemed to be awfully interested in the memo board though.
"H-how exactly am I helping?" he managed to say without sounding too shaken up about the fact that he was once again staring. Who could blame him though? "I mean, ever since you've entered the "discussion" we didn't do much except pick up right where we left off." he said, actually making air-quotes at the word discussion, which caused Morgan to get a weird hybrid of emotions to grace his face. It seemed to be equal parts disgust and amusement.
Sarah shook her head. "While that's true, I just spent the past 72 hours following dead leads with regards to that missing child everyone's talking about. Sufficed to say, we won't be reporting anything that other newspapers aren't reporting as well. So I just needed to clear my head, and you know how I love to hear you talk." She said, adding a wink for emphasis. Chuck's blush reached his face in a speed that caused Sarah to wonder how his limbs were working without said blood rushing through them instead of his face.
"Uh… Well… I… uh… happy to help?" he added meekly. Sarah stifled a chuckle.
"Well, thanks for that. It's time to go to Langston and see what he wants me doing next. I'll see you later Morgan. Nice chat as always Chuck!" she added, before leaving with another wink and sauntering off to find Langston Graham. She didn't have to turn to know that Chuck was still rooted to the spot. She chuckled. Eventually he'd get the hints. She hoped.
As she walked past the rest of the cubicles she spotted someone who could be a potential ally in the conquering of Chuck. See, if there was one thing that she knew about Chuck, it was that he revered his sister. And that also meant that by proxy, it included her fiancé. Devon Woodcomb was said fiancé. One wouldn't immediatly peg him as a journalist. He could be on magazines if he so chose. But there was one thing to be said about him. As much as he loved Ellie, he loved sports almost as much. Not only that, but he had a rare gift. He was a genius in telling stories. While you wouldn't really see it as a rare gift if you were surrounded by said gift day in, day out, with a plethora of people, it was still rare. And he excelled at it. So it wasn't that much of a stretch to see how he could be hired by the best newspaper that Los Angeles had ever seen.
"Hey Devon, how's it going?"
"Oh, hey Sarah. Yeah, I'm good. Had a fun weekend. Some good games going on. You?"
"Well, I was assigned to report that abduction, but it turns out that everyone involved has about the same knowledge about events as we currently do. In other words, they don't know jack. Still, that didn't annoy me half as much as I figured it would. We all have off days. It just seems that your future brother-in-law has been in a perpetual state of ignorance ever since the whole Jill affair… Three years ago!" she added, exasperated.
Devon's laugh was booming. "Tell me about it!" Devon was well aware of what was going on with the inter-office romances. After all, Ellie had some fantastic hospital stories, and he had to keep his eyes and ears open for the smut to be able to compete with her in the story department. Still, he'd have to be deaf and blind to not notice the fact that the hottest journalist that any newspaper had ever seen was interested in Chuck. The first time that Devon heard about it, he laughed it off. Not that he didn't believe Chuck could land such a catch, it was just that the worlds those two resided in might as well have been in different galaxies, they were that far apart. And yet, the rumours persisted. Not only that, they actually increased in quantity.
So, being the good future Mr. Eleanor Faye Bartowski that he was, he approached Sarah. After all, he loved Chuck like a brother already, so why not be a decent wingman for someone who could clearly use it, right? To say that the meeting was interesting was an understatement, like so many things that revolved around those two. Devon decided that it was best to dive right in, rip the band-aid off with one hard tug and other fun euphemisms one could use for asking the question that was on his mind without beating around the bush.
So when he confronted her, and she actually blushed (not a lot mind you, Sarah didn't do blushes the way Chuck would), Chuck's stock rose to near astronomical heights in Devon's book. Sarah however had pleaded with him that he not tell Chuck. She wanted him to come to her by his own accord, and not cause he was pushed by Devon. She asked him this four months ago.
"You know Sarah, not to talk him down, God knows Chuck's plenty awesome on his own, but this is getting ridiculous. I mean, it's been great to see you flirting with him, but he's just not realizing that he can get someone as, excuse the word, awesome as you. The thing is, the way his mind works, you're way out of his league. He doesn't see himself the way we see him. You should hear him talk about himself, it's the saddest thing you've ever heard. He consistently puts his intelligence on the same level as those people you'd see on Maury or something. He went to Stanford, would've gotten his degree as a valedictorian and after that went to UCLA and steamed through those courses as well. It's a freaking disgrace, is what it is."
Sarah noticed that during his little speech (which she knew herself anyway. She thought his self-deprication was cute and disarming, but the more time she spent around him, the more she saw him for what he was, and that in no way reflected with how he saw himself), Devon was getting progressively more angry. Not at Chuck. Devon could never be angry with Chuck. According to him the Bartowski family consisted of the sweetest most caring people in the world. She was forced to agree. No, the one he truely got angry at, was Jill. Angry cause she robbed him of his confidence. Angry cause she robbed him of the potential to be the person he was supposed to be. Even though Chuck was a fantastic writer/reviewer, it was obvious that he was even better with computers and the likes. She found out that the courses he was taking at Stanford were computer sciences and electrical engineering.
She still remembered the day when she had written a fantastic story about the reunion of Iraq veterans with their loved ones. It was her best piece yet, but she screwed up, and couldn't for the life of her remember where she had saved the story, or under what filename. Chuck walked past her as she was smashing her fists on her keyboard in fury, when he asked her what was wrong. She explained the situation to him. He told her not to worry, and go to the cafeteria to get herself a drink or something. He'd help her out. She did, and when she came back, she saw Chuck hunched over in his own cubicle, typing away. When she leaned over to see what he was doing, she saw a myriad of text. Confused as to what was going on, she tapped him on her shoulder. He nearly jumped through the roof, and turned around… only to stare in her cleavage. The resulting red in his neck was one of the funniest things that Sarah had seen in a while. He apologized profusely for a good while, even though she told him it was no big deal. It really wasn't, she was used to men leering at her. But Chuck had the decency to apologize for it, and actually sounding sincere. Hell, he made it sound like he had accidentally caused World War 3.
So, after finally calming him down, he explained to her what he was doing. He was writing a new program that would search through documents saved on her hard drive for keywords. So, after transferring the program to her computer, she put in the keywords and it started it's search. Chuck was standing behind her, to see if his program had worked. When it found the document (it was stored in her AppData folder. She didn't even know that folder existed), Chuck's virtual head popped up, just like that goddamn paperclip would, and told her he was glad that he could find the document for her, and if he could help her find something else. This made her laugh so hard, that tears actually sprung up in her eyes. She swiveled her chair around and enveloped him in a bone crushing hug. Chuck was only moderately taken aback this time. She was amazed, he had fixed her problem in roughly thirty minutes, after she spent four hours researching ways to find the document again.
She was shaken out of her daydream by Devon, who was wearing a silly smile on his face. "What?" Sarah asked, with a tiny trace of annoyance.
"Well, according to that smile on your face, you were thinking about something Chuck did, weren't you?" he replied.
"Uh… No, I… But… Seriously I wasn't… Sonofa… God, now I'm even babbeling like… What was the question again?"
Devon started shaking with laughter. But, just as soon as he started, he stopped and with a serious expression that put Sarah on edge he looked at her. "Listen Sarah, enough is enough. I understand why you want this to happen the way you say you want it to, but I know for a fact that if he could ask you out, and you actually saying yes, it'd work wonders for his confidence. So I'm going to tell him. He has no reason to feel like crap if a simple question from his side, and an even simpler answer from yours, would make him feel happy again."
Devon had a fair point. It didn't seem like her advances were bearing much fruit anyway. And in a round-about way, he would still be asking her out, so her pride would remain intact. "Fine," she relented, before adding: "just make it quick. I've waited long enough."
This caused Devon to laugh again. "You've got it Sarah. I have to say though, it's been fantastic to see you shoot down pretty much eighty percent of the male population in Los Angeles, just so you could focus on Chuck. You know, I'm actually proud of him. Without having a clue as to what he was doing, he'd gotten you to commit to him of all people." He expected a laugh. He got a face that looked like the ground was about to open up, and minions of hell would spew forth over the lands to destroy everything. "Sarah, what's wrong? Did I say something wrong?"
Sarah looked at him with a glare that made the north pole feel like Cancun in the summer. "I have not commited to him. Yes, I'll admit that I'm interested in him. Gladly even. But he hasn't even had the decency to ask me out yet. How the hell can you say I commited to him."
Devon looked at her, eyes wide with fear. "Whoa, Sarah, listen, I didn't mean that. It was a joke. Look, I didn't know you would have had such a strong reaction to it. I apologize. Hell, I'll even amend my statement. Without having a clue he'd gotten you to pine for him of all people." His eyes shifted around nervously, as if he was trying to see if there would be witnesses to his murder, which he felt could happen at any time now. Luckily, Sarah's face broke into a smile.
"Much better Devon, thanks. Now, I expect you to fulfill this task within two weeks. As you said, I've waited long enough, and if you think that Chuck would get happy about asking me out, then who the hell are we to deny him that happiness, right?" she added, with a toothy grin.
Devon let out a sigh of relief. "You've got it Sarah. Oh, by the way, Langston's looking for you. So ehh, you'd best hurry and get to him before that vein in his temple decides that it has had enough and pops like a balloon."
"Oh, crap! I totally forgot. Thanks Devon." she added, before turning around and power walking to Langston's office.
Langston wasn't an easy boss. Oh, he was fair. Make no mistake. It's just that he could kind of be an asshole. Not that she ever found that out personally. She was way to good at her job for that. But she'd heard horror stories of treatments and punishments that would make Gandhi think of the Middle Eastern penal-code as humane.
But today was different. She didn't get the scoop. Hell, she didn't get anything that they didn't already have. Three days were wasted that she could spent on other projects. She would have to report failure, for the first time in her career. So she took a deep breath, and knocked on the door.
"You wanted to see me, Sir?" She said in her most professional tone.
"Yes, come on in Walker." Graham said. He didn't look to well. The vein on his temple looked to be increasing in size, exponentially. "What have you gotten to report for me?"
This was it. It was time to face the firing squad. Yelling and cursing would ensue. He'd give her a dressing down that she'd still remember when she was old and frail and it would be the last thought she would have before she would go to sleep, and the first one she would have when she would wake up for the rest of her natural-born life. "Sir, I didn't get anything we don't already know. I had gotten information from the leading officer in charge, but he didn't tell me anything that we don't already know." This was it, the vein was going to start beating along with his heart which would be nearing the one-hundred and seventy beats per minute.
"Oh, that's okay Walker. I kind of figured we wouldn't get anything anyway. Just write a quick report on it, and we'll put it on page three or something." Sarah's heart nearly stopped.
"With all due respect, Sir. Why would you send me on an assignment that you yourself figured wouldn't yield any results?" She gave herself a mental slap. Sure, her potential might not've been fully utilised in this case, but she'd gotten away scot free. No dressing down, no nightmares, no walk of shame to be completed. Why the hell did she have to be defiant now?
"Well, the true reason is cause there's barely anything to report at the moment. Apart from the kidnapping, we've got jack to report. As a matter of fact, your new assignment won't be all that either. I want you to interview Bryce Larkin." Graham said. He looked at her expectantly.
"Bryce Larkin? The millionaire? Why would I want to interview him?" she said. It wasn't that she didn't like Bryce… It's just that she didn't like Bryce. He was like all the other assholes in L.A. who simply looked at her like she was a slab of beef that they could broil to perfection. That was a major part in the attraction to Chuck. Sure, he looked. Hell, she'd be disappointed if he didn't. But he would always catch himself doing something that he would find inappropriate and chide himself over it. Even if it wasn't even that bad. It showed to her that he was trying his best to be respectful of her as a person, and not as eye candy.
"Well, as you know, Bryce is a major investor in this newspaper. And he explicitly asked for you. So what the hell, we decided to humor him. I've no idea what he wants to be interviewed about, and frankly, I don't care. The fact is that without his contributions, we would've stopped being a newspaper a long time a go. So you're going to go over there, and do what you do best. You're going to get him to talk." Graham looked at his star reporter with a gaze that didn't take no for an answer.
"Oh for God's sake. Fine, I'll go hear his little story." She moaned, then, adding under her breath "It's not like there's anything else going on in here. Damn it Chuck."
"Alright then. We've scheduled the interview in two days. You are to meet him at his manor. I expect your full professionalism on this one Walker."
"Of course, Sir. I never give anything less than my full one hundred percent."
Graham nodded. It was his signature move to tell you that his time and/or patience had run out and you were to exit the area in a cordial fashion. She complied.
As she walked out of Graham's office, she saw Devon talking to Chuck. It instantly made her heart thump a bit faster. Maybe this wouldn't be such a bad day after all. Maybe, just maybe, if she played her cards right it could turn out to be a fantastic day. Or at least much better than she initially anticipated. Thank God for talking to Devon. She just hoped he could get through to him.
But first she had to prepare herself for an interview with Bryce Larkin. Fantastic…