Title: Bryce Vs. Buymoria
Rating: PG-13 for some language
Disclaimer: They're not mine.
Pairings: Chuck/Sarah, possibly others
Spoilers: seasons 1 and 2, alternate season 2 finale ending and alternate season 3
Summary: After being wounded by the Ring while attempting to take in the Intersect 2.0, CIA Agent Bryce Larkin is temporarily reassigned to Project Bartowski. Hy-jinx ensue.
When asked what hell is to him, last week Bryce Larkin would have told you that hell is a small, dingy cell in Afghanistan, with the dirty water, the little pot to do his business in, and the guard that beats him twice a day, attempting to extract information from him.
Today, his answer is different.
Today, when asked what hell is to him, he will tell you that his version of hell looks suspiciously like the Nerd Herd desk at the Buy More in Burbank.
Or maybe it's the standard issue pocket protector that doubles as his name tag.
It really is, out of everything he's ever done for his country as a CIA agent, the most demeaning thing. The polyester button-down, the banal gray tie, and that damn pocket protector.
Add into that the people who aren't there as undercover spies; the people who really work there for a living, and should, by all rights, be locked up in a nuthouse, and it just doesn't get any better.
Chuck's been doing this for years.
Mr. Full Ride to Stanford; Mr. "Get that Beer away from me, I have like a billion tests tomorrow!"; Mr. "Oh Crap I'm so late to Chem Lab! BRYCE! Hurry up or I'm leaving without you, Lazypants!"
It dawns on Bryce as he's stepping behind the counter, though.
Mr. Full Ride to Stanford.
It had been a full ride, and he'd been expelled for cheating. Chuck hadn't had any money to finish his degree elsewhere, and with zero confidence and no way to get his foot in any doors, had languished here.
"How's it goin', Lazypants?"
Bryce turns at the familiar voice; it's warm and friendly, in a way he never expected it to be again.
"Horribly," Bryce replies honestly. "A woman came in with her laptop which she'd spilled breast milk onto. Lester tried to give me a wedgie and Jeff keeps harassing me to go drinking with him after work. Also? Morgan hates my guts-" he stops when Chuck takes a photo of him with his IPhone.
"For posterity, Buddy."
Chuck shrugs, guilty as charged.
"I hate you."
"Oh how the tables have turned," Chuck drawls out. "Look, I know this isn't what you're used to, and I know that it's not...it's not exactly the glamorous side of being a spy, but it's an airtight cover. Chuck Bartowski's old college buddy lost his job and has fallen on hard times. He calls Chuck, who sets him up with a temp job as a Nerd Herder."
"Where he gets attempted wedgies, bromantic come ons and Morgan Grimes' eternal hatred."
"You'll get used to Jeffster. Morgan...Ellie...they're my family, Bryce, and you kinda dicked me," Chuck says. His voice is sympathetic, and it's odd to Bryce that the guy just can't find it in him to bad mad anymore. "So, yeah, you show up out of the blue and they're gonna get a little feisty."
"I'm expecting to find arsenic in my coffee," Bryce deadpans, rubbing his eyes and leaning against the desk.
"Well, that would probably be something Casey would do. Not Morgan."
"Nah, Casey'd wanna kill me with his own two hands," Bryce grins. "He doesn't go for poisons."
Chuck blinks, obviously not expecting that answer. "Okay. Okay, that was a little...okay."
Bryce laughs and shakes his head. "You amaze me."
"You've known Casey for like two years. You know him. And yet you still like to believe that underneath all that gun-totting, Russian-hating, militaristic exterior there's a fluffy puppy."
"If that puppy were a pit bull, then...y'know...maybe," Chuck shrugs innocently. "But I guess pit bulls aren't really fluffy. Even when they're...I'm gonna stop talking."
Bryce stares at him and starts laughing.
Chuck squeezes his eyes shut and then drops his head to look at his shoes.
"I really missed you," Bryce says, after his laughter dies down.
"Well, in a few weeks, you'll be sick of me and glad to be back in James Bond mode," Chuck grins.
It's a tired grin, and Bryce sees it.
"We'll see," he says, as he backs away from the Nerd Herd desk to go on his lunch break.