Title: Machine (Hooked Into)
Rating: R for references to sex, torture, and other adult themes
Disclaimer: None of this is mine. It belongs to someone else. So don't sue.
Fandoms: Chuck (primary) Doctor Who (background), Leverage (Background, in later parts), Supernatural (later on) and Batman Comics (briefly).
Spoilers: seasons 1-3 and bitty bits of four.
Pairings: Chuck/Sarah, very brief mostly past one-sided Chuck/Bryce, mentions of Chuck/Jill, others
Summary: It's all about the recovery.
Big Thanks to NE71 and Mswyrr for looking this over for me :)

"A living weapon."

Alexei Volkoff circles the chair where his new toy is seated, a grin on his face. He's gleeful. He's proud of himself. The CIA's most prized possession. The Intersect project; and it's his latest weapon of choice. His best. His new favorite.

Agent I.

"Isn't he magnificent? A twenty-four hour stream of Laudenol injected into his system, and he feels nothing. No pain, no fear, no love. He is so dazed from the drug he does exactly what I say. He slaughtered fifty men yesterday in under five minutes, one after the other like they were nothing. It was truly a sight to see."

Mary Bartowski, Agent Frost to those in Volkoff's organization, stares into the deadened brown eyes of her son. She wants to believe so badly that the little boy she tucked in the night before she left is still in there somewhere, but she knows better than that.

It's not until a CIA agent claiming to be Chuck's old college roommate and Chuck's NSA handler show up to bust him out that she thinks there's any hope.

She always thought it would be harder to let go of her cover, but watching some of the life return to her son's eyes after they unhook the drug stream makes it so much simpler.

00000

"Colonel Casey. Status report."

Casey pauses for a moment and closes his eyes before opening them and speaking up again into his phone. "Things are going as well as can be expected under current circumstances. The withdrawal symptoms are as bad as the squints thought they would be."

"Bartowski will make it through this." Beckman's voice is almost gentle, for the first time Casey has ever heard. "You, Agent Frost and Agent Larkin are to be commended for a successful extraction."

"Thank you," Casey strains out.

"I expect daily updates."

"Yes, Ma'am."

He hangs up and looks down at the phone. His faith in his country and his duty has never wavered. But sometimes he wonders why they don't just wipe every other country with a vendetta against them off the map.

00000

"You should have seen him, Bryce. He was perfect. The perfect weapon. A machine. It was amazing."

It's snowing in St. Petersburg, and they're circling each other, both waiting for the other to strike. She's followed them from Moscow; of course she has. You don't just waltz out with Alexei Volkoff's best girl and favorite toy without somebody tailing your ass.

He knew Jill was bad. Bryce knew that all along. He just didn't know how bad until now.

"He's not a weapon, Jill, he's a man. A good one. He loved you, once, you know."

"He was so much better, Bryce. None of the hand-wringing, none of the doubt or the whining. He was decisive and swift."

"Liquid Laudenol is highly addictive, and the side effects outweigh all of the positives, unless you're trying to eventually kill your subject. On top of that, Volkoff got it through the black market, which means god knows what it was laced with. So excuse me if I don't care how much 'better' you think he was."

"Please, he's still alive."

Bryce stared at her. "If you ever come near him again, I will kill you."

Jill laughs. "Oh, Bryce. You're so sweet. Still in love with him after all this time."

His gun is out in a second, aim steady, right at her head.

00000

"I know you know where she is," Mary says when Bryce walks back into the hotel room.

"How is he?" he asks, as he pulls of his coat and takes the gun carefully from his pants.

"Sleeping," Mary says shortly. "Not well. But sleeping at least."

"Someone should be sitting with him."

"I know you know where Sarah is," Mary says again. "I know you have her contact information, and I don't want you to use it."

Bryce doesn't reply, clenching his jaw.

"She left him, Bryce."

"For a job," Bryce snaps. "They're spies, Frost. Just like you and me and Casey, they're spies and they know what they signed up for so yes. She left for a job, and he got that."

"She should have been there."

Bryce shakes his head. "Don't you blame her for this, not when you should be blaming yourself."

Mary narrows her eyes.

"You've been working Volkoff for twenty years, Frost," Bryce hisses. "Twenty years, and you coulda had him free and clear in less than twenty-four hours."

She looks away. She knows he's right.

"But you waited for somebody from the agency to show up and get the ball rolling." He glowers at her. "Would you have ever gotten him out if we hadn't shown up? Or would you have just let your darling Alexei keep playing with your son like a damn tinker toy?"

"You wanna play the blame game, Bryce?" Mary says, her voice raising. "Who sent Chuck the Intersect to begin with? If you had let him stay a regular, normal guy, we wouldn't be here now, would we?"

"You-"

"Hey!"

It's Casey, grunting at them from the doorway of the bedroom Chuck's been in since they got him out. He's been in and out of consciousness, between passing out and heaving up the meager contents of his stomach. The shakes and the sweats and the chills all at once. Classic withdrawal symptoms. Normal, but still terrifying to the people taking care of him.

"You two don't knock it off, I'm taking the door off its hinges and beating the both of you with it. The kid looks like he's at death's door and if he doesn't get some more sleep, we're gonna have to answer a whole lot of real uncomfortable questions in an emergency room."

00000

It takes two months to get Chuck cleaned up enough to haul him onto a plane and back to Burbank.

The flight is miserable, and the homecoming is even worse.

Ellie cries, and then she yells.

"How could you let this happen, Mom? He was supposed to be out of that world! He promised me!"

Chuck rubs his eyes. "Sittin' right here, Sis."

"You shut up! I can't be mad at you, you look like a zombie." She turns back on Mary and the fighting continues.

Bryce slips out the door in the middle of it all, and Chuck notices; follows him.

"Little loud in there, huh?"

"I have my new assignment. I have to go."

Chuck fidgets. It's nothing new, but it's more pronounced now than it ever was; more noticeable, like a tic instead of a habit.

"Bryce..."

Bryce grips his shoulder gently. "Just take care, Chuck. Okay?"

Chuck nods, and watches him go.