Disclaimer: I don't own 'Chuck'; WB and other production companies do. Nor do I own any of the pulp era heroes portrayed in this fiction. No profit is being generated, no latinum has changed hands and a few Rules of Acquisition have been broken as rules tend to be...
A/N: This is an alternative universe based on an alternative history. The alternative history was caused by the South winning the War of Yankee Aggression when Heroes stepped in to help the South.
No beta reader was harmed in the writing of this fiction. So any and all mistakes and all of the 'What the heck was he thinking' moments are mine...
This one is for Mr. Jim, the Armor Plated Rat... He is missed...
" I really feel like I'm loosing my mind, " Chuck Bartowski mumbled.
It was going to be a very long day working the Nerd Herd counter of the Burbank Buy More and it was his own fault, really. Wanting something to do while Carina was in DC, he'd decided to drop by Castle and get some extra Intersect work done. There had been some intense intel 'flashing' and his brain had paid the price.
After dealing with the latest irate customer, he'd taken a moment to lay his aching head down on crossed forearms on the Nerd Herd counter top. Chuck again wished the Intersect program tech grunts would find either a better pain relief med or finally work the bugs out so 'flashing' didn't hurt so much.
" Whoa, " Nerd Herder Jeff said and he sounded almost reverential. " Look at the rack on her... "
" And she looks really pissed off about something, " Nerd Herder Lester added nervously.
Chuck heard the staccato sound of high heels crossing the store. Lester was right. Who ever she was, even her walking sounded pissed off.
" It's Jaimie Sommers, the Bionic Woman, " Morgan yelped.
" Morgan, " Anna Wu snarled. She was Morgan's girlfriend and a Nerd Herder herself. " Lower the volume! "
Nerd Herder Skip spoke up. " No dude, I think she's a Bond babe! "
" Here in Burbank? " Lester scoffed. " Yeah right! And why, my bushy haired friend, would a Bond babe be here at the Buy More? "
" I don't know, dude, but if she isn't a Bond babe, she should be, " Skip replied.
Chuck winced. Anna was right. Morgan's volume control truly was terrible. His favorite television program was from Dixie and the last thing Morgan needed was Harry Tang, the store political officer, overhearing that he'd been watching illicit programming again.
The service bell was delicately tapped. Swell! Even that sound made his head ache, but at least they hadn't clobbered it.
Chuck straightened and froze. A woman stood there and she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen.
It wasn't something he could define exactly. He'd been around some really beautiful women lately; Carina and some of the spies and bad girls he'd met. This woman was tall and slender; blond and blue eyed; and dressed in a conservative, dark business suit that still showed plenty of leg and on her looked phenomenally sexy.
" Hey! Uh... hi... er... Welcome to the Buy More! How may I help you? "
" Hi! " She smiled politely at him. " I think my phone is broken and I was wondering if you could fix it for me? "
It was the recognition code. Chuck was stunned. This was Carina's replacement? " Sure... yeah... can I take a look at it? "
The woman handed her cell phone to him. The polite smile had not wavered and there was a cool, almost clinical expression of curiosity in her blue eyes.
" Ah... the InteliCell... yeah... " Chuck popped the back off and tucked it in the corner of his mouth while he pulled a tiny Phillips screwdriver from a back pocket. " Here's the problem. This screw just needs tightened. That tends to happen with this particular phone... "
Chuck focused on the phone and the tiny Phillips screwdriver in his hands as he quickly solved the problem. He then snapped the back on and returned it to the woman. " There you are... "
She looked impressed. " Wow, you geeks are good! "
" Nerds actually what with working for the Nerd Herd. It's a branding type thing... " Chuck realized he was babbling. It was those blue eyes and that smile...
She nodded and managed to look apologetic as well as beautiful. " I'm sorry. I didn't mean to offend. "
Chuck shook his head which did nothing for the lingering headache. " None taken. "
There was a brief silence where Chuck became acutely aware of the silence that surrounded them at the Nerd Herd desk. Swell! He had witnesses to his...
" So, how much do I owe you... ? "
" Chuck, " he blurted. " You don't owe anything as it's a quick fix covered by the warranty... which you do have, right? "
" Uh huh, " and her smile grew warmer as she held out a hand across the counter. " I'm Sarah, Sarah Walker... "
Her name triggered a 'flash'.
There was a picture of a hummingbird caught in flight followed intel from her Federal Intelligence Agency personnel file. Mission briefs loaded with redacted information cascaded through his mind along with other pertinent intelligence on the FIA field agent. Interesting! She'd had her name changed legally when she joined the FIA. He wondered what her real name was? And in the midst of the intel was another interesting nugget of info... that she'd once been partnered professionally and romantically with Bryce Larkin. Swell!
He blinked and realizing he'd rudely ignored her hand, Chuck quickly grabbed it and gave it a slight shake.
Sarah looked concerned but covered it with another of her smiles. " Well thanks Chuck, you're a life saver. "
He shrugged modestly. " You are welcome... Sarah... "
Sarah glanced at her watch. " Will you be getting a break anytime soon? It's about lunch time and I'm getting hungry. We could get something to eat if you'd like? "
" Oh he'd like... " Morgan began. It sounded like a hand was hurriedly clapped across his mouth.
Chuck could almost hear the collective jaws hitting the floor as he turned and looked at the work schedule posted beside his Nerd Herd monitor. He nodded, " Lunch would be awesome... "
Sarah Walker's smile grew brighter and friendlier. " Good! "
Morgan could be heard squealing around the hand still clapped over his mouth. Chuck glanced over and saw that the hand belonged to Anna Wu, who was now staring a death glare at her boyfriend. Chuck decided he'd feel sorry for his bearded buddy later.
He clocked out and nodded at the Nerd Herders and Buy Morians standing about, gawking. " Lester, you're in charge until I get back. Jeff, I'm pretty sure you have things in the cage you could be fixing or do I need to find something for you to do? As for the rest of you, if Big Mike has to put down his fishing magazine and danish... "
The Buy Morians scattered at the threat. No one wanted to be guilty of causing Big Mike to leave his office. Jeff shuffled off after finally tearing his eyes from Sarah's chest and mumbling something about a great 'hooter cam' moment missed.
Lester nodded enviously. " Why didn't she ask me to fix her phone? "
" Don't whine, Lester... " Chuck walked out of the Nerd Herd help desk area and strolled around to Sarah. " Shall we? "
" Yeah! " Sarah turned and tucked her hand around his nearest arm. " I'm not from around here so do you know of any good places to eat? "
Chuck gulped at the contact then tried to appear casual and shrugged. " I really can't recommend the Weinerliscious. The Pizza Joint isn't bad and there is a nice deli, Lou's Place... "
As they walked away, Morgan must have freed himself from Anna's grasp. " She's even hotter than Carina... "
A sharp slap was followed by a Morgan yelp of pain. " But Anna Banana... "
" It's a nice place, " Sarah Walker said as she glanced about the small deli. " I like the décor and the atmosphere. "
Chuck nodded. " I don't come in here as much as I used to... "
" Why? "
" The Intersect created a few problems in my life besides sticking me with Bryce and Carina. " Chuck looked uncomfortable. " Lou and I used to date. She even named a sandwich for me... after I fixed her phone, actually... "
Sarah smiled. " Another damsel in distress? "
Chuck shrugged. " Anyway, I ended up having to lie to Lou because of missions and things. She found out I was lying and couldn't deal with it. Not a big fan of liars or cheaters for that matter. She thought I'd been cheating on her with Carina and that was the end... "
Sarah looked up at the menu board. " I see one called 'The Liar and Cheat'? "
" I'm afraid so. Subtlety is not one of Lou's strengths... "
" We could have gone somewhere else, " Sarah suggested gently.
Chuck shook his head as a pretty and petite brunette strolled up wearing a pastel colored polo shirt, khakis shorts and an apron with the deli logo stitched across the chest. " Lou... "
" Chuck... " There was the faintest hostile chill in Lou's voice. " Would you like something to drink as you check out the menu board or are you ready to order? "
" Sarah? "
Sarah studied the petite deli owner for a moment. " An unsweetened iced tea please. "
" And I'll have a coffee, " Chuck said with his own polite smile. " I think we're still deciding... "
Lou nodded and turned to stalk away.
" Wow, " Sarah murmured. " If looks could kill. "
Chuck shrugged. " This is actually the nicest she's been in a long time. "
" So tell me about yourself? " Sarah asked.
Chuck looked his surprise. " You didn't read my personnel file? "
Sarah nodded. " Yeah, but that's just the professional stuff. It doesn't tell me anything about the real you and if I'm going to protect you I'd like a better feel for who you are. "
" Alright... " Chuck shrugged again. " I'm a professional nerd. My best friend is Morgan Grimes, who you may have noticed, had his mouth covered by his girlfriend at the Buy More. I live with my sister, Ellie and her boyfriend, Captain Awesome aka Devon Woodcomb. I was expelled from Stanford my senior year for computer hacking, betrayed by my best friend and room mate who was also sleeping with my girlfriend... "
" Were you guilty of hacking? "
Chuck nodded sheepishly. " Yeah. We computer dudes have always had a more libertarian take on the draconian rules and regs put on the Internet by the Feds and tend to try and find ways to circumvent those rules and regs. I was actually very good at it. I was known as 'The Armadilloi'... "
Sarah looked impressed. " I've heard of you... "
Lou stalked up and placed a glass of iced tea in front of Sarah and a mug of coffee before Chuck. " Are you ready to order? "
" Yes please, " Sarah said with one of her coolly polite smiles. " I'd like to try 'The Liar' but hold the olives please. "
" I'll have the usual but hold the arsenic and bamboo slivers please, " Chuck added.
" Two Liars, one hold the olives, right? " Lou ground out as she scribbled in a receipt book.
Chuck and Sarah nodded and Lou stomped away.
" Not a fan of your humor either, " Sarah said sympathetically.
" Guess not, " Chuck replied with a pained look. It still bothered him that Lou continued to so strongly dislike him. Unfortunately, as he couldn't tell her the truth... " You heard of the Armadilloi? "
Sarah took a sip of her tea and nodded her approval. " A college friend of mine was a bit of a hacker and was always talking about a legendary hacker who was able to consistently break the Fed codes so that gamers could play the Dixie computer games. Then one day the hacker just vanished. She thought you were either dead or in jail. "
Chuck picked his coffee mug up and breathed in the fragrant steam. 'Lou's Place' made great coffee. " So what was your friend's hacker handle? "
" The Piranha. "
" I remember that handle and she was very good, " Chuck said. " Anyway, after Bryce got me expelled I spent several months in probation detention before the Feds decided I was at least partially rehabilitated and let me come home. My record was expunged, but getting expelled for 'cheating' stuck with me and the only job I could get was with Buy More.
" With my skills I quickly made Nerd Herd supervisor. Big Mike drove the political officer, Harry Tang, nuts when he did that, since Tang knows my real record... expunged but not forgotten... "
Chuck quickly glanced around. " Then several months ago I was sent an unusual email on my birthday. I opened it up and the rest is history. The Feds still don't have a clue who stole the Intersect program and it's intel and sent it to me.
" Then to top it off, the FIA sent my old nemesis, Bryce Larkin, to be an asset handler. I was also blessed with Carina Hanson from the Federal Security Agency and a Major John Casey from the Department of Military Intelligence. Casey has been the only relatively decent one of the three, even though he grunts a lot and thinks I'm an incompetent moron and has threatened to shoot me more than once... "
He stopped talking as Lou approached the table bearing a food burdened tray. Lou deftly serviced the table, then slapped a receipt down between them before turning to a nearby table and busing it.
Chuck and Sarah shrugged at the deli owner's continuing churlishness. After a couple bites, Sarah once again nodded her approval and Chuck nodded his agreement with her. He wondered if Lou still had her meats smuggled in... not that anyone needed to know that...
" So tell me something about you? " Chuck asked.
Sarah shrugged. " When I mentioned my name, did you do what ever it is you do? "
" Yeah, I flashed, " Chuck said. " Casey was calling it the moron brain fart or mbf for short. I think flash sounds better in a super power way, not 'weird dude with a trench coat' way, but yeah... I flashed.
" Carina says spies won't tell you anything about who they are because they may have to leave at a moment's notice or shoot you in the head... "
" I'm not Carina... "
" Most definitely, " Chuck agreed and took another bite of his sandwich.
She grinned at him. " And I'm not a spy. Those exist only in movies, television shows and novels... like that British character, James Bond? I'm a field agent and I think a pretty good one. The various intelligence agencies have different protocols and limitations when it comes to sharing personal information, so what would you like to know? "
" What was your real name? " Chuck blurted out as he considered what Field Agent Sarah Walker had just told him.
Her facial expression blanked, but there was something dark and turbulent in the depths of her eyes.
" I'm sorry... so sorry, that's none of my business, " Chuck began to babble.
Sarah reached out and patted his hand. " That's alright, Chuck... "
" No, it's not and please don't shoot me in the head if you have to leave suddenly. " Oh crap. He really was babbling.
Sarah frowned, then a tiny smile broke out. " I would never shoot you in the head, Chuck. That would damage the Intersect. "
" True. " Chuck took a deep breath. " That's good to know... I think... Well then how about your middle name? Can you tell me your middle name? "
" It's Lisa, " Sarah murmured. " My middle name is Lisa. "