Note: Thank you for reading, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays. This is mainly AU.

-Selene

Disclaimer: I own nothing...if that helps.

Chapter One: The most wonderful time of the year

The chilly air nipped at Sarah's exposed face, the rest of her body thoroughly covered in winter wear. She wore a long black winter overcoat that came low and resembled a trench coat; she almost looked like the government asses she was fleeing. You couldn't tell that any of the clothes she was wearing were indeed fruits of a tricky labor. A labor that got her father locked up. A labor that acted as the final butcher knife between her mother and father, forcing her to choose a road and eventually come to make the exact same mistakes as her father; save for getting caught. She was a thief, nothing more. She was a conwoman.

Currently, she "resided" nowhere, if she could call it that. She'd never lived somewhere more than a month. She'd tried milking the cities she stumbled upon, and often succeeded before leaving for precautionary reasons. Her father was the catalyst; she'd never really wanted a life like this. Despite her saying she indeed wanted it, when she was at the tender age of eleven, following her father around, she'd never desired it to go on forever…certainly not without him and anyone else to endure the lonely, barren roads with her.

Bells could heard, most likely that of her latest victim; the Salvation Army. It was to be a simple extraction, one that her father had taught her years ago, and their annual con. It was sick, to rob the people who worked fairly and kindly, dedicating their lives to help people who needed it even more so. But, she carried on with the mentality and mindset her father had drilled into her as a young girl, "Eat or be eaten." She knew it was a cheap way to think in her current predicament, but she realized that she knew no other way of living, and…it worked. So why was it, that with all her apparent success from her former years as a thief, she screwed up her annual con so badly to the point where she had to flee the streets of some city in Los Angeles? She'd remember to write the story and sell it as: "how to get caught, in fifteen easy steps"…considering she was to survive the current debacle.

She heard footsteps, noises behind her. She tried to convince herself that it was solely because she was on a busy main road and in the middle of some sort of Christmas fair. She could hear the sound of chainsaws amongst other machinery and cars, Christmas trees were being sold. The smell of the noble fir still sent her all the way back to a mere five year old version of herself; what she called her "pure" state. It made her depressed, almost, if she dwelled on it too long. The kids screaming and laughing whilst chasing each other beside her only seemed to deepen the pang. There they were; the footsteps again. She quickened her pace, coming to the odd conclusion that the best thing to do would be to turn the corner and face whatever apparent predator that found her. She did just that, working her way to a quiet space. Who was it? The city cops? Maybe a Salvation Army rep? Maybe it was the CIA. Deep inside, she didn't have to ask. They were the only ones who track her so easily; especially when she covered her tracks like a master assassin.

She turned, facing a tall, muscular man. She knew the man before her, with his goon behind him. The front man looked a lot like superman…but a sickly version, in her opinion. He was Graham's latest right hand man. He was a charismatic smooth talker, who, on many an occasion, tried to get into Sarah's pants for the short duration she stayed with the agency. His name was Agent Daniel Shaw, and Sarah didn't like what was coming next.

"Shaw…" She saw her breath, and for the Los Angeles area, which meant it was colder than usual. Though frostbite was the least of her worries.

"What is it here…Franco? O'Connell?" His voice had the telltale arrogance of a trained CIA agent hunting someone with far less resources than they would've liked.

"Shaw, it's none of your goddamn-"

"Walker!" He exclaimed happily, smirking. The man behind him chuckled.

"Who's your shadow?" Sarah asked coldly. She was extremely disappointed that Graham had let him into the files, hers, specifically.

"Oh, him?" Shaw jabbed a thumb backwards towards his accomplice. "This is Justin. He's here to back me up, in case you try to run…" Shaw ticked. "But I told Graham you were far smarter than that."

"What is it you want from me?" Sarah demanded, tense.

"Whoa, ease up there. Graham sent me to fetch you and bring you back. But, that was before I saw you attempt that incredibly stupid move with the Salvation Army." Shaw clarified.

'Shit.' Sarah knew what was coming next wouldn't bode well with her already pathetic predicament. She was caught between a rock and a hard place; an ultimatum she'd hoped to avoid all together.

"Get to it, Shaw." Sarah was already hostile, but this put the icing on the cake.

"So…" Shaw produced a pair of handcuffs from his coat, smirking. "You come nice and easy, or…we do this the hard way."

"Why does Graham want me back so badly?" Sarah demanded. Shaw decided to enlighten her a little.

"He seemed extremely pleased with the progress you made in your short time under his training. Plus, he rescued you from your convict father, right? That's got to count for something." Shaw pressed on, happy to get his fill.

Sarah couldn't fathom what she'd done to upset the senior agent, other than beating nearly all his records whilst training.

"The real reason." She tried again.

Shaw rolled his eyes. "Naïve little Sarah…" he ticked. "Remember that short period where Graham favored you?"

Sarah remained unmoving.

"Well, it seems you've learned far too many of our secrets to simply let you go..." Shaw spoke patronizingly. His slicked hair casted a shadow over his eyes, granting him a sinister look.

"How is this fair? Or even constitutional?" Sarah tried, knowing it was a futile attempt.

Shaw chuckled. "Let's be honest here…" He turned to catch Justin smirking as well. "Even with your short time in the CIA, Walker, you should know that there's always an ulterior motive."

"This is sick." Sarah almost growled as Shaw extended the cuffs around her arm. Her mind was racing. She'd have to return to Graham, to what was yet another personal hell for her, even despite her con-woman alter ego. She couldn't do either of them anymore. She saw that it was quickly getting to nightfall, better for her, anyway.

Within a split second, she was on the offensive. She yanked the cuffs from unsuspecting Shaw's hand and whipped around, knocking out Justin with a clean and heavy strike from the cuffs and a roundhouse. Turning she saw Shaw just in time to knock out the gun from his hands, foiling his easy way out. Sarah knew it wasn't the best way to kick his ass, but time was essential. Sliding behind in a serpent-like fashion, she had the cuffs around his neck in minutes, wrapping them there and yanking.

Shaw struggled to turn. Every time he did, Sarah yanked harder. She could tell she was losing him more and more with every pull. He fell to his knees, coughing and choking. He managed to grip his fallen pistol. With a sudden heave, he turned, firing. Had Sarah been half a centimeter to the right, she would've been finished. Crying out in pain, she saw her arm turn red immediately. She felt the utter pain of tearing flesh and the searing pain of where her arm was clipped. She knew what happened. She knew she was losing blood. She knew she had to move. But she wasn't done with Shaw. She immediately reacted, kicking his firing hand. The gun flew away and he fell back in pain.

Sarah leaned down to whisper in his ear. "Remember this, Shaw. Next time, I won't be merciful. And if you follow me…I won't give you and your idiot here a second chance." She watched him fall to the floor, thanking her early self for doing it out of sight. Turning, she jogged away from the scene. She was in more trouble than ever.

-Burbank, CA: Christmas Tree Sale; 8:45 PM-

"Yeah El, I'd say it's big enough." Chuck wheezed, holding the front end of the tree while his sister's boyfriend, Devon, handled the heavier end with much more ease. It wasn't that Chuck wasn't in shape…It was just that his competition was far more superior. After all, Devon was bestowed the honor of "Captain Awesome" by those who knew what awesome feats he'd accomplish.

"Dude, it's awesome." Devon grinned, never missing a chance to utilize his favored adjective.

"You boys are doing well." Ellie smirked, not bothering to ruin her new winter coat with fir tree bits and bark.

"Almost there, just a few more feet…" Ellie turned to view the car and get ready to guide them to its roof.

"Hey, we actually, - OH BOY!" Something slammed right into Chuck, causing him to fall. Chuck squeezed his eyes shut as he saw the tree fall down. Inches from his eyes, it stopped. Devon caught it single handedly.

"Chuck!" Ellie cried, running over.

"Bro…" Devon set the tree against the car, turning to see what bulldozed Chuck.

"Oh my god…." Chuck breathed as he saw a large, hot, and ever growing red stain on his sweater. "Ellie!" He instinctively called his doctor sister. He glanced at the prone body, struggling to get up on him. It was the most amazing sight; she was the most beautiful girl Chuck had ever seen. She was tall, with blonde hair that almost covered her angelic face. She looked extremely pained. Chuck could tell she was losing blood fast, considering that his shirt was serving as her Band-Aid.

"Oh….oh….god..." Chuck whispered, his chocolate colored eyes locking on her deep blue eyes. "Um…..Are you okay? Oh….of course you're not…" Chuck mumbled. "What happened?"

Ellie watched, doctor mode kicking in. They didn't have time for formalities. "What's your name?" she asked. She eyed Sarah's arm as Devon pulled her up gently, Chuck struggling to stand.

"Sarah…Walker…" She got out between breaths, feeling suddenly cold as she was pulled away from the curly haired man.

"We're getting you to a hospital…" Ellie told her firmly, calling an ambulance on her phone.

"No! No…" Sarah tried to free herself from Devon's gentle and firm grip. It was useless.

Chuck was dumbfounded. Why wouldn't she want that?

Ellie seemed to be experienced in the matter. "I'm a doctor, I'll make sure you'll be okay." Sarah seemed to know she wasn't just talking about her health condition. Chuck was clueless.

"Chuck, support her so I can get her arm covered." Devon instructed, watching Sarah fall backwards into Chuck's outstretched arms.

Sarah felt her weak body fall back as the apparent "Chuck"'s cologne and warmth surrounded her again.

"Hey…" Chuck spoke gently, unsure of what to say. "You…uh….you'll…be fine….Ms…..Walker."

"I'm sorry…" Sarah breathed, unsure of how the hell his awkward mumbling was causing her to give a wry, pained smile.

"S….sorry?" Chuck asked hesitantly. "For what?"

"For knocking you down…" she felt herself fading, she wanted to close her eyes so badly.

"Huh?" Chuck felt her go slightly limp. "Ellie!" He called. "Stay with us. Stay with me…." Chuck didn't really know what he was saying as the ambulance arrived. Ellie was to ride with Sarah to the hospital while Chuck and Devon and finished with the now forgotten tree and met them as soon as they could.

Sarah was hauled into the ambulance within seconds, and they were already taking off with Ellie, who kept a sharp eye on her newest patient.

The ambulance was gone, blaring sirens still prominent in Chuck's ears.

"Is she going to be okay?" Chuck asked hurriedly. He didn't know why he was so anxious to find out her condition. He decided that it was his first time seeing a real injured person get carried off to a hospital like that.

"Looks like." Devon nodded, using Chuck's assistance to get the tree strapped on. "It was a flesh wound…from what I saw."

"Oh…good. She looked hurt…"Chuck mused quietly. He glanced down weakly at his shirt, which was utterly ruined with Sarah's crimson blood.

"The way I see it…well, it looks like she was clipped with a bullet." Devon stated expertly. He'd seen those plenty of times before. It was uncommon compared to actual bullet wounds, but still not a rarity.

"We should probably get there soon to pick up El…" Chuck nodded, getting into the passenger seat once the tree was secure. This was the strangest thing that happened to him in a long time…maybe his whole life.

Ellie always told him that everything happened for a reason…maybe she was right this time.