A/N This story is weird. It's confusing me and I'm writing the damn thing. But it does have sense, I call it Nomad for a reason. I actually just thought of a few more, but there's one reason in particular.
As usual, no research was harmed in the making of this story.
I'm sure there's a universe where I do own Chuck, but it's not this one.
"Sounds like the Turners are on their way."
"Marines don't complain. They take action."
"The miracle is I'm still her bridesmaid."
"Here, kitty, kitty!"
Casey seethed, all the long ride to Ellie's place. Morgan had lured a tiger into beloved Crown Vic, trapping the beast so Casey could back up his team. The cat had also shredded the seats, forcing him to leave his car in the hands of a cleaner team while he had to drive some too-small, too-slow, under-armed and armored POS from the lot. At least the little runt didn't get it blown up. That consoling thought soothed Casey over the long ride, helped him find his angry center.
If she wasn't perfectly fine he was going to hurt somebody.
A hand tried the knob. Locked.
A bar of steel held by two strong men tried the door under the knob. Unlocked.
Dark-suited figures entered the house, guns and flashlights at the ready. "Doctor Woodcombe? Eleanor Woodcombe? Metro Police!"
No response. They fanned out, two by two.
One pair went to the dining area. Chairs on one side of the table were disarranged, as if someone had stumbled through in the dark. "Doctor Woodcombe?" said the more senior of the two, flashing his light under the table. "It's clear."
"I'll check the kitchen," said his partner. He pushed through the door. "Eleanor Wood–"
Sarah had her Porsche, and Carina. "You think they'll listen?"
"This close to the capitol they know what a 'do not approach' order means."
"They'd better. I don't want them scaring her more than she already must be. Why would anybody go after her? She's just a doctor, one of the kindest and gentlest souls I've ever met, aside from her brother. I can't imagine what she must be going through."
"Well, at the risk of sounding thoughtful, we don't know that anyone did go after her. Could have been just a robbery or something."
"Like that'll save them, if they harm even one hair–"
Casey's voice erupted from the speaker. "Unit Two, come in."
"How come he gets to be Unit One?" Carina groused.
"There's two of us and one of him," said Sarah, in a 'that makes sense to me' tone of voice. She pressed the button. "Go ahead, Unit One."
"Just heard from the police, they say it looks like a shaped charge took down the lines."
Carina sat up, looking thoughtful. "There goes the robbery idea."
"Did they find Ellie? Is she okay? Are they keeping their distance?"
"Are you kidding? They're afraid to go in. The first guy through the door got a faceful of frying pan."
"That doesn't sound too bad." Carina wouldn't even enter a kitchen if she could help it.
Sarah was taking lessons from Ellie. "Ouch."
"Yeah, those things can be deadly, but she only broke his cheekbone, knocked out a tooth. She offered to treat it, but between the do not approach order and the butcher knife she was waving around, they decided to pass. They offered to send us a police escort to get us there sooner."
"Skillet and knife, John. Only soonest will do and we're already doing that."
"Roger that." John Casey clicked off the microphone, so he could curse in peace. If they had to stick him with an un-American vehicle, why couldn't they at least have given him a fast one?
"I know a man who deserves some blueberries," she said.
The loving tone in her voice made him smile, as always. "I know a woman who deserves some flowers."
She walked over to the fruit stand, and he turned to the flower vendor. The lilies and the roses called to him, but for some reason he found himself standing with a bouquet of gardenias in his hand.
"You should go with the roses, Daniel."
Daniel Shaw looked up, saw Charles Carmichael standing there in his janitor's uniform, watching him with dark eyes.
Carmichael pulled a flower from a basket. "Or lilies. Always popular at funerals, lilies."
Daniel Shaw looked down at the flowers in his hands. "Yes, you're right. You're always right."
"That's what makes me Carmichael. Trade you."
They exchanged flowers.
Chuck Bartowski looked down at the flowers in his hands. "My wife loves gardenias, though." He looked up at Shaw, standing there in his janitor's uniform.
"Is that your wife, Chuck?" Shaw pulled a pistol from the pocket of his coveralls, pointed it at Sarah, coming back with a box of blueberries. He fired and she fell. "I said you should have gone with the lilies, Chuck."
"What did you do that for?"
"You know, Chuck. Turnabout, and all that. You'll understand, when you're me." Shaw put the gun back in his pocket, picked up his broom. "But right now, I'm you, and I've got some work to do." He walked over to the body.
Chuck looked down at the flowers in his hands. Lilies. They were lilies.
He looked up. The plaza was empty, swept clean, except for a spilled box of blueberries. In the distance he saw a man in a janitor's uniform, pushing his cart round the corner.
He ran after him.
The Porsche and the blonde hair should have been enough, but Sarah took no chances. "CIA," she said, flashing her credentials. "DEA," she continued, pointing at Carina. "NSA will be along in a moment."
"Jesus Christ," said one of the policemen in shock. "Who the hell is this broad?"
Sarah frowned. Broad? Something very Casey-like rumbled past her closed lips.
Carina took a step backward. The officers nearest them did likewise.
Sarah turned to her red-haired companion. "Deal with him. I'm going to go see the Doctor." She stalked through the suddenly empty doorway, leaving behind the sound of Carina asking yet another man his name, but not in a good way.
She found Ellie easily, scanning the clumps of industrious crime scene investigators and zeroing in on the room they were farthest from. The familiar layout of the house seemed very strange in the glow of the portable lights, not at all the warm, safe haven she knew. The house had been robbed after all.
Someone would pay for that.
She grabbed a chair, and a flashlight, and brought them with her to the door. She hesitated a second before knocking. "Doctor?"
"Come in, um, Agent…?"
Sarah pushed through the door, chair in hand. "You see my problem. Three names and I can't use any of them." The room was lit with the soft green light of multiple chem-sticks. Ellie was pacing back and forth. Sarah lifted the light she'd brought. "Guess I won't need this."
"We brought our disaster kit from LA." Ellie took quick glances as she paced. "How's that policeman? Is Chuck all right? Who's the chair for?"
Sarah put the chair on the floor. "Uh, broken cheek and a missing tooth, Chuck's home in bed, I guess , and the chair is either for me to pour you into, or for me to sit in while you walk off the shakes." She sat.
Ellie stared at her trembling hands as she paced. "I can't stop them. I bet you never get these."
"Ellie. We all get them. Even Casey gets them, he'll just never admit it. It's just adrenaline, it'll pass."
Ellie stuck her hands under her arms. "No! It's not just adrenaline. It won't pass." She fought herself to a standstill. "Please don't leave me alone."
Now was not a time for sitting idly by. Sarah rose and enveloped her husband's sister is a giant but non-bone-crushing hug. "I promise. I won't leave you alone." She let go, allowing Ellie to resume her pacing before she shook herself apart. "What happened?"
"The, uh ahem, the lights went out." Ellie's arms regained their freedom as she gestured at the ceiling. "I had the panic button in my hand but I didn't push it right away, I wasn't sure if it was me or the whole block. I knew where the windows were and the furniture, but I didn't get to one before he started talking to me."
Ellie talked right over the question. "He kept saying 'why did you kill me, Eleanor? Why did you kill me?'"
Sarah sat up straight, in shock. "You've never killed anyone. You've never even hurt anyone."
"I know. I haven't done anything since I got to this darn city except neurological research. The only person I've practiced any medicine on is Chuck and he's still alive, right?"
Technically speaking, Sarah would have had to call his detail and check, but that wasn't what Ellie needed to hear. "Yes, of course he is. You were just with him."
Ellie's hands flew up into her hair. "I know, I know!" She turned, even though she hadn't reached the far wall just then. "Please don't leave me alone."
"I'm right here, Ellie. I won't leave you." Sarah took a deep breath, knowing what the reaction to her next question would be. "Do you know who it was?"
Back to pacing. "I couldn't get away from him. I pressed the button and I ran, but no matter where I went he was right there, haunting me like some kind of ghost! 'Why did you kill me, Eleanor?', he wouldn't shut up, no matter where I went he was there. Then I was here."
"Understandable," said Sarah, calmly. "It's your favorite room, you love to cook. The safest place, in your mind. And, of course–" She gestured at the knife and the skillet, lying on the counter.
"He was here, Sarah. He was right here. I could feel him, that's when I went for the chem-sticks. I heard his voice everywhere but I could feel him here, always calling me Eleanor–" She raised her hands to her mouth. "Oh, that poor policeman, he came through the door saying my name and I just couldn't stop…"
Sarah took Ellie's hands, brought them down. "But you did stop, Ellie. As strong as you are, with a weapon like that, you could have killed that policeman and you didn't." It was the only comfort Sarah knew how to give. "Don't worry, we're here now, we'll keep you safe."
"I didn't. You're here now." Ellie slumped, the nervous energy draining away, leaving her drained, strengthless. "You can't keep me safe, Sarah, no one can. So tired."
Sarah caught her, guided her to the seat. "Rest here a minute, let me clear the room so I can get you to bed."
"I won't leave you. I'm just going to the door."
Manoosh looked up from his reread of Looking For Group to notice that his program had finally finished digesting the contents of that stupid disc. Decrypted, decompiled, de-this and de-that, maybe now he could finally take a stab at figuring out what the damn thing was supposed to do. It wasn't going to be as much fun as what he'd been reading, that's for sure.
Sarah stepped out of the bedroom as soon as the sedative had taken effect. "Talk to me."
"A professional break-in," said Carina, who'd spent the evening conferring with the police. "Entry point in the basement, signs of activity all over the house, but no prints." She pointed. "Exit point appears to be that window, although it was locked from the inside." Which wasn't a sticking point to anyone who knew how to lock windows from the outside.
"Was he in the kitchen?"
"Sure, but it's hard to say how long, without the carpeting to trap his footprints. With the electricity out and some NVGs, he could have been standing next to her right up until the time she went after her chemical lights. The second her back was turned he could just slip out the door."
He'd gotten to the party late but still joined in the festivities. "Royally buggered at the pole. Some kind of computer bypass, got taken out when the charge blew the lines. I've got the pieces. Police'll be canvassing, see if they can find a witness who remembers a truck."
"And the relays?"
"Who told you about those?"
"Stands to reason. She said she heard his voice in every room."
"CIA-standard." Which meant everybody had them. "Controlled through a laptop, possibly a phone app."
Carina sighed. "Great, so have we managed to narrow it down to even one government yet?"
"On the contrary, I know exactly who did this. Casey, this mission is yours. Please try to be gentle." Sarah Bartowski turned and walked away, to keep her sister-in-law company until her brother-in-law returned home.
Chuck woke on the couch in his living room, exhausted physically from crazy dreams mentally. Why on Earth would he dream so much about Daniel Shaw?
"Probably because you know I'm going to kill you, Chuck."
Chuck sat up with a gasp. "Shaw! But you're dead!"
"Yes, saving your life, only to find that your wife is the murderer of mine. That's hardly fair. So we're going to do a little turnabout. She killed my wife, I kill her husband. Turnabout's always fair play, isn't it, Chuck?"
"As long as you don't hurt the body, Shaw," said Charles Carmichael from behind Chuck. "That's mine."
Chuck woke and sat up with a shriek. Someone was standing there, at the end of the couch! Casey. "Shaw," said Chuck instantly. "Shaw and Carmichael, they're working together."
"A dead guy and your invisible friend? I don't think so." Casey put two tranq darts in Chuck's chest, and his target slumped. "Good night, sweet prince."
"Hamlet, Casey?" asked Carina from the other end of the couch, as he put the pistol away.
"I like Hamlet. It's no Henry the Fifth but it'll do in a pinch."
Carina stared at Chuck's back, glad he was out. When he found out what his counterpart had done…That was so not a conversation she wanted to be a part of. "What now?"
Casey hoisted Chuck's limp form over his shoulder. "The Doctor is out, but General Beckman says there's a new doctor in town, so I say we get this nerd shrink-wrapped."
A/N2 I suppose there might be people reading this who get the Nomad reference. If you do, I'll give you a prize, you can be in the loony bin with Chcuk next chapter! Or...maybe not.