Author's Note: This is going to be a reimagining from the pilot episode on. If you're looking for cannon you're in the wrong place. To steal a line from JT, no beta's were harmed in the publishing of this story, all mistakes are mine.

Standard disclaimers apply: I don't own Chuck, 'cause if I did there'd have been more consistency and less memory loss. I'm making no money at this. Probably for very good reason, you have been warned.

'Things don't look all that different,' thought Chuck as he walked through the courtyard toward his sister's apartment. Granted it had only been 6 months since his last visit but he's always surprised by the fact that no matter what crazy turns his own life took, Ellie's life and home seemed remarkably stable. 'Time to face the music.'

His knock is interrupted by a high pitched squeal from inside the apartment. "Yep, Ellie's home." he chuckled to himself.

"You're here," his sister shouted as the door opened and he barely had time to drop his black duffle bag as she dragged him into a bone crushing hug. "It's great to see you little brother."

"Hey I know what kind of trouble I get into if I don't show up so you can throw the annual meet my brother birthday bash," he replied smiling down. "Although I don't know why you bother bringing in all the single women you know, I'm only going to be here for a couple of weeks and then it's back to St. Louis for me."

"She does it in the hope that someday you'll find a girl and bring her home just to keep her from throwing more of her friends and coworkers at you," called her tall sandy haired boyfriend as he dismounted his exercise bike and walked over. "Or I suppose the opposite. It's possible she's hoping to get you to fall head over heels in love with a local girl, drop everything and move back to Burbank."

"Hi Captain," Chuck answered back, shaking his hand. "How's the workout?"

"Awesome!" Devon replied with a huge smile.

"You ask him stuff like that just to get him to say that word don't you?" Ellie fake pouted as Chuck picked up his bag again and she led him into the apartment.

"Well yeah, it's not like he doesn't expect it," Chuck replied as he and Devon shared a fist bump. "Plus it's our thing."

"And for the record I'd take either result," Ellie said with a smirk.

"So how's the job going bro?" Devon asked smiling. "Still making big money as a consultant to the Defense Department? Not that I can figure out what part of the Defense Department is based out of St. Louis," he questioned as he walked into the kitchen to get a bottle of water from the fridge.

"Actually that's where the contractors I work with are based. We do work for a bunch of different agencies including the DOD," replied Chuck easily dropping his bag again and sitting on the couch. "Obviously I can't talk about what I do, but it's not like it's clandestine or anything."

"Right, which is good because if you were doing anything dangerous I'd have to beat the hell out of you," Ellie said with a completely serious face, as she sat next to him giving him a shoulder bump.

"Oh come on Ellie, I could totally be running around the world saving the day, rescuing damsels in distress and generally being an all around badass." Chuck quipped.

"Right Chuck," said Ellie with a smirk on her face. "It's more likely you'd be making escapes running for your life as your partner did all the heavy lifting and your girlish screams echoed through the streets causing the bad guys to laugh too hard to keep up."

"Et tu Ellie? Et tu?" complained Chuck as he placed one hand over his chest and the other straight out in a slightly ridiculous bout of overacting.

"I know you Chuck. You may not be the clumsy stick you were in high school, but a real life Jason Bourne? I don't think so."

"Forget Jason Bourne, I'd rather be Han Solo. Drop in whisk the princess away in my starship leaving the evil Empire sucking my dust."

"Nerd," smiled Ellie.

"And still proud of it," Chuck said airily. "So when are we lighting this candle?"

"The party starts in 6 hours so you have time to unpack, clean up, and help me and Devon with some last minute details and a trip to the liquor store."

"That's my queue to head for the shower," Devon piped in. "Care to join me babe?"

"Devon, ewww, that's my sister, I can't unhear that!" Chuck cringed.

"Just go get unpacked Chuck," Ellie told him as they both stood up. "You know where your room is. We'll try to keep the screaming down to spare your sensibilities," she added with a mischievous grin.

"Ok, that was just piling on honey," Devon chuckled.

"You two are just evil!" complained Chuck as he grabbed his bag again and made a beeline for the door to the guest room and the relative safety therein, followed by the laughter of his sister and her partner in crime.

After closing the door Chuck took a minute to sit on the bed staring off into space. "No Ellie, you knew me." He said with a slightly wistful look before he got up again and started unpacking.

Later that day...

The non-descript office building seemed to shake as an explosion tore through the sub-basement causing unnoticed security stations to spew heavily armed personnel dressed in black fatigues and heavy body armor carrying identical M4 carbines. In the midst of the confusion almost unnoticed an athletic man in a bloody shirt dropped from the roof and made a run for the perimeter while fiddling with an electronic device of some sort in his hands. That is until he's hit in the chest by a gunshot that threw him backwards to the ground as the sound echoed through the open area.

"Freeze," an older man holding a smoking gun barked sarcastically as he walked up to the prone figure.

"You're too late Casey," the man gasped as he pushed the send button on his device which flashed "Sent to Chuck" after a few seconds then spit flame as it fell from the now lifeless fingers.

Chuck stood by the fountain in the middle of the courtyard looking out over the crowd. He couldn't help but smile. There was his sister hanging on Devon not quite 3 sheets to the wind talking animatedly to a group of her friends. Various groups stood around enjoying each other's company. 'This is what it's all about,' he thought a frown temporarily breaking through his good mood to quickly vanish as his old friend Morgan started heading his way after managing to get shot down by yet another attractive woman. 'He's nothing if not persistent.' "Hey Morgan, doesn't appear to be your night buddy," he said with a smile to take some of the sting out of the observation.

"Yeah well I haven't been slapped yet so I must be doing alright," Morgan commented as he walked up to his much taller and less hairy friend.

"Buddy we need to work on what you're using as a definition of 'doing alright.'" Chuck said making air quotes. "I do not think it means what you think it means."

"Princess Bride," Morgan nodded knowingly. "Excellent use of the quote, I salute you," he finished taking a swig of his beer. "The fact remains that given my history not getting slapped is a valid measurement of success."

"Okaaayy… I've decided that I really don't want to know," said Chuck with a slight shudder.

"Probably for the best," responded Morgan. "So how goes your own honey search?"

"Really, 'honey search' I'm starting to understand the slapping thing. For your information, I have successfully conversed with several of Ellie's eligible friends; however I'm not currently looking for a relationship with somebody over a thousand miles away from where I currently live."

"So completely shot down then," Morgan said with a commiserating smile.

"Actually no, but I did mean what I said and one night stands were never my thing, you know that," stated Chuck.

"I always thought the one night stand thing was simply lack of opportunity, not a specific life choice. You're scaring me a little bit here." Morgan said with a look of mock horror on his face. "So shall we sneak away and play some COD?"

"Nah, we can do that when I'm a thousand miles away, plus I'm pretty sure Ellie would kill me if I tried to sneak out of my own party," Chuck said motioning toward his tipsy sister with his beer. "Besides, how often do I get to hang with my best friend at a party these days? So, you're going to a desert island, what kind of sandwich do you take?"

Chuck finally sat on his bed after the party and the cleanup. He and Awesome had sent Ellie to bed after finding out that once again Morgan had spiked the punch and Ellie had fallen victim. Chuck didn't envy her the headache that was coming, but he was pretty sure Morgan deserved what was coming to him as a result. 'I need to make sure I'm around for that confrontation or there might be blood.' He smiled at the memories of the evening. 'Definitely worth the trip.' He looked over at his laptop sitting on his old desk from high school. Probably should check the email quick before going to bed. He stood up went over and sat at the desk logging through the screen lock and pulling up his email account.

'What the hell' he thought as he saw that Bryce Larkin had sent him an email. As he'd had nothing to do with the douche since his supposed friend tried to get him kicked out of Stanford followed by sleeping with his then girlfriend, it confused him as to why he'd be getting an email. Didn't even say 'Happy Birthday sorry I screwed you over.' All it had was a .zrk attachment, which was weird. He had to log into one of the secure servers to find the program required to run it and an operating system instance that would. Once he'd transferred the file to his server and ran it, it dropped him in the middle of the game facing a troll. 'Attack troll with nasty knife' he typed from memory and hit enter.