So, this is a story I submitted way back after Season 1. Back then I received quite a few requests for a sequel, but I didn't really have one thought out at the time. Cut to several years later, and I finally have an outline and the first couple chapters. Now I just need the motivation to write the rest.
So, I'm republishing the original story, with a few minor changes and corrections. I'll put a chapter up every couple of days. And once the whole story is up, I'll have no choice but to start publishing the sequel.
For those who aren't familiar, this one takes place right after Season One's final episode, "Chuck vs the Marlin." So, the characters are going to feel a little different, and a lot of the mythology of the show has yet to be revealed. Hope you enjoy.
Chuck Versus Fulcrum
Chuck Bartowski squinted at the tiny jumper in his hand, trying to seat it correctly on the hard drive. He hadn't slept much, considering that even after spending most of the night getting dragged around by Longshore, running from Fulcrum agents, and digging through garbage for Ellie's ring, he had been too wired to sleep. The only blessing was that Big Mike had assigned him to the Cage, where he could pretty much work on PCs all day without the usual—
He had been about to think, "interruptions."
Chuck looked up to see Morgan clutching the link fencing of the cage, arms spread wide, an anguished expression on his face.
"Morgan, what are you doing?"
"Chuck, guess who I am." Morgan threw his head back and screamed, "Elaine! Elaiiiiine!"
Chuck couldn't help but laugh. "Dustin Hoffman, 'The Graduate.'"
Morgan let go of the cage and threw his hands up, exasperated. "What? Um, hello? 'Streetcar Named Desire?' Brando, baby? How could you miss that?"
"Probably because that was 'Stella,'" Chuck replied.
Morgan thought on that for a second. Instead of ceding defeat: "Who do you think would win in a fight? Dustin Hoffman or Marlon Brando?"
"Morgan, I'm kind of busy, here."
Morgan shook his head, and started to walk out. "Fine. Try and inject a little spice into the guy's life, but hey, I can only try so hard…"
Chuck sighed. "1950 Marlon Brando, or 1990 Marlon Brando?"
Morgan stopped and grinned. "1990 Brando."
"'Marathon Man' Dustin Hoffman or 'Hook' Dustin Hoffman?"
Chuck thought on it for a moment. "Brando."
"Attaboy." Morgan beamed, and continued to walk out. "By the way, your future baby momma's here."
Chuck perked up at that. "Sarah's here?"
Morgan poked his head back into the room. "See? I say 'baby momma,' you say 'Sarah.' It's inevitable, buddy."
Chuck stood up and smiled. "Go do some work, will you?"
Sarah Walker stood by the Nerd Herd desk, drumming her fingers on the counter. Lester sat uncomfortably next to her. "I'm sure Chuck'll be here any second," he said, laughing nervously. He'd done everything nervously around Sarah since their little incident in the Weinerlicious.
Sarah looked at Lester, leaned in close, and whispered in her most sultry voice:
"Don't be afraid."
Lester squeaked, stood up, and retreated to the back of the store. Chuck approached Sarah, looking back at Lester as he walked.
"What's with him?"
"No idea," Sarah shrugged.
"Something going on?" Chuck asked.
"No, just making sure you're all right. We had an interesting night."
"We did indeed," Chuck said, nodding. He wasn't sure what to say. Now that the danger of being extracted was (at least temporarily) past, the things he had said on the roof seemed a bit out of place.
He looked at Sarah, saw how tired she looked. "Get any sleep last night?"
Sarah gave a weak grin. "Not much. Even when I got home and into bed, I was a little too strung out to sleep."
Sarah smiled, and seemed to be gathering the courage to say something. Chuck sensed her struggle, and tried to make her feel more comfortable.
"Hey, I've got a few minutes before Big Mike's back from his three hour lunch," he said. "Want to get some air?"
Sara looked at Chuck appreciatively. "No, I actually have to go," she replied. "I'll…"
She fiddled with one of her pigtails.
"Are you… busy tonight, Chuck?"
"Well, I'm supposed to feed Morgan around eight, or else he'll get cranky."
Sarah nodded absently. "Oh. Okay." She turned to leave.
"Sarah!" Chuck laughed. She stopped and turned back. "I'm kidding," he said. "Morgan's been feeding himself without incident for… well, for a few weeks now. I've got a good feeling about the future." Sarah finally laughed. Chuck was relieved to see it. "For you, I've always got time."
Chuck had never seen the look on Sarah's face that she suddenly had after he'd said that. It was – gratitude? But something else as well. She looked… impossible as it sounded, Sarah Walker looked helpless.
"Thank you, Chuck," she said. "Can you come by my place around seven?"
"Yeah," Chuck replied. "Yeah, that'd be great." Sarah turned to go, and Chuck called after her again. "Sarah!" She turned to face Chuck again, as he walked up to her and stood close.
"Are you okay?" he asked, touching her hand lightly.
Sarah took his hand and squeezed it. "I'm fine," she said, unconvincingly. "I just…" She breathed in deep. "I wish things could be different sometimes. You know?" she sighed.
Chuck's mind reeled. It was exactly – EXACTLY – what he had been thinking since he'd first learned Sarah was an agent; that she was only there on an assignment. What if things had been different? What if they had just passed on the street? To hear it now, from Sarah herself, made him speechless. Speechless, unfortunately, for a moment too long.
Sarah let go of his hand, and looked embarrassed. "I'll see you tonight, okay?" She didn't wait for a response and walked out of the store. Chuck finally responded, way too late for her to hear.
"Tonight," he said.
Sarah drove back to her apartment knowing that she should be upset with herself, but at the same time she just couldn't bring herself to slip into agent mode. Not tonight, not after everything that had happened in the past 48 hours. How was she supposed to scold herself for wanting to spend time with Chuck when just the night before she had stood with her hand on her gun, ready to draw on Longshore to keep him from taking Chuck away? If she'd been willing to go that far, this was small potatoes.
Only, she knew that tonight wasn't about just spending time with Chuck. Tonight wasn't going to be a night where they danced around the issue of a "cover" relationship versus a "real" one. She didn't have the energy for guarded admissions and restrained gestures. She wanted Chuck to hold her. She wanted to open the door to her apartment, pull him inside by the shirt, and collapse into his arms. She wanted to wrap herself so tightly around him that not even air could get between them. And she wanted to stay that way for as long as he'd let her, which Sarah suspected would be as long as she wanted. She smiled at the thought.
She parked and went upstairs to her place. It was a nice thought, "her place," even if it wasn't very accurate. Paid for by the CIA, probably bugged to the hilt. She wondered if she'd ever had a private moment there. She wondered who had been listening in when Chuck begged her to tell him something, anything, about herself – even her middle name. And when she had whispered it a moment later, was it loud enough for anyone to hear?
Sarah felt a wave of anger at the thought, the idea that some analyst in a lab in Virginia was privy to such a private moment. Inspiration struck her, and she rummaged through a bedside drawer until she found what she was looking for – a bug detector. She swept the entire apartment, and finally found one cleverly hidden in the chandelier. She'd probably looked right at it a thousand times, lying in bed trying to sleep.
Sarah plucked the bug gently from its hiding spot, and moved it into the closet. She attached it to the wall, then slid all of her clothes along the hanger rod until they were pressed up against the bug. Disabling it or destroying it would tip off the CIA, but the clothes would muffle it enough so that anyone listening in would just think the apartment was empty.
Sarah smiled. No one would be listening in on her and Chuck tonight. Tonight was for them alone.
She checked the time – 6pm – just enough time to clean up and dress. She stripped and stepped into the shower, wondering what to wear.
Chuck looked through his closet. What was he supposed to wear? He doubted they were going to leave the apartment, figured that Sarah just wanted to talk about something that was bothering her. So, overdressing would be a mistake. But he didn't want to show up in a ratty t-shirt, either. What was the standard "I'm here to listen and give my support" outfit? He wished it was colder out. He could wear a sweater then. Guys in sweaters always looked sensitive. Did he even own any sweaters?
Chuck took a deep breath. He was geeking out, even more so than he usually did. But Sarah had thrown him with that one look, that one statement.
I wish things could be different sometimes.
What was she talking about? The extraction attempt? Maybe she meant the entire thing. Maybe Sarah was wishing he had never been put through any of this. I wish Bryce had never sent you that email. Chuck was surprised to find himself hoping that wasn't what she meant. Because if it was, then Sarah was hoping the events that had brought her into his life had never happened.
Chuck looked at his watch – 6pm – and realized that in just an hour, he'd know what was going on with Sarah. Better to focus on the task at hand. He stuck his head out of his bedroom doorway.
"Devon, do you have any sweaters?"
Sarah felt strangely tired as she brushed out her hair. She wondered if Chuck would stop for coffee on the way. She could definitely use a cup.
She smiled at the thought, the idea of having someone around who knew that her favorite flavor was nutmeg, that she could just barely finish a medium cup but liked getting the large anyway. Someone who cared enough to buy her coffee without her having to ask about it.
Sarah finished brushing her hair, stood up, and felt a head rush. What was wrong with her tonight? It wasn't as if she'd had a particularly tiring day. She'd had a pretty uneventful one, with the exception of her conversation with Chuck. Maybe that was it. Maybe she needed the adrenaline rush that much.
She frowned at the thought. Was it too late for her? Had she become so used to this life, this world where at any moment you could be thrust into a life-or-death situation, that she could never have the simple life? Standing outside the window of Ellie's apartment with Chuck, watching Devon give Ellie the engagement ring, Sarah had felt such a yearning to be normal. She was so sure that she wanted a life where rings didn't have tiny transmitters in them, where dresses didn't have to conceal a weapon, where a kiss between a man and a woman was just that – a kiss.
The doorbell rang. Sarah looked at her watch. 7pm, right on time. Sarah felt dizzy as she crossed the apartment to the door. Was she that excited? Nervous? She shook it off, determined to follow through on her plan from before. She was going to grab Chuck and squeeze the breath out of him.
Sarah flung the door open and reached out to grab Chuck's shirt, freezing at what she saw.
The first thing she noticed was that this was not Chuck. The second thing she noticed was that he was wearing a gas mask. And the third thing she noticed, just before she passed out, was a jagged scar running along the side of his face…
Chuck looked at his watch. 6:55pm. He wouldn't be too late if he could just make all the traffic lights between here and Sarah's apartment. Just as he was thinking that, the next traffic light turned yellow and the car in front of him came to an abrupt stop. Chuck threw his hands up as he braked.
"Oh, come on," he said. "20 million insane drivers in the state of California and I'm stuck behind Miss Daisy."
Chuck tapped his finger on the steering wheel, waiting. He glanced at the two cups of coffee in the cupholder, and tried not to think about how they were cooling off a bit more with every moment wasted.
After what seemed like way too long, the light finally changed to green. But the car in front of him didn't move. Chuck honked his horn. Nothing. He honked again. The car didn't move. Seeing no cars behind him, Chuck got out to see what was going on.
When he came up to the open driver's side window, he saw that the driver was a young woman wearing earphones and painting her nails. She was humming along to whatever she was listening to, oblivious to the world. Chuck edged a bit closer to the front of the car, so that she'd see him out of the corner of her eye. When she finally looked up, she smiled calmly and removed her earphones.
Chuck furrowed his brow. "Do I know you?" He felt an impact to the back of his head; the world jolted, and then went dark.
Reviews make me want to write stuff.
From Chapter Two:
Chuck held up his hand. "Don't, Casey. Don't even start to hint that she deserved getting captured."
Casey seemed to weigh the value of this argument, and obviously decided it wasn't worth the effort. "In any case, we have no idea what to expect in there. Could be a dozen Fulcrum agents."
"One way to find out," Chuck said, getting out of the car and striding toward the building. Casey swore and got out, following Chuck down the street. He fell into step next to Chuck and discreetly passed him a small revolver.
"If you're going to be stupid, at least be stupid and armed," he growled.