A/N: So I know it's been a while but I recently started watching Chuck and reading fanfic again. I've never dealt with the first season so this will be my first try into that area.

The idea for this story came to me after watching the first episode of season three where Chuck was all depressed and eating the barrel of Cheetos. I thought to myself, what if he was like that for five years. This will follow somewhat the events of cannon first season but changes to fit the story. I mean if you wanted to follow cannon exactly, why not just watch the shows.

If you want a feel good story, one of hope, one of fun, one of true love, one that shows that people aren't always what they appear, then this story is for you.

Thanks to Gladius for helping with this and as always, I don't own Chuck and any similarity to any other stories on this site is purely coincidental.


Chapter 1 - The Gateway to the Soul

{August 21st 2006 16:15}
{Ellie and Chuck's Apartment}

"I just don't know what to do with him Devon." Ellie had one hand on her hip, the other near her mouth as she shook her head, trying to figure out what to do with her little… younger brother, she corrected herself. It was his birthday today and while she wanted to throw him a special birthday party, she just knew it would make him more miserable then he already was.

"Babe, you've done so much for him already. It's up to him now." Devon had been living with Ellie and Chuck for almost six months now and it broke his heart seeing the decline of Chuck both physically and mentally not only for the last six months, but ever since Chuck got kicked out of Stanford. The year he started dating Ellie was not far removed from zero hour as they referred to the darkest day in their family. The day Jill broke Chuck's heart, Bryce got him kicked out of College, and then cheated on him with Jill. Add to it all that his parents had already left him too; it just did not get much worse than that, and Devon knew it hit Chuck hard.

"Devon we have to do something. I've seen him depressed, but this is just ridiculous." Ellie couldn't hold back the tears any longer as she turned to hug Devon. "I've lost him Devon. I've lost my younger brother." Ellie felt more responsible for Chuck's physical well-being because she was a doctor. She should have pushed harder to get him help, forced him to stay with the psychiatrist instead of letting him just quit after the first visit. She knew she should have done more but it wasn't like his physical deterioration happened over night. It was like a snowball effect and even though she tried to help, always thinking tomorrow would be better; it never got better as now it was out of control. It tore her up inside that she couldn't have done more.

Devon did his best to console her, holding her lovingly in his arms. She was right, but he couldn't tell her that she truly had lost her brother. Chuck had long ago given up on making a good life for himself and even though they both tried to help him, Devon more the physical side and Ellie the mental, Chuck just seemed not interested at all. And now, at any time more over the last five years, he had finally hit rock bottom physically. The Chuckster was still loving and caring towards others, but he was more reserved about who he showed that side to. His outward appearance becoming more of a barrier that kept people from seeing what a big heart Chuck had.

"Ellie!"

Ellie cringed as she heard Chuck call from the living room couch.

"Ell!"

Ellie took a deep breath as she gave Devon one last hug, making her way towards the kitchen, after all, she knew what was coming next.

"Oh there you are." Chuck barely turned to see his sis, not wanting to take his eyes off his computer screen. If there was one thing, one thing in his life that was a blessing for his current predicament, it was that he threw all his energy, all his effort into programming. He still played video games, loving the fact that since he was so good at it, people wanted him on their team, wanted him to help them. The virtual world was much kinder to him than the real because in there, he could be someone important. Of course being on the computer all the time made him hungry and now was no different. "Mind bringing me another bag of chips and a couple sodas?" He never missed a beat as he turned back to finishing his line of code that would allow his program to use voice recognition.

Ellie was torn. On one hand, there was no way Chuck should be eating this kind of food, let alone, being lazy enough to have her get it for him. But on the other hand, with his current mental state, she didn't want to yell at him and get him even more depressed. Morgan, Devon, and her was all Chuck had left and she didn't want him to think they too were after him. It was a fine line keeping the one you love happy and keeping them healthy. She had watched shows before about people that had declined in physical health. She often wondered how those people got their food, or why their loved ones wouldn't just say no. Now she understood. It was because her brother, the one so full of life, and the one that had so much love to share, he was still there, but now much more guarded and she desperately wanted him to be happy.

"And Ell, don't forget when you're at the store to pick up some ice cream and Hot Pockets. Oh, and also Oreo's double stuffed. We're already out of those."

Ellie just shook her head. "Chuck, I just bought the package of Oreo's yesterday."

"Yeah, they were good. Oh and we're almost out of the tub of cheese puffs, might want to restock those too."

Ellie just stared at the back of her brother's head. Another tear fell as she heard the requests and it broke her heart, thinking of what her brother was going through. She was about to plead with him to eat more healthy when Devon came out of the bedroom heading right for Chuck. 'Oh crap' Ellie thought as she tried to stop her boyfriend.

Devon made his way around to the front of the couch where he stood so Chuck could see him. "Listen Bro, why don't we both go out for a walk? Get out of this dingy apartment and get some fresh air." Devon crossed his muscular arms in front of his chiseled chest. "What do you say Chuck?"

The last thing Chuck wanted right now was to be around 'Awesome'. He loved Devon and was so happy for Ellie, but the problem was he hated being reminded everyday about how physically awesome Devon was. He was the antithesis of Chuck, the epitome of the exact opposite. Chuck hated physical activity while Devon loved it. Chuck hated eating vegetables, well unless they were deep fried and covered with Newman's Ranch Dressing. Matter of fact, if it wasn't for their common bond, Ellie, Chuck seriously doubted Devon would've given him the time of day. He knew Devon wasn't the bullying type, the guy had a heart of gold, but still, if it wasn't for Ellie, they would never have been as close as they are. And now, even with that common bond, the last thing Chuck wanted at this moment was to be reminded of how out of shape he was.

"Sorry Devon, but not right now, I have to finish this up." Chuck tried to ignore Devon and went back to programming his software.

Devon just shook his head. "Come on Bro, it will…"

"I said not right now!" Chuck didn't mean to yell, but his own insecurities around Devon just exploded out of him like an overcooked cheese stuffed pretzel bite.

Devon held up his hands in mock surrender. "I didn't mean anything by it Chuck."

Chuck moved to the edge of the couch, folding his laptop up and placing it under his arm. He tried in one motion to get up but was unsuccessful. This fact just made him more upset with himself and it was bad enough he snapped at Devon. That wasn't him and Devon didn't deserve that. Still, he just became frustrated as he leaned forward again, using all his energy to just pull himself off the couch. "I'm going to my room, sorry Devon." Chuck maneuvered his way around Devon as he made his way to his bedroom, turning a bit as he walked through his door.

"Ellie, I didn't mean…" Devon was pleading with the love of his life to understand.

Ellie just held up a hand. "I know Devon, just let him be." Ellie lost another fraction of hope as just like the door; it felt like Chuck had shut them out of his life forever.

. . .

Chuck was lying in his bed just staring at his Tron poster. He'd already told Morgan he didn't feel like doing anything for his birthday and it would be better if Morgan just stayed home and they could just online game all night. The real reason he didn't want to celebrate his birthday he just didn't want to admit to himself.

Thinking of gaming, he looked over at his computer chair which he hadn't used in years, the side arm handles broken and the seat itself barely stable. The only reason he kept it was so Morgan would have a place to sit, the idea of two dudes sharing a bed was just not that appealing.

Chuck had truly never felt as bad both physically and mentally as he did now. It seemed like ages ago when he had everything he'd ever wanted, his life plan set in motion, his life in general on the right path. Then it all crashed down upon him almost at once. He got kicked out of College by his best friend for allegedly cheating, then he loses Jill who he later found out was sleeping with his best friend. It was the worst moment of his life and it's what started his downward spiral.

He was 400 plus pounds now and even then he wasn't sure since he had long ago stopped being able to weigh himself on a normal scale. He had sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and was a borderline diabetic. His life was so depressing right now and if not for computer programming and his video games, he would've felt completely empty.

His thoughts suddenly drifted to where they had gone days following his return home from Stanford. It would have been so much easier back then if he would have just gone through with it. It would have been easier on Ellie and hopefully by now she and Morgan would have gotten over it. He felt so hopeless as if nothing in his life mattered anymore. He rolled back over and brought out his laptop which was always near him. He prayed for a miracle to happen, anything to bring him out of the darkness. No more uncomfortable hours at the Buy More, no more people whispering and making fun of him the very rare times he did go out, and most of all, no more burden for his best friend and his sister. He just wanted something to live for, some form of hope. He wanted that 'click' to happen in his brain where he would want to get better. Even the thought of doing it for Ellie wasn't enough to push him to make a change physically. That thought alone depressed him even more. He loved his sister and he wanted to be better for her, but every time he tried, he just couldn't stick with it. Chuck hoped maybe tomorrow would be the day. Of course that would require him getting off his fat ass. Instead, he decided to do a little more programming.

Chuck was just about to logon when an email alert popped up.

"And there it is." Chuck just shook his head, realizing who the message was from. As if his current state of depression wasn't enough, well fate had a wicked sense of humor as the name Bryce Larkin popped up in the from box of the email.

Chuck couldn't believe the man who took everything from him; the bane of his existence actually had the nerve to send him an email on his birthday. It had been almost five years since he had last saw or talked to Bryce. The memory of that day hit him hard. The vivid memory of walking by the accusatory Bryce Larkin, head shaking, as the entire dorm room came out for the walk of shame.

"What the hell?" Chuck thought as he noticed something technically strange about the email. It was probably a virus anyway and he could use a new challenge. Even though physically he disliked working at the Buy More, the one thing in the world that did give him purpose was a so called Nerd Herd Emergency. Of course he no longer went on door to door calls, he actually handled everything remotely. He had developed his own software that would allow him to pretty much take over a customer's computer as if he was actually physically present. Of course he wished the motivation to make such a software program was a little more heroic. Unfortunately, it was developed as a means to keep from having to go on Nerd Herd calls that became so uncomfortable for him. On site calls was something the other nerd herders took care of if needed, although everything seemed to always come back to him. A perceived loser in every aspect of his life except when it came to computers. Well that was one bonus Chuck sarcastically thought to himself as he opened up the email, already preparing to counter the virus attack.

"Zork?" Wow Chuck thought to himself. That brought back some memories. Good memories for once of better times at Stanford. Obviously this was some kind of joke and Chuck knew there was going to be a punch line, most likely something demeaning, something self-deprecating.

He was about to turn off the computer, not wanting to get sucked into the parallel universe where Bryce Larkin was actually being civil to him. He was still struggling with forgiving his arch-nemesis and sending him some nostalgic piece of history between them was not going to change that. Still, the fun they would have playing Zork he longingly remembered.

"Well let's see what you sent Mr. Larkin." Chuck cracked his knuckles as he began the game realizing that at any moment the joke would be on him. "Okay, attack troll with knife…"

{* * *}


{Next Day - August 22nd 11:15}
{Buy More}

Chuck had the worst headache ever. He had only been at work for a couple hours and he already wanted to go home. Normally that was always the case but he'd actually been enjoying helping people that came in with the Irene Demova Virus. It was a challenge to him to figure out the genesis of the virus and even though it was un-crackable so far, it still excited him to try and understand the virus, possibly even backward engineer the thing to see the underlying code. Sure, he felt bad that people lost everything on their computers, but it sure made things busy. Today though, he felt as if his head had taken one big sneeze and held it all inside.

Matter of fact, ever since this morning he'd been feeling very odd. He couldn't explain it, but it felt like something was off, as if his mind contained two alternate universes and they were both competing for supremacy in his current state. It was the craziest thing and he really couldn't say it was necessarily a bad thing… just different. Then add to that the fact his hard drive was fried. He knew the email was too good to be true and while he didn't remember much, he knew without a doubt that the email must have contained a virus that completely wiped his hard drive. Luckily he kept backups of his program on virtual drives, it still didn't help the fact that he'd lost a pretty expensive piece of equipment.

His current headache was definitely a bad thing as he had his head lowered onto his fleshy arms, trying to find some kind of serenity from the distractions around him. He'd thought he'd finally reached a sense of calm when Morgan thought it would be an ideal time to ring the Herder Customer Service Bell.

Without even looking up, Chuck reached out his hand to stop his pestilent friend from causing his head to explode. "Morgan…" Chuck stopped instantly knowing that the hand he held was not of his more than averagely hairy friend. Chuck slowly looked up into the eyes of possibly the most beautiful creature he had ever seen.

He wasn't sure if it was the sun coming in from the front of the store, but there was no denying the radiating essence enveloping the blond goddess that stood before him. Her sapphire eyes just enveloped him as if he was swallowed up by the ocean itself. Just looking at this woman made him never want to look away. All his worries, all his self-imposed burdens just seemed to disappear. He was the old Chuck for a moment as the angel spoke, her warming smile filling him with a feeling of hope.

"I'm sorry, I'm here about my phone, I think it's broke."

If her mere essence was that of a goddess, her voice was that of the angels. Chuck actually sighed at the beautiful tone, the melody that came from the cherry red, voluptuous lips of the women holding out her phone to him. He actually felt like he was melting and he was willing to give everything up for her, when sudden realization of what he currently looked like hit him like a ton of bricks.

Sarah had manipulated her fair share of marks. Although seduction was her least favorite way, she wasn't dumb to the fact that for most men, it could be the most effective. Either way, it never took her long to size up the mark and determine what course of action she would need to fulfill her objective. She was confident in her abilities, trained at reading and manipulating people almost before she could walk. It's what made her the best at being a spy.

This mark was no different. There were a lot of very important people that needed answers and she was the means to get those answers. Piece of cake she remembered saying to herself after getting the intel. What she wasn't expecting was the feeling to wash over her as the mark looked her straight in the eyes.

Her dad had taught her at a very young age how to read people. It always came back to the eyes. Sure there were other tells. Years of training in the CIA helped hone those skills. But it was her father that had taught her how to really size up a person. How the eyes literally were the gateway to the soul. Appearance never mattered to her. She'd seen all types and while she wasn't naïve to the fact that the world had a way of rating people on the way they looked, it wasn't how she operated. The most handsome and great looking men could also be the most vile and ruthless of them all. She had to look no further than the one man that had gotten closer to her than any other. And even that really wasn't all that close as more of convenience. And Bryce turned out to be the biggest betrayer of them all.

It was her dad's training that kept her from getting too hurt when Bruce betrayed her. They we're never really together, so neither left the other. Still, as partners, they were close and she had thought she had read kindness and care in those blue eyes of Bryce. She was completely wrong and promised herself never to make that mistake again.

But now, looking at the warmest and kindest brown eyes she had ever seen, there was no denying that there was something special about this man. The soul did not lie and while his body might have shown a lack of self-control or self-care, the eyes told a completely different story. It intrigued her to the point that she'd momentarily forget what she had planned to say next. Luckily though, she quickly regained her composure and continued on with her objective.

Chuck chided himself for momentarily losing self-control. He mentally kicked himself for giving into his emotions and allowing this woman to give him a sense of hope. The real world quickly came back to him as he realized the situation. There was never a more defined image than beauty and the beast as that was the contrast in his head right now. Beauty and the fat beast to be more precise.

Sarah was about to hand her mark the phone when she paused, seeing the warmth suddenly leave those gorgeous eyes. She actually had to shake her head a little, surprised at the quick and somewhat unexpected transformation. She knew that the light was just a figurative way to describe someone's soul through their eyes, but it actually looked as if the light had suddenly turned off in this man's eyes. It unnerved her to a point where she actually wanted to reach out and comfort him. Anything to bring back that warmth and light.

Chuck mechanically reached out to take a look at the woman's phone, not once daring to look at her again. He didn't want to see the disappointment or disgust in those beautiful blue eyes. He'd seen the way beautiful woman look at him, the giggles as they pass by with their friends, the look of disgust and… pity when they see him. He couldn't take it if that same look entered these eyes before him. He had no idea why this would be different than any other girl, but it was. He couldn't explain it and he just couldn't take the hurt right now. So he did what he always had, he put up his inner wall and shoved the real Chuck way down deep on the other side of it.

{* * *}


{Next Day - August 23rd 13:30}
{Agent Walker's Hotel Room}

Sarah was never one to be pushy. Of course she never had to be whether it was through using seduction or inflicting pain to get answers or manipulate a mark. Getting the opposite sex, or sometimes even the same sex, to do what she wanted was like second nature to her. It started at such a young age when she would fake being hurt, or fake crying, all at the tutelage of her father, and people would just cave in to her. Her father had been the best at teaching her the 'tricks of the trade' and what her father hadn't passed on to her, the CIA taught her.

With all the training, with all her success, it was baffling her why she couldn't get through to her newest assignment, Chuck Bartowski. She practically threw herself at him, asking him to show her around town, batting her eyelashes, and playing the innocent new girl in town. Unfortunately, he didn't fall for it and she knew she didn't have much time. The NSA would be getting involved shortly and there was no way she was going to take a back seat to the good-ole boy network.

Sure the CIA dealt mostly in missions abroad but this was an exceptional case and she had been handpicked by Director Graham himself. Her first real stateside mission without a handler and she was not about to let the NSA sweep in and take all the glory. This would be the defining moment in her career and she could not, would not disappoint her superiors.

Unfortunately, this mark was not like any other. She knew how the world worked and her degree in Harvard was not some rubber stamped piece of paper. She graduated with honors and once in the CIA, there was no one who even came close to being her equal. So she knew why this mark was holding back. Her experience with the psychological aspect of her job helped her to understand what the mark must be going through. She had gone through much the same thing during her high school years. Being the new girl sucked as her and her dad were constantly moving from city to city. Her senior year was the worse as she was picked on constantly.

That is why she could relate so well to what this man must be going through. The funny thing was, she didn't care about his outward appearance. Sure she knew what the world would think and worse, what the young man would think of the two of them going on a date. He would probably think it was some kind of sick joke. If he only knew that she didn't operate the way the world thought. There was way more to Sarah Walker then just the outward appearance and even though the 'Ice Queen' or 'Wild Card Enforcer' label she had been given in the agency, that wasn't who she really was. It was just a persona, another con that she used to keep people from getting too close. Not even Bryce was allowed to see the real Sarah Walker. No, it would take a very special man before she would let the real girl come out. But she was there, buried deep down. Strangely enough though, this new mark, Chuck, in just two run-ins so far had almost broken through; and the sad thing was he didn't even know he was doing it.

She knew she had a job to do and the job always came first, but there was something about Chuck Bartowski that would not let her settle for anything other than getting to know him better. She would use the guise of doing it for her job, but in reality, there was something much more to this. She had sympathy for Chuck and what he must be going through but she did not pity him. If anything, she wanted to do all she could to help him. Help him from what she couldn't exactly say but deep down, she knew there was something very special about this man. She'd be damned if anything got in her way from finding out what it was. She wasn't a robot, and while she was the best at her job, she wasn't a slave to it. She would do what they asked of her if only to use it as an excuse to get to know Chuck Bartowski better.

And just as she expected, her world was about to change…


A/N: Just wanted to say that I've already written 25 chapters so if you like this story, it's good news because it won't be put on hold. I know there are probably a lot of questions but as the story unfolds hopefully you will get some answers. I will shoot for Thursday to post the next chapter and I would like to keep that pace, Sunday and Thursday posting chapters.

A/N: If anyone has any concerns about this story, feel free to pm me and I will give you more detail on what to expect.

Also, on a side note, is anyone out there a Hell on Wheels fan? The thing that got me hooked was Lilly Bell (Fair Haired Maiden of the West) reminded me so much of Sarah. I wondered if anyone else thought that to.