Chuck vs. The Epilog part 1
(Being another fanfic to resolve the unresolved issues from the finale to Chuck. Six months after the Goodbye, Chuck flashes an impossible flash, and discovers something that could save Sarah Bartowski’s memories, before Sarah Walker leaves him forever!)
Chuck vs. The Secret
“Here you go, el Piranha mas Grande,” said Morgan, holding out the large paper bag.
Chuck took out the bottle. “Sure you got enough this time, buddy?”
“I asked them for the giant economy size and they said this was the giant economy size.”
“Giant, at least. I don’t know if I’ll be able to lift it. This is an important hack, Morgan, it’ll make Carmichael Industries profitable, finally. I don’t need the distraction.”
“Yeah, and you do need the money, even with selling the Buy More and Beckman finally unfreezing your forty mil, you’re drinking chardonnay like it’s going out of style! So I got you a funnel.” He held it up like a trophy. “I figured we can pour some off into that bottle you like.”
“The wine’s the least of it. Like I said, you want to hack the best, you have to have the best. Even with Verbanski taking all that military stuff off our hands, we spend it all on computers anyway. You should see our electric bill.”
Morgan rolled his eyes. “I have enough problems with my own. It’s amazing how much harder it is to afford an apartment when Uncle Sam isn’t paying the bills.”
“You and Alex can always move in with us.”
“And what, move out again in two months? Plus deal with a hormonally-hopped-up Sarah? No thanks, I’ll stay at home, where my significant other is just a karate instructor and not an assassin.”
“She only tried to kill you that one time.”
“Once is enough. I know, it was my own fault. I spent too much time sneaking around your sister’s bedroom, man. Old habits.”
Chuck’s smile glazed over. “More than I needed to know. Can you hand me the corkscrew?”
Fingers flew. Chardonnay swilled. Window after window popped up and went down again, screens and links and passwords flying by faster than Morgan’s eyes could follow. Fortunately Morgan wasn’t doing the hack. “Where’s the little password? C’mon little password, I’m not gonna hurt you,” crooned the Piranha. Suddenly he grinned in triumph, and his voice hardened. “Ha ha, foolish password, now pay the price for your lack of vision!”
Morgan shook his head. “Dude, you are just entirely too scary. Evil gods cackle like that.”
“Everything is proceeding as I–”
Morgan looked up instantly. Chuck never left quotes unfinished.
“No! No, no, no, no, no. Ow!” Hands clutching his head, Chucked stared at the screen in terror. “This can’t be happening!”
“Dude, talk to me! Talk to the Morgan!”
“I flashed! I flashed in the middle of a hack and–No, it’s all falling down. I’ve lost it!” He started playing his board, far less assured than before. Lights started flashing.
Morgan looked up at the system graphic, saw red lines creeping toward their home icon. “He’s tracing us!:
“Cry-baby!” Chuck smacked his hand down on a big red button, the Cry-Baby, spawning a half-dozen processes to divert his opponent while his own system shut down safely. It also wiped his IP address and forced him to rebuild his network but that was a small price to pay.
“Dude,” said Morgan. “Whatever happened to ‘pineapple’?”
“Chuck, we had an entire team waiting for your thread! Your target now knows he was targeted. What happened?”
Chuck slumped, ashamed. Again. “I’m sorry, General. I was in the middle of the hack and everything was going fine, and then…I flashed…and the whole thing fell apart.”
Beckman sat back. He’d seen lots of reactions from her for his various failures but that wasn’t one of them. “You flashed? On what?”
“Numbers,” he said, “Lots and lots of numbers, like I’d just uploaded a Swiss bank.” Nothing nice and neat like images. His head still hurt.
“Do you remember them?” Her sympathy was underwhelming.
“Good, Write it up and send it in to our team. Maybe it’s data they can use.” The call terminated.
Hours later, report sent and painkillers taken, Chuck was slowly piecing his system back together when his watch chimed. Beckman again. Morgan looked at him, drew a finger across his throat, and sat out of camera range as Chuck pressed the button. “Good evening General.”
“Chuck, the intel you sent us is good.”
Well! He sat up straight, grinning. “That’s great!” They weren’t fired! Maybe they’d get paid after all.
“Greater than you know. The accounts we asked you to find must have been dummies. These accounts have the bulk of our target’s funds, and we’ve had them all frozen. Thanks to you.”
“My pleasure, General. A man who’ll cheat at Uno deserves whatever you can do to him.”
Morgan swung his chair around. “What’d I tell you Chuck? I knew it would work. Not a problem.”
“I’m afraid there is a problem, Mr. Grimes. Chuck, I’m afraid we can’t pay you.”
Chuck’s happy grin faded. “Wh—wha—what? But General, we got you the intel you wanted!”
“From the Intersect, and by the terms of our agreement with Carmichael Industries Intersect data is to be turned over to the appropriate authorities free of charge.” Seeing as it was theirs in the first place.
“Yes, political data. Operational data. Not my stock in trade. Why would that even be in the Intersect? How could it be, if these accounts are so new? I haven’t had any updates.” He couldn’t, someone at the DARPA labs had found his disk in the Intersect room during cleanup and loaded the virus when they were trying to restore their system.
“And if it was why were you even asking for it?” Morgan pounced, ever ready to defend his best bud. “Don’t you have it already?
Beckman looked intrigued, either by the thought or by the source. Possibly both. “The point is well taken, Mr. Grimes. The contract was written up based on the assumption that only operational intel was in the Intersect.”
“General, this really didn’t feel like Intersect data, not pictures.” Plus it hurt a lot more.
She looked concerned. “Chuck, is it possible the Intersect is malfunctioning in you, after all this time, like it did in the others we’ve tried it on?”
Morgan turned to his best friend. “Chuck, who’s the most annoying person in the old Republic?”
“Jar-Jar Binks, everybody knows tha–”
Morgan slapped the table. “I didn’t, not after I’d had the Intersect in my head for a month, much less six!” He looked up at the screen, to see the General looking down at him with something approaching respect.
“Chuck,” she said, “I’m sending my top man out, to examine you and the Intersect. Your full cooperation is expected.”
“He’ll get it, General. But can you ask him to keep it low-key, please? The less to disturb Sarah the better we’ll all be.”
“Agreed.” She ended the call without a goodbye, as usual.
The door opened, but Sarah didn’t look up. The exaggerated slapping of sneakered feet on the linoleum told her everything. “Hi, Morgan.”
She looked up, saw him standing there, hands open and empty. Boy, try to kill a guy just one time… She kept her irritation hidden, right where she kept everything else hidden. “How’d the hack go?”
He sat down. “A few problems.” Obviously, or Chuck would be here himself. “It turned out the lead was a trap. Chuck saw it in time, of course, but…”
“He had to use the Crybaby?” He’ll be a while. She wasn’t good with the ELINT stuff like Chuck but she knew that much. “How’d the client take it?” General Beckman never took failure well. So odd to think of her as a client instead of a superior officer, but she was equally demanding either way.
“She’s happy. We got what she wanted anyway, even though she didn’t know it’s what she wanted.”
“And you’re here because…?”
“Well, you know Chuck, anything worth doing is worth doing in person. He wanted me to fill you in, and let you know that Beckman may be sending someone out, so please don’t kill him.”
“What kind of someone?”
Morgan started to sweat. “Uh, some accountant boffin, I guess.”
“You guess? What could an accountant get from Chuck in person that couldn’t be sent just as well electronically?” She considered her own question. “It was in the Intersect, wasn’t it?”
“Great. So now we’re not even going to get paid.” God, she hated this…mercenary life she was stuck in. Sarah Walker served her country, and her country took care of her, took all the skills she’d gathered running cons all her life and gave them a meaning. Chuck was a nice guy and all, but it was so hard to imagine him replacing that. So few memories, the only things that got her through the day sometimes. Or this. She rested a hand on her stomach.
“Kicking?” asked Morgan, grateful for what he no doubt thought was a neutral topic.
“Yeah,” she said, the usual lie. Just a few months to go. This will all be over. I can get out of this couch, out of this house, out of this dress.
Out of this life.
“How’d it go?”
“Boy did you underestimate her. Five minutes, you said. She had it out of me in two!” He sounded happy about it, practically shouting into his phone. Fortunately he was in his car and no one heard it.
“So she wasn’t upset about the Intersect at all?”
“Not more than usual. We got as far as the accountant and not getting paid, and then the baby started to kick and I was out of there!”
“You’re gonna have to face that music some time, buddy.”
“Hey, no way, pal. Me and Alex are strictly ballroom.” And there was their studio now.
The phone was silent for a second. “Do you even know what that means, Morgan?”
“Not at all, but as long as it keeps Alex happy, and the Colonel happy, it’s enough to keep me happy.”
“Yeah, wherever John Casey is, you can bet he’ll come back for that.”
“And not in a good way. Hey, I’m here, and Alex is here, so I gotta go learn the tango.”
Another pause. “Morgan, did you see her smile?”
Morgan shook his head before he remembered Chuck couldn’t see it. “No, man.”
The doorbell rang, early the next morning, startling Chuck so much he dropped his spoon in his cereal and splashed milk all over himself. So soon? What’d he do, hitch a ride on a fighter jet? “I’ll get it!”
Sarah was faster. “I’ve got it, sweetie. You’re not even dressed yet.”
Da—gnabit. He fumbled to get his robe on as she checked the peephole. With a sigh she safed her gun and stuck it into waistband of her pants. Then she pulled open the door, smiling. “Ellie! Hi!”
Eleanor Bartowski-Woodcomb stepped through the doorway, hands reaching around Sarah’s expanded middle for a hug. Naturally she felt the gun, and pulled back. “Same old Sarah.”
She patted her expanded belly, smiled a Sarah smile. “Not hardly.” Give me a couple of months, though…
Chuck came out of the kitchen for his hug. “Hey, sis. What’s up? Not that I mind in the slightest but what are you doing here? Everybody in Chicago feeling better?” Gaze shifted back and forth between his two favorite ladies, searching for the conspiracy. “Where’s Awesome?”
Ellie made the sad face he knew so well. “He couldn’t come. Fortunately mine is a research position so I could claim a little family leave. You know me, I wanted to see the baby for myself, so when Sarah called me–”
Chuck stared at his wife, pointing a finger. “You called her? I thought you didn’t remember her.”
Sarah linked elbows, pulled him away from the door so their guest could enter. “They’re called wedding videos, sweetie. You should watch them some time.” She looked back at Ellie. “I wanted to meet my maid of honor.”
“And sister-in-law. Aunt, soon. I always hoped I’d be an aunt someday.” Ellie took Sarah’s hand. “Did you watch Jeff’s video, too? I thought that was so sweet.”
Sarah smiled. She’d turned the thing off after only a few minutes. “Do you mind if I sit down?”
Ellie held up her bag. “Do you mind if I–?”
Sarah laughed. “Always a doctor.” She let go of her husband’s arm. “We’ll be…in the bedroom. This way, I can give you a little tour while we’re at it.”
The door closed softly, and Chuck looked up. “Sarah’s not with you?”
His sister smiled. “I suggested she rest.” She flashed a quick glance over her shoulder and lowered her voice. “She’s still trying to be Sarah Walker, I think.” Then she continued at a more normal volume, “I was wondering if you could take me to the Buy More. I’d like to get her one of those kneeling chairs. She said she wasn’t happy sitting, that the uzi-toting gunmen would finish their raid before she could dig her way out of the couch.”
Chuck went to get his shoes, and incidentally check on his wife’s needs (“Nothing, thanks”). The Buy More was…the Buy More, about what she expected, a little better now that Jeff and Lester were gone. Big Mike was a bit bigger, now that there was a Subway franchise in-house, but Morgan was still Morgan. Alex was good for him.
On their way back to the car, Chuck said, “All right sis, what’s this all about?”
“What do you mean?”
“You hate the Buy More. But now you go in without a second thought, you don’t even check to see if they carry it, and it’s even on sale. You didn’t even check on-line.”
“My brother the spy. You’re right, I wanted to talk to you privately.”
“My living room–”
“Is probably bugged. Sarah is CIA, assigned to protect you. Your shoes probably have trackers, but you probably aren’t wearing a mike–”
“I took it off this morning.” He checked his clothes every day.
“And even if you were the car has a frequency scrambler in the trunk.”
She sighed, older sister to younger brother. “Chuck, I didn’t want you to find out this way, but… I work for the CIA.”