A/N Thanks for reading, Big chapter here. Thanks to DC and Zettel! I do not own Chuck; but am honnored to keep the story alive.

Chapter 14


Sarah's loosened her grip on Chuck's arm, and they got out of her car. Touching him calmed her; they were in a storm together, a maze of agendas and interests hedged them in. Each turn seemed to draw them deeper into the labyrinth. At least they were a them. They had found each other in the maze. Now, they had to see if they could escape it. Could they find a way out? That thought filled her with fear, an emotion with which she had grown unfamiliar. Before Burbank, she did not have fear. To be afraid was to have something to lose; it was to be a person. That was a privilege that, before Burbank, she had denied herself.

But no longer was she wholly shadow; she was, at the least, corporeal. She was flesh, real, alive: with hopes and desires stretching past mission objectives. She possessed a will that no longer wanted to forget its aptitude-she was real, and because of that, she vulnerable, was afraid. Now, she had so much to lose. The man that was right beside her, who he was, and what he represented—hope, hope that although she was lost, although she had lost herself, she was redeemable-she could be found.

She breathed deeply as she opened the door to the Orange Orange. She was afraid but she would not lose herself in the fear; she would use it to focus her. She was a trained agent: one mission at a time. Now, they needed to find out their next mission from Beckman. They could talk again when they got home. 'Home', she smiled inwardly at the word. Wordlessly, Sarah opened the entrance to Castle, focused, ready to face whatever was ahead.


Chuck was feeling confident as he walked past Sarah. He had no idea what he was going to do about the situation with Roark, but, then again, he had no idea what he was doing for the past two years and that had landed him in a loving, committed relationship with the most beautiful, badass woman in the world. He was Forrest Gumping his way to happily ever after-but,wait, that would make Sarah… moving on. He walked down the stairs absentmindedly and was met with a cocky smile and a rhetorical question: "Miss me?"

Bryce. Bryce who tried to get him to break it off with Sarah, who set him up to make his idiotic regression with Jill. Bryce. Why couldn't it have been Cole? At least Cole wasn't condescending. Bryce seemed to know just how to pop in at the worst times. Why on earth would Beckman want Bryce here?

Chuck quickly looked over his shoulder at Sarah whose agent mask was firmly in place. His eyes met hers, and the mask softened for a split second. A look of concern and softness thawed the ice of her agent's mask. It was gone as soon as it was there and her professional veil returned.

Chuck breathed deeply. "Sarah loves you," he thought to himself. "She told you that, you live with her, there will be no late-night-Bryce popping into her hotel room." Gah! He felt guilty for even thinking that. She'd risk imprisonment for him. He had to get over this jealousy. Besides, Casey was right; he had to lock it down generally in front of Beckman.

"Ahh, Agent Walker, Mr. Bartowski, now we can begin."

"Yes, ma'am," Sarah deadpanned, ice in her voice. Chuck could hear the chill. She was pissed at Bryce, seeing him for the first time since the Von Hayes incident. Chuck could not help but feel a hint of happiness about her anger, but quickly chided himself for his selfishness.

"After the detaining of Howard Busgang, it appears that Fulcrum has redoubled their search for Orion. We have long suspected Vincent Penberthy," a man's face appeared on the screen.

Chuck winced as the flash hit…

A football pitch.

Cliffs of Dover.

Vincent Penberthy. Ex SAS. Multiple Gallantry medals: entire squadron wiped out in Bosnia in a black ops mission gone wrong. British claimed to have no knowledge of involvement. Fulcrum recruitment. Arms specialist, data analyst, assassin, human tracker… believed Fulcrum assignment: capturing Orion.

Chamomile Flower.

A football pitch.

"That is not a nice man," Chuck said, regaining himself.

"Astute observation, Mr. Bartowski," Beckman replied snidely.

"Vincent has been tracking Orion, and we flagged his entrance to Los Angeles two days ago. We have reason to believe that he is close to capturing Orion."

"General, if Orion is here, can't he get the intersect out of my head?" Chuck ejaculated, trying to resume his previous mindset.

"That is not our chief concern," Beckman said shortly. "But, that would be a priority once we bring him in," she added hastily.

"Is Orion why 'Special' Agent Larkin has graced us with his presence?" Casey asked sarcastically. Bryce appeared unmoved.

"Precisely, Major. Orion is a ghost. Since completing the Intersect project, Orion has wiped himself from all records and dropped off of the grid. None of us even knows what he looks like. He had not contacted any of our agents or analysts, except Agent Larkin in the midst of project Sandworm."

Chuck risked eye contact with Sarah; her gaze bid him to hold his peace.

"Orion is a recluse; he wants no part of this war. But Fulcrum is closing in. So, for his safety, we need to bring him in," Bryce said assuredly.

"He's agreed to come in?" Chuck asked suspiciously.

"Not exactly, Mr. Bartowski. Orion left a secure message on a personal channel with Agent Larkin giving us the intel on Vincent. Orion and Agent Larking have a history and a trust that Orion apparently doesn't have with any other person in this agency. Larkin will use this to bring him in."

Hot, bubbling anger coursed through Chuck's veins. Bryce sat on knowledge of his father. Chuck also had a sudden, sneaking suspicion his father may have had something to do with the expulsion from Stanford. But, all that paled in comparison with the casual manner by which Beckman and Bryce were talking about betraying and imprisoning Chuck's father. "For the greater good": it took every ounce of self-restraint Chuck possessed to school his facial features. An outburst would solve nothing. He managed to swallow his disgust.

"Team, you are to support Agent Larkin in his attempt to acquire Orion. Agent Casey will provide overwatch, Agent Walker will be onsite ground support, and Mr. Bartowski will monitor surrounding surveillance feeds from the van," Beckman ordered.

"General, I think it may be best if we do not risk the Intersect for this mission. There is no need," Bryce asserted.

"Noted, but we need a full team, we aren't taking any risks here. This room is the only one with clearance levels high enough to know about the Intersect. We need all the manpower we can get, and Bartowski has shown himself useful."

It was too much; Chuck couldn't stay focused. It took everything he had in him to maintain a neutral look on his face, but he could not keep it much longer, he had to withdraw, escape. The talking continued, the planning commenced, mostly Casey, Bryce, and Beckman. Chuck could barely stomach it. Bryce knew… he had to, otherwise he would not want Chuck to stay behind. Beckman apparently didn't know… Interesting. How much did Bryce know? Did his dad know? Stanford? Would his dad fall for Bryce's trap? Did he deserve it? Could Chuck warn him? Did he want to? He was spiraling.

His stomach was sour with despair. Anger, hurt, betrayal. All from those who were supposed to protect him. Friends, fathers, agents. Now they were betraying each other. So be I-

A cool hand grasped his arm. Bryce was speaking with Beckman, only Casey could possibly have seen, and she had risked it. Her hand: gentle, and reassuring-Sarah. One touch, one gentle action-saved him from himself. Her sacrifice, her risk, her love, she reminded him of who he was. He couldn't let his dad go. He had to find a way to warn him.


"Damn this," Sarah thought to herself. She was hoping for more time to talk with Chuck, but once again circumstances outpaced her planning. She was reeling from Bryce's revelations. Bryce knew Stephen. Stephen had to have known about Stanford. Her heart broke-that would hurt Chuck so much. She understood why Stephen would risk Chuck's education to keep him from the CIA. She understood that the Buymore was preferable to a Faustian Bargain. She wasn't sure if she would have done what Stephen and Bryce had done, but she understood it. Chuck did not; he could not: thank God, he could not. All he could see was his father's betrayal, along with his best friend' healing wound of Casey was tearing open again. Chuck must be in so much pain. She looked over at him and saw the glaze form over his eyes. He was not present; he was inside himself, holding it together by a thread.

She quickly glanced around the room. On the opposite side of the table, Bryce was staring intently into the video monitor, Beckman focused on what he had to say. Casey, sifting a chair behind was facing the screen as well. He might see, but it was worth the risk. Sarah reached her right hand out and encircled his left arm. She prayed he would feel her presence and love through the touch. Chuck's shoulders relaxed slightly. She smiled to herself.


Chuck took a deep breath, surveying the situation in which he found himself. Four hours had passed since the briefing. He was in a surveillance van a hundred yards from the intersection of San Filipe and Commodore. Bryce confirmed that that was the agreed meeting point where his "conversation" with Orion would happen. Cameras surrounded this intersection; Chuck imagined his father suggested it for that very reason. Stephen would be able to see if anything was amiss before showing up to the meeting place. Chuck had not been able to talk with Sarah alone, all they had time for was a few texts.

S: Did Stephen give you a way to contact him?

C: No! He said he'd reach out to us, do you think he'll show for Bryce?

S: No idea, depends on how much he trusts him and how much he owes him.

C: What do we do?

S: I don't see any other option but to play along. Maybe we can spook him, or let him escape.

C: Spook...spy humor.


C: I'm sorry… I panicked...

S: It's ok! We will figure it out. I will try and improvise. Follow my lead. Stay safe and STAY IN THE VAN.

C: Yes Ma'am!

The meet was to take place at a covered bus stop. Bryce would appear to be alone with Casey covering the scene from a nearby roof. Once Orion entered the bus stop, Bryce would subdue him, and Sarah would roll up with Casey's Crown Vic. Chuck's job was to monitor traffic cameras and other video surveillance in order to observe the larger area. Chuck shifted in his seat, adjusting the tactical vest and gun holster that he wore. He felt ridiculous, sitting in a surveillance van, loaded out with a tranq gun and flashbangs. But Sarah had been insistent.

Bryce was nervous, or at least Chuck perceived him to be so. Perhaps Chuck was projecting that emotion because of his knowledge of Bryce's dilemma. Chuck knew who Orión was, Bryce did as well; Bryce did not know that Chuck knew. He thought Chuck didn't and he was going to try to keep it that way. This was confirmed by a conversation they had on the way to the meet.


"Chuck, I know you've been on missions before, but I just want to make sure you know, no matter what happens, do not get out of the van. I don't care if you lose surveillance, or we get shot, do not get out of the Van!" Bryce said with a note of pleading in his eyes.

"Sure, Buddy, I got it" Chuck replied attempting to be casual.


Chuck's primary concern was for his father. If Bryce's plan went without a hitch, what would happen? Could Chuck stand idly by while his father was imprisoned for the sake of convenience? He was too useful to kill. hat, at least, comforted Chuck, but he could already feel the guilt rising for being a part of his father's unjust capture. All that he held onto was Sarah; he trusted her. She would figure something out.

"Chuck, three minutes out. Do you see anyone approaching?" Bryce asked hastily.

Chuck scanned the monitors. Several cars were driving past, no pedestrians in the vicinity of the bus stop.

"No one yet," Chuck replied.

"And you, Casey?" Bryce said asked,acid in his voice.

"Clean from up here. You sure you actually know Orion?" Casey asked, goading Bryce.

Bryce ignored him.

Minutes passed and then Chuck saw the silhouette of man strolling up the street. A beige trench coat was hanging well past the man's waist, a wide-brimmed hat obstructing a clear view of his face.

"Bryce, I think he's approaching. Trench coat, block away, coming from the east."

"Copy… Chuck… Remember our chat, I need you to trust me," Bryce said ominously. "I promise you this is for the best," Bryce continued as he presses a button on a key fob.

Instantly, the video monitors blacked out, exterior locks engaged, and static filled Chuck's headphones.


"Bryce, what the hell are you talking about?" Sarah asked over the comms. She had been racking her brain trying to figure out how to get Stephen safely away, but could come up with nothing that would keep from revealing that she was compromised. She had nothing, all she could now was wait for a chance to spring him from Castle. Bryce's ominous speech tore her from her thoughts.

"Sarah, I've cut Chuck's comms and video, you'll understand why in a minute. Just be ready to pull the car up. Trust me," Bryce ordered confident of her compliance.

"Damnit, Bryce, what if someone shows up?"

"Casey has overwatch, just trust me. Pull the car up in 20 seconds."

She remained quiet. Why Bryce didn't tell Beckman about Stephen's identity from the outset? That was a mystery. Keeping Chuck out of the loop-she at least, understood Bryce's rationale. Bryce did not want Chuck to know who Orion was that would be an operational nightmare.

Sarah heard Stephen's footsteps through her earwig. She listened intently.

"Bryce, what is going on; you coded an SOS; you said my family was in danger?" Stephen asked semi-frantically.

"Bryce, you bastard," Sarah thought.

"Stephen, this is for the best. Now, Sarah!"

Tires squealed as Sarah floored the accelerator. Sounds of a struggle rang through her ear. As she pulled up, she saw Bryce handcuffing Stephen, blood running out Stephen's nose.

Sarah was unlocking the door for them to get in when Chuck's voice rang in her ear.

"Sarah! Get to cover! Fulcrum team led by Vincent rolling in. Two vans headed your way! Casey 7 o'clock from your position."

"Chuck! How the hell did you get back online?" Bryce asked, dumbfounded.

"Charles? My son is here?" Stephen asked, equally shocked

"Son?" Casey mused.

Sarah ignored everyone but Chuck; she saw the vans fast approaching. One of them was wheeling towards the opposite side of the street, the other headed right for her. Instinctively, she dove out of the passenger side window just in time to hear the crunch of metal on metal. She quickly moved Stephen under cover behind the pavilion and began to search for enemies.

She found them in abundance. Eight men armed with silenced weapons, (pistols, thank God) were taking offensive positions across the street. The Crown Vic was inoperable; its front concaved by the much larger Mercedes van whose driver appeared to be unconscious from the impact..

"You'll pay for that," Casey growled.

A hail of gunfire erupted all around Sarah. Bullets were ricocheting off of the metal where she and Stephen were covered. Bryce was unloading his Glock 40. The sound of Casey's silenced M24 ripped through the night, bringing death with each shot. In the commotion, Sarah handed Stephen a set of handcuff keys and began to lay down fire of her own. "Unlock them, but keep them on," Sarah said between shots.

"Sarah, make sure Orion is secure," Bryce bellow between clips.

The firefight had quickly become a stalemate. The Fulcrum team was unwilling to advance because of Casey, but Sarah and Bryce were unable to eliminate them. Adrenalin coursed through Sarah's system as she allowed the fruits of her training to fully manifest. She did not think, she need not think. She had been been cultivated over years. She produced what The Farm had planted. Her flow was only interrupted by Casey's voice, although he was not speaking to her.

"Moron, what are you doing?" Casey demanded.

Sarah's heart sank, her eyes scanned the area, quickly finding Chuck, sprinting unnoticed across the street, completely flanking the fulcrum team.

"Damnit, Bartowski, don't you dare get yourself killed. Walker will kill us all." Casey spat.

Chuck did not respond, rather he raised from his position and threw a flashbang perfectly between the remaining Fulcrum agents. Without thinking Sarah flew from her spot and began to fire, drawing whatever attention away from Chuck that she could. She needn't have worried; his throw was true. Sarah could hear weapons dop as the men cried out in pain from the blast.

Chuck did not celebrate his victory. He stormed towards Bryce with a look of rage Sarah had never seen in his eyes.

"Chuck, we have to g-" Bryce did not finish his threw a violent punch straight into his jaw, knocking him over.

"Dad, take the Fulcrum van and get out of here. We'll get away in the surveillance van".

"Charles, I can explain."Stephen started.

"Just, GO!" Chuck yelled.

Stephen obeyed and clambered into the van, tossing out the unconscious driver, and backing it away from the ruined Crown Vic.

"Sarah, stop him!" Bryce demanded, scrambling to his feet.

It was too late, gunfire began to erupt from across the way, forcing the three of them to duck their heads.

Casey re-engaged from above; laying down suppressing fire as Bryce, Sarah, and Chuck got back under cover.

"Surveillance van is 20 yards that way," Chuck said pointing west towards an alley.

C'mon Bryce, it's FUBAR now, let's get out of here," Sarah ordered.

Sarah could see the anger in Bryce's gaze. But he obliged.


Chuck's heart was pounding from adrenaline and fear as they drove back to Castle. The van was deadly quiet. Casey was brooding about his car, Bryce enraged was at both Chuck and Sarah, and Sarah was sitting in stone-faced contemplation preparing herself to face the powers that be.

Chuck kept silent. He knew he should be babbling. Had he been ignorant, as Bryce thought he was, he would have been babbling. But, he could not risk a slip here. Sarah could be arrested, Chuck could not let that happen.


"Fulcrum ambushed, Orion escaped, a firefight near downtown. What the hell happened?" Beckman raged through the monitor.

"General, we had no way of knowing the Fulcrum team would engage our position. We don't know how they found us; we barely saw them coming." Bryce began.

"Would have seen them sooner had you not sabotaged Bartowski," Casey grunted. "You owe me a Crown Vic."

"Agent Larkin did what?" Beckman thundered.

"General, I locked Chuck in the van to prevent him from sabotaging the acquisition of Orion," Bryce said.

"You mean the kidnapping," Chuck interjected.

"Why would he do that?" Beckham questioned.

"Because Orion is Chuck's Father," Bryce finished.

"Agent Larkin, that is mission critical Intel that you withheld from me. What on earth were you thinking?" Beckham spat.

"I was not confident that Orion would show. If he didn't I did not want to compromise his identity to Chuck, or to the government, for fear it would get back to Fulcrum, ultimately putting the Intersect in more risk."

"How thoughtful, Bryce, thanks for looking out, buddy," Chuck said, sarcasm dripping from his voice.

"Zip it, Bartowski, I will deal with you soon," Beckham said darkly.

"Your precautions did not work. Your plan was a disaster, and you almost got your team killed," she said, redirecting herself towards Bryce.

"The mission was planned correctly, and even with Chuck's inference it would have been successful had Agent Walker not been compromised by her asset," Bryce said defensively.

"Leveling accusations will not get you off the hook here," Beckham countered.

"General, Sarah let Orion go. She let him unlock his handcuffs and she neither stopped Chuck from attacking me, nor kept Orion from getting in the van. She is either working with Orion, or she is hopelessly compromised by her asset. Either way, she is the reason for this mission failure," Bryce said, injured self-righteousness evident in his voice.

"General, that's preposterous, Bryce organized this mission on bad intel and did not let his team know his plan change until the last second," Sarah defended.

"Why did you not prevent Orion's escape?" Bryce countered.

"Because I was busy scanning for Fulcrum reinforcements," Sarah retorted.

"SILENCE!" Beckmann demanded.

"Mr. Bartowski, if you want to remain outside of a Bunker, do not ever sabotage an active mission. I understand why you did what you did. I will give you a pass this one time. Never again," Beckman said.

"Agent Larkin, if you ever lead Agents into an op blind like that again, I will have you convicted of reckless endangerment."

"Yes, General," Bryce replied.

"Agent Casey, what is your opinion of Agent Walker's position with the asset? Beckman asked.

"Agent Walker Is the best agent I have ever worked with, General. No better partner to protect the idiot," Casey replied quickly.

"That's not what I asked, but you've said enough. You are loyal to your team; I respect that," Beckman conceded.

"Agent Walker, before you moved in with Mr. Bartowski, I had some reservations about your objectivity. I reviewed surveillance footage and decided that while you may not be strictly objective when it comes to the asset, you placed your mission objectives first. Despite Agent Larkin's idiocy, tonight has proven me wrong. I am reassigning you, effective immediately."

"General, I…" Sarah started.

"My decision is final," Beckman concluded.

"No," Sarah stated plainly.

"No?" Beckman asked

"Yes… No, no one else will be protecting Chuck," Sarah said, heat rising.

"Agent Walker, you are proving my point," Beckman said. "The asset's protection must be handled by someone who is objective. Otherwise, they may get him killed."

"Bullshit," Sarah called. "You need his handler to be 'objective' so that they will be willing to put a bullet in his head when you are done with him."

Beckman paused, clearly thrown off-guard. She rallied, "Agent Casey, please remove Miss Walker from Castle; she is clearly delirious."

"Don't lie, Dianne," Sarah pressed, "I went back through the surveillance tape. I saw Casey in Chuck's window," Sarah raged.

"Walker, your outburst is working against the interest of the US government, that is a credible threat to National Security. Major Casey, arrest her!"

"General, I...," Casey started

"Major that is an order!" Beckman screamed.

Tension rippled through the room as the three agents recognized the situation. Bryce quickly raised his gun towards Sarah, but not before her's was leveled at Bryce. Casey hesitated, but raised his gun calmly, pointing it at Sarah.

"Walker, it's over, don't try anyt-" Casey stopped mid-word, left hand raising to feel a small dart sticking from his neck. Bryce, whirled around, only in time for another dart to connect with his jugular. The two men collapsed to the floor.

"Mr. Bartowski, what on earth are you doing?" Beckman asked, dumbfounded.

Chuck drew himself up and spoke with a confidence previously unknown-especially to himself.

"General, I have never been and will never be your enemy. But you have treated me as one. I have done nothing but cooperate, and yet you abuse my compliance with threats of imprisonment? I share this with you in an act of good faith, so that you will remember whose side we are on while you hunt us: Ted Roark is Fulcrum.

"He is making an intersect. My father, Orion apparently, told me before he fled. I flashed… it's legit, Fulcrum Intersect confirmed by my Intersect. Sarah and I are now going to disappear. Here are the rules of the game. If you mess with Ellie, Devon, or Morgan in any way, I go public with the Intersect and what you have done over the past two years. Otherwise, happy hunting, although I would rather you spend your time fighting Fulcrum. We are not your enemy General, you forced my hand."

Chuck turned, grabbed Sarah's hand, and together, the raced from the building and out into the night.

A/N2 Now we are moving! Thoughts? Reactions? See you next time!