A/N: I haven't written on this one much, and I'll tell you why. I am housed, at my job, at a college campus…at least I was. For the last eleven months, I have not been. Every time I pulled this one up, I would shake my head, and close it back. I'm sorry. I really am, but let's be real, a lot of things have changed and we've all had different ways of dealing with them. Last we saw our heroes, Zondra had made a phone call.

Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck


"I hear they're going to decide on some new TAs soon," Zondra told Chuck.

"I don't give a damn," Chuck muttered, making Zondra snort.

"You give so many damns, they're visible from space," she replied. She handed him a controller. "Come on, let's race.

Chuck stood up. "I have to go study," he said, walking over and grabbing his bag. "Can't lose this scholarship, you know?"

"Chuck, your scholarship isn't dependent on your GPA," Zondra reminded him.

"My luck, they'll change it," Chuck muttered.

"Wait, don't go," Zondra told him. "You shouldn't have to run off every time you need to work on something."

"I won't have to for long, will I?" Chuck asked. Zondra frowned, as he repositioned his bag over his shoulder and headed out the door.

"Damn it," she muttered. Her phone went off, and she hopped up to grab it. She looked at the text, grabbed her bag and ran out the door. A moment later the door opened back up and Sarah walked in. She saw the TV on, and looked around.

"Where the hell did everyone go?" she asked the empty room.

}o{

Zondra walked up to the black SUV, and the window rolled down. "You're either gonna kill my cover, or make everyone think I am selling or buying drugs," Zondra said, with a grin on her face.

"You wanted to see me," Gale replied. "You know I am the director of the CIA and am very busy. You're just lucky I had to be at Stanford to implement the new program."

"So, I wanted to show you something. It's a person attempting to be a TA on campus, but they're being blackballed by the professors here," Zondra began.

"This is why you called me?" Gale asked, puzzled. "Zondra, this does not require the director of the CIA."

"Just look at this," Zondra said, handing her the CV that was filled out. Gale scanned it, looked at her, and then back to the paper. "But, you're right, we don't need to get you involved."

"Zondra, this is exactly who we need," Gale said, her eyes wide. "A civilian, that is legitimate in this field, and can take over the program." She turned to Zondra. "You could find potential recruits, this person tests them, assesses them, and you both make independent-"

"Nope, if me and this person do it, then we do it together," Zondra told her.

"Okay," Gale agreed. "Now, who is this?"

"It's Chuck Bartowski," Zondra told her.

"What?!" Gale said, opening the door, and getting out. Anger was on her face. "Why in the hell is he being blackballed?"

"Because several professors got fired over him, Gale," Zondra reminded her.

"Damn Graham," Gale muttered rubbing her forehead with her free hand. "We are going to fix this," she said, holding the paper. "Get in. You just got invited to a meeting."

"Now wait," Zondra began.

"I thought you two were going to do this together?" Gale reminded her.

"He's not here," Zondra pointed out.

"But you are, and besides, right now, we need a couple of members of the CIA, and to remind them how much money we pump into this university," Gale said, sliding her sunglasses on and getting back into the vehicle.

"Bad-ass," Zondra muttered with a grin, going around to get in.

}o{

"Chuck?" Sarah said as she heard the door open, coming out of their bedroom. "Hey, did you go studying?"

"Yeah," Chuck replied. "Sorry, I should have told you." He took a deep breath.

"No problem," Sarah said with a shrug. "So, I don't have long before my class, but-"

"Sarah," Chuck cut in, sadness in his eyes. I- I don't think I can do this…" he trailed off, not able to finish.

Sarah got a worried look on her face. "Not able to… do this?" She swallowed. "Chuck, what do you mean? Us? Are you wanting a divorce?"

Chuck's eyes went wide. "WHAT?! No! I love you! I just meant that…" He blew out another breath, and looked her in the eyes. "I can't keep up this facade that everything is fine about us getting the house, because I can't find a job, Sarah."

She studied him, and then shook her head. "What do you mean you can't get a job? You're one of the smartest guys I know. You just want to play video games all day?"

"No, I mean no one at Stanford will hire me," Chuck said, frustrated. He ran a hand through his hair. "Sarah… I'm blackballed. I got a professor fired, remember?"

"Chuck… baby…" she came to him and took his hands in hers. "I am so sorry; I had no idea."

"I didn't think it would be a big deal, and now… now I've crushed your dream, and I hate me a little… no, a lot. I hate me a lot."

Sarah held his gaze. "Chuck Bartowski, do not do that." She glanced at the clock.

"You need to go to work," he said. "You don't want to be late, and make things worse because of me."

She squeezed his hands, walked over, picked up her cell phone, and made a call. "Gertrude," she said. Chuck watched her, confused. "I have a family emergency; can you cover tonight?" She giggled. "I wish it was just I needed to have sex with him."

Chuck glanced around the room, saw there was no one there, and tried to convince himself not to blush.

He did not succeed.

"Yeah, I'll explain it to you, but I really need to be here." She smiled. "Thank you, I'll tell you everything later." She listened for a moment. "Yeah, I'm sure everything will work out, but right now, I just need to be here. Thanks, bye."

"You didn't have to do that," Chuck began. "You have a class, responsibilities-"

"You're right, I do," Sarah agreed. "You."

}o{

Zondra walked into the apartment, and saw Sarah and Chuck on the couch. Sarah sat rubbing Chuck's head, as it was in her lap. It was obvious he had told her the problem. She could feel the sadness radiating off Chuck, and the frustration of Sarah to not know how to help him.

"Hey," Sarah said with a sad smile. "So, bad news, you won't be getting rid of us. We can't afford the house."

"She knows," Chuck said. Sarah looked down at him. "I had to tell someone and… well…"

"I've become his bestie," Zondra said, mock sighing. "But I'm afraid you're wrong about part of what you said. You will be moving out."

"Zondra, I know you're trying to mess with me, but right now is not the time," Chuck told her.

"Do you want to help me drag him?" Zondra asked.

"What are you going to do, sling me over your shoulder?" Chuck asked.

}o{

"OW! That's my head!" Chuck yelled, as Zondra went through the door, Chuck over her shoulder, his head hitting the doorframe.

"Will you please quit breaking my husband?" Sarah asked.

"That's all you're going to do?" Chuck asked.

"You got yourself involved in Zondra's life and became her friend. You have to bear the consequences," Sarah informed him, trailing behind the two.

Zondra set him down. "Ya done? You gonna listen to me?"

"If I don't?" Chuck asked. Zondra put her hands on her hips. "I am all ears."

}o{

Zondra stopped the car in front of a house, making Sarah suck in a breath. "Zondra," she said, in a hushed tone.

"Sar, gonna need you to be quiet, as I'm going to use small words to explain this to Mr. Genius over here," Zondra told her, getting out of the vehicle.

"Hey," Chuck began. Zondra shot him a look, and Chuck mimed zipping his lips.

"So, this is soon to be your house, if you agree to a few terms, which Sarah is expected to okay," Zondra began. Chuck began to raise his hand. "I swear to God I will rip your lips off if you say a word." Sarah clamped her fingers over Chuck's lips.

"I need those," Sarah told him, making his eyes go wide.

"I'd tell you two to get a room, but we're about to get you a room," Zondra told them, opening the door. She led them in and, sitting at a table in what appeared to be a dining room, was Gale Bussman, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

"Gale?" Sarah said.

"Sarah, Chuck, good to see you both, Gale said, coming over to hug Sarah. She let Sarah go, gave Chuck a look, chuckled, and hugged him. "So, I have a proposition for you, and if you don't agree, nothing changes with your current arrangement."

"I promise," Zondra said, making Chuck turn to her. "Curls, trust me."

"I do," Chuck said. "I do, but I am so confused."

"Okay, then let me explain," Gale said. "I wish to hire you… well, Stanford does. We will be funding Stanford." Chuck nodded. Gale handed him papers, outlining the class.

"This the one I got accused of cheating in, subliminal imagery," Chuck pointed out.

"It is," Gale replied. "However, while we would like to use the class to find potential candidates – not just with subliminal imagery – everything is voluntary on your end. There will be no forcing anyone to join, that does not want to. Plus, Zondra will be here to take care of the physical part, if they are to be an agent."

"Gale?" Sarah began.

"If you agree to this, Zondra will have to be stationed here," Gale told Sarah with a grin.

"What do you want?" Chuck asked Zondra.

"You mean do I want to live in the mother-in-law, or guest house, or whatever you call that thing?" Zondra asked.

"I have certain requirements," Sarah said, making Gale turn to her. "These are non-negotiable."

"Sarah," Gale began.

"Let's hear her out," Zondra said.

"If she is going to spend the rest of her career watching my husband and being his work partner, then she has to consider this her home," Sarah said. Zondra looked away. "She does have to cook two nights a week, and we'll have Chuck do three nights."

"Hey," Chuck said.

"Chuck, you do want me to have this house, right?" she asked, a slight pout on her lips.

"Jesus, that was cold," Zondra muttered. "Anything else."

"Yes, once a week you might have to play video games with him, but you don't have to lose on purpose," Sarah told her.

"Wait, she doesn't lose on purpose," Chuck said, looking at Sarah. Sarah twisted her lips and looked away. Chuck turned to Zondra. "You don't… right?" Zondra shrugged. Chuck walked over to her.

"No," she said, putting her hands up.

"Gale, am I allowed to hug my bestie, that's also my CIA handler?" Chuck asked.

"Wait, she is not your handler," Gale said, all humor gone. "We will not use that term."

"Bodyguard, if you must," Zondra told him. "Co-worker is my preferred term."

"Bestie is mine," Chuck said, hugging her.

"No!" she said, mock struggling. She wrapped her arms around his neck. "It wasn't fair to you," she told him.

"First you made me meet my wife, and now this… thank you," Chuck said. He pulled away, and saw Gale and Sarah signing stuff on the contract. "Did she just sign me away?"

"Probably," Zondra said, her arm slung around Chuck's neck. "I got you, I promise."

"Do you really let me win?" Chuck asked.

"I'm not sure which is whinier; when you lose, or finding out that you never won," Zondra told him.


A/N: And that ends all the angst. Come on back next time, as our Collective storyline continues.