Chapter 1: The Man In The Waiting Room
May 24, 2011
“Admiral,” Ziggy called. “Dr. Beeks requests that you go to the Waiting Room right away.” Admiral Al Calavicci frowned. He knew that there was a new visitor in the Waiting Room, but usually Dr. Verbena Beeks would spend time with the visitors first. As the Project’s psychologist, Verbena was best-suited to greeting the visitors, explaining their unexpected trip to the Waiting Room, and getting initial information from the subjects. Their latest visitor hadn’t been here that long, and it was unusual for Verbena to call Al over so quickly.
“What’s going on, Ziggy?” Al replied, as he started heading towards the Waiting Room.
Unperturbed, the computer’s voice answered, “You’ll see soon enough. But there is a 66% probability that if you don’t assist Dr. Beeks, the visitor is going to attempt to escape within the next five minutes.”
That got Al’s attention. He doubted anyone would be able to leave the compound without authorization, but he did not want the visitor to hurt himself, or anyone else, while attempting to bolt. Wondering who his friend had leapt into this time, Al quickened his pace, and soon arrived at his destination.
Dr. Beeks opened the door for him. Behind her, a man was pacing up and down the room, apparently oblivious to Al’s entrance.
“I don’t know what’s going on here,” the man fumed, “and I don’t know how you found me, but you’re not going to get away with this! Obviously you’ve taken the Governor, but it won’t do you any good! It’s not compatible with 2.0, and if the Ring thinks I’m going to build one for you, your organization is more pathetic than I thought.”
“’Bena, what is this nozzle talking about?” Al whispered to the doctor.
“I’m afraid I don’t know, Al. I’ve been with him since he came to, and I think he’s been more jumpy than any of our previous visitors.” Al snorted. “Jumpy” was the understatement of the year. Al knew that a visitor was always shocked upon waking up in this unfamiliar place, with no idea how they’d gotten here. And, of course, seeing an unfamiliar face in the mirror would upset anyone. But Verbena was often able to calm down each visitor within a few minutes of talking to him. Al had to agree with Ziggy, though. This man appeared ready to try to make a break for it.
“He keeps saying something about a ring, and some governor,” ‘Bena added. “Oh, and something called 2.0,” as well.
“I suppose he went mental after you showed him the mirror?” Al asked in a low voice.
“Actually, that’s the strange thing, Al. He appeared quite calm when he looked into the mirror. He even turned around and asked me—”
“I asked her, ‘what exactly am I supposed to see? Because as far as I can tell, this is an ordinary mirror, and the only thing wrong with my reflection is that I’m not wearing the Governor,’” the man said, having overheard the two.
That made Al pause. He knew that whoever this person was, when he looked into the mirror he would see the reflection of Dr. Sam Beckett, and not of himself. If this man claimed that his reflection was normal, he needed to have either his eyes or his head examined. Al shared a look with Verbena, confirming that she was thinking the same thing.
“Er, look, how about we back up a step?” Al said, turning to the man who was currently wearing his best friend’s face. “Why don’t we start with introductions? What’s your name?” It seemed like a good place to start, and it would be one of Sam’s first questions. Yet, somehow it was the wrong thing to say.
“What’s my name?” the man asked incredulously, as he resumed pacing. “I’m supposed to believe that Ring agents tracked me down, knocked me unconscious, kidnapped me and stole the Governor, but don’t know who I am?”
“We’re not Ring agents--”Al interjected.
“Then again,” the man continued, ignoring the interruption, “maybe you mean you only know my code name, but it seems like my cover was blown…”
“Code name? Cover? Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Are you listening to me?” The mystery man finally stopped pacing and turned to Al. Seeing that he did have the man’s attention, Al continued. “We’re not Ring agents,” he repeated. “We don’t even know what the Ring is, and no, we do not know who you are.”
“You’re not with the Ring?” the man frowned, finally considering the possibility that he had jumped to the wrong conclusion.
“No. I’m Admiral Calavicci—” Al paused. To his surprise, the man’s eyes rolled back and his eyelids fluttered. Al wondered if the man was having some sort of episode. Unbeknownst to Al, at the mention of his name, images had begun flashing in the man’s mind. A photograph of Al popped up, as did a file bearing the heading—
“Project Quantum Leap?” the man queried. But the next second, he had fallen down on one knee, and held his head in his hands, wincing in pain. Al and Verbena rushed to his side to help him up, but the man started rising by himself first, the pain apparently fading as suddenly as it had struck.
“How—how do you know about the project?” Al asked. “And what—what exactly just happened?” he stammered.
“I think I should start by answering your first question, Admiral. My name is Stephen J. Bartowski. To answer your other questions, I’m going to have to tell you about the Intersect Project.” Stephen pursed his lips, not thrilled with the notion of sharing his secrets with these strangers, even though he now knew they were not Ring agents. “In return, perhaps you could kindly explain a few things to me about Project Quantum Leap.”
Stephen and Al are sitting on chairs in the Waiting Room, continuing their discussion.
“So, let me get this straight,” Al began paraphrasing. “You invented this computer—the Intersect—“
“Well, as I told my son, I only invented the ‘really cool parts,’” Stephen corrected Al. “No,” he corrected himself, “I suppose if you think of all the changes they made when designing 2.0, I can’t take the credit for the really cool parts anymore.” His eyes glazed over for a second, though he wasn’t having another flash.
“Wait, what’s 2.0?” Al asked, interrupting Stephen’s musings.
“The new and improved version of the Intersect. See, with the original version, I can ‘flash’ on information—”
“Names,” Al added.
“Such as names, yes, and codes…well, I think you get the idea. With 2.0, an agent would also get ‘skills flashes,’ and be able to use skills he otherwise wouldn’t have. But that’s neither here nor there,” Stephen said.
“Right, ‘cause you’re not using 2.0,” Al said slowly, still trying to wrap his head around this. “But you do have an Intersect in your head?”
“Yes. I tested it on myself years ago. Don’t look at me like that—” Stephen began, seeing Al’s expression, “—like I don’t have the brains I was born with. Didn’t you tell me that your friend Sam tested his invention on himself, too?”
“He did step into the Accelerator,” Al conceded.
“And now he’s trapped in the past? ‘Leaping’?”
“And now, now he’s leapt into me. I’m still confused about that,” Stephen added. “I mean, you said that we haven’t really switched bodies, just places in time. And yet, for some reason, people will see him as me, and that you see me as him.”
“That’s right,” Al repeated.
“Well, that explains why she was showing me the mirror earlier,” Stephen mused, “but it doesn’t explain why my reflection is normal.” Al raised an eyebrow. He was prepared to accept that the man before him was a spy, code-named Orion. He was even prepared to accept that, somehow, the man had helped to develop some sort of computer that Orion had then downloaded into his own brain. What he didn’t understand was why Orion was still insisting that his reflection was ‘normal,’ when he should be seeing Sam Beckett in the mirror.
“By any chance, Mr. Bartowski—”
“Please, Al, you said you didn’t want me to call you Admiral. You can call me Stephen.”
“Fine, Stephen, is there any chance that this computer in your head is messing with your brain?” Al asked. For a long moment, Stephen looked at the floor, not saying anything.
“We’ve been talking for awhile, Al. I explained to you that I flashed earlier, and that’s how I learned about the project, learned you were telling the truth…I didn’t explain to you what happened to me when I flashed, though.”
“Yeah, and come to think of it, you still didn’t tell me what’s the ‘Governor’ gadget that you were looking for earlier, either.” Al added.
“As it turns out, yes, the Intersect can put stress on the subject’s brain. Overtime, flashing can become painful. With prolonged flashing, the human Intersect may hallucinate, develop dementia, and…die. I’m afraid we don’t have much data to go off of here. Have to supplement case studies with some…”
“Speculation?” Al asked. At first, Stephen started to nod, but then he shook his head.
“I know what I’m talking about; all too well. Anyway, I built this device; I call it the ‘Governor.’ It governs the Intersect; it protects the subject from any and all unwanted side effects. I was wearing it before I arrived here. It looks like a watch,” he explained to Al. “But when I woke up here, it was gone.”
“And, thinking you’d been kidnapped by Ring agents, you assumed we stole it,” Al stated matter-of-factly. He sighed. “When Sam leapt into you, you retained your own bodies. That’s why you still have the Intersect in your brain. But, your bodies, minds, souls, that’s all that traveled through time. Sam will be wearing whatever you were wearing when he and you leaped, and I guess that includes the Governor.”
“Al, I need that device. I can’t flash without it—you saw what happened to me before. The symptoms will only get worse.”
“Then I better get to Sam and help him with this leap,” Al said, standing up. “The sooner he finishes this leap, the sooner you’ll be reunited with the Governor.”
“Wait a minute. You said that in order to leap again, your friend, Sam, has to ‘put right what once went wrong.’ But, then, what went wrong? What does Sam have to fix as me?”
“I don’t know,” Al admitted. “But we’re going to find out,” he resolved.
After leaving the Waiting Room, Al headed over to the Imaging Chamber. As he opened the door, he called out, “Ziggy! Find out what happened to Stephen Bartowski and his family in the original timeline. Gooshie—center me on Sam!”
Author’s Note: There’s enough data sketched out in the fic so that, if any readers are only fans of one of the shows, they will not be completely lost.
Okay, Al and Orion may be stumped, but fans of these shows know why the reflection was normal. Scott Bakula is the actor that portrayed Sam Beckett in “Quantum Leap” and Stephen Bartowski in “Chuck.” As for whether there will be an explanation in the story—let’s leave it as one of those inexplicable, “It Takes Two,” sort of coincidences. Unless any of you need to feel that the two characters are somehow related...
For purposes of this fic, the events in the QL series finale never happened. I’m also going to try to avoid making references to any children of Sam or Al, or anyone either might currently be married to.
Wish I could guarantee that this story will be finished by the time of the premiere of the fourth season of “Chuck,” but I can’t. Ziggy is predicting a 90% probability that I will suffer from writer’s block. Lol.
Chapter 2: Oh, Boy
April 12, 2010
A cabin approximately 59 miles outside of Burbank
He had leaped again. Sam blinked once, before trying to get his bearings. He wondered who he had leaped into this time. He looked around the room, doubting that he was alone. It seemed whenever he leaped into someone, his host was never alone at the time. A bit of a mixed blessing, that—usually, he would be able to find out his host’s name before Al arrived to debrief him. On the other hand, he would have to pretend, not only that he knew who he was, but also that he knew who was speaking to him, where he was, and what was going on.
And yet—it looked like this time, there was no one there. He listened, but heard no footsteps, no voices, not even background noise from a television set or a radio. He saw that he was in a cabin, apparently in a remote area. It was sparsely furnished, but it seemed lived-in. Sam walked around the cabin a bit. He tried turning a faucet on in the kitchen sink, not really sure what had prompted him to do it. Then he realized that there was no running water. Hmm. That was odd. He glanced around, sensing that something was missing. He figured out what that was—there were no telephones in the cabin. His host, whoever he was, did not use either a landline or a cell phone. Must be a hermit, Sam figured.
He headed outside the cabin for a minute. No mailbox in front of the structure. No welcome mat out in front. No name posted anywhere. The scenery was full of trees, but devoid of people, seeming to confirm Sam’s suspicion. He headed back inside.
Walking into the living room, Sam turned to the light switch. At this point, he had begun wondering if the cabin even had any electricity. Idly, he flipped the switch a couple of times. And then he froze. Part of the floor, a few feet away from him, just sank down, revealing a hidden staircase. What on earth was going on?
As he started descending into the hidden chamber, he saw a display in the staircase wall. A screen said, in bright green letters, “PLEASE IDENTIFY.” Sam peered next to it, finding a retina scanner. He tensed as the device went off, worried that his host’s aura might not be enough to deceive the security measure. But a few seconds later, the LCD next to the retina scanner said, “IDENTITY CONFIRMED. WELCOME, ORION.”
Okay, this was beyond weird, even for Sam. And Sam figured this was saying something, given that he had been traveling through time, borrowing other people’s identities and changing history, with the help of a hologram and an artificially intelligent computer.
At least now he knew he had leaped into someone called, “Orion,” which was a start, he supposed. Having turned away from the retina scanner and looking back down the remaining stairs, he saw lasers on the landing below. Cautiously, he approached the lasers, wanting to avoid getting too close. To his surprise, the lasers moved aside. Evidently, the security system recognized Sam as Orion, and so he was allowed into this inner sanctum. Looking around, Sam saw shelves full of binders. Without knowing what he was here for, he didn’t want to start going through all of this material. Not only would doing so take hours (at a minimum), but Orion had to be deeply concerned about his privacy. Sam felt uncomfortable invading it.
His eyes landed on a binder close to him, labeled “Orion.” Curiosity warred with his respect for Orion’s privacy. Oh, to heck with it, Sam thought, as he picked it up. He needed to know who he was supposed to be, and what he had to change. And for the moment, Al was nowhere to be seen. Taking the binder upstairs, he sat down on a sofa and began to read.
“Oh, boy,” Sam said, after a few minutes. “I’m a spy.”
(INSERT THEME MUSIC)
He was pulled from his thoughts by the sound of the Imaging Chamber door opening. Sam looked up as Al stepped into the cabin. Or, rather, Al appeared to step into the cabin. Unlike his friend, Al didn’t actually travel through time. Sam knew he was only seeing a hologram of Al, one which would be invisible and inaudible to everyone but him. Not that Al’s sudden appearance would have been an issue now, anyway, as they were alone. Good. That would mean Sam could talk with Al without having to worry that people would think he was talking to himself.
Upon arrival, Al looked over at Sam. Now it was his turn to freeze. His eyes bulged, and his mouth opened and closed a couple of times.
“Al?” Sam asked, as he rose from the sofa and approached the hologram of his best friend. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
“Sam? Sam, have you, have you gotten a chance to look in a mirror yet?” Al asked, stammering for the second time that day. Sam thought about this. No, he hadn’t, as it turned out. Usually a mirror, or any reflective surface, was the first thing he sought after leaping. He liked to know what others saw when they looked at him. But as he’d been looking around the cabin, Sam hadn’t noticed a mirror. Hmm. Perhaps his tour hadn’t been as thorough as he’d thought it was.
“No,” he said at last, turning to Al. “I suppose there must be one around here, somewhere…What is it, Al?” he asked, surprised by the look on his friend’s face. Al shook his head.
“Trust me, this you’re going to have to see for yourself,” he said. Shrugging, Sam started walking through the cabin, in search of a mirror, Al following behind him. They came to the bathroom. No running water there, either, Sam supposed, wondering how Orion lived like this. Looking above the useless sink, Sam finally got a look at his host’s face—and he did a double take. If he hadn’t already learned that he had leaped into Orion, Sam would have bet good money that he had once again leaped back into his own life. It seemed to be the only thing that made sense.
Perhaps that was the case, and he was only visiting this spy? No, that couldn’t be. He sensed this spy wasn’t the type to entertain visitors. Besides, he had never met Orion before. And he knew that those at the project had the “visitors,” those individuals who, for some period of time, swapped lives with him, stay in the Waiting Room. If he had leaped back into his own identity, he would have been back at the project’s headquarters. He turned to Al, arching an eyebrow.
“Guess the Intersect hasn’t screwed up his brain after all,” Al said, only adding to Sam’s confusion. Seeing this, he continued. “He said that his reflection looked normal…Well, I didn’t buy that, but would you have believed him, either?”
“‘He?’ You mean Orion? What’s going on, Al?” Al didn’t seem overly surprised that Sam knew his host’s code-name. It wasn’t the first time that he had started learning his temporary identity before Al had the chance to enlighten him.
“Well, let’s see,” Al said, pulling a brightly colored hand link out of the pocket of an even more brightly colored suit. Tapping a few buttons, and looking at the computer screen, he continued. “Your name is Stephen J. Bartowski. You’ve been a spy, code-named Orion, for the past two?” Al smacked the side of the hand link, trying to get the confounded thing to cooperate, “oh, for the past twenty years. The date is…April 12, 2010. And before you ask, I have no idea why you look like him. It’s pretty weird though.”
“This coming from a hologram?” Sam queried.
“Got me there,” Al shrugged, walking straight through a coffee table as if it didn’t exist. Sam scowled. He hated it when Al walked through solid objects, and Al knew it.
“What was that you said about an Intersect?” Sam asked.
After Al finished explaining to Sam about the Intersect, and the Ring (and the Governor, which, sure enough, was sitting on Sam’s wrist), Sam brought up the question Stephen had asked Al earlier.
“Why am I here, Al?” Sam asked. “What does Ziggy say?” Al turned back to the hand link, hoping that Ziggy had found out.
“Let’s see. It says that Stephen,” Al punctuated his sentence with a quick intake of breath, “he dies next month, Sam.” Wait a minute; next month? If that was the event Sam was supposed to change, why would he have leaped in so far in advance? Usually his leaps never took more than a few days, or a week at the most.
“Next month?” Sam repeated.
“Yeah, May 24, to be exact. Ziggy says there’s an 85% probability that you’re here to save him.” Oh no—if this leap did take a month to complete, what would happen to Orion, in the Waiting Room, without the Governor? Hmm. Maybe something was happening in April that would eventually lead to Stephen’s death if Sam didn’t change it. That had to be it. Surely, Sam wasn’t going to save Stephen’s life in the past, only for the spy to be killed by the Intersect?
“What does he die of?” Sam asked. Al pushed a few more buttons, and shook the hand link. Then he frowned.
“It says here the newspapers reported that he was shot in a botched robbery attempt. No one was ever charged with the crime,” Al said. He looked up at Sam, who clearly felt that they were missing something here.
“That’s what the newspapers reported,” Sam said slowly.
“But the newspapers wouldn’t be privy to classified information,” Al said, finishing the sentence.
“You said that Stephen thought that he had been kidnapped by Ring agents, who wanted the Governor, right?” Sam asked. Al nodded. They didn’t have to have Ziggy’s computer chips to figure that the odds that the Ring was involved were pretty high.
“I’ll go see what else I can find out,” Al said, as he started opening the Imaging Chamber door.
“Wait a minute!” Sam said. “What am I supposed to do in the meantime?”
“Well, you could try to lay low,” Al suggested, gesturing around the cabin. “If the Ring is out to kill you—er, your doppelganger here—maybe Orion had the right idea in keeping a low profile.” Sam and Al looked at each other for a moment. While some would think that Sam would want to take it easy for awhile, given all the adventures he was constantly on, they both knew Sam Beckett would eventually go stir crazy, sitting around in the cabin without anything to do for the next few weeks.
“Or?” Sam prompted. Al began tapping at the hand link again.
“You, that is, Stephen, has two adult children living over in Burbank. A daughter named—Eel? Oh, Eleanor, and a son named Charles. Stephen walked out on them years ago, for their own protection, of course. Dropped off the radar altogether. He resurfaced again last year, in time for Ellie’s wedding to a Devon Woodcomb. Eleanor and her husband are both doctors, and Charles works at the local Buy More.”
“Do they know that I’m—that Stephen is a spy?” Sam asked.
“Hmm,” Al knew that Ziggy wouldn’t have the answer to that one. He thought back to his conversation with Stephen earlier. “Well, I know that Chuck knows about the Intersect. Apparently dear old dad bragged that he’d invented all the cool features.”
“I’m not going to have to pretend to flash, am I?” Sam asked. Al resisted the urge to roll his eyes. This wouldn’t be an issue if Sam would just stay in the cabin.
“I doubt it,” Al said. “But if it comes up, I’m sure you’ll find a way.” With that, he gave Sam the kids’ addresses, before disappearing through the Imaging Chamber door.
Hope I’m not spending too much time on the whoa—they look exactly alike detail, especially since I’m not providing a logical explanation for it.
I made some modifications to the cabin, (i.e. retina scanner) but there would have had to have been some way for the security system to know whether to let someone past the lasers. I have no idea whether the cabin would be equipped with non-functioning sinks, etc., but it drives home the point that there’s no running water. And if there’s only going to be one mirror there, why not over the bathroom sink?
I so don’t want to leave the impression that the only thing Orion was doing was keeping a low profile. But aside from working on the Governor and, somehow, protecting Ellie and Chuck, I’m not sure exactly how he spent his time. And Al and Sam don’t know, either. And for purposes of this fan fiction, Orion’s already finished building his own Governor.
What do you think of the second chapter? You’ll notice that I’ve sent Sam back to a point where Team Bartowski has just been to Paris. And I think you know what that means. You might weigh in on this decision. Do you see my reasoning behind having Sam leap in before Ellie and Devon have gone to Africa, and before Chuck starts feeling the effects of using the Intersect without a Governor? On the other hand, this timing leaves Chuck and Sarah somewhere in Europe. (I promise Chuck will enter the story sooner or later.) Why am I asking you this when I’ve made up my mind?
Because I’m making this up as I go along. Only you can let me know whether I’m at least going in the right direction.
Chapter 3: That's Classified
May 24, 2011
“Ziggy, what do you mean our security clearance isn’t high enough?” the Project Observer shouted in frustration.
“Just what I said, Admiral. All details about the Intersect Project and Orion are classified, and we’ve been denied access to the data you requested,” the computer stoically replied.
Son of a—now what were they supposed to do? They needed to know what really happened the first time around, and neither he nor Sam bought the story that Orion was killed in a robbery gone awry. Ugh. Why on earth wasn’t his security clearance high enough, anyway? Surely Project Quantum Leap had to be just as classified as the joint CIA-NSA project.
Al looked up to see that he’d unconsciously walked over to the Waiting Room, where Stephen Bartowski was sitting. He was about to turn and walk away, but, no, too late for that. Stephen had spied him through the glass and was motioning for him to come in. Sighing, Al reluctantly went inside. Stephen got straight to the point.
“How’s it going? Any progress on getting me home?” Al inwardly winced; if Sam was unsuccessful, or if Ziggy had guessed wrong in predicting which event Sam was supposed to change… He clamped down on that thought, and tried to think of a safe way to answer Stephen’s question.
“We’re having some trouble finding out the details of what happened—of what Sam is supposed to change,” he began, telling part of the truth. “Unfortunately, we’re being stonewalled by the government. We were told our security clearance wasn’t high enough, can you believe that? I mean, okay, I get that this stuff is on a need-to-know basis, but we need to know it.” Stephen thought about that, and came up with an idea.
“Try getting General Diane Beckman of the NSA on the line. She was put in charge of the Intersect Project. Tell her that I asked you to call her, and that she should tell you—what? What is it?” Stephen paused, seeing Al shake his head. Al hesitated. How could he possibly tell Stephen why his plan wouldn’t work? He didn’t know who this General Beckman was, but he could just imagine how she would react to hearing that he’d just been told, by someone who had passed away, that he should phone her for help. Where was Verbena? If anyone had to tell Stephen that he was about to die—that he had died in this timeline—surely Verbena would be able to say it as tactfully as possible.
“That won’t work, Stephen,” Al said.
“Why not? General Beckman and I may have had our differences, but even so, I’m sure that if she knows that I want her to cooperate with you that—”
“You don’t understand, Stephen,” Al said. His hands started reaching for a cigar, but he didn’t light one.
“You know something,” Orion surmised. “Something that I don’t know, that you’re not telling me.” When Al didn’t respond, Stephen knew he was right. “Okay, you said that calling Beckman won’t work…Maybe something happened to Beckman? No, that’s not it…” Oh no. “Something happens to me. That’s it, isn’t it, Al? It’s okay, you can tell me.”
“We think that Sam’s been sent back in time to prevent your death,” Al muttered, refusing to look Stephen in the eye. Stephen put his head in his hands for a minute.
“I’m sorry—I shouldn’t have said anything,” Al said. “There’s no point in you worrying about it, anyway. Sam has a success rate that you wouldn’t believe. Trust me. If we’re right, then Sam is going to prevent it from happening.”
“Not if you can’t get the information you need,” Stephen replied. “It’s okay, Al. I had conjured up worse case-scenarios while you were gone. For awhile there, I was terrified that something might have happened to Charles or Eleanor or Mary.” The last name threw Al, and for a second, he wondered if Stephen had a second daughter. Then he realized that Mary must’ve been Stephen’s wife.
“I knew what I was getting into when I became a spy, Al. Thank you for being honest with me,” Stephen continued. “Right, well, maybe calling Beckman is out, but there might be another way I could help.”
April 12, 2010
Sam paused, wondering whether he should ring the bell again. He was standing outside of Chuck Bartowski’s home. Since he last saw Al, he had found Orion’s car parked in back of the cabin, grabbed the keys from a hook beside the front door, and, instinctively, had donned a pair of sunglasses and a baseball cap before driving over to Burbank. Hmm. Had to have been a couple of minutes now since he rang the bell, but there was no answer from within. Maybe he should try Eleanor’s place. She lived just across the way from her brother. He was about to head over to the Woodcomb residence when he heard voices and footsteps approaching.
“So, you see, Casey, why you should be grateful that I was the one who discovered your secret and not, say, Jeff or Lester,” said a bearded man who wore an Assistant Manager’s uniform. His companion, Casey, grunted. True, the idea of Jeff or Lester learning about Team Bartowski was one that he would rather not entertain. Okay, he would say the idea was frightening, but as he was a Marine, he did not get frightened so easily. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t go so far as to say that he was grateful that Morgan Grimes now knew that he, Chuck, and Sarah were spies. And, while Morgan’s pep-talk may have helped inspire him to fight for his job with the NSA, Casey was starting to have second-thoughts about having Morgan join the team.
“I think I need a code-name,” Morgan continued. “What do you think of the name ‘Cobra’?”
“Morgan, listen to me very carefully,” Casey said, giving the shorter man a very no-nonsense look. “Shut. Up.” Morgan frowned, resenting that. Someone should definitely tell Casey that he needed to work on his people skills. But Casey was now just a few yards away from his home, where he kept his gun collection, and Morgan didn’t have Chuck around to back him up. Morgan would have to wait and let someone else chastise the colonel.
By now, the two were just about done walking home from “work,” or rather, walking home from their cover jobs at the Buy More. The two neighbors and co-workers were about to say good night when they noticed that there was someone in front of Morgan’s door—someone who looked very familiar.
“Mr. Bartowski?” Morgan called out.
“Oh, hi, uh,” Sam didn’t see a name tag on the Assistant Manager, and he desperately tried to remember what the man in the green shirt had just called him. “Hi, Morgan. I didn’t expect to see you here.”
“Grimes moved in with Chuck a couple of months ago,” Casey supplied. “Nice to see you again, sir,” he added. Casey had to admit that he was impressed by Orion. The man had done great things for his country. On top of that, he had managed to have two children, settle down, and live the “American dream,” if only for awhile.
“Oh, likewise,” Sam hesitated for a second—the name tag the man was wearing said “John,” but he recalled hearing Morgan use another name. “It’s good to see you, too, Casey.” Meanwhile, Morgan turned and unlocked the door, holding it open for the others.
“I’m sorry, was Chuck expecting you?” Morgan asked, finding it hard to believe that his best friend would have forgotten something like that. Whatever Chuck was doing in Europe, surely it didn’t trump a rare visit from his dad? Hmm, but then again, maybe it did. He had to remember that his friend was Agent Carmichael, and might be on an important assignment now. He should ask Casey about that later.
“Uh, no, Chuck didn’t know I was coming,” Sam said, as he pulled off the sunglasses. Morgan raised an eyebrow. Since when does Chuck’s dad refer to him as, ‘Chuck’? I’ve only ever heard him say ‘Charles.’ Morgan didn’t say anything aloud, though, and Sam didn’t realize that he’d slipped up.
“Maybe I should have called him first,” Sam said, though the problem with that was that Orion didn’t have a phone. “Where is he, by the way?” Sam asked. Morgan looked at Casey, wondering what to say. Chuck had told him that his dad was a spy, too, but he wasn’t actually a member of “Team Bartowski.” And if Morgan didn’t even know the details of whatever top secret mission Chuck had gone on after the fiasco with Daniel Shaw, what could they say to Stephen?
“Well, last time I checked, he and Walker were in Paris,” Casey answered, having joined Sam on the couch. He’d been wondering something that hadn’t occurred to Morgan just yet. What had happened to make Orion resurface? The spy had gone off grid, again, rather quickly after his daughter’s wedding last year. Something told Casey that there was no way that he had shown up here for a simple social call. Something big was going on here, and Casey wanted to know what it was.
“Paris, France?” Sam asked. He had no idea who Walker was, but evidently Stephen did. What was really bugging him, though, was how Chuck was able to afford a trip to France. Hadn’t Al said that Chuck works at a Buy More?
“Yeah; long story,” Morgan said. “Casey and I went, too. We just got back a few days ago.”
“You all went?” Sam asked. He had to be missing something here. Weren’t they talking about Buy More employees, making minimum wage? Wait a minute—when he overheard the two men talking earlier, Morgan had asked Casey about a code name. Was it possible that Stephen wasn’t the only spy here? Could Chuck and his friends also be secret agents?
Casey grunted, hoping they could change the subject. Orion didn’t know—or need to know—that Morgan was the newest member of their team. And, come to think of it, he wasn’t sure that Chuck’s dad realized that Chuck hadn’t quit the agency. After all, last time they had seen Orion, the man had just recently deleted the Intersect from Chuck’s brain. Maybe Chuck hadn’t confessed to his father that he had then turned around and downloaded 2.0. Well, if that was the case, he’d have to come clean now. Orion knew perfectly well that Casey was one of Chuck’s handlers. The fact that he was still living in the same complex as Chuck, and was still working at the Buy More, was a rather dead giveaway that he was still there to try to keep Chuck out of trouble. That, in turn, implied that Chuck still needed protecting, and not because of his day job as a Nerd Herder. Damn. Orion was smart. He was probably already making those connections in his mind. Not, Casey told himself, that he actually cared about the Bartowskis’ father-son relationship.
“When do you expect Chu—” Sam started to say ‘Chuck,’ again, but, as he looked at Morgan’s face, something told him to rephrase. “Uh, when do you expect Charles home?” he asked, letting the matter of why the four had gone to Paris in the first place go for now. Morgan looked to Casey for help, but couldn’t decipher the man’s expression.
“I don’t actually know,” Morgan said. “Uh, soon, maybe?” Casey didn’t say anything. He had a theory as to why Chuck and Walker weren’t back yet. If he was right, they weren’t coming back to Burbank anytime soon.
May 24, 2011
Al stared at Orion. Either the spy had one helluva poker face, or he was serious.
“After I just explained to you why I’m not letting you hack into NSA or CIA databases,” Al began, “what made you think that this was a better idea?”
FYI, for those readers who have only seen “Chuck,” the success rate Al is referring to is, I believe, 100%. I have yet to see an episode in which Sam doesn’t somehow manage to complete his mission. Of course, there have been episodes where Ziggy’s initial predictions were incorrect. And there’s a first time for everything.
Hope the point of view changes aren’t too confusing. I also hope that no one is out of character in this chapter.
Chapter 4: Evaluating Options
May 24, 2011
“No; absolutely not!” Al said adamantly. He couldn’t believe the turn his conversation with Orion had taken. After learning why going to Beckman wasn’t an option, Stephen’s next “brilliant” suggestion had been that he would hack into government computers to find the information they needed. After all, he reasoned, the problem wasn’t that the information wasn’t there, only that Ziggy had been unable to access it using legitimate means. And Orion assured Al that he would have no trouble penetrating any firewalls he came across.
That wasn’t what worried Al. He may have only met Orion that day, but Al figured if the spy had been brainy enough to design a computer like the Intersect, he’d have no trouble getting into CIA or NSA databases. Al had other concerns. One was that there was a strong chance that something that Orion would come across over the web would cause him to ‘flash’ again. Without the Governor, flashing definitely wasn’t in Orion’s best interests. Secondly, Al had pointed out, even though Orion might be able to dig up the data on the event, his digital attack wouldn’t go undetected. Some officials were bound to notice that the computers’ security had been breached, and then, it might only be a matter of time before they were able to trace it back to the attacker.
Only the agencies wouldn’t place the blame on Stephen Bartowski, who was officially deceased. They’d blame Project Quantum Leap for the attack, and Al and his colleagues would be in hot water. They couldn’t afford that kind of scrutiny. Al hadn’t forgotten the committee hearing in which the Project had almost been shut down. He had no desire for history to repeat itself.
Finally, it had seemed that he’d been able to make Orion see reason, as the spy had at last backed down from that idea, but Al’s relief was short-lived, as Stephen then made an even more outlandish suggestion.
“Unless you’d prefer me to hack into—“
“I didn’t say that,” Al said quickly, although now he wondered if hacking wasn’t the lesser of the two evils.
“Then just hear me out, Al,” Stephen said.
“What is there to say, Stephen?” Al asked. “You know why we can’t call General Beckman. The same holds true here.” He lowered his voice, as he continued, “I’m sorry, I am, but could you imagine your son’s reaction if his father—who is supposed to be dead—suddenly comes to pay him a visit?”
“You’d be surprised,” Orion replied. “Charles knows that I’ve ‘died’ before. He might believe that there was a cover up, that I had to fake my own death again.”
“But we don’t know how you died!” Al said, unnecessarily. Obviously, the reason they were having this ridiculous discussion was because they didn’t know what had happened on that fateful day in 2010. “For all we know,” he continued, “Charles might’ve been there. You might have died in his arms. If so, you can’t very well convince him that wasn’t real, which leaves you with no explanation for how you’re going around, walking and talking.”
“Fine,” Stephen said, standing up. “Then he doesn’t have to know it’s me.”
“Come again?” Al frowned, not quite sure where Orion was going with this.
“If we can’t convince Charles that I didn’t actually die,” Stephen said slowly, still somewhat uncomfortable talking about his demise, “you can introduce me as your friend, Sam Beckett.” Al shook his head in disbelief. “What? Why not?” Stephen asked. “Sam’s impersonating me now, right? And we’ve established that we look like each other.”
“Could pass for identical twins,” Al muttered.
“Well, there’s your answer, then. If necessary, we’ll just say that I’m Sam,” Orion said, confident that he’d now won his argument.
“Yeah, ‘cause your son will really believe that you’re some stranger who just happens to look exactly like his father,” Al said.
“It’s close enough to the truth,” Stephen shrugged. “So, no more excuses?”
“Hold it; hang on a minute, here,” Al said. “You do realize that you’re assuming that Charles knows how you died? What makes you think that, anyway?”
“Well, he might know because…Charles used to be a spy,” Stephen said. Like father, like son? Al wondered. “I mean,” Stephen continued, “not exactly a spy, but…Charles had an Intersect in his head.” Whoa. Wait—
“Had? As in past tense?” Al asked.
“Yeah; I removed it from his brain,” Stephen said, the ghost of a smile gracing his face. “I gave him his life back; saved him from the spy world.” Al raised an eyebrow. Apparently, this was one father that did not want his son to follow in his footsteps.
“Okay,” Al said, mulling this over. “But if he’s not in the spy world anymore, and everything’s highly classified, then why would he know what we want to know?”
“Maybe he doesn’t,” Stephen conceded. “Or maybe he’s stayed in touch with agents who thought he should know what really happened to his father.” The last time he’d seen his son, Charles had confided in him that he’d fallen in love with one of his handlers. He suspected the feeling was mutual. It didn’t seem like much of a stretch to suppose that he still talked with her, now and then.
“If you’re wrong,” Al said, “then this would just be a wild goose chase. We’d be wasting time.” Time, he added to himself, that he could spend with Sam, so they might be able to make some progress on this leap. “And we’d risk exposing the Project for nothing,” he added.
“It wouldn’t be for nothing,” Orion said. “Think about it! Even if Charles doesn’t have the information we need, I bet there’s something else he can give us.”
Al looked at Orion. The only other thing he figured Chuck could give his dad at this point would be closure. Stephen saw his blank look and sighed.
“I’m talking about the Governor! I told you before, no one else knows what it is. It looks like an ordinary watch. When I, you know—“
“Died?” Al put in.
“Yeah, after that, I bet that Charles was given my effects, which would include my ‘watch,’ a.k.a.—“
“The Governor,” Al finished.
“And the sooner I get my hands on that, the better,” Stephen said.
“Wait,” Al said. “You said before that you were able to remove the Intersect from your son’s head. Couldn’t you just remove yours, too?” Orion responded with a look that said, now why would I want to do a foolish thing like that?
“Even assuming that I wanted to do that,” Orion said aloud, “I don’t have the proper equipment here. And frankly, it would be easier for me to build another Governor than it would be for me to construct the facilities that would be necessary in order for me to—“
“Get that time-bomb out of your head?” Al interjected.
“I was going to say ‘overwrite my brain,’” Orion said, frowning. Hmm. When you put it like that, Al didn’t really like the sound of that option.
“Okay, so why don’t you just build another Governor?” Al asked. “That way we don’t have to schlep out to Burbank on the off chance that your son can help us.”
“I said it would be easier for me to do that, not easy. There’s a difference,” the spy said. “And the way I see it, it’s simpler to go and pay Charles a visit.”
Al snorted, and began to pace. There was nothing simple about Orion’s suggestion. There were still plenty of factors weighing against it, in his opinion. Not the least of which was that it would be highly unorthodox to take the visitor, not only out of the Waiting Room, but out of the state. Supposing Sam leaped again while they were en route to Burbank? Then the next person to switch places with Sam might be out in the middle of nowhere and, in the confusion, try to run. No. That was a rather lame excuse, under the circumstances. Ziggy was positive that Sam was supposed to save Orion’s life. Sam wouldn’t be leaping while he and Stephen were speaking with Chuck.
What about Sam, though? If Al escorted Stephen on this trip—and he had no intention of letting the spy go by himself—Al wouldn’t be around to guide Sam through the leap for awhile. He must’ve said this last thing aloud, because Stephen was ready to counter that argument.
“Then go talk with Sam. Run the idea by him. I’m sure it’ll be alright with him.”
“Hmm. We’ll see about that,” Al said. He glanced at his watch before he turned to go. “It’s getting late. You should get some shut eye,” he said, gesturing towards the bed in the room. “If we’re going to do this—and I’m not saying we are—we’ll leave first thing in the morning.”
April 12, 2010
“What about Eleanor?” Sam said, trying to make conversation without giving away the fact that he was not Stephen Bartowski. Not that he was worried that there was any danger that anyone would discover the truth, but it was challenging to constantly keep up the pretense that he was someone else.
“Ellie? She’s fine. She and Awesome, I mean Devon, are probably returning from their shifts now,” Morgan said.
“Does she know that her brother’s in Paris?” Sam asked.
“Of course, she does. We told her that Buy More corporate sent him on a business trip,” Morgan said. From his tone, Sam gathered that wasn’t what actually happened.
“She’s thrilled. Well, that is, she seemed happy that Chuck’s doing well at work, but she was disappointed that he just took off so abruptly. Did I mention that they’re leaving for Africa in a couple of weeks?” Morgan asked. Sam shook his head.
“And by ‘they’ you mean…”
“Ellie and Awesome are joining Doctors without Borders.” Sam looked over Morgan’s shoulder as he saw the Imaging Chamber door open, and Al step out.
“We should talk, Sam,” Al said.
“You don’t say?” Sam replied. He stood up.
“Where are you going?” Morgan asked Sam. Sam thought for a second. He couldn’t very well say that he wanted to go speak with his friend from the future in private.
“Uh, I thought I’d go see Eleanor,” Sam said. By now, he’d gotten wise to the fact that Stephen didn’t refer to his children by their nicknames, even though everyone else apparently did. Morgan got up, and gestured for Sam to sit down.
“No problem. Wait here, I’ll go get her,” Morgan said, and he was out the door before Sam could stop him. That would have left Sam with at least a couple of minutes to speak with Al without anyone else there, except for one thing. John Casey was still sitting on the couch. Hmm. Usually when he had this problem, he would try to phrase what he said to Al in such a way that it sounded as if it was part of his conversation with whoever was speaking to him. Unfortunately, Sam was already discovering that Casey wasn’t much of a conversationalist.
“Ziggy couldn’t find anything else about what happens to Orion,” Al said, as he pulled out a cigar and lit it.
“So what do we do now?” Sam asked.
May 24, 2011
Chuck Bartowski sighed as he refilled his glass. He didn’t drink Johnny Walker often. He knew how Sarah and Morgan, too, actually, were disappointed when he did, but he figured he was entitled to indulge himself tonight. Today had been the one year anniversary of the day of his father’s death. He’d just gotten home after visiting the cemetery. The memories were still strong, still painful, even though so much had happened since last year. He finished his drink, wincing, and then put away the bottle. Tomorrow would be a better day, he said to himself. It had to be.
Told you we’d get to Chuck. Sorry that he was in such a sad state, but it is supposed to be exactly one year since his dad’s death. Can you blame him for feeling down? Don’t worry—I’m not going to turn him into an alcoholic.
Couldn’t resist leaving Casey “alone” with the man he thinks is Stephen Bartowski, especially with Ellie on her way over. I’d like to see the Ring agent try to explain that. Oh, yeah, he hasn’t approached Ellie, yet.
Chapter 5: Family Reunion
April 12, 2010
“So what do we do now?”
Casey looked at Orion, surprised by the sudden question, and wondering what the spy was really asking.
“I guess we wait for the little troll to come back with Ellie,” he said. Sam ignored Casey’s response, and waited for Al to answer his question.
“Well, Orion has an idea about that,” Al said. He hesitated a moment, then said, “He thinks we should go see Chuck.” Sam was confused.
“Chuck’s in Paris,” he said.
“Yes,” Casey said, cautiously, wondering how much Orion knew or suspected.
“No, I mean, he thinks that we—me and him—should go pay a visit to his son,” Al said. Sam raised an eyebrow.
“And why is that?” Sam asked.
“To put it bluntly, sir, I think he and Walker have finally hooked up,” Casey said, carefully omitting the reason why Chuck had flown out to Paris in the first place. Sam might’ve responded to that, but he was only half-listening to Casey.
“Well, he figures that Chuck may know how he died. Apparently Junior spent some time in the spy world, himself, and still has connections. Plus, there’s a strong possibility that Chuck has the Governor in his possession,” Al explained.
“He— Wait, what did you say to him?” Sam asked. This was the first he’d heard about Al telling Orion about his premature death.
“Wasn’t much for me to say, really,” Casey said shrugging. “I guess it was bound to happen eventually.”
“You mean, about his death?” Al asked. “It’s not my fault, Sam. The guy’s about as smart as you are. You can’t get anything past him.” Al continued to fill Sam in on his conversation with Stephen.
Before long the door opened, and in walked Eleanor Bartowski Woodcomb.
“Dad?” she asked, approaching the man she recognized as her father.
“Hi, sweetheart,” Sam said, as Ellie embraced him. Looking over her shoulder, he watched as Casey stood, and walked to the door, where Morgan had reappeared.
“Guess you two have some catching up to do,” Casey said, as he turned to leave, gesturing for Morgan to follow him into the courtyard. Morgan hesitated, not so eager to leave. He knew Casey wanted them to give the Bartowskis some space. He also knew that Ellie was married to Captain Awesome. That didn’t do anything to erase the feelings Morgan still harbored for her, even if she didn’t feel the same way about him.
“Anyway, I haven’t given him an answer yet,” Al concluded. “What do you think?” Sam looked at his friend.
“He’s right. You should go,” Sam said. Morgan frowned, assuming this remark was directed at him, and feeling deflated.
“Are you sure?” Al and Morgan asked at the same time.
“Positive,” Sam said. “I’ll be okay here.” Hmm, interesting thing to say, Al thought, considering Sam’s host was going to be murdered. Still, that wasn’t going to be for awhile. Al did have enough time to go and make the trip, and hopefully, get some answers.
May 25, 2011
“Just let me do the talking,” Al said, as he drove towards Chuck’s. Orion was sitting in the passenger seat of the car. They had been on the road for hours, and were finally nearing their destination. Flying, as far as Al was concerned, was out of the question. There was no way that he could have purchased a plane ticket for Stephen Bartowski, nor did he fancy getting one under the name of Sam Beckett. Maybe Dr. Beckett wasn’t a household name, but it was one that could easily be Googled. After all, Al wondered, just how many people have six doctorates? Toss in the hassles of going through airport security, and having to rent a car upon arrival, and Al figured it was just simpler to make this a road trip.
“You’re worried that I’m going to give myself away,” Stephen replied. “You know, this wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve had to—lie—to my family.”
“Yeah, well, I don’t care how good you say you are at that, I’m not taking any chances,” Al said. “And remember, you’re Dr. Sam Beckett, you got that?”
“Turn here,” Stephen said, ignoring Al.
“I mean it,” Al said moments later, as he slowed the car to a stop. “Follow my lead,” he said, as the two got out and went up to ring the bell.
Chuck swung open the door a few seconds later.
“Oh my God,” he said, staring at his father.
“Chuck Bartowski, I presume?” Al asked, trying to pretend he didn’t notice the young man’s expression. Damn—he knew the kid was going to react this way. He had to act quickly. “May we come in?”
Chuck opened and closed his mouth a few times, unable to say anything at first, then stepping back, and allowing them in.
“Allow me to introduce ourselves,” Al said. “This is my colleague, Dr. Sam B—” But Chuck wasn’t listening to Al. He had begun to pace, much as his father had done the day before in the Waiting Room.
“Why? Why isn’t it working? It worked fine for a whole year, why would it malfunction now?” Chuck started rambling. He paused in his tracks and glanced down at the device on his wrist, the one his father had made for him before he passed away. It was irreplaceable. The device had kept him from hallucinating the past year, but he had to be seeing things if he had just seen his dad waltz into his home. “Why now?” Chuck continued. “What am I going to do? What will I tell Sarah?”
“Uh, Sam?” Al turned to Stephen, trying to keep up the pretense, though he had a feeling that it was a pointless endeavor. “Do you have any idea what he’s talking about?” Stephen didn’t reply. He had caught sight of the device Chuck wore, and it looked familiar to him. A sickening feeling settled in the pit of his stomach.
“Chuck, please, let me introduce us,” Al said, getting the kid’s attention when it was clear his dad wasn’t going to answer. Chuck looked at the admiral.
“My name is Al Calavicci—” Holy shit! “Did he just do what I think he did?” Al asked Orion, having seen the younger Bartowski’s eyes flutter.
“You FLASHED?!” Stephen yelled at his son.
“Dad?” Chuck turned to face his father, still confused, though he’d just gotten the same data on Project Quantum Leap that Orion had flashed on the day before.
“You downloaded 2.0, didn’t you, Charles?” Stephen practically spat. All thoughts of his promise to pretend to be Sam Beckett had gone out the window. “That’s a Governor you’re wearing. I don’t believe this. After all we went through to get the other Intersect out of your head, you did this?”
“Uh, Dad, I can explain,” Chuck began. “But I’ve already explained this to you. What’s going on?” He looked from his father to Al. “The Governor isn’t malfunctioning?” For some reason, that snapped Stephen out of his mood.
“No, son, it isn’t malfunctioning,” Stephen said calmly. “You’re not seeing things. I’m really here.” They sat down on the couch. Stephen and Al proceeded to answer Chuck’s questions about Project Quantum Leap, explaining to Chuck why they were there. Al was fuming inside. It was bad enough that Stephen had flashed on the Project. Odds were, when the leap was over and he went back, he wouldn’t remember a thing thanks to what he and Sam had dubbed the “Swiss-cheese effect.” This was different; if they didn’t change the timeline, there was nothing to stop Chuck from remembering the info. Why had he agreed to Orion’s plan, again?
Oh, that’s right—they needed answers. Al and Stephen began asking Chuck their questions. Chuck didn’t cry, though his eyes did get a bit misty, and his voice hitched a little, as he began.
“I should have known something would go wrong when you promised Ellie you’d never walk away from her again.” Orion frowned, hearing the pain and bitterness in his son’s voice, but he paid close attention as Chuck proceeded to tell them what had happened in the original timeline. How the Ring, with Shaw’s help, had infiltrated the CIA and had him and the others captured. How Stephen had urged him to escape and go off-grid, and how Chuck had convinced his dad that they needed to go back. How Ellie had led them to the Ring hideout, and what they had found there. How Daniel Shaw had had Orion shot and killed right in front of Chuck, because he knew that Chuck couldn’t flash properly when he got emotional. Chuck paused at this point, swallowing.
“You were right all along, weren’t you Dad?” Chuck asked. “This wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for me—if I hadn’t downloaded 2.0. Shaw killed you to get to me.”
“Oh, Charles,” Stephen sighed. “Listen to me. You can’t blame yourself for what happened. Shaw—” he hesitated. Seriously, it wasn’t easy to talk about your own death, especially as if it had already happened. “Shaw killed me to get to the Governor. You said so, yourself, that Shaw had downloaded 2.0.”
“Yeah, well, there wouldn’t even have been a Governor for 2.0 if you hadn’t made one for me,” Chuck said.
“That may be,” Stephen said, “but that wouldn’t have kept the Ring from coming after me. They would have tried to kidnap me so that I could build one for them—or did you forget the time Roark kidnapped me so that I could build an Intersect for Fulcrum?”
“How could I forget? You only went with him to protect me,” Chuck said. Okay, Al thought. Some of this stuff didn’t make any sense to him whatsoever, but he thought he got the gist of the conversation.
“Not that this isn’t fascinating,” Al spoke up before Stephen could reply, “but we still need more information.” The two Bartowskis looked at each other, silently acknowledging Al’s point. Chuck filled them in on what happened after his dad’s death—how they had finally defeated the Ring. “So, now we know what happened in May,” Al said afterwards. “But that doesn’t explain why Sam leapt into April. Chuck, what can you tell us about what was happening back then?” Chuck thought back to the time Al was speaking of.
“You said that Sarah and I were in Paris?” Chuck asked Al.
“Yeah,” he confirmed.
“That was when Sarah and I were thinking about running away together,” he said, smiling.
“You want to run that by me again?” Stephen asked.
“Wait, who is Sarah?” Al asked.
“She was one of his handlers,” Stephen replied.
“She’s my fiancée,” Chuck answered, almost simultaneously. Stephen turned and stared at his son.
“Last week,” Chuck replied, grinning now, feeling elated and yet still not quite believing that it had finally happened—that he had finally proposed, and she’d said yes.
“Mazel tov,” Al said. “But can we please focus on the past now? You said you were running away with Sarah?”
“Yeah, we were going to quit the spy life and try to be a normal couple.”
“And?” Al prompted. Chuck shrugged.
“We realized that normal is overrated.”
“Okay, what else was going on in April?” Al asked. “How about we go back further—why did you leave for Paris in the first place?” Chuck’s face darkened.
“Because of Shaw. He—oh my God,” Chuck looked from Al to Stephen. “I think I know why Sam leapt in at that time.”
“What is it?” Al asked.
“My first night in Paris,” Chuck began, “Shaw tried to kill Sarah. He’d drugged her, so she couldn’t defend herself, and Casey had his hands full in another part of the city.”
“So you saved her,” Al concluded.
“It’s more complicated than that, isn’t it?” Stephen said, studying his son’s expression.
“I shot him,” Chuck said.
Come on, you didn’t really expect Chuck to believe his dad was Sam Beckett, did you? Hope you liked that scene, I’ve had it in my head for awhile.
Wasn’t sure, even after watching season 3, whether Ellie changed her last name or kept her maiden name, so I gave her both. Also couldn’t remember precisely where in the middle of nowhere Project Quantum Leap is located, but I figured, a few hours of driving ought to get them to Burbank.
As for Chuck and Sarah getting engaged, I see no reason why Chuck can’t propose to her next season. Or she could propose to him.
I’d been trying to put off having Sam talk to Al in front of others—wasn’t sure if I’d be able to write lines for Sam that would fit two different, simultaneous conversations. Well, chalk it up to either watching “Quantum Leap,” or going to law school, but I think I did a pretty decent job.
Don’t agree? You know how to let me know.
Chapter 6: Something's Up
May 25, 2011
Al didn’t see what the big deal was. Well, okay, ordinarily shooting someone was a big deal, he acknowledged. But hadn’t they just established that Chuck was a spy? And that the person he had shot was a rogue that had been bent on killing the woman who would become Chuck’s fiancée—and that would later succeed in killing Chuck’s father? Surely this came with the territory? Orion spoke, cutting off Al’s train of thought.
“That was the first time you shot someone, wasn’t it?” he asked his son, gently. Chuck hesitated. There was still the matter of his Red Test—how he was supposed to prove he could be a spy by killing his mark. He could count on one hand the number of people that knew that Casey had helped him cheat on that test. Oh well, that was ancient history now. And if he couldn’t trust his father, who could he trust?
“The first time I intentionally shot someone,” Chuck said, nodding, and remembering the time he’d accidentally shot a scientist in the leg.
“Really?” Al asked.
“Charles hates guns,” Orion explained. Al raised an eyebrow. A spy that hates guns, but does missions out in the field? Maybe Bartowski Junior didn’t pick the right profession.
“You said that was your first night in Paris,” Al said aloud. “That means that Sam would be too late to change that…”
“What happened when you shot him?” Stephen asked. Chuck looked at his father. He really wanted to describe his emotions at the time, how he hated pulling the trigger, though he felt he’d had no choice, how his blood ran cold when he saw Shaw fall. But he knew that wasn’t what his father was asking, or what he and Al needed to know. Maybe his father had already guessed how he’d felt, anyway.
“I thought I’d killed him,” Chuck said. “We all thought I’d killed him. Shaw collapsed into the river. And there had been so much blood…”
“Wait a minute; you’re telling us that this nozzle faked his death?” Al asked. Chuck nodded. “So at that point in April, you believed that the man that’s going to—” Al was about to say ‘kill your dad,’ but stopped, realizing that this was stressful enough for Chuck and Stephen. “You believed that this Shaw character was dead?” Chuck nodded again. Oh, boy.
“When did you find out that he was still alive?” Al asked.
“Well,” Chuck looked at his dad. “I first found out weeks later, during a dream. This was before you’d made me this,” he said, tapping the Governor on his wrist. “But then, no one believed me, at least, not after we discovered a Ring agent was trying to steal Shaw’s spy will. I thought I was going crazy,” Chuck said, looking down at his lap. “I mean, the doctor had told me that the Intersect would make me…” he trailed off.
“Oh, Charles,” Stephen said, knowing that, far worse than others thinking you were losing your mind, was the horror of believing you actually were.
“You’re going to have to tell us when you finally confirmed that Shaw was alive,” Al said. “But first, there’s another matter we should take care of. Chuck, do you have your dad’s Governor?” Chuck was confused at first. Did Al mean the Governor that his dad had made for him? Why would he ask about that, when they had both seen him wearing it? Wait a minute—come to think of it, he hadn’t seen his father wearing the original Governor, though.
“I don’t understand,” Chuck started to say.
“Your dad leaped with the Intersect, but not with the Governor,” Al explained, hoping he was keeping the names of these inventions straight.
“Oh,” Chuck said, trying to process that. “Oh!” He stood up. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?” he asked.
“Do you have it?” Al repeated the question.
“Well, of course, I have it. Follow me,” Chuck said, as he turned and strode from the room. Al and Stephen obeyed, following him as he went to his bedroom. To Al’s surprise, there was a poster for “Tron” hanging on one of the walls. If Chuck was getting married to Sarah, another agent, wouldn’t she have made him get rid of this relic from his childhood? Al watched as Chuck crossed over to the poster, taking it down off the wall…
…and revealing a safe.
“That’s new,” Stephen said, nodding to the safe.
“We had it installed after, well, you know,” Chuck said, as he turned the combination lock. “Our spy wills are in here, too,” he continued, as he opened the safe door.
“Spy wills?” Al asked, as that was the second time he’d heard the agent use that term. Chuck pretended to be too engrossed in rummaging through the safe’s contents to hear the question, so Stephen responded.
“A spy could be killed anytime he goes on a mission,” Orion began. “He never knows when a day is going to be his last.”
“No one does,” Al interjected, thinking of all the people that Sam had saved from untimely deaths over the years.
“True,” Stephen acknowledged. “But perhaps especially so with spies, so we make sure to prepare wills for when the time comes. We record everything we want someone to know when we’re no longer around to say it. I never wanted you to have to prepare one, Charles,” he said, turning to his son.
“And I never wanted to open yours!” Chuck exclaimed. Stephen bowed his head. Of course, he should have remembered that once he had—died—Charles would have received the video he had recorded. Wait, that meant…
“Yeah, I know about Mom,” Chuck said, in answer to his father’s unspoken question. Okay, Al was completely lost. What was going on?
“How is she?” Stephen asked.
“She’s fine,” Chuck replied. “You could have told me sooner, you know.”
“Am I missing something?” Al asked.
“No!” both Bartowskis answered at once. Hmm. Guess that’s a sore issue with them.
“Did you find the Governor?” Al asked.
Chuck looked down at the object in his hands.
“Yeah, I found it,” he said, as he handed it to his father, who then put it on.
“Great,” Al said. “Now, if we could go back to discussing April of last year,” he paused as he heard the front door open and then slam closed. “Are you expecting someone, Chuck?”
“Well, Morgan should still be in Prague,” Chuck began, as he heard footsteps approach.
“Chuck, you have to tell my father that he has no business—oh, I didn’t realize you had company,” a young woman said, spotting the men as she barged into the room.
“Hi Alex,” Chuck said. “What’s up?”
“All I said was that I am going to be picking Morgan up at the airport when he comes back, and he starts getting all overprotective and huffy—you’d think I had asked to borrow the Crown VIC!—and telling me that I shouldn’t be spending time with him, like I’m not old enough to decide what I do and who I spend time with, and—hey, aren’t you gonna introduce me to your friends?”
“Oh, sorry! Guys, this is Alex, Casey’s daughter.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Stephen asked. Chuck shook his head.
“You know my dad?” Alex asked.
“Uh, Alex, I’m actually working now, so maybe you could come back after—”
“You’re working, but he’s not here? And neither is Sarah? Since when do you fly solo?” Alex asked.
“Well, I’m not working solo, I’m working with them,” Chuck said, gesturing towards his father and Al.
“And you still haven’t introduced them,” she pointed out.
“He’s Sam Beckett, and I’m Al Calavicci.” Al was relieved to see that, for once, since this leap had started, he was able to introduce himself without someone flashing on his name. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Alex,” Al said, looking the girl up and down.
“Al!” Chuck, having seen the admiral checking Alex out, went over to whisper in the man’s ear. “I’d be careful if I were you. Her father once threatened to break my friend’s fingers if he got too close to her.” Al frowned.
“As I was saying, it is a pleasure to meet you, but we’re in the middle of something here.” Alex narrowed her eyes. Something was going on here; well, given Chuck’s line of work, something usually was. Still, this was something else. John hadn’t said anything about the team starting on a new mission. And even if she was left out of the loop, he shouldn’t be.
“Alright, I’m going. But you’re still going to have to tell me how you know John.” With that, she turned on her heel and marched outside.
“She calls her father ‘John’?” Al asked.
“Some of the time, yeah,” Chuck said. “He wasn’t there when she was growing up. They only met last year.”
“And he’s still that overprotective?” Al asked.
“Maybe he’s trying to make up for lost time. He’d probably track down and terrorize the first guy that ever asked her out on a date, if he could.”
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Casey has a daughter,” Orion said. “How did that happen?”
“It’s a long story,” Chuck began.
“Then we probably don’t have time for it,” Al interjected. Why couldn’t they just wrap this up so that they could go back to Stallion’s Gate?
April 13, 2010
“So, Doctors Without Borders…Devon, what made you decide on going to Africa?” Sam asked. He’d been staying with Chuck’s roommate, Morgan, since his arrival in Burbank, but Ellie had invited him over for dinner tonight. Ellie was in the kitchen now, cooking, leaving Sam alone with his host’s son-in-law.
“Well, things haven’t been awesome here in awhile,” Devon began, wondering how candid he should be. He knew Chuck’s dad was a spy—or at least, he thought he knew that. Truthfully, he didn’t want to know.
“What do you mean?” Sam asked.
“Look, you know, better than I do, what happened on my wedding day,” Devon said. Sam had no idea what that meant, but didn’t let that on, as Devon continued. “It’s—I’ve realized that it’s just too dangerous here. We need to put some distance between us and… Chuck’s job.” Okay—if Sam had any doubt before about Chuck being more than a Nerd Herder, it was gone now.
“Distance?” Sam asked.
“I’d take Ellie away to another planet, if I could, to protect her, and make sure she’s safe,” Devon said. “But as it is, I’ll have to settle for leaving the continent.”
“And Eleanor feels the same way?” Sam asked.
“Well, she doesn’t know, of course,” Devon said. “I promised Chuck I wouldn’t say anything, and I haven’t. I won’t. As far as she knows, this is just about going to work for Doctors without Borders.”
“How does she feel about putting this—distance—between you and Charles?”
“Look, I know she’s not looking forward to saying goodbye to Chuck. Actually, she’s starting to worry that she won’t even get to say goodbye to Chuck, if he doesn’t return from Paris in time. I get this is hard for her, I do, and you know the last thing I want is to see her hurting, but surely, you of all people know that sometimes, we have to leave, we have to do what it takes to protect those we love.”
Sam remembered what Al had told him, about how Orion had left his children in an attempt to keep them safe. Ziggy might not have told them that Orion’s departure had crushed Ellie and Chuck, but Sam sensed that it had. And now Devon was talking about taking Ellie away from her brother—away from the one constant in her life. Sam knew Devon was sincere and only doing what he felt was right, but he also couldn’t help wondering if this was a mistake. What if…what if Ziggy was wrong, and this was what Sam was supposed to change? Maybe Sam was supposed to keep the Woodcombs from moving to Africa? It would certainly help explain the timing of this leap. Before Sam could say anything, Ellie popped her head in the doorway.
“Come on, guys. Dinner’s ready!”
Guess it’s been a while since I last updated. I did warn you not to get used to regular updates, though.
I apologize for teasing “Chuck” fans by alluding to his mother. I’ve no intention of speculating on what, precisely, is going on there. I’m sure we’ll find out in season 4, and this fic doesn’t need to be any more AU than it is. I have, however, gone out on a limb to say that, whatever was going on, she will be fine.
Oh, and sending Morgan to Prague…well, as a part of the team, Cobra should be trained, right?
I’m sorry if Alex is out of character here, but, in my defense, Alex wasn’t in that many episodes, so I don’t have a very good sense of who she is. I do think, though, that she’s not going to tolerate Casey’s over-protectiveness very well.
So, now is the time I shamelessly try to manipulate you, dear readers, into leaving me more feedback. Are you getting frustrated by the utter lack of action to date? Wondering when we’re going to get to the ‘past’ Chuck? Thinking that I put too much angst into Chuck’s conversation with his dad? Or wondering what’s with these questions because you totally love what I’m doing with this?
Suggestions and other feedback may help fight the evil that is writer’s block.
Chapter 7: Of Cell Phones, Governors, and Revenge
April 14, 2010
Chuck Bartowski was almost out the door of the hotel room when it happened. He was about to head to the train station to purchase tickets for himself and Sarah, when his cell phone went off. “Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it, any way you want it…” Chuck didn’t need to look at the photo of his best friend displayed on his phone to know where the call was coming from. He glanced in the direction of the bathroom, where Sarah was taking a shower. She probably hadn’t heard the ringtone over the sound of the running water.
“Hi Morgan,” Chuck answered the phone.
“Hello Charles. We need to talk.” Chuck exhaled slowly. He knew that voice, but it wasn’t Morgan’s.
April 14, 2010
Sam shut Morgan’s cell phone off, after he finished his conversation with Chuck. He still didn’t know what exactly was going on. He hadn’t seen Al since the Observer had left New Mexico the other day, so he didn’t know what happened in the original history, let alone what Chuck’s role was. And he had started to wonder if perhaps he was here to keep Ellie and Awesome from leaving for Africa.
Well, whether that was his mission, or whether he was indeed here to save Orion’s life, Sam felt sure that Chuck should be here. Maybe Chuck could help convince his sister to stay? He wasn’t sure how Chuck might help to protect his dad, but he had already learned that Chuck wasn’t who he appeared to be on paper…
At any rate, Sam knew that Ellie wanted to be able to see Chuck again before leaving for Africa. And, while Casey didn’t say so in so many words, Sam got the feeling from him that Chuck’s stay in Paris was dragging out longer than it was supposed to.
On top of everything else, Chuck’s roommate seemed to be getting suspicious. Sam couldn’t really blame Morgan. After all, if he was supposed to be Chuck’s dad, and if he had showed up on his son’s doorstep two days ago, expecting to see the young man, wouldn’t he want to see him, or at least speak to him?
Well, if anyone could bring Charles back pronto, his father could, right? And Sam happened to have his voice. Borrowing Morgan’s cell, Sam had phoned Chuck, and told him to come home—now. Chuck had stammered a bit, apparently at a loss for words. It had seemed, for a moment, that he was going to argue with the man he thought was his father, or, alternatively, to hang up the phone and pretend that he’d lost his signal. Then the next thing Sam knew, Chuck was saying (however reluctantly) that he and Sarah would be on the next flight back to the U.S.
“Thanks for letting me borrow your phone, Morgan,” Sam said.
“No problem, Mr. Bartowski. Did you talk to Chuck?”
“Yes, I did. He’s going to be heading home soon,” Sam replied. He was about to hand the cell phone back to Morgan, when the Imaging Chamber door opened, and Al appeared.
“Hi, Sam,” Al said, giving him his we-need-to-talk face.
“Al,” Sam greeted.
“Al?” Morgan queried, wondering who Stephen was talking about.
“I’ll give you back your phone after I make another call, okay?” Sam covered. If he had a nickel for the number of times he covered up saying Al’s name, or that he pretended that he was speaking into a phone rather than speaking to the hologram…
Sam took the phone and walked into Chuck’s room, with Al following him. After shutting the door, Sam spoke.
“Did you talk to Chuck?”
“Yeah, we talked to him. I don’t know whether he’s much of a spy, but I do know he’s a good kid.”
“So Chuck is a spy?”
“Yeah,” Al looked at the hand-link. “His alias is Agent Charles Charm?” Al smacked the hand-link, “Charles Carmichael. Not only is he a spy, but he also has the latest version of the Intersect in his head. He flashed on the Project, like his old man did. I’m starting to get tired of this, actually. I don’t see why Project Quantum Leap is in the Intersect, but we couldn’t even have access to any of the files on the Intersect Project—“
“Al,” Sam interrupted. “Did he tell you about the original history?”
“Yes, he did,” Al replied, and he proceeded to quickly summarize what Chuck had told them, consulting the hand-link to refresh his memory. “So the first thing you’ve got to do is convince Chuck and the others that Shaw is still alive,” Al concluded.
“And how do I do that?” Sam asked.
“Well, I don’t know, but you’re going to have to figure it out, quick.”
“Did Chuck give his dad the Governor?”
“Yes, he did,” Al said. “But now there’s another problem. Remember I told you that Chuck has an Intersect in his head?”
“Oh, don’t tell me Chuck doesn’t have a Governor.”
“The Chuck I spoke to does. But the one who is now in Paris—“
“Actually, he’s coming back from Paris,” Sam interrupted.
“No kidding? You’ve been changing history, Sam. He wasn’t going to get back for another couple of weeks.”
“You were saying?” Sam asked, feeling he had no need to explain himself.
“Well, he doesn’t have a Governor yet, because his dad hasn’t made one for him yet.” Al paused to let that sink in. Sam might be a genius, but only Stephen knew how to build a Governor.
“So if I don’t leap before…if Orion doesn’t have a chance to build a Governor for Chuck—“
“Then Chuck’s going to be in trouble,” Al said, nodding. “He hasn’t started manifesting symptoms, yet, though. That was going to start not long before Orion showed up in May.”
“Is that why Chuck doesn’t have a Governor, yet?”
“Well, apparently, Orion didn’t know that Chuck has 2.0 in his brain. Chuck was pretending that he was through with being a spy. In fact, in the original history, Chuck kept up the charade until Orion threw a knife at his face—“
“Whoa, back up. He threw a knife at his son’s face?”
` “He knew that Chuck would catch it, so really he was proving that Chuck was lying.”
“That is not how you prove a point!” Sam exclaimed. “Al, there’s something else. Ask Ziggy what are the odds that I’m here to keep the Woodcombs from going to Africa.”
“But, Sam, we already know that you’re here to save Stephen—“
“Just humor me. What does Ziggy say?” Al punched a couple of buttons on the hand-link.
“Hmm. Ziggy’s saying 50%. But that’s ridiculous, Sam. They don’t even stay in Africa. Ziggy says that they come home about a week later, after Devon catches malaria.”
“Apparently, but don’t worry! He makes a full recovery. I’m telling you, that’s not why you’re here.”
“Well, if it isn’t, then I won’t leap, and I can still save Stephen. I don’t see what the harm is.” Al rolled his eyes. It was one thing to change history for the better, but there really should be a limit to the amount of interfering they did. Still, sometimes Sam’s hunches paid off. And worst case scenario, Sam was going to keep Devon from getting sick.
John Casey was now seriously confused. As Chuck hadn’t returned from his trip, yet, there was no official need for him to use the surveillance equipment set up in the Bartowski residence to spy on the occupants. It had only been installed, after all, so that Casey, as Chuck’s handler, could watch over the asset. But, he’d said to himself, he had to get answers. He had to know why Orion had showed up so suddenly. And so he’d listened to what was being said in Chuck’s home.
For awhile, the only thing that caught his attention was the phone call in which Orion was apparently ordering his son to come home. But the conversation that followed it—it just didn’t make any sense! Okay, he’d only heard one half of the conversation, to be fair. He’d gathered that the man was calling someone named Al…but who was the man wearing Orion’s face? For it was clear to him that, somehow, someone was impersonating the spy. Last time he’d checked, Orion didn’t speak about himself in the third person. So how else to explain what he’d heard? He ran it over again in his mind.
“Did you talk to Chuck? ... So Chuck is a spy? ... Al. Did he tell you about the original history? … And how do I do that? ... Did Chuck give his dad the Governor? ... Oh, don’t tell me Chuck doesn’t have a Governor… Actually, he’s coming back from Paris …So if I don’t leap before…if Orion doesn’t have a chance to build a Governor for Chuck—… Is that why Chuck doesn’t have a Governor, yet? ...Whoa, back up. He threw a knife at his son’s face? ... That is not how you prove a point!”
Casey had to disagree with that last statement. In his opinion, there was nothing wrong with using a knife—or a gun, or a grenade—to make a point. Still, he supposed he’d have to know what the context was there. He continued mulling over the conversation.
“Al, there’s something else. Ask Ziggy what are the odds that I’m here to keep the Woodcombs from going to Africa… Just humor me. What does Ziggy say? ... Malaria? …Well, if it isn’t, then I won’t leap, and I can still save Stephen. I don’t see what the harm is.”
He’d been spying to try to get answers, but now he had more questions. What the hell was a Governor? Casey wondered, and why would Chuck need one? Who was this man, pretending to be Chuck’s dad? What did he mean by ‘leaping’ and ‘original history’? Was that code for something? Who was Ziggy? For that matter, who was Al? Why did they want Chuck to return now, and why would they care about whether Ellie and Awesome went to Africa?
Ugh! As an agent, Casey was chastising himself for letting down his guard and allowing this intruder to infiltrate Bartowski’s home. Whoever this impersonator was, he obviously knew that Chuck and his dad were spies. That alone was cause for concern. Still…
He wasn’t as alarmed as he might have been. Yes, something very strange was going on, and he would have to get to the bottom of it before someone got hurt, but this stranger was talking about saving Orion. Maybe most of the conversation had seemed nonsensical, but there was no denying that this man was concerned about Orion’s welfare, and maybe not just Orion’s. After all, the man had seemed concerned about Chuck when he spoke about something called a Governor…
What now? Should Casey confront Orion’s doppelganger and demand answers? He could do that—march over there right now with one of his guns; it seemed like it had been too long since he last interrogated someone. He’d probably have to confess that he’d been spying on him, though, and that would put an immediate end to the surveillance opportunity. Okay, what else could he do? He could warn someone—well, not Ellie. She still didn’t know the real occupations of her father and brother, and she didn’t need to know. And Awesome had rather succinctly told him that, in his opinion, learning more about the spy world was not awesome. That left Chuck and Sarah, who were probably at an airport in France right about now, and the little troll otherwise known as Morgan.
Shit. They should be warned, right? Shouldn’t they? They probably felt way more comfortable around this faux Orion than they should. Who knows what they might say to him, thinking he was Chuck’s dad? Or what he might do to them, if he was dangerous?
He could call Beckman and tell her about what he’d heard. Maybe the general would be able to give him some intelligence on this stranger and help him figure out whether the guy was a threat, after all.
Or maybe the general would be just as perplexed as he was. And, actually, she might tell him that it was far more likely that Orion had suddenly developed a penchant for speaking about himself in the third person, than that someone who looked and spoke exactly like him was there, in which case she would point out how she doesn’t like it when agents waste her time.
Would she have a point? Maybe he was jumping to conclusions, and that really was Orion? He had to find out—fast. In the meantime, Casey had to keep an eye on that spy.
The dark haired man entered the limo that was waiting for him. He’d finally been released from the hospital. He could have been released sooner, he thought to himself. His wounds were healing nicely, and soon it would be as if he hadn’t been shot in the first place. He shook his head as the limousine took off. He’d underestimated Bartowski. He’d assumed that Chuck still wouldn’t be able to shoot him, except perhaps with a tranquilizer, under any circumstances. He’d been wrong. He hadn’t realized what Chuck might be capable of when his beloved Sarah’s life was in danger.
No matter. He would have his revenge on both of them. And now that they believed he was dead, there was no way that they would see it coming. Soon, he would be able to put the plan into motion. The first thing they would do would be to send an agent to Africa, to await the Woodcombs, to gain their trust. Then it would be a simple matter, really, to turn Eleanor against her neighbor, John Casey…
Daniel Shaw grinned. Oh yes, he would have his revenge, and 2.0.
I thought it’d be fun to make a reference to the series premiere of “Chuck” by throwing in that ringtone.
As promised, Chuck is coming back. Unlike Beckman’s phone call, one from Morgan wouldn’t have him tossing his phone out the window in a panic, right? And, it’s not that Chuck can’t stand up to his father, but his dad would have some influence over him. And maybe he’d rather face him in person than try to explain, over the phone, why he was running away. He can’t very well say he’s quitting the spy life when his dad thinks he’s already done so, right?
So now Casey knows…or does he? He’s suspicious, but he doesn’t have anything concrete to go off of. Not entirely sure what to do with this.
Dear readers, do you want Casey to confront Sam? Would you prefer he talk to Chuck and Sarah when they get back? Do you want Casey to find out what’s going on?
And as for Sam, we see that, despite Ziggy’s calculations, he thinks he should try to keep Ellie and Awesome from leaving. Do you think he should succeed? Or should he just concentrate on going after Shaw?
Are you disappointed that I’ve cut Chuck and Sarah’s stay in Europe short, especially since they were supposed to be working through their issues on that train ride?
Are you thinking that my author’s notes are too long and my chapters too short?
Ziggy can’t tell me what you’re thinking. Only you can.
Chapter 8: Revelations
April 14, 2010
“I still think you should concentrate on Orion,” Al insisted. The two were still in Chuck’s room. Unbeknownst to them, a figure approached the door, about to open it, but, upon hearing talking inside, stopped and listened.
“Okay, Al, how would you prove to someone that the man he shot is not dead after all?” Sam asked.
“You mean, short of seeing him going around, walking and talking?” Al replied.
“Yeah, well, I think it would be better for Chuck to know that Shaw is still alive before they come face to face,” Sam said dryly. “Where is he now, anyway?”
“Hmm, I don’t know, why?” Al asked.
“Because if we can track him down, then maybe we’ll be able to figure out how to… why is the hand-link beeping?” Sam asked. Al frowned and looked at the object, which had started squealing.
“Uh-oh,” Al said. He lifted his cigar to his mouth.
“Ziggy says that there is a 93% probability that this room is bugged.”
“WHAT?! Why would the room be—” Sam slapped his forehead. “Spies, of course, how could I forget?” He glanced around the room, wondering where the devices were hidden. “So someone has been listening to everything that I’ve said?” Suddenly, the door opened.
“Not everything,” Ellie said, apologetically. She didn’t know how her father knew she had been eavesdropping on him.
“Guess we’re going to have to be more careful on this leap,” Al said, grimacing. “Somehow I don’t think she’s the one that planted the bugs, which means that there’s—“
“Someone else,” Sam finished.
“What?” Ellie asked.
“I mean, I was talking about someone else,” Sam said, suddenly wondering just how much Ellie had heard and what she would make of it.
“Who were you talking to, Dad?” Ellie asked, before sighing.
“Don’t say you were talking to yourself, Sam. Ellie already thinks her father is crazy as it is. I’m going to go find Shaw. Gooshie, center me on Shaw!” Al disappeared from the room.
“A friend,” Sam said, refraining from adding, ‘from the future.’ “I just got off the phone with a friend,” he said, holding up Morgan’s cell phone and hoping that Ellie would buy that. It seemed, from the look on Ellie’s face, that no, she didn’t believe him. She took the cell phone from his hand.
“You just got off this phone?” she asked, after inspecting it. “Dad, the battery’s dead.”
“Well, that’s why I had to get off the phone so abruptly,” Sam said, “because the battery was running low…” he trailed off.
“Morgan said that you have good news,” Ellie said, changing the topic.
“He did? Oh—yes, I do. Charles is coming back from France.”
“You spoke with Chuck?”
“Yep; I think his flight is supposed to arrive tomorrow morning at—“
“Oh, I can’t wait to ask him about his trip!”
Sam frowned slightly. He’d already learned about Chuck’s trip. Well, since Chuck was a spy, he should be ready to make up answers to Ellie’s questions.
“Listen, Eleanor, I want to talk to you about your plan to go to Africa—”
“What about it?” Ellie asked. “We told you, Devon and I are joining Doctors without Borders.”
“I’m just not sure that you’ve thought this through.”
“Of course I’ve thought this through!” Ellie’s eyes blazed. What gave her father the right to come in here and question her choices? “I’ve got news for you, Dad. I’ve been capable of making my own decisions for years, now,” she snapped.
“I know that, Eleanor,” Sam said quietly.
“I’m sorry for raising my voice, Dad,” Ellie said. She took a deep breath. “Devon and I have thought this through. We can do a lot of good over there.”
“I know that, but honey, you can do a lot of good here, too.”
“That’s not the same, Dad! Look, haven’t you ever felt that you could make a difference in this world—that there were people that needed your help, and you were determined to help them, even if it meant sacrifices on your part?”
“Yes, I have,” Sam answered sincerely. “But are you sure you’re ready for this?”
“Yes, I am.” Ellie turned to go before Sam could say anything else. “I’m going to go tell Devon the good news. I’ll see you, Dad.”
Casey grunted. He’d put in a request for the last number dialed from Morgan’s cell phone, but to his frustration, it was Chuck’s number. For all he knew, the imposter over there could have made his next call from a Ring phone. Apparently, whoever was pretending to be the senior Bartowski was resuming his conversation, so Casey resumed his spying.
“Okay, Al, how would you prove to someone that the man he shot is not dead after all? … Yeah, well, I think it would be better for Chuck to know that Shaw is still alive before they come face to face.”
WHAT?! Shaw was still alive? Daniel Shaw? That had to be impossible; Bartowski and Walker had told him what had happened. Chuck had—against all odds—managed to shoot him. That was the end of it, wasn’t it? Unless…Chuck had screwed up…Somehow that was easier to believe than the idea of a Ring agent impersonating Chuck’s dad. Well, imposter or not, he was still speaking.
“Where is he now, anyway? … Because if we can track him down, then maybe we’ll be able to figure out how to… why is the hand-link beeping?”
Okay, add another question to the growing list: what hand-link?
“Uh-oh, what? ...WHAT?! Why would the room be— Spies, of course, how could I forget? … So someone has been listening to everything that I’ve said?”
Damn. Somehow the agent had discovered there were bugs in the room. Casey frowned. Great; now that he’d been found out, he wouldn’t be able to discover anything else this way. He turned off the surveillance equipment and began to plot his next move.
“I’m worried about him, Devon,” Ellie admitted.
“You’re worried about Chuck?”
“No, about my father,” she explained. “I caught him talking to himself earlier.”
“Yeah, he was saying some nonsense about spies, and Chuck, and the man he shot is still alive—“
“Shaw?” Devon asked. A few days ago, Morgan had started telling him what had happened in Paris, before he’d managed to cut him off, and ask him not to share any more information. Ellie’s eyes narrowed.
“Devon, how do you know my dad said the name Shaw? I didn’t tell you that.” Oh, not awesome. Why did Morgan have to tell him about Shaw in the first place?
“Uh, I heard him saying the same thing earlier?” Devon tried to cover, but, unfortunately, he was a horrible liar. Ellie raised an eyebrow. “Babe, come on,” Awesome continued. “I mean, Chuck shooting someone, that’s just ridiculous…unless he was using a tranq gun.”
“What? Why would he be tranquilizing anyone?” Ellie asked.
“He—uh, I mean, he wouldn’t! Uh, what’s for dinner?”
“Don’t change the subject! You know something,” Ellie said, rounding on her husband. “If this concerns my baby brother, you better spit it out, right now!”
“Babe, it’s like you said, your dad was just talking about nonsense. I mean, Chuck and spies? Those two words shouldn’t be in the same sentence,” he laughed—nervously.
“He didn’t use them in the same sentence,” Ellie said, reflecting upon what she’d heard. At the time she thought her father’s talk of spies was just more proof of his paranoid nature, but now… “Devon, why would you use them in the same sentence?” He couldn’t lie to his wife; he just couldn’t.
“I can’t—I promised I wouldn’t…”
“Who did you promise?” Ellie asked. Devon tried to make eye contact with Ellie, but found himself studying the floor, instead.
“Chuck,” he whispered.
“Well, what’s the big secret? I mean, it’s not like my brother’s a spy.” Ellie looked at Awesome, who winced.
“That—that’s preposterous,” Awesome stammered.
“Oh my God,” Ellie said, her voice rising. It was a good thing, Ellie thought, as realization hit her, that she was already sitting down. “Devon, why didn’t you tell me?”
“I made a promise,” Devon began.
“To Chuck, yeah, you said that. I’ll deal with him when he gets back. Meanwhile—start talking.” Devon hesitated.
“I really don’t know that much about it,” he said. “In fact, I asked him not to talk about it with me anymore.”
“You don’t know that much about it,” Ellie repeated. “Then who would? Wait a minute—Dad. Dad knows, too.”
Someone was pounding on the door. Morgan must’ve gone to the Buy More, or something, because he was nowhere to be found. Sam went to answer the door, and pulled it open.
“Hello, Orion,” Casey said. “We need to talk.”
A plane flying from Paris to Los Angeles
“Sarah, I’m sorry about the change in plans. Look, after we find out what my dad wants, we can take off again. We can be in and out of Burbank before Beckman even realizes we were back.”
“What are you saying, Chuck?” Sarah asked.
“I’m saying that I’ve realized something recently. I’ve been thinking about what happened in Prague, and I realized I made a mistake. I should have gone with you then. Sarah, I love you, and I want to be with you. We can go now, well, after we say goodbye to my dad. We can go away,” he glanced around and then lowered his voice, “we can quit the spy life, if that’s what you want. What do you say?”
Sarah smiled at Chuck, as she tried to figure out what to say. Her first instinct was to say ‘yes, of course,’ and assure him that she wanted to be with him as much as he wanted to be with her. This was what he wanted right? What they both wanted? After all, it had been her idea in the first place to quit the spy game and run away together, and that was only months ago…
Something was nagging at her, something about the words Chuck had just used. What had he said? “If that’s what you want.” Wait a minute!
“What do you want, Chuck? You told me in Prague that you wanted to be a spy.”
“I want you to be happy,” he answered without hesitation. Sarah’s breath caught for a moment. Wow! She knew she was lucky to have Chuck. She noticed that he didn’t deny wanting to be a spy, but he was willing to put that aside for her. He really would do anything for her, wouldn’t he?
“I don’t know what I want,” Sarah heard herself say.
“You don’t?” Chuck asked, confused, and more than a little concerned.
“I mean, I know I want us to be together,” Sarah began, noticing that Chuck visibly relaxed as she said this, “but I don’t know whether I want to leave everything behind.” Seeing Chuck’s puzzled expression, she continued. “Chuck, you have to remember,” she lowered her voice to almost a whisper, “I’ve been in the spy world since I left high school. This would be a really big change for me. Not,” she went on at a normal volume, “that this wouldn’t be a big change for you, too, leaving behind your home, your friends, and your family.”
“I know; Sarah, I know that, but if that’s what I have to do in order to be with you, then I’ll—“
“Maybe you don’t have to,” Sarah interrupted him.
“Maybe, if we stay, we can still find a way to make this work.”
“But, but what about Beckman?” Sarah shook her head, wondering if Chuck was right, and whether they shouldn’t try to start over somewhere else as a normal couple. After all, a normal couple wouldn’t make decisions about their relationship based on General Beckman’s opinion.*
“What about Beckman?” Sarah said aloud. Now she looked around to make sure none of the flight attendants or other passengers were paying them any attention. Some of the nearby seats weren’t occupied. As for the passengers that might have been within hearing range, they appeared to be either asleep, or engrossed in an in-flight movie. “We’re not handler and asset anymore. We’re both agents. And we’re two of the best agents she has, even if I do say so myself.”
“Ah, so modest,” Chuck said, chuckling.
“The point is that she can’t afford to lose us, and she knows it. I think, if we want to give this a shot, she’d—“
“What? She’d give us her blessing?”
“I don’t know if I’d go that far, but she’d come to terms with it.”
*This line was inspired by one in “The American President,” an awesome movie.
Two firsts in this chapter: my first time writing Sarah and first time writing Charah. Let me know what you think. This is not a romance story, but incorporating some romance was inevitable. If you prefer what happened in the show, pretend they went through something similar at, say, 30,000 feet.
As for the scene taking place in economy class—you don’t fly first class when you’re flying on your own nickel.
In my opinion, Ellie’s revelation here is not as satisfying as what happened in the show (i.e. Ellie watching Chuck beat up a Ring agent). Sorry about that. However, the reveal is similar in that it involves Devon’s inability to lie.
Has Casey confronted Sam? Probably, but they haven’t started their conversation, yet, and what is Casey going to say?
To clarify: from Al’s point of view, the “present” is in May 2011, or roughly the end of Chuck’s 4th season. It was in that time that Al and Stephen went to visit Chuck. Hence why Chuck and Alex were able to see and hear Al.
Since that visit, we have only seen Al in the form of a hologram. Presently, I have no plans to write more scenes with Stephen or Al or anyone else in 2011. If you have any objections, let me know.
Chapter 9: The Interrogation
April 14, 2010
“You’re not flashing on anything in that file?” Casey asked. Sam scowled as he shook his head, ‘no.’ When Casey had showed up, insisting they needed to talk, he had invited Casey in. However, the colonel had had another idea, and half-dragged Sam to what had to be Team Bartowski’s base of operations, code-named “Castle.” There, Casey brought out a folder and began showing Sam documents, wanting to see if the older man would ‘flash’ on anything. Supposedly, the sudden request was because Chuck hadn’t gotten back yet and ‘Stephen’ was the closest Intersect around. Somehow, Sam felt as though the NSA agent was deliberately testing him, to establish that Sam couldn’t flash.
Maybe he was just imagining things. He had known, after all, that this might become an issue, but he hadn’t figured out how he might pretend to flash. Or perhaps he’d just assumed that, if it became an issue, he might have Al there to give him advice…
Casey narrowed his eyes. This proved that the man before him was not Stephen Bartowski.
“This data is in the Intersect,” Casey all but growled. “So if you had an Intersect, you would have flashed on it.”
“You caught me,” Sam said, thinking fast. He remembered something Al had said about a conversation with Orion. “I removed the Intersect from my brain,” he said.
Al appeared suddenly in the room. “Sam, we found Shaw, he’s—Sam? What’s going on?”
“You removed the Intersect?” Casey scoffed, not believing him for a minute.
“What’s he talking about, Sam?”
“The reason I can’t flash is because I removed the Intersect,” Sam said.
“What? Oh, honestly, Sam! Couldn’t you have thought of something else?” Even if Casey accepted the lie for now, when this leap was over, Orion would be back, and might flash again. “Heck, if you had stalled for time and waited for me, we might have checked Ziggy’s files for whatever it was—“
“Who is Ziggy?” Al and Sam both froze at the question.
“Can he hear me?” Al asked, uncertainly. There had been a few instances when Sam wasn’t the only person that was able to see and hear the hologram. However, Al was pretty sure the list of people besides Sam that could do that was confined to small children, the mentally disturbed, and guardian angels. Maybe he was forgetting something…or maybe Casey wasn’t playing with a full deck.
“You were the one spying on me,” Sam said, pointing a finger at Casey, who didn’t bother to deny it.
“If you were really Orion,” Casey began, “you should have known that, as one of Chuck’s handlers, it has been my job to keep an eye out for him.”
“Hmm, you know, Orion really could’ve used one of those,” Al mused. Sam turned to him with an expression that said ‘couldn’t you say something useful now?’ Al got the message.
“Point out that he isn’t Chuck’s handler anymore. They’re on more of an equal footing these days.”
“That would be true, if you were still Charles’s handler, but you’re not,” Sam said calmly. “You’re both agents now.”
“Funny, how you knew that without Chuck telling you he’s become an agent. Yes, we’re both agents. And we’re part of a team,” Casey countered, “and we watch out for each other. Besides, God knows somebody has to have Chuck’s back.”
“I’d say that Sarah has Chuck’s back,” Al said, remembering what he’d learned about the future Mrs. Bartowski. “And his—“
“Al!” Sam hissed, trying to cut off the Observer’s train of thought.
“What? I was going to say ‘his heart,’” he claimed, pretending to be innocent. The effect was ruined by the lecherous grin on his face.
“Al?” Casey questioned. “Who is Al?”
“I’ll bet that Chu—that Charles is lucky to have you and Sarah as partners,” Sam said. Someone else might have let it go at that, but Casey knew he’d heard the man say the name, ‘Al.’ Not only did he just say it now, but he’d said it earlier, to whoever he’d been talking to…Hmm. Those conversations had not been made with Morgan’s cell phone. Maybe the imposter had some sort of transmitter on him, and other spies were listening in…
“Uh-huh,” Casey said aloud. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.” He stood up from the table he’d been sitting at and slipped outside of the room they’d been in—Castle’s interrogation room. After shutting the door behind him, Casey looked through the two-way mirror and waited.
“Ugh, what an attitude that guy has!” Al said. “You know, he reminds me of one of my father-in-laws. Now let’s see, I think it was the father of my third wife, no, maybe my fourth, or…” he trailed off as Sam cleared his throat loudly.
“There’s a two way mirror along that wall,” Sam said matter-of-factly.
“You think you’re being watched?” Al asked.
“Considering what just happened, I wouldn’t put it past Casey to be standing right outside this room now and watching me.”
“Alright, I’ll take a look,” Al said as he approached the mirror and stuck his head right through it. Sure enough, just inches from Al’s face stood John Casey, irked, but not really surprised, that the man had figured out what he was up to.
“You’re right, Sam, he’s out here,” Al called to his friend, as he stepped out into the hall.
“That’s just great,” Sam said, sarcastically. Al and Casey both turned as they heard footsteps approach.
“What are you doing here, Grimes?” Casey asked.
“Casey, we might have a problem,” Morgan began. “See, Ellie was just in the store, asking me where her dad is and—” Morgan suddenly caught sight of the man in the interrogation room. “Why is her dad in the interrogation room?” Casey hesitated. He really would have preferred telling Chuck or Sarah, but they weren’t here…and maybe he could use Morgan’s help.
“Morgan, listen to me, I have reason to believe that that is not Stephen Bartowski.”
“What? Don’t be ridiculous! Trust me, I’ve known Mr. Bartowski since Chuck and I were kids, and that’s him, right over there.”
“Well, I’ll concede that you’ve known Chuck’s dad for a long time,” Casey said. “And that means you’d be able to ask him something that he should know the answer to, right?”
“Sam!” Al burst through the mirror, getting nervous.
“What is it, Al?” Sam asked, forgetting his fear of being overheard. The way the wall was sound-proofed, the only voice Sam had been able to hear coming through the mirror was Al’s.
“Sam, Morgan’s here and Casey’s going to have him ask you personal questions—questions that only Orion would know the answer to!”
“Okay, don’t panic. Maybe you can bring Orion into the Imaging Chamber and then he could tell us what—“
“There’s no time!” Al yelled. “We’d have to rig the Imaging Chamber with enough power for you to hear what he’s saying and—they’re coming now!”
“What is it, Al?” Morgan frowned.
“Did you hear that?” he asked Casey, who nodded. They were able to hear everything that was said on the other side of the mirror (as far as they knew).
“Okay, don’t panic. Maybe you can bring Orion into the Imaging Chamber and then he could tell us what—"
“I thought Mr. Bartowski’s code-name was Orion,” Morgan whispered. “Who is he talking to, anyway? And what’s an Imaging Chamber?”
“Let’s find out,” Casey said, as he reached for the door handle.
“Wait a minute,” Morgan said, “about Ellie—“
“Whatever it is, can it wait?” Casey asked.
“I don’t think so, no.”
“Well, what about her?” Casey asked, getting impatient.
“She knows about Chuck.” Casey resisted the urge to scream, and instead grabbed Morgan by the arms and shoved him up against the mirror. Thud!
“What was that?” Sam asked Al, having heard a thump coming from the mirror. Al went to investigate.
“What do you mean she knows about Chuck?” Casey growled. “What did you say to her?!” One of his hands released its hold on Morgan’s left shoulder and proceeded to find Morgan’s neck.
“Casey—I didn’t tell her—I swear! Let me go!”
“Then how would she know?”
“Casey—can’t breathe!” Casey relaxed his grip on Morgan, but kept him pinned against the wall. “I’m not sure!” Morgan replied. “She said something about talking with Awesome after she overheard her dad talking to himself, or, she thought he was talking to himself…I really think if you should be angry with anyone right now, it should be Awesome. Clearly, he’s the one that spilled the beans.”
“What’s going on?” Sam called. The three on the other side of the mirror heard him, and Casey finally let go of Morgan.
“This Casey guy has a real anger management problem,” Al called back. “His reaction to finding out that Ellie’s just discovered the family secret was—well, suffice it to say you don’t want to rub this guy the wrong way. We have to find a way to convince him that you are Orion,” he said, poking his head back in the room.
“And then find a way to convince him and the others that Shaw is still alive,” Sam said.
“What did he just say?” Morgan said, turning to stare at the mirror. “I thought that Chuck—“
“Never mind that; where is Ellie now?” Casey asked the assistant manager.
“She’s at the Orange Orange—“
“I asked her to wait there while I looked for her dad. What? It’s not like she saw me going into the freezer. I entered Castle from the locker room in the Buy More, and yes, Casey, I made sure the coast was clear first.”
Okay, Casey reflected, maybe Grimes wasn’t that big a moron, after all.
“Alright, you go to Ellie while I find out what’s going on here—“
“Wait a minute,” Morgan interrupted, “why not the other way around? I want to know what’s going on, too.”
“You expect me to leave you with him?” Casey asked. “Morgan, that man is probably dangerous!”
“Yeah, well he hasn’t tried to strangle me,” Morgan said, rubbing his still sore neck and glaring at Casey as best as he could. “Besides, like you said, I would know whether that’s Chuck’s dad, right?” Casey thought for a moment.
“Just don’t make me regret leaving you with him, Grimes,” he said, before walking away. Morgan took a deep breath, and then cautiously opened the door to the interrogation room.
“And don’t forget that you’ve got to make sure that they still capture the heads of the Ring,” Al said to Sam. “In the original history, Chuck—“
“Al, you’ve already told me what happened in the original history. I get…” Sam suddenly noticed Morgan standing in the room.
“Who are you talking to, Mr. Bartowski?” Morgan asked, as he took a seat at the table.
“Uh, no one, I was just—“
“Really? Because I’ve heard you say the name Al, more than once now. And so has Casey. So,” Morgan folded his arms. “Who is he?” Morgan looked at Sam expectantly. Al did, too.
“Are you going to use the ‘dog back in Indiana’ line again?” Al asked.
“You still haven’t forgiven me for that?” Sam asked. As far as he could tell with his Swiss-cheesed memory, he had only used that line once, and that leap was ancient history now…
“What?” Morgan asked.
“Okay, Al is,” Sam paused, just how should he finish that sentence? Then it came to him. He was supposed to be a spy, right? “Al is my handler.”
“That’s a new one,” Al remarked.
“And, yes, Morgan, he is listening to what we’re saying,” Sam added. Please don’t ask me to show you the transmitter.
“Can I talk to him?” Morgan asked.
“Uh, well, he can hear you now, and I could relate to you what he’s saying.” Please leave it at that.
“Huh. I didn’t realize Orion had a handler,” Morgan probed.
“Well, Al’s been watching out for me for years. Orion doesn’t talk, I mean, I don’t talk about him a lot,” Sam said.
“Do you talk about yourself in the third person a lot? Casey and I heard you talking just now. What is an Imaging Chamber, by the way?”
“That’s actually classified, Morgan,” Sam said, truthfully. Morgan let that go, for now.
“Let’s try another question: why did you say that Shaw is still alive?”
“Because he is still alive, and I can prove it.”
“And how are you going to do that?”
“Do you trust me?” Sam asked. Morgan hesitated. This was his chance to put Casey’s theory to the test.
“That depends, Mr. Bartowski, if that is your real name. What is Chuck’s favorite movie?” Sam did his best to hide his confusion. Fortunately, Al came to the rescue.
“Wait—that poster in Chuck’s room! Sam, it’s got to be ‘Tron!’”
“Tron,” Sam answered.
“Okay, that one was too easy,” Morgan said. “Let’s try a less obvious one.”
Author’s Note: First, to recap who heard what:
-As usual, Sam was the only one who could hear Al.
-From within the interrogation room, the only voice Sam could hear coming from outside it was Al’s (given the brainwave link).
-From outside the interrogation room, Casey, Morgan, and Al can hear everything Sam says inside it.
-As to whether Al can hear what’s being said out in the hall while inside the interrogation room, I’m not sure that soundproofing has an effect on holograms. Then again, I’m not sure that it matters one way or the other.
Usually, this is the point where I ask everyone a bunch of questions, in the hopes that they will encourage you to tell me your thoughts.
Well, not this time. I do welcome any comments on what has happened so far.
I can see for myself how many of you are reading the story. I’ll simply interpret your silence to mean that you’re speechless because you wouldn’t change a single thing. To put it another way: Reader, you have the right to remain silent, but I have the right to interpret your silence any way I want to.
Oh, one final thought: I’m nearly done catching up on “Quantum Leap,” but I still have no plans on attempting to make the story compliant with the series finale (which might not be possible, anyway).
Chapter 10: That's How You Know
April 14, 2010
“Who was the first guy that asked Ellie out on a date?” Morgan asked.
“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Al exclaimed. How was Sam supposed to know that?
“You were,” Sam said, making eye contact with Morgan.
“Correct. And then what happened?”
“I’m guessing she shot him down,” Al interjected.
“Well, after Eleanor said no, Charles tried to cheer you up with…comic books,” Sam answered.
“You forgot the grape soda,” Morgan said, “but close enough.”
“How did you know that, Sam?” Al looked at him in astonishment. “Was that a residual memory?” Before Sam could respond, Morgan asked one more question.
“Now tell me: what does Awesome have that I don’t?”
“You mean, besides a medical degree?” Al snorted.
“Morgan, I’m sure the right woman for you is out there somewhere,” Sam said. “Now, about Shaw—“
“Actually, Mr. Bartowski, unless the Ring is planning something for tonight, maybe we could put this off until tomorrow, when we’ll have the whole team together,” Morgan said. “Ellie’s been looking for you.”
The Orange Orange
“You don’t seem surprised by the fact that my brother’s a spy,” Ellie said accusingly.
“Are you kidding? Chuck’s the last person I would’ve pegged as spy material,” Casey said. Ellie raised an eyebrow. “Okay, well, maybe not the last person,” he corrected himself, thinking of Morgan…and Jeff and Lester. He’d been trying to determine just how much Ellie knew. Apparently, neither Devon nor Morgan had mentioned Casey’s role in all of this. Speaking of Morgan—what was he doing at the door? And why was he with—
“Dad!” Ellie said, as she started to rise. Sam waved her back to her seat, as he joined the table.
“Grimes, I want a word with you!” Casey said, as he got up and led Morgan over to a corner. “What were you thinking? Why did you bring him here?”
“Casey, relax, it’s okay! You don’t have to worry about him. He is Orion,” Morgan pronounced, confidently.
“How could you?” Ellie demanded. “How could you let Chuck do something so stupid, so dangerous?” She had had tons of other questions on her mind, but suddenly, this one was the most important.
“As you reminded me earlier, my children have minds of their own,” Sam answered. “And they’re both adults, capable of making their own decisions. Some people might consider what you’re doing dangerous and reckless.” Ellie blinked. In all of the confusion, she’d forgotten about her upcoming trip to the Congo.
“Okay, first of all, there’s no way I could go to the Congo until after I know that Chuck is safe.” And then kill him for putting his life in danger and not telling me, she added mentally. “And secondly, you’re seriously comparing joining Doctors Without Borders to joining the CIA? You’ve got to be kidding me. How could you let this happen, Dad?” Unbeknownst to her, Al popped into the Orange Orange.
“I know this is hard for you to understand right now, Eleanor. Look, I didn’t tell Charles to become a spy—“
“Orion didn’t want him to be one,” Al pointed out.
“I didn’t want him to,” Sam parroted. “It was his decision. This is what he wants. And, maybe, this is what he’s meant to do.” He’s insane, Ellie thought.
“No, this isn’t what he’s supposed to do!” she insisted. “He isn’t supposed to get himself killed! I’m his big sister, and I’m supposed to watch out for him, remember?” She hadn’t forgotten that day, years ago, when she had promised their father that she would look after her little brother and protect him from harm. The hand-link beeped.
“Uh, Sam,” Al called, “Ziggy says that there’s an 84% chance of her asking her brother to quit being a spy,” he punched a couple of buttons, “and a 94.8% chance that if she does, Chuck will promise to quit.”
“He’d quit,” Sam repeated. Al consulted the hand-link again.
“No, I said he’d promise to quit. Ziggy says that the odds of him being able to keep that promise are about 32%. But the odds are high that while he’s trying to go back to being a civilian,” Al shook the hand-link before continuing, “someone will get hurt. Ziggy’s not sure who.”
“What did you say?” Ellie asked.
“Charles would quit, if you asked him to,” Sam said, reflecting on what Al had told him. Well, it wasn’t entirely a lie, was it? At least Chuck would attempt to quit. “He would quit because he would do anything for you, Eleanor. But you know what? That would be a shame, because Charles is great at what he does, and he enjoys doing it. And yes, I do think it was fair to compare his decision with yours, because he’s doing it for the same reason—to help people, to save lives, even if it means taking risks and making sacrifices.”
“I think it’s working, Sam. The odds of her asking Chuck to quit are at 73%, and they’re going down,” Al put in.
“How could he be a great spy?” Ellie asked, shaking her head. “I mean, no offense, I love him, you know that, but, this is Chuck we’re talking about.”
“Maybe he takes after his dad,” Al said. “Not to mention that Intersect thing probably comes in handy.”
“Charles…Charles is special,” Sam said. He’d never met Chuck, but he was sure it was true.
“Maybe it runs in the family,” Morgan said, having heard Ellie’s question. He had spent the last few minutes trying to persuade Casey that there was no need for alarm. He had told the NSA agent how the mysterious Al was Orion’s handler, and how Orion had passed the ‘interrogation’ with flying colors. Morgan wasn’t sure whether Casey’s grunt meant, “Okay, I believe you” or “you moron,” but, after Casey headed home, he’d decided to see how things were going with Ellie.
“What are you talking about, Morgan?” Ellie asked. Morgan blinked.
“You still don’t know?” he asked her. She stared at him, puzzled. “Ellie, your dad’s a spy, too.” Ellie’s face darkened as she turned her face to her father.
“When were you planning on telling me that, Dad?”
“I-I was working my way up to that,” Sam said. In truth, he’d had no intention of telling her. After all, it wasn’t his secret to tell.
Morgan tried to process what was going on. He’d just made things worse, hadn’t he? Oops.
“Did you guys hear that? I think someone’s calling my name. Got to go, bye,” Morgan called, as he dashed for the exit, leaving Sam to face Ellie. He wasn’t entirely sure that his years of quantum leaping had prepared him for this. Well, at least Al was still there to provide moral support, Sam figured. He was surprised to hear the Imaging Chamber door open a moment later.
“Sorry, Sam; you’re on your own,” Al said, apologetically. “I’m calling it a night. See you at the debriefing tomorrow,” he said, before disappearing. Coward! Sam thought.
April 15, 2010
“What is my dad doing here?” Chuck asked. He’d just gotten home, and hadn’t seen his father, or his sister, yet. Morgan eyed his best friend.
“Well, we’re all going to meet in Castle later so that he can explain it to us.”
“But he’s told you already?” Chuck asked. Morgan nodded. Then Chuck thought of something. “Wait, in Castle? As in, he knows that—“
“That we’re spies? Yeah,” Morgan said. Chuck winced.
“Does he know about the Intersect?” he whispered. Morgan thought about that.
“I’m not sure,” he said, “but Casey might know.”
“Why would Casey know? On second thought, never mind. Listen, we’re not having a debriefing with Beckman today, are we?”
“I don’t think so…why?” Morgan asked.
“Uh, no reason, it’s just that, Sarah and I were hoping to have some more time off, as long as Beckman thinks we haven’t gotten back yet.” Actually, Chuck and Sarah still hadn’t resolved whether they were going to run away or not, but Chuck wasn’t going to tell Morgan that.
“I see… Chuck, there’s something else you should know.”
“Ellie-knows-your-secret,” he blurted out in a rush. Chuck’s insides went cold.
“What do you mean she knows, Morgan? What happened?”
“I’m not sure! Apparently, she overheard your dad talking to his handler—“
“My dad has a handler?” Chuck asked.
“Yeah, some guy named Al, and then she was talking to Captain Awesome, who clearly can’t think on his feet, next thing you know she’s on the war path, trying to find out what’s going on…” he trailed off as he saw Chuck wince, again.
“How furious is she?”
“I think your dad might’ve calmed her down a little. But I guess you can ask him,” Morgan said, as he noticed the man coming out of Chuck’s bedroom.
“Oh my God,” Sam uttered softly. He had thought he’d gotten a shock when he’d first seen his host’s reflection—the reflection that looked so much like his own face, except it was one that had aged significantly since he’d last seen Sam Beckett reflected in the mirror. That was almost nothing compared to this—to seeing Chuck for the first time. Chuck undoubtedly resembled his father more than Ellie did. The thought occurred to him that, if things had gone differently, if instead of stepping into the Quantum Leap accelerator, he had settled down and had children, he might have had a son that looked like Chuck. Well, he couldn’t dwell on that now. He wasn’t changing his own past.
“Hi, Dad,” Chuck greeted him.
“Hello, Charles. How was your flight?”
“Pretty good,” Chuck answered. It was, he figured, better than his first flight to Paris, when he’d been on a mission (and hadn’t been able to use his numchucks), and it was infinitely better than his second flight to Paris, when he’d been worried, the entire time, about Sarah’s safety. “How mad are you?” Sam was puzzled by the question.
“Why would I be mad?” Then he remembered Al’s description of Stephen’s reaction to finding out that Chuck had downloaded the new version of the Intersect. “Oh. I’m not mad. I was mad,” Sam said, trying to play the part, “but not anymore.”
“You’re not mad?” Sam shook his head. “What about Ellie?”
“I think she’ll come around.” Just then, there was a knock on the door.
“Chuck!” They heard Ellie’s voice. “I know that you’re in there! Open this door!
“Mr. Bartowski,” Morgan walked over to Sam and whispered to him. “You remember the ‘Morgan door?’” Sam didn’t, but he realized that it must be another way out of the home, so he nodded.
“Now might be a good time to use it,” Morgan suggested, as he headed off in the direction of Chuck’s room. Sam followed. Cowards, Chuck thought.
“What is going on, Dad?” Chuck asked. He, Sarah, Casey, and Morgan looked at Sam, expectantly. They were gathered around a table in the room they used for debriefings. “What was so important that Sarah and I had to fly over straight away?”
“Shaw’s still alive,” Sam answered. Chuck had two reactions to this statement. The first was surprise that his father apparently knew he had shot Shaw. The other was nicely summed up as:
“What?! That’s impossible,” Sarah said.
“Did anybody check his pulse?” Morgan asked.
“He fell into the river!” Chuck said. “How were we supposed to check his pulse?”
“How do you know that he’s still alive?” Casey asked Sam. Sam had been waiting for this, and, without a word, turned to the computer behind him. He glanced at Al, who read off a set of coordinates that Sam then punched in. A little bit of hacking and, bingo! “See for yourself,” Sam replied. Chuck and Sarah both gasped as a familiar face appeared on the monitor—Daniel Shaw’s. Casey peered at the other people on the screen, who were working in the background.
“What are they doing?” he asked.
“They must be building that thing,” Al said, snapping his fingers, “that, what-do-ya-call-it—“
“They are building an Intersect. Shaw is planning on downloading 2.0,” Sam said. Chuck gaped. Casey narrowed his eyes. That tone of voice sounded awfully casual, considering he was supposed to be the brains behind the designs the Ring was stealing. Just because Morgan was convinced this was Orion didn’t mean he was right.
“Say, Orion, what is a Governor?” Casey asked.
I realize I didn’t say anything, in Ch. 2, about the way Sam’s reflection looked older. I should have. A quick comparison between “Quantum Leap” and “Chuck” will show that Scott Bakula’s aged (as tends to happen over about 20 yrs). And, if you’ve seen “Mirror Image,” you’ll recall that Sam had been startled to realize that he had a few gray hairs, etc. Side effect of Quantum Leaping: time sneaks up on you.
If you don’t think that Zach Levi looks somewhat similar to Scott Bakula, I suggest you go back and look at their pictures again. If necessary, squint.
If anyone thinks that Ellie’s reaction is too extreme, or that there’s no reason the guys should feel so intimidated by her, you can let me know. I happened to think some comic relief was in order.
I know we’ve skipped over her conversation with Chuck, and part of her conversation with Sam. This was done because I felt that you would be anxious to get to the meeting at Castle. If you’re disappointed, let me know.
Chapter 11: Bombshells Away
April 15, 2010
“Guess Casey still doesn’t trust you, Sam,” Al said.
“May I have a moment alone with Charles?” Sam asked the others. Sarah and Morgan both stood up from the table, to respect his wishes. Casey, however, stayed right where he was.
“Why doesn’t Casey have to leave, too?” Morgan asked, as he and Sarah headed out of the room.
“Come on, Morgan. I’ll get you some frozen yogurt,” Sarah said.
“You haven’t answered my question, yet,” the colonel said, after the two had left.
“The answer concerns the Intersect,” Sam replied.
“Uh, Dad, then I don’t see why you want to speak to me, I mean, I’m not an Intersect anymore, remember?” Chuck said.
“Classic denial; see, this is why Orion threw a knife at his face in the original history,” Al said. He seemed to imply that maybe that wasn’t such a bad idea. Sam turned away from Chuck and Casey and took a couple of steps towards Al.
“I am not going to throw a knife at his face!” Sam hissed. Chuck frowned. What was that supposed to mean? Surely he’d heard wrong.
“Talking to Al again?” Casey asked. This was interesting; he remembered the spy saying that someone had thrown a knife at his son’s face. He hadn’t known who the man was referring to…
“As a matter of fact,” Sam said, turning to face Casey. “Al and I were just having a disagreement. He thinks that the easiest way to get Charles to stop denying the truth is to force him to flash.” Sam glanced at Al. There was another way that he knew he could use to trigger a flash.
“Oh, no; Sam, forget it! Don’t you dare say my name!” Al exclaimed, almost as if he had read Sam’s mind. “We’ve exposed the Project enough as it is. Just hurry up and tell them about the Governor, already. If Chuck wants to stay in denial, let him.”
“What if you did throw a knife at his face, and it turned out that Al was wrong about Chuck?” Casey asked out of curiosity.
“Al isn’t wrong,” Sam said, gesturing impatiently, as if annoyed by such a dumb question.
“How do you know?” Chuck demanded.
“Trust me, I know. Our intel is very reliable.” Sam said.
“So why are you afraid to test it?” Casey asked.
“Look, I don’t need to put it to the test. If I did need to test it, I wouldn’t do so by throwing a knife at Charles’ face. Now to answer your earlier question, Casey, the Governor is a device that Or—that I invented to counteract the side-effects of using the Intersect.”
“What side-effects?” Chuck asked. “The Intersect doesn’t have any side-effects. I mean, I had one in my head for two years, and I never noticed any side-effects.”
“You wouldn’t have experienced them right away,” Sam replied. “The symptoms start after a period of time; say, about three years, give or take.”
“And what are the symptoms?” Casey asked.
“Wait, don’t tell me! Let me guess, symptoms may include: nausea, diarrhea, and frequent urination,” Chuck quipped, trying to parody the average ad for prescription drugs. His smile faded as he saw the expression on the inventor’s face.
Sam did his best to break the news to Chuck gently. Chuck sat as if frozen, horror gripping him.
“No,” he said. “No, that can’t be!”
“It can,” Sam said, softly. “But that’s not going to happen to you, Charles. Orion is, I mean, I am going to make a Governor for you, so you won’t have to worry about that.” Chuck was too distracted by the fear of what the Intersect might do to him to notice Sam’s little slip.
“You can do that?” Chuck asked, forgetting that he’d been pretending he had not downloaded 2.0.
“Of course,” Sam nodded. No, I can’t, he thought to himself. But if I can just finish this leap, then Orion can.
“And you’re really not mad at me?” Chuck asked. Sam shook his head. Casey rolled his eyes.
“And you have a Governor for yourself?” Casey asked.
“Yes,” Sam said automatically.
“That’s funny, considering you told me yesterday that you’d removed the Intersect from your head,” Casey said. Chuck looked puzzled. He hadn’t heard about this before.
“I told you that was a mistake, Sam,” Al said.
“What’s more important right now, is stopping Shaw,” Sam said. “I don’t know how, but he’s discovered the flaws with the Intersect, and he knows I’ve invented the Governor, which means—”
“He’s going to be coming after you,” Chuck said.
“Precisely,” Sam said.
“So what you’re saying is that you came here to ask for our help,” Casey said.
“Yes, I did, but also to warn you about Shaw. I’m not the one he really wants; to him, I’m just the means to an end. He’s going to go after you, all of you, unless we stop him.” Chuck blinked.
“I guess we should call Sarah and Morgan back in now.”
The Burbank Buy More
Chuck frowned after he hung up his phone. Team Bartowski had dispersed after mapping out a plan for foiling Shaw, and the Ring, once and for all. Ellie had just given him a call and, if he didn’t know any better, an ultimatum. So much for thinking that she had taken the news well. Chuck sighed, and dialed Casey’s number. He wasn’t sure where the NSA agent had disappeared to after leaving Castle. When, after a few rings, a recorded voice told him to leave a message, he disconnected the call. Probably best that he didn’t pick up, Chuck thought. Was I seriously going to ask him to go over there? I can just imagine what he would say. ‘Your cover was blown, mine wasn’t, moron.’ He left the store, and headed across the parking lot to the Orange Orange. Sure enough, Sarah was behind the counter.
“Is something wrong, Chuck?” she asked, noticing the expression on the Nerd Herder’s face. Was he worried about the upcoming mission?
“It’s Ellie,” Chuck began. Sarah’s eyes widened.
“Is she hurt?” she asked, concerned.
“No, it’s not that. She’s fine. It’s just, I need to ask you for a favor,” he said, before explaining to Sarah what his sister had told him. “I know that we’re going to have to start getting ready for the mission soon, but I figured there’s still enough time, and so I was wondering if you could—“
“Chuck, it’s okay. I’ll go talk to Ellie,” Sarah said.
“Really?” Chuck asked.
“Yes, really,” she said, smiling. Not that she was looking forward to this, but the look of relief on Chuck’s face told her she was doing the right thing.
“Thanks, Sarah! I really appreciate thi—” he was cut off by Sarah’s lips pressing against his own.
“Don’t mention it, Chuck,” she said, after she pulled away.
“Have I told you I love you?” he asked, grinning.
“Yes, you have.”
At the sound of a knock on her door, Ellie stood up from the couch and went to answer it. This was it. Now she would get to meet—and scrutinize—one of the agents charged with protecting the life of her baby brother…
“Sarah?” Ellie blinked.
“Hi, Ellie; may I come in?”
“Of course,” Ellie said, stepping back so that the blonde could pass. “But I’m actually expecting company in a few minutes.” Sarah cleared her throat.
“Actually, Ellie,” Sarah said, as she took a seat opposite the doctor, “I think you were expecting me.” Ellie stared at Sarah, her mind refusing to process what she was being told. “Chuck told me you wanted to see me,” Sarah went on, speaking as if she was just visiting her boyfriend’s sister, and not dumping a bombshell into Eleanor’s lap.
“No,” Ellie said, shaking her head in disbelief. “No, you, you’ve been dating my brother, on and off, for the past—Oh my God, for the past three years!” Ellie said, remembering what Chuck had said to her this morning. “I’ve been working with the CIA and NSA for about three years.” Didn’t Sarah move to the area around three years ago?
“I’ve been protecting him for the past three years,” Sarah said.
“You—so that, that relationship that was all fake; the whole thing was an act?” Ellie’s heart sank. It was bad enough to learn that her brother had been putting his life in danger on a regular basis. Now it appeared that, contrary to what she’d thought, Chuck hadn’t had a real relationship since Jill, after all. Maybe she shouldn’t have told Chuck that she wanted to meet his handlers. Maybe it had been better not to know.
“It did start out as part of my cover,” Sarah said, feeling uncomfortable. She would do anything for Chuck, but right now, she’d rather face Ring agents than have this conversation with his sister. “But somewhere along the line, that changed.” Ellie looked at Sarah, hope surging through her. Then suspicion kicked in.
“So what are your intentions towards my brother? Are you moving in together?”
“We haven’t talked about that,” Sarah said.
“But you do love him?” Ellie asked. Sarah froze.
The hand-link squealed.
“What is it, Al?” Sam asked. They were in the break-room/locker room of the Buy More, having just left Castle. Sam had climbed the stairs; Al had used the hand-link. At the moment, they had the room to themselves.
“Well, you’ve been changing history, alright, Sam,” Al said, after tapping a few buttons.
“I’m sensing a ‘but.’ Don’t tell me he still gets killed?”
“It gets worse. You’ve moved up the time table. Now there’s an 83.7% probability that you—that is that Orion—will be killed sometime in the next 72 hrs,” he shook the hand-link. “And now there’s also a 34.8% chance that Sarah will be killed, too.”
“We have to do something! We have to have another meeting, and change our strategy…where is everyone now?” Al checked with Ziggy.
“Let’s see, it looks like Chuck and Morgan are here at the Buy More. Sarah is with Eleanor and…Casey’s at a diner.” Before Sam could ask, ‘what diner?’ the locker room door opened.
“Oh, hey, you’re Chuck’s dad, right?” Jeff asked. “Who’s your friend?”
“You can see me?” Al asked. The middle age, balding Nerd Herder nodded.
“Of course, I can see you,” he slurred slightly. “What’s your name?”
“Al,” the Observer said hesitantly. His fingers reflexively began punching the buttons on the hand-link that would open the Imaging Chamber door, so he could disappear.
“Well, why wouldn’t I be able to see you, Al?” Without waiting for an answer, Jeff went over to his locker, retrieved a bottle and a cloth, and within moments, was slumped over one of the tables. Sam’s first instinct, as a doctor, was to check to see if the man needed medical attention. Seeing the steady rise and fall of the man’s chest, though, he decided that Jeff would live. Orion might be another story.
“Sam, did he just—“
“Don’t worry. He’ll be fine, Al. Which diner did Casey go to?”
Casey pretended to study the menu in front of him, but his mind was elsewhere, on the upcoming mission, and on the words that ‘Orion’ had said earlier, while they were in Castle. They’re not above using our family to get to us. Whether or not that warning was from Orion, Casey believed him. He looked up as the waitress approached his table, to take his order.
She was a young brunette, whose name tag said, “Alex.” She smiled at him. John had first shown up in the diner a few weeks ago, and he was fast becoming a regular patron. Each time he came, he sat at one of the tables Alex waited on, and they had begun to chat while she brought him his food. He seemed like such a nice man; she might miss him after she graduated and quit this job.
“Good afternoon, John. What can I get you today?” Casey hesitated. He wasn’t here to order food. Nor did he come just to spend time with his daughter. Still, he hadn’t finished sorting out what he would say to Alex. He might as well order something to buy him some time.
Alex barely refrained from rolling her eyes as John, after great reflection, ordered the same thing he always ordered. She scribbled it down on a pad, and then took another look at John. Was it her or was he quieter today than usual? The bell over the door rang as someone came in. Alex didn’t pay the newcomer any attention until he walked right up and sat down across from John. Hmm. John seemed to recognize the man, but he didn’t look too happy to see him.
“What are you doing here?” Casey hissed.
“We need to talk,” Sam said.
“Can I get you anything?” Alex asked, after clearing her throat.
Sam looked up at the waitress, and read her name tag. Wait a second! Al had told him about her.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your daughter, Casey?” Casey glared at him, but said nothing. Sam turned to Alex, who was looking puzzled.
“Guess I’ll have to introduce myself, then. Hi, Alex, I’m a friend of your dad. You can call me Stephen.”
First off, to those readers that have not heard, you can find the conversation between Ellie and Chuck (the one missing from Chapter 10) in “Chuck v. The Big Sister,” a companion piece.
Now, readers, you have the opportunity to make your voice heard. Are you confused as to why Alex thinks that Casey is a nice man? :) Or more confused by why Jeff would be able to see Al?
Chapter 12: Uh-oh, Uh-oh
Previously, on “Chuck v. Project Quantum Leap”:
Casey: “Morgan, listen to me, I have reason to believe that that is not Stephen Bartowski.”
“What’s more important right now, is stopping Shaw,” Sam said. “I don’t know how, but he’s discovered the flaws with the Intersect, and he knows I’ve invented the Governor, which means—”
“He’s going to be coming after you,” Chuck said.
Ellie: “But you do love him?” Sarah froze.
Al: “Now there’s an 83.7% probability that you—that is that Orion—will be killed sometime in the next 72 hrs. And now there’s also a 34.8% chance that Sarah will be killed, too.”
Sam: “Aren’t you going to introduce me to your daughter, Casey?”
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
April 15, 2010
For the life of him, Sam had no idea why he could see a vein on Casey’s face throbbing. The NSA agent just didn’t seem to like him, Sam had sensed that, but it still didn’t account for why Casey’s face said as-soon-as-we-exit-this-diner-you-are-dead. His musings were cut short by Alex’s voice.
“That’s not funny,” she said, her voice full of ice.
“What?” Sam asked.
“Pretending to be a friend of my father’s—that is not funny. My father is dead,” Alex said. “He died before I was born.” Sam’s eyes widened, and he suddenly understood why the man sitting across from him was seething.
“She—she doesn’t know?” Oh no. What was it Al had told him? Alex and Casey had met last year—meaning this year…and apparently, Casey hadn’t told Alex the truth, yet.
“Know what?” Alex demanded. “Any idea what he’s talking about, John?”
“Alex,” Casey said, rising slowly, “I’ll eat later. Right now, ‘Stephen’ and I are going outside to have a little chat.” Sam stood up and, reluctantly, followed Casey out the door of the diner, wondering what the odds were that Casey only wanted to talk. They got as far as the parking lot before Sam had to duck. Casey’s fist met the space that Sam’s head had occupied a moment before. Well, that answered Sam’s question.
“Casey,” Sam said, as he straightened up, took a step back and raised his arms up in front of him, ready to block any blows, “listen to me. That was an accident, I swear—“
“Oh sure, you just—accidentally—told Alex—that I’m her father,” Casey said, his sentence punctuated by punches that Sam deflected.
“I thought that she already knew!” Sam exclaimed. He sighed, as he saw Casey take a step back, and lower his arms. His relief was short-lived, as Casey then reached behind his back, pulled out a gun, and aimed it at Sam’s chest.
“How did you even know about her? How did you know where I was?” he asked.
“I’m a spy, too, remember? Al told me,” Sam said. While Casey tried to digest that, Sam kicked the gun out of Casey’s hand. It fell to the ground; unfortunately, Sam’s kick had thrown him off balance, and he fell, too, bracing himself with his hands. Sam snatched the gun up, and then pushed himself up. Casey grunted. He hadn’t known the spy could kick like that.
“Give me my gun back,” Casey said, though he didn’t expect the man to comply.
“Why don’t you answer a question for me, first?” Sam asked, holding the gun by his side, his fingers well away from the trigger. “Why does Alex think that you’re dead?”
“Because officially, Alex Coburn is dead,” Casey spat.
“Alex Coburn; that was your name?” When Casey said nothing, Sam continued. “So what happened?”
“What do you think happened, idiot? A Marine was recruited into the NSA. He chose fighting for his country over a life with the woman he loved.”
“You didn’t know she was pregnant?” Sam asked. Casey shook his head.
“Alex Coburn’s fiancée was informed that he was killed overseas; and John Casey was born.” After he finished speaking, Casey noticed the older man was staring at something…or someone. No. That is not possible. She’s still in the diner; she didn’t follow us outside…
Slowly, Casey turned around, hoping to see anyone else, Chuck, Walker, Grimes, Shaw, anyone but……his daughter, who was stepping out from where she was hiding behind the Crown VIC.
“No way,” Alex said.
Love? Sarah supposed she should have seen the question coming, but she hadn’t been prepared for it. Chuck had been using the L-word for awhile, but Sarah had been unable to reciprocate. It wasn’t something that just rolled off the tongue, after all. She had never told Bryce—or any other guy, for that matter—that she loved him. If she loved Chuck, she’d be breaking the #1 rule of being a spy.
And for the life of her, at that moment, she couldn’t care less about that.
Sarah thought about the first time that she met Chuck, that day she’d walked into the Buy More with a (deliberately) broken phone and walked out with the conviction that the man she’d been sent to investigate had a heart of gold. She thought about their first “date,” which had actually been pretty fun, minus having to keep Casey from shooting Chuck, and worrying about defusing a bomb. She thought about dancing with Chuck at Ellie’s wedding, and how Chuck had saved her in Paris. And, finally, she thought about their conversation on the flight home.
“Sarah, I love you, and I want to be with you. We can go away; we can quit the spy life, if that’s what you want.”
“What do you want, Chuck?”
“I want you to be happy.”
“Well, do you love him?” Ellie repeated. Sarah swallowed.
“Yes, I do.”
Ellie nodded; she’d figured as much, though she did wonder why Sarah took so long to answer her question. Wait a minute!
“Have you told him yet?”
“Well, I,” Sarah pursed her lips. “I might not have used those exact words.”
“Jeffrey!” Lester strode over to the table that his friend and business partner was slumped over. “Jeffrey, wake up!” Lester shouted, shaking Jeff on the shoulder.
“What? I’m awake,” Jeff said, as he straightened up and blinked his eyes. “What’s going on? What’s the emergency?”
“Did you forget that we were supposed to be rehearsing for the Woodcombs’ going-away party?” Lester asked, exasperated.
“You mean we got the gig?” Jeff asked, as the fog in his mind cleared.
“Well, officially, no, not yet,” Lester conceded. He had not yet confirmed that “Jeffster”—his and Jeff’s band—would be performing at Chuck’s sister’s going-away party. Actually, he had not yet confirmed that there was going to be such a party, or that they would be invited to it, if there was one. But those were just minor technicalities, in his opinion.
“But of course we will. It wouldn’t be much of a party without us, without our brilliance,” Lester said, as he motioned for Jeff to follow him. They walked out of the locker room and were soon heading through the aisles of the Buy More. Lester, catching sight of Chuck at the Nerd Herd desk, changed course and led Jeff over, deciding he might as well take care of those technicalities now.
“Hi, Chuck, you’re just the person we wanted to see,” Lester began. “We have a question for you—”
“Where did Al go?” Jeff asked suddenly, remembering the men he’d seen just before he’d blacked-out. Lester frowned. Who was Jeff talking about? Never mind.
“That’s not our question,” he said to Chuck. “We wanted to know when the going-away—”
“Wait, you’ve seen Al?” Chuck asked, raising an eyebrow. What was his dad’s handler doing in the store? Was he still here? Chuck looked around the store, even though he realized it was in vain. He had no idea what Al looked like.
“What words did you use, then?” Ellie asked Sarah. The look on the agent’s face told Ellie all she needed to know.
“Sarah,” Ellie began, and then sighed. “Do you know why I wanted you to come over today?”
“Chuck told me that you wanted to meet one of his handlers,” Sarah replied. Ellie nodded.
“When I found out that Chuck was a spy, I wanted him to quit,” Ellie said. “Scratch that, I needed him to quit. But then I talked with my dad, and then with Chuck, and I understand now—maybe not completely, but I’m beginning to understand that this makes Chuck happy.”
Sarah didn’t know what to say, but fortunately, Ellie wasn’t done speaking.
“I want my brother to be happy. But if Chuck’s going to keep this job, well, I have to know that he’s in the best possible hands.” Ellie paused, and Sarah wondered if she’d somehow just failed a test.
“And now I know that he is. So, against what may be my better judgment, I’m going to trust you with my brother’s life, and I know that he trusts you with his heart. You have to tell him—” Before she could finish her sentence, her husband walked through the door.
“Hey babe—what’s going on?” Devon asked.
“Uh, Sarah and I were just chatting,” Ellie said.
“Is this about Chuck?” Awesome asked. He turned to Sarah. “What’s going on? Is someone after us?”
“Why would you ask her that?” Ellie narrowed her eyes. “You already knew that she was one of Chuck’s handlers, didn’t you?” Awesome nodded. Just great! Was there anything else that had been kept from her?
“Devon, the reason I came here to talk to Ellie,” Sarah began.
“We should have left sooner,” he said, running a hand through his hair. “I thought that we’d be safe here for a little while, that we didn’t have to leave immediately, but I should have known better.”
“What are you talking about, Devon?” Ellie asked.
“He’s scared. Devon, it’s okay! I didn’t come here to warn you or to protect you from a threat,” Sarah interjected. Reassured, most of the tension melted out of Awesome’s shoulders.
“Devon, what did you mean by ‘we should have left sooner’?” Ellie asked, rounding on him.
“It’s just—the sooner we leave for the Congo, the sooner we’ll be out of harm’s way,” Awesome replied. “You know now that Chuck’s job is…” he trailed off. Uh-oh; the look on Ellie’s face was so not-awesome.
“Just so we’re absolutely clear,” Ellie said, speaking slowly, “the reason you want us to join Doctors Without Borders is that you want us to get as far away from my brother as possible?”
“Oh, good, Sam, you found Casey,” Al said, after he appeared in the parking lot. Then the observer took a closer look, and noticed that things seemed off. For one thing, there was a gun in Sam’s hand. For another thing, Alex was staring at Casey, almost as if she’d just found out…
“Sam, what did you do?” Al yelled.
“Why do you assume that I did something?” he asked.
“I don’t know, maybe because you’re the one that keeps changing history?”
“Okay, fine, I might have accidentally told Alex that Casey’s her father.”
“How could you accidentally let something like that slip?”
“Well, maybe you could have made it clearer that she didn’t know yet.”
“Don’t go blaming this on me. I told you to meet Casey so that you could do something about these odds,” he said, gesturing with the hand-link.
“You’re right,” Sam said. “Speaking of which, have the odds changed any?”
Alex, who had been staring at John, looked over at the man who had introduced himself as Stephen.
“Who is he talking to?” she asked. She had other questions to ask John, and a LOT to say to him, but she was a little distracted by the sight of a man apparently talking to thin air.
“Casey,” Sam said, turning back to the two. “I really do need to talk with you.”
“Get in line, Bartowski,” Casey snapped. “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m in the middle of something, for which I have you to thank. And why are you still holding my gun?” He held out his hand, but the other man hesitated.
“Oh come on! Trust me, if I was going to shoot you, I’d have done it earlier,” Casey said, impatiently. Sam handed him back his gun and Casey stowed it behind his back.
“We have to go,” Sam said.
“I have to talk with Alex,” Casey said.
“We’ll take her with us,” Sam replied. “You came here to make sure she was out of harm’s way, didn’t you?” Sam took Casey’s grunt as a yes. “Then we need to get her somewhere safe.”
Alex was the first one out of the car and into the Buy More. Before the others caught up with her, she was approached by a man wearing an assistant manager’s uniform.
“Welcome to the Buy More. May I help you?” Morgan asked.
Oh my, has it really been more than a month? Great Scott, I missed my deadline! The 4th season of ‘Chuck’ is already underway. Sorry about that.
Okay, first, you’ll notice that Lester was in this chapter. That’s because…he’s right. What kind of a party, er, story, would this be without Jeffster? (This is my way of warning you that the story will be slightly song-fic-y later on.)
Knowing that there are readers that haven’t forgotten this story should at least keep me from forgetting to update.
Chapter 13: Going Into Hiding
Previously, on “Chuck v. Project Quantum Leap”:
Al: “How did you know that, Sam? Was that a residual memory?”
Sam: “Shaw’s still alive.”
“Oh sure, you just—accidentally—told Alex—that I’m her father,” Casey said, his sentence punctuated by punches that Sam deflected.
Ellie: “Just so we’re absolutely clear, the reason you want us to join Doctors Without Borders is that you want us to get as far away from my brother as possible?”
Morgan: “Welcome to the Buy More. May I help you?”
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
April 15, 2010
Alex McHugh blinked. She looked at the Assistant Manager.
“I don’t know. Do you know Al—” Alex stopped. She’d nearly asked if the man knew ‘Alex Coburn.’ “I mean,” she hurried on, “do you know John Casey?”
“Casey? Of course I do…” Morgan trailed off. Speak of the devil. There was Casey coming in now, apparently in a very heated discussion with Stephen Bartowski.
“…should trust either of you. It seems a little too convenient that you were able to find,” Casey paused mid-rant when he noticed Alex and Morgan. “Grimes, change of plans! Bartowski’s taking you to a secure location.”
“Wait, what?” Morgan asked.
“Did I stutter?”
“What Casey is trying to say,” Sam interjected, “is that until the Ring is taken care of, it’s too dangerous here.”
“But I can help; I want to help!” Morgan protested.
“And you will help,” Sam assured him, having been prepared for Morgan’s response. “You’re going to watch over our daughters—”
“Did you say daughters?” Morgan asked.
“Actually, I would prefer it if we didn’t leave the little troll with Alex,” turning to Morgan, Casey added, “don’t think I didn’t see you gawking at my daughter a minute ago.” Morgan swallowed under the intensity of the colonel’s glare. This lovely young woman was Casey’s daughter? To Morgan’s relief, Casey turned his attention back to Orion.
“Shouldn’t you be the one staying with Alex, Ellie, and Awesome until this blows over? Especially considering that the Ring is supposed to be after you?”
“Oh, but then how would you be able to keep an eye on me and make sure I’m not up to something?” Sam sarcastically replied. “We’ve been through this already, Casey. Like it or not, you’re not doing this without me. Morgan, Alex, let’s go. I’m driving. We’ll swing by the house so that we can pick up Eleanor and Devon.”
“Wait a minute!” Alex protested. She turned to John. “We didn’t really have a chance to talk.”
“I know,” Casey replied. “I promise that we will talk when this is over. Listen,” he glanced at Orion, before turning his attention back to Alex, “I want you to give me a call when you get there and let me know that you’re safe. If anything happens, call me immediately, okay?” Alex nodded.
“There’s something I don’t understand, sir. Why don’t we just stay at Castle?” Morgan asked, oblivious to the hologram that had appeared as they approached the door to the Woodcomb residence.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe because Shaw knows the place like the back of his hand?” Al said.
“Because Castle’s no longer safe,” Sam said to Morgan. He frowned. “Remember, Shaw’s been there; he considered it his base of operations while he was on the team. There can no longer be any doubt that the Ring knows precisely where Castle is and what its vulnerabilities are and could attack it at any moment.” Morgan blinked. He hadn’t thought of that.
“Then we should be completely evacuating Castle!” he exclaimed. “It’s not safe for any of you there!”
“For whatever reason, the Ring hasn’t attacked Castle yet,” Sam began.
“We know the reason; they’re too busy working on building an Intersect and infiltrating the CIA,” Al put in. Sam spared him a glance before continuing.
“We know that doesn’t make it safe, but that’s why we’re not going to wait for the Ring to come to us. We’re going to bring the fight to them, first.” Without waiting for Morgan or Al to say anything else, Sam knocked on the door, which was soon flung open by an emotional Ellie.
“Hi, Dad,” Ellie sniffled. Her eyes were red; she had to have been crying, but her face was dry now.
“Hi, honey. Is Devon there? We need—”
“I’m not talking to him,” Ellie stated, crossing her arms as she let the two men into the house. (Alex was waiting in Orion’s car.) Part of Morgan’s mind told him that Awesome must be to blame, and that he had the opportunity to admonish the Captain. But another part of Morgan’s mind was too preoccupied with the young woman waiting for them to leave. No point in wasting time and making her wait any longer.
Devon was sitting on the sofa, a forlorn look on his face, and one Agent Sarah Walker sitting next to him.
“What’s going on?” Sam asked.
“Tell him!” Ellie shouted at her husband. Devon looked down. Sarah stood up.
“Ellie found out why Devon is interested in joining Doctors Without Borders,” she explained. “I should go,” and without another word, she left. After the door had closed behind Sarah, Ellie shouted again.
“Tell him why, Devon!”
“He already knows,” Devon replied quietly. Steeling himself, he met his wife’s gaze. “I told him the other day.” Ellie pursed her lips before turning to her father.
“Is that why you were trying to talk me out of going to the Congo, Dad?”
“That—that was part of it,” Sam said, glancing at Al.
“Well, the other part is that you wouldn’t listen to Ziggy,” the Observer said, taking out the hand-link. “That was never why you were here, but it looks like you may get your way after all, Sam. The odds of Ellie and Awesome going away are falling fast.”
Sam quickly explained to Ellie and Awesome the plan for them to go into hiding until the mission was over. Ellie shook her head.
“How is that any different than what he wanted to do?” she demanded. “Because what I’m hearing is that Chuck’s job has put him—and us—in danger and that you want to send me as far away from my brother as possible.”
“She has a point, Sam,” Al said.
“No, she doesn’t,” Sam replied, getting an odd look from Ellie. “Look, Eleanor, the difference is that right now there is a rogue agent on the loose who knows who your brother is; he knows where you live and is capable of using you to get to him. Leaving the country isn’t necessary. It wouldn’t help, either, because I’m sure agents could track you down, but they don’t know about the place I’m going to take you to. You’d only be staying there for a little while.” Sam looked from Ellie to Devon. Both were listening closely. “Once this threat has been dealt with, Charles’ cover will be intact and you can return to your normal lives.”
“But we’ll still be in danger,” Devon said. Ellie glared at her husband.
“Chuck will still be in danger,” she said. She frowned as she saw her father about to speak, and held up a hand. “I know, Dad. I remember our talk. And I spoke with Sarah today. I know Chuck’s in good hands. I just wish I knew he was safe. I hate the thought of leaving him and not knowing what’ll happen to him.”
“I know. This is for the best; trust me. Tell you what, I promise you that I am going to stay by your brother’s side during the mission.” Ellie nodded and allowed herself to be lead outside. Then she stopped abruptly.
“Fine, but I’m not getting in the same car with him,” she said, jerking her head towards Awesome, who grimaced. As Al disappeared through the Imaging Chamber door, Ellie got into the car with Morgan and the others. Sam drove out and the Captain followed in his automobile. Eventually, they arrived at a cabin, approximately 59 miles outside of Burbank. Before Sam left, he took Ellie aside and revealed the hidden staircase.
“Just hang on a minute,” Sam said. He tinkered with the security system for a couple of minutes, before standing back. “There. Eleanor, I want you to look right over there.” Ellie peered at the retina scanner.
“What’s going on?”
Sam did a little more tinkering.
“That ought to do it,” he announced, finally. “I’ve programmed the security system to recognize you. In case of an emergency, you’ll come down here, use the retina scanner—” he paused as Ellie tried it out. The LED screen said “IDENTITY CONFIRMED. WELCOME, ELEANOR.”
“Thus deactivating the lasers,” he continued, as he and Ellie descended the staircase. “And you and the others can stay down here until the coast is clear.”
“I knew you wouldn’t put Morgan in charge of keeping us safe. Dad, what is all this stuff?” Ellie asked, staring at the rows and rows of files.
“This? Uh, just research. Come on,” he led the way back upstairs, hugged Ellie goodbye, and turned to go. On his way out, he noticed that Alex was on her cell phone, no doubt reassuring Casey that he hadn’t murdered any of them on the way. Sighing, Sam got back into Orion’s car and headed back towards Castle.
“Chuck, we need to talk,” Sarah said. The two were seated at a table in Castle. Casey had told them that that they were going to meet later to revise their plans for the mission after Orion returned from taking Mr. and Mrs. Awesome and Morgan into hiding.
“Isn’t that usually my line?” Chuck quipped, trying to hide his nervousness.
“Wait. Let me guess. You don’t want to run away, after all. Is that what this is about? Or does it have something to do with your conversation with Ellie today. How did that go, anyway? You haven’t said—”
“Chuck,” Sarah cut him off. “I realized some things while talking with Ellie. You’re right, I don’t want to run, but deep down, I don’t think you do, either. Your place is here, with your family. I understand that now.”
“Sarah, my place is with you.” Sarah smiled.
“I’m not going anywhere. Chuck, there’s something I need to tell you. I wasn’t ready to before…”
“But you’re ready now?” Chuck asked, gazing into her eyes.
“Well, here it goes. I love you, Chuck.” He grinned.
“Really?” he asked.
“Yes, really,” she said, before leaning over and kissing him.
“I love you, too.” He half-smiled as Sarah stood up from the table. He blinked. Later on, he would wonder why he said what he did next without any preamble.
“Do you want to move in with me?” he blurted out. For a few seconds, the two just looked at each other; no one said anything.
“What?” Sarah asked, at last. Chuck hesitated.
“It’s just, we were going to go on the run together, but I figured, since we decided not to do that, but to stay here, and since we love each other…” Chuck trailed off. He hadn’t planned to ask her to move in with him, it had just come out. But he knew it was what he wanted… Was it what she wanted? He closed his eyes. “Too much, too soon?” he asked.
“How about we talk about this after the mission?” Sarah asked. She needed to postpone this conversation, maybe indefinitely. There was a chance they wouldn’t both survive the mission, not that she wanted to think about that, either.
April 16, 2010
The Imaging Chamber door clanged shut behind Al.
“Sam, what are you doing?” Al asked. The doctor appeared to be futzing with odds and ends on a table.
“I’m trying to build a Governor for Chuck,” Sam replied, not looking up from his work.
“What? That’s crazy! Orion is going to build Chuck a Governor after you leap.” Al paused. Sam still wouldn’t look at him. “That’s it, isn’t it? You’re afraid that you won’t be able to save him.” Sam didn’t say anything, but continued what he was doing.
“You will save Orion, Sam, I know it.”
“Oh? Did Ziggy tell you that was 100% certain?” Sam asked.
“Well, no, but, you know as well as I do that she doesn’t have to. What are you doing, anyway? You know you don’t know how to make a Governor--”
“—Orion does, I know. But I did have a residual memory the other day while Morgan was questioning me. Obviously, Orion left part of himself behind. I thought I’d see if it was enough for me to build a Governor.”
“And was it?” Sam’s shoulders slumped.
“No. I don’t think so.”
Let me start by thanking everyone who has waited patiently for this update.
I do realize that it was revealed in season 4 that Orion’s base was underneath Casa Bartowski. The third season finale was ambiguous. In Chapter 2 I said the entrance was in the cabin, so that’s where it’s going to stay.
As always, feel free to ask any questions and share comments.
Chapter 14: The Moment of Truth
Here are some things you might need to know, or maybe you just forgot: Dr. Sam Beckett leaped into Stephen Bartowski, a.k.a. Orion, the inventor of the Intersect, father of Chuck and Ellie, and for reasons unknown, Sam’s doppelganger. Ziggy predicted that Sam’s mission is to save Orion, who died in the original timeline. The details of how Orion died were classified, so Ziggy couldn’t access them. Orion and Al drove to Chuck’s in 2011 to find out what happened in the original history, and retrieve Orion’s Governor, since Orion had leaped with the Intersect, but not the Governor. Back in 2010, Sam called Chuck and convinced him and Sarah to return from Paris.
Casey, who was spying on Sam, heard him speaking with Al, and became suspicious. He brought Sam into Castle for questioning, but Morgan wound up doing the interrogation. Sam had a little help from Al and a memory that Orion had left behind during the leap and Morgan was satisfied that Sam was who he said he was and that Al is his handler. This was little comfort to Casey, especially later on when Sam accidentally let slip to Alex that Casey is her long-lost, supposedly dead, father.
Aside from Sam, the only one in the past who can see Al is Jeff.
After Chuck and Sarah returned from Paris, Sam convinced Team Bartowski that Shaw is still alive, and warned Chuck that he would need a Governor. Unfortunately, Ziggy said that, instead of saving Orion, Sam’s intervention sped up the timetable.
Awesome accidentally let slip to Ellie that Chuck’s a spy (this revelation was soon followed by another when Morgan blurted out that Orion is a spy, too). After talking with Sam and Chuck, Ellie decided she wouldn’t ask Chuck to quit being a spy, but only if she was satisfied that he was being properly protected. Hence, she learned that Sarah is one of Chuck’s handlers. She also learned the real reason Awesome wanted to join Doctors Without Borders.
Ellie convinced Sarah to tell Chuck that she loves him and the two decided not to quit the spy-world and run away, after all. In fact, Chuck asked Sarah to move in with him. She avoided the question.
At Sam’s insistence, Awesome, Ellie, Morgan, and Alex went into hiding in Orion’s cabin until the Shaw fiasco is concluded.
Worrying that all might not go according to plan, Sam unsuccessfully attempted to build a Governor for Chuck by tapping into the few neurons and mesons that Orion left behind.
Disclaimer: Not only do I not own “Chuck” or “Project Quantum Leap,” but I also do not own the song by “The Calling.”
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
April 16, 2010
“You know, this has to be the first time I’ve ever seen you disappointed that your mind didn’t merge more with your host’s,” Al said. Sam’s head snapped up. There was one time that his dear friends at the project had inadvertently sent more of his host’s neural energy into the Acceleration Chamber and…
“Al, wait—maybe—remember that time that you—” Sam paused as he heard Casey clear his throat.
“Bartowski, it’s time.”
“You understand what you have to do?”
Justin nodded. Agent Shaw’s instructions were clear. Justin was to head out to the Democratic Republic of Congo and prepare for the Woodcombs’ arrival. He was going undercover as a member of Doctors Without Borders. Shaw had given him all the intel he would need to be able to manipulate Eleanor Woodcomb.
Shaw had learned Chuck’s vulnerabilities, alright. Leaving his civilian sister in the dark was a huge miscalculation. When all goes according to plan, Ellie will lead us straight to Orion…and that would resolve another miscalculation. He frowned, looking at the half-finished Intersect in the center of the room. It was hard to believe that Orion, for all of his brilliance, had left such a fatal flaw in his designs. It was possible that at this rate, the Ring’s Intersect would be ready before he could get his hands on a Governor. He knew, though, that that wouldn’t stop him from downloading the Intersect as soon as it was operational. That might sound reckless, but it wasn’t, not really, he told himself. He would definitely have his hands on a Governor long before he would start manifesting symptoms; too bad for Chuck that the same couldn’t be said for him.
Damn Chuck! If it wasn’t for him, he’d have avenged his wife’s death by now. He’d been so close!
Alarms interrupted his thoughts.
“What’s going on?” Shaw demanded.
“We’ve got company,” Justin said. As the alarms were silenced, he heard a couple of thuds from nearby…The sounds came from where a couple of agents were standing guard. They were still standing guard, weren’t they? Just before the doors burst open, Justin distinctly heard a voice say, “I told you to let me disable the alarms first, Casey!”
Casey ignored Chuck’s whining and threw open the doors. He quickly sized up the room and was disappointed. There were less than a dozen Ring agents there, including Shaw. Four against eight—where was the fun in that? Oh well, the real fun would come afterwards, he mused. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Chuck flash. As Casey tackled the first agent he came to, he wondered, for the tenth time that day, why they agreed to let Chuck bring his numchucks.
There was no way that Sam would have been able to keep track of everything that happened once the battle started. Casey and Chuck were the first ones into the room, and he and Sarah had been close behind. He’d been too busy engaged in hand-to-hand combat to be able to marvel at the way Chuck went to work after he flashed, or to slow down as he started to feel winded. Part of his mind whispered that—just maybe—he was getting too old for this. He clenched his fist and punched his opponent in the nose, breaking it. Then again…
“SAM!” Al shouted. A hush settled over the room. Sarah was holding a knife to one agent’s throat, keeping him pinned against a wall. Chuck, having abandoned his numchucks at some point, had flashed again and had just knocked another agent unconscious. That left the agent Sam had just fought, clutching his bloody nose, four more agents out cold and…
Daniel Shaw’s gun was pointed directly at Sam, but his words were directed at Chuck.
“You know, I ought to thank you, Chuck. Your unannounced visit made me realize something. Who needs the Intersect? All it takes is a little emotion to incapacitate it.” His finger went to the trigger…A gunshot split the air…
Shaw hissed in pain as he collapsed to the ground, his left leg bleeding. Sam saw Casey approach Shaw, his gun still pointed at him.
“That was for betraying our country, and our team,” Casey said. Sam breathed a sigh of relief.
“Al?” The observer consulted the hand-link.
“You did it. Orion’s going to be fine, Sam, but you can’t leap, yet.”
Since ‘Orion’ wasn’t supposed to have medical training, Sam had stayed out of the way as Sarah tended to Shaw’s leg and stopped the bleeding. Well, to be more precise, he and Casey were both there to keep an eye on Shaw and make sure he didn’t find a way to attack Sarah. No matter all they had been through, all Shaw saw when he looked at Sarah was the woman that had killed his wife. Finally, Sarah announced that she was done, and they left the room, leaving Shaw strapped to his chair.
“We need to get him to talk,” Sam said. They had to get Shaw to tell them the names of the Ring leaders.
“How are we supposed to do that?” Sarah asked. This was Shaw they were talking about.
“I have a plan,” Casey replied. “Follow my lead.” Returning to the room, along with a hologram, Casey produced a needle, and held it up for Shaw to see. “Sodium pentothal,” Casey said, in answer to Shaw’s unspoken question. Sam’s eyes widened. Casey was going to use—
“Truth serum?!” Al exclaimed. Shaw’s eyes narrowed.
“I don’t believe you,” Shaw said. Casey’s face was unreadable. Then, before anyone could react, he drove the needle into Sam’s arm, emptying the syringe of its contents.
“Oh, God, not again,” Al swore. “This can’t be happening again!”
“Casey, what are you doing?” Sarah shouted.
“Getting some answers.” He turned to face the drugged scientist. “Are you a member of the Ring?”
“No,” Sam answered robotically.
“Who is Al?” Casey pressed.
“He’s your handler?”
“He’s—the—Project—Observer,” Sam replied, the words coming out haltingly as he felt the drug course through his system. Al winced.
“Casey, that’s enough! Stop,” Sarah demanded. Casey glared at her, picked up another needle, and injected Shaw this time. As Casey maneuvered the scientist towards the door, he curtly told Sarah to take care of interrogating Shaw. Al’s heart sped up as he noticed that Sarah wasn’t following Casey, but rather was doing exactly as the colonel had directed. What could he do? If only Chuck were here, he wouldn’t let Casey treat his ‘father’ like this. But Chuck wasn’t here; he was on his way to meet with his sister…If only Al could get a message to him. He started pressing buttons on the hand-link and disappeared.
Casey led Sam into another room, sat Sam down on a chair, and continued firing questions at him.
“Where is Al now?”
“At…the project…Stallion’s Gate…New Mexico,” Sam said. Casey filed this information away before continuing.
“Who is Ziggy?”
“The…parallel-hybrid…computer…I invented.” Casey raised an eyebrow. Just how many computers did this guy invent?
Al appeared in the Buy More and, to his relief, spotted Jeff.
“Jeff, I need you to get a message to Chuck.”
Al reappeared in Castle shortly afterwards.
“Al?” Sam slowly turned his head to face his friend.
“Sam, you’re not going to believe what I just found out!”
“What is your real name?” Casey asked.
“Sam, that wasn’t truth serum!” Al shouted. Sam blinked.
“I just spoke with Jeff—that Nerd Herder that can see me, remember? Turns out, he just loaned Casey some of his stash of psychoactive drugs earlier. Casey’s bluffing. He didn’t give you truth serum, he gave you a placebo!”
“What is your real name?” Casey repeated.
“Stephen J. Bartowski,” Sam answered. He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair. Whatever was in that syringe, it was making him feel groggy. “Why?”
Casey hesitated. “I’m sorry for doubting you, sir.”
“I think he figured there was a better chance that the nozzle in the other room would be fooled if he saw you being forced to tell the truth,” Al replied.
“Had me fooled. Guess that makes me pretty gullible,” Sam said. Casey pursed his lips.
“What do you mean?” the colonel asked, wondering when did he figure it out? Al winced.
“I wish you hadn’t said that, Sam. Casey didn’t know that you know that that wasn’t truth serum.” Casey took a step closer to Sam.
“I mean, you saved my life earlier,” Sam said. “I thought that maybe that meant you finally trusted me.” Casey’s expression softened—somewhat, before he recovered himself and grunted.
“Trust had nothing to do with it. Shaw was right. Killing you would’ve incapacitated the Intersect. Couldn’t let that happen, could I?” Sam looked at Casey. He knew that wasn’t the whole truth.
“Sam—what did you tell him, besides my name?”
“Uh, not much, just about Ziggy and…oh…” Sam put a hand over his face.
“I told him where the Project is located,” Sam mumbled. He put his hand down and looked at Al to see if the observer had heard him. He had.
“Did you tell him what the Project is, what it does?” Al asked. Sam shook his head. “Well, that doesn’t do us much good, though, does it? All Casey has to do is say my name in front of Chuck and the jig is up.” Sam hung his head. Why did this happen? Wait—
“Did it work?”
“Did what work?” Casey and Al asked simultaneously.
“Did Shaw tell Sarah the names of the senior Ring agents?” Al blinked. In all the excitement, he’d forgotten to check.
“I’ll go check,” Casey said. As he left the room, Al punched a few buttons on the hand-link.
“Well, what do you know? It did. Ziggy says Shaw fell for it and is currently spilling his guts to Sarah.” Sam smiled as Al continued reading from the hand-link. “Most of the other Ring agents get picked up by the end of the day, and the organization collapses. Shaw is serving time in a maximum security prison, not exactly eligible for parole.”
“What about the others?” Sam asked.
“Chuck and Sarah get engaged right on schedule in a little over a year. Ellie and Awesome never go to the Congo. They stay in Burbank and—hey—look at this! Orion becomes a grandpa. Ellie gives birth to a baby girl named Clara just before Uncle Chuck gets engaged. Get ready to leap, Sam.” Sam waited for the familiar energy to engulf him as Al looked at him expectantly. Finally, Sam spoke.
“Why am I still here?” Good question. Al started punching buttons on the hand-link, and then started hitting it, causing the thing to start bleeping.
“Well, what does Ziggy say?” Finally, Al shook his head.
“Ain’t that a kick in the butt?”
“Ziggy says you’re here to perform with Jeffster at Ellie and Awesome’s going away party.”
“But you just said that Ellie and Awesome aren’t going away.”
April 17, 2010
As it turned out, Lester didn’t care when Chuck told him that Ellie and Awesome weren’t going to the Congo, after all. He and Jeff were ready to perform at the going away party. Why should they cancel the party just because the guests of honor had decided not to go away? If anything, Lester figured that meant they could move up the date. After awhile, Chuck decided it wasn’t worth it to argue with Lester. Besides, as Morgan pointed out, they did have reason to celebrate. They had captured Shaw and destroyed the Ring, he didn’t have to lie to Ellie anymore, and—Sarah loved him. Chuck grinned, remembering General Beckman’s reaction when, at the end of the briefing about the Ring’s demise, he’d announced that he and Sarah were dating. He certainly hadn’t expected her to say, “It’s about time,” before ending the transmission. Maybe a party wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.
Chuck glanced around the party. Ellie and Awesome were dancing, having patched things up while they were at the cabin. There was Casey, telling Alex that no, she was not to dance with Morgan. And there…Chuck smiled as he saw his dad get onstage with Jeffster.
“What’s he going to sing?” Sarah asked. Chuck shrugged.
“Guess we’ll find out.”
Jeff and Lester played their instruments as Sam began to sing.
who will be there to
take my place
when I’m gone… ”
“Chuck, I’ve been thinking,” Sarah said. “Remember when you asked me to move in with you?” He nodded. “Well, my answer is yes. I’d love to move in with you, Chuck.”
“If I could
then I would
I’ll go wherever you will go.
Way up high
or down low
I’ll go wherever you will go…”
Chuck’s exhilaration was dampened as he listened to his father sing. He really misses Mom, doesn’t he? If only there was a way we could find her…
I'll find out
the way to make it
to watch you
to guide you
darkest of your day.
If a great wave shall fall
it would fall upon us all.
Then I hope there's
someone out there
who can bring me back to you …”
Al’s heart clenched as he heard Sam sing. He had positioned himself in a corner, so that people wouldn’t walk through him too frequently. Listening to his best friend, Al wondered, briefly, whether Sam was remembering Donna. “We will bring you back someday,” he murmured. “I promise.”
“If I could
then I would
I'll go wherever you will go.
Way up high
or down low
I'll go wherever you will go …”
Casey frowned. The nagging feeling that there was something that man was hiding from him wouldn’t go away. Why all the secrecy about Calavicci’s name? What Project were they working on?
“If I could turn back time,
I'll go wherever you will go.
If I could make you mine
I'll go wherever you will go.
I'll go wherever you will go.”
The story is not quite complete. After all, we still have to see who Sam will leap into next. (Is he ready to leap now? Feel free to weigh in.)
There will be an epilogue. Thank you for sticking with me so far.
By now, I have finished watching “Quantum Leap.” Believe it or not, I did come up with the idea of Casey using “truth serum” on Sam before I watched “Star Light, Star Bright.” And then I started to work out how I wanted Casey to elicit different information from Sam. After all, Casey doesn’t need to know Sam’s name, rank, and serial number, right?
Chapter 15: Epilogue: Legacy
Disclaimer: I don’t own any of NBC’s shows.
*If there’s anything you need to know, or maybe, you just forgot, there’s a full summary at the beginning of Chapter 14. Without further ado, here’s the Epilogue of Chuck v. Project Quantum Leap.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
April 17, 2010
Orion blinked. What was he doing on stage with Jeff and Lester? The last thing he remembered, he was at Twin Pines... Confused, he left the stage, and was soon accosted by Casey, who began asking him questions about some project located in New Mexico…
Meanwhile, as they stopped dancing, Devon held his wife’s gaze.
“So, you’re not mad anymore, Babe?” Ellie shook her head.
“I get why you wanted to leave, but we’re not going anywhere.” She looked over at her dad, who was talking with Casey. “I can’t lose my family again.” Devon nodded. “And,” Ellie continued, “I understand why you kept Chuck’s secret. But no more secrets, okay? We have to be honest with each other.”
“Are you kidding? Trust me, Ellie; I could never lie to you.”
Outside a movie theatre
Chuck and his father were lined up to see “Tron Legacy,” completely psyched that Hollywood had finally made a sequel to “Tron,” even as they wondered whether it could possibly measure up to the original.
January 31, 2011
Twin Pines Cabin
Alexei Volkoff marched in, eager to settle this. Sure enough, there was Orion, sitting in the darkness. How on earth, he wondered, as he cocked the gun, could his beloved Frost prefer this man to him?
“You still haven’t figured out the solution, have you?” Orion asked, smiling.
“What solution?” Volkoff asked.
“Did you get that, Charles?” Orion asked.
“Got it, Dad,” Chuck said, stepping out of the shadows, a grin on his face, before he turned to the computer and fed it the spliced recording of Volkoff’s password (“Death is the solution to all problems”).
May 29, 2011
Project Quantum Leap,
Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico
Al exited the Imaging Chamber after Sam leaped. He paused on his way into the Control Room. Something was different. He had the strange sensation that he had come to associate with his mind assimilating new memories from a changed time-line, but he couldn’t tell, yet, what had changed.
“Hello, Al.” Al gaped, looking at the very-familiar face.
“What are you doing here?” the observer demanded.
“You sound like Mary. I’ve still got plenty of time before I have to pick her up for the rehearsal dinner.” At Al’s blank look, the scientist continued, “Sarah and Charles’ rehearsal dinner, remember?”
The new memories started—slowly—to click into place.
“Right, Stephen, I remember.” After Ellie and Awesome’s party, Casey began asking Stephen questions he couldn’t answer (after all, the leap had Swiss-cheesed his memories of the project). Soon enough, the questions had led Stephen here. He had joined Project Quantum Leap shortly after the fall of the Ring. Ziggy had helped him locate his wife, Frost, who had spent all those years undercover at Volkoff Industries. In turn, Orion was doing what he could to try to bring Sam home.
“I figured I could spend some more time working on the retrieval program before I go. Hey, want to see some photos of Clara?”
Sam had leaped again. As he breathed in the cool night air, he tried to get his bearings. There was something covering the upper part of his face—must be a mask—but why…? There was a boy a few yards away, holding a comic book, standing next to a woman, the boy’s mother, Sam guessed. She seemed to have just noticed Sam’s presence. Her eyes widened in shock, she clutched the boy to her protectively, and began to scream.
“Trip! Get inside and call 911!” Dana Faraday yelled.
Hope everyone enjoyed!
I left it open, so that Stephen he hasn’t succeeded in bringing Sam back, yet, but maybe someday he will.
Thanks to everyone who stuck with the story to the end!
I ask this time that any readers who are fans (or potential fans) of “The Cape” brainstorm ideas on how to save the show. 10 episodes are not enough. Come on, if “Chuck” was saved by going to Subway, there has to be some hope left for “The Cape.”