Friday. May 29, 2009. Burbank, California. 3:46 pm.
“Leave it alone,” General Beckman said. Chuck observed she was pinching her face even tighter than its usual sour-lemon look, if that were at all possible. “Starhawk was one of the DDS’s more egregious mistakes. It was not properly authorized and the personnel were not fully vetted. Several civilians were caught up in the investigation based solely on their location. Clark Kent was one of these civilians.”
Sarah had never seen the General this agitated. Team Bartowski had faced bioterrorists, secret anarchist factions of government, drug lords and demagogues but the mere mention of ‘Clark Kent’ was spiking her blood pressure. She knew there was something the General wasn’t saying.
Chuck asked, “And the satellite stuff?”
“Attached to the same investigation,” was all the General would say.
“Excuse me, General,” Casey said, interrupting. “Is this gonna be a problem with Bartowski flashing on civilians? It seems like a waste of time and resources. Can’t we just dig into that brain of his and delete non-pertinent information?”
“Hold on,” Chuck began, his face losing color. “Hold on! No one’s deleting anything non-pertinent. I think I’d like to determine what in my brain is or isn’t pertinent and everything up here is definitely pertinent.”
The General spoke directly to Casey, ignoring Chuck, “Major Casey, don’t you believe if we had that capability we would have utilized it by now?” Casey conceded the point with a grin and a satisfied grunt.
“Hold on!” Chuck shouted.
“General,” Sarah brought the conversation back to the subject. “My initial impression of Mr. Kent was generally positive but I have to ask, and with all due respect ma’am, it seems you’re being very insular.”
The General brought up a screen and displayed it to them. It was the United States Senate membership directory. Clicking on the state of Kansas she brought up an image of a lovely redheaded woman who also happened to be the senior senator from Kansas. “This, Agent Walker, is Senator Martha Kent—”
Chuck blew out his cheeks, understanding. With a small whistle he said to Sarah, “Good thing you didn’t shoot him.”
General Beckman gave him a sharp look that quieted him. She continued, “She holds positions on the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Appropriations Committee, Homeland Security and Budget. She not only holds the purse strings, she and her colleagues are who this department ultimately reports to. I will add, Mr. Bartowski, she is the main and only reason you haven’t been shipped to Butte, Montana to live the rest of your years a mile underground.” The General arched her brow, “She strongly disapproves of sequestering an asset, regardless of their abilities. Every counter-argument we’ve proposed in favor of permanently securing the Intersect has been dismissed. She doesn’t even know you and she wants you to live as much of a civilian life as possible. So yes, you should be very grateful Agent Walker didn’t injure, maim or kill her only child.”
The three were perfectly silent.
Chuck took a closer look at the Senator and acknowledged the new information he’d just been given. He’d only been grateful before for the government’s patience with him, though he’d never really express it that way. He knew this situation wasn’t anyone’s choice (except maybe Bryce but he didn’t really want to think about Bryce at the moment) and he asked a lot from them in letting him live as normal a life as he could lead. The information he held had saved so many lives and the missions he’d been sent on, though dangerous, were necessary, he knew this. He understood a while ago that letting him live his life was asking a lot and they had the power to just make him disappear. He’d always wondered but never questioned, for fear of challenging fate, why they would allow it. Now he knew.
“And to further answer your question, Agent Walker—” the General continued.
Casey frowned, “There’s more?”
The General pulled up an image on the screen. It was a press pass for the Daily Planet. Clark Kent’s face was positioned right over the title ‘reporter’.
“Yeah,” Chuck said, nodding vigorously, “We should leave this alone. All in favor of leaving this alone?” He raised his hand. “Intersect vote counts for four. The yays have it.”
Sarah looked to the photo and thought back to that meeting, just a few minutes before. Remembering how he spoke, how he moved, the smile in his eyes. Then learning about his mother and imagining the kind of woman she was fully rounded out the son she’d raised.
“General, I’d made plans to see him later tonight.” Sarah said. “I imagine I should cancel but—”
“But?” Chuck sputtered. “There’s a but? There’s no but, Sarah. This is a leave it alone situation. You know? The kind where a reporter for the top newspaper in the country shows up and hangs around the biggest secret in national security.” He raised his hand again, “The Intersect’s already voted. No recounts.”
“But—” she continued, darting a hard look at him, “I mean, what are the chances Senator Kent’s son just shows up out of nowhere and walks into my Orange Orange?”
Chuck looked to Casey, “What the hell is she doing?”
Casey smirked, “Angling for a date.”
With a wry grin Chuck said, “Right, Sarah wouldn’t—”
“So I think it would be best if I go out with him tonight and feel out—”
“Feel up,” Casey corrected under his breath.
Sarah was about to pull her weapon out on both of them. “—if this was a chance meeting or—”
Casey mouthed, “Fate. True wuv.”
“—if perhaps he became privy to his mother’s debriefs.”
Chuck pointed a finger at Casey and said, “Don’t even go there.”
Casey growled, “I don’t do puns, idiot.”
General Beckman considered this for a moment then nodded. “The statistical odds are very slim, agreed. Alright Agent Walker, find out what he knows. Don’t,” she pointedly said, “lay a finger on him” Casey snorted. Sarah kicked him from under the table and he bit his lip, maintaining his composure with a rumble. “If we have a security breech, we’ll act accordingly.”
Signing off, Team Bartowski turned to one another. “By act accordingly,” Chuck wondered, “she meant Butte, Montana, didn’t she?”
Sarah looked to Casey, “You really think I’d endanger our cover and the mission if I didn’t think there could be a potential threat involved?”
“I think you’re habitual and when tall, dark and awkward walked in you finally found a replacement for your Bartowski-angst.”
“You know what Casey? You’re an asshole,” Sarah said, pushing up from the table. Jogging up the stairs she exited the Castle.
“Yeah, but I’m right,” He said, also pushing away from the table and also heading up the stairs.
Chuck remained alone in the headquarters pondering the word replacement.
“A date?!” Jimmy beamed, clapping his hands. “You’re like, three minutes in a place and you’ve already got a date?” He extended his hand across the car and gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. “This, CK, is because you’re the man.”
“I am?” Clark asked with a small smile. “I don’t think a one in a million event qualifies me as the man.”
“She asked you out, right?”
“Then you are presented with the title of the man. No need to deny it.” He took a large chug of his cherry chocolate shake. “And seriously, this thing is awesome. We should totally go back tomorrow and get some more.”
Clark had to laugh and shake his head, “If she wants to even see me after tonight.”
“Dude, Lana, Lois, even Tess gives you the eye of office impropriety and sexual harassment. You’ve got what women,” he extended his hand from himself to the windshield, expressively saying, “Want. Got it?”
“And that would be?”
“Eye contact,” Jimmy said, definitively.
Clark frowned, totally feeling he was misunderstanding. “Eye contact?”
“You talk to a girl as opposed to . . . not.”
“Her eyes versus her boobs. Chloe says it all the time. She says it’s a big girl secret.” Holding up his hand and displaying his wedding band he said, “And this is only here because of eye contact, so take it from a pro.”
Clark hummed, “Okay . . .”
“And you’re really tall,” Jimmy offhandedly added. “Not that it’s a deal breaker or anything. Just a plus.”
“I think Chloe married you for reasons more than eye contact and being taller than she is.”
Jimmy gave him an awkward smile, “Really? Cause I keep trying to figure it out and that’s all I’ve got.”
With a warm, reassuring nod, Clark said, “Just be happy.”