Prologue: Spring Equinox
Disclaimer: I have no tangible stake in either Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Chuck, so it follows that I neither anticipate nor expect any profit what-so-ever from this endeavor. (Unless Joss Whedon finally recognizes that I am a Nigerian Prince and wires me money.)
Author's Note: This story is inspired in part by Keldin's 'Strangeness at the Buy More', which was my initial exposure to Chuck, and The wander's 'Family Ties'.
This story is canon through Chosen and Not Fade Away for Btvs and Angel respectively. For Chuck, it can be considered canon through Chuck vs the Ex.
Big thanks to verkisto for proofreading this beast. Her knowledge of grammar and punctuation is inhuman.
Comments and Critique as always are welcome.
March 20, 2010
30 Miles North of Yellowknife, NT, Canada
It had been a shitty year for Ryan Cooper.
Twelve months ago, things were going great for him. He was between assignments, enjoying the bars of Adams Morgan in DC and the co-eds that populated them. His star was rising fast in the Agency. In September of 2008, unknown circumstances had eliminated Director Graham and several other top agents for the CIA, resulting in a fast climb up the ranks for him.
Cooper had been enjoying a crabcake sandwich with a cold Yuengling at the Front Page Restaurant and Grille when a Colonel Tom Billingsley joined him and congratulated him for how well he had performed his high-profile missions during the past half-year. The Colonel had been looking for someone like him to take on additional duties. Go above and beyond to protect the homeland.
Too bad he didn't realize until seven months later that Fulcrum was considered a terrorist organization. That bloody October night, where over twenty of his team members were killed by a NSA wetworks team. All over that idiot Bartowski. How Roberts thought that Bartowski was the Intersect was beyond Cooper.
It was ridiculous. The only connection that Cooper could discover between Bartowski and Larkin was that Larkin stole Roberts from Bartowski and, five years later, Bartowski stole Larkin's girlfriend. That type of partner swapping led to bad blood, not the level of trust required to exchange top secret data.
Cooper lucked out by manning a sentry post far out from the warehouse they had been operating out of; the government task force had slipped right past him. Seeing that they weren't exactly taking prisoners, Cooper bugged out to a safe house he established for himself in Palmdale. From there, he had steadily progressed north, keeping as low a profile as possible.
Now he was fired from his job and considered a traitor to his country. He felt like Ted Kaczynski living in his little cabin north of Yellowknife. At least none of the locals thought he was a crazy hermit yet; they bought his story that he was a writer from Ottawa looking for inspiration in the wilderness.
Which led to today: the shitty feather in the shitty cap for this shitty year. He had been trudging through five feet of snow (global warming was a fucking myth for pussy liberals), looking for a suitable log to chop off for firewood, when someone decided to take a whack at his head.
Cooper awoke to find himself bound, spread-eagled, to a stone slab, naked except for a strange sticky substance covering his torso. A single torch flickered, reflecting off of stone walls. His head throbbed, exacerbated by the freezing temperatures he was subjected to. He could hear sharp cracks associated with ice, indicating he was near one of the numerous lakes in the region. What the hell happened?
"Mr. Cooper, are you capable of speaking?" an accented voice inquired. Definitely from one of the Commonwealth nations. A thin, tanned, young-looking Caucasian man entered his line of sight, looking as if he had just stepped out of an L.L. Bean catalog.
How in the hell did this man know his real name? He went to speak, but his teeth chattered too hard to form words.
"Oh, dear me, I forgot the effect elements could have on plain ol' Homo Sapiens," the man said. What the hell did this psycho mean by that? His attention was quickly drawn back towards the man, as he began to chant in an unknown language. Suddenly warmth cascaded over Cooper's body. "Is that more suitable?"
"Yes," Cooper bit out.
The man clapped. "Capital!" The man snapped his fingers sharply. To Cooper's dread, a heavy shuffling sound could be heard from beyond his vision, approaching. "Now, I'm afraid I don't have time for you to resist, so my companion here will assist with your participation."
It was too big to be real. Standing at roughly nine feet tall, with sporadic lumps lining its sickly pale skin, the thing advanced until it stood directly in front of him. A sweet smell overtook Cooper. A giggle escaped from his mouth.
"Excellent. Now, I'm afraid that my business has been impinged upon by a very annoying organization. I need information on them. Unfortunately, they're very good at covering their tracks with these newfangled electronics. Smashing really, the advancement electricity has wrought," the man noted in such a fascinating tone.
"I digress. Anyhoo, I caught wind a year ago that, through some fluke, a copy of the American Intersect was uploaded into the head of a plain old human. Unless some blasted Wicca already caught him, there's a good chance all the information I want is within this poor chap."
Cooper frowned at the pause in the man's story. "Oh, sorry. Lost my train there. Long story short, you Fulcrum folks aren't nearly as good at circumventing the Intersect. So I kept my eyes out for you, and lo and behold, I found you. Now, do you know who the human Intersect is?"
"No," Cooper nearly sobbed out at the prospect of failing.
It hurt to see the man frown in visible disappointment at Cooper's answer. "Blast. Next question. Tell me all you know about the potential identity of the human Intersect."
Without a second thought, Cooper explained Larkin's betrayal along with the likelihood that Larkin himself was the human Intersect. He added that Bartowski was possibly involved, but the odds were remote. "They stole each other's women. When we cased Bartowski we discovered that his place of employment had a virtual club dedicated to hating Larkin for what he did."
To Cooper's relief, a smile formed on the lips of the man. "Well, I must thank you. You've been extremely helpful and have given me some food for thought." The man reached into his parka and withdrew a knife. "Now, waste not, want not and all that rubbish. It's been a pleasure Mr. Cooper."
Ryan Cooper's face lit up with a brilliant smile at the praise as the man began to carve along the lines painted onto his chest.