Fic: Caught in Your Decaying Orbit (Eureka/Chuck, various)

Author’s Note: Written a couple of years ago for myownspecialself for a prompt meme, but then I forgot to post it until now. Um, sorry? The prompt was: Morgan Grimes, Allison Blake, “I think I’m in love with my best friend…”

Allison Blake had always prided herself on her recruiting style. Convincing the best and brightest minds in the country that Eureka was where they belonged–once they’d been brought to her attention–was something she knew she was good at. After Nathan’s fall from grace, though, and her own promotion to head of Global Dynamics, something had to fall by the wayside. Since that something was damned well not going to be her son, if her much-treasured annual recruiting trip was out, so be it. She knew from past experience with Nathan that few things were important enough to take the acting head of GD away from Eureka for long.

Zane Donovan had been one. The Intersect was another.

How the NSA and CIA had managed to allow one of the most advanced computers outside of Eureka to be downloaded into the mind of one Charles Bartowski, she didn’t bother to ask. Her job was simple: the NSA and CIA wanted to know if someone at Global would be able to extract the information from its present location without damaging either the data or Bartowski. (Though it had been strongly implied that the latter was acceptable in avoidance of the former, if necessary.) What they didn’t know was that she also had every intention of investigating this individual with a mind remarkable enough to contain the Intersect without being overwhelmed by it. If he was even half the man that circumstances suggested, well…this might turn into a recruiting trip yet.

She certainly had to give them points for creativity, Allison thought wryly as she stepped through the doors of the Buy More in Burbank, California. Hiding one of the government’s most valuable security assets in a retail establishment in Los Angeles was at least as improbable as turning a small town in Oregon into the world’s most advanced think tank. Certainly none of the Buy More employees she’d seen so far screamed “spy” to her rather acute, DOD-honed instincts. Most of them didn’t even scream “productive member of society.” How she was supposed to spot her contact, she had no idea.

“I know that look.” The voice came out of nowhere, making Allison jump just a little. She turned to see a bearded man about her height, who nodded at her wisely. He wore a green “Buy More” shirt and a pair of khakis.

“Excuse me?” Allison asked, bewildered. Surely this couldn’t be her contact?

“That ‘how did I end up here?’ look,” the man continued with a rueful sigh and another knowing look.

Well, he wasn’t entirely wrong, Allison admitted with a touch of amusement.

Before she could answer, though, the man resumed his soliloquy. “Been there, man. You have dreams. You have your life all planned out–what you’re going to do, who you’re going to spend it with…”

Still a bit bewildered, Allison followed his wistful stare over to the Nerd Herd desk in the center of the store. Standing at the desk in a short-sleeved white dress shirt and black tie was a young man as tall as Nathan. He was leaning on the desk, talking to a young blonde woman on the other side.

Allison’s inadvertant captor sighed again. “And then along comes a gorgeous blonde and it all goes out the window.”

Unbidden an image of Carter’s face flashed into her mind. The resultant mortification might have made her next words a little more peevish than they needed to be. “Do you work here?”

Completely oblivious, the young man–whose nametag read ‘Morgan’–just shrugged. “Not when I can help it,” he admitted honestly before resuming his original train of thought. “It’s not as if I blame him or anything. I mean, look at her, man. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that, you know? And it’s not like I can go up to him and say, ‘Hey, man, you should totally dump that hot chick I spent all that time trying to hook you up with and go back to hanging out with me instead.’ I just didn’t think they’d really get serious.”

Allison wondered what law of nature or of physics could possibly explain how she’d found herself playing confidante for a total stranger. Not to mention how a retail establishment with this sort of employee ever managed to stay in business.

Then again, she employed Fargo, so she really couldn’t throw stones.

“I know what you’re going to say,” Morgan rambled on with another resigned sigh. “Chuck’s moved on with his life, it’s time I did the same. But it was always him and me, you know? Battling bullies and ogres and saving the universe before breakfast–“

“This ‘Chuck’s’ last name wouldn’t happen to be Bartowski, would it?” Allison asked, employing every Fargo-coping skill she had to latch onto the only item of useful information in Morgan’s entire monologue.

“Huh? Oh. Yeah, it is.” Morgan looked startled for a moment. “Hey, you know him?”

That was all the opening she needed. “Not yet, so why don’t you introduce me?”

Liberated from his strange confessional mood, Morgan was at once all helpful enthusiasm. “Yeah. Yeah, of course. Right over here.” He led her over to the Nerd Herd desk, startling the couple waiting there out of their conversation.

“Chuck! Hey, Chuck, buddy, this is, um…” Morgan looked at Allison, only then appearing to realize he’d never asked her name.

Allison hid a smile and stuck out a hand. “Allison Blake. I believe you’ve been expecting me.”

Bartowski and the blonde–who turned out to be his CIA handler, Agent Walker–descended on Allison immediately, hustling her back to the multimedia viewing room at the back of the store where they were met by Agent Casey of the NSA. Morgan, not being relevant to the business at hand, she didn’t give another thought until she was back in Eureka, far, far away from Burbank and the nation’s most secure Buy More.

Only then did she stop to feel a swell of sympathy for any man so alone in his affection that he had no one to confide in but a total stranger.

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