Stephanie (slybrunette) wrote,

fic: unleashed: chuck vs. the third variable (1/4)

chuck vs. the third variable

episode five, part one of the unleashed series. in which a hostage is interrogated, an analyst is harassed, and sarah and casey play a game of connect-the-dots while working out their trust issues. ~5K.

author's note: do not even try to start reading this part without having read all of the previous parts. you will be so lost it isn't even funny. i make no apologies for what i have done to canon considering what canon has done to me.

National Security Agency Headquarters
Ft. Meade, MD
09:52 AM; Friday, April 10, 2009

“Please state your name for the record.”

Sarah listens to the chains jingle against the metal chair leg they’re wrapped around as he struggles to lean towards the small cylindrical device she’d indicated as the microphone. It sticks up about half an inch from the surface of the table and there’s an element of trepidation to his movements, like he thinks it might pop up the rest of the way and bite him. Two armed federal agents in the room, and he’s most worried about what the tech will do to him.

At the last second, he lurches back. “I already told you my name.”

“It’s procedure,” she tells him. And then, “The quicker we get through this, the quicker we can see about getting you out of here, okay? So how about we start again with your name and work from there.”

He tries again with the microphone. She wants to tell him he doesn’t have to be quite so close to it in order for it to pick up his voice, but she figures his muscles will protest enough from overextension that he’ll get the hint eventually. “Devon Woodcomb.”

“And how long, to your knowledge, have you been in CIA custody?”

“Don’t you guys have that in a file somewhere?”

They don’t actually have anything on him in a file anywhere that she can access, but she’s saved from having to explain her home agency’s information-sharing policies, or lack thereof, by her partner’s impatience. “Answer the question.”

His tone brooks no argument. Devon actually looks mildly terrified of him, and has since the moment he walked through the door, fed up with being ignored on the other side of the glass. At a guess, Casey’s the right kind of imposing to remind Devon of the guys who gave him that scar down his arm and then tried to cave his face in. She can’t figure out if that instinctive fear works to their advantage or not. Whether they’d be better off if it was just her in here.

“Since August.”

“Of 2008?”


He sounds reasonably sure of that much, at least. She doesn’t know how to tell him it’s been eight months since he had any sense of control over his own life, so instead she scribbles pull his financials on the notepad next to her, adding anyone but Morgan in capital letters that she very deliberately underlines. Behind her, Casey grunts in the affirmative and reaches for his phone. Devon doesn’t try to read what she’s written down but he does flick a few nervous glances in Casey’s direction that indicate he’s concerned about just what Casey might be pulling out of his pocket.

She straightens, trying to draw his attention back to her. “Tell me what happened.”

“This is about Chuck, right?” Devon’s voice is an octave or two higher than it was previously, on the verge of something that she might call a panic attack, and that gives her some idea of what the last few months of interrogation have been like for him. “I told them, I don’t know anything about the guy. I only met him twice and that was years ago. He didn’t come around, I - I don’t even think Ellie wanted him around towards the end, she kept saying - “

“Okay, okay,” she holds up a hand, to keep from reaching for him. She thinks that might actually spook him more, and he’s a rambling, jittery mess as is. She wants whatever information he can give her, but she’d also like for it to be coherent and not spit out all at once. “Slow down. They were having problems?”

“Yeah, he wasn’t answering her phone calls. He got some job with a tech company right out of Stanford doing, like, software development or something. At first she seemed happy about it, but then he kept cancelling plans and he had all these business trips. She said she found out he’d been in Beirut when he told her he was just going to Colorado, and then they had it out.”

“And this was when?”

He blinks at her, until she recognizes the futility of the question to the man with no frame of reference. She suppresses a grimace, and tries to bring herself around to the idea that she’s
going to have to give him a date to work off of, if she wants to move this along. And she does, granted, it’s just usually when she’s called in to interrogate someone it’s a terrorist or an arms dealer, not a scared civilian that probably couldn’t have withstood one hour of whatever they threw at him, much less eight months of it, if he knew anything worth their while. He was clearly snatched up by someone who didn’t do their homework properly, and that’s tampering with her ability to remain objective.

She has half a mind to shove this one off on her partner, but she doesn’t get the chance before his phone chirps at him. Judging by the noise he makes in acknowledgement, halfway between a groan and a long-suffering sigh, it isn’t a personal call. “You good here?”

“I think we’ll manage,” she replies, because, really, what else is she supposed to say? Don’t leave me here with the completely harmless prisoner? Her and Casey haven’t even been on speaking terms for the better part of the last week, so any small comfort she’s been taking in his presence is a product of habit and little else. She listens to him snap at whoever’s on the other end of the line as the door closes behind him and studies Devon, looking to gauge how much easier her job just got with Casey out of the room. He stays wound tight, but some of the fear recedes from his eyes. He isn’t worried about what she’ll do to make him talk. Most days, that’s a mistake. “How long ago was it in relation to last summer?”

“Don’t you have to wait for - “

“Answer the question, Mr. Woodcomb.”

“A year, maybe.”

He sounds unsure of even that much. To the best of her knowledge, he’s only off by a matter of months. Bartowski was officially declared a fugitive in the spring of 2007, and the CIA set up shop in Echo Park for the next six months, running surveil