So hi, hello! New fandom, new story! Happy Chuckiversary to you all! Let me just say this was one of the most frightening writing experiences for me, yet one of the most fun. I found myself wanting to write more and more by the time I finished the first section. Now, I know, it's probably a new take on an overused thing, but this idea had been running around my head long enough. I hope you enjoy! As always, feedback is appreciated!
A very special thank you goes out to the wonderfully warm and welcoming people over at Tumblr, mainly dettiot and (aka victorianoir). You two have been such awesome people at welcoming me and encouraging me to write, that I thank you endlessly. It's just so refreshing to be in a fandom that's just full of so much LOVE for everything and everyone!
So, without further ado, here you go.
The Way Things Change
Mornings, for one Chuck Bartowski, were things he had grown to dread. Mornings, for the better part of the month, meant waking up in a cold sweat from horrific nightmares—nightmares about losing Sarah a million other ways than what had happened two years ago. Mornings, for a few days, meant waking up to a half empty and cold bed.
At least, that's what mornings had grown to become—except for this one. Last night was just…wow. In the two years after everything that had happened, baby steps were made. Bits and pieces had come back to Sarah. It was progress. But last night was still just…wow.
So it came as a shock to Chuck when he reached over to Sarah's side of the bed and found it to be empty. "No," he said, scanning the area once more with his arm. "No, no, no." His eyes jolted open. He sat up. No Sarah in sight.
He pushed her. That's it. He pushed her and maybe last night just wasn't a step they were ready to take. Maybe those bits and pieces she had gotten back over the years weren't enough to justify the wonderful night they had. Maybe those nightmares about losing her weren't nightmares anymore.
"Chuck?" He snapped out of his spiraling to notice a towel-clad Sarah waving her hand in front of his face. "Chuck, are you there?"
He spiraled. He breathed a sigh of relief. He had a habit of spiraling now more than ever. The spiraling almost always led to different ways Sarah would just vanish—be it of her own accord or of someone else's doing.
"Yeah, hi," Chuck greeted her. Sarah kept her gaze on him, and then shook her head as if to say, "Well?" Chuck furrowed his brows. "I'm sorry, what was that?"
She sighed, turned around, and took her towel off before making her way around the room to get dressed. Chuck knew her for seven years, had been with her for five, and he still blushed at the sight of his wife in the nude and her blasé attitude toward her state.
"I said I brought back breakfast while I was out for my run," she told him. He stared up at the ceiling when she turned around to speak to him while she hooked her bra. "You seemed so peaceful when you were sleeping, and I know you've been having nightmares lately, so I let you sleep."
"How do you know about my nightmares?" He glanced over at her, brows furrowed.
As she threw on a shirt, she said, "That spy training never goes away." With a confused look on his face still, she said, "That and you've been mumbling in your sleep."
Chuck watched as Sarah moved about the room getting dressed. She stopped in front of the dresser, picked up something, then walked over to where he was seated on the bed.
"Do you mind helping me put it on?" she asked, handing Chuck the bracelet he had given her a few Christmases ago. Up until last week, she dared not touch it, telling Chuck it was something too valuable for a person with no recollection of it to wear.
Chuck attempted to swallow past the lump in his throat and nodded. As she held out her wrist for him, he clasped it shut. With that same hand, she reached over and grabbed his own.
"I'd do it all over again, if it meant keeping you safe," Sarah told him.
"Do what?" Chuck asked as his thumb rubbed small circles on the back of her hand.
"Shoot any agent that was trying to hurt you." She leaned over and pressed a light kiss to his lips. Chuck's lips followed hers as she pulled away. "For the record, that kiss at the Buy More, after everyone was safe that night: I never considered it a cover kiss."
She sat up then, leaving a flabbergasted Chuck simply watching her. "Breakfast. Kitchen. Ten minutes," she announced. "It's your favorite—aside from your morning bowl of Fruit Loops."
"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said with a laugh.
When she stepped out of the room, he reached for his phone and typed something into his notepad: Christmas, Buy More break-in, Bracelet.
It was the first memory he added to the list this month.
By the time Ellie, Devon, and not-so-baby Clara made their trip to Burbank this month, Chuck had added three more things to the list.
The first happened while they were watching an action movie, with loud explosives and car chases (intended to mainly be background noise as the two of them dozed off on the couch after a long day of preparation for their family's arrival).
With her head propped up by her hand and her elbow resting on the arm of the couch, she glanced down at a slightly sleepy Chuck, who had rested his head on her lap. "I'm actually glad the spy life's behind us now," Sarah had said. "I won't have to think you've driven off to your death with a Nerd Herder housing a bomb."
The second happened three nights later, during a game of "Know Ya!" with Morgan and Alex. Chuck had suggested on picking a different game, one that wouldn't test Sarah on so many things she wouldn't be held accountable for remembering. Sarah had insisted on playing regardless.
So as she had picked up another slice of vegetarian-no-olives, Chuck had picked up another question for her to answer.
"Favorite pet," Chuck had read out. He placed the card down and glanced over at Sarah, who seemed to hesitate. "Listen, Sarah, we really don't have to play this. There's Risk. Or Monopoly. Or Sorry!"
"Chuck," Sarah had said. "I've got this." She flipped over her paddle to reveal the name Peaches. "Although, if Morgan would like to argue with me on this and say Peaches 2, the springer spaniel your family got after you lost your cocker spaniel, I'm okay with that."
The third had happened during one more than chilly California night. Tossing and turning for almost an hour, Sarah had hopped out of bed and walked over to Chuck's record player. "I hope you don't mind," she had said once she began playing the Nina Simone record. "It sounds so much better on the record than my iPod."
Chuck had shaken his head and welcomed her back to bed. It wasn't until she had tucked herself into his side and tangled her feet with his that he realized Feeling Good was playing around them.
"Just look," Chuck said to Ellie, pulling her aside one afternoon.
They had a week with her, at best. Sure, the visit was mainly a way for visiting family from Chicago to spend time with family in Burbank, but that didn't mean they hadn't scheduled a trip to the hospital to check out Sarah's progress with brain maps and everything else Ellie needed.
"At my husband and your wife playing with my daughter?" Ellie asked her younger brother, smiling over at Sarah as the blonde woman held and bounced Clara. Sure, she was almost three, but that didn't stop the toddler from enjoying her time with her.
Chuck handed Ellie his list, transcribed on a piece of paper from his phone. "Her memories. I've been keeping track of things she's been remembering. It started off small, like where things go around here, schedules. But then she started remembering bigger things, more frequently. Morgan, and Alex, she's starting to remember things about them, too."
Ellie glanced down at the list, skimmed through it, then skimmed through it once more. "It's hard to say what all of this means, Chuck. Some minds are stronger than others," she explained. "With memories…it's a completely different game."
He sighed. As Ellie handed him back the list, he heard her ask, "Since when has she been wearing her engagement ring?"
Chuck glanced over at Sarah, noticing the newest addition to the minimal amounts of jewelry she wore. That was definitely new.
He woke up one morning with a jolt. "Charlie Horse, ow, ow!" Chuck had mumbled half-asleep. To his left, he found Sarah's spot empty once more. All except for a post-it note on her pillow. Meet me in the living room.
Chuck got up from bed and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes as he made his way down the hall. He stopped when he found Sarah sitting at the table, still in her nightgown—the purple nightgown she had worn the first time she slept over.
Had she been wearing that all night? He forgot she still owned that, honestly. Boy, was he thankful for that now.
"What's going on here?" he asked, sitting down across from her.
"I woke up this morning and realized I never made you sign a pre-nup," Sarah said, gesturing to the paper before him.
Chuck furrowed his brows. "Honey, I think you're missing the point of a pre-nup," he said.
She shook her head. "Just read it."
Still utterly confused, Chuck flipped over the piece of paper and began to read it.
I, Charles Irving Bartowski, promise to stay by Sarah Lisa Walker's side. I promise never to contemplate the word 'divorce' and promise to love her forever, Swiss cheese memories or not.
He glanced up once he saw her slip the twist-tie over to him. She already donned one on her finger, alongside her engagement ring.
"You remembered…" he trailed off.
"It comes and goes," Sarah explained. "Everything does."
He could feel a 'but' coming on, so he egged her forward. She shook her head in response.
"I never needed to remember how much I love you. I felt that every day."
He leaned over the table and kissed her, twist-tie around his own finger.
They had done all this once before. Doing it once again wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.