A/N I think this season of nine2five will be written up as one long story, rather than as a series of episodes. I originally wrote the episode format because I thought the style of the various episodes differed, so I could specify appropriate genres as I needed to, but I doubt this season that will be the case. I also think I'll repost all the chapters of the previous two seasons in single stories as well. At least one commenter has suggested this as well, so the ayes have it.
I've seen a lot of criticism of the S4 finale, regarding the way they jumped from 'Chuck bringing the antidote' to 'the wedding', when the people doing the complaining wanted the scene of Sarah waking up and the rapturous reunion. While I doubt most people are as emotionally invested in Devon&Ellie as they are in Chuck&Sarah, I'm filling in that empty space from my last chapter.
"What have you done to me, Charles?"
"I'm a little brother."
"We killed his pregnant sister, Mr. Riley!"
"Quinn, ma'am. Nicholas Quinn."
"Congratulations, Dr. Winterbottom."
The voice was dull and flat, like a rusty saw, but it promised far more pain. Doug almost stopped, but the men he was running with turned at the sound of the voice, and an arm caught him on the back and pushed him on his way. Right. No stopping for him.
The group down the hall, family and more family, were already in motion, running toward the danger he was leaving behind. They parted around him and closed ranks behind him, leaving him with the other civilian, Dr. Woodcombe.
"Hey Doug, you all right?" said the annoyingly handsome heart surgeon, but it was hard to hold his looks against him when he was so genuinely nice.
Doug put a finger to his lips and pulled a tube from his pocket. Devon's eyes widened in amazement, but he lost no time pushing open the door so Doug didn't have to stop. Good reflexes. Having a family full of spies must do that to you. Together they ran to the room where Ellie was currently slowing to a stop, and Devon ran faster to make sure that door was open too.
"Here!" yelled Doug, to the doctor who was even now preparing trays of implements for emergency surgery. "About half, in the tube."
The doctor scanned the green liquid suspiciously. "Will it hurt the baby?"
"It shouldn't," puffed out Doug, not used to this much exertion. He pointed at the trays. "But that will certainly kill the mother."
The doctor looked at the next of kin.
"Do it," said Devon, far more accustomed to making decisions in highly uncertain conditions than he ever wanted to be. He watched as the doctor injected the contents of the syringe into the tube–too much? Not enough?–all the while drifting closer to Ellie's side, taking her hand in his. So pale, so cold. Come on, babe.
"Vitals are stabilizing."
Ellie took a deeper breath. Her hand squeezed his slightly, and she moaned.
"Temperature is rising."
"Places, people," said the obstetrician. "The baby's our priority now."
"What do you mean, you lost him?" snarled Decker. "We need that pathetic geek to keep Volkoff in line."
"This guy wasn't a geek, Mr. Decker," said Tommy, as incapable of sounding sorry as he did being kind. "They must have slipped in a ringer on us, he took down four guys before I could move."
"That damn Bartowski," said Decker. "He's clever. Probably has Winterbottom in some hole under Washington by now. We'll never find him in time." They had a number of fall-back positions to choose from, and Decker chose. "We'll have to escalate."
"She's beautiful," whispered Ellie, her body weaker than her voice as Devon held up her child for her to see.
"Just like her mother," he said as Ellie yawned. "Rest easy, babe. I'll hold the fort this time."
"You hold the fort, I'll hold my granddaughter," said Mary, sitting in the rocker with her arms outstretched. Devin was quick to surrender his new baby girl. El was already out of it, and this Mama B was more Bear than Bartowski.
The door banged open, and two figures in green scrubs came through. "Chuck, will you just let me get this damn thing tied off…?" said the new grandfather.
"I want to see."
Stephen rolled his eyes. "You uncles today. Devon, a little help?"
"Whoa, Chuckster," said Devon, catching sight of Chuck's hands, the reason his father was tying the strings on his scrubs. They'd gotten most of the fragments out, and rinsed off the fake antidote, but the wounds were still oozing blood. "Let's get you cleaned up, dude. No baby-holding with those hands." He pulled Chuck over to a chair as Stephen went to stand by his wife. "Sit." He put a towel on Chuck's knees to keep the blood off the floor, went to the door and asked the nurse for a suture tray.
"Where's Sarah?" said Devon as he sat and adjusted the light to do a visual scan.
"Went after Hartley," said Chuck absently, watching his Mom and his Dad with his niece, all the new people in his family in one place. Ellie was down but the lights and beeps told him she wasn't out yet. He felt…blessed, he felt–pain! "Ah."
"Looks like you missed a piece," said Devon as the nurse brought in the tray, setting up a table for him. She also had some latex gloves and a mask. "Thanks," said Devon. "I'll call you if I need you." He waited until she left, his fingers treating the wounds automatically as he asked about what really mattered to him. "What happened out there?"
Chuck winced as the last fragments came out. "Bad guys after Hartley. When he came down with the antidote, they jumped him and Dad. Hartley pretended to have the antidote and I fell for it, and the bad guy crushed the tube in my hands." He stared at his hands, struggling to hold on to that feeling of peace as it slipped away. "I felt like he'd crushed Ellie, because of me. He wanted me to live with that."
"Hey, relax, Chuck," said Devon, as the fingers he was treating started to clench. "You guys won. You tricked them, you beat them, and they don't even know it." When the fingers relaxed he went back to work. "What was in the tube?" he asked, both to get Chuck's mind on to some other topic, and because he was concerned about contamination.
"Saline," said Stephen from across the room, his attention still seeming focused on the baby. "Mixed with a green antiseptic."
Good ears. "Good idea." Not that Devon didn't put on a new batch of antiseptic anyway, but this one was red. "Doesn't look like you'll need stitches, at least. A few strips, maybe tape 'em for good measure, you should be good to go, as long as you take it easy with the fisticuffs and the typing."
Um…"Devon, you do know what I do for a living, right?"
Manoosh sat in the lab, watching Chuck's video presentation. No one had stayed to see the end, but it was his favorite part. The whole thing was about Ellie, because Chuck was all about Ellie. Some of his best music in there, but no one heard it, because Ellie…
He flipped a switch, and the whole thing died.
She'd almost died, and her baby with her, and if it had been up to him she would have died, he was so useless. He made the lights twinkle, while Chuck rode to the rescue. Again.
Suddenly he couldn't stand to just sit anymore. He jerked to his feet, the sudden motion propelling his chair across the room, where it slammed into a cabinet, and Manoosh turned at the noise. The cabinet door opened and a box fell out, but he was too slow to catch it before it fell to the floor.
"No!" he whined, snatching it up. "Please don't be broken! Please don't be broken!" He opened the box and unwrapped the bubble wrap, checking the lenses for cracks, the earpieces for any obvious damage. Nothing obvious, and he breathed easier. These things were expensive.
I should check them out. He nodded to himself at this sage advice. He didn't need Ellie to tell him his business. Maybe he was stuck fixing moisture vaporators, or fixing X-Wings so someone else could fly them and blow up Death Stars and get all the great girls, but…um…where was I?
He looked at his hands. Right. Glasses. He should check them out.
John Casey tried to run, but there was no place to go, nowhere to hide. "How do you hold it?" he asked, as Devon held out his little girl.
"It's a 'her', John, not an 'it'," he said with a laugh.
Casey glanced around at all the people catching this travesty on video. Payback, that's what it was, for recording that CAT-fight in Prague for Sarah. He acquiesced with a grunt, pretty high-numbered on Chuck's list since he didn't use it often. At least they could be trusted not to put it on the Internet.
"Come on, John," said Devon, pulling his attention back to the center. "Just imagine that this is Alex." He gestured toward the bed where Ellie lay. "Imagine that that's her mother, uh…"
"Kathleen," said Casey. She'd been Alex Coburn's fiancée but Alex Coburn was dead. Died in childbirth, after a fashion. Never married his fiancée. Never held his daughter, or been a father to her. He wondered what Alex had been like as a girl, as a child. He looked at his hands, his empty hands. He had a daughter but he would never have a child.
"Right," said Devon, his voice low. "That's Kathleen over there, exhausted. This is her child, your child, that the nurses have wrapped up warm and placed in your hands." Devon put his child in Casey's hands.
They came up automatically to hold her, one arm underneath, one on the outside as Casey held her to his chest. "Hey, my girl," he whispered to her. He reached out a finger to stroke her cheek and stopped, the spell broken. "I can't do this," he said suddenly, turning to Carina and depositing Clara in her surprised arms.
"Wait, what am I supposed to do with it?" she asked his back as he headed for the door.
"Casey, what's the matter?" asked Chuck, lowering his phone as Devon moved to put Carina's hands in the correct places.
Casey stopped by the door and held up his hands. "I don't want the first thing that little girl smells to be the stink of gunpowder all over me. And Miller!" He pointed. "She's a 'her', not an 'it'. Treat her like one." He pushed through the doors and vanished.
Carina looked at Devon. "We stink of gunpowder?"
"Yeah, kind'a," he said apologetically.
Carina pushed back, leaving the child with her father. "I have to go change."
Devon stood there as the doors closed a second time, confused. "Devon?" said Mary, holding out her arms. Always ready to do her duty.
"My turn," said Sarah suddenly. She sat up straight in her chair and held out her arms. Mary sat back, not entirely displeased. She reached up and caught Stephen's hand where it rested on her shoulder, content to look on.
"Awesome!" said Devon, placing Clara gently in her new aunt's arms. Sarah folded them naturally and expertly into a safe and supportive position. Devon beamed. "Somebody was paying attention."
Hartley Winterbottom strolled out of the haberdashery in fine form. The clothing would take a little getting used to, a far cry from his tailored power suits. Stranger still were the newly and expertly applied mustache and goatee, which he was unable to resist stroking from time to time. New laptop in hand, he sought out an Internet café, there to set up the next phase of his plan. No one would expect him to be retracing Volkoff's footsteps, but walking over them was the only way to erase them forever.
Casey went downstairs, freshly showered and smelling not at all like gunpowder, when he heard his phone buzz with the sound of a voicemail message. Alex. Must be back from that graduation trip Grimes took her on.
He called back but got her voicemail too. "Alex, it's Dad. Sorry I haven't been available lately. Ellie delivered today, so we're all at the hospital. You know how they are about cell phones. Stop by, we'll catch up."
"What do you mean I missed?"
"Exactly what I said, Quinn," replied Decker. "Not only did your assault on Agent Miller's position fail, your own attack on Agent Rizzo did nothing except draw Agent Charles into the mix. Sooner or later they'll pull the matter off the back burner and realize it was you." Decker may have needed Quinn, but he wasn't about to let Quinn know that.
Quinn frowned at the schadenfreude in the other man's tone, but sucked it up. He'd lost all his men in that attack, and he still didn't know how Miller got away. Didn't know how she'd twigged to him in the first place, or would have, if his little virus in the CIA's Racial Rec programming hadn't done its job. Even so his failure to protect his clients had hurt him badly, damaged his reputation, and only the fact that he'd lost to Volkoff and Walker together kept him afloat. No one could beat Volkoff, until suddenly Agent Charles did, and he had Walker in his corner too.
What Quinn wouldn't give to have a soldier like Walker in his organization, not that he had an organization now. All he had were definite enemies, and possible allies. Time to swallow his pride. "What are you offering?"
"Vail?" asked Casey, sitting with the baby while Chuck and Sarah were out getting some food. Alex was taking pictures, lots of pictures. "I didn't know they made skis with training wheels, Grimes."
"Ho, ho," said Morgan, deadpan, theatrically wiping his eyes. "My sides. No, Casey, that would be training skids, but I didn't go to Vail to ski, I went to Vail to be skeen. That…sounded better in my head."
Casey grunted agreement. "Should'a kept it there."
"Alex was a natural on the slopes," Morgan said enthusiastically, always willing to change topics. "Left me behind on the bunny slopes that first day, but that was okay, 'cause then I was the tallest, well, except for the instructor."
"You let your girlfriend parade around the slopes of Vail with top-notch celebrity ski instructors while you hung around the kiddie pool?" Casey looked down. Less than a day old and asleep, and Clara was still clearly more sensible than that.
"Of course not," scoffed Morgan. "Once I mastered the bunny slope I went shopping, found some really good places to eat, but the prices, oh man…" He rolled his eyes.
So did Casey, probably not for the same reason. "Grimes–"
"It was fine, Dad," said Alex, although she really would have preferred to have Morgan around. Make her relationship status as obvious as it needed to be, for all those celebrity ski instructors, every one of whom knew they were a celebrity and acted accordingly. "I got bored. I found Morgan in a sandwich shop, making a deal on some food in exchange for the recipe." She smiled. What a scrounger.
Somehow 'making a deal' sounded less than totally honorable the way she said it. "I have a reputation to uphold," said Morgan. "You can't find the best places in town to eat for under ten dollars when everything costs more than ten dollars, so I had to strike a bargain. This was a matter of principle."
Cheapskate. "Yeah, you're a real hero."
"Oh, so close." Morgan help up a hand, fingers an inch apart. "But no, a totally different sandwich. I was spreading the gospel of my favorite menu item from my Buy More days, turkey and muenster on egg bread, grilled."
"Sounds good," said Casey. As long as it wasn't K-rations, it was good to Casey.
"You bet," said Morgan. "That deli guy was selling 'em like hotcakes by the time we left, best deal he ever made. Of course, it didn't hurt that I was talking it up all over town."
"All …over," said Alex.
"Hey, I was networking," said Morgan. "Those high-rollers come to DC a lot, they gotta eat somewhere, right?"
Sarah handed off the bags with the food to her mother-in-law so she could hold her husband. "You're spiraling."
He hugged her back, something his damaged hands were up to. "She could have died, Sarah. Clara could have died too."
"The Norseman would have ignored Clara, Chuck," said Mary.
"It should have ignored Ellie, shouldn't it? She wasn't the target." She should never be a target. "But she was standing next to me and the Norseman found her. She shouldn't even have been there."
Mary got a strange look on her face. "Say that again."
"She shouldn't even have been there."
"No," said Mary. "Before that. She was standing next to you."
One thorough physical examination later…
Beckman stared at the slim little needle, blown up to several times its actual size on the monitor. "A fourth tracker?"
"Yes, General," said Sarah. "If it's Vivian's she'd have known where he was ever since she put it into him."
"Which was when?"
"Given its size, shape, and likely power consumption and other parameters," said Chuck, putting those figures up in print too small to read, "We suspect the day Vivian gave us the first piece of the Norseman. The supposed attack on her would have made an excellent distraction."
"She killed her own men?" asked Hannah.
"Probably the biggest bunch of losers in her entire guard cadre," said Casey, unconcerned with that little detail. "It would explain how she knew we were in Switzerland when even Orion couldn't know we would be there."
"More to the point it gave her a general direction to aim the Norseman, without ever needing to know exactly where I was. Either the lab or my house, and then wait to see if the tracker went to a hospital."
"Which it did," said Carina.
"So she may think you're dead."
"Or not," said Sarah. "You went after Hartley, remember?"
Chuck wasn't likely to forget, after she tore strips out of him for using the Nighthawk to do it. "A possibility," he admitted. "Unless she stopped tracking after the signal reached the hospital in the first place. The Norseman is supposed to be one hundred percent accurate. Clearly it isn't but Vivian may not know that."
"I'm unwilling to risk your life on that possibility, Agent Bartowski."
"Neither are we, General," said Sarah, with a hefty dose of gratitude. "But it does give us a window of opportunity. We've found the tracker, we have a cure. I say we take the war to her."
Ellie woke to the sound of somebody talking.
"…And that is how the Frost Queen came back to her family," said Mary as Clara sucked on a bottle of sweetened water. "And she never left them ever again. Good story?" She felt Clara's body stiffen. "Good story. She even took care of the baby's first poop, which really stinks, but you won't read about that in any of the stories."
"That bad, huh?" asked Ellie.
"Hey," said Mary softly, with a joyous smile. "You're just in time."
"For stinky baby poop?" asked Ellie in dismay.
"Level four biohazard," said Mary. "I'll take care of it, but remind your husband he owes me."
"Where is Devon?"
"Getting some rest, I hope," said Frost from across the room. "Between the Norseman, the antidote to the Norseman, the delivery, and the post-delivery, he really wore himself out."
"I thought they were afraid she'd use the Norseman against Chuck." She waved a hand in front of her nose. "Oh my God."
Mary slid the biohazard into a containment unit and double-knotted the bag, holding her breath all the while. "She did, we think, but for some reason it affected you instead. Well, the part that you and Chuck have in common, I guess, which may be why you're alive…"
"Is Chuck all right?"
"Right as rain, and off to war," said Mary, lifting her newly-wrapped granddaughter from the change-table, and brought her to mommy. "He and Sarah convinced the General to send them out after Vivian directly, and the General was smart enough not to try and stop them. This team loves you."
Ellie frowned, even as she held her daughter for the first time. "Well, that's ridiculous, Sarah can't go to war, not in her condition."
Mary's good mood evaporated. "What condition?" Not that damned Atroxium again.
"She's pregnant," said Ellie. "I saw it in the telemetry before you ever got there. I told you all…" She tried to think back to that time, but the memories were fuzzy. "Didn't I?"
A/N2 Guess they'd better win this war quickly, then.
I wanted to bring the pregnancy up in the last chapter of the last episode, but that's not what the story wanted.