Chapter 28: New Beginnings
Lakeside Medical Center
A/N: Sorry for the delay. I know, I'm a bum. Work and home life got in the way of progress. Just glad that happened in the home stretch rather than the beginning.
Not the most exciting chapter, but one that will end the story on a happy note...with room to spare.
Sarah Bartowski clung to her husband with a smile that would have blinded even the brightest of stars.
Sarah memorized every detail of this moment. From Chuck's reaction, to her own. Never in her wildest dreams did Sarah imagine after meeting Chuck Bartowski, she would be the mother of his child.
Chuck and Sarah didn't say a word after Dr. Scott told the couple what they already knew.
Sarah was pregnant. Six weeks pregnant to be exact.
Chuck whimpered slightly, and his eyes filled with happy tears. Sarah squeezed Chuck's hand, and turned to her husband, who faced his wife with a smile on his face.
Sarah breathed a sigh of content. It was now official. Chuck and Sarah Bartowski were expectant parents.
Chuck cupped Sarah's face and kissed her softly on the lips. For once, Chuck followed Sarah's lead, and instead of being chatty, or overly-excited about the news, let his actions and his eyes speak for him.
This simple act meant a lot to Sarah. Her husband was so in tune with her, he wouldn't overshadow an important moment in their lives by talking it to death.
In this moment, Sarah pressed on from her usual silence, and as a tear slid down the side of her face, spoke to her husband from the very depths of her soul.
"I love you, Chuck."
In response, Chuck's heartfelt words could have knocked Sarah over.
"I love you, Sarah."
After blinding each other with smiles, the couple embraced. Dr. Scott quietly left the office, giving the couple a moment of privacy.
Dr. Scott knew if she didn't give Ellie the verdict, she would probably storm right in.
Chuck and Sarah held each other in the most gentle of embraces. Sarah closed her eyes and felt a sense of true accomplishment. Many nights, Sarah lay alone in her bed trying to calm her growing frustration with the cover, while day-dreaming of what her children would look like, with Chuck as the father. Sarah kept this to herself, in the deepest recesses of her soul.
Before Chuck, Sarah would have found such thoughts preposterous. She was a spy. Spies don't fall in love, form attachments, or plant roots.
Chuck Bartowski changed all that. Chuck assaulted the walls Sarah built around herself. Not with battalions of armies, but with love, patience, and understanding.
Sarah was now a true believer that love conquers all.
On their wedding night, Sarah cried more than she had ever cried in her life. Not tears of sorrow or remorse, but tears of joy and happiness. It was a true testament to the woman Sarah had become.
With Chuck, Sarah didn't need walls to protect herself. Chuck accepted her past, present, and future, with no strings attached. Sarah could be the woman she wanted to be. An unapologetic, courageous, woman in love. Sarah didn't need to prove herself either. Chuck simply held out his hand, and guided Sarah out of the darkness of the world she thought she knew.
Most of all, Chuck proved to Sarah she was worthy of a new beginning.
And now, Sarah was given another gift. A child. Sarah swore in that moment, her child would never know the hardships faced by her and Chuck. She already knew Chuck would be a wonderful father. But now, Sarah vowed she would be a wonderful mom. She wouldn't settle for anything less.
Sarah cupped Chuck's face, and spoke softly. "Oh my God, Chuck...we're going to have a baby." Sarah smiled after the words left her mouth.
A high-pitched squeal in the hallway prompted an eye-roll from Chuck, and a wet snort from Sarah.
Chuck sighed in faux frustration. "Now the whole hospital knows. In a few minutes, this entire state will know."
Sarah chuckled. "I don't care if the whole world knows."
Chuck smiled solemnly. "How do you feel?"
Sarah stared in Chuck's eyes. "Complete."
Chuck replied in earnest. "Me too."
Chuck and Sarah's phones buzzed at that moment. The couple spoke in unison. "Mission."
Like every other typical Buy More morning, this day was off to an uneventful start. Big Mike arrived with his usual mug of coffee and box of donuts, barked orders to those he found slacking, and disappeared to the solace of his office. Jeff and Lester arrived at their usual time, both appearing hung-over.
Morgan took in the scene, but stared once again at the slip of paper in his hands. Casey's daughter, Alex, visited the store a few times to find her dad, and Morgan had spoken to her each time. Yesterday's visit, however, resulted in Morgan receiving Alex's number.
After Anna's departure, Morgan moved on to his usual self-loathing, but eventually got over her absence.
Morgan was intimidated by Alex. Alex wasn't just cute, she was beautiful. And, it didn't hurt that she actually laughed at his jokes, and didn't insult or demean him. In fact, Alex kept Morgan on his toes, and made him want to act like a mature young man.
Morgan glanced at the entrance, and Alex entered the store. After exchanging a wave, the two met in the middle of the store.
Morgan gave Alex a warm smile. "Hey, Alex. It's good to see you again. Uh, Casey's not here."
Alex brushed her hair behind her ears nervously. "Uh…actually, I came by to see you."
Morgan smiled. "Sure. What can I do for you?"
Alex stared at Morgan through her eyelashes. "How about dinner?"
Morgan's eyes widened in shock. "Dinner? Uh…sure, sure, absolutely!"
Alex blew a breath she had been holding, and laughed nervously. "Great! Uh, are you free tonight?"
Morgan nodded. "Absolutely. I'll uh…let you name the venue."
Before Alex could respond, a man in a dark suit with a German accent approached. "Excuse me. I am looking for Jeffrey Barnes and Lester Patel. I was told they work here."
Morgan blinked. "Oh no…what did they do?"
The man smiled. "You don't know? They're wunderbar! They make such wonderful music!"
Morgan blanched. "Are you tone deaf? Jeff holds a note about as well as he holds his liquor, and Lester sounds like a dying animal."
The man produced a card. "I am from und record label in Berlin. We want to give Jeffster record contract."
Morgan's eyes widened. "Are you kidding me?"
The man smiled. "Nein. I never kid."
Morgan muttered. "That's comforting."
Morgan turned to Jeff and Lester, who were arguing over how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll, in a Tootsie Roll pop.
Lester spoke through gritted teeth. "It takes 50 licks, not three like the damn owl in the cartoon, Jeffrey!"
Jeff replied with a blank expression. "Cartoons never lie."
Lester spoke incredulously. "You have been sniffing exhaust fumes from your van again, haven't you?"
Jeff smacked his lips. "That's how I always spend my lunch breaks. I like to get 'right' before the afternoon shift. I'm immune to paint fumes."
Lester rolled his eyes. "I told you to switch to compressed air!"
Jeff shrugged. "I did! It didn't work!"
Morgan sighed. "They're right over there."
The man smiled, and proceeded to Jeff and Lester.
Lester gave the man a wary look, muttering under his breath. "It's too early for customers."
The man smiled. "Are you Lester Patel and Jeff Barnes?"
Jeff narrowed his eyes. "Maybe. That depends on who's asking?"
The man presented a card. "I represent und record label in Berlin. I was at the Pacific Concert Hall, and heard the two of you play. It was wunderbar!"
Lester's eyes lit up. "Really?"
The man nodded. "I want to sign Jeffster. You will be famous! Women and men will adore you!"
Jeff had a faraway look. "Women…and men?"
The man smiled. "I want the two of you to leave right away. My studio is excited to begin recording your wonderful music! Just don't forget the keytar."
Jeff and Lester stared at one another, then nearly killed each other leaping over the Nerd Herd desk.
Lester took a look around the store, and a tear slid down the side of his face. "It's…hard to say goodbye to this place."
Jeff smirked. "Not for me. I'm about to have my own stable o' hoes."
Lester shook out the cobwebs. "You're right, Jeffrey. Let's get outta here!"
Morgan shook his head in bewilderment. "If those two idiots can strike it big…there is no justice in this world."
Alex put a hand on Morgan's shoulder. "Are you okay?"
Morgan smiled. "Uh…sure, sure. I'm good. Peachy. Should I, uh, pick you up?"
Alex smiled. "That would be perfect. See you tonight?"
Morgan nodded. "You can count on it."
Big Mike rounded the corner with a puzzled look on his face. "Grimes, and I hearing things? Jeff and Lester just signed a record deal?"
Morgan glanced at the ceiling. "This can't be happening. I'm waiting for the sky to fall."
Big Mike pat Morgan on the back. "I say good riddance. But now, I have to find another Indian to work here, or the affirmative action office up at corporate will be on my ass."
Big Mike glanced around at the gawking employees. "Back to work, people! This ain't happy hour at a strip club!"
USS ENTERPRISE, CVN-65, 15 Miles off the Coast of Costa Gravas
Chuck and Sarah smiled the entire way from Dallas to NAS Key West, and from NAS Key West to a rough landing on board the USS ENTERPRISE. The couple was still smiling in a Ready Room set aside for the team.
On the ENTERPRISE, Goya joined the group, and approached Casey.
"So. Fate has brought two sworn enemies together, Colonel Casey."
Casey scowled. "It would appear so."
Goya calmly puffed on a cigar. "For years, I had a bounty on your head. The great…Angel De La Muerte. You did manage to kill some of my most trusted advisors."
Goya studied Casey carefully. "I thought you would be taller."
Casey held up his trigger finger, and scowled. "Size doesn't matter, unless we're talking about caliber."
Chuck decided to intervene. "Uh…Generalissimo Goya…can you tell us what happened?"
Goya held out his hand. "My apologies, Senor Bartowski. Forgive me for not introducing myself to you, and your lovely wife. Alejandro Goya, at your service."
Chuck smiled. "It's a pleasure."
Goya sighed. "This is embarrassing, actually…but my wife, Hortencia…"
Chuck crossed his arms. "Your wife staged the coup? She couldn't have acted alone."
Goya huffed. "My advisor, Turrini. I believe that bastardo is sleeping with my Hortencia!"
Chuck narrowed his eyes. "Are you sure?"
Goya opened his mouth, but paused. "No."
Chuck smiled. "Generalissimo, forgive me for asking, but how often do the two of you spend time together? What I mean is, when was the last time you had dinner together, or, or, took a walk on the beach, or a vacation?"
Carina smiled devilishly. "Hot, steamy sex works too."
Zondra rolled her eyes. "Carina, not everyone skips dinner, and proceeds straight to the bedroom."
Goya thought hard, then his eyes widened. "Santa Maria!"
Sarah approached. "Premier Goya, women need affirmation. If we're not getting attention from our husbands, we backlash. What I mean is…women have a tendency to find ways to get the attention of our husbands, if we're not getting the attention we need. Sometimes, just a simple conversation, or a bouquet of flowers goes a long way in a relationship."
All eyes turned to Sarah. She smiled sheepishly. "What? It's true."
Chuck kissed Sarah on the cheek. "You're absolutely right, honey."
Carina grinned. "Wow, Sarah. Very existential."
Zondra muttered. "I'm surprised you know what 'existential' means."
Carina shrugged. "What? Just because I read the dictionary when I get bored, doesn't mean I don't have a life."
Zonda blinked. "You intrigue me, Carina."
Carina winked. "Good. I like mysterious."
Casey muttered "More like bimbo."
Goya took a seat. "I'm the problem. I haven't given Hortencia the attention she deserves. I focused too much on running my country, and not enough attention on my marriage."
Chuck smiled. "Premier Goya…I have a feeling the only person who can fix this, is you."
Goya noticed Casey eyeing his cigar. Goya smiled, and offered Casey a cigar.
Casey smelled the cigar in appreciation. "Ohhhh...this is a pre-revolutionary Costa Gravan corona."
Casey lit the cigar, grunting and moaning in content.
Goya grinned. "It would appear we have something in common, Colonel Casey. An appreciation of fine cigars. If we are successful, I will be happy to offer you a box from my private collection."
Casey's eyes widened in excitement. "There will be no 'if,' Generalissimo. We'll get your country back."
Casey muttered. "Nothing will keep me from those cigars."
Chuck smirked. "The fate of Costa Gravas now rests with Casey's obsession with cigars."
Carina winked. "Or, how...needy Mrs. Goya will be."
Hortencia Goya slammed her fist on the missile fire control console in frustration. "Another failure! Why is it Alejandro purchased equipment from the lowest fucking bidder!?"
General Fernandez frowned. "Senora, we got a good deal. The Russians even threw in a few Mig fighters."
Hortencia rolled her eyes. "Yeah, they were the first planes shot down by the American destroyer!"
General Fernandez muttered. "I happen to like Migs."
Turrini fawned over Hortencia. "Senora, we will conduct other tests, and find a way to fire the missiles. Your beauty and wisdom is an inspiration to us all."
A voice from behind the wall startled the group. "Hold your tongue, Cabron!"
Turrini stared at the walls in disbelief. "The walls are talking!"
Goya stormed through a vent. "No, capullo! It is me, your Generalissimo!"
Casey appeared out of nowhere, and stuck his handgun to Turrini's head. "Buenos noches, asshole."
Hortencia's eyes turned primal. She drew a handgun and pointed it at Alejandro's head.
Sarah, Carina, and Zondra covered Hortencia, while the guards stared on in confusion. Gertrude covered the door.
Casey grunted angrily at General Fernandez. "Fernandez. Get your men out of here. This is a husband-wife discussion."
Fernandez nodded. "Gladly. Fuera!"
The guards left the room. Chuck held up his hands to Hortencia.
Chuck spoke calmly. "Hortencia…we know why you're doing this. It doesn't have to be this way."
Hortencia shook her head. "No! Alejandro is a pig! He will die!"
Alejandro sighed sadly. "Must you hate me so much, mi amor?"
Hortencia glanced away. "It's you that hates me, Alejandro! We never talk anymore! You're always too busy to even notice me! I even try dressing like a tramp to get you to make love to me, but instead, you're too busy running this hell-hole you call a country! I hate it here!"
Chuck chimed in. "Okay, okay, that's good Hortencia. You see, you have to tell Alejandro how you're feeling. That's a good first step."
Chuck turned to Alejandro. "Alejandro, is there anything you want to say to Hortencia?"
Alejandro spoke in a calm tone. "I can change, Hortencia. I realize I haven't treated you like the beautiful and brilliant woman you are."
Hortencia gulped. "What happened to you, Alejandro? You were so passionate. The revolucion…and, and…me. We started out with nothing, but we were happy! Don't you remember? We lived in caves, but we were happy!"
Chuck nodded. "Hortencia…you can still have that love that the two of you had in the cave. You don't have to lose that."
Hortencia lowered her handgun. "Do you love me, Alejandro?"
Alejandro moved closer. "More than anything. Please forgive me, my delicate flower."
Hortencia leaped into Alejandro's arms. "Oh, Alejandro!"
Turrini whimpered. "Don't touch her ass!"
Casey grunted amused. "No, go ahead. Touch her ass."
Carina smirked. "Like I said. Hot. Steamy. Sex."
Verbanski uncocked the hammer on her S&W 1911. "You should have been a psychologist, Chuck."
Sarah grinned, and gave Chuck a tender kiss on the lips. "That's my guy."
Malibu, Five Days Later
Ellie took in the scene and smiled. It was a rare sight these days to have her family together.
Ellie brushed away imaginary wrinkles on her wedding gown, trying desperately not to cry. The overwhelming joy Ellie felt was the most intense of her life.
Ellie was happy for her little brother, who would soon be a father. Ellie was happy to be reunited with her mom and dad. And now, Ellie considered the entire team part of her family.
Sarah, noticing Ellie's mood, decided to approach the bride. "Ellie, are you alright?"
Ellie smiled. "Never better."
Sarah nodded. "Before we go out there…I just wanted to say thank you."
Ellie rested a hand on Sarah's arm. "For what, sweetie?"
Sarah took a steady breath. "For accepting me, when I gave you plenty of reasons not to."
Ellie took Sarah's face in her hands. "Sarah, how could I not accept you? I didn't care if you were a spy, or a yogurt girl. You stole my brother's heart, and you have cherished it. I couldn't have asked for a better woman for my brother than you."
Sarah smiled, replying softly. "Thank you."
Ellie and Sarah embraced. Chuck arrived at the tent, and stood in the doorway, smiling at his wife and sister.
Sarah grinned, not bothering to turn around. "You can come in, Chuck."
Chuck sighed in faux frustration. "I know, I know, I married a spy."
Ellie rested a hand on Chuck's arm. "No, you married a wonderful woman."
Chuck smiled at Sarah. "I know."
Sarah picked up on Chuck's look, and kissed him on the cheek. "I'll go check on your bridesmaids, Ellie."
Chuck gave Ellie a warm smile, and took her hands. "I'm proud of you, Sis."
Ellie smiled. "Thank you."
Ellie took a seat, motioning for the chair across from her. "Well. It used to be just the two of us. And now…we've gained quite a family, huh?"
Chuck replied softly. "We certainly have."
Ellie took a steady breath. "I miss this, you know. Our talks. I know we have both been busy lately…but I miss this."
Chuck smiled solemnly. "So do I, El. I promise, we will have these talks more often. I'm sorry things have been so crazy these last several months."
Ellie nodded. "All of this…it still seems so surreal, Chuck. First, I find out you're a spy, and then…all that has happened to us just…seems like a dream."
Chuck took a breath. "At one time, it was more like a nightmare. I…didn't know what to do. The government controlled my life, and if I fell into the wrong hands…well, it wouldn't have been pleasant."
Ellie nodded in understanding. "I don't see how you did it. I knew you were strong, but that just proves to me how strong you really are."
Ellie smiled. "I knew you were special, I just didn't know how special."
Chuck stared deep in Ellie's eyes. "Ellie…if they hadn't sent Sarah…I probably wouldn't have made it. That's a fact."
Ellie took Chuck's hand. "Chuck, can I say something?"
Chuck nodded. "Sure, Sis."
Ellie spoke softly. "Sarah told me about her childhood, and induction into the CIA. She also told me the type of person she was before meeting you. You can say what you want about fate….or destiny, but I firmly believe the two of you were destined to find each other. Sarah told me…she didn't just save you back then. You saved her too."
Ellie glanced outside the tent at the rest of the team. "As well as everyone else on your team. Casey and I had a long chat last night after the rehearsal dinner. I think that's the most I've heard him talk since I've known him. He really wants to be a good father to his daughter, and he told me how much he appreciates being accepted into our family. He's a good man, Chuck. An honorable man."
Chuck turned to face Casey. "I couldn't agree more."
Ellie winked. "A little weird, but a good man."
Chuck grinned. "Did he threaten to kill anyone?"
Ellie smirked. "Morgan. It would seem Morgan and Alex are becoming an item. I hope I didn't give Casey any ideas."
Chuck's eyes widened. "Are you serious? Morgan and Alex?"
Ellie shook her head in glee. "Mind-blowing, huh?"
Chuck replied dryly. "That's an understatement. When did this happen?"
Ellie grinned. "Recently. They have been out on six dates. That has got to be a new record. Most of Morgan's dates cancel before the first date."
Chuck spoke in a mischievous tone. "Can you imagine Casey as a father-in-law?"
Ellie snorted. "Casey wanted to castrate Morgan when he found out!"
Chuck's nodded mischievously. "I'll bet. By the way, did you contact the Guinness Book of World Records? I think Morgan already has his own page devoted to him. Well, in the mystery crisper category."
Ellie smiled. "You are both all grown up. I miss the good old days of the two of you binging on junk food, and playing those stupid video games all weekend."
Chuck laughed heartily, then turned serious. "Are you…okay with all this, El? I mean, with the whole spy thing."
Ellie sighed. "At first, no. I have come to realize, you've done a lot of good, Chuck. You're helping people. Although I wasn't happy about this arrangement in the beginning…I'm proud of you, little brother."
Ellie leaned forward and embraced Chuck. Ellie spoke softly in his ear. "Promise me one thing. You will always be the same, sweet guy you are, and nothing will ever change you."
Chuck replied with conviction. "I promise."
Chuck slowly broke the embrace, and stood, holding out his hand. "Let's get you married."
Ellie winked. "Let's do this."
Stephanie stood outside the entrance of the tent, with Abby resting comfortably in her arms. Ellie took notice, and motioned for her to enter. Chuck smiled at the ladies, and proceeded to his place as Devon's Best Man.
Stephanie smiled. "I'm sorry to interrupt, Ellie. Sarah has everyone in position. We're ready to begin."
Ellie approached Stephanie with a broad smile. "I'm ready."
Ellie smiled at the resting infant, adorned in a white dress and white headband with a bow. "She is so precious, Steph."
Stephanie smiled, and brushed Abby's hair gently. "I'm glad she's finally here. It's a lot of work, but Jason and I are enjoying every minute of it."
Ellie placed a friendly hand on Stephanie's arm. "I'm happy for you both, sweetie."
Ellie glanced around in appreciation. "Steph, thank you so much for helping out with the wedding. I love the decorations."
Sarah approached holding Molly's hand. Stephanie gave Sarah a sly smile. "I can't take all the credit. I called in a few favors, but Sarah can be very persuasive."
Sarah gave Stephanie a wink. "Never take no for an answer."
Stephanie chuckled. "That was funny how you man-handled that florist. He was acting like a jerk anyway."
Sarah sighed. "He was more interested in staring down our blouses than selling flowers."
Sarah bumped shoulders with Stephanie. "I have to admit, that was clever how you handled the cake maker."
Stephanie grinned. "I picked up right way her husband is in the military. Military wives talk the same talk, so I decided to play on that. But, I will pay her back by using her bakery to supply refreshments for Buy More corporate meetings."
Ellie grinned. "Just send Big Mike her way. She'll be set for life."
Stephen approached the group. "Alright, Eleanor. I guess it's time to give away the bride."
Ellie took her father's arm. Her dreams of the perfect wedding had come true.
Echo Park, Two Weeks Later
Bower sat at his kitchen table trying not to fall asleep. After taking a liberal gulp of coffee, Bower entered the kitchen to check the temperature of the bottle he placed in a bottle warmer for Abby. He knew she would be awake any second now, vocalizing her appetite with a high-pitched squeal.
Bower yawned as the timer indicated the bottle was warm. He pulled the bottle from the warmer, testing the temperature on his wrist. Satisfied it was the right temperature, he walked to the nursery, and stood outside the door, waiting for the inevitable. When Abby stirred in her sleep, moaning, Bower quietly entered the nursery.
Bower grabbed a burp cloth, slinging it over his shoulder. He gently lifted the little girl in his arms, who immediately nestled into his neck, whimpering softly. Bower paced the nursery, bouncing the little girl gently in his arms, before sitting in a rocking chair.
Bower held the nipple close to his daughter's mouth, who pawed desperately, before attaching her lips. The child sucked heavily, content with the contents.
Bower smiled. "That's my girl. Daddy beat you to it this morning. Mommy needs her rest."
Bower rocked the little girl gently while she feasted. The nursery door opened gently, and Stephanie entered the room. Stephanie paused at the sight before her, and smiled.
Bower frowned, whispering to his wife. "The idea was for you to rest."
Stephanie chuckled, and took a seat nearby. "I have a confession to make. I had the same idea. You handled the 3AM feeding. Unfortunately, I slept a few minutes longer."
Stephanie rubbed Bower's shoulder. "How's the shoulder?"
Bower nodded. "Better. The exercises Colonel Casey has me doing have really helped."
Stephanie smiled. "Good. Is every day going to be like this? I mean, you having a scheduled work day?"
Bower smiled sadly. "Not always. When Chuck and Sarah return from their long, overdue honeymoon in a few days, my hours could be longer. But, I will be home each night."
Bower chuckled. "When Ellie and Devon returned from their honeymoon last week, the first thing she wanted to do was examine my shoulder."
Stephanie grinned. "She texted me to make sure Casey wasn't overdoing your training."
Stephanie sighed. "Speaking of honeymoons, we only had 10 days for the wedding, and honeymoon."
Bower nodded in understanding. "I know, and I'm sorry. I, uh…have been planning on a real honeymoon when I saved up enough money."
Stephanie replied softly. "Sweetheart, don't be sorry. I loved our honeymoon. I make over $200, 000 a year. We can take a second honeymoon at any time."
Bower sighed sadly. "I wanted it to be a surprise, Steph. I've been setting money aside for the last couple of years."
Stephanie smiled, and rested a hand on Bower's. "That's so sweet."
Stephanie studied her husband closely. "Jason, I love you. I don't want you to ever feel like you have to do things like that for me all the time."
Bower sighed. "But I wanted to do…I don't know, something."
Stephanie rested her head on Bower's shoulder, wrapping herself in his arm. "Baby, listen to me. All I need is you."
Bower rested his head on Stephanie's. "I love you."
Stephanie kissed her husband on the cheek, and spoke playfully. "You better. I did carry your child for nine months."
Bower laughed softly. "Point well taken."
Stephanie noticed Abby sound asleep in Bower's arms. "Tell you what, I'll change Abby's diaper and put her back to bed. Do you mind fixing me a cup of coffee?"
Bower gently handed Abby to his wife. "Your wish is my command, my lady."
Stephanie chuckled, and rested Abby on the changing station.
Bower proceeded to the kitchen, and poured two cups of coffee. He also prepared a bowel of fruit for his wife, and a frozen waffle for himself.
Bower retrieved silverware, and paused when he felt Stephanie's arms wrap around his waist from behind. He turned, and took his wife in his arms. Stephanie rested her head in Bower's chest, and sighed in content. Stephanie raised her eyes, and kissed her husband on the lips.
Moments later, the kiss turned passionate. Stephanie breathlessly broke the kiss, and stared longingly in her husband's eyes.
Stephanie panted. "Bed. Now."
Bower nodded, scooping his wife in his arms.
Stephanie giggled on the way to the bedroom, but gasped when Bower lowered her gently to the bed. Stephanie wrapped her arms around Bower's neck, and stared in his eyes. Husband and wife spoke volumes to each other, using only their eyes.
Echo Park, 7 Months Later
Chuck enjoyed staring at the night sky. It was one of his favorite activities.
Chuck smiled as he remembered the events of the past year, and how one mission changed his life forever.
Sure, Missile Command was just an arcade game. Chuck and Morgan had spent hours as kids trying to reach the kill screen. Chuck grinned imagining Jeff Barnes as the one-time champion.
Sarah stepped onto the balcony, rubbing her bulging stomach. She placed her hand gently on Chuck's back, and smiled when Chuck's arm found its way around her shoulder.
Sarah studied her husband carefully. He was lost in deep thought.
Sarah spoke softly. "Is this the part where I'm supposed to ask what's on your mind?"
Chuck smiled. "I, uh, was just thinking."
Sarah wrapped her arms around Chuck's waist. "About what?"
Chuck sighed. "Over a year ago, you and I stood on this very balcony after the mission that changed our lives. A lot has happened since then…and a lot is about to happen."
Chuck took a steady breath in stared in Sarah's eyes. "Sarah, at the lowest point in my life, you picked me up, and put me back on solid ground. I just wanted to say…thank you, and I love you."
Sarah touched Chuck on the cheek. "I love you too, Chuck. You don't have to thank me. I'll always be by your side."
Chuck cupped Sarah's face, and kissed her softly on the lips. "You know, at one time, it was just me, Morgan, Ellie, and Awesome. Then, you and Casey came along. And now…we have Mom, Dad, Emma, Molly, Carina, Zondra, Jason, Stephanie, and little Abby in our family. My point is, I'm grateful for everyone in our lives, but especially for you."
Sarah glanced away and smiled shyly.
Chuck noticed a shooting star over the horizon. "Look, Sarah. A shooting star."
Chuck stood behind Sarah, and rested his arms around her shoulders. Sarah held Chuck's arms firmly, and rested her head on his chest. "I seem to recall another conversation about a star."
Chuck laughed softly. "Well, satellite, but let's not get technical. I had my wish. It's your turn."
Sarah turned in Chuck's arms, and snaked her arms around Chuck's neck. "There's no need. My wish came true."
Chuck smiled, and kissed Sarah softly on the lips. At that moment, Sarah felt her water break.
Chuck glanced down. "Huh. The sprinklers must be on the fritz again."
Sarah rolled her eyes playfully. "Uh, Chuck. That wasn't the sprinklers."
Chuck furrowed his brow in confusion. "I suppose we had better call a plumber."
Sarah grinned. "More like a doctor."
Chuck stared at Sarah in confusion. "Why?"
Sarah chuckled, and kissed Chuck softly on the lips. "Chuck, don't freak out. It's time."
Chuck's eyes widened in realization. "Oh boy!"
Sarah laughed. "I hope it is a boy, but I would love to have a girl too. You know how I hate surprises…well sometimes."
Sarah took Chuck's hand, and led him to the door. "Let's go have a baby, Chuck."
Chuck grinned. "Let's do this."
Castle, 4 Years Later
Sarah bolted to the locker rooms to change out of her mission gear. The mission had been a success, but tonight was a very important night.
Chuck lingered not far behind Sarah, removing his tactical vest.
Bower smirked from his station. "What happened to 'stay in the car,' Chuck?"
Chuck replied with a goofy look on his face. "Nobody stays in the car."
Casey rolled his eyes as he descended the steps. "Bartowski can't stand sitting out a firefight."
Verbanski shrugged. "You did call for back-up, John. It was fun watching Sarah in action again, even if she was using a tranq gun."
Sarah power-walked from the around the corner, dressed in a knee-length blue dress, handing Chuck a suit. "Step on it, sweetie. Faye's recital is in one hour."
Chuck's eyes widened. "Oh! Right! I almost forgot!"
Sarah grabbed her purse. "You can change in the car. Mom and Molly are keeping Liam tonight. He still has a head cold."
Chuck frowned. "Poor little guy. We'll stop and get some juice on the way home."
Casey removed a package from his bag, shoving it in Chuck's chest. "Mix a little of this in Liam's juice."
Chuck inspected the bag. "Snake root? Isn't that used to treat Malaria?"
Casey grunted. "And colds, idiot."
Sarah kissed Chuck on the cheek. "Liam was scared he would miss story time tonight."
Chuck smiled. "Never. His old man has never let him down. Well, except that one time when you and I…oh, never mind."
Bower chimed in. "Sarah, Carina and Zondra got the intel, and their plane just landed. They'll head straight to the recital."
Sarah glanced at her watch. "They'll just make it."
General Beckman appeared on the screen. "Lieutenant Bower. General Sanders has requested an after-action report on tonight's mission."
Bower nodded. "Ma'am, I'll brief the General from the road. Faye's recital is tonight."
The side-door to Castle opened, and a little girl with curly auburn hair ran into the room, shouting "Daddy!" with glee.
Bower turned, and scooped Abby into his arms. Stephanie walked not far behind, dressed in a pink flared dress, with a little boy, not much older than 2, holding her hand.
Stephanie smiled at Beckman. "Good evening, General. Did you get my report?"
Beckman nodded. "I did, Mrs. Bower. The Joint Chiefs was most pleased the Buy More's profits covered the cost of the operation for the fourth straight year. Well done."
Stephanie gave a polite nod. "Thank you, General."
Beckman checked her watch. "Alright, Lieutenant. You're dismissed."
Beckman disconnected the feed, and Stephanie adjusted the tie on Bower's Service Dress Uniform. "You look very handsome."
Casey gave Bower an approving grunt. The Navy and Marine Corps Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and Purple Heart on Bower's uniform, earned four years ago, made Casey swell with pride. Bower would soon add a Navy Cross to his list of citations for a joint mission with NATO forces in Afghanistan. Bower exposed himself to enemy fire to call in an airstrike.
Chuck receied the National Intelligence Cross, and Sarah received the Distinguished Intelligence Cross during the same operation. It would be their fourth intelligence cross.
Bower kissed Stephanie softly on the lips. "You look gorgeous."
The little boy tugged at the leg of Bower's trousers. Bower leaned down, and scooped his son in his other arm. "Nathan, have you been good for mommy?"
The little boy nodded. Bower smiled, and kissed Nathan on his forehead. Bower then turned to Abby. "Have you been good for mommy?"
Abby nodded. "Yes, Daddy. I helped Mommy with Nathan."
Bower smiled, and kissed his daughter on the cheek. "That's my girl."
Chuck smiled at the family. "Ready, guys?"
Bower nodded. "Ready."
Sarah approached Stephanie and smiled. "You look great, Steph."
Stephanie smiled. "So do you, Sarah."
Chuck called Ellie. "Hey, Sis. We're on our way. We'll be there in 45 minutes."
Sarah smiled a wicked smile. "I'm driving."
Chuck narrowed his eyes. "On second thought, we'll be there in 15 minutes."
Sarah planted a soft kiss on Chuck's lips. Sarah turned her attention to Casey and Verbanski. "Need a ride?"
Casey glanced at Bower. "We'll ride with the Bowers."
Sarah smirked. "Scared you might get car sick again, Casey?"
Casey scoffed. "I wasn't car sick. I wasn't feeling well."
Chuck grinned. "You filled two barf bags."
Casey scowled. "Keep it up, Bartowski, and you'll have a hard time fathering more kids when I rip your..."
Verbanski smacked Casey on the arm, hissing. "Casey! Children are present!"
Casey grunted angrily.
Casey turned to Abby and Nathan, handing each a piece of candy.
Abby smiled. "Thank you, Uncle Casey."
Casey grinned. "Your mom told me you were a good girl today. There's more where that came from if you keep it up, kiddo."
Abby nodded. "Yes, Sir."
Sarah brushed Abby's hair gently with her hand. "Abby is always a good girl, aren't you?"
Abby nodded. "Yes, Ma'am."
Verbanski whispered in Stephanie's ear. "Casey is such a Sugar Bear."
Stephanie bit her lip to keep from laughing.
Casey grunted. "I heard that."
Chuck grinned, and took Sarah by the hand. "Shall we?"
Sarah smiled as the couple headed for the exit. "Lets."
Sarah leaned her head on Chuck's shoulder as the group exited the Buy More. She smiled, remembering how it all began years ago, with a ballerina.
Tonight, Sarah's daughter was the ballerina.
One word in Sarah's musings described her life. Perfect.
A/N: That's a wrap!
A little about the story. I started out with an outline for around 12 chapters, give or take. After completing Demonslayer Parts 1 and 2, the story evolved even more, and took on a life of it's own. The outline went out the window, and each chapter seemed to write itself. When I reached Chapter 20, I was beginning to think the story was writing itself, using me as a typist. Weird.
After watching Chuck from start to finish for like the 7th time, I made pages and pages of notes. Mostly, "what if they had done this?" type stuff, things I liked, and things that I didn't like. That's probably why the story felt like a "blender" with moments from all over the series.
The original ending had Chuck waking up from a one year coma, with the entire story having been a dream. It still had a happy ending, with Sarah having resigned from the CIA and sitting right there when Chuck woke up. I decided that would be cruel with all that happened, so I axed that idea. I like a good twist, but I felt that would have been a bad move with how the story expanded. Had I gone with the original outline, it would have worked better with a shorter version of the story, and made more sense.
Anyway, I wanted to write something with a little bit of everything, BUT, something fun.
I like organic characters, treated fairly...even when they screw up. After all, our heroes aren't perfect. That doesn't mean we don't like them any less. To me, humanizing a character creates a better relationship between reader and character. That's the magic of a good story, when those same characters rise to the occasion, with the reader serving as a cheering section. That makes for a fun story, in my humble opinion. Did I accomplish that goal? That's up to you guys and gals.
My thanks once again to stars90 for allowing me to use some of the concepts from "What Would You Like?" in the first phase of this story. If you haven't read "What Would You Like?" I encourage you to do so. Great story.
Now, I am going to call out a few reviewers for being AWESOME! This is in no particular order. You're all top shelf in my book.
Thanks to atcDave, michaelfmx, sevenrez, wilf21, tut1971, zanex9, Neale, supesfan18, red lighting...(out of breath...taking another...)... joebell58118 (dang edit engine wouldn't let me format your name correctly, Joe), craspon, mikanMD, phathead01...(panting heavily)...Tempe4Booth, charakids, stars90, CubsKing, Mufc87, fezzywhigg...(cough, cough, gasp)...SK, Garnetflint, Marc Vun Kannon,...and many, many others for taking the time to share your two cents worth on many, if not all chapters. (Clawing, gasping for air). I know I'm leaving some people out, but that doesn't mean I'm not grateful. (Insert lame excuse here for being tired and lazy going back through reviews). Thank you, thank you...and thank you. (Deep breaths in an oxygen mask).
What does the future hold? (That IS the ultimate question we all ask ourselves...right?). Old age? My kids moving out of the house? Oh, another story! Riiiiggghtttt.
I really don't know. This story took a lot of effort, so after I take a nice, long break...we'll see what happens. I'll be the first to admit I have a lot of work to do as a writer, and there were times I wasn't happy with how some chapters turned out. That said, I did make an effort to ensure each chapter was polished to the best of my ability.
This has been fun, and I hope everyone enjoyed the story. I am truly speechless at the number of reviews, Favorites, Follows, and hits for this story. If one reader enjoyed the story, it was worth the effort. Thank you all!