OK, I'll preface this with the admission that Sarah Walker was the main reason I liked the show and I often didn't like how Chuck was shown to be behaving (or that he always seemed to follow the advice of the biggest idiots and sleazes on the show), but reading some of the old stories, a question has come up.

The number of stories that portray Sarah as a slut (or worse) surprises me, and I really have to wonder where people got that idea from. In the series, after she met Chuck they only showed her kissing Bryce, Cole and Shaw briefly outside of missions and Cole on a mission, and there wasn't any indication at all that it might have gone beyond that with anyone but Shaw. Even there I had the impression that IF it ever went beyond that it would have been reluctant on her part as she was still clearly stuck on Chuck. She never showed anything like the passion she did with Chuck with any of them, and normally showed remorse afterwards.

On the other hand, we were shown that Chuck slept with Jill and Hanna, and the only reason he didn't do it with Lou was that he was blocked by Sarah. As it was his make-out session with Lou went far beyond anything Sarah did with anyone else on the show. He was also going off to do something similar with Sasha Banacheck out of spite because of what he heard Sarah saying when she was trying to throw Roan off the scent and rubbed her nose in it when he was doing these things quite unfeelingly. How is it then that she's viewed as a temptress and a slut while Chuck's viewed as all that's innocent and good?

This is really something I'd like to hear from people about (PM's fine if you don't want your views seen), because I don't understand it at all. It isn't even about the point I raised in Scarlet about it being wrong that women who are sexual are labelled to be 'sluts' while 'men' who act the same way are heralded as 'studs'. We were shown throughout the show that Sarah was essentially being true to Chuck and not sleeping with anyone until they got together, while he played the man whore more than a few times (an aspect of Chuck that I disliked intensely so I've removed it from my stories, along with their clumsy attempts to create angst). The only woman that he DID turn down was Carina and IMHO that was more because she was too close to Sarah than a moral call. So people, why do so many view them in the opposite roles? Was this just based on the words they said, when everything that they did in the show showed otherwise, or was it something else?

The times, they are a changing. This is mostly fluff, setting up where the story is heading, but it has some dark patches.

Usual disclaimers, no rights to any characters portrayed, this isn't the real world and it's not a Disney Princess story.

Washington – February 2013

With Casey being taken away to run the Joint Staff and their 'junior' flag officers being required to take on more of a role in the on-going clean-up of the military and intelligence community, the powers that be had used everyone's fear and awe of the Special Projects Group to push Emma and Mary up to Lieutenant Generals, Anna up to Rear Admiral and Carina, Zondra and Dasha up to Major Generals to give them authority to enforce their orders in early late 2012.

Mary took over from Casey as the Director or Commander of his Operations groups when he became the Director of the Joint Staff, and Carina stepped up as her Deputy in those groups.

In late February 2013, the two year extension that the Secretary of Defense had agreed to serve finished, and he handed the role over to another old war horse when he retired. The new Secretary's views on the serious issues that they were facing and how they were dealing with them were in line with the President's, so aside from the expected hiccups of a new man finding his feet, the transition was remarkably smooth.

Working with the new Secretary of Defense wasn't quite as easy yet as working with his predecessor had been, but a few of the previous Secretaries that Diane, Mary, Emma, Ellie and Chuck had had to deal with over the previous twenty one years had been much harder to handle (Diane shuddered as she remembered dealing with Cheney), and the signs were looking good for things to settle down well enough in time.

Washington – July 2013

The team's next major shake up after Casey was appointed as the Director of the Joint Staff was in July 2013 when Diane was requested to take over as the National Security Advisor when Dennis retired. The President requested that Chuck take over as the Director of National Intelligence from her at the same time. Chuck argued a little about the change of role because he didn't want to move away from the family and the group that they'd been working with for over twenty years, but as expected he ended up bowing to the request that he serve his country. The Senate fell over themselves getting Chuck confirmed as the new DNI. This of course required a total reshuffle of the Special Projects Group.

When she was requested to take over control of the Special Projects Group, Sarah also argued against what was proposed, saying that it should be Ellie who took over from Chuck as the Director and Commander of the Special Projects Group. The President and Secretary of Defense (who had been brought in because of this element) rejected that, as they were adamant that Ellie had been earmarked for a different role that they needed her to take on.

The new Secretary of Defense had trouble getting his head around why the President of the United States would allow these people to sit in the Oval Office and ARGUE with him. They were moderately polite about it, but still, first they'd had to deal with this Admiral Carmichael.

"Mister President, we've had this discussion before, my family agreed to work with Auntie Di back in ninety two, mostly to find Sammie, and we've done our best for the country since then, but this isn't what I signed on for. We have a family of our own now and I don't want to be separated from them."

At the President's. "Chuck….", When both Chuck and the Secretary of Defense looked at him he grinned before going on. "Admiral, yes, I understand what you're saying, but your country needs you. You know better than anyone that we don't know who we can trust, and we NEED someone of your integrity and ability in control of the intelligence interests of our country."

"You can leave Auntie Di in the role Mister President, we all have the utmost faith in her."

"Yes, we do, but she's the first one to say that she doesn't know a fraction of what you do about the issues at hand, and she's better placed dealing with the political wranglings as the National Security Advisor. Politics is about the only area where she's better than you."

Diane stepped in then. "You know he's right Honey, we'll try and make it so you can work from Los Angeles as much as possible, but we NEED you to take the reins as the DNI."

When Admiral Carmichael finally agreed to do his duty, they had to go through it again with GENERAL Carmichael, because she wanted to argue that Admiral Coburn was the logical choice to take over from Admiral Carmichael. She even ignored him and the President while she had discussions with the others in some foreign language.

"No Mister President, Ellie is the one to take over from Chuck, she's been doing this as long as he has, I've only been really involved in this side of it for the last seven years!"

The President sighed, it would be much easier to explain to them WHY it had to be her that took over control of the Special Projects Group, but his new Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff insisted that it would cause too much upheaval if anything slipped out about what they needed Admiral Coburn for.

"I'm sorry Sarah, but for reasons we can't go into now we need Ellie for another role in the near future. Before you say it, we considered both your mother and mother in law, but Diane agrees with me that it's best for the group to have a recognisable face at the helm, and as she pointed out, Emma and Mary will be retiring in a few years, just like she will."

Sarah turned to Diane and addressed her in rapidfire Polish "What's going on Auntie Di? Why won't they put Ellie in as Chuck's replacement? You know that she can do this far better than I can! I don't know a fraction of what she does in that side of things!"

Diane shook her head "I don't know Honey, they wouldn't tell me why either. I'm pretty sure that this isn't coming from the President but there is something political behind it. They'll only tell me that they need Ellie for another role that ONLY she is suitable for in the not too distant future."

"What about Mama and Auntie Mary? Either of them would be better suited to this than I am!"

"No, what the President said is right, your reputation as Sarah Walker is only exceeded by Chuck's as Charles Carmichael, or Mowgli. The group needs to be headed by someone who these people all know and respect, and that's you. Emma, Mary and I, we're all pushing sixty and we're getting tired because we've been at this for over forty years. Anyway, we aren't the ones to take it forward, you are! Our worlds have finally settled down, Emma has you back, I really have Dasha in my life and we all have our grandchildren to spoil like other people our age. We want a chance to enjoy that, surely you can understand that?"

"But what about Chuck and I? We have our children to look after, doesn't that matter?"

"Of course it does Honey! This won't change things much for you though, you'll still be based at home, at most you'll have a few extra meetings to attend here. I've talked to the President and we've agreed that Chuck will only need to spend half of his time here, mornings or afternoons depending on when his meetings are. We need both of you to do this, and the President is committed to working with you to ensure you get what you want."

The President had no idea what they had discussed, but he took in Sarah's frustrated expression.

"General, Sarah, will you help us out here? Will you take over the Special Projects Group?"

Sarah looked at Chuck, her mother and Ellie, getting even more frustrated at their resigned expressions. What she saw in all of their eyes was that none of them liked this but they accepted that it was something that they had to do. The sound she made at that was halfway between a sigh and a frustrated 'huff'.

"Yes Mister President, against my better judgement I will accept the role of Commander and Director of the Special Projects Group. However, I reserve the right to resign if I find that this is effecting my family too much, I have three young children who I am responsible for!"

The President looked at Chuck and saw the steely look in his eye as he nodded emphatically to indicate that the same caveat would apply to him.

The President nodded his acceptance of their terms and formally thanked both if them for accepting the responsibilities asked of them.

Sarah took over all of Chuck's roles in the Special Projects Group, except for the Cyber groups which Anna took over. Mary took over from Sarah as Director of the Intersect Project and Anna, Lynn or Carina took over Chuck's and most of Sarah's Deputy roles. Jeff was promoted to a Navy Captain and took over Anna's Deputy roles for the groups where she became the Commander or Director. Skip was also promoted to Captain in the Navy and Gertrude, Marco, Ilsa and Vinnie were promoted to Colonels as they took on more responsibility within the group.

While Diane had been required to retire when she became the DNI, Chuck retained his rank and privileges as a full Admiral. It was documented to show that while he was being seconded into the role of the DNI for an indeterminate period, but he could return to the military at that rank if he so wished. Sarah was promoted to a full General to take over from him, so with Casey gone to his new role that took them back to one O-10, three O-9s and four O-8s in the Special Projects Group, though officially it was two O-10s and four O-9s as Chuck's and Casey's positions were still attached to the group.

Pasadena – September 2013

They'd barely had time to settle down into their new roles before the next upheaval came, as Zondra was requested to accept the role of the Director of the FBI to replace Rob Mueller when he retired in September 2013. The extra two years of service that Rob had agreed to give at the President's request in May 2011 hadn't bought them enough time to find a suitable trusted replacement to follow in his footsteps, so the President asked Zondra if she'd step up and accept the responsibility for the role and she agreed. Like Chuck, she retained the rank and privileges of a Major General. She was seconded to the role of Director of the FBI but could return at that rank if she wished at a later date.

With the Special Projects group still riding on the massive wave of support from being national heroes, not to mention saving the world a few times, the Senate pushed her confirmation through with all haste. This made Zondra the first woman in charge of the FBI, as well as its youngest ever Director.

By that stage they had six VSTLs, a dozen VSTMs and three VSTHs operational, plus Sonic, so there was always fast transport available to shuttle Zondra, Casey, Chuck and the rest of them back and forth between D.C. and L.A. when required. Zondra usually took a VSTM for her protective detail, but even more for when she had the chance to take Zander with her. This wasn't as often as she liked, because over half the time he was playing and training with the other kids at home. The fact that he started school soon after she took on the role only made it worse as he had to spend more time at home.

Zander, or Zander Vincenzo Rizzo to be formal, was named for Zondra's mother, Sandra Zappetti. (Vinnie had adopted Zondra's surname when they were married because while it wasn't much more 'real' than 'Smith', the reason for choosing it was significant to her and she was famous as the FBI's best, whereas 'Smith' had basically been a name drawn from the bucket.) The name Zondra was actually a construct made up of the 'Z' from Zappetti and her mother's given name of Sandra, using the 'on' from her own original given name of Tonya.

Zondra's origins in this world were quite possibly the most horrific of any of them. She had been a beautiful fifteen year old girl when she caught the eye of Don Garibaldi in the period that her father was working for the Garibaldi crime family. Her father had only been concerned with what happened to him, so when Don Garibaldi wanted her, her father took her to him rather than take any chance of incurring his wrath, Zondra had had no idea about what was going on. When she was delivered to him, Garibaldi grabbed her and she was brutally raped in many unimaginable ways by him before being all but beaten to death because she defied him and fought against him.

Afterwards she had been dumped on their doorstep more dead than alive and her mother rushed her to hospital to try and save her. Her mother was screaming that she'd see Garibaldi in hell for doing this to her daughter and her father went scurrying off to Garibaldi to warn him about that. That night her mother was raped, tortured and murdered by a number of men in their home while her father was reportedly out. Her mother had managed to contact the FBI before they came for her though, and they kept Zondra safe.

Once she was dragged back from death's door and regained consciousness to find out that her mother had been killed and what had been done to her before she died, Zondra agreed to testify from her hospital bed to help put Garibaldi and her father away, but Garibaldi's lawyers got them out again. When that happened, she demanded that the FBI honour the promises they had made to allow her to help bring him, her father and others like them down.

The physical damage Garibaldi did to her had been so severe that she required major cosmetic reconstruction work to her face and body, and she agreed to have her face changed in the process to ensure that no-one would be able to recognise her. As she'd lost her likeness to her mother through this, she constructed the name Zondra for herself to keep something of her mother. She also adopted her maternal grandmother's maiden name of Rizzo to sever any remaining connection to her original name of Tonya Trappoli.

Zondra was a driven woman from that point on and she excelled in every aspect of the FBI's training. She was so far ahead of everyone else that they really had no justification not to make her a full agent by the time she was eighteen. She had been instrumental in bringing down five major crime families (starting with the Garibaldi family, and she made sure that Garibaldi and her father didn't get away this time) before she was twenty, and from there she was seconded into senior roles in organised crime operations with other intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world. It was her record on those multi agency operations in the United States and around the world which had led to her being made part of the CAT Squad, and her career would have continued to sky-rocket if Graham hadn't engineered the circumstances to ensure that she was sidelined after he broke up what was left of the CAT Squad.

There was little argument from the FBI people who were serious about its goals when Zondra was appointed to replace Rob Mueller. These people they knew of Special Agent Zondra Rizzo's achievements in the field over the past eighteen years, much of which had been spent successfully planning and leading field operations. They also knew about how she'd earned her Doctor of Juridical Science from Columbia Law School while she was operating as a field operative. (That was another thing that she, Sarah and Carina shared, they'd all earned variations of Juris Doctor degrees from different universities.) Anyone and everyone who that mattered in the FBI knew that she was more qualified and respected than any other candidate, and most of these people stood behind her when she was confirmed.

While this was going on, their children were growing up together, and Emma, Mary, Stephen and Ellie were watching one development with amazement, as it was basically a replay of how Charlie and Sammie had been at this age. Carina and Leslie's daughter Katarina Leslie Mahoney, or Katie as she was usually known, was obviously the brightest of the children after Mary and Stephen's Grandchildren due to her father's brilliance. She had also inherited her mother's athleticism which was up there with just about anyone's. As such, she was almost the equivalent of Sarah and Ellie's children in most respects.

The thing was, Katie and Sammie had become inseparable, just as Charlie and Sammie had been. But for the fact that Katie's hair was red instead of blonde, it was as though they were watching Charlie and Sammie when they were little all over again. On top of that, the fact that Sarah and Carina were best friends, just as Mary and Emma had been, was enough to make this a totally surreal experience.

The children, Mary and Emma were having a great time with their 'games', just as they had when it was Ellie, Charlie and Sammie. The interesting thing for the watchers was seeing that their children (and Katie) were actually ahead of where they had been at that age. Given that they already had an advantage over their parents, just as their parents had been far and away better than their own parents, and there was a good chance that the effects of the Carmichael Intersect would improve them as well, there was little doubt that they'd surpass their parents' abilities.

Most people would have been horrified to learn that these children were taught to handle firearms before they even started school, and in fact over half of them were already reasonably proficient (some quite proficient) with .22 short pistols and rifles. In this family though, their ability to protect themselves was more important than the mores of society, and it was in their genes anyway, as they all had operatives as one or both parents. For that matter, nearly half of them were third generation operatives.

With the core Intersect team agents being taken out of the field for other duties now, they were seconding agents from the Special Projects Group's other groups into the Intersect team. Most of these agents had proven themselves time and again and this process was working quite well.

When they needed support, they brought in their Spetsnazovtsi or Shadow Security people under the guise of FBI, SAD, ATF, U.S. Marshals or whatever special operations teams and they hadn't found a scenario that they couldn't handle yet. They also brought in larger groups as SEAL or Special Forces teams a few times when a larger force was required.

Washington – late March 2014

In early 2014, they found out what the President and Secretary of Defense had planned for Ellie. What they'd been trying to cover up to avoid the expected furore was that the Director of the NSA had essentially committed political suicide by making a string of serious and rather public mistakes.

When the President and Secretary of Defense agreed that his career was reaching end of life, they'd investigated the options for his replacement and decided that the only one available who was capable and trusted enough to replace him as the Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command, Director of the National Security Agency and the Chief of the Central Security Service was United States Navy Admiral Eleanor Clara Coburn (a promotion to a full Admiral was part and parcel of that appointment). After considering it for a short time, Ellie accepted the appointment.

Ellie's appointment to take over the NSA, CSS and CYBERCOM necessitated yet another reshuffle of the Special Projects Group. This time Emma took over control of all of Ellie's groups, and Anna or Lynn took over her Deputy roles in most of the groups. This meant that Emma now had control of most of the Analysis and Information Dominance groups while Mary controlled most of the Intelligence and Operations groups. Anna controlled the Cyber groups and Sarah had everything else. With Ellie gone, the Special Projects Group's command group now stood at one O-10, two O-9s and three O-8s (officially three O-10s as Ellie's O-9 had been modified with her promotion, three O-9s and four O-8s).

Washington – August 2014

The changes to the Special Projects Group were coming thick and fast, as it was only a few months more before the next change for the group. In July, Chuck called the senior members of the group to Washington for another meeting with the President. This one was a very similar scenario to Ellie's appointment, as the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency had to go too.

The problem came down to what the President had said to Chuck. Even with the purges that had been done, they now knew that they couldn't guarantee that anyone was clean and the President and Secretary of Defense had no confidence in any of the candidates who had been proposed, so they were asking Dasha to accept the role as the Director of the DIA. Dasha was overwhelmed, but with encouragement from the National Security Advisor (her mother), the DNI (Chuck) and the Director of the NSA (Ellie), she accepted the role.

After the repeated rounds of purges, the politicians were afraid of what the Special Projects Group could do (they were commonly referred to as the President's Pit Bulls behind their backs), so when the President proposed Major General Fiona Daria Rodya as the new Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, her promotion to Lieutenant General and appointment to the role were confirmed in August without question or delay, with that the Special Project Group's command was reduced to one O-10, two O-9s and two O-8s, officially four O-10s as Casey's O-9 had been modified with his promotion, three O-9s as Dasha's O-8 had been revised with her's, and three O-8s).

There was another transfer and promotion to be processed at the same time though, as Casey had identified and vetted his replacement as the Director of Joint Staff, so he was getting out of that role. While he'd been looking to return to the Special Projects Group though, the President and the Secretary of Defense had other ideas. The Commander of the United States Special Operations Command had had his retirement approved in June, and they had been very impressed with what Casey had done with the Joint Staff, so they asked him to accept the SOCOM Commander's role.

Given that Special Operations was the area that Casey was happiest in, it didn't take him long to accept the role with Ellie's agreement, and his promotion to a full General and appointment to the role of the Commander of the United States Special Operations Command was confirmed by the Senate when they confirmed Dasha's promotion and appointment.

When Chuck assumed the role of the DNI, they'd brought Sonic back from the Island to house it at a secure airstrip near Pasadena, because they sometimes had emergencies where the forty to forty five minutes that it could save in getting to the White House could make all the difference. Carmichael Industries leased a hanger at Ronald Reagan Airport that was nominally used for its G550 and kept a VTL, some of the Spetsnazovtsi as guards and staff to refuel and maintain their aircraft there.

When Casey accepted the SOCOM Commander's role, they started building a second one, because he was based at MacDill AFB down in Florida, so it could take forty minutes off the flight time between Los Angeles and Tampa. Of course, Leslie being Leslie, this one got Shadow the Hedgehog on its tail surfaces and was called Shadow.

As with the rest of their ceremonies, the promotion and induction ceremonies were held in the Oval Office with a small but distinguished group. Some wondered why the Deputy Director of the NSA was present, but there was no doubt who the older woman wearing her dead husband's ribbons was, as General Coburn asked leave to comfort his mother when she burst into tears because his father couldn't be here to see this. No-one questioned it when the Director of the NSA went to stand with her arm around the woman as he went back to the ceremony, as everyone knew that Admiral Coburn was his wife, but they did wonder about that young female Marine Captain who stood on her other side holding her hand.

Those who heard the President greeting the older woman got some answers, but rather a shock at hearing his words. "Mrs Coburn, it's so good to see you again! You must be proud of your Johnny Boy here, he's one hell of a Marine, just as his father was I can see." He waved to the ribbons she was wearing which showed that Alex Coburn Senior had been awarded the Silver Star twice among other medals, then he gave a laugh. "The way your family is, I expect that you'll be seeing your Granddaughter as a General too, maybe both of them. Clara will most likely have at least twenty five years before she gets there, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Alex make it within ten years."

Johanna laughed at that as she looked over at Alex. "I think that you might just have something there Mister President."

Ellie piped up then. "Well Alex may become a General, but Clara is going to be an Admiral, just like Mommy, aren't you Sweetie?"

Clara nodded emphatically. "Yep, I'm going to be an Admiral!" They all burst out laughing at that, she was just adorable.

The questions about the Deputy Director of the NSA increased once the ceremonies were finished, because Lieutenant General Rodya went straight to him and the National Security Advisor, General Beckman, and the kissing and hugging that was going on said that there was a story there. People in these circles liked to keep secrets, but it was entirely different when people were keeping secrets from THEM.

For all the intrigue about General Rodya and her connection to Montgomery and Beckman though, it was the children who held the most attention, her's in particular. The little boy who was with them was obviously her son, but who was the father? There was nothing on her file about a partner. Some noted a distinct similarity between him and Samuel Carmichael, but dismissed that as General Carmichael was obviously too friendly with General Rodya for her to have had her husband's child.

Most of those present knew that these children were not yet four, and their physical size bore that out, but they carried themselves, interacted and behaved as if they were at least twice that age, rather more at times. None displayed this more than the three Carmichael children, the enchanting twin girls and their charming brother, though that Katie Mahoney girl who always seemed to be with them and their cousin Clara Coburn seemed to be their match. It was unnerving for most to watch and talk to these miniature adults, all the more so when they changed languages without a pause to match whoever they were talking to, and understood things that many adults didn't.

Washington - February 2015

It wasn't just the Special Projects Group that kept changing, because at the start of 2015 they had another new Secretary of Defense to get used to. This one was less of an unknown quantity though, as they'd dealt with him back in the Clinton administration, and again in the current administration. He wasn't an old war horse like the previous two, but he knew his business.

Pasadenda – April 2015

While Casey, Chuck, Ellie, Zondra and Dasha didn't like being away from their family for work, the President ensured that he delivered on what Diane had promised them, and they spent at least half of their time working from their offices in the Castle. This was working fairly well for them, so Carina didn't have trouble accepting the call when she was offered the role of the DEA Administrator in April 2015 on the same basis as Chuck and Zondra. She was seconded into the role, so she retained the rank and privileges of a Major General and could come back at that rank if she so chose.

It was actually a little easier for Carina, as Katie was already in school and forging ahead with Sammie and the others when she had to start working away from home, so it wasn't as hard for her to wrest herself away from her child as it had been for the others.

Carina's secondment meant that the group's command was further reduced to one O-10, two O-9s and one O-8, less than half of what it had been back when Casey was seconded into the Director of Joint Staff role (though officially it was four O-10s, three O-9s, and three O-8s).

She started cleaning up the DEA as soon as she took over, using the resources of the Special Projects Group to root out the ones who were turned, or on someone's payroll, and changing the practices away from taking the men's easy out and sending the female agents in to sleep with the ones they were going after. The fact that they found plenty of evidence against those who argued hardest against changing 'tried and true procedures' made it easier for Carina to get rid of them. She would have done the purge anyway and quite possibly would have gotten more personal satisfaction that way, but this way it was all above board and official. The fact that the DEA's results kept improving while she was cleaning out the rot didn't hurt her at all.

Hardly anyone in government had missed the fact that the President had just about the entire America intelligence community under the control of people from his 'big stick', the Special Projects Group. As it stood, the National Security Advisor, Director of National Intelligence, Director of the FBI, the Director of the NSA, the Director of the DIA and the DEA Administrator had all been part of that group, as had the Commander of Special Operations Command. For that matter, they knew that the Director of the CIA and the Deputy Director of the NSA were also closely connected to the group.

The problem that those who wanted to argue with this had was that in the aftermath of the Ring, Volkoff and the other purges that the group had been instrumental in around the world, a global policy of transparency had been adopted between intelligence communities. They weren't sharing their secrets, that would never happen, but their peers around the world had visibility of the processes used in each agency, because that could be used to identify corruption taking hold again.

Under that transparency, the intelligence communities around the world could see the American agencies' effectiveness and achievements increasing as they cleared out the corruption that had been rampant before. Global cooperation on issues that extended across borders increased all intelligence and law enforcement agencies' effectiveness. That was the reason that the other side wasn't brave enough to accuse the President of Cronyism, because the results were ample proof of the validity of the choices that had been made.

Washington – August 2015

With the end of the President's second term coming up, Diane and Chuck were involved in discussions with the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Speaker of the House, Secretary of Defense, Attorney General, and other significant Republican and Democrat representatives about how they could ensure that the current safeguards on the integrity of the Government, Military and Intelligence community would continue at their current levels of effectiveness under the next administration. Chuck had argued against his inclusion in these meetings and reaffirmed his position in the first meeting, but he was voted down on that.

All present agreed that it was in the interests of the American nation to retain Chuck and the others in positions where they had the authority to maintain the current levels of integrity controls. To do this, they created a framework for an oversight committee which could not be subverted by subsequent administrations from either the Republican or Democrat camps. This oversight committee would have control over the appointment and dismissal of people in the agreed key watchdog positions that they needed to maintain as independent from the control of the current administration and the parameters of those positions. Part of the structure agreed stipulated controls over how members of the oversight committee itself may be added or removed as well.

To ensure the integrity controls on an on-going basis, it was agreed to expand the powers of the Director of National Intelligence (expanding the Director's control over all members of the Intelligence Community and removing any restrictions on how long they could serve as the Director) and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (giving the Chairman a senior role in the Operational Command structure and removing any restrictions on how long they could serve as the Chairman).

As part of this process, the members of what was to be the bipartisan Integrity Oversight Committee agreed that they wanted Casey to take on the revised Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff role, and Chuck to remain as the revised Director of National Security. With Casey's and Chuck's reserved agreement, the politicians went off to get senate confirmation of the establishment of the oversight committee, the revised Chairman and Director's roles and Casey's appointment to the Chairman's role.

While there was some argument from those who saw how this could hobble their plans in the future, they couldn't find any valid grounds to withhold agreement without revealing their true motivations, and all the proposed measures were signed off by late September. Casey had his induction as the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the new parameters on the 1st of October 2015.

Washington – May 2016

When the Presidential candidates for the two parties had been confirmed, the members of the bipartisan Integrity Oversight Committee were glad to have locked in the agreed controls when they did. The reason for their relief was based on the fact that they weren't sure that one could defy pressure to implement changes that the party and its supporters wanted, or that the other wouldn't attempt to rule with an iron fist to force what they wanted through.

Washington – November 2016

They did breath a sigh of relief when Hillary was elected as the second President Clinton, as they'd been worried what Donald might try to do if he got into power. Of course, Hillary hadn't done herself any favours using external commercial email servers to send emails containing classified information.

That stupid move had almost cost her the election but luckily for her, most of the voters hadn't realised just how stupid her actions there were and they were more worried about how heavy handed Donald would be. The cartoons depicting Godzilla with a comb over trampling through New York etc that were going around did nothing at all to alleviate the people's concerns.

Washington – January 2017

Sarah was a little worried when Auntie Di, Ellie and Casey all insisted that she to be present, in uniform and with the children, the day that Chuck was officially introduced to the new President, but she trusted their advice and made sure that she and their little terrors were on hand.

Ellie was also there with Clara that day, and she quietly explained the warnings. It came down to the fact that the President's daughter was going to be there and like the Bush twins, she had had her eye on Chuck back in the late nineties. She had also had more of a connection with him as she'd known him at Stanford as well as seeing him in Washington. She was married with children herself now, but they'd thought it may still be a good idea to remind her that Chuck was a family man.

As it turned out though, it was her own husband who got jealous when she threw her arms around Chuck and kissed him, because when she immediately turned to Sarah and did the same to her it was obvious she was just being friendly. Stepping back, she took a good look at Sarah, taking in her rank and medal ribbons and nodded. "Yeah, I can see how you landed him when no-one else could but…." She turned to Chuck. "What happened with Jill, Chuck? You two seemed solid back at Stanford?"

Chuck looked embarrassed. "Jill left after we graduated. She wanted something different from her life."

It was obvious that it was a touchy subject, so they quickly moved on to a safer one, meeting each other's children. The President and her daughter were absolutely enchanted with Lottie, Charlie and Sammie and Chuck and Sarah thought that Chelsea's children were sweet.

A/N: Yes, I realise that this ALTERNATE UNIVERSE version of what's happening in 2016 may be sailing a little closer to our universe at the moment, but it's still definitely AU. For those who want to think of this as 'real life' despite all reminders that it ain't and who want to jump up and down claiming that it's biased towards the current President in our universe, no. Yes, it may paint him in a better light than many (including me) may view him in real life, but it you'd care to go back to Chapter 6 of Chuck VS The Sleepers, you'll see that the previous President was generally treated better than I personally believe he deserved to be if it was in 'our' universe too. I guess I wanted to show both sides more as I'd like to see them then they are in 'our' universe.

NB: NO, I don't reserve that view for American politicians, it applies to all politicians IMO, they lie, betray us and use us for their own benefit, all while we're paying for them to live the high life that most of us never have a chance to. When something goes wrong, though, they're immune from punishment. NO care and NO responsibility is their motto. 'Trust me, I'm from the government and I'm here to help you?' HELL NO!

Still haven't locked in which way to go with this. If it bombs, I'll probably just append it as an epilogue to Chuck VS The Sleepers and then delete this story altogether. If I get an indication that people are interested enough to follow the yellow brick road though, I'm thinking of trying to take it through another fifteen to twenty years to where the kids are starting to stand on their own two feet in the world that they've inherited.