AN: Another big thanks to Mojo01 for the Beta work. Just so you don't get out the pitch forks and shovels I'm having a bit of fun with Chuck in this chapter. I tried to explain it in the chapter and hope I did a good job at it.
The next few weeks flew by for the team, as not much was happening on the Fulcrum front. Chuck upped his firearms training and fitness. Chuck and Sarah became almost inseparable after their first night together. It was the week of Thanksgiving, and Ellie was doing her normal freak out. Bill pulled her down on the couch and began rubbing her back.
"You need to relax babe. You do this before every holiday dinner. Tell you what, you've been wanting to show them the new place. Let's have them over for a four-day weekend. The place is spotless so you can just relax and worry about cooking. We can just surf and swim in the pools. What do you say?"
"That might be for the best this year. Mom's going to be stopping by for a few days," Ellie said, turning slightly to give him a better angle at her back. With Morgan getting more curious about things, he's sure to see Mom."
"I know he'd see her. Damn troll's always sniffing around where he shouldn't be," Bill agreed, snorting. "I'll pass the word along to the others to meet us Wednesday night at the apartment so we can leave from here."
Wednesday night arrived, and the group was gathered at Ellie's with bags in hand, waiting to load the cars.
"I'll follow you guys in case Beckman needs me for something," said Casey said.
"Ok by us," replied Sarah. "Can I use the Rolls this weekend?"
"What about your Porsche?" questioned Ellie, with a knowing grin on her face.
"While I love my baby, she's tired. Just the other day she said, 'Sarah, I'm tired, bad cramps, 'ya know? Take the Rolls, she's young and ready to roll.' Who am I to argue with that?"
"Told you," Ellie quipped. "You know where we keep the keys. Chuck, take her bags to the car, will you?"
The group loaded up and headed towards the unknown weekend destination.
"Sarah, what the hell are we doing driving through Paradise Cove?"
"Is this a duh moment for you?" she asked. When this got a blank look from Chuck she explained, "I know as much as you do, I'm just following them. Look, they're turning in that driveway, so I guess we'll find out."
Chuck and Sarah sat in awe looking at the house in front of them. It was gorgeous to look at, with an extravagant all-white exterior, three stories tall with large glass windows in each room. They left their bags in the car, and followed the other couple into the house. They guessed if it was gorgeous on the outside, it had to be exquisite on the inside. The couple, plus Casey, who had now joined them, stopped in the entry way while Ellie gave them a rundown on the house.
"The house has four bedrooms, each with an ocean view," began Ellie. "Each room has a spa-like bathroom. Because we both like reading to further our education, I added a library. There's an office, a beautiful living room plus a wine room. The decks around the house lead directly to our private beach. The last thing is the elevator, for ease of access to the other floors after you've had a few too many."
"The master bedroom is ours, of course," added Bill. "Take a walk around to look the place over, then pick a room you want to use, or you can grab a drink and settle in for a while before you grab your things from the car. Ellie didn't mention the pool, which is to the right on your way to the beach. In the pool house are the boards, wet suits, and other things we'll need for surfing." Bill took hold Ellie's hand as they headed up the stairs to change.
Half way up, Bill stopped and called to Casey, "John, I took your recommendation and bought a Beast Master last week and had it delivered. It's on the deck next to the pool. When you get settled, fire that puppy up and show us your barbeque skills. Steaks are in the fridge." He then continued up the stairs.
Casey, inspired by the thought of using the grill, went in search of the kitchen to prepare the steaks for cooking. Chuck just stood there, unmoving, staring straight ahead with a blank look on his face. Sarah, who fared better than Chuck did, gently took his hand and led him to the couch and forced him to sit down.
"Relax Chuck," she said in a calming voice.
"Help, I'm steppin' into the twilight zone, the place is a madhouse, feels like I'm being cloned," he mumbled.
"Chuck, Chuck," Sarah said as she shook him trying to break him out of his stupor. His eyes began to clear somewhat and he looked at Sarah.
"What happened here? Where's my sister from when I was growing up? This isn't her style at all. I'm so confused."
"You've had a lot of changes in your life these past few months so you have the right to be confused. In time you'll get used to it, trust me."
"I can handle Mom coming back, the intersect, hell even the shootout. But this," Chuck said while waving his arms around, "is way, way out there." While they were talking, Ellie returned wearing a yellow bikini and matching sarong. She padded over to Sarah who was still trying to bring Chuck back from wherever he went mentally.
"I was worried about this happening," she sighed. Sarah looked at her, and made the go on motion with her hands.
"With everything that happened with mom and dad in the past, Chuck doesn't handle change well, at all. Bill helped him get through college but he still hung out with Morgan whenever he could. Look where he chose to live, even though he made over a million on the program he sold to LAPD. The same complex he grew up in. Who's his roommate? Morgan, his childhood friend. When he opened his business, where did he put it? Near the Buy More he used to work at. He still drives the car we got him for graduation. The relationship he's in with you is the longest one he ever had."
Sarah nodded. "So this hit him like a ton of bricks."
"Exactly! He's going to be like this for a while, so let's get you settled and go for a swim before dinner."
"If you're sure he's going to be alright, I'm in." The girls left Chuck on the couch and grabbed the bags from the Rolls, then carried them to the room Sarah picked out.
"My God Ellie, the view from this room is breathtaking," said Sarah as she looked out at the Pacific Ocean. "So is the house for that matter." It didn't take Sarah long to get changed, and together, they headed to the pool.
"I'm glad you like the house, it took me forever to find it, Ellie said. "I looked at quite a few before I settled on this one. The private beach sold it."
"That's a nice perk, and so is the pool."
"I had that added after I got it. This is the first time we've stayed here." The two ladies dropped their sarongs, and slipped into the crystal water of the pool.
"Really? So this is a house warming of sorts?" asked Sarah as the two women floated around the pool.
"In a way yes. I was losing my shit over the holiday, like I normally do, and it was driving Bill nuts. So he suggested we come here and just relax for a few days, stress free. I'm having dinner catered instead of cooking, so I feel much more relaxed that I don't have to worry about anything." Ellie noticed a couple walking on the beach, and gasped.
"What's wrong Ellie?"
"That's Devon, we went to med school and interned together. I haven't seen him in years." Ellie ascended the steps out of the water. "I'm gonna go say hi. Come with me?"
"Ok, it'll be nice to meet some of your old friends." The women grabbed their sarongs and followed after the couple. When they got close enough, Ellie called out, "Devon Woodcomb, wait up!"
Devon turned around at the sound of her voice and he smiled. "Ellie Bartowski! How the hell are you, girl? It's been ages!"
The girl he was with turned around, and it was Sarah's turn to be shocked. Gone were the red tresses, replaced with brown ones, but the smirk that appeared on the woman's face undeniably belonged to Carina Hansen.
"Where are my manners? Beth, this is my study partner from med school, Ellie. Ellie, my girlfriend, Beth."
"Nice to meet you," Ellie said, holding out her hand, which Beth took. "Beth, Devon, meet my brother's girlfriend, Sarah." Turning back to Devon, she asked, "What brings you here?"
"A friend of mine has a house a half mile or so down the beach, and we're using it for the weekend," answered Devon.
"If you guys don't have any plans for dinner, why don't you join us? My place is right here," Ellie said, pointing towards the house.
"I wouldn't want to impose, Ellie," replied Devon.
"No trouble at all, really. Bill bought enough filet mignon for twenty people. I'll just have Casey throw a few more steaks on the grill. Sarah can run Beth back to your place to pick up your suits, and we can hang in the pool."
"You sold me Ellie, as long as Sarah doesn't mind taking me back," said Carina.
"I'm good with taking you back, so let's get a move on."
The three of then chatted the entire way back to the house, then stopped by the pool where the rest of the group was waiting. Ellie made introductions, before Carina and Sarah headed out.
Carina's jaw dropped when she saw the car Sarah got into.
"This is a huge step up from the last time we hung out," Carina said, while admiring the Rolls as she got in. "Where's the Porsche?"
"It's back at Chuck's place. I love it, don't get me wrong, but this," she sighed getting absorbed by the seat, "is beyond amazing. The Bentley is even better."
"How'd you get the CIA to hook you up with this?"
"They didn't, it's Ellie's, so's the Bentley."
"This is it, pull in here," said Carina in front of a very nice house. They continued to chat as they got things ready.
"What brings you out here?" asked Sarah.
"We've been keeping an eye on Devon for a while. He's been running drugs out of the hospital for years. I'm trying to get him to lead me to the big fish," she explained. "You?"
"I'm on a joint CIA-NSA mission… but forget about that for few days, because it doesn't concern the group that's here. and Just relax. I'm sure Ellie won't mind if you hang out with us. We surf every day, so meet us on the beach if you want." Sarah explained as she parked, and slipped out of the car. They made their way inside, where Carina stopped.
"Sounds good to me, this place is insane," commented Carina as she looked around the house. They continued out to the pool and, by the looks of it, Bill and Ellie were well on their way to being drunk. Casey was busy at the grill with a glass of scotch in his hand. Bill and the other men were sitting around talking, while Ellie was floating in the pool.
"'Bout time you guys got back!" she called. "Get your asses in here, I'm out numbered!" Sarah and Carina grabbed a float and paddled over to Ellie.
Speaking a quiet voice, she addressed Carina, "long time no see Carina. How 'ya been?"
"Good thanks. Nice place you have here."
"Thanks… Now, what brings you here?"
Carina threw a glance at Devon, smiling and waving as he waved back. "Devon's been running drugs for years, and we want his boss."
"I knew there was something off with him during school. He couldn't take no for an answer." Ellie sipped her drink. "You making any headway?"
"Right now, I'm at a standstill. He's been a tough nut to crack, but I'm getting there."
"If you want our help, let me know, and I'll check with Diane and see what she says," stated Ellie. "Enough about work. I came here to relax, and that's what I'm going to do." She looked over at Casey and called out, "How much longer before we can eat? I'm starving over here!"
Casey looked over, and his face fell. Ahhh hell, Carina. Can this get any worse? "About ten minutes or so."
"Great! You heard the man, we better go change. Sarah, take Beth to your room and meet me back here." The ladies went their separate ways to get ready.
"How do you know Ellie?" asked Sarah.
"We crossed paths once. Other than that, not much to tell." She eyed Sarah, curiously. "Is Chuck your real boyfriend, or is it for cover?"
"It's real, I'm happy to say."
"He seems like the quiet type," stated Carina.
"He went off the rails when he saw the house earlier."
"Shouldn't he be used to it, growing up with money?"
Sarah shook her head. "They didn't have money growing up. They lived in an apartment in Echo Park. It's the first time he's been here." Sarah adjusted her top, and ran fingers through her hair, checking it in the mirror. "We better get back before they eat all the food."
When they got back, the food had just come off the grill.
"Just in time ladies," said Devon. "Beth, you have got to try this wine."
"What is it?" asked Beth.
"My favorite, the 1979 DRC Fine de Bourgogne. I liked it so much, I ordered a few cases," answered Ellie. "If you prefer something else, check out the wine room. The harder stuff is at the bar."
"I'm going to go with a Long Island Iced Tea," said Beth. "Anyone else?"
"That sounds good Beth," said Ellie.
"I agree," said Sarah. "let's make a pitcher. It will be easier."
After dinner was finished and the mess cleaned up, Casey excused himself to catch up on some show he was watching. The men and ladies broke into separate groups and chatted for the rest of the night. Close to midnight, Devon and Beth left, electing to walk home versus getting a cab.
Early the next morning, Mary arrived with Diane, before the rest of the house was awake.
"Your son-in-law sure went all out on the house, didn't he?" asked Diane, as she began working on getting breakfast ready for the group. Mary was taking care of the coffee, before she went to help.
"I don't think he did a damn thing from what Ellie told me." It wasn't long before the scent of fresh brewed coffee was filling the house.
"That's surprising, considering the way he dotes on Ellie," said Diane, as she chopped the vegetables for the omelets she was preparing. Mary was getting the meats ready for cooking.
"Sorry, that didn't come out right. That boy can't refuse El anything, you know that. Ellie said she wanted to pick out her dream house, and…"
She was cut off by Bill, who finished "I told her to just pick one she liked then offered to go with her. She said, and I quote, 'I'm going to pick out one I like, and I don't need your help to do it,' so I sent her on her way. She had the pool built because, 'I always wanted one and what's an extra couple hundred grand when your spending over thirty million."
There was a loud thump followed by an, "ah shit, not again," coming from Ellie who was halfway down the steps. At the base of the steps, Chuck was lying, face down. "Hello Mom, Diane… glad you made it. Give me a minute, while I take care of Chuck. Bill, give me a hand getting him on the couch."
"Sure babe." They maneuvered Chuck to the couch, just as Sarah was making her way down.
"Thanks for making the coffee, El, I need it after last night." She stopped in her tracks when she came face to face with the General coming out of the kitchen. "I'm sorry General, I didn't see you there. Did something important come up that you needed to come here?"
"She's here with me," Mary said as she entered the room carrying a tray of sweet treats they had picked up on the way. "by the way, call her Diane while we're here, it's a vacation after all. What's wrong with Chuck?"
"In nerd speak, he had a divide by zero crash followed by a reboot," stated Sarah, as she went to get her coffee. He can wait. I need coffee more than he needs me to hold his hand.
"In other words, he heard Bill telling Mom how much I spent on the house, and passed the fuck out again. This shit's getting old," Ellie huffed. "He was broken most of last night as well."
"We told you, you needed to tell him sooner, but you didn't listen," chided her mom.
"How the hell was I supposed to know it would be this bad?"
"He's just like his father that way. Anything dealing with money sent him off the deep end. I think it's a side effect of their intelligence. They just can't rationalize spending that kind of money on what they deem unimportant stuff," added Diane.
"You've met my husband, right?" quipped Ellie, still trying to revive Chuck. "He's smarter than both, and completely normal."
"El, your husband is an enigma wrapped in mystery. Every study ever done shows extremely intelligent people, like Bill, are socially inept, can't form a relationship, and have other social problems. He shows none of that. He's one of a kind."
Ellie smiled. "I know, that's why I married him."
Chuck moaned, and slowly opened his eyes. He met the blue eyes of his girlfriend first, then his sister. "Is there anything else that's going to pop up, and put me in never-never land?"
"Mom and Diane are here?" Ellie said with a hint of anxiety lacing her tone.
"Mom's here?" he questioned, as he shot up from the couch, looking for her. He grabbed her in a big hug before he noticed the general. Two "Ah shits" were said at almost the same time. The second voice came from Casey, who had just returned from his morning run.
"Good morning, Ma'am. How bad is it?"
"Relax, John. I'm here on vacation with Mary, so please call me Diane. Now that the gangs all here, we'll bring in the food."
Idle chit chat took place over breakfast, with a mention of Carina and her mission. Diane made it clear that nothing else work related was to be discussed until they returned to Echo Park. When Bill finished, he pushed away from the table, and affected his best stoned surfer voice.
"Dude's, surf's up man. I mean check out them waves, brau, they're gnarly." That got everyone laughing. "I'm gonna hit the waves, catch y'all later."
"You guys can head out, Di and I'll handle the cleanup," Mary said.
Casey stayed to help the women out. The rest of the group went to get changed, except Ellie, who stayed to chat with her mom a bit before heading straight to the pool house. She saw Bill already paddling into the surf.
She quickly stripped naked, and was pulling up her wet suit when the door opened and she heard Chuck scream, "My eyes, my eyes!" followed by a bunch of thumps and bangs. Sarah stood there in her bikini, laughing at Chuck's antics.
"How much more do think he can take before he melts down completely?"
"Eh," Ellie shrugged, "hard to tell."
"No suit El?"
"Nah, I don't need one under this," she answered, while zipping up.
"I see your point," as Sarah removed her own bikini and took the wet suit Ellie handed her. "These things don't leave much room, anyway. Let's catch some waves."