Man... This week has been killer. Five exams in five days. I just want to sleep. But I have to get this chapter to you! So here it is!

Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck. I probably never will.


Chuck Versus the Girls

There was a knock on the door to the Bartowski/Woodcomb residence. With Devon working a shift at the hospital and Chuck in the shower, Ellie was the only one available to answer.

"Sarah!" she greeted amicably when the door opened to reveal her brother's girlfriend.

"Hey, Ellie," Sarah smiled, hugging her boyfriend's sister. "How have you been?" She stepped into the apartment as Ellie moved aside to make way and the two women sat on the couch.

"Oh, you know. Residency. Patients. Surgeries. The usual. But I enjoy it so it's not as bad as it seems." Sarah smiled.

"That's good."

"Oh, Sarah, by the way, I've been meaning to ask. You're coming to our Christmas party, right?"

"Yeah. Chuck told me about it. I will be there. Actually, I still need to go Christmas shopping," the blonde said.

"Really? Maybe I can join you? I've still got a couple of gifts I need to get, too." Sarah smiled. She'd been wanting to spend more time with Ellie, especially now that her and Chuck were officially together.

Sarah remembered when Chuck had brought Sarah to dinner and looked like she was about to burst with happiness. After dinner, Ellie had asked her to spill the details. How it happened? When? Where? Classic girl talk. Chuck had told Ellie to tone it down but Sarah happily indulged the older Bartowski in the girl talk, effectively kicking Chuck and Devon into the living room while the girls inhabited the kitchen.

As much as she loved Zondra, her best friend wasn't exactly the mushy, talk-about-your-feelings type of girl. Sure she was a great confidant, but she wasn't someone to just talk nonsense or gossip or anything. It was nice to just gush to Ellie and have Ellie respond just as enthusiastically.

"I'd love that," she said.

"Great! How about tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow is great! I can't wait."

"Can't wait for what?" Chuck's voice drifted into the living room. He was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt and his hair was still damp from his shower.

"Sarah and I are going to have a girls day out," Ellie told him.

"Oh yeah?" Chuck walked over and sat down beside Sarah, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.

"Yeah," Sarah affirmed. "I've been wanting to spend more time with your sister. You know, bond, get to know her better… Maybe… Hear some embarrassing childhood stories about you…" At the last statement, Chuck's face paled and he chuckled nervously, one corner of his mouth lifting in a hesitant smile. The look made Sarah's heart flutter; she had to use all her willpower to keep from biting her lip and keep the innocent look on her face.

"Really? Is shopping really a… a good idea?"

"Of course it is! Weren't you saying the other day that you hoped that me and Ellie would be close? What better way than to bond over the man that we both love and care about?"

"Well… Yeah… But–"

"So it's perfect." Sarah turned back to Ellie and gave her a furtive wink. Ellie managed to hold back a giggle – but only barely – and returned the wink.

"Well, I've got to get ready for my shift tonight, but Sarah, I will see you tomorrow," Ellie said standing up from the couch.

"I'm looking forward to it." Ellie left the living room, leaving the couple alone. Sarah turned back toward Chuck and was surprisingly delighted to see that he was still a little pale, probably thinking up different scenarios that ended with him being so embarrassed that he'd probably bury his head in the sand for the next decade.

"Hey, uhh… You weren't serious about the, uh, the embarrassing stories, right?" he asked. Sarah shrugged.

"Who knows? I'm sure it'll come up at some point," Sarah answered vaguely. Chuck gave that same hesitant smile. It was then that Sarah couldn't keep up with the act. She dissolved into giggles and leaned into her boyfriend, wrapping her arm around his waist. "I'm messing with you, Chuck," she said. "Ellie and I are just going Christmas shopping. There's nothing to be worried about." She leaned in and kissed him. Chuck returned the kiss enthusiastically. When they broke apart, Sarah smiled. "But, today, you and I are gonna have a day in."

"Perfect." They settled further into the couch as Chuck reached for the remote to turn on the television.

•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•

"I'm so glad we get to do this," Ellie said as they walked into the Burbank Town Center.

"Same here. Between your busy schedule and mine, we never have time to just spend time together. Bond," Sarah agreed. The handful of times she did get to interact with Ellie, Sarah found herself loving the older Bartowski's company just as much as she did Chuck's. The two siblings were so alike in their nature: kind, caring, loving, good people but were so different in their personalities; Ellie was strong and very take-charge while Chuck was more of a relaxed, go-with-the-flow kind of guy.

"Well, we're here now so let's make the most of it," Ellie said, surveying the stores in their direct vicinity.

"Absolutely."

"So how much shopping do you still need to get done?" Ellie asked, changing the topic.

Sarah gave a sheepish smile as she answered, "All of it." Ellie blinked.

"You're kidding, right?" she asked in shock.

"Uhhh… No. Unfortunately not." At Ellie's look, Sarah added. "I've been busy! And to be fair, I didn't know that I would be doing Christmas with you guys this year."

"Alright. Duly noted," Ellie conceded. "But we have quite the day ahead of us."

Sarah looked around at all the various retail stores around them in apprehension. "That we do. Where do we even start?"

The first person they decided to shop for, because he was a 'no-brainer,' was Morgan. The brunette led the way to Hot Topic and the two women stood in front of the blackened everything of the store. "Uhh… Ellie? Don't you think this store is a bit too… emo for Morgan?"

"You'd be surprised," Ellie replied. "Hot Topic is kind of like a nerd heaven. They've got merchandise for movies, books, video games, you name it. That includes superheroes. Anything superhero related, especially if it's Marvel, is a safe bet. But if you find something Star Wars related, then you're golden." Most of what Ellie said was lost on Sarah, but they managed to find a couple of Star Wars things inside that Ellie was sure Morgan would love. Sarah made the purchase and the two were off.

They shopped for Devon next, which was fairly simple. They went to a sporting goods store to pick out his gift. Sarah knew quite a bit about outdoor sports, they'd had their fair share of conversations over rock climbing, hiking, white water rafting, and other things of the like, so she got him something that she knew he'd appreciate.

Casey and his family were easier to shop for since she knew them from before her move to Los Angeles. She thought of his family as her own at times, Casey being like an older brother or protective uncle type figure in her life. She wasn't surprised that they were invited to the Bartowski Family Christmas Party seeing as they lived right across the courtyard and had gotten close to the two Bartowski siblings and Devon since moving there.

Zondra was easy, too – duh. Sarah had to admit that she was glad that the invitation was extended to her best friend. Because she'd moved here to Los Angeles, there wasn't any family for the brunette chef to spend the holidays with. Sarah was excited to be able to spend Christmas with her. They'd never been able to do it before because Zondra would travel back to her family for the holidays when they were in college while Sarah stayed in New York with her family. And then there was the whole debacle senior year that needed not be repeated. They were moving on from it. No more mentioning it. Christmas together was a first for them and Sarah was so happy that they get to have that experience.

All throughout their shopping, Sarah and Ellie chatted, catching up on each other's lives. Before they knew it, they were at the food court eating lunch, Sarah listening intently to the hospital gossip and case stories that Ellie had to offer.

"I'm serious! I can't tell you names or anything like hat because of HIPAA laws, but I once had a patient come in with a fork stuck in her neck. It was absolutely crazy. I worked with our plastic surgeon because, you know, it was in her neck."

"I thought you were neurology?" Sarah wondered.

"I am, but the fork was near the back toward the spinal cord so there was a possibility of nerve damage that could lead to paralysis from the neck down. Neurology extends from the brain to the entire nervous system," Ellie explained.

Sarah was completely invested in the story. It was so interested to hear about another profession that dealt with knives, but without food. The way that Ellie spoke about her most recent case had her completely enraptured. She thought that maybe she could've been a doctor if she didn't want to be a chef.

Then she thought about the long shifts and the late nights and laughed at herself. She couldn't be a doctor. Nope. But, she tipped her hat to them. Mad respect for the people who could handle that and save lives in the process.

By the time Ellie finished her story and started cleaning their table, Sarah saw the other woman in a whole new light. She knew Ellie Bartowski was a doctor. But, it didn't hit her – like, really hit her – until then that she cut into people and saved their lives. She'd probably seen some crazy things in the ER during the night shift – the story about fork lady was proof about that. She'd probably lost some people on the table. But that didn't stop her. Ellie kept going. Doing her best to save her next patient.

Sarah wasn't sure she could handle knowing that she wasn't able to save a patient and her respect for the older woman blew sky high.

Soon, they were moving on to the next store, Ellie asking Sarah about her life before LA. So Sarah told her. She gave her the happy Cliffnotes version of her studies at the CIA – leaving out the debacle with Zondra – they were moving on. Then she talked about her move to Italy. Ellie hung onto every word about her life in Italy and what it was like to win those three Michelin Stars.

"It was definitely a whirlwind after winning the first one," the blonde said as she inspected a top. They'd taken a break from shopping for others and decided to indulge themselves a bit. "After news got around, the restaurant got more and more patrons. With such a high influx of customers, it wasn't long before another Michelin Star reviewer came around again." Ellie shook her head in disbelief.

"That's incredible." Sarah shrugged.

"I guess," she said as she placed the hanger back on the rack. "But at the same time, I didn't really enjoy it."

"What do you mean?"

"All I did in Italy was work. The only people I really knew were the people that I worked with. I didn't do a lot of sightseeing while I was there. Italy was… Lonely, I guess. I never really noticed when I was there. I mean, I had a boyfriend then, but now that I look back on it, I realize that it was more out of convenience than anything." The pair moved down the rack. "I'd always dreamt of opening my own restaurant. Ever since I was little I dreamt that. Coming to LA, opening Il Castello, it was my literal dream come true. It couldn't get any better than it had." Sarah stopped and looked at Ellie straight in the eyes, her blue eyes unwavering. "And then I met Chuck," she said, a soft smile on her face. "And he showed me that there was so much more to life than work. He completely changed my whole outlook on life and on people in general. Ellie, your brother… you raised an amazing man." Ellie smiled at the blonde.

Ellie had always told Chuck that he was a catch, that any woman would be lucky to have him. He never believed her, of course, what with her being his older sister and therefore "obligated" to tell him things like that. It didn't help that Chuck's love life was essentially nonexistent, especially after the whole Jill situation back at Stanford. Chuck had lost so much self-confidence after that and it hurt Ellie so much to think that someone could do something so heartless to someone as sweet and kind and loving as Chuck. Knowing that another woman shared the same sentiment as her, made Ellie happy. It made sense, too; when Sarah came into his life, his confidence seemed to return. Chuck stood up straighter, held his head higher, spoke with more conviction. He'd slowly become the man Ellie knew he could be.

The older Bartowski knew in that moment that Chuck and Sarah were just what the other needed. There wasn't any other couple that was more perfect for each other than those two were. "An amazing man for an amazing woman," Ellie said. At Sarah's blush, Ellie continued. "I mean that, Sarah. You are a beautiful woman, inside and out. Chuck is as lucky to find you as you are to find him."

"Thank you, Ellie. That means a lot coming from you," Sarah blushed lightly.

"It's true." Ellie shook her head. "Wow, that got really deep. How about we talk about something lighter?" Sarah laughed.

"Agreed."

"Ooh! Let me tell you about this one time when Chuck was six…"

As Ellie dove into her story about a six-year-old Chuck, Sarah found that she couldn't stop smiling. It wasn't just because she could clearly picture a little boy with curly hair and innocent brown eyes running in fear from a duck at the park, a bag of breadcrumbs clutched tightly in his hand. Her smile was also due to the woman standing beside her. She wanted Ellie to accept her and Chuck's relationship not only because she was Chuck's sister and therefore important to Chuck, but also because if Sarah ever needed advice or anything like that, she knew she could go to Ellie for it and not worry about being judged or sabotaged or anything like that.

And, sure, Chuck had shown her what it was like to have family and friends, but Ellie was the one who showed her what it was like to have a home. Right off the bat, the older Bartowski sibling had accepted her and invited her into her home, making her feel comfortable enough to consider Casa Bartowski her own home as well.

Sarah could cook, yeah. Clean, sure. She could keep her apartment in livable conditions. But, it never really felt like home. Ellie was a homemaker. There was something about the woman that made the space comfortable, lived-in. The air was warmer and smelled like baked goods, or cooked food, or even just a scented candle. It was just another thing that Sarah admired about Ellie.

As they exited the store they were in, Sarah ran over her mental Christmas list and found that she only had Chuck and Ellie left. Wanting their gifts to be a surprise, Sarah decided that she wanted to split up for a bit to search for the siblings' gifts. "Hey, Ellie?"

"Yeah, Sarah?"

"Do you think we could split up?" she asked hesitantly. The whole point of them going shopping together was so that they could spend time with one another. Splitting up would be counterintuitive but it had to be done. Ellie, thankfully, seemed to have understood why and wasn't offended in the slightest.

"You want my gift to be a surprise, huh?"

Sarah blushed slightly. "Yeah."

Ellie nodded. "That's fine. I still have to get your gift and a couple others for my co-workers so it works out. Meet in an hour at the front entrance?"

"Sounds like a plan."

The brunette and blonde went their separate ways to search for their remaining gifts. Sarah found the perfect gift for Ellie in a home goods store. She'd overheard her boyfriend's sister say she'd been wanting to get a one but never got around to it. And, being the kitchen connoisseur that she was, Sarah went all out and bought the best one.

That left her gift for Chuck. Sarah walked around the mall eyeing the store windows. She had no idea what to get Chuck. She wanted something that was meaningful and something that he'd like.

Then, she walked into a store with a Star Wars cut out in the window and she saw it. Well. Them. There were multiple gifts that Sarah bought for her boyfriend.

After she made her purchases, Sarah thanked the clerk and headed back toward the mall entrance. By the time she got there, Ellie was already waiting for her, bags hanging from her forearms, evidence of their day of shopping.

"Hey," Sarah greeted as she walked up to the brunette.

"Hey! You ready?"

Sarah raised the bags she held in her hand and smiled. "Yup!"

"Great. Let's get out of here. Chuck just called. He cooked dinner." Sarah raised a brow.

"He did, did he?" Sarah asked as they made their way toward the car.

"Yeah. You know, he's been getting more adventurous in the kitchen since you guys started having those cooking lessons."

"Is that so? He hasn't told me anything about that." Sarah frowned slightly. Why wouldn't Chuck tell her that he was cooking outside of their cooking lessons? He'd gotten so much better since their very first lesson together. Sometimes, Sarah would just tell him what to make and if he didn't know how, she would give him the recipe. She no longer had to watch over his shoulder when he chopped and prepped his mise to make sure that he didn't chop his fingers off.

"Really?" Ellie's brow furrowed.

"Well, he did cook breakfast for me and Zondra last week but other than that, he hasn't mentioned it." And Chuck mentioned pretty much almost everything, especially when it came to his cooking. I guess not, she thought as they approached her car. They loaded the trunk of Sarah's Porsche with the things that they bought and climbed into the car.

The pair got to the Echo Park apartment complex in no time, especially with Sarah driving. The two women gathered Ellie's purchases and carried them into the apartment. Sure enough, when they walked in, Chuck was in the kitchen and the whole apartment smelled delicious. Ellie excused herself to put the bags in her room and Sarah stepped into the kitchen. "Hey there, Mr. Chef," she smirked.

Chuck spun around, surprised. He'd been so engrossed in his work that he hadn't noticed the girls walk in. Sarah took in his appearance. He was wearing his trademark outfit of a T-shirt, jeans, and his high-top converse sneakers. The only difference was the apron that said "Kiss the Cook."

"Hey there, beautiful," he smiled. Sarah walked up close to him and fingered the apron. Their faces were inches apart when she bit her lower lip.

"'Kiss the Cook,' huh? Who am I to disobey kitchen rules?" She closed the distance and kissed her boyfriend. They stood in each other's embrace, connected, until Sarah smelled a slight change in the fragrance in the air and pulled away. "You should probably focus on your food or it'll burn." Chuck blinked.

"How did you…?" Sarah tapped her nose with a smirk. "You can do that? By smell? Really?"

"Yes. Now focus. Your food."

"Right!" Chuck turned and saved the pasta sauce in the pot from having a burnt cheese undertone while Sarah found the wine and poured herself a glass. "So, how was shopping? You get everything?" Chuck asked as he started to clean up the dirty pots and pans around the kitchen. Sarah had found a clean spot on the counter and hopped up.

"I did. It took all day, but I got everything."

"That's good!" Having finished mixing the pasta and the sauce, Chuck came over and stood between Sarah's legs, his arms circling her waist. "I can't wait for your first Bartowski Christmas. It's gonna be great."

"I can't wait either," Sarah replied. She leaned in and kissed him chastely. "But first. I'm starving. So let's set the table so we can eat."

"Right!"

•-•-•-•-•-•-•-•

Ellie excused herself after dinner because she had an early shift the next day and needed the sleep. That left Chuck and Sarah alone in the living room nursing a bottle of beer and a glass of wine, respectively. The television played in the background. "That was a really good meal, Chuck," Sarah said as she settled into Chuck's side.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah." There was a slight pause before Sarah continued. "How come you never told me you cook outside of our lessons?" She looked up at him to see his face turn several shades redder.

"Ellie told you?"

"Among other things." At that, Chuck's face went pale.

"What else did she tell you?" Chuck asked.

"Stop trying to divert. Answer the question."

"I wanted to surprise you," he mumbled just enough for Sarah to hear him.

"Surprise me?"

"Yeah. A home cooked meal, courtesy of your loving boyfriend. I wanted to try cooking something that you haven't taught me so that you would be surprised with what I prepared."

Sarah felt her heart melt at Chuck's confession. It was so sweet and such a Chuck thing to do. She couldn't help herself as she leaned in to kiss him. They only pulled away when the need for air became apparent. But, even then, they didn't pull away very far. Sarah rested her forehead against Chuck's and marveled at the tingly feeling she got in her stomach when his breath tickled her cheeks. "I love you," she said breathily, not thinking about the words until they came out. When she realized the significance of her statement, her eyes flew open and she leaned back so that she could take in Chuck's reaction. Because surely it was too soon for her to be saying anything like that. They'd only been dating for a little over a week so, yeah. Definitely too soon.

She almost took it back until she saw the pure and unadulterated adoration in Chuck's eyes. Her retraction died on her lips at that moment and she simply waited for Chuck to say something. When he did, it wasn't the response she was expecting. "I know," he said. Sarah blinked. He knew? What did he mean, 'he knew'?

"What?" she asked in confusion. Then, Chuck burst into laughter and Sarah frowned. Saying 'I love you' was a definite mistake, she decided. Thoroughly miffed, Sarah pulled away so that she was no longer in Chuck's arms and crossed her own over her chest, her frown deepening as Chuck continued to laugh. He seemed to realize that she wasn't as amused at the situation as he was and sobered up quickly.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I really am, Sarah. It's just… I've always wanted to do that." At Sarah's deadpanned expression, Chuck cleared his throat. "You know, Star Wars? Han Solo and Princess Leia? She said, 'I love you;' He said, 'I know?'" Sarah had no clue about the reference he was making, but not wanting to admit that outright, she kept her features solid, choosing to not say anything. Chuck finally relented and softened. "I'm sorry." He pulled her back into his arms and kissed her temple. "I'm sorry for ruining the moment." He turned her to look her in the eyes. "I love you, too," he said with so much conviction and truth. "And, I know it's way too soon in our relationship, but I'm pretty sure I fell in love with you when I first met you so it's been a long time coming." Sarah sat up to look Chuck in the face once more.

Sarah kept the stern look on her face by pure force of will; Chuck's apologetic puppy dog eyes were enough to soften even the hardest of criminals. Sarah wondered briefly how she would ever win an argument with him. "This was not how I pictured this moment," she grumbled, which only seemed to make Chuck smile wider.

"Really? Cause this is exactly how I pictured it going down." Sarah shot him a flat look and moved to stand. He immediately reached out and pulled her back down.

"Okay, okay… Humor isn't the right way to approach this. Hint taken." He pulled her toward him so that they were in an embrace. When he kissed the top of her head and tightened his arms around her, Sarah melted, her resolve cracking. "I'm sorry."

Sarah buried her face into the crook of Chuck's neck, her forgiveness unspoken. Luckily, Chuck was able to read between the lines and kissed the top of her head again to let her know that her message had been received.

"You know," she said after a while. "I think I know what I'll have you cook next week." She could sense Chuck's frown even though she couldn't see it.

"What?"

"Duck." There was a sudden shift and Sarah was looking into Chuck's pale face.

"Ellie told you…" Chuck narrowed his eyes.

"Yup." Sarah cracked and smiled widely, nodding.

"Traitor," he muttered. Sarah laughed then, the look on Chuck's face proving to be too much for her to handle. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek.


And there you have it! It's a shorter one, I know, and there's not a lot of Charah but I've always wanted to explore Sarah and Ellie's relationship, too. So... yeah.

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