Chapter 20: Full Circle

A/N: My thanks to charahkids for awesome beta services! And, my thanks to all of you for reading and reviewing!

This will be the last regular chapter of this story. The final chapter will be an Epilogue.

Echo Park

Casting a look around the living room, Ellie frowned when she noticed a small speck of dust on the coffee table. Cursing silently, Ellie rolled her eyes, and glanced away. She did NOT want to get up again.

Turning her attention back to the daytime talk show, Ellie tried to pay attention, but her eyes locked on to the speck of dust again.

Finally caving in to her desire to clean up the cursed speck of dust, Ellie slapped her arm on the armrest, and pulled herself to a standing position. Standing upright and balancing her weight, Ellie waddled to the kitchen, and stopped, her eyes nearly crossing.

"Not again…"

Hurrying quickly to the bathroom to relieve her bladder, Ellie sighed after exiting, stopping to sniff the air. "Gosh…it smells like a gym locker."

Snapping her head around, she found the culprit. Devon's work-out attire on top of the laundry hamper.

Ellie snarled. "You would think Devon was raised by wolves by the way he leaves his nasty, dirty clothes laying around!"

Marching to the hamper, Ellie yanked the articles of clothing off the hamper, and proceeded straight to the washing machine. After starting the wash, Ellie paused, looking confused.

"There was something else…" Ellie put a finger to her chin. "Oh well. It'll come to me."

Ellie waddled back to the television, and plopped down. Her eyes locked on the speck of dust, and she groaned. "Uhhhhhhhh! I have to get up again!"

Once again struggling to her feet, Ellie winced. "I feel like I'm carrying a pile of bricks!"

Spotting the cleaning supplies on the kitchen island, Ellie waddled across the living room, and heard a knock at the door. She stopped, huffing in frustration. "Unless you have something I can eat, go away! I'm a ticked off pregnant lady, and I might eat you!"

Chuck gingerly poked a bag of Ellie's favorite donuts through the door, wiggling the bag in his hand. "Please don't eat my hand, Ellie."

Smiling in excitement, Ellie waddled to the cleaning supplies. "Come on in, little brother. I just need to clean up a bit."

Stepping inside the apartment, Chuck glanced around in surprise. "Ellie…what are you cleaning now? The cleaning chemicals left over from your last cleaning? Let me guess, you found a speck of dust, right?"

Snatching the cleaning supplies, Ellie snarled. "This place is filthy! I'm not raising Clara in filth! She will have a clean, happy home!"

Chuck held up his hands in surrender, trying not to laugh as Ellie approached the coffee table, and frantically wiped the surface.

"Sis, come sit down, and rest. I brought your favorite." Chuck pulled a cream cheese Danish from the bag, with a goofy look. "A tasty cream cheese Danish!"

Ellie's eyes locked on her target, and licked her lips. "I love you so much, little brother!"

Chuck watched in amazement as Ellie bolted across the room, snatched the Danish, and devoured it on one bite. Ellie pulled Chuck to the sofa, and plopped down, snatching the bag from Chuck's grasp.

"Mmmm….you're my favorite brother."

"Ellie, I'm your only brother." Chuck said dryly.

Ellie furrowed her brow, and shrugged. "What's your point?"

Changing the subject, Chuck smiled. "And how was my beautiful, sweet, smart, mother of my niece's day?"

Ellie narrowed her eyes. "Alright. Spill. What did you do?"

Chuck shrugged. "What? You think I can't compliment my favorite sister without having done something stupid?"

Ellie smirked. "Uh…I'm your only sister, wise-ass."

Chuck grinned. "I thought there was no cussing around Clara?"

"I'll let that one pass. You deserved it." Ellie said, sticking out her tongue, taking another bite of her delicious Danish.

"MMMM! These are so good. Want one?" Ellie asked, holding up a fresh pastry for Chuck's inspection.

"Just don't tell Sarah. She'll lecture me for an hour on how that stuff clogs arteries." Chuck took a bite of the Danish. "I'm happy with my clog."

Ellie chuckled. "And don't tell Devon, either. I feel like we're cheating on our spouses with food."

Chuck had a goofy look. "Don't worry. Your secret is safe with me."

Just then, Sarah knocked, and walked right in. Chuck grabbed the bag, and stuffed it behind him. Bother and sister quickly chewed their Danishes, with 'innocent' looks on their faces.

Pausing in the doorway, Sarah almost laughed. Chuck and Ellie both had cream cheese smeared on the sides of their mouths.

"What are you two doing?" Sarah asked, in faux seriousness.

"Nuffing!" Chuck said, smiling, with chewed Danish still visible through clenched teeth. As he spoke, pieces of the pastry shot from his mouth. "Ve vere jus…you know…wathing televithion, and Effie was tething me abou er day."

Sarah smiled sweetly. "Chuuuuuck? What's in your mouth?"

Chuck glanced at Ellie with a guilty look. "Nuffing."

Ellie quickly swallowed her Danish in a big gulp, then smiled. "Like he said…nothing!"

Sarah approached Chuck, who tried to look all innocent, and ran a sensual finger along the side of his face, then smelled of the material left on his face. "Cream cheese."

Chuck looked at Ellie, and yelped, spitting Danish towards her as he talked. "Buthed!"

Ellie wiped the debris from her face, wincing. "Ewwww! Chuuuuuck!"

Sarah put a hand on her hips, and held out her hand. "Hand it over."

Smiling sheepishly, Chuck reached behind his back, and handed Sarah the bag. Ellie watched on in horror, whimpering. "My precious…."

Sarah smirked. "I'll just put this away…Gollum."

Ellie crossed her arms. "Chuck, your wife is mean."

"I heard that!" Sarah said from the kitchen, disposing of the bag in the garbage.

Sarah stepped back into the living room, and pointed at the chastised brother and sister. "I'm disappointed in you two. Ellie, I brought you two gallons on your favorite yogurt yesterday. Carina prepared it herself, loaded with vitamins and minerals."

Ellie folded her arms. "I'm not going to apologize. I love cream cheese Danishes!" Ellie stuck out her tongue.

Sarah pointed at Chuck. "And as for you, mister. You're supposed to be looking out for your sister."

Chuck held his head low. "Sorry."

Ellie grabbed her stomach. "Oh…GOD!"

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Let me guess. The Danish gave you indigestion?"

Chuck narrowed his eyes, and glanced at Ellie. "Um…El…did you just…wet yourself?"

Ellie was now on her feet, with a surprised look. "It's time!"

Chuck was also on his feet. "Awwww, Ellie! You got embryonic fluid all over me!"

Sarah waved a hand, rushing to Ellie's side. "I'm sure it will wash out."

Chuck grabbed his nose. "Oh my LORD! That smells like sewer water!"

"Chuck, grab Ellie's bag from the closet! We'll call Devon, and tell him to meet us at the ER!" Sarah commanded.

Chuck scurried to the closet, frantically wiping his trousers. "Great. I'll meet my niece for the first time smelling like a hobo."

Westside Medical Center

"AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH! I need drugs…I need drugs!" Screamed Ellie, gripping the arm rests of the wheelchair.

Devon hurried through the ER, and met the group near the reception desk. "Ellie, babe, just hang on. Dr. Patel is on the way down."

Ellie winced, nodding quickly. Devon glanced at Chuck, who was wincing in pain himself from the death grip Ellie had on his hand.

"Chuck, bro…you okay?"

"Never better…can't…feel…my hand…" Chuck forced out through gritted teeth.

"Babe, let go of Chuck's hand. He might need it." Devon said soothingly.

Ellie let go, and grabbed Devon by the collar, snarling. "YOU! YOOOOOUUUU DID THIS TO MEEEEEE!"

Devon gave Chuck a horrified look, who mouthed. "She's psycho!"

Sarah smacked Chuck across the chest with the back of her hand. Chuck yelped. "Ooooowwwww!"

Dr. Patel arrived with two nurses. "Let's get Dr. Woodcomb to Suite A. Call the anesthesiologist for an epidural. Check her cervix, and let's alert OR3 if we have to do a cesarean."

The nurses scrambled into action, and wheeled Ellie to Labor and Delivery. Devon gave Chuck and Sarah a smile. "Thanks, guys."

Still shaking his hand in pain, Chuck groaned. "No problem. Devon, don't get too close. You might lose a limb."

Sarah smacked Chuck again. "Chuuuck!"

Chuckling, Devon turned to follow the group. "I'll keep you posted."

Sarah clapped excitedly. "Good luck back there."

Chuck continued groaning. "Yeah…good luck."

One of the ER nurses approached with an ice pack. "Ellie asked I give this to you, Chuck. I've seen sprain wrists, and broken fingers thanks to women in labor. That took a lot of guts."

Deep down the hallway, Ellie's voice echoed. "I'M SO SORRY, LITTLE BROTHER…I HOPE YOUR HAND'S OKAY!"

Chuckling, the nurse returned to her duties, while Chuck sighed in relief after applying the ice pack.

Sarah examined Chuck's hand, and winced. "Sorry, sweetie. I didn't realize how painful that was."

The doors opened, and Alex Forrest, Morgan and Alex, and Gertrude all entered the hospital. Gertrude was the first to speak.

"How is she?"

Sarah smiled. "Her water broke, and her contractions were a few minutes apart. It shouldn't be long."

Alex Forrest smirked. "She's lucky. I was in labor for over 12 hours with my son."

A nurse approached the group from Labor and Delivery. "Are you all Ellie's family?"

Everyone turned to the nurse, in unison. "Yes."

The nurse had a quizzical look. "Oookay…if you'll follow me, I'll show you to the waiting area."

Camp Leatherneck, Helmand Province, Afghanistan

Casey performed yet another face palm. "Jesus wept. How the hell are we supposed to train these guys to be an effective fighting force, when half of them can't even tie their own shoelaces?"

Major Rick Noble, Casey's Executive Officer, or XO, shook his head in amusement. "This gives scraping the bottom of the barrel new meaning."

"No shit, Major." Casey snarled. "This is a Class A cluster fuck if you ask me. I don't even trust half these little bastards with a weapon."

Noble winked. "That's why we don't give them live rounds until we weed out the ones who don't need to be here."

"Aww, hell. As I recall, it was zit-faced farm kids who fired the first shots at Lexington and Concord when our own young nation got started. We can't judge them too harshly. This is all that's left after Al Queda and the Taliban sunk their claws in the recruiting pool." Casey grunted after the comment.

Casey watched stoically as Gunnery Sergeant Alberto Gonzales "counseled" one Afghan National Army recruit on muzzle discipline.

"Why are you pointing that goddamn weapon at me!? What is this, amateur night!? Unfuck yourself, or I will rip of your head and use it for soccer practice, dumbshit!" Gonzales boomed.

The interpreter, paused, giving Gonzales a confused look. Gonzales waved a hand. "Tell this idiot if he points this weapon at me again, I'm going to shove it so far up his asshole, he'll have to use his tongue to pull the fucking trigger!"

An officer on Casey's staff approached. "Colonel Casey. There's a call for you on the Sat Phone."

Casey nodded, addressing Noble. "Take over, Major."

"Aye, aye, Sir." Noble responded.

Casey approached his HQ, and answered the Sat Phone. "Casey."

"Casey, hey, it's Chuck. I'll be quick. Ellie just went into labor."

Casey smiled, probably for the first time since his deployment began. "Out-freaking-standing, Bartowski. Keep me posted."

"Can do."

Casey hung up the phone, and everyone looked to him for the news. "Bartowski is about to be an uncle."

"Sweet! I bet she's a future Devil Dog, Colonel!" One staff NCO offered.

Casey winked. "Or a future Squid. Let's make sure we educate her on the Corps before her idiot uncle corrupts her about the Navy."

Everyone in the HQ laughed.

Westside Medical Center

Sarah hung up the phone with her mom, and walked back in the waiting room. She smiled when Chuck cast his gaze her way.

"Mum and Molly are catching the next flight out." Sarah said, taking a seat next to Chuck, and grabbed his hand.

"I suppose Ellie will have plenty of extra hands." Chuck said casually, glancing around the room.

Sarah turned her body, facing her husband. "How does it feel to be an uncle?"

Chuck put his arm around Sarah, and kissed her forehead. "Well, she's not here yet…but so far, it feels…great. How about you, Aunt Sarah?"

Sarah smiled. "It feels wonderful." Sarah paused, glancing around the room. "Our family is growing."

"Yep." Chuck said, caressing Sarah's hand. "Everything is coming full circle, you know?"

"I know what you mean." Sarah said, giving Chuck an adoring look. "That just leaves returning the favor, and giving Ellie and Devon a niece, or nephew."

"Sarah, it will happen. I promise. From my experience…life changes happen without warning."

Sarah smirked. "Uh…getting pregnant happens with plenty of warning."

Chuck laughed softly. "True…but it happens when you least expect it. Which brings me to my proposal."

Sarah nodded. "I'm listening."

"What if we just…went with the flow? Without all the stress. What if we…let it happen? The reason I say this is because…I don't want you to stress about this, and I hate seeing you so down, Sarah. Honey, I love you, and I want you to always be happy." Chuck said softly.

Sarah sighed, and stared Chuck in the eyes, offering a small smile. "Okay. It's just…I'm ready to have a baby together."

"I know, and for the record, so am I." Chuck said confidently. "You're going to be a great mom."

Sarah smiled, blushing slightly. "There's no doubt you will be a wonderful father."

Sarah paused, kissing Chuck on the lips. "Okay. No stress. We'll just…roll with the flow."

Chuck winked. "That doesn't mean we can't practice."

Sarah purred. "Mmm…don't think for a second we'll stop trying."

A nurse appeared in the waiting room. "Chuck, Sarah…Ellie and the baby are fine. If you'll follow me, I'll let you meet your niece."

Chuck and Sarah stood, still holding hands, and followed the nurse. The couple walked on auto-pilot through the busy labor and delivery ward, taking in the activity.

When the couple reached the room, the nurse smiled. "Go on in, guys."

Chuck and Sarah thanked the nurse, and slowly entered the room. Ellie had Clara cradled in her arms, while Devon, with all smiles, hovered over his wife and daughter.

Ellie cast her eyes to Chuck and Sarah, beckoning the couple inside. "Come in, guys."

Ellie turned her attention to Clara. "Clara, this is your Uncle Chuck, and Aunt Sarah."

Sarah moved to the side of the bed, and bent down, fawning over the little girl. "Oh my goodness, Ellie, she is adorable!"

Chuck rounded the bed, and put a hand on Devon's arm. "Congrats, Devon."

"Thanks, bro." Devon smiled, patting Chuck on the back.

Ellie eyed Chuck. "Chuck…I hope you don't mind if Sarah holds her first?"

"Not at all." Chuck said solemnly.

Sarah thanked Ellie with her eyes, as Ellie rested the sleeping baby in Sarah's arms. Sarah nestled the sleeping infant close, gently caressing her cheeks. "Ellie, she's gorgeous."

Chuck took Ellie by the hand. "How are you feeling, El?"

Sighing, Ellie smiled. "Tired."

"Do you guys need to rest for a while?" Chuck inquired softly.

Ellie waved a hand. "We're fine." Ellie stared Chuck in the eyes, and a stray tear trickled down her cheek. "She's perfect, Chuck."

Chuck smiled, giving Ellie a comforting squeeze. "Yes, she is. I'm proud of you, Sis."

"Thanks." Ellie said, closing her eyes. "Go visit your niece."

Chuck let go of Ellie's hand, and gingerly approached Sarah, who was now sitting in a nearby rocking chair, gently rocking the little girl.

Devon smiled. "Wow, Sarah. You're a natural."

Sarah smiled, returning her attention to the little girl. As Chuck approached, and pulled up a nearby chair, Sarah made eye contact with her husband. "She's so beautiful, Chuck."

Chuck had a moment of pause in that instance. The way Sarah's eyes shined as she held the little girl in her arms spoke volumes. He wasn't sure if she had ever held a baby before, but the way Sarah protectively nestled her sleeping niece was so natural, as though Sarah had handled a baby her entire life.

Chuck turned his attention to his niece, and moved the blanket aside slightly to take the little girl by the hand. The infant quickly latched on to Chuck's finger, and rested her free hand on the side of her face.

Chuck's breath hitched, and he gently caressed Clara's fingers. Ellie and Devon looked on, and held hands, both smiling at the exchange. Sarah eyed her husband lovingly, and knew what he was thinking.

Sarah spoke softly, and reassuringly. "Sweetheart, don't think about the fact that you almost didn't come home. Think about this little girl's future, and how fortunate she will be to have her Uncle Chuck right there to help raise her…alongside her mum, dad, and Aunt Sarah."

Chuck blinked, and tears spilled from his eyes. "Thinking about the fact I almost didn't come home…makes me appreciate moments like this that much more. I won't ever take anything for granted again as long as I live. I will live each day as though it's my last. Having…seen what people can do to each other…seeing this little girl…so innocent, and with such a bright future…reminds me of what I was fighting for."

Chuck reached out with his free hand, and brushed Sarah's hair behind her ears. Sarah smiled, and leaned into Chuck's touch, smiling adoringly at her husband.

Chuck kissed Sarah softly on the lips, and turned to address Ellie and Devon. "We've come full circle, guys."

Ellie gave Chuck a coy look. "When the two of you finish having kids…the circle will be complete."

Sarah winked at Ellie. "You're one ahead, Ellie. I have some catching up to do."

Sarah gave Chuck a seductive look, and Chuck gulped. "Um…honey…hospital?"

Devon chuckled. "Chuck, bro…you'd be surprised what all happens in hospitals."

Chuck gave Devon a warning look. "Don't give her any ideas!"

Sarah grabbed Chuck, and pulled his ear to her lips. "Too late."

"You two are incorrigible." Ellie said, laughing.

Malibu, California, December, 2011

Driving through the quiet suburban neighborhood, Sarah was trying not to explode with excitement.

As Sarah's Porsche stopped next to a two-story white house, with a red door and white picket fence, Chuck narrowed his eyes when he saw a red bow on the front door.

Sarah exited the car, and said, "Come on."

Sarah took Chuck by the hand, and led him into the small yard. Chuck took a moment to admire the home, before reality set in.

"Is this…no. You didn't!"

Sarah placed her hands around Chuck's neck, and smiled. "Merry Christmas, Chuck. Welcome home."

"This is ours?" Chuck asked in shock.

Sarah held up a set of keys. "Yep. Let's go inside."

Chuck swallowed the lump in his throat. "I…this is the house I was looking at…when you told me about your dream home."

Chuck lowered his face. "I…started saving to buy this house."

Sarah lifted Chuck's face. "I saw you doing research after we were married."

Chuck was about to speak, but Sarah held up a finger. "Sweetie, listen to me. You are my husband. Stop thinking that you have to save for years to buy me a home, when we can buy it now. We're married, remember? There is no, 'me,' or 'I' anymore. There is only 'us."

Chuck sighed. Sarah knew it was a big deal for him to provide for his family. She kissed him softly on the lips, tracing his face with the tips of her fingers.

"Chuck…I know taking care of your family is important to you. But sweetie, stop thinking you have to be the bread winner. I have enough money saved and invested for us to retire now if we wanted to, and live a very comfortable life. Chuck…you already take care of me, in so many ways."

Chuck nodded in understanding. "It's just…I never want you to think the only reason I married you is because you're wealthy. I love you, Sarah. Not your bank account."

Sarah smiled. "I know that. Chuck, you're being silly. We've already been over this."

Sarah pointed to the house. "This house is not what's important to me." Sarah then rested her finger on Chuck's heart. "This is what's important to me."

Sarah's eyes welled with tears. "You see…you are my home, Chuck. You always have been."

Chuck smiled, and kissed Sarah on the forehead. "I love you, Sarah."

Sarah kissed Chuck softly on the lips, then made eye contact with her husband. "I love you too. Now, let's go inside."

Chuck stared at the house in awe. "Wow. I suppose I'd better start learning how to mow a lawn, huh? Or, or…man a grill for family cook-outs. Obviously, we'll decorate it however you like. Just say the word."

Sarah giggled, and led Chuck inside their new home. Chuck paused in the living room, staring at the house in awe. Sarah wrapped her arms around Chuck's waist, and rested her face on his shoulder.

"Well, what do you think?"

Chuck turned, and took Sarah in his arms. "I love it…and I love you."

Sarah pulled Chuck for a deep kiss. The kiss turned steamy, real fast. Sarah began lowering herself to the floor, pulling Chuck with her.

Chuck spoke with his lips still attached to Sarah. "Here?"

Sarah nodded. "Mmhmm."

Sarah straddled Chuck, and smiled. "This is the first room we're christening."

Sarah reached behind her, and unzipped her dress, speaking seductively. "This house isn't the only thing you're unwrapping this morning."

"Merry Christmas!" Chuck yelped.

Sarah paused, after allowing the dress slide to her waist, staring longingly in Chuck's eyes. "I have a confession to make. I bought this house when we returned from Milan."

Chuck sat up, with Sarah still attached to his waist. "You did?"

Sarah smiled. "Mmhmm. I wanted to wait until the perfect time. You see…"

Sarah reached in her purse, and removed a slip of paper, handing it to Chuck. Chuck eyed his wife playfully, but his features turned serious after reading the report.

"Really?" Chuck said softly.

"Uh, huh." Sarah replied, trailing soft kisses down her husband's neck.

Sarah pulled away when she felt Chuck's hand cover her stomach. Her eyes welled with tears when she saw the look of awe in Chuck's face.

In a slightly broken tone, Chuck stared Sarah in the eyes. "Wow…Sarah, I'm…so happy right now. You're amazing. I love you. I love you so much."

Sarah smiled softly, and kissed Chuck on the lips, her tone soft. "I love you too, sweetheart."

Sarah stared Chuck in the eyes, and gently toyed with his hair. "Congratulations, Chuck. You're going to be a father."

A/N: Ah, no, Dr. Patel is NOT related to Lester. Just couldn't remember the doctor who delivered Clara in Push Mix.

Next, we'll fast-forward to catch a glimpse of Chuck and Sarah's future.