A/N: Here it is, the final chapter. Some characters get their comeuppance. Things are neatly sewn up.
Atomic powered robots attack Burbank and Sarah's expecting triplets. (Just kidding! Blame atcDave.)
Thanks again to michaelfmx for his corrections and insightful suggestions. (I dumped over 60,000 words on him in one go!)
Names used are not intended to reflect real persons.
Don't own Chuck, et al but it's a lot of fun writing in this world.
CHUCK VERSUS THE PLAN
Chapter 14-Scary Sarah
Beverley Hills, June 22nd, 2142 Hours.
"So, Mr. Nedved, do those terms seem satisfactory to you?"
"Let me make sure I am clear. If I give you two million dollars, you promise to turn that into three million within 90 days? Is that right?"
"Correct. Everybody seems to need guns and explosives nowadays. With all these factions running around, half the time taking each other out or being blown up by various and sundry governments, business is booming, so to speak." He chuckles at his own joke.
The shorter man doesn't appear to get it, so remains serious as he asks, "How do I know I can trust you not to simply take my money and disappear, Mr. Boogard?"
The big man smiles. "Petr. May I call you Petr?" On seeing the nod, he goes on, "First of all, Petr, it's Derek, not Mr. Boogard. As the saying goes, Mr. Boogard was my father."
He pauses for a second and when he continues, nothing remains of the jovial southern gentleman in either his words or expression. "Secondly, I know you thoroughly checked me out before you reached out to my contacts, so you know my reputation. I always deliver on my promises. I've been obliged to have some arduous discussions with a few individuals who had implied otherwise. Eventually, they all came to see the error of their ways. Do I need to have the same kind of discussion with you?"
The other man visibly pales at the barely veiled threat. "No. No, there certainly is no need for that."
"That's good, because the last thing you want is trouble with me, what with the Czech government looking for you."
"What do you mean? Why would they want me?"
"It seems that about three years ago a man named Petr Klima absconded after taking a very large sum of money from a secret location in Prague. He then appears to have completely disappeared. Oddly enough, about that time a person named Radek Bonk showed up on the scene, only to vanish himself some seven months ago. And now we have a certain Petr Nedved, a man with no apparent history, wandering through this cruel world, looking to invest a substantial amount of money in my modest little business.
"You checked me out, so I think it's only fair that I did the same. Wouldn't you agree?"
The man being addressed nods fervently.
"Good. I'm happy that you feel that way. There's a trust that must exist between business partners. I'd hate to think that, sometime after we complete our transaction, you would do something as mercenary as to try and turn me in for the rather large reward that has been offered for my apprehension."
Petr's voice is shaky as he quickly replies, "I would never think of doing something like that. Never."
"I'm glad we're clear on that. So our deal can go ahead as planned?"
"Most certainly. I will be wiring the money to your account first thing in the morning." The relief in his voice is almost palpable.
"Good. Now that we have that out of the way, what's with the whole sunglasses thing? You afraid someone's going to recognize you?"
"I need to know what that's all about. I can't have something suddenly pop up which may endanger me or our plans. So what's going on?"
The man doesn't answer for a moment or two and is quiet when he does. "There's a woman."
"Isn't there always?" He smirks. "Angry ex-wife? Jealous girlfriend?"
"No. Nothing of that sort. It is a woman I met in Prague some years ago. Tall, blond, slender. Very beautiful. There was an incident." He shudders.
"She frightens me. Seven months ago I ran across her again. Here in Los Angeles. I had changed my appearance, so she did not recognize me, but given enough time I knew she would have picked up on something. So I ran, barely managed to escape. Now each time I am out and I see a woman who looks even a bit like her, I panic for a moment, afraid it will be her. I had not planned to be back in this area, so the beard and sunglasses are the best I could do at short notice. Just in case I run into her again."
Boogard laughs. "If you're afraid of tall, blond, attractive women, you really shouldn't be in southern California."
"I only came here because you insisted we meet at this party."
"I have my reasons. And speaking of reasons, do you have any that make you believe this woman is after you? That she might be the law?"
"No. What happened in Prague was of a...personal nature. Nothing over which she would pursue me. And, as I mentioned, she clearly did not know it was me when we ran into each other again."
"So it's just coincidence. You really need to stop worrying. What are the chances you'll ever see this woman again?"
"You are probably right." Petr removes his sunglasses. "I guess I am being a little paranoid."
"Besides, your description of this woman doesn't sound particularly terrifying."
"You have not met her."
"Tell you what. If you happen to see her again, point her out and I'll take care of her for you. How does that sound?"
Petr is thoughtful before he answers, "I am not sure you could."
Boogard laughs as he claps the man soundly on the shoulder, making him wince a little. "You're a funny man, Petr. Very funny. Now that we've taken care of our business, it's time to relax a little. How about we go inside and get ourselves some drinks? There are a lot of attractive non-blondes in there. Maybe we can pry a couple loose."
"Perhaps we could have a drink here before we go inside and try talking to them?"
"Sure. A little liquid courage couldn't hurt.
"Now, where is that waiter who was here a while ago, the big guy?" Looking around Boogard spots him about fifty feet away, clearing the tables on the empty patio. Snapping his fingers and waving, he gets the man's attention, beckons him over.
The waiter looks across, nods to acknowledge the summons, then holds up one finger to indicate he'll be there in a moment.
As Boograd turns back to his associate, he hears someone approaching from the direction of the house. Instinctively his hand goes inside his jacket, but he relaxes when he sees it's a woman, a redhead. A very attractive redhead, walking very quickly, very determinedly in his general direction with a blonde man a few steps behind her, looking like he's doing his best to catch up.
He's obviously less than sober, words slurring a little as he loudly says, "Amanda, stop. Where are you going?"
Without turning, she replies harshly, "Any place that's away from you."
"Aw, what's the matter, honey?"
She turns, stopping five feet in front of the two men seated on the bench. "You're drunk, Jeff. You promised me that you were going to watch yourself tonight." She glares at him. "Just another broken promise in a long line of broken promises."
Engrossed in their argument, neither appears to notice they're not alone.
It seems that Jeff is an angry drunk, his whole demeanor radiating fury as he steps in close, stopping only a foot away from the irate woman. "You shouldn't talk about keeping promises. You said we could make out a little tonight, but each time I even try just a kiss, you push me away like you're not interested. And then I started thinking that's because you only put out for the guys in your office nowadays."
She slaps him, hard. "You bastard!"
Jeff raises his fist. "And you're just a slu-"
His words are abruptly cut off by a large hand gripping the front of his throat.
Boogard brings his face close to Jeff's. "I'd stop right there if I were you, boy."
The younger man makes a choking sound, trying to free himself from the powerful hold.
"That's no way to treat a lady. I'm going to let you go now. When I do, I suggest you drop that fist and apologize. Immediately. Agreed?"
There's a desperate nod and the big man opens his hand. Jeff gasps for air. Just at that moment, the waiter arrives on the scene.
"I'm sorry, sir. Is this young man bothering you?"
"No. Not me. He is, however, being quite rude to this young lady. It appears he has had a little too much to drink."
The waiter takes Jeff firmly by the arm. "Perhaps it might be best if you leave. I'll take you out front and call you a cab."
Turning his back on the two men, Boogard asks the redhead, "Are you alright?"
Before she can answer, another voice comes from behind him.
"She's perfectly fine."
He turns and sees a woman step out of the shadows.
She's tall and blonde, insanely attractive. But there's something in her eyes that gives him pause. Without knowing exactly why, he feels a little shiver pass over him.
"Much better than you're about to be, Mr. Boogard. We felt the damsel in distress distraction would work well with someone like you. It appears we were correct."
Alarm bells go off. He reaches for his pistol, only to stop halfway as he feels the cold muzzle of a gun pressed to the back of his neck.
From behind him, a deep voice rumbles, "I'd stop right there if I were you, boy."
Even though the man is clearly parroting Boogard's own speech of a moment ago, he instinctively knows the speaker is not someone to be trifled with. He raises his hands slowly and, as he does so, feels a hand reach under his jacket and pull his pistol from its holster.
Petr, who'd been rooted to the bench during this whole scene, suddenly blurts out, "Derek! It is her! The woman I told you about."
"Ya think? You led her right to me, you idiot!"
The woman in question speaks up, "If it's any consolation, running into the two of you tonight was pure serendipity."
A tall, curly-haired man steps in beside her. "Aw, you shouldn't have told them that. Now Mr. Klima won't be able to use that awesome quote from Goldfinger."
Boogard sees her shake her head a little and smile. "Which one is that?"
"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it's enemy action."
"That is a good line." She turns to the man sitting on the bench. "What do you think, Petr? Does this constitute enemy action?"
He says nothing, his eyes darting nervously towards the house.
"Don't even think about it. While seeing you run in a tuxedo would amuse my partner to no end, I have given my team clear instructions concerning any such attempt on your part. This includes shooting you in the leg if needed. So, please, just stay where you are. You and I will have a little talk in a minute or two."
She turns back to the arms dealer, who, by this time, has his hands cuffed behind his back. Amanda and Jeff stand nearby, pistols drawn, held down by their thighs.
Looking at the man in the waiter's garb, she asks, "You find anything aside from the Glock 26?"
The big man shakes his head. "Nope. For a guy who has access to pretty much anything, he wasn't packing very much."
She nods approvingly. "Wise choice, Mr. Boogard. A machine pistol so spoils the lines of a well-cut tuxedo. Not that such sartorial matters will be of any further concern to you. After all, selling weapons to domestic terrorists guarantees you a lifetime supply of orange jumpsuits." She looks him up and down. "I don't believe it's your color, but a person can grow accustomed to almost anything given enough time, wouldn't you agree?"
He says nothing in reply, just glares at her.
She stops for a moment, listening. "Our perimeter team has just informed me that they've appropriated a van and are waiting at the back entrance of the garden. Amanda, could you and Jeff please escort Mr. Boogard to the van. If he tries anything, you have my permission to shoot him. You may choose any spot you like as long as it's not fatal."
As they leave, the blonde woman walks over to the bench where Petr still sits. He watches her approach with a morbid fascination, like a rabbit paralyzed with fear at the approach of a predator.
After sitting beside him, she reaches down and slowly raises the hem of her skirt, revealing a sheath holding three throwing knives. Sliding one out, she starts idly tossing it from hand to hand, seemingly lost in thought.
He can't take his eyes off the wicked looking blade, watches it go back and forth.
After what seems like a long while, she stops her juggling and, gripping the knife firmly in her right hand, turns to him and says, "Petr, Petr, Petr. Whatever are we going to do with you? You've been an awful lot of trouble."
The man doesn't dare move a muscle.
"Now, my partners here," she nods towards the two men standing nearby, "have come up with some thoroughly unpleasant and, I must say, very creative suggestions. But I've decided to give you a chance before I do something which can't be undone, at least not without some extensive plastic surgery. Of course, you're used to plastic surgery, aren't you? Perhaps it wouldn't be too bad."
He swallows, his forehead suddenly covered in sweat. "What is it you want from me, Sára?"
She gives him a beaming smile, one, however, that doesn't quite reach her eyes. "Petr, you remembered my name from that dinner all those years ago! How delightful! It appears I must have made some sort of lasting impression."
He manages to get out a strangled "Yes". He doesn't go into the why.
"So, Petr-" She pauses. "I'm so sorry. I neglected to ask. Do you prefer Petr or Radek? All of these false identities can be so very confusing, can't they? Makes a person wonder if anyone would even notice if he was to suddenly disappear."
He stammers, "Pe-Petr is fine."
She nods. "So, Petr, what I want from you right now is to answer a single question. Truthfully. Can you do that for me?"
He gives her a jerky nod.
She brings her head a little closer, asks, "Do you have any personal knowledge of an organization known as Fulcrum?"
He racks his brain, comes up with nothing, then panics, wondering if he is supposed to know something. Maybe pretending to have such knowledge could give him some leverage. He thinks of saying yes but quickly drops the idea, knowing there's no chance of fooling this woman.
"No, I know nothing of such a group."
She looks at him, long and hard, then directs a quick glance at her partners. Returning her gaze to the man beside her, she sighs. "OK. I believe you. That's it for now. We'll speak again in the near future."
She gestures to the huskier of her two partners. "Petr, this gentleman will now escort you to the van and then to a place where we'll be able to further our acquaintance at a later date. Please don't try anything foolish. My partner hasn't had the chance to shoot anyone for well over a week now, and I'm afraid he may not be able to restrain himself if provoked."
The big man comes closer. "Got any weapons on you?"
"No. I don't believe in violence."
"Well, you might have thought of that before you tried to invest money with an arms dealer. What did you think is done with the guns he sells? Target practice?" The big man shakes his head, and in apparent disgust, mutters, "Idiot," under his breath.
"Still going to search you. Stand up, arms out to the side."
He's patted down quickly. "OK, we're good. Let's take a walk."
As Sarah watches, Casey gives Klima a little shove in the direction they need to go. Her eyes follow the two until they round a corner.
Chuck takes the now empty spot next to her. He doesn't say anything, just looks at her with that quiet smile she's grown so fond of.
She's about to speak when she remembers they're still wired. She points to her ear, then says out loud, "Walker and Carmichael are going offline."
She hears Casey's "Roger that." Removing her earwig, she turns it off, gesturing for Chuck to do the same.
Even after he follows suit, he still says nothing, just continues to look at her, his grin getting bigger by the second.
After a few more moments of silence pass, she exclaims, "What?!"
He leans in, gives her a quick kiss. "You, my dear, were absolutely magnificent. I doubt I can find the words to describe just how magnificent you truly are."
She smirks. "Why? Did you forget your thesaurus?"
He laughs so loudly that it echoes around the empty garden. She loves his joyful, unrestrained laugh. Sometimes, even just the thought of it can help her dispel one of her rotten moods.
"Got one on my phone. I'll check it later. But right now I'm too busy burning that whole scene into my mind. I have no intention of ever forgetting what I just saw and heard."
She's puzzled. "What do you mean?"
"Sarah, honey, do you have any idea of just how intimidating you can be? You never once raised your voice, you were unfailingly polite, you never used foul language, and yet you totally ruled. Even Boogard was afraid of you and he outweighs you about two to one. And as for Klima, I'm sure the man came close to wetting himself. That bit with the knife was priceless. By the way, you might want to put it away now. I'm planning to take you in my arms in a bit and I don't feel like being accidentally eviscerated."
"Oh! I guess I should." She leans forward, pulls the hem of her skirt halfway up her calf and slides the knife back into its place. She looks up to catch him gaping.
"Chuck. You're staring."
"Sorry, got distracted for a moment. There's just something about the way you do that…" He shakes his head. "Sorry, what were we talking about?"
"Klima. The knife."
"Oh, yes. You should have seen the look on his face. The man was scared stiff."
She blushes. "Chuck, I really don't think I'm that scary."
"Trust me, babe. You are. Remember, I've been on the receiving end of 'Scary Sarah' a few times. When you put your mind to it, you're actually quite terrifying. And you definitely had put your mind to it a few minutes ago. Even though we're on the same side, I still got the chills."
"Really. Even though I knew you had no real intention of slicing and dicing our Mr. Klima, you were so convincing that I had to keep reminding myself it was just an act."
There's something in her expression that makes him pause. "Wait. It was just an act, wasn't it? You wouldn't have actually…"
His voice tapers off as she looks at him, stone-faced. "Chuck, there's no room for half-measures in this fight. We needed to know if he could tell us anything about Fulcrum. It was a close thing, very close."
He stares at her wide-eyed. "But, Sarah, the guy is just a spineless idiot who would tell you everything he knows if you threatened to bend his little finger back, let alone-," he sees the growing smile on her face, "-and you're pulling my leg."
She starts to laugh. "You should see the look on your face! Chuck, sweetie, a man who runs because he thinks he's actually going to be subjected to an impromptu dinnertime neutering obviously isn't too smart or courageous. I would have let Casey rough him up a bit if required, but I was pretty sure all he really needed was a little show."
He lets out a little chuckle, shakes his head and says, "You're even scarier than I thought."
She grins at him. "Try to remember that the next time you're tempted to leave the car."
"OK. I'll try."
He stands, offers her his hand. "I guess we should get going," he says, with just the tiniest sigh. "I assume you'll want to be at Castle to run the interrogations."
She hears the sigh, sees his disappointment as he realizes their weeklong interlude has apparently come to a premature end.
Not if she has anything to do with it.
"No. Not tonight. It'll keep until tomorrow."
He's surprised. "What? Really? I would have thought…"
She gestures for him to sit. "Chuck, they're not going anywhere. Besides, there's something more important that needs our attention."
He groans. "Don't tell me. Beckman needs us for some kind of emergency mission."
"No, sweetie. Nothing of the sort."
His relief is clear but he's still puzzled. "What is it then?"
She smiles. "I seem to recall you saying something about mending fences."
It doesn't sink in for a moment or two, but when it does, his whole face lights up.
"Let me make sure I've got this straight. You're saying that you and me, we're more important right now."
"Yes, Chuck. We are. There'll be a lot of times where the mission will have to take precedence. But tonight is not one of them. There's no harm in letting the two of them stew in a holding cell overnight. Who knows, it might even make them more cooperative."
He looks at her for a few seconds, thoughtful. "Please don't take this the wrong way, but you've changed. It wouldn't have been that long ago that we would've already been heading for Castle, with you focused solely on the mission."
"You're right, Chuck. You, being in your life, it's changed me."
"Me? What did I do?"
"Remember the morning after Bonk got away?"
"I do. Very well."
"That was the first day I was really aware of it. Until you came and talked to me, I was fixated on getting him. Nothing was going to distract me. But then you showed me, with just a few kind words," she grins, "and a few forceful ones, just how unreasonable I was being. Right then, I realized I'd changed. I understood that there were things in my life, important things, that I could have and still be a good agent."
"Genuine friends, a sense of belonging, a place that felt like home. Things I've always wanted but really never thought I'd ever have."
He smiles gently. "There seems to be one glaring omission from your list."
She's a little sheepish. "Yeah, I know. You. Us. I wasn't ready to admit to that quite yet. I thought I could just keep you in the friend category. However, I'll tell you that day at the pier definitely weakened that resolve."
"Is that why you've never brought that day up again?"
She nods. "I'm so sorry that I did that. I fooled myself into thinking that if I never mentioned it again, I could pretend it never happened. That way I wouldn't have to deal with all the issues that day raised."
"So it wasn't just the rules."
She pauses, embarrassed. "No, it wasn't. I told you that, thought I believed it myself, but the truth is that they were simply convenient for me to hide behind. A convenient way for me to deny my feelings for you."
"Aha! So you did have feelings for me. I thought I saw something. It's clear now that I wasn't the only one who stared longingly."
She grins. "OK. You got me. Are you sure you weren't using some secret version of the Bartowski full-court press back then? It would all be a lot easier to accept if I knew that I really had no choice but to fall in love with you."
"Sarah, you are one of the strongest willed people I know. Everything that you do, you do because you choose to. Like you said a while ago, you chose to fall in love with me."
"You know me pretty well, don't you?"
"Trying my best. But there're times when I think I haven't even scratched the surface."
She grins, echoing his earlier words, "Don't sweat it, you're doing far better than anyone else ever did."
"Anyone?" There's a note of disbelief in his voice.
She nods, her reply firm, "Anyone."
He leans closer, gives her a brief kiss. "Thank you. I don't know if I can adequately express how much that means to me."
They remain silent, thoughtful for a few moments. Then he speaks up. "You said earlier that I wasn't usually pushy, although that morning I was, at least a little. Do you really think my actions were all that important?"
She takes his hands in hers, looks into his eyes. "Chuck, don't underestimate yourself. What you did that morning, what we did that day as a result of your actions, set the stage for what happened in Vegas and everything that followed. Even though it didn't seem like it at the time, that day set us on a path that led us here."
Suddenly, Sarah starts to shiver, even though the air is warm. Chuck moves closer, placing his arm around her shoulder. Bringing his face close to hers, he gently asks, "Sarah, honey, what is it?"
She looks down into her lap as she answers, "Chuck, I never told you this. When you chose the pier for our day out, I was so disappointed that I was about to tell you to forget the whole thing. I was just about ready to pack it up and head back to Castle."
She holds up her hand, thumb and forefinger almost touching. "We were that close to never having our day. And if we hadn't had it, we may never have had Vegas. It scares me even now that we might not have ever gone beyond being just friends. That there may have never been an us." She shudders a little bit and he pulls her even closer.
"Sarah, I'm of the opinion that, in the long run, it really wouldn't made all that much of a difference. If it hadn't happened in Vegas, it would've happened somewhere else, in another place or at another time. Even if you'd said no that day, don't you think we would have wound up here regardless?"
Sarah shrugs one shoulder even as she smiles, cheered by his optimism. "I'm just glad we'll never have to answer that question." She leans in this time, kisses him. "Because, sweetie, there's no place on earth I'd rather be than right here, right now with you."
He's seemingly unable to speak, his eyes fixed on hers. Then, just before it appears there may be some tears, he takes a deep breath and smiling, says, "Yeah, I'm pretty fond of here myself, although, right now I have no actual idea where that here might be. Somewhere in California, right?"
Laughing, she asks, "Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you were expecting 'Scary Sarah' to answer you after you told me that I was being too hard on myself?"
"Yeah, I was."
She brings her head closer. "Thank you for being so brave. It was exactly what I needed. You surprised me. I'd never seen that side of you before. I have to ask, where did that come from?"
He flushes. "Casey gave me a little pep talk."
"Casey? That's a surprise. What did he say?"
"Yeah, it was a surprise to me as well." He looks closely at her. "Before I tell you, I need your promise that none of this will get back to him. He didn't actually tell me I wasn't to let on about it, but I'm not sure how he would react if he finds out. I've kind of gotten used to having fully functional limbs. Also, I don't want you to take anything out on him. It would be hard to break in a new partner."
She chuckles. "I promise."
"No fingers crossed or anything?"
She shakes her head, holds up her hands.
"OK. First of all, he told me about a mission you led in Panama a few years ago."
She thinks back, remembers the two missions she had in that country. The corrupt diplomat and-
Oh, no. Not that one.
Her hope is somewhat dashed by Chuck's next words. "The mission where you captured that gun runner on your own—"
Maybe he didn't tell Chuck what they called me.
"—and they nicknamed you 'la perra rubio loca.'"
There's a growl in her voice. "I'm gonna kill him."
It's Chuck's turn to laugh. "Remember, you promised."
"Nope. No buts."
She leans in close, whispers in his ear, "Chuck, sweetie, can't we make an exception, just this once? I could make it up to you later."
It takes a few seconds for him to respond, clearing his throat as he does, "A promise is a promise. Besides, if you go after him he'll know and come after me. I wouldn't be much use to you in a body cast."
"I'd protect you."
"I'm sure you would. But sooner or later you won't be around and then, wham, I'm wrapped in plaster."
She looks contemplative, is silent for a few seconds.
"Sarah, you were just weighing the risks against the benefits, weren't you?"
"Chuck, how could you think—"
He's stern. "Sarah."
She huffs. "OK. I was. A little. But I don't believe Casey would really hurt you. We do need a functioning intersect after all."
Drily, he replies, "As always, I'm touched by your concern for my personal well-being."
"Just part of the job."
"Wow! Can you feel the love?"
"It doesn't appear you're taking this seriously. For example, what if you're wrong and he decides to…" he leans in and whispers the rest of the sentence in her ear.
"Ouch! I hadn't thought of that."
"I thought not. Because if he did, you know it might be quite a while before we-"
"Definitely wouldn't want that to happen. OK. I'll keep my promise. But why did he even bring up that mission?"
"While he admired your tenacity, he felt that, unlike that gun runner, Bonk wasn't worth your time and effort. But you wouldn't listen to him about it."
"I was a little stubborn, wasn't I?"
He arches an eyebrow. "A little?"
"Alright. A lot."
He nods his agreement before continuing, "He then said something that surprised me. He told me that you valued my opinions, my views on matters."
"In what way?"
"That you defended my actions to Beckman, went along with my ideas when you could, that kind of stuff."
He waits as she ponders for a bit. "Huh. I did do that, didn't I? Never really thought of it quite that way."
"And to think, all of this happened long before you realized that you were hopelessly in love with me." He gives her a cheeky grin.
She shrugs her shoulders. "Guess I was already doomed."
"You have an interesting way of phrasing it."
She just grins, doesn't reply.
"Right. Well, because you did, he thought you might listen to me if I could muster up enough courage to face you when you were so angry. He said that I would gain your respect if I was willing to take it on the chin in an effort to help you understand it wasn't your fault, that you needed to give yourself a break."
"He was right. The man's much more insightful than I would have given him credit for."
"I know what you mean. I'd never seen him that way before. Or since, for that matter. Speaking of Casey, shouldn't we tell him we're not joining him tonight?"
"Good idea." She opens her purse, takes her phone out and sends a short text. A few seconds later she receives a reply.
"I just told Casey we'll meet him in Castle at 1200 tomorrow. Want to know his reply?"
He nods and she turns the screen his way. Roger that. We'll keep our guests comfortable. You two relax.
"Relax? He never says anything like that. What's going on with him?"
She pauses, makes sure she has his attention. "He knows, sweetie."
"What do you mean, 'he knows'? Knows what?"
"Chuck, he knows."
As it finally sinks in, his expression of confusion rapidly morphs into one of panic.
"About us? How? He knows about us! What are we going to do? What if he tells Beck-"
She leans over and kisses him, cutting him off in mid-babble.
"Calm down, sweetie. I'm quite certain he's on our side."
He takes a deep breath, calms himself. "How can you be so sure?"
"I kidded you earlier about not recognizing the signs that would indicate who was watching us. Well, it appears I've been pretty blind myself, at least until tonight."
"What gave him away?"
"When he addressed me as Sarah, instead of Walker."
"That was strange, but I don't see how that tipped you off."
"It was out of character for him, so it got me thinking. I suddenly realized that there had been a whole bunch of other times when he'd acted a little unlike himself. Your account of his little pep talk is just another example. The signs were all there for me to read, but I just didn't put them together. "
She smirks. "I put it down to being blinded by love. So, in a sense, it's your fault."
"I'll willingly take the blame for anything that involves you loving me." She's happy to see him smile, glad that at least some of his anxiety has passed.
"Sweetie, I know there's a whole bunch of stuff we'll have to deal with now that he knows. But that's a story for another day. Right now I've got a proposal for you. How about we put it off until tomorrow? This is our last night before we head back to the real world, and I want to enjoy it. Is that OK with you?"
"Absolutely. There will be plenty of time later."
"Good. Chuck, just remember that Casey, first and foremost, is an honorable man. If he hasn't told Beckman yet, there's no reason to assume he's holding back until some opportune time to hold it over us. Also remember he has a vested interest in keeping this team intact. So as long as we keep up the pretense, I believe he'll continue to turn a blind eye."
"Of course, you're right as usual. You know, I believe the man actually likes us. In his own strange way, I think he wants us to be happy."
"I agree. Now, enough about Casey. It's time for you to start mending your fences."
"What would you like me to do?"
"What would be your guess?"
He glances around, then sighs as he stands and starts to remove his tuxedo jacket.
"OK. It's not very private, but if that's what you want."
He places his jacket on the bench.
"We'll have to be quiet. Maybe we could go over there behind that tree."
He looks down at his feet and then at her. Seemingly uncertain, he asks, "What do you think? Should I take off my shoes?"
She laughs. "You goof. I guess I deserve that for the other night at the beach."
"Yes, you do. And for the knife thing tonight."
"OK. OK. We're even now, right?"
"Now, be serious."
He looks down into her eyes for a few seconds. "I believe my beautiful wife would like to dance with her devastatingly charming husband."
"Yes, she would. Very much so."
After putting his jacket back on, he holds out his hand to help her stand, and then, with her arm in his, they walk slowly towards the house. As they reenter the dance area, Sarah notices that the more formal orchestra of earlier is gone. Instead, there's a jazz quartet, accompanied by a brunette vocalist.
Sarah stiffens, a sudden scowl replacing her smile.
He notices, turns to her and asks, "Sarah, what's wrong?"
"The singer. When you left me here to find our bad guys, she was blatantly checking you out. She even looked at me as if there was nothing I could do about it."
He studies her face. "Sarah, you've got that look in your eye."
"The one that tells me that you're about to show her that there is something you can do about it."
"I won't hurt her, Chuck. All I want is to have a little conversation."
"Would that conversation happen to involve the display of one of those sharp pointy objects you have strapped to your calf?"
She tries to look innocent. "Why would you think that?"
"Because I know you, Sarah Bartowski."
She's about to protest, but before she can say a word, he gently takes her arm and steers her through the French doors, back out into the empty garden. He leads her to the patio and then starts rearranging the scattering of tables and chairs.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm finding a way to mend my fences. One that, at the same time, doesn't require me to come up with bail money for my wife."
She smirks. "Oh, you wouldn't have to worry about that. If push comes to shove, I know at least five different ways to make sure that she'd be the one walking out in handcuffs."
He stops for a moment, chair in hand. "Like I said, scary."
He sets it down and surveys his handiwork. "OK. We're good."
"Chuck, what is this?"
He makes a sweeping gesture with his hand. "Our own private dance floor. We can still hear the music but you won't be constantly irritated by having to see our brunette chanteuse ogling me."
"But I'll still be able to hear her."
"I may have that covered as well."
"Patience, grasshopper, patience."
He moves in closer, puts his arms around her waist, quietly serious. "But before we trip the light fantastic, there's something I need to tell you. Sarah, I can't control that, for some strange reason, and here, I'm taking your word for it, other women apparently find me attractive. What I can control is my reaction to their interest. I just hope and pray that my conduct never gives you any reason to ever doubt that you are my only, my everything."
Suddenly his face is a little blurry and Sarah has to blink a few times to clear her vision. She gently shakes her head, softly says, "No. No doubts. None."
He gives her a little smile. "Good, because you should know that other women are simply background noise to me. Sarah Lisa Walker Bartowski, I only have eyes for you."
As if on cue, music wafts it's way from the house.
"My love must be a kind of blind love
I can't see anyone but you,"
He's startled. "That's weird. It's like you're thinking of a random song and then it's the next one that plays."
She smiles at him, amused, as always, by the little things he finds so intriguing.
"You know, sweetie, there are other things you can do to music besides listening to it and thinking of odd coincidences."
He draws a blank for a second, but then brightens and says, "Of course. Almost forgot for a second why we're out here. May I have the honor of this dance, Mrs. Bartowski?"
"Certainly, Mr. Bartowski."
Chuck draws her close, and as they sway together, cheek-to-cheek, he begins to softly sing along.
"Are the stars out tonight
I don't know if it's cloudy or bright
I only have eyes for you dear,"
A sudden tingle runs down her spine. She tilts her head back to look into his face. "Chuck, I never knew you could sing so beautifully!"
He grins. "What can I say? I am a man of many talents. Hang on, here comes the next part. It's unfortunate there aren't any 'sha bops' in this arrangement. I kinda liked them."
She melts into his arms as he brings his mouth close to her ear and croons,
"The moon may be high
But I can't see a thing in the sky
I only have eyes for you
I don't know if we're in a garden
Or on a crowded avenue
You are here
And so am I
Maybe millions of people go by
But they all disappear from view
And I only have eyes for you"
He holds the last note for a few seconds and they continue to dance until the music fades. As they stop, he pulls back a bit, sees her eyes glistening.
"You OK?" he gently asks.
Sarah nods as she raises her hands, using her fingers to brush away the tears. "Yes, I'm fine aside from the fact that you keep finding ways to ruin my makeup."
"Maybe you should use the waterproof kind, the stuff synchronized swimmers use."
She chuckles, a little wetly. "If you keep this up, I may have to look into it."
He smiles, looking into her eyes. "Sarah, you don't really need it anyway. You are the most beautiful woman in the world even when you have nothing on."
She tilts her head back, arching one eyebrow. "That's rather saucy of you, Mr. Bartowski."
He blushes. "No. That's not what I-I meant with no makeup on."
She gives him a flat look. "So your saying I'm not when I'm…?"
He almost stammers, "No, no of course not." He sees her grinning at him again and just shakes his head. "You're really good at this."
She laughs as she takes his hand. "C'mon, we're leaving."
As she tugs him along, he asks, "So I've mended my fences, then?"
Sarah glances back over her shoulder, smiles suggestively. "Not quite yet. But I do have something in mind that will clear the books."
"Why, Mrs. Bartowski, whatever do you mean?"
She answers him only by smirking and pulling him along a little more quickly.
When the Porsche is brought around front, Sarah, much to the surprise of the valet, slips into the driver's seat.
"If you don't mind, sweetie, I'll drive this time. That way we'll get home a lot faster."
He nods, his face split by a goofy grin. A grin he never loses in the very short time it takes them to get back to the safe house.
And a grin that returns the next morning, when, upon waking, he discovers there's no further need to convince himself that he is, in fact, married to this woman lying so close, so warm beside him.
A/N: There it is! Hope you liked it. If you did, I'd really like you to tell me in a review. Even just a little tiny one. (And if you didn't like it, you can also review to tell me what could be improved.) If you would like me to carry on with my version of these characters in other stories, please let me know. Thanks for reading and reviewing. Until next time.
PS Thanks to all you reader who've made Sarah Vs. The Darkness my second most visited story this month. It's one of my favorites. Reviews, even at this late date, will be noticed and responded to.