A/N: This is the first of what I hope will be a number of other stories that take place in the Chuck Vs. The Plan universe or CVTP for short. Some will be one-shots like this one. Others will be multi chapter. Won't necessarily be in chronological order.
This one takes place sometime after the events described in CVTP.
I always enjoyed watching Sarah as she assumed different personalities and accents at the drop of a hat in order to complete a mission or extricate herself from a dangerous situation. So I thought I would write one that really focuses on this ability.
I humbly apologize in advance to all southerners and especially those from the fine state of Arkansas. You'll see why.
Thanks as always to my beta michaelfmx.
This one is definitely meant to be fun, but there's Charah as well.
Don't own Chuck.
A PLAN STORY
WE'RE NOT IN ARKANSAS ANYMORE
Hand-in-hand, they walk down the busy shopping street. Their mission-dictated portrayal of boyfriend and girlfriend out for an innocent afternoon stroll is quite convincing.
However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Chuck's sweating a bit, trying to look casual as he asks, "How many, Sarah?"
She doesn't turn her head, but he knows she's taking in every detail of their surroundings. "I make it five. Two in front, two behind and one across the street. They may be trying to herd us towards that black van halfway up the block."
There's a note of desperation in his voice. "How could they figure it out so quickly? How did they know it was us?"
She shakes her head. "I don't believe they know for sure. They would've moved in by now if they were certain. There were three couples, including us, in the vicinity. I think they're following all three until they're sure which one has it."
"How long before they figure it out?"
"Not long, I expect. Casey and the backup team will be here in ten, but I doubt we'll have that much time."
He takes a deep breath. "What should we do?"
She's a little terse. "Need to get you out of here. Someplace safe."
"See the alley coming up?"
"When we get there, I want you to run down it as fast as you can. Hopefully, at the other end, you can find a taxi and get back to Castle. If not, look for a good place to hide until Casey shows up.
"OK. Wait. Where will you be?"
She doesn't look his way as she replies, "There's some decent cover at the entrance of the alley. I think I can hold them off until you get away."
He can't believe his ears. "Like hell you will!" His words are forceful, even though they're spoken quietly enough that only Sarah can hear them.
She's angry. "Chuck, now's not the time to go all macho on me!"
"It's nothing to do with being macho! You're crazy if you think that I'm going to run away and leave my wife to die in some filthy back alley!"
"Chuck, you're just too valuable!"
"And you're not?"
"No, Chuck, I'm—"
"Don't you dare say it! Or even think it!"
She stops mid-sentence, stunned by his vehemence.
He lowers his voice a little more, his tone clearly brooking no disagreement. "Sarah, you know how I feel about this. I don't give a damn how valuable the government thinks I am. I will not leave you behind. We either get out of this together or go down together. There's no third option. Am I clear?"
In the year they've been married, Sarah has only seen this side of her husband a handful of times. And then, only on those occasions when he saw the need to remind her that she's worthy of being loved, deserving of the sacrifices he and others are willing to make for her.
It's not as if he expects to fool her by this authoritative attitude. She can see he's afraid, and, what's more, he knows that she can see it. But she also can see that his attachment to her is more powerful than that fear. In the truest sense of the word, he's willing to die for her.
This fresh reminder of his deep and abiding love makes her heart race, her face flush. Not trusting herself to speak, she simply nods.
"That's good. Because if you were to get killed while I was running away, my life would pretty much be over anyway. You understand?"
Blinking rapidly a few times, she answers, "Yes, sweetie." She stands on her tiptoes, quickly kissing him. "And I love you, too."
"Alright. Now that we're clear on that, do you have any idea what we're going to do?"
There's just the tiniest hint of a smile as she replies, "What?! You shoot down my plan and now you're telling me you have nothing to offer in its place?"
"You're the super spy, remember? I'm just the innocent bystander, drawn, by a blonde temptress, into a world of deadly and convoluted intrigue."
She snorts. "Yeah, right." After thinking for a moment, she adds, "OK, I actually do have an idea."
He nods, smugly says, "Knew you would."
She rolls her eyes, then nods toward a souvenir shop coming up on their right.
"Chuck, we're going to go in there. When we do, they'll send in one of their agents to keep tabs on us. We can't chance trying to go out the back because that will definitely give us away. And we have no idea if we could escape by that route in any case."
"OK. So what will we do?"
"We'll have to make them believe that we're not the couple they're looking for."
"How? I'm fresh out of Jedi mind tricks."
"We're going to run a con. Try to make them believe that we couldn't possibly be the ones who stole their device. I need you to follow my lead and contribute to the story. Just let yourself imagine what you might actually say and do if it was real. We have to be completely convincing. There can't be any slip-ups. OK?"
He looks panicky, so Sarah gives his hand a reassuring squeeze. "You're better at this than you think you are. I know you can do it."
He nods, a little choppily. "OK. Which way are you going to go?"
"No time. You'll have to figure that out as we go along."
They're through the door before he can reply. After a quick survey, she leads him over to a clearance table loaded with rather tacky-looking souvenirs and starts checking them out. Chuck hears the bell above the door tinkle as one of the bad guys follows them into the shop.
A middle-aged woman approaches them and says with a smile, "Hi. May I help you find something?"
"Hi. Me and my sweetie just love Los Angelees so much. Y'all got such a beautiful ocean here." Sarah leans in a little closer, lowers her voice, speaking in a conspiratorial tone. "Y'see, we all are from Arkansas an' we ain't got no ocean there."
Chuck isn't exactly sure what he'd expected from Sarah, but her answering the clerk in a deep southern drawl hadn't even been on the radar. In a mirror he catches a glimpse of the Fulcrum agent looking equally surprised.
The woman dryly responds, "Yes, I'm aware of that. So, is there something I could help you with?"
"Where's my manners? We haven' even introduced ourselves. My name is Sarah and this is my sweetie, Chuck."
"Hi, I'm Debbie."
"Glad to meet ya, Debbie. We are lookin' for sump'n classy to bring on home with us. Ya know, to help us 'member the wonderful time we had here."
Sarah turns to Chuck and drawls, "Whaddya think, honey? Ya see anythin' ya like?"
Chuck, who's barely been able to stop his jaw from dropping during her whole performance, has to quickly gather his wits.
"Well, Sugah', I done found this one." He points out what is possibly the most hideous thing he's ever seen, a small particle board plaque with LA spelled out in sloppily glued on little seashells.
"Oh, that sure is purdy! Where do ya think we should put it?"
He gives her a broad wink. "I was thinkin' 'bove our bed."
Chuck is almost positive that Sarah actually blushes. She slaps him on the chest. "Chuuuuck! We all talked about that. I don't want people to know we're livin' in sin."
He puts his arm around Sarah's shoulders and says to the clerk, smiling, "I finally done roped my little filly, but we're awaiting for her mama's parole to come through afore we get hitched."
Debbie, apparently equally torn between the horror and the fascination of this sudden train-wreck of a conversation, doesn't say a word, just stays rooted to the spot. She looks, a little helplessly, Sarah's way, waiting for clarification.
Sarah obliges her. "She's in for 'tempted murder. Which is just plumb crazy, if you ask me. If my mama wants sump'n dead, it's dead. I 'member the time this possum got hisself in the root cellar—"
"Sweet pea, I'm shore this fine lady here don't wanna hear 'bout no dead possum."
"Sorry. Well, it all done happened on my eighteenth birthday party. That was the year daddy had got hisself blowed up in that accident with his still. You 'member that, Chuck?"
He nods. "Yep. They say you could hear the explosion clear over two counties."
"So, my mama was kinda lonely after that, bein' by herself and all. One day she'd gone up to the roadhouse for some dancin', an' this guy Danny comes on home with her. He moves in and mama spects I goin' to call him step-daddy, but they never really got themselves hitched."
Sarah shudders a little bit. "He was kinda creepy, like one o' those paintin's where them dark eyes done follow you around. Real stiff face, like it was carved outta wood. Could never tell what was goin' on in his head. But he never done tried anything until my eighteenth birthday. I was a dancing with Billy Ray Montgomery—"
Chuck interrupts. "Darlin', was that the Billy Ray with the birthmark?"
"No, that was Billy Ray Wilkes."
"Course, yer right." Chuck looks at Debbie. "He had himself this birthmark the shape of Abe Lincoln's head there on his left arm. Had to always wear long-sleeved shirts, even in summer, just so he wouldn't keep gettin' hisself beat up. The only good thin' is that it got him out of the fiscal edgy-cation." He's thoughtful as he adds, "Does weigh in around three hunderd now, though."
The woman just nods, somewhat numbly, then looks back to Sarah to continue the story. Out of the corner of his eye, Chucks sees the agent who followed them doing his best to not show his interest in the tale. And failing miserably.
"Well, no sooner does I start dancing with Billy Ray when Danny cuts in. Right off, he gets hisself down on one knee and tells me how much he loves me and wants me to be the mama of his children. Then he stands up and tries to kiss me. I guess he'd been drinkin' a little cause he didn' notice my mama was right behind him there.
"She ain't gonna stand for that, so she grabs him by his ear and drags him out into the garage and they start goin' at it. We could hear them shoutin' at each other for a bit and than there's this bang. I knew it was the sound of mama's tweny-two rifle, the one she uses to plink the varmints on the property. So we run on out to the garage and we see Danny a laying there holdin' his hands over his privates, bleedin' on the floor and cryin' like a little girl. Mama's standing over him fixing to load herself another cartridge. Billy Ray an' a couple of the other boys done grab her before she can do sump'n serious."
For the first time in a while, the clerk speaks up. "You mean shooting him in the...groin wasn't considered serious?"
Sarah's tone of voice is very matter of fact. "Not hardly. If my daddy been there he woulda lost the whole kit and caboodle, not just the part my mama shot off."
Chuck growls and Sarah hastily adds, "Course, my sweetie woulda done right by me but we'd had this quarrel, so I hadn' asked him to come along that night."
"Damn right, I woulda."
The older woman looks at them, aghast.
"Well, we calls the sheriff and the ambulance and they takes Danny to hospital after arrestin' him."
Debbie is obviously baffled. "Why would they arrest Danny?"
"Weren't ya listening to my story? Reason's plain as the nose on my face."
The woman starts to say something, but then clearly changes her mind and simply gestures for Sarah to continue.
"That woulda been the end of it, except that Danny has this shirttail uncle who works for the Gubmint down there in Little Rock. Well, he goes an' talks to the Guv'nor who's trying for the re-election on some kin' of law an' order sump'n or other. Anyway, the state police come arrest my mama and put her in the calaboose. Afore ya know it, she's doing six to eight up there in the woman's penitentree."
The clerk shakes her head. Whether it's in sympathy or confusion, Chuck has no idea.
Sarah lets out a little sniffle. "It just goes to show ya that there ain't no justice. Danny weren't even hurt that bad."
Turning to Chuck, she asks, "Honey, how many surgerees were it afore he were able to relieve hisself without using that cathter thing?"
He holds up three fingers.
She exclaims. "Ya see! Only three! And the doctors said there were still enough left for Danny to maybe even be a daddy one day. Jest had to make sure he didn' go and ride no bicycles no more.
"It jest gets me so riled up that he gits off so easy while I'm left all by myself. I don' know what I woulda done without my Chuck steppin' up to help."
Chuck leans in, gives her a peck on the lips, a kiss which threatens to quickly escalate into something more until Debbie interrupts.
"Ahem!" They break apart, both looking embarrassed. "So, you were saying Chuck stepped in to help you?"
"Yes'm, he did. He'd come on over before his work and after too. Helped me with chores and repairs and such. I got me a job down at the lunch counter into town and he'd drive me there and back when he could. Took us a while but we got ourselves engaged nigh on a year back."
Debbie looks down at Sarah's left hand, sees her bare ring finger.
Chuck replies to the unspoken question. "The last payment on my Sarah's ring is done next month."
Sarah nods happily. "It's got genuin' diamond chips on top."
Debbie regards the two of them for a few seconds, then smiles and says, "Congratulations. You seem really well suited for each other. And you make a very cute couple."
Debbie offers her hand and Chuck shakes it. "Thank you, Ma'am. That was mighty kind of you."
Sarah takes the woman's hand in turn. "I hope we didn' bore ya too much with all the tales from home."
"Bored? Definitely not the word I would use to describe it. How much longer are you here?"
Chuck replies, "Jest a couple of days. We wanted to get out west afore we settled down. By this time next year, I spect we'll have a bun in the oven, so travelin' would be kinda hard."
Sarah again appears to blush as she leans in and quietly says, "Chuck, it ain't proper to go and say things like that in public."
"Sorry, Sugah. Did you want to wait a little longer afore we have children?"
She gnaws on her lower lip for a few seconds, then standing on her tiptoes, whispers briefly in Chuck's ear.
As her words sink in, Chuck's expression goes from shock to joy in a split second.
Turning to Sarah he places his hands on her shoulders and looks into her eyes.
"You ain't joshin' me, are you?"
She shyly shakes her head.
Chuck whoops as he takes Sarah in his arms and, lifting her off the ground, spins her around, carefully, considering the limited space around them.
Putting her back down, he turns back to Debbie, a huge grin on his face. "Well, Ma'am it appears we don' have to wait til next year."
"Thank you, Ma'am."
Putting his arm around Sarah's shoulders, he says to her, "Honey, I don' think we should put off gittin' hitched no longer. It'll likely be a year or two more afore you mama will git out."
Sarah nods. "What are you thinkin' of?"
"I was a proposin' we should head on over to Las Vegas tonight. I was a readin' about this weddin' chapel that does the whole thing with an Elvis preacher an' such."
"Oh, that does sound fine. But you sure that ain't too classy for the likes of us?"
"Sarah, honey, ain't nothin' too classy for you."
"Aw, you sure know how to sweet-talk a girl."
"Jest you, darlin'. And you know I was thinkin' that after we get hitched, we could get ourselves a room down there at the Motel 6 'stead of sleeping in the camper. Would give us a bit more room for celebratin', if you know whatta mean." He winks as he puts his arms around her.
She giggles, putting her hands on his chest and half-heartedly pushing him away. "Stop. You're gittin' me all hot and bothered."
"That's the idea, Honey." He winks again. "It'll take us a while to get there, so we should get a move on."
He turns to the older woman. "Thank you, ma'am. You've been very kind, listenin' to us an' all."
"You're welcome." She picks up the plaque Chuck had been eyeing earlier. "Here, please take this. Think of it as a wedding present."
"No, ma'am, that's too much," Sarah says.
"Don't be silly. I insist. When you're old and gray with your grandchildren on your knee, it'll remind you of this day. I believe you two are going to have a long, happy life together."
As they walk out of the store, hand in hand, Chuck suddenly realizes that the agent who'd been in the store with them is nowhere to be seen. He surreptitiously looks around, up and down the sidewalk, but there's no trace of him, nor the others, for that matter. The black van is also gone.
He turns to her, puzzled. "Where'd they go?"
"Our friend left shortly after you suggested we go to Vegas. I kept a close eye on him. Saw him speak into his watch and then take off. Not sure what he said, but based on the results, it appears he decided we weren't the ones they were looking for."
"Huh! I didn't even notice."
She chuckles. "Well, you certainly dove into the part, so that's hardly surprising."
He grins. "Yes, I guess I did. Which couple do you think they did go after?"
"Probably the one where the guy actually looked a bit like James Bond, not just some tall, awkward nerd."
His response is mildly sarcastic. "Thanks for that. You really know how to make a guy feel good about himself."
As she laughs, her phones chimes. Taking it out of her purse, she looks at the screen and says, "Casey will be here in a minute."
"Good. We can get back to Castle before they change their mind and come back looking for us. Also, we can get rid of this whatever this is." He pats his front jean pocket. "Do you have any idea what it does?"
"Nope, not a clue."
He shrugs his shoulders. "Need to know, I guess." He points to the plaque in her hand. "Do you want me to dump that thing for you?"
She's hesitant, doesn't answer for a few seconds. And when she does, it surprises him.
"No, I think I'll keep it." She slips it into her purse.
"What? You're aware that it's possibly the ugliest decorative object in the known galaxy?"
"I know, but Debbie said something about it that struck a chord."
"What was that?"
"That one day when we're older and have our grandchildren on our knees, the plaque will remind us of this day."
"You do know that we have to have children before we can have grandchildren, right?"
She gives him an exasperated look. "Yes, Captain Obvious. I'm well aware of that."
He grins back at her.
She speaks after a few moments, and this time Chuck can sense a bit of genuine shyness. "Remember the night when you told me you saw a future for us? One with children?"
He nods, simply waits on her, something building in his gut, something good, that, for a moment, he's not sure how to define. Then he realizes what it is.
"I'm ready to try, Chuck."
He tries to control the smile that threatens to break his face in two, but senses that he fails miserably. Nonetheless, he tries to rein in his emotions.
"Yes, I do remember that. But, Sarah, I also said I'd wait as long as you needed. I don't want you to feel that you're doing this for me, for some dream I have."
"No, Chuck. I'm not doing this for you. I'm doing this for us. I want that dream too, Chuck. Just as much as you do."
She nods emphatically. "Yes. I'm sure."
He moves closer, takes her in his arms. "Well, in that case, Mrs. Bartowski, we're definitely keeping that plaque. I think we should make it a family tradition to bring it out on this anniversary, and when the kids and the grandkids are old enough, tell them the story."
She wraps her arms around his neck and smiles, looking up into his face. "Yes, I really like that idea."
"So, we're doing this?"
"Good. Now that we've settled that, there's something I need to do. This time for real."
Turning the corner in his Crown Vic, Casey immediately spots the two of them halfway down the block on his right.
What the hell?
The moron has Walker in his arms, spinning her around in circles, both of them laughing, it appears, at the top of their lungs, oblivious to the stares and smiles of the passersby.
Dammit, what've they gone and done this time?
A/N: Hope you caught the thinly veiled allusion to a person we really don't like. Plan to tackle some unresolved issues that CVTP left open in additional stories. Maybe dealing with a certain female siblings response to certain hidden marriage.
As always, reviews are very much appreciated.