Yeah. It's another one of those season 3 what ifs... In my defense, I thought that the whole Final Exam - Other Guy arc was so frustrating and so filled with holes. I wanted to delve into Sarah's psyche and find out why in the hell she was so frustrating. Here's what I came up with. Also, I thought it was regressive of Chuck's character to just take Sarah's bullshit lying down. He'd grown since season 1. Anyways... Let me know what you think.

Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck. That's why I have to resort to writing fanfiction.

"Beckman flew me to D.C. I got my badge. It's official now. I'm an agent," Chuck said, buzzing with a strange combination of anxiety and excitement.

"Congratulations. You earned it," Sarah replied, a slightly harsh tone in her voice. It wasn't harsh enough, however, for Chuck to pick up.

"You know the CIA – they're sending me to Italy. You wouldn't believe the villa that they're putting me up in. I'm supposed to be some rich young playboy. But who cares about that? The point is, Sarah… I want you to go with me."

"Chuck, I can't." She went back to looking at the various files in front of her, making it look like she was actually doing something. She couldn't deal with Chuck right then. She couldn't understand how he could bounce back so quickly after his first kill. It was like he wasn't affected by it at all. She'd holed herself up in her hotel room for two days before she was ordered to return to Langley and she had to bury the memories of her red test.

"No, Beckman said I get to choose my own team, cream of the crop. That's you."

"I'm going to Washington, okay? And I'm going with Shaw," she said, hoping that he would drop it and leave it alone. Shaw had already left for D.C. to follow a lead and get their base of operations up and running.

"Wait a minute. Wasn't this the plan? There's nothing stopping us from being together now. I passed my spy test."

"That's why I can't be with you, okay? You're not… you're not the same guy that I fell for."

"How? Why? Because I'm an agent now? How am I not the same guy?"

"You killed somebody, Chuck. I saw you kill the mole!" How could this be the guy she fell in love with? The guy who freaked out and shut her out when he'd found out she'd killed Mauser. She figured he would at least feel some remorse or regret or something after his first kill, but nothing.

"Sarah, I know what you think you saw on the train tracks, but it's not that simple. It's more complicated than that. It's not what you think, and I need you to believe me."

"I don't."

They stared at each other before Sarah broke her gaze and continued to shuffle folders around. "So that's it, huh? Was that the plan?" Chuck said suddenly.


"Don't pretend you don't know, Agent Walker," Chuck spat. "This was the CIA's plan from the very beginning. To turn me into the ultimate spy, right? God, I'm an idiot."

"What are you talking about?" Sarah asked, looking up at him, genuinely confused.

"I'm talking about you!" Sarah was taken aback. She'd never seen Chuck so angry. Sure he'd been mad before, but she'd never seen him as furious as he was right then. "You never cared about me, did you? At least not after Prague," he continued. "What were your orders? 'Make Chuck a spy by any means necessary?' If you can break his heart and make him emotionless, even better?"


"Well, then tell me how exactly this was going to work? You knew that in order for me to be a real spy, I would have to kill someone. But now that I've passed my spy test, you can't be with me?" Chuck shook his head and laughed humorlessly. "It was the perfect Catch 22, wasn't it? You couldn't be with me because of 'protocol' for the whole asset/handler thing. But now that we're equals, you can't be with me because 'I'm not the same person?'" Chuck paused to gather his thoughts before continuing. "Congratulations, Agent Walker. Mission accomplished."

Sarah was stunned. How could Chuck think that? Didn't he know that he was her beacon of hope? Of innocence? The one who showed her that it was okay to allow herself to feel her emotions rather than push them down and bury them? That it was possible to be a good spy without losing yourself?

He was the reason why she wanted to remember the little girl she was before she entered the con life, before she was recruited to be an agent. Watching him go through the transformation into a spy was particularly hard to watch because it reminded her so much of how she'd lost her innocence. How the CIA told recruits lines about patriotism and helping the world, not mentioning the loss. The loss of who you were as a person. That your values and morals were sacrificed for the greater good.

She didn't want that for Chuck. That was why she was so against his training. It wasn't that she didn't think he could be a good spy, it was that she knew he would be a great spy… but at what cost?

She watched as Chuck shook his head and walked away from her. Sarah took a shaky breath once Chuck had disappeared up the stairs and out the door. She didn't see much of Chuck for the next few days, just glimpses of him as he left Castle or the Buy More. Then, she stopped seeing him altogether.

That's what sent her over the edge. She needed to talk to him before he left. Clear the air between them, that was, if he hadn't left already.

Sarah walked through the courtyard and stood at Chuck's apartment door. She lifted her hand to knock but couldn't bring herself to do it. God, what was she doing there? What would she even say?

"Sarah?" a voice called out. Sarah turned around and saw Ellie standing there, curiosity on her face.

"Hey, Ellie," Sarah greeted softly. Not the Bartowski she wanted to see, but the next best thing.

"If you're looking for Chuck, he's not there."

"Would you happen to know where he is?" Ellie looked nervous for some reason.

"He left for his new job in Italy two days ago. He didn't tell you?" Sarah remained silent. Ellie seemed to pick up on that. "Oh, my God, you didn't know. Chuck didn't tell you?" Sarah shook her head.

"No, he told me. I must have gotten the date mixed up," she lied.

"Oh, sweetheart, you must be so heartbroken. I know that you two aren't together but you're still friends." Sarah nodded.

"It's just hard, Ellie."

"I know. You two haven't had the most stable relationship, I get that. And now Chuck is gone and there are still unresolved feelings…" At Sarah's uncertain look, Ellie sighed. "You can't lie to me, Sarah. As much as you try, you can't lie to me about this. I know you and my brother love each other. It's so obvious. If he took this job because he thinks you two don't have a chance, then you need to tell him so he knows he's not making the wrong decision." Sarah nodded, unsure of what to say. Ellie gave her a sympathetic look and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, "Don't worry. It'll all work itself out." Sarah gave her a smile and Ellie returned it. "Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?"

"I, uh… not really…" Ellie nodded in understanding.

"Well, just know that you can always talk to me," she said, before walking back into her apartment.

By the end of the week, Sarah had finished tying up loose ends in Castle and was off to Washington.

Two months had passed since she Sarah moved to D.C. By the end of the first week, Ellie had called her asking her if she'd wanted to meet up for dinner. That was when she'd broken the news that she was in D.C. for business and she didn't know when she'd be back. Ellie hadn't taken that news very well. At first the older brunette had gone off on her, chewing her out for not even telling her that she was leaving. But Sarah had given her a spiel about how it hurt to be in Burbank where everyone and everything reminded her of Chuck and Ellie relented, telling her to remember that the elder Bartowski was always there to listen if Sarah ever needed to talk. She'd thanked Ellie once more before they disconnected the call. They'd talked once a week just to catch up ever since. Ellie made sure not to bring up Chuck and Sarah thought it was nice of her to just focus on how Sarah was feeling.

On the spy front, her and Shaw had made good headway on the fight against the Ring, taking down cell after cell in America. Beckman had also been giving them reports that their European team was making good headway on there front, as well. It didn't take long for Sarah to figure out that the team in Europe was Chuck's team.

The only real hiccup that she and Shaw had was that a week before, they'd gone on a mission to take the Ring Director and Shaw'd made Sarah go ahead of him with the cypher while he took care of the Director. Sarah protested leaving him behind, stating that it wasn't a red op, but Shaw countered her saying that he was the man that killed his wife and therefore deserved to die. Sarah had let him.

Currently, Shaw was off on a solo op, looking into a suspected ring cell when Sarah received a package. After signing for it, she took it inside and opened it to reveal a small thumb drive and a note.

Stay safe.

- C

Sarah frowned. Stay safe? she wondered. What did that mean? And the initial… Sarah didn't want to get her hopes up, but her first thought was that it came from Chuck. Maybe he still cared about her enough to warn her to stay safe. But stay safe from what? She loaded the drive onto her computer and opened the single file on it. From there, the camera on her computer lit up and a facial recognition scan took her by surprise. More proof that it was Chuck that sent this drive to her.

It was a video file. The first clip that played was of a woman. A woman whose face Sarah would never forget. Just as the memories of that painful night came bubbling back up to the surface, she was watching it on the screen as the clip changed. It was the surveillance footage of the night of her red test. She was confused as to why Chuck would send this to her. Why he would want to hurt her like this? How was this supposed to keep her safe? Just as she was about to pull the drive out, the scene shifted back to the video of the woman laughing.

"Daniel, stop... Give me back the camera... I love you…"

Those three phrases kept repeating themselves and Sarah had a bad feeling in her gut, the hair on her arms and the back of her neck standing, giving her chills. Finally, the clip changed once more and Sarah recognized the footage as the surveillance footage from her and Shaw's mission to get the director, just a week before. She'd gone down into the elevator shaft while Daniel was handling the controls. He'd run into some Ring goons and took care of them easily. The clip showed the fight footage, but was edited to focus on certain punches and kicks, or rather, to focus on the fact that certain punches and kicks were pulled. Sarah gasped as everything came together and realization hit her.

The woman. It was Shaw's wife. She'd killed Shaw's wife. Shaw must have seen that video and turned traitor. Her heart racing, Sarah called Beckman and when they met in her office, Sarah played her the footage.

"That is disturbing news," the General said once Sarah finished debriefing her. "I assure you, Agent Walker, that I have no idea who ordered the hit on Evelyn Shaw. I'm afraid Langston Graham took that secret to his grave. We have agents dispatched to bring Shaw in. You, on the other hand, will be reassigned until we can be sure that you are safe." Sarah nodded.

"Where do you need me, General?" Beckman removed her glasses and sighed.

"These past few days, all operations against the Ring on the European front have come to a halt," Beckman began.

"Why's that?"

"Agent Bartowski was taken." Sarah's eyes bugged out of her head and she felt her heart stop. She couldn't breath. Chuck, no. "His team was able to recover him shortly after but it seems that he'd already gone through a round or two of torture. He has several broken ribs, a fractured wrist, and a broken leg." Sarah felt tears threatening to spill over. Chuck was hurt. She wasn't there to protect him.

But what right did she have to him? She was the one who ran him off, who rejected him. Swallowing thickly, Sarah steadied her voice, "What are my orders?"

"I need you to go to Rome and keep the team functioning while Bartowski is out of commission." Sarah nodded her understanding and left the General's office.


Sarah arrived in Rome two days later and to her surprise, Casey was the one who picked her up from the airport.

"Casey, what are you doing here?" she said. Casey looked at her.

"Chuck got me reinstated," the man grunted.

"What?" Sarah was genuinely confused.

"Yeah. Beckman gave him his own choice of his new team in Rome and he told her that he knew of a former marine that had extensive knowledge on military and espionage tactics."

"And that worked?"

"That and the fact that we can't trust very many people with the knowledge that Bartowski's the Intersect." Casey shrugged. "I had to take a demotion but it's definitely worth it." He then frowned. "I'm actually surprised you're not on the nerd's team, too. I would have thought you two would be attached at the hip now that he's officially an agent." Sarah looked down at that.

"No. I can't be with him." Casey stared ahead at the road as he drove, silently pressing her to continue. "He's changed, Casey. He's different now. I mean, for God's sakes, he killed someone. Could you ever believe that Chuck, our Chuck, could do something like that?"

"So what, you ran off with Shaw?" Casey asked. "Shaw's killed people. So has Bryce. But you didn't let that color your judgment with them did you? You didn't take that into account when you decided to start a relationship with them. So why is it different with Bartowski?"

"Because it just is, Casey," Sarah said. "Why do you even care? I thought you hated talking about me and Chuck's love life."

"Oh, I do, trust me. Watching you two steal glances at each other for two and a half years was absolutely disgusting. But I want to know why you think that Chuck's different just because he passed his red test. Because to me, it sounds like you've got a hell of a double standard. You can date agents like Larkin and Shaw knowing that they've killed people, but once Chuck's passed his test, you all of a sudden can't handle it."

"It's not like that, Casey," Sarah said. "Chuck was supposed to be… I don't know, a symbol. You know, that you can be a great spy without having to lose your innocence. But now he's gone. He's not the same." Casey gripped the steering wheel even tighter and Sarah knew that he was getting frustrated with her. This was the most she'd ever heard him talk while defending Chuck. It was usually the other way around with her defending the nerd while Casey brought him down.

"Whether or not that's the case, you still shouldn't be judging Chuck's character on a single moment. If he did that, I'm sure he wouldn't have trusted us the way he did. Hell, he watched you kill Mauser in cold blood and took it silently when you lied to him. He was probably more put off by the fact that you lied to him than the fact that you killed that Fulcrum bastard. But even then, he never once thought you were any less of a good person for it. If you were really worried about him losing himself, you should be with him, reminding him of the man he is rather than let himself self-destruct. Because that's what he'll do, eventually. He'll get himself killed and we'll not only have lost a good operative, but a great man." Sarah, with nothing to say, turned to face the window and watch the scenery go by.

Casey was right. She'd been unfair. And selfish. So, so selfish. She'd put Chuck on a pedestal so high that it was unrealistic. Chuck was a human, too. He was prone to change, to making mistakes. She'd somehow forgotten that. She'd created a double standard that viewed Chuck's change as the worst thing possible. That once he became a spy, he couldn't be her Chuck. She'd never considered that he could be both. Leave it to Casey to bring it up the moment she landed.

She spent the rest of the day being briefed on the operation by Casey. By the end of it, as much as she wanted to see Chuck, she was way too exhausted and immediately went to crash in the room they had assigned to her. It wasn't until the next day that Sarah saw Chuck again. He looked terrible. His body was wrapped in bandages and casts and there was a nasty black eye over his left eye socket that reached all the way to his cheekbone. "Oh, Chuck," she breathed softly, taking his hand in hers.

He was set up in the base's infirmary, a CIA physician and medical staff was in charge of his case. He was still unconscious and she could barely recognize him with how swollen and discolored his face was. On top of that, gone were his curls, his hair was cut short to match his cover as a billionaire playboy. Using her free hand, she attempted to run her fingers through his shortened locks, only to find that she couldn't. She'd missed her chance to be able to do what she'd dreamed of millions of times. She bit her lip to keep a sob from escaping and was surprised, not really, to find that she'd been crying, her tears tracking their way down her cheeks to the corners of her mouth.

"Huh, I heard you were coming, Walker," a voice, female, pulled her attention away from her nerd. She wiped her face clearly before turning around to see none other than Zondra Rizzo standing in the doorway.

"You. What are you doing here?" she snarled. Zondra rolled her eyes.

"I'm on Bartowski's team," she said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. Sarah scoffed.

"Well, no wonder he's hurt," Sarah accused not subtle at all in her implication. Zondra growled.

"I'm no traitor, Walker. Bartowski knows that. He went through my file personally and deemed me trustworthy," the brunette spy shot back. "He got hurt because he was acting carelessly."

"You're lying," Sarah said. "Chuck doesn't do anything without making sure he has some kind of contingency plan."

"From what I've seen, the guy seems like he has a death wish. It takes everything between Casey and myself to keep his ass alive on missions." Sarah reeled at Zondra's words. Despite the animosity that existed between them, Sarah knew and respected that Zondra told it like it was. She didn't sugarcoat anything. She wasn't known as Zondra The Bitch for nothing. "And seeing you here crying over him… It's starting to make sense to me." Sarah narrowed her eyes at the implied accusation.

"Oh yeah? And what's that?"

"It's no secret that Bartowski wears his heart outside of his body, holding onto it like a lifeline. He shows it to anyone who's willing to look. I also know that you were his former handler. Having that emotional and mental control over him… He most definitely developed feelings for you. I don't know the whole story, and I don't want to, but I'm guessing you found a way to break the guy's heart and now, he doesn't have anything left to hold onto." Sarah remained silent. How could she say anything in retaliation when her former teammate hit the nail right on the head just by taking in a scene?

"I'm right aren't I?" Zondra continued on, taking Sarah's silence as an affirmative. She shook her head. "It's such a waste, too. I saw so much potential in him when I first met him. Now, he acts like he's a dead man walking." Zondra shrugged. "But whatever. I'll do my job to keep him safe for as long as I can. I promised him that." There was a beat. "That includes from you, too." With that, Zondra walked away leaving Sarah alone once more with her former asset.

The blonde agent turned to face Chuck once more, sitting on the seat beside the bed and let out a deep sigh. Was it really her fault that Chuck was like this? She couldn't believe it, but at the same time, she knew it was true. Both Casey and Zondra's words echoed through her head. She stared at the broken man lying before her.

Another thing that she couldn't bring herself to believe was that Chuck had chosen Zondra to be his female member. Zondra, Sarah former teammate and friend. That was, until Sarah had found a hidden transmitter that belonged to their team's target, Augusto Gaez, in the heel of the other spy's boot. Zondra had said that Chuck found her trustworthy, but ever since her supposed betrayal to their team, Sarah could never trust the woman, even after she'd passed the lie detector test. But in Sarah's defense, any good spy, which Sarah had to admit, Zondra was, could easily pass a lie detector test.

However, Chuck found her trustworthy. Trustworthy enough to let her in on the world's biggest secret. Trustworthy enough to put his life in her hands even though he probably knew of her history with Sarah and the accusations that revolved around them.

There was no way that Chuck would put Zondra on his team just to spite Sarah. It was his life at stake and he wouldn't risk that for something so petty. Or would he? Zondra said that he was more impulsive now. More rash. Sarah shook her head.

No, Chuck wasn't like that. At least, the Chuck she knew wasn't like that. Her Chuck wasn't like that. Looking at the man in front of her and studying his features once more, Sarah wondered dismally just how much of her Chuck was left in the man she saw before her.


Even though all Sarah wanted to do was sit by Chuck's bedside and wait for him to wake up, she still had a job to do. She'd stepped in whenever missions required a three-man job and assisted in intel analysis whenever she wasn't in the field or at Chuck's bedside.

It had taken a while, but after a failed mission because she refused to trust Zondra to do her job, Casey had dropped a report on Sarah's desk and forced her to sit and read it all the way to the end. Sarah did.

The report was by Chuck, done when he was vetting Zondra for the team. It was essentially an analysis of everything CATSquad related. Who was where and when prior to one of the documented failed ops. Who checked in on time and who missed their assigned check in time, and for how long. By the end of it, Chuck had deduced who the mole within the CATs was. After some digging to see where the accusation went, she found that Chuck was right in his assumption.

Sarah had walked up to Zondra, an apology on her lips. The two called a truce and slowly began to mend their relationship.

It was nearing two weeks and Chuck had yet to wake up and Sarah had yet to hear from Beckman about Shaw's status. Ever since she'd received that drive, Sarah had been on edge. If she really had killed Shaw's wife, even if it was for her Red Test, she knew that she couldn't be with him, either professionally or personally. The man had devoted the last five years of his life hunting and tracking down the organization that he thought killed her. If he knew that Sarah was the one who actually did it, which he probably did judging by the staged fight with the Ring agents, there was no imagining what he would do to her.

"I'm sorry to inform you, Agent Walker," Beckman said when they'd finally gotten the chance to speak. "Agent Shaw has gone off grid. It is safe to assume that he has gone rogue." Sarah must have visibly paled at the new development because Beckman's features softened. "In order to keep him off your tracks and unaware of your current location, officially, you are deep cover and have gone dark." Sarah nodded. That would definitely buy her some time. But how much… it was impossible to tell. Shaw was a resourceful man. "You are to remain in Rome until further notice. We can't risk Shaw catching wind of your whereabouts." Sarah nodded in understanding. "That is all." With that, Beckman cut the feed and Sarah was left standing alone in the conference room.

Casey walked in shortly after her conference with the general ended. "You heading out soon?" he asked gruffly. Sarah shook her head and followed the NSA agent into the armory.

"No, actually, I'm staying," she said. "Chuck sent me this drive with a video file that contained evidence of Shaw possibly turning traitor. Now he's gone rogue and is possibly gunning for me. Beckman wants to keep me here in Rome. Chuck's team would be the last place he'd think to look for me, according to her."

Casey stared hard at her. "Bartowski didn't send the drive," he said. Sarah frowned.


"He analyzed the data and made the connection. He wrote a report and sent it in, but he didn't send you the thumb drive." Now, Sarah was confused.

"It was signed 'C.' If Chuck didn't send it, then who?"

"I did." Sarah didn't know how to possibly respond to that bombshell. "Bartowski couldn't have sent it. He was still in captivity when I sent it to you. He sent in his report, but I wasn't particularly positive that it would reach Beckman's desk since the Ring has moles all over the place. There was… a high chance that Bartowski wouldn't make it out alive and I… I couldn't stand it if I lost both of you to the same damned organization. So, I compiled the video files and sent it to you, hoping that you'd figure it out. I used one of Chuck's encrypted drives and pulled your bioinformatics signatures as the decryption key. I didn't put my full name in case the package itself was intercepted." Sarah had to sit down at that. Luckily, there was an office chair nearby. Casey was the one that sent her the drive that essentially saved her life?

But without Chuck figuring it out... There wouldn't have been a file to send. Without Chuck, Casey wouldn't even be a spy. More and more she was seeing the nerd she'd grown to care about, and she hadn't even held a conversation with him yet.

Casey, for his part, let her stew on her revelation, settling to clean his Sig, which was probably his original intention for going to the armory. Sarah cleared her throat eventually, grabbing the burly spy's attention. "Thank you, Casey," she said. "You were right. When I told Beckman about it, she had no idea." Casey nodded and returned to cleaning his weapon. Sarah stood and left the armory, heading toward the infirmary where Chuck was still unconscious.

Over the past two weeks, the swelling and bruising on Chuck's face had gone down significantly so that he looked like Chuck again, minus the long curly hair, and with the addition of a growing beard. At that point, it was a little longer than stubble so that he had a rugged look to his face. Sarah would be lying if she said she didn't find the look at least a little sexy on him. But she would have to admit that she preferred him clean-shaven.

She sat in the chair beside his sleeping form and held his hand in hers as she'd done every time she visited. "Hey, Chuck," she said softly. She also sometimes talked to him. She knew he probably couldn't hear her so it wouldn't matter if she spoke. It seemed easier to talk to him while he was like this. There wasn't a pressure on her to say the right thing, because she couldn't stand it if she said the wrong thing and disappointment, confusion, and/or hurt filled his chocolate eyes as they so often did after a conversation with her back when they were in Burbank.

"I found out that you weren't the one to send me that thumb drive," she said, "but thank you for making the connection in the first place. You probably saved my life." She sniffled a bit. That was another thing she did when visiting Chuck's room: she cried. "I really wish you would wake up. There's so much that I need to tell you. That we need to talk about. But I know that I'm probably the last person you would want to see…" She wiped her eyes when the tears began to blur her vision. "Just know that I'm willing to talk this out with you. No more secrets. No more lies. Just Chuck and Sarah. I don't want there to be any more resentment between us." She took a breath and stood. Leaning over his body, she placed a light kiss on Chuck's forehead and released his hand, moving to leave. She stood in the doorway and looked back one more time before leaving the room.


"Agents, Major," the CIA physician said, stepping into the conference room, just a few days after Sarah received word that she would be in Rome with Team Bartowski indefinitely. Zondra, Casey, and Sarah all looked up from their respective stations.

"Yes, Doctor?" Casey was the first to speak.

"I would like to inform you that Agent Carmichael is awake." The three spies' eyes widened in shock and relief. They all stood and gathered around the physician. "He is a little disoriented and confused. He's been asking for his team." They all nodded.

"Thank you," Zondra said, dismissing the good doctor. Both Zondra and Casey made a move toward the infirmary where Chuck was being held, but Sarah stayed glued to her spot. The two other agents seemed to notice this. "Sarah, you comin'?"

Sarah shook her head. "I probably shouldn't. At least for right now," she said, her heart breaking as she said the words. "I'm probably the last person he'll want to see. After everything I've put him through… I wouldn't be surprised." Casey's eyes softened.

"You don't know that. You haven't talked to him since Burbank," he reasoned.

"Yeah and the last time we talked, he was angry and stormed out of Castle. Just… You guys go ahead. I'll see him after you guys have caught him up." They both nodded and left her alone in the conference room. It was an hour later before she could find her nerve to make her was to the infirmary.

She could seem him through the window by the door to his room. He was sitting up, talking to Casey. Taking a deep breath, Sarah mustered up the courage to stand at the doorway where he could see her. She fought back the urge to bite her lip when he looked up to see who was at the door. Sensing the change in Chuck, Casey followed the younger man's gaze and saw her. "I'll, uh, leave you two alone," he grunted before standing and leaving them. She waited until Casey was out of the room before stepping inside. Chuck kept his gaze on her the entire time.

"Hi, Chuck," she greeted guardedly. She wasn't sure how he would react to seeing her. His face was expressionless and his eyes, normally so open and emotive, were closed off and she couldn't get a read on his feelings.

"Agent Walker," he greeted professionally. "Casey and Zondra told me you were here." There was something about his tone that reminded her of Shaw. Cold, unfeeling, calculated. She hated it. It didn't suit him at all.

"Uh… yeah… Beckman sent me," Sarah said lamely, immediately regretting her choice of words. Now, he would assume that she wasn't there because of him, but because she was ordered to. Chuck didn't respond, simply looking away from her to the plain white wall on the opposite side of the room. Sarah took the time to study him. He seemed different. Even the air around him was more collected, confident, suave. If he'd been standing in front of her in a tailored suit rather than sitting in a hospital bed with a gown, he'd be the picture perfect image of a debonair spy. She wasn't exactly sure how she felt about that.

"I'm glad you're okay," she said, breaking the silence before it got too awkward. "You gave us all quite the scare." Chuck turned to look back at her, his normally light brown, nearly hazel, eyes dark and boring into her.

"I heard what you did for Casey," she tried, hoping a change of topic would get him talking. "He told me that you got him his job back." Chuck didn't even look at her when he responded; he looked down and fidgeted with the blanket that was pooled around his waist.

"Yeah. He was only trying to protect his family. I just got Beckman to see that."

"Well it was very sweet of you." Chuck froze at Sarah's statement momentarily before he replied looking back into her eyes.

"I thought I wasn't capable of being sweet in your eyes anymore." Sarah winced at his accusation. This wasn't going the way she wanted and she had a brief thought of escaping while she still had the chance. But then she thought about a life without Chuck. She'd experienced that already and she wasn't ready to go through it again. "What are you doing here, Sarah?" His question pulled her out of her thoughts.

"Chuck… I think we need to talk."

"About what?" he asked. There was no curiosity or warmth in his tone. He asked the question as though it were obvious that there was nothing they needed to talk about.

"Us." Chuck scoffed and Sarah was slightly taken aback at that. She'd thought that he'd jump at the chance to talk about them.

"What about us, Sarah? You've made it very clear that there isn't an us." Sarah looked down and fought back the emotions that were rising to the surface. She wasn't going to cry. Not in front of him. She could do it when he was asleep, but now that he was awake and able to judge her…

But wasn't that what got her in this mess in the first place? Keeping her emotions hidden, suppressing the feelings she had for the man in front of her until she herself believed that she didn't love him anymore? Not anymore. She wasn't going to hide from him anymore. She looked up at him. "I know I did," she told him, owning up to her mistake. "And I was wrong. I see that now. But at the time… it made sense to me." Her voice had cracked and she saw some of Chuck's hardened exterior crumbling when he heard it. He was silent, thankfully, waiting for her to continue; if he'd said something, she might have lost her nerve to keep talking. "I knew you when you were still so innocent, so naïve of the spy life. And it gave me hope. For so long, all I'd known was deception and secrets and death. Sometimes I found myself wondering if it was all worth it." She swallowed the lump in her throat before continuing.

"And then I met you. And your family. And your friends. And I realized that I did what I did, became who I am, for you. For people like you. For the innocent who should never have to go through the stuff that I had to go through. I became a spy so that civilians could lead the normal life I never got to. And I thought… I thought that with you, when all was said and done, I could come back to you and live that normal life. The life I'd never gotten." She sniffled a bit and wiped the tear that escaped from her eye.

"You reminded me of what it was like to be a person. Someone with feelings and emotions, likes and dislikes, opinions over trivial things. And I found myself wanting to be that person. I wanted to be Sarah Walker the Girl, not Sarah Walker the Spy. I was tired of being used by men and the government. I wanted to know what it was like to feel loved.

"You gave me that, Chuck. And then you went and downloaded the 2.0 and left me in Prague and I thought that you were already starting to change, that you were already becoming the cold-hearted spy that I was so desperately trying to forget. And as your training progressed… I saw you heading down the path that I went down. Someone who was so innocent, receiving praise for completing a mission. Doing whatever it took to complete a mission to receive that praise, all the while losing who you were along the way. It scared me because if you changed, if you weren't Chuck Bartowski anymore, then what did that mean for the hope that I'd found in you? That even in this world of secrets and lies, someone could retain their innocence. All of that would have been a lie. It would've meant that there would be no way for me to redeem myself of the things I'd done.

"And I couldn't talk to you about it because you were trying so hard to be a spy. How could you help me become a normal person again? I told Shaw my name because I thought that he'd understand what I was going through. He was a spy that had gotten caught up in the secrets and lies and he seemed to have a balance between his personal life and his spy life. He was married. I thought that by telling him, he could help me find my own balance." She paused briefly to gauge Chuck's reaction. They'd never really talked about the whole fiasco with her telling Shaw her real name. Chuck simply stared at her, not a single emotion betrayed in his features. But his eyes. His eyes had softened significantly, taking on their milk chocolate nature. Seeing that gave her hope; it gave her the strength to keep going.

"And when you killed the mole… I thought I'd lost you. You were gone. My innocent Chuck Bartowski was lost to the spy world and it was all my fault. And the way that you didn't even bat an eye about it afterward…" She shook her head. "When I passed my Red Test, I threw up once I was a safe distance away. Then I couldn't sleep or eat for the next two days. Graham had given me that time off to come to terms with what I'd done before sending me off to my next assignment. I took scalding hot showers to try and wash away how dirty I felt for the next month. It was the absolute worst day of my life. Seeing you just accept that it'd happened like it was nothing… I couldn't handle it.

"I told you that I couldn't believe you because after everything you'd done… How could I believe that you weren't just saying that to get me to join your team, only to have you abandon me again?" Sarah shook her head and sniffled.

"I'm willing to work for us, now, Chuck. To give us another chance," she said. "I've realized that I was wrong. That I'd put you on this pedestal and gave you a really shitty double standard. And I want you to know that I can't afford to lose you to the spy life so I will work everyday to remind you of who you are. That you are Chuck Bartowski: the greatest man I've ever known. That is… If you'll have me." Chuck still didn't say anything, rather, he tapped the edge of his bed signaling for Sarah to sit. She obliged, sitting down beside him, and taking his offered hand.

"All I've ever wanted was the chance to love you," he finally said. "To show you what it truly means to be loved." Sarah sighed in relief at hearing that. "I'd never thought I'd get that chance because as much as I love you, I never once asked you a one question." She looked into his eyes, elated to see emotion swirl within them. "Sarah, do you love me?" She breathed out a watery laugh and nodded.

"Yes," she said. "Chuck, I fell for you a long time ago, after you fixed my phone and before you defused bombs with computer viruses. It took me a really long time to realize it, but yes, Chuck. I love you." At that, Chuck released her hand from his grip and lifted his now free hand to caress her face. She leaned into the touch and closed her eyes, relishing in the feeling. Sarah felt him guide her forward and she opened her eyes to look into his as they slowly closed the distance between them.

Their foreheads were resting against one another and their noses bumped gently. "I love you, too," Chuck breathed before closing the distance between their lips. The kiss was soft, tentative. Like they were both afraid that that moment wasn't real. That they'd open their eyes and the other would be gone.

When they pulled away, their eyes opened at the same time and they smiled. It was real. They were real. They were… being interrupted.

A knock on the door pulled them out of their bubble and they saw Casey standing at the doorway, a soft look on his face. He shut the door behind him and took the seat beside Chuck's bedside table. "I, uh, wanted to tell you," he began. Sarah was confused, but Chuck seemed to know what was happening.

"Casey, are you sure?" the younger spy asked. Casey grunted in affirmative and turned to Sarah.

"You deserve to know. I don't want there to be any secrets between the two of you at my expense. But I also wanted to make sure that something like this wouldn't be a deal-breaker if it ever came up." He paused and lowered his voice. "Chuck's Red Test," he said. "He didn't kill the mole. I did." Sarah gasped, bringing a hand to her mouth. "I told Chuck not to tell anyone." Sarah looked over at her former asset and he nodded in confirmation. The trio was silent. Eventually, Casey got up to leave. When he was at the door, Sarah stopped him.

"Casey!" she called from her perch on Chuck's bed. Her partner turned and looked at her intently. "Thank you." Casey nodded once and then he left.

It was nice to know that Chuck was still his innocent self. That the CIA hadn't ruined him. It also made so much sense with how Chuck reacted to it. But Sarah found that in the long run, looking at the big scheme of things, she didn't care. Because he was Chuck, and if the day ever came that he had to take a life (and he hoped that that day would never come), she would be standing beside him, helping him through it, reminding him that he was still a good person, that he was Chuck, that he was her Chuck.

And there you have it. I hope that helped fill in some holes for other people, too.

I personally thought that Casey should have helped Sarah accept Chuck for what he'd done rather than just outright tell her. It seemed really shallow for Sarah to just go back to Chuck because of that one little thing. But yeah. whatevs.

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