A/N: Here we are. The end of Never Was.
You'll notice there is no Arc connected to this epilogue. I feel the reasons will become clear quite quickly.
Thanks to my beta, michaelfmx, for his patient assistance as we worked to reach this point.
Don't own Chuck, et al.
Thank you. Enjoy!
CHUCK VERSUS THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS
In the end, it happened to fall on a Tuesday, not the usual day of the week one would choose for occasions such as this. Not that it presented a problem for any of the participants. After all, none of them worked what would be defined as a regular 9 to 5 job.
Somewhat surprisingly, considering how often random chance had conspired against the two principal celebrants, Mother Nature had decided to go out of her way to make the occasion truly noteworthy. Instead of the cool and damp one would normally expect at this time of the year, the evening was clear and pleasantly warm, with the temperature in the low 70s. A gentle breeze that wafted in from the ocean made it just about perfect.
Karen Green, taking a break as she watched the couples on the dance floor, certainly thought it was. When she'd left home yesterday, she'd had to scrape the ice off the windows of her car before driving herself to the airport.
The lengthy flight to LA had given her time to mull over the unusual events that had surrounded the young man who'd been in her care what now seemed like a long time ago, but in fact was only about a month in the past. And the chance to muse over how those events had brought this unique group of people into her life.
When Chuck had asked her to attend, she'd demurred, protesting that this was an intimate time, reserved for those who closest to them. His simple, "I know. That's why we're inviting you," had taken the wind from her sails and she'd given in.
But only after asking for his forgiveness over how she'd lied about the visits from his teammates. Chuck'd had shaken it off, told her there was nothing to forgive, then tentatively, awkwardly hugged her, much to the amusement of the tall, blonde spy at his side.
As the sun went down, the two of them had exchanged vows on a seemingly insignificant stretch of beach. But, as she'd watched them (brushing away tears the whole time) facing each other as they spoke of their love, Karen had sensed that this particular patch of sand had meaning for them. Perhaps, one day, they'd tell her.
And if she accepted the very tempting position that Westside Medical had, out of the blue, offered her (knowing full well the two individuals behind it), she'd have many more opportunities to hear the stories of this diverse group of people who'd become her friends.
Amongst the small group of happy observers, there'd only been one face unfamiliar to her. A tall redhead, who'd introduced herself as Carina. Karen had been around enough agents to immediately recognize that this woman was one as well, although she wasn't sure from which branch of the government.
After everyone had dried their eyes (Karen was convinced that even the Major, standing right next to her, had sniffled once or twice), Chuck's best friend (and officiant for the night), his beard almost back to it's previous splendor, had then led them a few hundred yards down the beach to a small, beachside bistro that'd been rented out for the night.
They'd all smiled, captivated at seeing the twinkle lights all around the patio which, having been cleared of most of its tables, was now transformed into a small dance floor, with two speakers on a small table at one end. But then, glancing around, they'd suddenly realized that they seemed to be missing the happy couple.
Turning, they'd seen them, twenty feet or so away in the gathering twilight, her simple, yet elegant white dress standing out against the stark contrast of his dark blue suit. With their heads close, her arms around his neck and his around her waist, it was quite clear what they were doing.
None of the group had said anything, enchanted by the scene before them. That was until Carina had let out an almost ear-piercing wolf whistle and the rest had joined in with clapping and cheering.
Karen could've have sworn that both of them had blushed furiously upon realizing they'd been caught.
The choice of song (one unfamiliar to Karen) for their first dance had initially struck her as odd. It hardly seemed the kind of music you could dance to, starting as it did with an unaccompanied, bluesy female voice. But when the woman sang so feelingly of a new dawn, a new day and a new life, it suddenly became very clear why they'd decided on this one.
And then, of course, the tissues had come out once more.
Now, as she takes a break, Karen notices Chuck smiling fondly as he, too, watches the others dancing, his eyes most often focused on his wife who, at the moment, is partnered with the Major.
He isn't the best dancer, but she doesn't seem to mind, just smiles as they chat. Just before the song ends, she leans in a little closer and speaks a few words that cause the Major to flush a little. Karen knows him well enough by now to see that he's embarrassed, watches as he tries to shake off her words, but she nods, quietly insistent and, in the end, Karen sees him mouth, "You're welcome."
As Karen watches the man hand her off to Chuck once more, Karen thinks about what she has going on with the Major. They'd only been on a couple of dates, enjoyable ones for sure, but it was much too soon to say if it would lead to any sort of serious relationship. But even if it doesn't, Karen would always be grateful to the man for helping her realize she'd been foolish to bury herself in her work, thinking it was too late for to her to take a chance again.
After all, forty-five isn't really old.
Of course, she'd only agreed to his request in the first place because of the couple standing across the floor from her, who, both by word and example, had urged her to not give up. To fight for love as they had done.
Karen, pulls herself back to the present, smiles as she sees the Major heading her way, undoubtedly coming over to request another dance.
Just then, she notices Chuck lean in and say a few words into his wife's ear, upon which she turns to him and looks up into his face, her hands resting gently on his chest.
The smile she bestows upon him is far from the first Karen has seen this evening. In truth, the woman has been smiling almost constantly for the past couple of hours. But this one is different.
Gloriously brilliant, almost blindingly so, yet somehow still so personal, so intimate, to the point that Karen instinctively tries to turn her head, give them their privacy.
But she finds herself utterly incapable of actually doing so. For this is what the nurse has been waiting to see ever since the first time that heartbroken woman had walked into Chuck's room.
Blinking back her tears, Karen Green realizes just how badly she'd underestimated the power of that smile, because it does far, far more than just light up a room.
It lights up hearts.
A/N: Thank you all so very much for reading along. Reviews are always appreciated.
I going to take a break until the new year when I will come back, with (drumroll, please) a Third Arc to this story. A sort of "what if" story, the direction things could have gone if certain plans had come to fruition.
Here's a bit of a teaser:
He cuts her off. "Ellie misses you."
Something undefinable flashes across her face. She says nothing.
He answers her unspoken question. "Had to be in Burbank to shut down a couple of things. Dropped in just to say hello. They're both fine, in case you wanted to know. And Morgan is still Morgan. I didn't tell them I was trying to find you. Didn't want to get their hopes up."
"Ellie knows why I can't see her."
"Yeah, she does, but that doesn't change how she feels about you."
She looks away. "I can't, Casey. I can't go back there. There's just too many…"
"Hey, I understand. But staying up here can't be good for you, either."
"It's all I can do right now."
Casey thinks he can hear the pleading in her voice, so he drops the subject. "OK. I get it."
They stand, silent for a few moments, seemingly both unsure of what to say next.
Then she asks, trying to sound chipper, he thinks. "Do you want a coffee? Just made some fresh. It'll help keep you awake on that long drive back to town."
"Sure. Sounds good."
She turns suddenly, her pony tail swinging wide as she heads for the door.
She's only taken a few steps, when Casey softly says, "Sarah."
That stops her in her tracks.
That's it for now. Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing. See you again in the new year.