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"ALRIGHT!" Chuck Bartowski shouted, sitting up in his bed. "Jesus Christ! I'm up!"
The door opened, and in came not his sister, not Morgan, but Sarah. "Up and at 'em!" she said, far too brightly, in Chuck's opinion.
"Why are you here?" Chuck asked, still clouded in sleep and totally befuddled. "It's Saturday morning and it's only…"
He turned to look at his alarm clock. "Oh."
It said 11:30.
"But still… why are you here?"
"Why, it's our two month anniversary, of course!" Sarah responded, still with too much enthusiasm.
Chuck was now beyond confused. "What?"
Sarah sighed, and then smiled, in a condescending fashion, like she might have smiled at a slow ten year old. "It's been two months since we met. If we're going to keep up appearances, it's our two month anniversary. That's what I told your sister, and that's why I'm here."
The logic began to pierce the last veils of sleep still surrounding Chuck's consciousness. "Ah… I see. So… what mission do I have to embark upon on this, my holy day of rest?"
"Sarcastic and funny after just waking up!" Sarah snarked. "Impressive!"
"Thank you, I'm here all week," Chuck shot back.
"No mission," Sarah said. "I mean, I know that our working relationship is built on less than solid ground…"
"You mean it's a teetering house of cards and lies," Chuck interjected.
"Well, you say tomato, and all that," replied Sarah. "But nonetheless, I do enjoy spending time with you, and I do have fun when we're together, and I thought we could both use a fun day of just not much!"
Chuck's confusion returned, in full force. "Really? Are you pulling my leg?"
Then he had a truly evil thought. "Did Casey put you up to this?"
Sarah rolled her eyes. "As if I would do something like this on Casey's behalf."
"Well, I guess that's true," Chuck pondered. "Okay, so what did you have in mind?"
"I was thinking we'd do lunch first – I've always wanted to go to the Ivy – and then…"
She paused, as if uncertain. "Yes?" Chuck prodded.
"Well, the Ivy's only a couple blocks from the Beverly Center… and I do need to do a little shopping…"
Chuck groaned and flopped back on his bed. "Are you kidding me? You want to go shopping on the first Saturday in December? At the BEVERLY CENTER? Have you lost your mind?"
"Hey, there's nothing wrong with shopping!" Sarah snapped, getting a little defensive. "Besides which, it's like shopping nirvana there!"
"It's like medieval torture," Chuck grumbled.
But he got up nonetheless. "Out," he ordered, pointing to the door.
"Well, I'm about to get naked… unless you want to stick around…"
"Okay, I'll see you in a few minutes," Sarah said, departing the room very quickly.
Twenty minutes later, Chuck and Sarah were in Nerdmobile #3, heading west on Beverly Boulevard. "It's on Robertson just south of Beverly," Sarah said.
"Sarah," Chuck replied, "I may just be a geek with a supercomputer involuntarily stuck in his head, but I did grow up in L.A. I know where the Ivy is."
"Yes, but did you know that that light is red?" Sarah said sweetly, quickly returning Chuck's attention to the road.
Chuck stomped on the brake and the clutch and came skidding to a stop at a slight angle to the intersection at Highland Avenue. As he waited for the light to turn red, a shiny black Range Rover turned off of Highland onto Beverly, heading west as well. It was completely black, down to the rims, and had British plates –
And Chuck suddenly saw the Range Rover in his mind's eye. But that was all he saw. Unlike every other one of his flashes, this was the only image he saw – that very Range Rover driving away at high speed.
Sarah's voice snapped him out of his reverie. "The light's green."
"Uh, okay," he said, shifting into first and pulling away.
"Did you have a flash?" Sarah asked, as he accelerated up through the gears.
"I think so, but I only saw one image," he replied. "It was that black Range Rover that turned off of Highland as we were sitting there. I didn't see anything else, though."
"Well, I'd tell you to follow it, but it seems to have disappeared," Sarah said.
She looked down every street they passed the rest of the way to Robertson, but it was as if the Range Rover had been plucked out of thin air. By the time they reached the Ivy, she seemed to have lost interest and returned to her original plan of just wanting to have fun.
Chuck and Sarah were somehow able to get a table at the patio. Matthew McConaughey was at the Ivy that day, as was Hobart Weinland, chairman of Wein Country Studios. "Good Lord, Weinland has turned into a blimp," Chuck said.
"I'm sorry?" Sarah replied, confused herself for once.
"Hobart Weinland – he's that enormous guy three tables away," Chuck responded in a low voice. "When I was a kid, he was a skinny guy, but over the last twenty years, it's like he ate the Goodyear blimp or something."
Chuck and Sarah were able to carry on a mostly normal conversation over the course of lunch – or, at least as normal as a super-spy and a human computer can really carry on without divulging national security secrets.
When the waiter brought their check, Chuck decided that house of lies and deception or not, chivalry would be the order of the day, and gave his credit card to the waiter, cringing as he looked at the bill.
"You didn't have to do that," Sarah said.
"I know," Chuck replied. "But it's one of those things. My dad may not have been the greatest influence in my life, but he taught me to always treat women correctly, and so I do, whether or not they're crazy spy-assassin hybrids."
"Shhh!" Sarah hissed, laughing in spite of herself.
At that point, Chuck looked down and noticed that Sarah's right hand was sitting on the table, about halfway across. Now or never, he thought.
Summoning all the nerve he had, he lifted his own left hand and gently placed it on top of Sarah's. The instant she felt his touch, she looked up, and looked directly at him – but didn't move her hand. She quickly looked back down, gently biting her lower lip.
But her hand still remained under Chuck's. Drawing upon a supply of nerve he wasn't aware he had before, he gently began tracing his thumb down hers. She looked back up, and their eyes met, a small smile appearing on her mouth.
Then something caught Chuck's attention over at Hobart Weinland's table. He looked up and saw a dark-haired man, about six foot tall, wearing an old-style military greatcoat –
the black Range Rover
an old-looking blue wooden box that said "Police Public Call Box"
a stylized "T" logo
the dark-haired man with a gun in each hand
"Captain Jack Harkness," he suddenly said, the urgency coming across clearly in his voice despite keeping it soft.
"What?" Sarah said.
"Captain Jack Harkness, U.S. Army Air Corps. Crashed May 1941 while volunteering as a pilot in England. Now he's the director of a branch of a top-secret British paramilitary outfit called 'Torchwood' that investigates… what the hell?"
"What is it?" Sarah asked, concern appearing on her face.
"They investigate extraterrestrial activity, and it is theorized that Captain Harkness may be immortal due to sightings of him over the last 140 years…"
"That's impossible," Sarah replied.
And that was when all hell broke loose. Hobart Weinland stood up, knocking his table over. He grabbed Captain Harkness by the throat, and with seemingly no effort, tossed him across the patio into Robertson Boulevard, right into the path of a Metro bus.
"Oh my God," Chuck said, his knees going weak.
Weinland ran off, and as Chuck collapsed, Sarah took off in pursuit of him. But then things got a little bit weirder…
…because Captain Harkness STOOD UP, brushed himself off, and rolled his head, cracking his neck a few times. Then he walked directly over to Chuck.
"Hobart Weinland. Where'd he go?"
"Uh, I think he ran out back," Chuck replied.
"Why'd your girlfriend ran after him?" Captain Harkness snapped.
Without even thinking, Chuck blurted out, "She's a CIA agent."
"Oh for God's sake," Harkness muttered. "Hobart Weinland is a Raxacoricofallapatorian. He will eat her for lunch and then come back out here for seconds."
"What?!" Chuck shrieked, going white. "No! We've gotta stop him!"
"No," Captain Harkness said, "I've gotta stop him. You stay here."
"Stay here," Chuck
repeated as Harkness ran off. "Right, stay here – wait, no!
Chuck caught up to Harkness in the parking lot behind the Ivy. Weinland had Sarah by the throat and was pinning her against a wall. "Put her down, Weinland!" Harkness warned. As he spoke, the shiny black Range Rover pulled across the alleyway, blocking any vehicles from getting into or out of the parking lot. A white guy, a white woman, and an Asian woman got out of the car.
"Toshiko!" Harkness snapped. "I need something that will sedate this thing. Owen, you and Gwen make sure that NO OTHER CIVILIANS get back here."
Then there was the distinctive roar of a Chevrolet V-8 engine. "Oh, shit!" yelled the one called Owen. The other three members of Harkness' team scrambled away from the Range Rover as a black Suburban t-boned it, pushing it several feet before coming to a stop.
"Everybody freeze!" shouted John Casey, bounding out of the Suburban.
Then even the slightest bit of normalcy dissolved. "John Casey?" said Jack Harkness, his brow furrowing.
"Jack FUCKING Harkness," Major Casey replied, the disgust obvious in his voice.
Weinland used that moment of confusion to act. Dropping Sarah to the ground, he punched Harkness in the face and took of running, with a speed far greater than a man of his size should've had.
Chuck ran to Sarah, who was gasping for breath. "Are you okay?" he asked.
She nodded, gulping as much air as she could. "I'll be alright in a moment," she wheezed.
Meanwhile, Casey was helping Jack Harkness up. "Haven't seen you in a while, John," Harkness said. "It's been, what, twenty years?"
"Yeah, that sounds about like how long it's been since you left my sister standing at the altar," Casey replied scornfully.
The woman called Gwen registered surprise on her face as she looked from Harkness to Casey. "Wait, you were gonna get MARRIED, Jack?" she asked, a clear Welsh accent coming across in her voice.
"Unbelievable," said Owen, shaking his head.
"You know what, why don't we, instead of standing around discussing my love life –"
"Or lack thereof," said Casey mockingly.
"- why don't we go find the Raxacoricofallapatorian?"
"Oh, are you kidding?" Casey said tiredly. "How many times does the NSA have to ask Torchwood to keep your activities out of the U.S.?"
"You're gonna have to keep asking until you develop your OWN worthwhile anti-alien agency," Harkness replied, digging around in the now-mangled Range Rover and coming up with a rather disturbing-looking shotgun.
"Do you have any idea how difficult it would be to get that past Congress?" Casey said as the two of them took off down the alleyway at a brisk walk.
"Come on," Sarah whispered, her voice still not recovered, as she got up from the asphalt.
Owen, Gwen, and Toshiko jogged to catch up with Jack Harkness and John Casey. Sarah, on the other hand, went back toward the front of the Ivy.
"Wait a second," Chuck said. "Shouldn't we be following them?"
"Nope," Sarah said softly. "When Weinland had hold of me, I slapped a GPS tracker on his ass. I can follow him from my cell phone."
Chuck shook his head. "Is there ever a moment in your life when you're not in spy mode?" he asked.
Sarah stared at him for a moment, and then shook her head. "I can't ever let my guard down," she said. "If I do, I could get killed."
Chuck wasn't going to let go that easily. "So, what about back in the restaurant, right before I had my flash?" he asked. "That felt real… was that part of your cover, too?"
"You know what?" Sarah snapped. "I don't know."
She sighed in frustration. "I may be a spy, Chuck, but I'm still human. This whole thing confuses the hell out of me sometimes. However, we do NOT have time to talk about it right at the moment. According to the GPS signal, Weinland is about to enter the Beverly Center. We need to go RIGHT NOW."
Sarah took off at a run, heading across the campus of Cedars-Sinai Hospital toward the Beverly Center. Chuck threw his hands up in the air, and then followed.
When Chuck caught up to Sarah, she was jogging down a driveway toward the valet parking area. She turned to go up a flight of stairs, but Chuck stopped her. "We can take the elevator," he said.
"Are you kidding?" Sarah asked. "Take an elevator in an eight floor shopping mall on a Saturday during Christmas shopping season?"
He pointed to the back of the valet area. "See the sign?" he asked. "It's an express elevator. Only stops at this floor and the seventh floor."
Sarah looked at him for a moment and gave him the briefest of smiles. "Alright then. Not bad, Chuck. Maybe I'll keep you."
As she said that, the blood rushed directly to Chuck's head, and he couldn't think of anything better to say. He kept trying to think of something, but the more he thought, the more awkward he felt. Fortunately, the elevator ride to the seventh floor was only about forty seconds, though it felt like forty minutes.
When the elevator doors opened, they immediately heard screaming. "Here he comes!" shouted Sarah, pointing toward Hobart Weinland, running toward them one floor below from the northwest end of the mall.
Dashing toward the escalator, Sarah took the steps down two at a time, with Chuck close on her heels. That was when Weinland made his first mistake.
Instead of continuing to run, he decided to make a stand inside the holiday snow globes. A twenty-foot diameter globe and a ten-foot diameter one, they stood in the Grand Court of the mall. Jack Harkness and John Casey rushed into the twenty-foot globe after Weinland. Seconds later, Harkness came flying out through the side of the snow globe, the wall shattering with his passage. Casey was then ejected through the hole Harkness' body had made, landing on top of him.
Then Weinland came storming out of the globe – except it was no longer Weinland. It was a gigantic green… thing, with huge black eyes.
"Oh my God," Chuck said. "It really is an alien!"
Harkness looked like he might be dead, although as Chuck had already seen once, that particular appearance could be deceiving. Casey lay on top of him, unconscious. The Torchwood team came running up as Sarah unholstered her gun. "No!" shouted the one Harkness had called Toshiko, as Sarah approached the alien.
"You, get on your knees, and don't move," she snapped. The alien turned to look at her, and instead of obeying what she said, reached out a gigantic hand and backhand slapped her, sending her flying through the air and crashing into a television at the back of the concierge center.
"Oh my God," Chuck gasped. "No, Sarah… no!"
He ran toward the counter, but found his progress suddenly blocked by the alien. "Where do you think you're going, pitiful human?" it asked in a gravelly voice.
"What the hell is wrong with you?" Chuck practically sobbed, terrified. "Why are you doing this?"
"Humans destroyed the family Slitheen – MY family – and now I will have my revenge upon the human race!"
With that, the alien started stomping toward John Casey and Jack Harkness. "And I will begin with this Captain Jack Harkness, who was DIRECTLY responsible for the death of my Aunt Blon!" he bellowed, shaking the ground.
As he bent down to pick up Harkness, though, his eyes snapped open, and his gun came up. He put a bullet directly between the alien's eyes. It howled in pain and anger and stumbled backwards – right into the syringe that Toshiko was holding. It howled again briefly – and then collapsed, unconscious.
Struggling out from under Casey, Jack Harkness stood up, seemingly oblivious to the blood on his clothes, and pulled out his cell phone. He dialed a number, and then said, "We've got the Slitheen ready for pick up."
Seconds after he hung up the phone, a bizarre noise began to sound. Chuck watched in astonishment as the old blue police box he had seen in his vision seemed to mysteriously materialize in front of him. "Oh my God," he said, as it became solid.
He stood up and staggered to it. He touched it. It was really there. He put his hand on the door – and then it opened, and a man in a dark blue pinstripe suit came out.
"Oh… hello there!" he said cheerfully.
"Another Brit?" came a groan from the floor as Casey regained consciousness.
"Well, yes, and no," replied the man in the suit. His brown hair looked like he'd stuck his finger in an outlet. "I'm actually the Doctor."
Casey looked confused. "Doctor who?"
The Doctor looked like he was going to say something, and then thought better of it. Turning his attention to Jack Harkness, he said, "So, is this the Slitheen?"
"No, it's Santa Claus, Doctor," Jack said.
"My, you're in a snippy mood today!" the Doctor replied.
"I've died twice in the last half hour," Jack grumbled. "It's not calculated to put me in a good mood."
"What?" Chuck said. "What the hell is going on here?"
"What's your name?" asked the Doctor.
"Chuck Bartowski," Chuck replied.
"Pleased to meet you, Chuck Bartowski!" the Doctor said with a smile, extending his hand. Chuck reached out his hand and gingerly shook the Doctor's.
"Long story short, I'm a time-traveling alien, Jack Harkness is an immortal human, Owen Harper, Gwen Cooper, and Toshiko Sato all work for him at a secret British agency known as Torchwood, that lump of green flesh is a member of the Slitheen family from Raxacoricofallapatorius, this blue box is my ship, in which we're going to take that Slitheen there back to Raxacoricofallapatorius, and the more of this you choose to forget, the better of you will be."
"Uh, okay… Raxacor… uh, what?" Chuck stammered.
Chuck just stood in amazement, shaking his head, when a voice called out behind him, "Hey, you! With the curly hair!"
He turned around. A tall blonde guy was standing behind the guest services booth, yelling at him. "Your friend needs serious medical help here!"
Chuck went pale. "Sarah!" he said, jumping over the side of the counter, as the blonde guy dialed 911. "Yeah, this is the guest services manager at the Beverly Center," he said. "We've got a serious medical emergency at the booth."
Sarah was pale. Her pulse was fast, but weak. She seemed to be bleeding from her head. Chuck grabbed her hand. "Hang on, Sarah," he said. "Please, hang on…"
He heard the strange noise again and turned to look behind him. The blue box, the Slitheen, Jack Harkness, and his team were all gone. John Casey was standing, looking at where the blue box had been, a look of open-mouthed astonishment on his face.
Sarah ended up getting off lucky. The paramedics took her straight across the street to Cedars-Sinai, where it was determined that she had several fractured ribs and a sprained shoulder, in addition to a light concussion. The blood on her head had been from a superficial cut, and the increase in her pulse had been the result of an adrenaline overload.
When Chuck told Ellie what had happened, she left work, drove to Cedars-Sinai, barged her way into Sarah's room, and insisted that she was her personal physician and that she needed to be the lead attending. Sarah, conscious by now, just smiled and shook her head.
By 8:00 that evening, things had calmed down. Casey had left to go figure out how to clean up the Beverly Center and convince people that nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Ellie had gone to talk with a couple of her colleagues about medical stuff that was way over Chuck's head, so Chuck was alone with Sarah, who was practically asleep from the pain medication she had been given.
"Chuck," she murmured, on the verge of sleep.
"Yeah, Sarah?" he said, fully alert himself.
He raised an eyebrow. "What for?"
"For spending the afternoon with me," she whispered. "I know it wasn't as fun as I had promised, but I still enjoyed spending it with you."
Chuck smiled. "I enjoyed it too."
She gave him a small smile, and then reached out her hand. He took it in his, and she gave it a squeeze. He held her hand for a few more minutes, until she was asleep.
When she fell asleep, he stood up. Gathering up the remaining shreds of his courage and shot nerves, he bent over her bed, and lightly kissed her on the forehead. "We should do this more often," he whispered.
He turned and headed to the door. "Good night," he said softly as he left.
The door opened, and Chuck left.
"Good night, Chuck."