Title: Chuck vs. Life

Author: marybr (yours truly)

Characters: mainly Chuck/Sarah (but the regulars are there – Casey, Ellie, Morgan, Awesome, etc.)

Chapters: 1/?

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters portrayed in this fic. I'm gaining nothing with this, except the sheer joy of being Chuck/Sarah's puppet master.

Summary: First of all I suck at summaries, so regard this fact as you read this. The fic fits right after the last episode aired (1x11), and it basically picks up after those events. It's nothing more than Chuck and co. moving on with their lives, and especially centering on how Chuck and Sarah will deal with their mutual feelings. I know, this summary blows… Just read the first chapter, and you'll get a sense of what is actually about.

A/N: Well, I fell in love with this couple. What else can I say? I swore I'd never write another fic again (this is my second ever), but these lines and storylines kept popping in my head. And the fact that this fic exists shows how much I'm really into these two crazy kids. Anyhow, I had no other choice them to bring this to life. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did writing it :)

Chapter I

Chuck was lying in bed. He couldn't help but just stay there, staring at the ceiling. He wasn't able to go to sleep. The whole time he kept replaying the conversation he had with Sarah at the Buy More Xmas party. Friends?Yeah, friends.

He liked her. It was beyond the point of denying this to himself. But she clearly didn't share his feelings. Of course she liked him. However, she didn't like him, not the way he liked her. And nurturing thoughts otherwise would only hurt him even more. It was time to face the truth. She said to him that she's only here -- and not with Bryce -- because of her job. She told him earlier that she didn't see any future for them while under the influence of truth serum, for Pete's sakes! What else did he need? A formal letter, handwritten by her, informing him of the obvious shutdown?

No. It would be no longer necessary to tell him yet another time. Somehow he managed to see signs of mutual feelings that clearly weren't there. Sometimes she'd say certain things that led him to believe that she was starting to feel the same way he felt. If it's any consolation, I never felt like our time together was work. It seemed like she always knew the right words to say to keep him hoping, to keep him believing.

He was sure that this wasn't her intention. This probably meant nothing more than a friendly courtesy on her part. You know, trying to make him feel better. Being a good "friend". So, he made peace with the fact that Sarah and Chuck would ever be that… friends. Nothing more than that. And he was cool with this. If he wasn't right now, he would be… eventually.

The thing is, he didn't hold a grudge towards her. He wouldn't start to hate something, someone he couldn't have. It's best being friends than having all that tension in the air, like it got when they were in that Lon Kurk assignment. Besides, being friends nowadays is a lot. And he really meant when he offered his friendship to her that night.

All these thoughts were swirling through Chuck's head, and at that late hour he wondered.

"Why don't minds have an on/off switch?"

It took a while longer but he finally managed to doze off.

Chuck woke up with the annoying bip of his alarm clock, now, he wasn't about to throw a knife at the damn thing like his lady friend… See, even his first thought in the morning had to do with a certain blonde goddess! It wouldn't be an easy task to get over her, he thought.

After going through his morning routine, you know, get up, pee, have breakfast, brush teeth, interact with Ellie and Awesome, etc. Chuck was finally ready to go to work. As he was leaving home, he saw Casey through the blinders of his apartment motioning him to come over. He made his way there slowly but steadily.

Casey opened the door and let Chuck in.

"Nice of you to join us, Sleeping Beauty," Casey teased.

Chuck saw that Sarah was already there sitting on the couch eying the computer screen. They were talking to their superiors. When he entered Sarah turned over, he gave her a half-smile, not your usual full-blown Chuck megawatt smile. And it looked like she noticed that, but again, he misread her too many times before to trust his impressions.

She half-smiled back. Smile number 5, he thought. Not that he was mentally registering her every smile, by the way. Okay, maybe he was… a little bit. And if he actually was, this pale number 5 smile was nothing compared to smile number 1. The mother of all smiles, the one she displayed and the whole room turned… wow… bright! The one only she mastered… Okay, stop with the smile analysis already! He mentally chastised himself.

He shook the thoughts and sat beside her on the couch, on the other far end of it. It was clear that she noticed that move, 'cause her eyes drifted to her left, towards him oh-so-nonchalantly and for a brief second. Casey stood behind the couch, and the three of them heard all about the next mission. Chuck was supposed to tag along Sarah and Casey to a politician's public speech to see if he flashed on anyone of said politician's entourage, 'cause he was suspect of military sabotage.

Everything went smoothly at debrief, and as they were leaving Casey's the atmosphere wasn't tense like the last time, but it sure felt awkward for Chuck, and Sarah as well. Casey, on the other hand, was cool as a cucumber.

"Hi," Sarah said with a friendly smile.

"Hey," said Chuck, smiling a bit more wider this time around.

"I think we need to talk to establish…" she was cut by Ellie, who was leaving home to the hospital.

"Sarah. It's nice to see you! I'm so glad that you and my brother here…"

"Ellie, Ellie…" Chuck tried to interject.

But Ellie was in a row, she was really excited.

"…decided to make it work. I knew that you had something real going on here. We're having this Xmas' eve bash next week, and I want you to join us. It'll have…"

"Ellie, sis, actually Sarah and I… We're not back together," he concluded a bit louder than he intended to, but Ellie was so hyper that he had to.

Sarah was caught by surprise with that statement. She thought that they were getting back together, you know, for the sake of their cover.

If Chuck didn't know any better he'd think that he saw a glimpse of disappointment in his friend's eyes, but, come on, he knows better. No more nurturing, Bartowski! Came the voice in his head. Why the voice sounded so much like Casey he didn't get, 'though. Moving on…

"We decided to be friends. It works better, you know, for the two of us," he added.

Ellie he knew how to read. And that was definitely a look of disappointment. Not disappointment, really, more like sadness. Chuck knew if anyone wanted him to be happy it was Ellie.

"Oh… I didn't know. I figured since she's here, with you, I mean… I'm so sorry. I just assumed…" the brunette tried.

"It's okay. It's okay…" he said looking at Sarah for some help here.

Sarah noticed the look he was giving her, and despite her own feelings on the matter, she felt obliged to help him out.

"It's really okay, Ellie. There's no need to feel bad. We're both fine…" she stressed the word looking briefly at Chuck.

He didn't get the meaning of the look. Ellie, on the other hand, was oblivious to it.

"More than fine, actually, with the decision. It was an agreement on both sides," she completed giving Ellie a smile as confirmation.

"Well, if you guys say so," she said while looking at Chuck trying to read him.

"I better get going, I'm already late as it is. And don't worry, Chuck. When you find that cd of mine that I'm looking for, you can bring to me at Wienerlicious. It's no big deal," she said trying to create a reason for her presence at Chuck's.

But that little detail went way through Chuck's head.

"What…" he tried.

Sarah gave him a look of her own, and he finally got what she was doing there.

"Right, right… your cd. Like I said, Morgan must have taken it thinking it was mine. But I'll make sure to track it down for you," he managed to deliver.

Sarah gave Ellie another smile followed by a short wave. Ellie, still a bit confused, mimicked the blonde's previous gestures.

"Oh, and Sarah? That offer for the Xmas party is still on the table. Just because we're friends now, it doesn't mean that you're out of my life," he offered honestly.

Sarah looked into his eyes, and could see that he really meant that. She didn't quite know what it was but she felt like she had lost something. She pushed that feeling away, and gave him a nod. And with that Sarah was out of sight.

"I should go, too," he said to his sister.

"No, no… Wait a sec. We need to talk about this. What happened, Chuck?" she inquired.

"Ellie, really, I don't have time right now," he said trying to evade the unpleasant talk.

"Chuck, the nerds can manage 10 minutes without you. You need to talk about this," she replied grabbing his wrist for emphasis.

He looked up, a bit frustrated. But Ellie knew he would cave.

"Come on, I can write you a doctor's note so you don't have any trouble with Big Mike," she joked trying to lighten his mood a little.

He gave her a small grin, and she matched it. They sat on the fountain to talk.

"So? What was that all about?" she asked, showing genuine concern.

"Well, you heard us. We decided to be just friends and leave it like that," he said.

"But you really like this girl, Chuck. You told me yourself. And I can tell that she likes you, too," she tried.

He didn't say anything. What was he supposed to? Tell Ellie that the reason why she sees that Sarah likes him is because she's a fantastic actress? That they have been faking a relationship all along? That the only fool to actually develop real feelings while pretending was him?

"So? You like…" she insisted.

He couldn't take this any longer.

"Yes, Ellie! I like her! I like her a lot, okay?!" he blurted.

"What's the matter then? She…" she tried but was cut by him.

"She doesn't. She doesn't like me. Not the way that I like her, anyway. I know that you see, that you get this vibe that she likes me, too. In that way, I mean. But can I tell that she doesn't, that I'm sure she doesn't, and just leave it like that? Can you just… trust me on that? Without further elaboration? It's just… complicated, you know. Can you just trust me?" he pleaded with puppy dog eyes.

Ellie hated to see her brother like that. But she knew that he must have had a good damn reason for this desperate plea. Maybe he wasn't ready to talk about it just yet. She would wait. She knew that he knew that when he really needed to talk, she would be there. That was the kind of amazing relationship they had.

"Sure," she nodded, squeezed his hand gently, and gave him a tight hug.

"Thank you, sis," he said cheaply.

Chuck didn't know what he did to deserve such an incredible sister. He gave her his best trademark Chuck smile; he knew she deserved at least that; kissed her on the cheek, and made his way to the store.