Title: Come Away With Me (1/6)
Series Title: Five Times Chuck and Sarah share a bed for their cover (and one time they just do)
Pairing/Characters: Chuck/Sarah, Awesome, Ellie
Word Count: 3037
Summary: He has limits to his patience with this fake relationship and there are things he will tolerate for the CIA but this whole situation – foreign city, no mission, hotel room, Sarah in a towel and slightly buzzed – are really pushing his control.
Spoilers/Warnings: up to 1x11: Chuck vs. the Crown Vic
Disclaimer: Everything belongs to NBC.I'm just playing during the writers' strike.
Author's Notes: This is the first of five situations that Chuck and Sarah sleep together for their cover (plus one bonus story!) It's also my first time writing Chuck fanfiction so I hope I did the characters justice. Please be sure to let me know if there's anything I can improve – and enjoy!
Sarah learns new things about Chuck every day. Which is the way a relationship is supposed to be: even when you think you know everything about someone because you've read their CIA file and been in life-threatening situations with them, you can still find out something you hadn't previously known in the most common of settings.
Today, it is the Bartowski living room. Chuck is a college football fan.
It makes sense, sort of. He went to Stanford, which among other things, has a football team. Everyone must have gone to the games on Saturdays, tailgated in the pale California sunshine, worn maroon, and prayed that this was the time they would beat Notre Dame or UCLA or whoever.
(Sarah is not a college football fan).
He hadn't shown much enthusiasm for the Stanford-UCLA game but in retrospect that was probably more out of apprehension for returning to Stanford than lack of excitement for the game. He isn't athletic by any means but you don't have to be an athlete to enjoy sports. And while she's never seen on his computer screen, he and Awesome do occasionally have conversations in the kitchen about people she's never heard of and things like passing rates and completions. Which she now understood to be football terms but at the time had naively assumed were video game geek talk.
On the whole, not such a great job of reading the clues there.
So when Awesome stops the conversation with some Big News and announces he has 4 tickets to the BSC National Championship game and Chuck's eager "No WAY!" sounds through the apartment, Sarah has to scramble through appropriate responses to find one – she settles on amused, which is pretty neutral, but inside she is screaming, what? He's happy about this?
Maybe she isn't such a good fake girlfriend after all.
The tickets are a gift to Awesome from a sick patient. He invites Ellie, obviously, and then extends the other two tickets to Chuck and Sarah. As he explains it to Ellie, it was an easy choice for several reasons: Chuck is an OK guy to watch a game with, there's no way to pick between his fraternity brothers without starting a fight, and Chuck and Sarah look like they could use some time away from LA. They're clearly into each other and Awesome is glad they're back together but there's also something not quite right about their relationship and it's not even the moving slow thing.
Chuck eagerly accepts the offer and is pleasantly surprised when Sarah agrees to go as well. They finagle the time off with their respective managers (and with the CIA and boy, is that a hard sell), Ellie and Awesome switch some shifts around at the hospital, and Saturday morning finds the group trudging through the airport. Chuck and Sarah have a small tussle over who will carry her tiny duffle bag and when Chuck pulls it over his shoulder like a messenger bag and it hits his butt with every step, Sarah smirks but is clearly pleased.
The plane ride is uneventful and they arrive in New Orleans at midday. After a quick stop at the hotel to check in and dump their bags, they head back out to sight see. Chuck and Sarah do a much more convincing job of being a couple than they have in a while. They hold hands as they walk through the streets, give each other small smiles and point out things they think the other will like. They've sort of fallen back into their cover story because it's the most plausible way to explain Sarah's constant presence. It helps, marginally, that the awkwardness from the kiss and Bryce's return and everything after has generally faded. Chuck still hates that he's lying to everyone in his life, even himself sometimes, but his foray into real dating with Lou has shown him that as long as he's the Intersect, the CIA owns his life and, unfortunately, that includes his dating life. He's learned his lesson on becoming too subjective as well, after the almost-disaster with Lon Kirk that was nearly thwarted by his jealousy. He knows their relationship is a cover and the looks and touches may feel real but Sarah's made it painfully clear he is simply a job.
It doesn't make the situation any easier or any less confusing on Chuck but nothing really has been since he opened Bryce's email.
They sightsee till dusk and then have a long, leisurely dinner with several bottles of wine. Afterwards, the group decides to head back to the hotel. Everyone's tired from the flight and tomorrow's going to be a long day of football and tailgating.
Sarah, who hardly ever drinks thanks to being a secret CIA operative that must be ready for anything at any time, is loose and loopy. It's not something anyone but Chuck would really notice and he finds this new side of Sarah to be a pleasant surprise – she's more open, playful, and quick with affection. It's a side of Sarah he'd have a lot of fun with if they were really boyfriend and girlfriend, he thinks as she wraps her arms around him, stands on his tiptoes, and kisses his jaw, but as Chuck-the-Intersect, it's one he's going to have to be very careful around.
Awesome gives him a wink as the two couples part getting out of the elevator and Chuck flushes as Sarah pulls him to their room. There's no mistaking the meaning behind Awesome's wink and he supposes it's a good thing they've sold Awesome on their fake relationship.
As Sarah enters the room and closes the door, she declares, apropos of nothing, "No one is ever going to believe us as a couple if we are not comfortable with each other beyond what we show people in public."
It's the sort of statement Chuck's grown used to hearing and he replies absently as he searches for the TV remote, "We've sold Awesome. He gave me a wink as we left the elevator. Definitely thinks I'm getting lucky." Chuck finds the remote underneath his backpack and brandishes it to Sarah triumphantly. Unfortunately, Sarah's logic has gone in a completely misguided direction – the wine has gone to her head, it's the only explanation - and he turns to find Sarah shucking her jeans and long sleeved t-shirt, leaving her in lime green boy shorts and a tight blue tank top. Chuck's jaw drops.
"Sarah!" he hisses, looking at the ceiling. "What are you doing?"
"I'm doing what any girlfriend would do in front of her boyfriend," she replies as she rummages through her duffle for her toiletry bag. Naturally, all this does is afford Chuck a better view of her ass and he groans softly at the sight. "Getting ready for a shower."
"Do you really think this is necessary?" he asks, still whispering for no reason.
"Yes," Sarah frowns at him. "What if Ellie or Awesome were to walk in?"
"I would hope you'd cover yourself up!"
Sarah heads into the bathroom. "Chuck, our cover is important," she reminds him, as if he's a small child. "You can't act surprised every time I hold your hand or kiss your cheek. And if this is what it takes for you to get that, than yes, this is necessary."
Chuck mimics her words to the closed door – yes, this is necessary – and wonders if she's punishing him still for getting too emotional, if her warped solution to being friends and forgetting the kiss ever happened is to throw more of herself – both literally and figuratively – into the relationship while still managing to remind him it's all fake at every available moment.
Chuck flops onto the bed, listening to the sounds of Sarah's humming through the door, and trying his hardest not to think of Sarah's perky butt framed by lime green panties or worse, imagine Sarah in the shower without the panties. He fails for the most part but has enough restraint not to go knocking down the door – not that he ever really would. He's not that type but the point is, sometimes he thinks about being that type.
Just, he can't with her. Never with her.
Sarah's in the shower a long time and when she comes out, she's wrapped in a small white hotel towel with a matching towel turban on her head. Her face is devoid of make-up but it's flushed pink from the hot water and her eyes seem clearer and more focused than they had when they left the restaurant. She gives Chuck a small smile as she rummages through her duffle bag for pajamas and Chuck knows this means she's of soberer mind now.
She doesn't apologize for stripping and if the amount of thigh she's showing now is any indication, she doesn't plan on it.
He escapes from his own personal hell into the bathroom with his own pajamas and a toothbrush and takes several deep, calming breaths. He has limits to his patience with this fake relationship and there are things he will tolerate for the CIA but this whole situation – foreign city, no mission, hotel room, Sarah in a towel and slightly buzzed – are really pushing his control.
When he emerges from the bathroom, Sarah's sound asleep on the top of the bed.
She's dressed in running shorts and a plain grey t-shirt and her hair is damp but starting to curl. Chuck wakes her up enough to get her under the covers. He slips into the other side and Sarah immediately snuggles into him, drawn to his warmth against the cool sheets. She's asleep again, never really ever woke up, and a breathy sigh escapes against his neck. Chuck stares at the ceiling and sleep is a long time in coming.
The next morning, Chuck looks exhausted and Sarah admits to having a headache. Chuck silently rummages through his bag to find Advil for her hangover headache. They stumble down to breakfast sometime later and they slink into the booth opposite Ellie and Awesome.
Awesome raises an eyebrow at the sight of them. "Long night?" he asks as Chuck orders coffee and breakfast for both of them.
"Parts of it," Sarah says saucily, which both is the truth –the part where she was half naked and Chuck wouldn't look at her seemed to stretch on forever – and fuel for Awesome's fire.
After breakfast, they head out to a local grocery store to shop for the tailgate food and beer. The store is full of crazed football fans and frantic store clerks trying to keep the shelves stocked. Awesome and Chuck debate the merits of bottles or cans for their beer while Ellie and Sarah get the chips and sandwiches.
"I love football season," Ellie sighs as they try to maneuver their way down the aisles.
Sarah smiles at the brunette, so pretty in a football jersey, her hair in a ponytail accented by a pale blue ribbon. "I'm not a big football person," she admits, "But I can see why some people are."
"Some people being Chuck?"
"Yeah," Sarah says. "I didn't know what to expect when I agreed to this weekend but I'm having a lot of fun already."
Ellie smiles and lays a hand on Sarah's forearm. "I'm glad. We're having fun with you. Chuck's having fun with you. And if anyone deserves to have a weekend of fun, it's Chuck."
Before Sarah can say anything, Awesome and Chuck find them, each carrying a case of beer. Sarah can't help but notice the way his muscles are defined against his jersey as he stands there with the beer. She drags her eyes away from his biceps to his face and finds his amused eyes looking back. She flushes, caught.
By some unspoken consent, Chuck and Sarah have agreed not to talk about last night. It makes the tailgate much more enjoyable and even though she's learned her lesson from last night and tries not to drink a lot, she finds herself having the time of her life. Awesome's predictions for the game are wild and outrageous, as are the college stories from his frat. Chuck even chimes in with a few of his own and Sarah finds herself laughing more in one afternoon than she has for months.
It's a sad truth.
Halfway through the afternoon, a nearby tailgate begs for them to be the opponent in some sort of drinking game that involves flipping cups and chugging. She's apprehensive but joins the game at Chuck's insistence who has transformed back into the frat boy she knows he must have been. He's in his element here as much as he is in front of a broken computer and this is the Chuck she can reconcile as a college football fanatic.
Sarah wins the game for them by a millisecond, flipping her cup on the first try after draining it in one gulp. Awesome yells "Team hug!" and squishes Ellie, Chuck, and Sarah together. Sarah's flush against Chuck, with Ellie's elbow in her side, and she turns to Chuck with an exaggerated surprise face, eyes wide and lips in a half smile. Awesome releases them with a yell for another game as Chuck rolls his own eyes at her but leans down to kiss her on the forehead anyway. Sarah knows it's the most PDA he'll allow, especially to a fake girlfriend, and as the guys on the opposing team flirt with her about her ability to open her throat (ah, college humor), Sarah jokes back with them but threads her fingers through Chuck's hand and squeezes.
By the time the actual football game rolls around, everyone is pleasantly plastered. Sarah's hardly ever drunk and never two days in a row. She takes the time to relish in being Sarah Walker, Weinerlicious employee and Chuck's girlfriend for a few minutes, instead of "Sarah Walker", CIA Agent and Chuck's protector. The game flies by, thanks to the alcohol, and Sarah does a poor job of following the game, usually only clapping or cheering when Chuck does and sometimes not even then.
The game ends with the right team getting a victory. Sarah and Ellie beg off celebration drinks, claiming exhaustion and tired feet (neither of which are a lie for Sarah – wearing heels to a football game was a poor choice) and head back to the hotel for some girl bonding. Chuck bears the brunt of Awesome's exuberance and together they drink their way around New Orleans. They head back to the hotel late, stumbling and singing college football fight songs, and part with fist bumps at the elevator. Chuck feels good from the game and the evening of drinking, something not even extended one on one time with Awesome had ruined. He slips the hotel card into the lock and finds Sarah asleep in bed already. She stirs the minute he enters the room, ever the agent.
"Chuck?" her voice is thick with sleep.
"Yeah, it's me. Go back to sleep."
"Did you have fun?"
"Mmm," Chuck smiles. "Maybe too much."
Sarah sits up in bed, concerned. "Are you ok? Are you going to be sick?"
"Nah, I'm fine," he says and hopes it's true. "How was girl time with Ellie?"
Sarah grins. "Good. We watched a romantic comedy and gossiped. I really like your sister, Chuck."
Chuck's stomach flips at her words and he can't help the feeling of wistfulness that spreads through him. Without thinking, he leans over her and presses a kiss to her forehead, the second time he's done it today. "I'm glad."
Sarah falls back to sleep easily. Chuck attempts to lie down beside her but the room spins enough to make Chuck sick and he spends most of the night in the bathroom, his head on the cool tile.
The sun in LA seems far brighter than it had in New Orleans and even with sunglasses on, Chuck winces as they leave the airport. He's the one with the hangover now and the Advil hasn't helped a bit. What he really needs is a long nap in bed. His own bed. Alone.
Sarah drops everyone off at the Bartowski apartment. Chuck hangs back a bit, to say a private goodbye as a good boyfriend would, and Sarah offers to come in with him. "I can rub your back as you fall asleep," she suggests and Chuck thinks that's taking the girlfriend thing a little too far. Sleeping next to her had been heaven, he doesn't want to get used to it. That's a line he can't afford to blur.
"Thanks but no," he says and gets out of the car. He takes a step away from the car before pausing and turning back. He leans into the window and looks at Sarah. "Thank you for coming. I know it was a little beyond your jurisdiction as an agent to go to a college football game for an entire weekend, but I - I had a good time."
"Me too," Sarah says quietly, hoping he understands that she means it. Since joining the CIA, she rarely has time for relaxation – the trip to Cabo with Bryce was the only vacation she's had in years – and even if things aren't back to normal between her and Chuck yet (and maybe they never will be, it's a sad reality Sarah might have to face), he's the only person who could have given her such a wonderful weekend. His excitement was infectious, his sister and her boyfriend were perfect companions, and his boyish charm was endearing.
"It was good for the cover too," she adds as an afterthought. Sarah's positive the weekend cemented their relationship in Ellie and Awesome's eyes, finally banishing any doubts caused by their taking it slow, but she's not sure if it helped or hurt her own relationship with Chuck.
Chuck's face falters for a second, allowing Sarah to see something deeper, something she can't quite put a name to, before he nods. "Yup. See you tomorrow."
Chuck turns and walks into the courtyard. Sarah watches him until she can't see him anymore and then she drives away.
come away with me
where they can't tempt us with their lies
Norah Jones, Come Away With Me