The Prince and the Intersect
A Chuck Bartowski Fairy Tale

Late one night, Chuck Bartowski tells his four year-old a bedtime story, and the fairy tale he recites ends up being all-too familiar…

Disclaimer: I own nothing

Timeframe: AU futurefic with references to the pilot, 1.07 Chuck vs. the Alma Mater, 1.08 Chuck vs. the Truth, and 1.09 Chuck vs. the Imported Hard Salami.

Rating: T for sexual situations

Pairings: Chuck/Sarah, mentions of Awesome/Ellie

Well, here I go again! This one was actually made as part of the Valentine's Day Challenge over at the Chuck livejournal community. It think it's the tenth challenge of fourteen, but, as I don't have a livejournal, it's being posted here. This one is shamelessly fluffy, so I hope you all enjoy!

It all started with a simple question.

"Daddy? Can you tell me a bedtime story?"

Chuck Bartowski smiled down at his daughter, all of four years old. Her dark hair hung to the middle of her back in lustrous ringlets that held a casual elegance that his couldn't quite master without profuse amounts of hair product. Her bright, vibrant eyes, the shade the purest of royal blue, gazed at him alight with curiosity with an underlying determination that she surely inherited from her mother.

Pulling up a chair beside his daughter's bed, Chuck affectionately ran a hand through her curls. "Sure, Peewee. Which story do you want to hear?"

Cassidy Eleanor Bartowski thought for a moment, her nose wrinkling slightly before she shrugged. "I denno…make up one."

"Okay, what kind of story?"

Cassidy's eyes brightened as an idea struck her. "A fairy tale! With princes and princesses and monsters!"

"Okay…" Chuck paused, wracking his brain for an adequate story to tell a four year-old. Settling on one he knew she would enjoy, he cleared his throat. "Alright, Peewee, here it goes. Well, there was this –"

Cassidy interrupted him with an exasperated sigh. "Daddy!"

"What?"

"It's a fairy tale. It's s'possed ta start with 'once upon a time!'" Cassidy rolled her eyes at the ignorance of her father. "Duh, dude!"

Chuck mimicked her gesture. "Okay, no more time with Uncle Morgan and Uncle Awesome..." At Cassidy's glare that bore a strong resemblance to the facial expression her mother bestowed upon him countless times before, her fists planted firmly on her hips, Chuck acquiesced to the wiles of his four year-old daughter. "Okay, okay…Once upon a time…"

- - -

Once upon a time, there was a prince. Now, he was the smartest prince in the whole land. Because he was so smart, the prince got to learn at a very special place with other people so that he could become a very good king. When he was at this special school, the prince became best friends with a very powerful wizard. But the wizard betrayed the prince, stealing the prince's girlfriend too, and getting him exiled from his kingdom…

"Daddy?"

Chuck halted his story as his daughter tugged at the sleeve of his shirt. "Yeah, Peewee?"

"What does exiled mean?"

"It means he couldn't go back to his kingdom."

"Oh…that sucks."

Chuck gave a sad smile. "Yeah, Peewee, it really did."

When Chuck pictured himself packing up his things, it was in the context of jubilant celebration that four years of all-nighters, caffeine-induced fogs that propelled him through classes, and thousands of buckets of sweat lost stressing over that latest macro-economics class had finally culminated to that much sought-after college degree and diploma. He pictured himself knocking beer mugs with his frat brothers as they enjoyed one final hurrah within the house. He could see them gathering all the textbooks they couldn't sell back to the university, heaping them on the front lawn, and setting them all aflame as they danced around the swirling smoke. That was how he pictured his departure from Stanford University. That wasn't how it turned out. Piling all of his worldly belongings into various boxes and suitcases, Chuck found himself leaving Stanford University by expulsion, turned in by the best friend he thought would always have his back: Bryce Larkin.

Trudging down the steps, he found Bryce shooting pool with a group of their…well, his brothers, the man looking as though he had taken a stroll downtown instead of just framing his so-called best friend for something he didn't do.

"Why did you do this, Bryce?" It was a seemingly simple question, but it was one that held so much weight and encompassed so much area.

Bryce straightened from the pool table, his ice blue eyes calmly boring into Chuck's. No remorse. No regret. The same way he had looked at Chuck the day Jill told him it wasn't working out. That she was leaving him…for Bryce. It was as though their friendship meant nothing. Chuck didn't know quite which knife hit deeper, and it only left him resentful, hurt, and confused. Bryce only cocked his head slightly, uttering one sentence.

"You did this to yourself, Chuck."

- - -

So the years go by and the prince is working at a blacksmith shop as a regular person. Then one day, he gets a message from the wizard and with the message is a package. Inside the package is a magical orb.

"What does the orb hold?"

"Secrets."

"What kind of secrets?"

"Secrets to the prince's kingdom plus the kingdoms everywhere else."

Chuck's brow furrowed as he turned back to the screen as Morgan disappeared through the door, his mind wracking for a reason why Bryce Larkin would attempt to contact him after all these years. Shrugging, he answered the prompt, typing in "Attack with the nasty knife." As his finger punched the enter button, Chuck could only stare as the myriad of indiscernible images flooded into the crevices of his mind.

It could have been hours, it could have been minutes, but all Chuck knew was the moment that all the images finished flashing across the conscious part of his brain, the only thing he could do was keel over backwards, trying to ignore the splitting migraine pounding through his temples. Little did he know the true extent that migraine would prove to hold.

- - -

It turns out that the wizard not only betrayed the prince but had also betrayed the whole kingdom by stealing the orb and sending it to the prince, but he dies before anyone can figure out why. The Elders of the kingdom decide that it's dangerous for the prince to have all these secrets so they send two knights to protect the prince. One is a big, scary, hulking man who doesn't say much and grunts instead of talking. This man takes his job very seriously and is the first to jump into battle.

"Kinda like Uncle Casey, Daddy?"

"Yeah, Peewee, actually a lot like Uncle Casey."

And the second knight is a beautiful lady with flowing blonde hair the color of a golden sunrise and eyes as clear blue as the ocean seas –

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold your horses, Daddy! That isn't right!"

"What do you mean, Peewee?"

"The knight can't be a girl!"

"Why not?"

"Have you heard of girl knights in Cinderella?"

"Well, this girl was different. She was even more beautiful than any of the princesses in the land, even the prince's old girlfriend, she knew more magic than the wizard did, and she could protect the prince."

"Well, okay. I guess that could work."

"Glad to know you approve, Peewee."

"'Course I approve! Besides, Uncle Morgan did say that Mommy could kick your ass any given day of the week…"

"What?! When did he say that?"

"I denno, 'bout a week ago."

"Okay, that's it…Uncle Morgan visits are seriously going to decrease."

"Daddy, you say that every week. Can you get back into the story?"

"Right…"

- - -

So the prince and the two knights don't tell anyone about the orb, working as though they are normal people, but when the orb flashes, they set off on adventures ridding the kingdoms of the evil people and monsters that try to take over the kingdom. Most of the time, the prince is told to stay on the horse, but he never listens, and even helps. But, of course, the knights do all of the work. The prince mostly just runs away screaming, dodges swords, or ends up getting tied up.

"Uh…Daddy?"

"Yeah, Peewee?"

"The prince isn't a wimp, is he?"

"No, Peewee, he isn't a wimp. He's just not as trained as the knights are."

"Oh. Okay. I mean, because it would be really bad if the prince didn't do some kind of saving…"

"Don't worry, Peewee, I'm getting to that part."

"Well, time's a-wasting, Daddy! Hurry up!"

"…Right…"

- - -

Now, the prince had fallen in love with the knight the first moment he saw her, but she didn't feel the same way. At first, but then, she starts to have feelings for the prince, too. After all, he's handsome, smart, and he makes her laugh. But she can't tell him how she feels.

"But what's wrong with that, Daddy?"

"Well, Peewee, it was the knight's job to protect the prince, not fall in love with him. If she lets her feelings get in the way of her job, someone – namely the prince – could get hurt."

"That's stupid."

"Yeah, Peewee, it was…"

"This will probably be the last chance I have to know the truth…" Chuck gestured between them as he stared earnestly into the depths of Sarah's royal blue spheres, his confession prompted by the truth serum flooding through his veins. "You and me…us…is this ever going anywhere?"

If Chuck had any sort of training, he would have noticed the slightest of pauses before Sarah responded. Glancing down, she seemed to gather her resolve, before she raised her head, looking him straight in the eye

"I'm sorry, Chuck. No."

"Aw, Daddy! That's not supposed to happen."

"Easy, Peewee, I'm not done with the story yet…"

"Geeze, what's next? Flying monkeys?"

"Wrong fairy tale, kiddo."

"I'm just saying…"

- - -

So the prince starts dating again, but he still can't ignore the feelings he has for the knight, but he hides them, knowing she doesn't feel the same way. They keep on going on their adventures, but one adventure, one involving a very important package, changes everything…

Chuck's eyes drifted from the illuminated numbers, winking almost mockingly as they meandered down to zero. Swallowing hard, he forced out one final, feeble joke, turning to the woman beside him before closing his eyes.

"It was nice knowin' ya…"

Throwing all caution into the wind, Sarah rose up on her toes, yanking his face down to hers. Her mouth covered his, engaging him in a desperate, agonizingly sinful kiss. She could feel him freeze for a moment before a brush of her tongue against his closed mouth prompted him into action. Large palms cupped her cheeks before gliding down her body, leaving shivers in their wake. One long arm slipped around her waist, the spread fingers anchoring her to his leanly muscular body. Her own hands had drifted down from to fist in the open lapels of his Buy More shirt, as they drew him closer. His mouth opened to hers, their tongues tangling in the intoxicating dance that very well have been their final moment on the living earth. The only coherent thought that skated through Chuck's mind was if he were to die right now, he would be dying a very happy man.

"But they live?"

"Of course they live. It wouldn't be much of a fairy tale if they died, right?"

"Oh, right…So what was in the package?"

"The wizard."

"But you said he died."

"That's what the prince and the knight thought, too, but he was brought back by very evil men who want the orb to do bad things to the kingdoms. So the wizard sent the orb to the prince to keep safe, knowing he would be able to use it."

"So what happens to the wizard?"

"The prince saves the wizard and lets him go so that he can continue doing good magic."

"Wow, so the bad guy wasn't really bad at all?"

"Not mostly, no."

"Cool…"

- - -

Well, a few years go by, and soon a new orb is made that holds even more secrets than the old one the prince has. The elders take the orb and destroy it, taking a new and improved orb and locking it away so no one can steal it again. By this time, the two knights and the prince have gotten very close. The man knight decides to stay in the kingdom, watching over the prince just in case any more trouble comes. The girl knight goes back to her own kingdom to wait for her next assignment.

Chuck hovered at the entryway to Sarah's hotel suite as she bustled around, packing methodically. He chipped in with the half-hearted fold of a t-shirt or a set of pants, backing away when he stumbled across one of her smaller guns hidden in the waistband of a particularly scanty pair of shorts.

Sarah cleared her throat in an attempt to alleviate the tension hovering between them. "So…how does it feel not to be the Intersect?"

Chuck smiled weakly. "Let's see…going through life not having to worry about the latest inanimate object causing a deluge of images pertaining to the preservation of national security flooding into my consciousness that would subsequently hurtle me into a mission that would more likely than not culminate in me either being tied up, running for my life, or dodging bullets…oh, and of course we can't forget tangoing with an international arms dealer…" Chuck shrugged in mock self-deprecation, "Eh…kinda boring…"

Sarah laughed, cocking her head to observe the man before her as she settled down on the bed she had used for the last two years. "What's up for Chuck Bartowski, now?"

"Well, I actually got this funny thing in the mail…" Chuck began. "It seems as though after quite a few years, my expulsion from Stanford has been appealed by the higher ups and found to be a fraudulent charge. Turns out I can go back and finish my degree." Chuck held Sarah's stare as he joined her on the mattress, his gaze clearly conveying potent amusement. "You didn't have anything to do with that, did you?"

Sarah's face took on a mock innocent look, one Chuck found he could see right through. "Me? Of course not."

"Right. Dumb question…" Chuck rolled his eyes, clearly not believing her. Shoving his hands in his pockets, he cast a sideways glance in Sarah's direction. "So what about you?"

He received a shrug in response. "Probably go back to DC. I'm gonna be reassigned pretty quickly so…" Sarah let her statement hang in the air. They both knew the implications.

"When are you leaving?"

"Tomorrow afternoon…"

Chuck's head drooped down to his chest. "Guess we're gonna have to break up."

Sarah swallowed hard, pushing away the sadness unwillingly creeping into her consciousness. "How about I beg family emergency? Spare you the agony of an Ellie rant?"

"You'd do that for me?"

Sarah didn't have to fake the sincerity behind her next declaration. "Of course."

Chuck only nodded, standing. Letting out a deep breath, he scuffed one Chuck Taylor against the carpet of the hotel suite. "Well…it's been fun, Sarah Walker."

"That is has, Chuck Bartowski," Sarah agreed. With an impish smirk, she struck out with a playful punch, resisting the urge to giggle at Chuck's very noticeable wince. "I better hear something about Charles Carmichael in the next few years."

Chuck's grin had a regretful quality as it skated across his features. "I'd reciprocate that, but I have a feeling I'd be setting my hopes a bit too high." Gazing at Sarah, the woman who, even after two years in close proximity, represented his ultimate enigma, his eyes communicating everything his words couldn't, Chuck settled with a simple appeal.

"Stay safe."

He wants to kiss her. It's obvious. But such an action would be too agonizing for both parties, and a handshake seems too formal, and in the deepest, darkest crevices of her soul, she knows they've progressed way beyond that – not that she would ever admit that out loud. So, he settles for the next best thing. Opening his arms, Chuck grins when she willingly stepped in to his embrace. Enveloping her in his arms, he feels a potent warmth spread from their entwined bodies to strike straight through his heart. She lays her head against his shoulder, fighting the tears that brim at the threshold of her eyelids. Her arms tighten around his waist, and she sighs as one large palm strokes her hair soothingly, the other splaying across her upper back. They stay there for awhile, not wanting to part, knowing this won't be a prolonged separation. This time would be forever. Finally, Chuck pulls away, framing her cheeks already stained with the tears she attempted to suppress, and presses an innocent, chaste kiss to her forehead, uttering one final farewell.

"Goodbye Sarah."

"Aw, the knight goes away?"

"Hang on, Peewee, I'm not finished, yet…"

- - -

About six months go by, and the prince goes on with his life without the fear of another adventure. But he misses the girl knight terribly, wondering what she's doing and if she ever thinks about him. Then one day, something amazing happens.

Ellie flitted around Chuck's apartment, using his stove for preparation for the romantic dinner she and Devon were planning for the night. Even now, as the pair were seasoned veterans of the married game with two years of wedded bliss behind them, they still found time for the simple pleasures…hence Ellie's almost frantic cooking with hours to spare as the stove at the Woodcomb's house had broken only minutes before. Poking her head through the breakfast nook, Ellie called to her brother.

"Chuck, sweetie, aren't you doing something today?"

From his place on the couch, flipping through the channels and avoiding the ones that focused on the joys of love, Chuck shook his head. "Nope."

"But, Chuck, it's Valentine's Day."

"It's Single Awareness Day for me," Chuck answered, debating between the Discovery Channel or Sports Center.

"Well, what about that nurse from pediatrics you went on a date with a week ago? I thought you had fun with her."

"The OCD stress case with a stalker ex?" Again, Chuck's head bobbed in the negative. "I think I'll pass." Muttering under his breath, he settled on the Discovery Channel. "I went through enough whack jobs as the Intersect," he muttered beneath his breath.

"Well, what about that Lou girl you dated for a bit?"

Chuck huffed a suffering sigh. "I'm sorry, Ells, but I'm not feeling very festive at the moment."

Ellie appeared at the doorway, gazing worriedly down at her brother. "Chuck, when are you going to pull yourself out of this funk? It's been six months since Sarah left. You have to put yourself out there again. It's the only way you'll heal."

"I don't know, Ellie," Chuck admitted, looking down at his hands. "I mean, Sarah was…different, you know? I don't think it's gonna be easy to get over her. She's just too…special to me."

The somber mood shatter between the siblings as the cacophony of Chuck's busted doorbell filtered through the apartment.

"You really have to get that fixed, Chuck." She cast a glance at the door. "Are you expecting anyone?"

"No…"

Ellie's eyes widened. "It's not Morgan is it?"

"Do you really think Morgan would go through the formality of ringing the doorbell? I mean, he has his own door."

Ellie conceded with a nod. "True."

Chuck hefted himself from the couch as Ellie disappeared back into the kitchen. "I'll get it…"

Flinging open the door, Chuck halted as he registered the person standing at the doorstep. Chuck's breath caught in his throat at the vision before him, taking in first the long, flowing hair the color of spun gold, then the bold blue eyes staring apprehensively at him. Chuck blinked once. Twice. He curbed the urge to blink a third time for fear that the vision that manifested itself before his eyes would vanish in the millisecond his eyelids shut and parted again. Reflex kicked in as he succumbed to the temptation. Nope. She was still there. Standing on his porch. She was supposed to be in Washington. She wasn't. She was here. In Los Angeles. Finally, his vocal chords activated, allowing him to splutter the name, one of a countless gamut, but the only one that mattered to him, that registered to the face.

"Sarah…"

There she was, the goddess that had haunted his dreams, the enigma that left so many desires untouched, so many questions hanging, and so many wishes unfulfilled.

"Wh-wh…" Chuck struggled with coherency. "What are you doing here?"

Sarah looked down at the ground, over his left shoulder, anywhere but the deep brown pools scrutinizing her with little restraint. "Can we talk?"

Chuck paused, taken aback at the question. It was as though the six months of her absence hadn't occurred, that she was approaching him with the familiarity she had done countless times before when they were working together. Still, he complied, shutting the door behind him, following Sarah to the fountain where they sat on the ridge.

"Sarah," he repeated her name as though the repetition would aid his brain into truly believing she was right in front of him. "What are you doing here?"

Again, Sarah's eyes flicked from one ambiguous point to another, settling anywhere but Chuck's eyes. "I went back to DC," she began, "and I thought everything was okay. Then I was sent on my next assignment. I was about two days into it when I realized something was wrong. I wasn't focusing, making rookie mistakes, coming so close to compromising the mission. One instance had me getting close to the subject…intimately so." Chuck glanced away at that admission.

Sarah drew in a deep breath before she continued. "And I found that I couldn't go through with it. Somehow, as irrational as it seemed, it felt like I was betraying you. It took an almost severe scolding from Director Graham to that my heart – what little was left of it – wasn't with the CIA anymore. It was across the country. In LA."

Chuck's heart soared at her declaration, but he resisted the temptation to glance up for fear she would retract it. It took a warm hand atop his to pull his gaze to drown in the oceanic spheres of her eyes.

"I've had so many aliases. I couldn't even begin to name all the names I've been known as. It's gotten to the point that I have to think to recall my birth name," Sarah divulged. "But out of all the names I've been known as, all I really want to be is Sarah Walker." Again, she drew in a deep breath before dropping the biggest bombshell of Chuck's life. "So that's who I am."

It took a second for Chuck to truly realize what she had said, but when his brain finally caught up, his eyes sparkled with uninhibited joy. Sarah rotated her palm, slipping her hand into his and entwining their fingers. "You made me want something that I thought I could live without, Chuck: a normal life. And I realized, I could very easily have a normal life, but I wanted one with you. Only you."

"I can't promise that I'll be able to tell you everything about me," Sarah admitted. "But that I'll never hide what I feel. Not anymore."

Chuck stayed silent, the chocolate expanse of his eyes betraying no emotion in a rapid contrast to their normal situation. She was the one pouring out everything while he sat stoically, taking it all in. Finally, the silence got too heady for Sarah to take.

"Say something…" she pleaded, a vulnerability she had disallowed herself until now prevalent in her normally commanding voice.

Chuck blurted the first thing that came to his mind. "I love you." Sarah's breath shuddered to a halt in her lungs as Chuck spoke again. "I do, Sarah. I love you." Chuck's brow furrowed as he contemplated his words for a moment. "I think I always have." Scooting closer to her, his sonorous baritone lowered to an intimate whisper filled with promise. "I love you."

Reaching out, he cupped her face, drawing her to him and crushing her mouth to his. Stifling a gasp of surprise that swiftly transitioned into a sigh of contented pleasure, Sarah braced her palms against the solid mass of Chuck's chest, her fingers tightening against the fabric of his t-shirt. He tasted wondrous, a mixture of peppermint and dark chocolate. His unique scent drifted from to her nostrils as she reveled in the subtle cologne that had always sent her synapses into overdrive. Chuck's hands skimmed from her cheeks down to her lower torso, gliding down her body, sending shivers rollicking down her spine. One long, wiry arm wrapped around her waist, fitting her against his lean body while the other wound into the silky strands of her hair. Sarah opened her mouth to his searching tongue, taking in every ounce of desire he poured into the kiss. Her hands fisted through his t-shirt, tugging him even more insistently into their embrace as her tongue met his, and in that moment, Sarah knew for absolute certain she had made the right decision.

Soon the kiss slowed, and Chuck pulled away, his head dropping down to rest his cheek against Sarah's. What had been a hold of possession softened into a loving embrace as Sarah slipped her arms around Chuck's waist. They stayed there for a moment, simply venerating in each other's presence before Chuck pulled away, looking Sarah right in the eye, a teasing quality to his expression.

"So, Sarah Walker, this is who you're gonna be for the rest of your life…" Chuck nudged her gently. "What do you want to do first?"

Sarah stood, gesturing back to the apartment. "Why don't we meet your family?"

Chuck grinned, standing and offering out a hand. "I'd like that."

Ellie poked her head through the breakfast nook as the door opened again. "Hey, Chuck, who was at the door?"

Chuck only grinned, leading Sarah in by the hand, obscuring her from Ellie's view. Bringing her to a stop in the eye line of his sister, Chuck introduced his mystery guest with a flourish. "Ellie, I'd like you to meet my girlfriend, Sarah Walker."

As his sister shrieked her delight, rushing out to embrace the blonde woman, Chuck looked at his sister and Sarah, a smile on his face. Okay, so he wouldn't be so single for this Valentine's Day…

- - -

Cassidy gazed at her father as he finished. "So the knight came back to the prince?"

A third voice permeated the room, voicing her own opinion. "She sure did, baby."

"Mommy!" Cassidy's eyes lit up as she recognized the figure hovering at the doorway, and she scrambled from beneath the covers. Cassidy squealed as she was swept into the familiar embrace squirming away from the wandering lips with a melodic giggle.

Chuck stared at his wife despairingly, his eyes flicking from the abandoned bed to the four year-old propped on his wife's hip. "Aw, honey, I just got her down…"

The bright blue eyes mother passed to daughter shone with heady amusement. "I'm away for five days, and all you can say to me is, 'aw, honey, I just got her down?'"

Chuck rose from his spot, moving to his wife and drawing her into a quick kiss, mindful of the four year-old observing them closely. "Welcome home, Mrs. Bartowski."

The full lips he revered so ardently, pursed into a pout. "That's it?"

"I'll give you a proper welcome home once the munchkin's asleep," Chuck promised, tucking an errant blonde hair behind her ear.

"Daddy?"

Chuck glanced to his daughter as his wife placed her back in her rightful spot beneath the covers. "Yeah, Peewee?"

Cassidy folded her hands in her lap over the blanket swathed around her waist. "What happened to the prince and knight?"

Chuck grinned, nuzzling her nose with his. "Well, duh, Pipsqueak, they had a little princess that had the prince's hair and the knight's eyes and they all lived happily ever after…"

Cassidy fell back to her pillows with a contented sigh, burrowing deep beneath the blankets, clutching the stuffed koala bear gifted to her from Uncle Awesome.

"I love happy endings. Great story, Daddy." Turning to her father, she leaned up for a good night kiss, arms outstretched in anticipation for her hug. "Goodnight, Daddy."

Chuck complied with her unspoken request, encompassing his daughter in an embrace, playfully bestowing a sloppy kiss to her cheek amidst her laughter. "Night, Peewee."

Cassidy then reverted her attention to her mother, repeating her request. "Night, Mommy."

"Night, baby. Sweet dreams."

- - -

"You know, if you keep giving Cassie nicknames, I'm gonna start thinking we have another kid in the house."

Chuck frowned as he shut the door to their daughter's room, joining his wife on the couch of the living room. "Is this your extremely subtle way of telling me we're expecting another one or are you just being cute?"

Sarah Bartowski shook her head. "Trust me, babe, if we were expecting another child, I wouldn't skirt around the issue."

"That would be a first," Chuck dodged a well-aimed shove from his wife with a grin. "How was the convention?"

Sarah wrinkled her nose. "Having to listen to the 'brilliance' of other criminologists who try to decipher theories on complexity of the criminal mind when sometimes the simplicity of it all is that the person just has a bad heart and even worse intentions? I'd pass if it wasn't part of my job." Sarah shrugged. "You and I know that sometimes it really can be that simple with all we've seen." She huffed a sigh. "I honestly should have stuck to Wienerlicious."

Chuck shook his head. "Anyone with half a brain could see you were way too smart for that job, even if it was for cover. I know Ellie questioned more than once what you were doing at a dead-end job."

"What did you tell her?"

"Ironically that you were working through your master's in criminology," Chuck answered. "By the way, we really have got to curb her visits with Morgan."

Sarah's eyebrows shot skyward. "Normally, I wouldn't contend that proposition at all, but since it's you proposing this, I have to ask why."

"She's picking up on his speaking habits," Chuck groused, slinging both arms across the back of the couch. "She called me 'dude!'"

"Chuck, she's calling everyone 'dude.' You know it's like her new favorite word."

"Yeah…well…she also heard from Morgan that you could kick my ass on any given day…" Chuck pointed out, his normally deep voice heightened to just short of a petulant whine

This time, Sarah cocked a single eyebrow, sending her husband a reproving glance. "Chuck, I could kick your ass on any given day."

"Well, yeah…" Chuck raised his hands in surrender. "Look, I'm all for female empowerment, and I always thought it was so amazingly sexy and incredibly terrifying that you could – and still can – dismember a man three times your size, but I'm a bit more concerned about the fact that our four year-old is cognizant about kicking ass…"

"Babe, I'm sure she's just repeating what Morgan's saying," Sarah pacified her husband as she stood, moving to hang her jacket she had discarded in her haste to see her husband and daughter in the closet. "Cassie's very intelligent, yes, but I'm sure she really doesn't know what he means. Besides, you really think you could deter her from the man whom she refers to as the Scruffy Teddy Bear?"

"No," Chuck sighed deprecatingly. "She does take after you."

Sarah narrowed her eyes, mimicking the expression their daughter utilized moments before, and Chuck hastened to amend his statement. Yes, she was still perfectly capable of causing him fatal bodily harm. Even after all the years, she still hit harder than a Mac truck. "Uh, in all the good ways, of course." Chuck shot out a winning smile. "I love you, honey…"

Sarah rolled her eyes an almost mirror image of her daughter. "Good save, Casanova…" Stepping closer to her husband, she nudged him lightly with her shoulder. "You know, I don't think I've heard that particular story before. What fairy tale did you just tell her?"

Chuck didn't answer, only sweeping his wife into his arms. Sarah let out an involuntary gasp, grasping onto his t-shirt to keep her balance. Damn, five years of inactivity, and she had definitely gotten soft.

Sarah stared suspiciously at her husband. Even after five years of marriage, he still managed to surprise her with him moments of spontaneity. "What are you doing?"

"Dance with me."

"What happened to my anti-dancing husband?" Sarah chided.

"He realized that slow dancing didn't require any neurons or rhythm, just basic knowledge of how to rotate in a circle," Chuck retorted.

Swaying over to the stereo system, Chuck reached a hand out, flicking on the CD track before he returned his attention to his wife as The Perishers's "Sway" filtered softly through the living room. One hand traced her features with tender, loving caresses before skimming her side to wind loosely around her waist, the platinum wedding band shining from its spot on the appropriate finger. The other hand caught the palm braced against his chest, covering the smaller digits with his much larger ones. His thumb played with the diamond ring and its mate encircling the fourth finger of her left hand as he held their enjoined palms to his breast.

"You never did answer my question," Sarah reminded him, her free hand stroking the nape of his neck.

"What question?"

"Which fairy tale were you telling Cassidy earlier?"

Leaning down, he captured her lips with his, reveling in his right to do so. He savored her unique taste, drinking her in like an ambrosia that he had long been deprived of.

"Ours."

Sarah only smiled, laying her head on her husband's chest, his strong, steady heartbeat permeating through his breast to her ear as they rotated around in slow circles. "I may still be out of touch with the logistics of fairy tales, but I'm fairly certain the prince is the one who does all the saving."

Chuck shrugged. "Not when the prince is more liable to trip and tumble down the tower steps or run away from the dragon with a girlish scream of terror. Besides, a female knight in shining armor?" Chuck winked. "So sexy."

"I always did have a weakness for white shirts and grey ties," Sarah teased, reaching up to tug the one curl that framed his right temple, "plus, animal shapes send me completely over the moon…"

Chuck quirked an eyebrow. "So you'll take a Nerd Herder over a CIA agent any day?"

Sarah shot out an impish smirk, slipping her arms around her husband's neck as she shook her head. "Nope, but since I kinda like you, Chuck Bartowski, I'll just have to make an exception."

Chuck rolled his eyes at her refusal to appease his masculine sensibilities, content in the fact Bryce Larkin truly had nothing on him when it came to Sarah's heart. "Yeah, well, I kinda like you, too, Sarah Bartowski."

Sarah's hands meandered up from their spot looped around his neck to run through the curls a bit shorter than when they had first met. Pressing closer to her husband, she shifted suggestively against him. "So, what about that welcome you promised me?"

Chuck's lips slowly split into his trademark grin. Dipping down, he hoisted his wife up and over his shoulder, delighting in her squeal, a sound that would never have been uttered from one Sarah Walker's lips. But she wasn't CIA Agent Sarah Walker anymore. She was Sarah Bartowski, criminologist, loving wife to newly-minted software mogul Chuck Bartowski or, as he was professionally known as, Charles Walker (Carmichael was so passé…), and affectionate mother to Cassidy Eleanor Bartowski. Hauling her to their bedroom, pausing only to turn off the stereo system, and dumping her onto the bed, Chuck leaped on his wife as they playfully wrestled with Chuck attempting to show her the skills he had accumulated with his years behind the Nerd Herd counter. She still pinned him in a minute – still forty-five seconds longer than when they first married five years ago. Chuck didn't struggle, only leaning up to brush a kiss against her nose, chuckling when she nipped his in return, and gazing up at his wife straddling his torso, her sparkling cobalt eyes that had once hid every emotion shining with blatant affection and, yes, dare he say love, Chuck Bartowski could only grin. His life wasn't quite a fairy tale but it was good. Yep, life was good. Life was real good…

And cut! Well, hope you liked that healthy dose of Chuck/Sarah fluff. Considering that Chuck isn't coming back till the fall, my personal thinking is that fanfiction will tide me over till next season…Sigh, it'll have to do. Until next time!

Roxy