Title: Two Years Later

Summary: Sarah and Chuck reconnect two years after she leaves L.A.

Disclaimer: Chuck doesn't belong to me.

A/N: I'm still working on Collide, I just got a bit distracted. :)

The hotel feels like every other hotel she's stayed in since Los Angeles over two years ago – empty and lonesome. She's long since lost track of how many rooms, how many missions, how many other distractions she's tried to use to forget him. Walking down the drab beige hallway of the Boston Marriot that October evening, she can't stop her thoughts from once more turning to a lanky, curly-haired computer nerd.

She steps calmly onto the elevator, forcing thoughts of him from her mind, forcing herself to focus. She's about to go on a mission. She doesn't need stray thoughts of him to complicate things, to make her lose her concentration. As the elevator doors begin to shut, she compels herself to breathe steadily.

A man's voice calls from the hallway, "Wait! Wait!"

Her breath catches in her throat. She's frozen to the floor. That voice is so familiar, so . . .

A hand appears in the space between the closing elevator doors. They immediately stop and spring back open. He steps in, smiling and panting slightly from his jog down the hallway. She suddenly becomes very interested in the floor.

"Thanks for holding . . ." his voice trails off, and she knows that he's noticed her. He takes a step closer to her, and, with her head still down, she can see the tips of his worn-out Converse All-Stars nearly touching the toes of her own shoes. He's breathing heavier now, but more from confusion and shock than from running down the hall to catch the elevator.

Taking a deep breath, she schools her face into a neutral expression and looks up, hoping her eyes show less emotion than she feels.

"Excuse me, sir, but you're standing uncomfortably close to me."

His eyes go dark, and her heart almost breaks at the sight.

"Sarah . . ."

Thankfully there's another man in the elevator. If there weren't, she has a strong feeling that she would throw the mission out the window and jump into his arms right here.

But damn, he smells so good. After being forced to subdue her emotions for almost a decade, she entertains the thought of letting go for just one night.

One night.

She's not sure who it would destroy more. Because there's no way one night would ever be enough. She wants him in her life every day, and in her bed every night. She wants to feel his sturdy arms protectingher for once, and wants to feel his soft kisses (because she's sure those lips would be soft and giving) claiming her lips as his own.

She can't look in his eyes, so she looks at the rest of his face. He's changed so much, but so little, too. He still has the same goofy grin, the one he was wearing when he stepped into the elevator has since disappeared, but now his mouth is encompassed by a goatee. His hair is cropped shorter, but the ends are starting to curl. She fights back the urge to run her hand through it, just to remind her fingers how it feels. His eyes – his eyes are the same, gorgeous brown color that they've always been, but there's a spark that's missing – that joyous light that she always loved.

His appearance is different in general. His clothes are nicer, more expensive, but still casual and a bit nerdy. After two years without his touch, she desperately wants to straighten his collar, but decides that it would be the worst thing for her to do right now. So she tortures herself by keeping her hands at her sides. In her discomfort, she snatches another glance at him. He looks healthy enough, but she can't help notice that he's lost some weight. Already a thin guy, she's sure that's not good. He carries himself differently, too – almost as if he's more important, but less confident.

After taking inventory of his appearance, she has the courage to respond, "I'm sorry, but my name's Rachel Meadows. You must have me confused with someone else."

He swallows, brows narrowed, and shifts to the side of the elevator so that she can't see his face anymore, jamming his hands in his pockets. She hopes he understands that this is a mission, that secrecy is vital, that ghosts from her non-existent pasts will just throw kinks into it and make her screw up. She has so much she wants to explain to him, but damn, did he have to pop up right now, just as she was leaving for part of a mission? She would chuckle at his uncanny timing if her heart didn't ache so much.

Her heart.

After suppressing and ignoring the pain for two whole years, she sometimes wonders if she has a heart left.

The elevator slows to a stop.

"It's just . . . you look so much like her . . . I could've sworn . . ." he whispers, and she's not sure if it's meant for her ears.

The doors open, and, willing her feet forward, she steps out slowly. Strolling into the lobby, she looks over her shoulder, only to see him staring at her with melancholic eyes. She hopes her gaze conveys her apologies, but now that her world's been tilted on its axis, she's not quite sure of anything anymore.