Wednesday, July 4th, 2063
Mountain View Hospice
"Well… that's… pretty much… the whole… story… right up… until… I met your… grandfather," Sarah Bartowski forced out.
Almost every word was a struggle for her anymore. Diagnosed five years prior with an extremely rare disease known as Progressive Supranuclear Palsy – only 3 in 50,000 people are diagnosed with this disease – she was almost at the end.
Chuck had had to watch helplessly over the last five years as his beloved Sarah had been transformed from a graceful, vivacious woman in her mid-seventies into a husk of her former self, her muscles and nervous system shot, but her brain still functioning at full capacity. She knew exactly what was happening to her body.
"And I've told you just about everything else," Chuck finished.
Their granddaughter, Casey Eleanor Bartowski, looked up from her notes, and smiled. "This is an amazing story."
Sarah smiled weakly. "Isn't… it just?"
Casey, at 24, was the spitting image of her grandmother at that same age. The blonde hair, the piercing blue eyes, the alabaster skin – Chuck did a double take almost every time he saw her.
Casey had approached her master's advisor at Cal-Berkeley about four months prior with the idea of, instead of a master's thesis, writing a biography of her grandparents. Her advisor had been skeptical until he'd met Chuck and Sarah, and heard a watered-down version of their story. Even that had been enough to make his eyes widen, and he'd given his emphatic approval of the idea.
Of course, the idea had had to go through the CIA and the NSA. Since John Casey had died nearly twenty-five years beforehand, the NSA signed off on it with no problems; the CIA, however, insisted that Casey wait to publish the book until Sarah and Chuck had both passed. She had initially balked at this, but Sarah and Chuck had convinced her that she wouldn't have to wait too long – Sarah didn't have much longer, because of the PSP, and Chuck had congestive heart failure – and it would, in the long run, be more than worth it.
"So, have you decided a title for this monster yet?" Chuck asked his granddaughter.
She had been vacillating between two titles since she formulated the idea, but believed she finally picked one. "I'm gonna call it The Seduction of Sarah Walker: A Tale of the CIA."
Sarah and Chuck exchanged a look, and Sarah laughed softly. "That… sounds like… a… John LeCarre… novel… or something."
Casey frowned. "Who's John LeCarre?"
Chuck laughed. "Never mind. It's certainly better than that other title you were thinking of."
"What, you didn't like The Star-Spangled Intersect, Grandpa?"
Chuck glared at his granddaughter. "Young lady, I wanted that to be the title about as much as I want another computer in my head."
Casey Bartowski looked contemplatively at her grandfather. "Do you ever have flashes anymore?"
Chuck looked at Sarah, and then back at Casey. "Very rarely," he said quietly. "But once in a great while, I'll see something that I've never seen before that was in the database fifty-six years ago, and I'll flash on it."
He sighed. "It hurts when it happens. It gives me a migraine that lasts for hours."
Then he smiled. "But I never would've met your grandmother without them. And you wouldn't have your book!"
Casey smiled back. "Do you think it's going to do well, Grandpa?"
"I know so, young lady. After all, you're a Bartowski."
She laughed. "It's getting late," the youngest of the Bartowskis said. "I should probably get back to my hotel."
"Good night, Casey," Chuck said, standing up to hug her and kiss her on the cheek.
As he did so, he laughed. "It's been twenty-five years since John died, and twenty-four years since you were born, and it still seems funny for me to say 'Good night, Casey,' and then kiss you on the cheek."
"You really are a goof sometimes, Grandpa."
Chuck let go, and Casey moved over to her grandmother's bed. "Good night, Grandma."
"Good… night… Casey," Sarah whispered. Casey leaned down and kissed her on the cheek.
"I'll see you two in the morning," she said, as she walked out the door of their room.
After she left, Chuck helped Sarah get ready for bed, and then got ready for bed himself. He had turned out the light, and gotten into his bed, when he heard Sarah whisper, "Chuck…"
He sat back up. "Sarah?"
"Why don't… you… sleep… in my bed… tonight."
He smiled, thinking of how different a meaning that invitation had now than it did fifty-five years before. "Alright… Agent Walker."
She half coughed, half laughed. "Don't… even think… about it… Mr. Bartowski."
Chuck crossed to Sarah's bed, and slowly slid his eighty-two year old frame into it. Gently, he curled his body up against Sarah's as much as he could. Reaching over her, he grasped her left hand in his own, arthritic fingers struggling to curl around each other.
He sighed, and smiled again. "I love you, Sarah."
"I… love you… too, Chuck."
The following is an excerpt from The Seduction of Sarah Walker: A Tale of the CIA, by Sarah Walker and Chuck Bartowski, as told to Casey Eleanor Bartowski
The morning after hearing my grandmother's part of the story from September 11th, 2001, up until September 25th, 2007 – the day she met my grandfather – I was awakened just after 7:00 AM by a phone call.
The call was from Mountain View Hospice Center, telling me that I needed to come over immediately.
When I arrived, the doctor who had been caring for my grandparents informed me of events that had happened during the night.
According to computer logs, at just after 3:00 AM, my grandmother's heart had stopped. However, within ten seconds, the alarm had been silenced, and no medical staff were alerted.
At 6:30 AM, a nurse stopped by the room to give my grandparents their daily wake-up call, and discovered the silent flatline on my grandmother's heart monitor. However, when she tried to awaken my grandfather, she discovered that he, too, was gone.
It was quickly determined that his heart had stopped a little more than three hours before – just minutes after my grandmother's.
They hadn't been moved from their room yet, and so I asked to see them. When I was taken into their room, I saw an image that will remain with me for the rest of my days.
There they were, my grandfather curled up against my grandmother. His left hand was entwined with hers, their wedding rings resting one atop the other. Both had smiles on their faces.
It seemed like a very appropriate end to the story of two incredible lives – that Sarah and Chuck should leave the world, together, at the very last.
For more information on Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (Sarah's disease), please visit www dot psp dot org.