Scene XXXIX - DCI Enterprises
Chuck, Casey and Sarah headed back to the airplane hangar in the ice cream truck. The motorcycle sat in the back of the truck, along with Minh and Quan, who were handcuffed to posts on the base of the freezer. Casey was driving; nobody else was getting a turn if he had anything to say about it.
As they drove, Sarah placed a call while steadying herself against the roof; there was only one seat. "Agent Walker requests clean-up crew, building 5E, DCI Enterprises research facility." She listened for a minute and nodded. "Understood." She hung up. "25 minutes."
Chuck, working hard to keep his feet on his tired legs, shook his head in disbelief: you couldn't order a pizza in 25 minutes in L.A.
The truck slowed to a stop in the middle of the three Suburbans. Chuck and Sarah jumped out as soon as the truck was parked. A bit reluctantly, Casey stroked the steering wheel for a moment before climbing out.
Chuck noted, "You have the oddest taste in vehicles."
Casey came around the front of the truck and faced Chuck. "Maybe. But at least I know how to stay clean on a mission." He looked Chuck up and down for emphasis; somehow, the comment made Chuck feel even more disgusting. Between the oil slick and the sulfuric liquid and rolling around in the dirt, he knew he had to be a sight to behold.
With a satisfied gleam in his eye, Casey turned around to walk towards the hangar. While the front of Casey's outfit was spotless, large patches of greasy dirt clung to the back of it. Apparently, when Chuck lounged in the driver's seat, some of his grime rubbed off.
Chuck was about to say something, but Sarah put her hand on his arm to stop him. "Let him find out on his own," she said with a slightly evil grin. Chuck shared the evil grin with her before they followed Casey into the hangar.
While Casey and Sarah briefed the other two agents, Chuck wandered aimlessly. The four henchmen lay on their sides in the middle of the welcoming area, unable to move with their hands and legs bound, their mouths gagged for good measure. Chuck walked over to the table at the front of the room, intending to grab the dead man's stick again. Instead, he saw the file folders that Minh had obtained, one labeled "Agent Casey" and the other labeled "Agent Walker". He picked up Sarah's file folder. Everything he wanted to know was in there. Her history. Her mission records. Her name.
Chuck looked longingly at the folder. He knew it might be his one chance to find out about her, but he also knew it wasn't right. He sighed, and set the file back on the table and picked up the dead man's stick instead.
"Thank you," Sarah said in a low voice. He turned around to see her standing a few feet away, with her hands behind her back and a grateful smile on her face.
Chuck gave a small smile back; he felt a sudden need to change the subject. Hefting the stick, he said, "You know, part of me was really hoping to get to use this. It's the first weapon I was allowed to have on a mission."
Sarah looked surprised. "That's a Casey-esque attitude: 'what good is an unused weapon'."
"I'll put that on a T-shirt for his birthday. Not that I know when that is."
Sarah nodded sympathetically. "Well, we hoped things would play out this way. The other way was a little dicier." She looked around. "I'd better go help move Minh and Quan into the hangar with the others."
As Sarah walked away, Chuck stood there thinking about what she said. The explosives had been part of the bluff; they falsified the requisition to fool Minh, expecting him to get a copy of the order. That was part of the reason Minh had delayed the meeting until Monday night: it gave time for the information to be entered into the various systems and for him to retrieve it. The explosives had never been delivered.
Instead, the dead man's stick had actually been hooked up to launch and detonate a series of flash grenades. These would have blinded Minh and his crew, hopefully giving enough time for Casey, Sarah and the other two agents to take charge. As a bonus, as long as Minh thought the stick was hooked to explosives, it also provided a measure of protection for Chuck, making him a less desirable target. The downside was that, if they were forced to use the flash grenades, Sarah, Casey and Chuck would have had no cover, making it a riskier proposition.
Chuck's instincts about releasing the sticks were right on target; Sarah and Casey had told him so by protesting loudly. If either didn't want it to happen for some reason, they would have agreed with Chuck rather than protesting. Simple, but effective.
All in all, the team was perfectly happy to be captured. Well, at least Sarah and Casey were, but Chuck recognized the need for it. They wanted to find out as much as they could about what Minh knew, and the easiest way was to let him interrogate them. After all, an information broker's primary weapon was more information, so they could expect to find out a great deal just by being interrogated. They were able to verify much of how Minh operated, which would help them clean house at the various agencies.
Although he had no way of knowing it at the time, Casey may have made a mistake when he jumped on Quan so quickly. They would need to tread more carefully when using certain Intersect data in the future.
Chuck snapped out of his thoughts and checked his watch. It was 10:17. "Sarah?" he cried out in alarm.
Sarah checked her watch as well. "Casey…" she said apologetically.
"I know, I know, your cover. Get out of here. I'll get there when I can."
Sarah took off at a run. "C'mon, Chuck."
Chuck groaned. "If this were a TV show, this would be where they cut to commercial." His body protesting, he broke into a reluctant run.
Scene XL – Los Angeles Freeway
Sarah and Chuck sped through town in the Porsche. Between the sweat and the grease and the sulfuric liquid, the term 'dirty' didn't begin to describe the two of them. They had nothing to throw over the seats, so Sarah's car was going to need a serious detailing job the next day, but that couldn't be helped.
Tearing through Ellie's neighborhood, they caught a big break when a sedan full of revelers pulled out of the spot right outside the arched entryway to the apartment complex. Sarah quickly parked, and the two hopped out.
Taking a bit of a chance, the two sprinted up the main path, Sarah with her overnight bag slung over her shoulder. The night was unusually cold, so they were hoping that nobody would be outside the apartment smoking a cigarette or on a cell phone; it would be tough to explain their filthy clothes. Pulling up just before the courtyard entrance, silence indicated that they had caught their second serious break.
The Morgan Door had long since been rigged by Casey and Sarah to provide easy access to Chuck's room, and they took advantage to bypass the party inside. Apparently Ellie and Devon had chosen to use Chuck's room as the coat room, because his bed was covered with a pile of them. Chuck quickly headed over and locked the door. The clock on his bedside table read 11:07. "We might actually do this," Chuck said excitedly.
By the time he turned around, Sarah was already halfway done digging through Chuck's dresser. "Can I help you?" Chuck inquired in an annoyed tone.
She stood up at his tone. "What, you really think we haven't been through your drawers already?"
"Well, I did until a minute ago."
With a wicked little gleam in her eye, she asked, "By the way, what's up with the back of the bottom drawer?"
"I'm sure Casey has details he could share. And when do I get to search your hotel room? Seems only fair."
Sarah pulled up, blushing slightly. "You don't. But point taken." She stopped searching and said, "We need a sheet or something for wrapping up our clothes. Do you have a spare?"
Chuck thought for a second. He went into the closet, and dug into the back of the closet, pulling out a box that probably hadn't seen the light of day in five years. Tearing through the tape, he pulled out his old bed sheets from his dorm at Stanford and spread one on the floor.
"Perfect," said Sarah. "Turn around." She started removing items of clothing with a disturbing lack of modesty and dropping them onto the sheet. Chuck stared for a brief moment before tearing his eyes away and turning around. He started to remove his own clothes. "Ladies first," he said, conceding the first shower to Sarah.
"Good. I'll need to dry my hair." The door to the bathroom closed, and the shower was quickly on. Chuck was starting to take off his pants when the bathroom door opened back up a crack; Sarah's arm poked through the opening, holding her necklace by the chain. "Here, see if you can clean this."
Chuck took the necklace, and the door closed again. He set the necklace on a Kleenex on the nightstand, and finished stripping down, dropping his clothes onto the sheet. Luckily, these were all the agency's clothes, except for socks and underwear, so they could be burned for all Chuck cared.
He cleaned the necklace as best he could using one of the pillowcases from his dorm room set. He then used the fabric to clean himself up enough that he could slip on an old pair of boxers and a pair of jeans. He cleared enough room on a corner of the bed to allow himself to sit. All he really wanted to do was crawl beneath the sheets, but his night wasn't over yet.
He looked at the necklace for a minute, a prop in his not-so-real relationship with Sarah. Suddenly, he became frustrated by the props and the covers and the complications. The spy life was tough enough without having to remember to wear watches and necklaces that had no meaning.
Bryce was right when he said the spy world wasn't made for guys like Chuck: he needed things to be more real. Chuck looked towards the bathroom, as if he somehow could see Sarah through the door. Even though he wasn't sure how the evening would turn out, there was something he could do about that.
Scene XLI - Chuck's bedroom
The shower had been off for a couple of minutes. Chuck sat on the edge of the bed, trying hard not to topple over onto the pile of coats: somebody would not have been happy with the sheen of grease and dust he would have left on their coat.
The bathroom door cracked open again. "Chuck, do you have…"
"Hanging on the door knob," Chuck shot back. Chuck's robe hung there; it would be two sizes too big, but it would do the job.
"Thanks." She yanked the robe into the bathroom, cursing as she knocked some bottle off the counter while trying to corral the bulky fabric. Chuck couldn't help but smile.
Sarah exited the bathroom with the robe draped over her, carrying a hair dryer and towel-drying her hair, a wave of steam slipping out the door with her. In his fatigued state, Chuck was not prepared for his reaction when he looked at her: even wearing the bulky robe, she took his breath away.
Sarah walked towards the corner without looking at Chuck, and started fumbling in her bag for something. Chuck reluctantly pulled himself up from the bed, and started shambling towards the bathroom. As an afterthought, he took off his watch and set it on the bed. "Your turn with the cleaning." He grabbed the clothes he had chosen for the party and went into the bathroom, closing the door behind him.
Sarah finished combing her hair and started cleaning Chuck's watch, sitting in the same spot Chuck had used at the corner of the bed. As she finished polishing the watch, her motions slowed as something occurred to her. She gave a surreptitious look to the bathroom door, as if worried Chuck might see her. With a businesslike expression, she set the watch face-down on the dresser and dug a small black kit out of her bag. She pulled out a tiny screwdriver and started to unscrew the back panel.
Scene XLII - NYE Party, Ellie's
Chuck finished showering and getting dressed just as Sarah finished applying her make-up. He took one last look in his mirror; Sarah made a couple of last adjustments to his shirt, which apparently wasn't sitting quite right.
He looked at her, and asked, "Ready?"
She gave him one final once-over. "Almost." She walked over to the dresser and picked up the watch, handing it to Chuck. "Can't forget your watch," she said with an odd little hitch in her voice; she cleared her throat. "Sorry; I'm a little parched."
He smiled his thanks, slipping the watch onto his wrist. The watch reminded him of his "gift" to her; his smile grew when he saw the necklace around her neck.
They slipped out of their room just after 11:30, trying to remain inconspicuous. No such luck; Ellie quickly noticed them and ran over to give Chuck a huge hug. "I didn't think you were going to make it," she said with a happy smile.
Chuck looked her dead in the eye. "Neither did I." He gave her another hug while Sarah looked on with a smile.
Ellie released Chuck and gave Sarah a hug as well, and after releasing her said, "I'm so glad you're here."
Sarah's smile grew. "Me too."
Devon worked his way over to Chuck. "Couldn't help but notice the two of you slipping out of the bedroom. A little New Year's nookie? Awesome. Up high, bro." Ellie gave Devon a disapproving look as he held his hand up expectantly.
Chuck obliged, and then barbed, "And that may just have been the last official 'awesome' of 2007."
Devon gave Chuck a dirty look, and then gave Sarah a hug. "Sarah, you look awesome."
Chuck looked around, "Apparently not. The big guy had one more in him." Ellie laughed.
The two circled the room, saying hello to the people they knew. Morgan and Anna had begged off of Ellie's invitation; apparently some of the Buy More crew were ringing in the New Year's over at Jeff's. However, there were still plenty of people that both of them knew from the other holiday parties.
Sarah and Casey were just finishing a conversation with a pair of residents from Ellie's hospital when Sarah tugged Chuck's sleeve. "Care to dance?" she asked with a dazzling smile.
Chuck looked at the residents. "How can I say no to that?" he asked rhetorically.
Sarah took Chuck's hand and led him to the area where the couches usually sat; Ellie and Devon had moved the furniture to the sides of the room to create a dance floor. A slow song was playing, and only a few couples were dancing.
"Time for a little cover work?" Chuck asked as they found a spot.
"Something like that," Sarah said with a soft smile. "Gotta sell it."
"Well, that's what you keep telling me."
Sarah slid her hands behind Chuck's neck. Chuck looked like he wasn't quite sure what to do with his hands; he finally slid them around her waist.
The two didn't say anything for a long moment, swaying to the music. Chuck gave a small laugh.
"What?" asked Sarah curiously.
"I just … I just couldn't help remember the first time you asked me to dance. At the club?"
Sarah chuckled. "That was a bit of an unusual circumstance."
"Yeah, that was one of the last moments before I knew you were a secret agent, and the only reason you were hitting on me was because of the Intersect." He looked a little sad.
Sarah looked to the side before responding. "Well, look on the bright side. If not for the Intersect, we never would have met."
"There is that, isn't there," Chuck said with a smile. Sarah returned the smile, and moved her hands down under his arms, wrapping her arms around him. She laid her head on his shoulder, and closed her eyes with a peaceful smile. He closed his eyes as well, savoring the moment.
Chuck sensed the typical pre-midnight countdown preparations going on around them: champagne being passed around, couples finding each other, and a general growing buzz of excitement. He had spent part of the day wondering about this moment: if it would ever happen, and if so, how would he deal with it?
The first question now answered, he came to an answer on the second as well. On Christmas, he had made the decision to make the day about Ellie and Sarah. This was going to be about him.
Somewhere in the background, Ellie cried out, "Get ready guys!"
At the call, Sarah slowly lifted her head from Chuck's shoulder, and stared into Chuck's eyes with a serious expression on her face. "You know we have to do this, right?" she asked, a bit breathless.
Around the room, the countdown started, "10 … 9 … 8 … 7 …"
"I'm ready," was all he said. He'd been ready for a long time.
"6 … 5 … 4 …"
Her eyes shifted back and forth between his, her face not changing expression. Once again, that odd feeling of normalcy, of being just another couple, came over Chuck. All he could do was stare back.
"3 … 2 … 1 … "
He kissed her, just before the "Happy New Years" erupted around the room, and before Sarah had moved an inch. Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her close to him. She tensed up for a moment, as if expecting something like the little peck on the cheek he once gave her at the Buy More. For a long moment she didn't react.
Suddenly, she melted.
She kissed him back, fiercely, passionately. Her hands stroked his face, wrapped around his neck.
The room around them erupted into song.
Should old acquaintance be forgot…
One of his hands tangled in her hair, keeping her lips pressed to his. His tongue slipped into her mouth; hers slowly intertwined with his, teasing, playing. His breath caught in his throat.
And never brought to mind…
Slowly, the kiss ebbed, gently bringing Chuck down from the heights. Their lips gently separated, but his mouth lingered in front of hers a moment longer, sharing a last breath with her.
Should old acquaintance be forgot…
They slowly pulled back from each other. Chuck had pictured kissing Sarah earlier that day; what he hadn't done was consider the moment after. He so badly wanted her to say something, to do something, to tell him if anything had really changed.
And days of auld lang syne!
As he tried to decipher her expression, a spontaneous cheer went up around the room at the completion of the song, shaking both from their trance, stealing them from their moment. Sarah and Chuck both looked around like embarrassed teenagers, as if expecting to find a watching audience when they turned around.
Around the room, people were exchanging New Year's good wishes, with handshakes, hugs and kisses where appropriate. Sarah and Chuck looked back at each other; Sarah had the same indecipherable expression on her face.
Chuck and Sarah both turned at Ellie's shout, mistaking it for one of alarm. Following her glance, they looked to the front door. Casey stood about fifteen feet away, looking directly at Chuck and Sarah, his face unreadable. Ellie and Devon walked over to greet him and wish him a happy new year, and Casey's attention was drawn away from the pair. Casey smiled and shook Devon's hand, and gave Ellie a stiff hug.
Sarah took advantage of the distraction to grab Chuck by the arm; she looked at him with an intense and emotional expression. "We need to talk when there aren't so many people around," she said in a quiet voice, with an odd little tilt of her head towards the door.
As Chuck was trying to figure out what she could mean by that, Ellie grabbed Chuck by the shoulder, turning him around. She gave Chuck a fond smile and a huge hug. "Happy New Year, Charles," she whispered in his ear. He wasn't so sure.
Scene XLIII - Ellie's Apartment
Chuck, Sarah and Casey remained at the party for a while, exchanging fond wishes for the New Year and talking to various people. Chuck and Sarah stood near each other most of that time, but Chuck sensed a rigidness about Sarah that hadn't been there before. He tried to catch her eye to smile at her a couple of times; she had tried to smile back the first time, but couldn't maintain eye contact. The next couple of times, she had looked away, seeming afraid to meet his eyes.
He thought about how uncomfortable she seemed around him now. She didn't seem to want to confront the issue. Maybe he'd have to do the thinking for both of them.
The silver lining was that Chuck knew he could trust her: Sarah was always straight with him.
About 12:30, Chuck excused himself to walk Casey and Sarah out. Sarah had her bag slung over her shoulder, while Chuck carried the soiled clothes in one sheet, plus the other sheet from his Stanford set. Sarah was going to need a cover for her seat so she wouldn't have to sit in the filth left there earlier.
The three walked through the deserted courtyard, where Casey was able to provide a mission update. "Minh and Quan, along with his other henchmen, are safely secured at an interrogation facility. Liniman is there as well, although in a much more comfortable room."
Sarah inquired, "He's OK then?"
Casey replied, "Yes, and very grateful." He gave a sardonic laugh. "He still hasn't recovered from being shot at. Can't say I'm going to miss the guy."
Chuck smiled, "Well, I can't understand that at all. Either part."
The trio stopped by the fountain. Casey continued, "Also, four analysts in three agencies were arrested tonight. Three of them were caught searching on terms like 'Casey', 'Quan', 'Walker', and 'Bartowski' with no reason to do so. A fourth was caught querying the requisition you filed last night, Walker."
"But there could be more, couldn't there?"
"Sure, but hopefully Minh will name any others. Apparently, he is already singing like a canary. He has a ton of information, and he's using it all to cut a deal."
Chuck looked surprised. "What, he'll go free?"
"Hardly. But he'll get to live, and he won't get the stuffing beat out of him either. He's got nothing to gain by being quiet at this point, and every time he helps us track down one of his buyers, he'll get something for it. He's trading information, just like he always has."
The conversation abruptly ground to a halt. Chuck was hoping Casey would call it a night and head into his apartment so he and Sarah could talk on the way to the car, but no such luck. After an awkward pause, Sarah broke the silence. "Well, I don't know about you two, but I'm dead on my feet." She turned to Chuck, and requested, "Walk me to my car?"
"Of course. What kind of fake boyfriend would I be if I didn't?" Chuck said ironically, looking back and forth between the two of them with a smile.
Casey's eyes squinted. "I'll walk you, too. Need to stretch my legs." Neither Chuck nor Sarah looked particularly happy about the chaperone, but neither said anything.
The three walked down a large portion of the path without saying anything; Chuck tried to break the silence. "All in all, not a bad day."
Sarah nodded, her eyes lost in thought.
Casey grunted, his face flat.
Chuck gave up. The three walked through the arch; Casey stopped just on the other side, letting Chuck and Sarah walk the rest of the way to the car alone. Chuck wordlessly handed Sarah the sheet; Sarah walked around to her door, while Chuck loaded the soiled clothes into the trunk. She turned the key in the ignition so she could put the windows all the way down; she had left them cracked in hopes that the smell would fade during the party. No such luck.
Chuck knelt down and rested his arms on the edge of the window. "Phew. Still kind of stinks in here."
"Yeah, I guess I know what I'm doing tomorrow."
Sarah finished smoothing out the sheet, and eased herself into her seat. She still seemed hesitant to look directly at him, preferring to dig around in her bag. She pulled out a hair band and pulled her hair back into a pony tail.
Between her demeanor and Casey standing nearby, Chuck looked for a safe conversation topic. "So, I made a New Year's resolution tonight."
Sarah finally looked directly at him, giving him a curious look. "Really? What was it?"
Chuck smiled. "I, Charles Irving Bartowski, hereby resolve to get better at my jobs. Both of them."
His light tone was obviously cheering up Sarah a little bit. She even managed a bit of a smile, but she still wasn't saying anything.
Chuck probed, "How about you? Did you make any resolutions?"
Sarah looked out of her element. "Not really. I've never really done that before." She paused for a second. "Any ideas?"
The smile on Chuck's face slowly turned serious, as he thought for a moment. "Yes. I think you should resolve to find happiness in your heart this year. Maybe even tonight."
The comment brought a range of emotions to Sarah's face, but predominantly confusion. "What?"
Chuck's response had a slow pace to it. "Just what I said. I think you'll find happiness in your heart."
Chuck gave a small laugh at her baffled expression. "Drive safe." He tapped the roof of the car as he stood up and backed away.
Inside the car, Sarah was distracted by Chuck's last comment. Was it an oblique reference to the kiss or their feelings? As much as she wanted it to be, that didn't feel right; his tone was all wrong. So what was it? She grabbed her spare jacket from the back seat; with the windows down, it was going to be a cold, and confusing, ride home. She turned the key and took off with a roar.
Chuck walked back to Casey's side and watched her fly off with sad eyes. He laughed ironically at his own ridiculous thought, but he couldn't help himself. "Here's looking at you, kid," he whispered under his breath.
Remembering Casey was still standing there, Chuck turned around and joined him under the arch. "So, Casey, you calling it a night?"
"Actually, if it's OK with you, I was hoping to come back and join you guys for a little while longer."
Chuck looked surprised. "I thought you avoided these types of emotional holiday scenes."
Casey shrugged. "I do. Just not tonight." His look told Chuck he wasn't going to say anything more on the subject.
That explained Casey lingering in the courtyard; he just wanted an invite back in. Chuck was pleasantly surprised. "Well, all right!"
As they started to walk back up the path, Chuck put his arm around Casey. In a bad Humphrey Bogart voice, he said, "Casey, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Casey shook his arm off. "Don't touch me," he said tersely.
Scene XLIV - Sarah's hotel room
Sarah entered her hotel room, dropping her keys and purse on the entry table, nearly missing the table with the keys. She really didn't care. She plopped down on the edge of her bed, falling back with a groan. She was exhausted, in more ways than one.
When Sarah got up that morning, she wanted only two things: to accomplish their mission, and to find out that she hadn't ruined her chances with Chuck. Both had gone so well, but here she was, miserable.
Nothing was easy. Well, it turned out that night's job was relatively easy, but the job was never the problem. It was the other thing.
Chuck had kissed her. Just thinking the words made her heart beat faster. And not just any kiss: the guy who hated public displays of affection had taken her breath away, brushing her emotional shields away as if they were cobwebs.
The kiss wasn't the problem; it was the moment after. Instinctively, the shields came rushing back in. She may be able to face down trained killers and ruthless businessmen, but she had no idea what to say to Chuck as he stood there, patiently waiting for a response of some kind. And then Casey was there. What had he seen? If he saw them in the midst of that kiss...
Nothing was easy. She was on the verge of losing it again; she knew she would break down if she lay there any longer. She stood up and walked into the bathroom, forcing herself into everyday activities to keep herself grounded. It was a trick that had served her so well in the past.
She started combing out her hair, her mind drifting back to Chuck's comment at the end of the evening. "I think you'll find happiness in your heart," she muttered. She still ruled out any direct reference to what had happened that night; it just didn't seem to fit, the way that he had said it. No, it sounded like a riddle of some kind.
She put down the comb and bent over the sink to splash water on her face. As she raised up to dry herself off, she caught the reflection of her necklace in the mirror. Setting down her towel, she played with it between her thumb and forefinger, watching the light shine off of it. A prop, Chuck had called it. She stifled a sound with a hand; even she wasn't sure if it was a sardonic laugh or a tearful sob. Nothing was easy.
Letting the necklace settle back into place, she studied how the pendant lay beneath her neck. Kind of cheesy, just like Chuck. She smiled. It was perfect. It was … a heart!
Sarah quickly removed off the necklace and set it on the counter. She opened it up: inside was the tiny picture of her and Chuck she had put there. She frowned; there was nothing there. Or was there?
She scraped the picture out of its resting place with her finger nail and flipped it over. On the back of the picture, in tiny, sloppy hand-writing, was written: "I trust you. -C"
Sarah slowly looked up, her face a mix of emotions, none of them happy. She stared at her reflection in the mirror for a long time. Nothing was easy.
Scene XLV - Chuck's room
Later that night, Chuck lay asleep in his bed, a peaceful expression on his face. His watch sat on the nightstand with the back facing away from him. He stirred slightly, but his face remained peaceful.
Inside the watch, a tiny black plastic chip with the letters "AXG223g" in white letters was mounted on the metallic case of the watch, looking starkly out-of-place amidst the other inner workings. A little red light on the chip flashed intermittently.
ed. Note – I originally published this episode on my LiveJournal site back in December … before "Chuck vs the Undercover Lover" came out. Imagine my surprise when they did a Casablanca theme as well.
This may be a bit egotistical, but I actually like mine better. My idea was that Bryce's Casablanca reference ("We'll always have Omaha.") showed the type of person he was; he wanted Sarah to come with him. At the end of this episode, Chuck was willing to "do the thinking for both of them" and let Sarah go, highlighting yet another difference between the two old friends.
Hope you enjoyed the story.