Chuck vs. the Beautiful Letdown
Chapter 14: Meant to Live
CAST (in order of appearance):
Langston Arthur Graham – Tony Todd
John Casey – Adam Baldwin
Sarah Walker – Yvonne Strahovski
Chuck Bartowski – Zachary Levi
Veronica Mars – Kristen Bell
Bailiff – Keith David
Judge Marcus T. Aldridge – Ian McShane
D.A. McMahon – Zeljko Ivanek
Logan Echolls – Jason Dohring
General Diane Louisa Beckman – Bonita Fredericy
12:30 A.M., Eastern Daylight Time
Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Reagan National Airport, Washington, DC
Langston A. Graham, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, nervously walked through the parking garage at National Airport. He had done as instructed, and taken the Metro to get to the airport.
"Graham!" he heard whispered from behind a Suburban.
Graham's head whipped to the left. "Major Casey?"
"Get back here!"
Graham turned and snuck back behind the Suburban. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Has Beckman spoken to you about Sarah Walker in the last three days?"
Graham's breath caught in his throat. "No… Agent Walker's dead."
Casey slowly shook his head. "No she's not, Director, and I think you knew that. The big question, though, is why Beckman hasn't said anything to you."
Graham looked at Casey through narrowed eyes. "She did exactly what I thought she was going to do, didn't she?"
Casey cocked an eyebrow. "Are you telling me that you EXPECTED her to come find Chuck?"
"I did, indeed," Graham replied. "She found her gravesite, called me, and told me that she quit."
"Wonderful," Casey groaned. "But let's get back to the fact that Beckman hasn't said anything to you. Add that to the fact that Beckman strictly ordered me not to talk to you…"
He narrowed his eyes. "Something doesn't add up. Why wouldn't she try to contact you, especially since she told me that Agent Mars and I had seventy-two hours to find Bartowski and Walker before she put out a sanction?"
Graham's jaw dropped. "She's going to put out a SANCTION on them?!" He put his hands to his head. "Son of a BITCH," he snapped.
He turned back to Casey. "Alright, you can find her at the Avalon Hotel on Catalina Island, under the name Elizabeth Reynolds. Get those two into some sort of custody as quickly as you can before she has them killed."
7:30 A.M., Pacific Daylight Time
Avalon, Santa Catalina Island, California
There was a knocking on the door. "Too early," Sarah moaned.
"I'm going to have to answer the door," Chuck said. "That means you have to move."
"Goddammit," she muttered as she shifted her weight off of him. Chuck swung his legs off the bed and stood up.
"You appear to be naked, mister," Sarah said teasingly.
"As do you," Chuck replied. "You just have the advantage of a sheet."
Opening the closet, Chuck pulled out one of the hotel's bathrobes and wrapped it around himself. "Just a second!" he called as the knock sounded on the door again.
He crossed to the door, grabbed the knob, and pulled the door open. "What can I do for – oh, shit."
Veronica Mars and John Casey stood outside the door. Veronica sighed. "Charles Bartowski, you are under arrest for obstruction of justice," she said quietly. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, a public defender will be provided for you."
She brushed past him. "Don't try anything, Chuck," Casey admonished him. "Beckman's got a hard-on for seeing you and Walker both dead."
"I don't know why," Casey admitted. "I mean, I can understand why she wants Walker dead. As for you, though, I have no idea. Graham's looking into it."
Chuck could hear Veronica inside the suite. "Sarah Walker, you are under arrest for falsifying your death and for obstruction of justice. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, a public defender will be provided for you."
Chuck sighed and headed back into the suite, Casey behind him. "Veronica, will you can the big bad FBI act? We're going to come with you."
"Chuck," Veronica said quietly, nearly in tears, "I'm a federal agent. You know that. I have to arrest both of you. The Los Angeles County Sheriff found out – I don't know how, but they found out, and they're pressing charges against both of you."
A United States Coast Guard cutter was sitting at the ferry dock. Veronica and Casey actually had Chuck and Sarah do the perp walk down to the dock. There was a rather large degree of following eyes and pointed fingers. Almost everybody in town recognized Sarah as "Beth Reynolds, the computer geek".
"This is going to fuel the town rumor mill for weeks," Sarah whispered to Chuck. "What did the computer chick do? Did she kill somebody? Steal a car? What DID she do?!"
Chuck shook his head and rolled his eyes as they boarded the cutter. "I'm more concerned with the fact that two people who I thought were my friends just walked in on us naked and arrested us."
He said it loud enough for both Veronica and Casey to hear. Casey turned around, anger written all over his face. He pointed a finger at Chuck and said, "I TOLD you, Beckman wants you both dead. What part of that is so hard for you to understand? We're putting you in custody so you don't get KILLED!"
Veronica, meanwhile, started storming toward the front of the cutter, her eyes filling with tears. There was no WAY she was going to let this happen.
She pulled out her cell phone. One ring, two rings, three rings. Finally, it was answered.
"Hey, I need a favor. Oh, definitely. It's gonna be big."
10:00 A.M., Pacific Daylight Time
Wednesday, July 1st, 2009
Balboa County Courthouse
Everybody in the courtroom rose to their feet, Chuck and Sarah included. The fact that they were in this courthouse was just a bizarre turn of events.
Somehow, word had leaked to the press that the Vincent Thomas Bridge Jumper had survived, and that she was being brought back to Los Angeles with her secret boyfriend. A bastardized version of the story got out, and when the cutter tied up in Long Beach, a rather sizable group of protesters had formed at the docks.
It turned out there was actually a large degree of SYMPATHY for Sarah. The protesters held signs saying things like, "Let love free," and "Leap for love." It was when about a dozen of them broke into singing the Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me," that Chuck turned to Sarah and said, "I believe I've died and gone to tabloid hell."
"Could be worse," Sarah replied.
"It could," Chuck admitted. "But since I finally got you to admit that you love me… and then do unspeakable things to me for two solid days… it's not gonna be worse."
She bit off a smile. "Shut up, or you're gonna pay."
"Ooh, I wouldn't mind paying."
Bail had been set at five hundred thousand dollars for each of them. It had been mysteriously ponied up, although they did both have to surrender their passports.
Chuck and Sarah were both fitted with ankle bracelets to keep them from fleeing to Mexico – or really, from leaving the greater Los Angeles area. Since Sarah didn't actually have a residence in Los Angeles, her residence was defined as Chuck's apartment.
Chuck had no complaints about that.
On June 20th, a group of legal advocates had gone on KTLA and informed the city that there was no possible way Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker could get a fair trial in Los Angeles County. They insisted on a change of venue to a neutral site.
Within ten minutes, the Los Angeles County Sheriff found that he had Balboa County Supervisor Logan Echolls on the phone, offering the Balboa County Courthouse as a trial site, and also saying he needed to speak with him on other business.
On June 23rd, the Balboa County Courthouse was officially confirmed as the venue for the trial of Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker. The papers tried to dub it the "trial of the century", but then were reminded that a handful of those had already happened at the Balboa County Courthouse in the last decade alone.
And so, on July 1st, Sarah and Chuck found themselves standing trial in the Balboa County Courthouse. This was going to be interesting.
"Balboa County Court now in session, the Honorable Marcus T. Aldridge presiding."
"Be seated," Judge Aldridge rumbled. "Except for the two of you."
His fingers pointed at Chuck and Sarah. "I am not pleased to be here on a Wednesday morning," he growled. "I usually golf on Wednesdays."
"I'm very sorry that justice took away from your golfing time, your Honor," Chuck said, sounding completely serious.
Nervous giggles ran through the packed courtroom. The judge looked at Chuck. "Watch yourself, Mr. Bartowski."
He picked up the paperwork in front of him. "Mr. Bartowski, you have been charged with obstruction of justice in an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. How do you plead?"
"I plead not guilty, your Honor."
Judge Aldridge rolled his eyes. "And Ms. Walker, you have been charged with obstruction of justice in an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, in addition to a charge of falsifying your death. How do you plead?"
"I plead not guilty, your Honor."
The judge looked taken aback. "You sure about that, Ms. Walker? The entire world watched you take that plunge off the Vincent Thomas Bridge, and yet you're pleading not guilty."
"Yes, sir. That is my plea."
"Okaaaay. Prosecution – it's your ball game."
The district attorney stood up. "The prosecution calls John Casey."
Casey stood up, and walked down to the witness stand. He stepped into the box, and the bailiff stepped forward with a Bible. "Mr. Casey, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"
"It's Major Casey," he said, "and no."
Judge Aldridge looked down at him in disbelief. "Excuse me?"
"I'm sorry, your Honor," Casey replied, "but my current assignment as a federal agent precludes me from testifying in this case as it relates to a national security matter. Unless every single person in this courtroom, including you, and the jury, holds a top secret clearance, then I cannot say anything."
"Lovely," the judge said. "You're dismissed."
"What?!" The D.A. looked pissed.
"Federal law," Judge Aldridge said. "Ain't a damn thing I can do about it."
The D.A. looked at him in disbelief for a moment. "Fine," he hissed. "The prosecution calls Veronica Mars."
Veronica started to stand up. "Oh, Christ," Judge Aldridge said. "I prayed to God that your face would never grace Balboa County justice again."
"Feeling's mutual," Veronica replied with a smile as she began to head toward the witness box. Aldridge held up a hand.
"Wait. You're just gonna get up there and say the same thing Major Casey just said, aren't you?"
She smiled sweetly at him. "I'm afraid so, your Honor."
"Go back to your seat," the judge said tiredly.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" the D.A. exploded.
"You had best WATCH yourself, Mr. McMahon! I will find you in contempt so quickly your that you'll be in jail before your brain registers!"
The D.A. stewed, but held his tongue. At that moment, the back door of the courtroom burst open. A teenager in a suit came running down the aisle and handed a note to the D.A.
The D.A. read over the note, and as he read it, Chuck swore that steam was going to start coming out of his ears.
"Your Honor," he said through gritted teeth, "it seems that all of the evidence we have related to both of these cases, every last shred of it, has somehow disappeared."
Marcus Aldridge looked at D.A. McMahon in disbelief. "So, what you're telling me is that your two star federal agent witnesses can't testify, and that all your evidence is gone."
"Do you have anything?"
"What a goddamn waste of my time," Aldridge grumbled. "I'm gonna go play some golf. All charges are dismissed."
"ALL RISE!" the bailiff shouted hastily as Aldridge rose and swept out of the courtroom.
Chuck turned and looked at Sarah. "What the hell just happened?"
She smiled. "It seems, babe, that we got off scott-free!"
Chuck was still in shock. "So what do we do now?"
"I vote we go back to your place and do unspeakable things to each other."
Chuck grinned. "I like that idea."
Veronica watched as Sarah and Chuck swept out of the courtroom, hand in hand, faces full of happiness. "Wow, they look happy, don't they?" said a voice behind her.
She turned to see Logan Echolls leaning against the wall. "What a shock to see you here," she deadpanned. "So, how much did it cost you?"
"You take into account the media, the protesters, the professional choir to sing the Who song, their bail, the legal advocacy group on KTLA, the Balboa County Court, and the LA County Sheriff's Deputies who, um, 'disappeared' the evidence, it cost about five million total."
Veronica's jaw dropped. "Five MILLION?"
"Shhhh!" Logan mock-admonished her. "I wouldn't want for there to be thoughts of corruption in Balboa County, God forbid!"
She laughed and shook her head. "Why, Logan?"
He made a grand sweeping gesture with his hands. "Because, THEY share an epic love... continents crossed... blood spilled..."
"Oh, Jesus," Veronica groaned, rolling her eyes. "Don't start that crap again."
8:30 A.M., Eastern Daylight Time
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia
"Director Graham, General Beckman is here to see you."
Graham leaned forward and pressed the button on the intercom. "Send her in."
The door opened, and the director of the National Security Agency walked in. "Good morning, Arthur," she said.
"Good morning, Louisa. You see the verdict?"
Beckman rolled her eyes. "The evidence went 'missing' my ass. Logan Echolls paid the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to make it disappear."
Graham shrugged. "Either way. I'd rather have them free than behind bars."
"Freedom?" Beckman snorted. "That's hilarious, Arthur. Walker's going to the Supermax in Colorado, and Bartowski's going to the secure facility in Utah."
Graham laughed and leaned forward. "No, LOUISA, I'm afraid they're not."
"Excuse me?" Beckman replied. "I'm pretty sure that CIA stopped calling the shots when Agent Walker did her Evil Knievel act."
Graham nodded and squinted his eyes. "Be that as it may, Fulcrum has NEVER gotten to call the shots."
Beckman looked at him, a look of alarm on her face. "What?"
Graham smiled, and then reached into a desk drawer. "It's interesting, what I have here," he said. "You might remember that a few weeks ago, the Intersect identified two Fulcrum agents."
"Turns out they were on Catalina Island, which is where Agent Walker just happened to be at the time. I had her eliminate them. But then, when the CIA cleanup crew went in, they found something funny."
He pulled his hand out of the drawer, a piece of heavy stock linen paper in his hand. "I have here a letter, addressed to one Geraldo Cardoso da Silva. Happens to be the former President of Brazil. It says here that he'll be restored to power in Brazil if he provides Fulcrum with military assistance once he's back in power."
He smiled like the Cheshire Cat. "The interesting thing is that it appears to be signed by one General D. Louisa Beckman."
Beckman's face turned into stone. "You can't prove anything, Arthur."
"I don't need to, Louisa," he said softly. Graham reached out and pushed the button on the intercom. "Gentlemen?"
The door opened, and two men wearing black suits, and oddly enough, blue latex gloves stepped into the office. "Gentlemen, would you please show General Beckman to her… new quarters?"
Each of the men wrapped their hands around one of Beckman's arms and jerked her upwards. "You can't do this, Arthur!" she screamed.
"Oh, I believe I can."
9:30 A.M., Pacific Daylight Time
Saturday, July 4th, 2009
The Pacific Coast Highway, north of Santa Barbara, California
Sarah and Chuck were in the Porsche. She had taken it to the dealership the day before and had everything changed out and brought up to standards. Now, the four year-old 911 was purring like it was fresh off the showroom floor.
They had decided to get out of Los Angeles for a while. Chuck had suggested driving up the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Vancouver. Sarah had thought that was an excellent idea.
And so, they had set off from Chuck's Santa Monica apartment at 6:00 that morning. Their goal was to be in Carmel by 2:00 P.M.
"So, what do you want to do on this trip?" Sarah asked as they were leaving Santa Barbara.
"I want us to just have fun," Chuck said with a smile. "Although, I was thinking that we could always take an alternate route on the way back, go through Vegas… maybe get drunk and hit up one of those twenty-four hour wedding chapels…"
Sarah's eyes went wide. She slammed on the clutch and the brakes simultaneously. "What?!"
"I was joking, Sarah," Chuck laughed.
"Oh," she said, a little embarrassed. She put the Porsche into gear and started driving again. "Well, if you hadn't been joking, I would've insisted on a real wedding. None of that wedding chapel business."
Chuck's eyes widened. "WHAT?!"
He expected her to react like he had, and call it a joke and laugh it off. But that didn't happen.
His jaw dropped. "You're serious, aren't you?"
Sarah smiled and focused on the road. "Chuck, I risked federal charges and getting killed to come back to you. What do you think?"
Chuck blew out his breath. "Ummm… wow. So, uh, what do you think?"
She slammed on the brakes again, bringing the Porsche to a stop. "Uh-uh," she said, a mock serious look on her face. "You're gonna do it right. And not on the side of the Pacific Coast Highway, either. I want it to be on the beach, under the moon, a nice ring with a big rock."
Chuck rolled his eyes. "Yes, ma'am. Whatever you want."
Sarah grinned from ear to ear. "And don't you forget it."