Chuck maneuvered the keys in his hand, and pressed his thumb against the back of the remote – and a bolt of blinding light shot upward from the Herder's engine compartment. The void suddenly receded, and Chuck's leg was released. He stood, as the light grew brighter.
Soon, it enveloped everything, and Chuck was only able to see the Herder. He began to walk toward it –
And the light burst outward. The shock wave threw Chuck backward. He landed on his back, but felt unhurt. The light grew brighter, and brighter. Chuck lifted his hand in front of his eyes to block out the light, and he sat up –
He felt a pair of hands grab each of his shoulders and gently push him back downwards. The brightness began to recede, and as it did, he could make out human shapes.
Chuck began to hear a steady, rhythmical beep… beep… beep…
"Chuck?" Sarah's face appeared above his.
He smiled. "Hey, Sarah," he tried to say, but only a rasp came out of his suddenly dry throat. She still understood. A smile threatened to split her face in two, and she bent down, placed a hand on either side of his face, and gently kissed him.
When she pulled back, he said, "Can I please sit up?"
Without warning, he felt whatever he was lying on begin to move. After a moment, he realized what it was – a motorized hospital bed, moving his upper body into an upright position.
He looked around curiously. He was definitely in a hospital room. Several IVs and electrodes were attached to his left arm, and there was a heart monitor on his left hand side. As the bed elevated, he could see that in addition to Sarah, Casey and Ellie were in the room, as were two women in scrubs.
"Welcome back to the land of the living, Bartowski," Casey cracked.
Chuck opened his mouth and tried to ask, What happened, but found himself still unable to make words come out. Annoyed, he pointed at a bottle of water next to the bed.
One of the women in scrubs spoke. "Mr. Bartowski, we'd prefer it if you didn't drink anything for a moment –"
Chuck cut her off, rasping, "Give me the goddamn water or I'll have her –" he pointed at Sarah "- kill you."
Sarah cocked an eyebrow, while Casey tried and failed to conceal a laugh. The woman backed away from Chuck slowly. Sarah handed Chuck the water bottle, which he brought to his mouth and sucked on greedily.
After finally draining it, he set it down. "That is a HELL of a lot better," he said. "Now, somebody want to explain to me what happened?"
It was Ellie who spoke first. "Do you know what day it is, Chuck?"
He shook his head. "Last I remember, it was December 8th."
Ellie smiled. "Not even close," she replied. "It's November 19th."
Two days before everything began, Chuck thought.
"Five days ago, you were standing in a delivery room two floors above us," Ellie explained. "You were watching your kids being born." She stopped for a moment, appearing to try not to laugh. "Apparently, you didn't do so well with the sight of Lisa crowning, because you passed out."
Her face went back to looking serious. "When you passed out, though, nobody was able to catch you. You fell and hit your head on the floor so hard that you fractured your skull. You've been in a coma since Monday."
Chuck's eyes widened. "Was there… was there any brain damage?" he asked.
"Nothing permanent," Ellie replied. "However, we were afraid that when you woke up, there would be some retrograde amnesia… although it doesn't look like that's the case."
"You didn't see my hallucinations," Chuck grumbled.
Ellie raised an eyebrow. "You were hallucinating?"
Chuck nodded. "The hallucinations actually start tomorrow," he replied.
He spent the next fifteen minutes telling the whole story. When he got to the last part, where he was suddenly able to control them with his mind, and then he started getting zapped by the Herder, Ellie had a little explaining to do.
"You had a seizure about fifteen minutes before you woke up," she said. "Then your heart went into V-fib, and we had to shock you to restart it. That's what that was all about."
"I see," Chuck replied. "So, when I heard Casey yell, he was actually yelling?"
"That I was," Casey replied. "And when you heard Walker… well, I'm not gonna repeat it, lest I have to borrow your emesis tray."
"Gosh, thanks, John," Sarah said sarcastically. "So sentimental."
Then something occurred to Chuck. "The kids," he said. "I want to see the kids."
"Heh," Casey cracked. "Good luck trying to pry them out of Mars and Echolls' hands."
"Veronica and Logan!" Chuck exclaimed. "I want to see them too!"
"I'm sorry, there's no way," the woman in scrubs who had tried to deny Chuck water earlier said. "You've been in a coma for the last five days, and your immune system is running at a low as a result. We have no idea what the children could be carrying."
Chuck cocked his head to the side and looked at her. "I'm sorry, what was your name?"
"Doctor Rebecca Lowe," she replied. "I'm the physician of record for your case."
Chuck smiled. "Not anymore, you're not." His expression hardened. "I can't believe you'd try to keep me from seeing my own kids. I want a new doctor. You're fired."
Her eyes widened. "WHAT?!" She turned to Sarah. "Mrs. Bartowski, you're not going to allow this?"
Sarah shrugged. "Who am I to deny my husband's wishes for his medical care?"
Dr. Lowe turned back to Chuck. "Mr. Bartowski, this is a mistake."
Chuck shook his head. "I don't care. Good-bye."
Casey rose from his chair, and walked around the bed. "Doctor Lowe, I'm going to have to ask you to leave now."
"And who the hell do you think YOU are?!"
Casey rolled his eyes. "I hate doing this." Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his badge. "Federal agent. Get out."
Half an hour later, Veronica and Logan came in the door. Both of them were ecstatic to see Chuck alive and awake, and as happy as Chuck was to see both of them, he was absolutely over-the-moon to see his kids for the first time.
The funny thing was, they looked exactly like they had in his hallucinations. John had dark brown eyes, just like Chuck, and barely any hair – just a few wisps of blonde on top of his head. Lisa, on the other hand, had bright blue eyes, just like Sarah, and a whole mop of brown hair already on top of her head.
Devin came by when he got off of work, and having been alerted by Ellie that Chuck was awake, brought Morgan with him. Cedars-Sinai was not too happy about all those people being in one patient's room, but since said patient was a multi-millionaire video game developer, they dealt with it quietly.
Nonetheless, when visiting hours were over, there was no leeway. Devin, having looked at Chuck's charts and having consulted with his new physician-of-record, had agreed with the doctor that Chuck needed to stay at least overnight for observation. And so, at just after 9:00 PM, the whole group headed out the door, except for Sarah, who had spousal privileges, and Logan, who lingered after the group had left.
"Can you give us a minute to talk, Sarah?" he asked.
She nodded, and walked out the door, closing it behind her. Logan sat down by Chuck's bedside.
"So, you gave us all a bit of a scare there, Chuck," he said. "Especially Sarah. She was pretty torn up this last week."
Chuck nodded. "I'm not surprised," he said. "I can't even imagine what my reaction would've been if Sarah had been in a coma for a week."
Logan arched an eyebrow. "Chuck, you thought she was DEAD for a year and a half. I'm pretty sure you could've handled her being in a coma."
Chuck's face took on a thoughtful expression. "That's a good point, I suppose, but I mean, after losing her like that, I'm really not sure how well I'd do."
Logan nodded. "Fair enough." Then he paused. "So, you being out of it like this has kind of given me a new perspective on things. Like, for example, life is short, and I shouldn't put off any longer what I can do today."
Chuck narrowed his eyes. "Such as?"
Logan reached into his pocket and pulled out a small black velvet box. "This," he said, tossing it up in the air and catching it. "I've been carrying this around for nearly four years."
Chuck's mouth fell open in disbelief. "Is that… is that what I think it is?!"
Logan smiled. "It is indeed, my friend. It is indeed."
Chuck shook his head and laughed. "You know, she once informed me that she was going to die old and alone, never married."
Logan's smile got even bigger. "I believe you'll find that she's changed her mind a bit on that one."
The door opened, and Sarah stuck her head in. "If you two are done gossiping like high school girls… can I have my husband back?"
Logan laughed. "Of course you can. Just make sure he's looking out the window in about five minutes."
Sarah looked at Chuck in confusion as Logan walked out the door. "What was that all about?"
Chuck smiled. "You'll see in a moment. Help me up?"
Sarah crossed to the bed and helped Chuck to his feet. He was a little unsteady, and had to support himself with Sarah on one side and his IV pole on the other. She helped him over to the window.
"Okay, what are we supposed to be looking at?" Sarah asked.
Chuck pointed downward, to where Veronica stood, leaning against the side of her Aston Martin. Sarah's interest was piqued, and got even more so when Logan came into view.
They watched in silence as Logan walked up to Veronica. He grabbed her hands, and then he kissed her. When he backed away from her and dropped to one knee, Sarah gasped. Chuck looked over at her, to see a big smile on her face.
Veronica's hands flew out of Logan's to her mouth. A moment later, she started nodding vigorously. Logan's right hand dipped into his pocket, came back out with something that they couldn't see from the window, and then his hand went down the length of her left ring finger.
"Okay, I can't take this anymore," Sarah said. She hit the speakerphone button on the room phone and called Veronica's cell phone. A second later, she saw Veronica pull her cell phone out of her purse.
"CONGRATULATIONS!" they both yelled at the same time.
They could see Veronica's head jerk up in alarm. "How… what?!"
"Look up at the fifth floor," Sarah told her. Veronica's head tilted upward. She waved at them, then turned the back of her left hand toward the window. Sarah waved back, and Chuck gave her a thumbs up.
Veronica shook her head. "You guys are crazy," she said with a laugh.
Chuck smiled. "You have no idea!"
Chuck was released from Cedars-Sinai on Saturday afternoon, with a stern admonition from his doctor that he was not to drive, surf, or pretty much do anything fun for the next week. "Can I have sex?" Chuck grumbled.
His doctor smiled. "I think that's more up to your wife than me."
On Sunday, Chuck and Sarah took the twins to church for the first time. A few people at First Lutheran were aware of what had happened to Chuck the week before, but most people, having seen him on Sunday the 14th, and now seeing him today, had no idea that he had been in a coma for most of five days.
That was fine with Chuck. He didn't want a lot of attention – he felt that the attention should be paid to the twins. And it certainly was.
Between the old ladies and the college girls, Chuck hadn't been quite sure he was ever going to see either of his children again. But eventually, John Marcus and Lisa Veronica Bartowski had both ended up back in his possession.
Sarah started grumbling again about the Suburban on the way home, so Chuck decided to do something about that. On Monday morning, after Sarah had left with the twins to go to Cedars for a one-week checkup, he called Logan Echolls.
"You want to help me out with a little wife-surprising?" he asked Logan.
"Sounds fun," Logan replied. "When do you want me to meet you?"
An hour later, Logan picked him up in his Range Rover, and they walked the half mile down Santa Monica Boulevard to Volvo of Santa Monica. "Sarah's been asking me for an XC90 for the last three months," Chuck explained. "She's sick of driving around in Casey's Suburban."
And so, they ended up going for a test drive in a maroon XC90. As they were returning to the dealership, though, Chuck started hearing a buzzing noise. His head snapped up, and his face went pale. "Oh Jesus," he whispered.
Then he realized it was just his cell phone buzzing on his belt. He breathed a sigh of relief, and pulled the phone – it WAS a Blackberry, thank God – off his belt. Sarah's face was on the screen.
He smiled and hit the call button. "I love you," he said by way of greeting.
"Likewise," she replied, and he could hear the smile in her voice. "Any thoughts on what we're taking to your sister's place for Thanksgiving?"
Chuck grimaced. "Anything but pumpkin pie."
"Okaaay," Sarah said slowly, sounding confused. "Sweet potatoes it is, then."
He could hear talking in the background, and then Sarah said, "Ellie says that you're a chickenshit for not wanting to do pumpkin pie, and Veronica says that you're a chickenshit for the reason you passed out in the delivery room."
Chuck laughed. "You know, I can always take this XC90 back to the Volvo dealership."
Sarah didn't say anything for a moment, and then he heard her say, "My husband is NOT a chickenshit!"
Chuck practically roared with laughter. "Okay, I gotta go," Sarah said. "I love you."
"I love you too, babe."
He hung up his phone. Logan looked over at him. "That sounded fun."
Chuck laughed and re-clipped the phone to his belt. "You have NO idea."
The end. Probably the end of the Chuck/VM crossover stories, too. Thanks for reading!