This story's timeline immediately follows Chuck vs. the Gentleman's Club. A special thanks to Natty for the beta and suggestions. I still don't own Chuck.
No Right Decision
- - - -
As Chuck struggled to wake up, memories of last night filled his head. All of the tensions and frustrations of the past few days instantly dissolved last night as he held Sarah in his arms. Without the pressure of knowing that they had a life or death mission that night, they could just relax and have fun. And boy did they have fun. Chuck smiled to himself as he remembered the night and all of its highlights. And the best part was that they could stay in bed all day. Chuck reached over to give Sarah a hug. The only problem is that he found an empty side of the bed. Quickly sitting up, Chuck scanned the room for Sarah.
"Sarah," Chuck called.
"I'm in here," Sarah quickly responded from the living room.
Chuck was relieved that Sarah was there. But there was something about her voice that sounded off. So quickly, Chuck got out of bed and opened the door to the living room. He saw Sarah sitting on the couch. One look confirmed Chuck's fears. She obviously had been crying. Chuck quickly went over and sat next to her.
"Babe," Chuck said softly. "What's wrong?"
Sarah opened her mouth to answer Chuck but no words would come. Instead she buried her face in his shoulder.
"Babe," said Chuck softly. "You're scaring me. What's wrong?"
After a long moment Sarah finally spoke without looking up.
"Graham just called. They want me to go on an assignment."
"I'm not going to like this," said Chuck sadly. "Am I?"
"I'm sorry," said Sarah. "No you're not."
"Why don't you just tell me," Chuck said softly.
"Ok," said Sarah. "I'll tell you. But right up front understand that if you say no, then it's no. I already told Graham that. Ok?"
"Sarah," said Chuck firmly. "Look at me and tell me."
"Ok," said Sarah as she sat up and looked at Chuck. "But please let me finish before you say anything."
Chuck just nodded.
"A few years ago," Sarah began as she took a deep breath. "Bryce and I went undercover to Qatar to help protect the prince from a coup. We were posing as husband and wife. The prince really bonded with us. Now that price is king. The administration wants him to come to Washington for a state visit to improve relations. But the only way that he will agree is if Bryce and I will be in charge of his security detail. Graham wants me to go undercover as Bryce's wife for a week."
"Are you finished," Chuck asked.
"Good," said Chuck. "Because there's no way in hell that's happening."
"I understand," Sarah said with a smile. "I thought that would be your reaction. And I'm fine with that. I really am. And I'm not trying to talk you into this. I promise that I'm not. But there are some other factors that I think we need to consider."
Chuck nodded for her to continue.
"First," Sarah said. "Qatar is a very strategic ally for the country. That's especially important given the current situation in the Middle East. The king has really taken a liking to Bryce and me. He trusts us. It would go a long way towards improved relations. It's important to the country."
"He's taken a liking," Chuck asked with a smile. "Or something else?"
"Ok," said Sarah as a blush crept into her face. "I'll admit. He has a bit of a crush on me. Nothing has ever happened but it's obvious. Bryce was always trying to get me to seduce him but I never would."
"So," said Chuck. "Let me get this straight. They want me to agree to let my wife pose as the wife of her ex lover to schmoose a foreign leader who has a 'crush' on her. Have I left anything out? You wouldn't have to be part of his harem? No dancing or stripping or anything like that?"
"No," said Sarah with a smile. "Nothing like that. I think that it's bad enough as it is. You know that I don't want to do this either. I'd miss you to much."
"Sarah," said Chuck sadly as he looked at the floor. "You know that I want to do the right thing. I just can't. Not with Bryce. It's just too real. You've told him that you loved him. You've probably daydreamed about your wedding and family with him. You've made love with him. Actually, way more times then you have with me now that I think about it. Now I have to go to sleep for a whole week knowing that you're in bed with him? I couldn't bear the thought of what could happen. I mean, you fell in love with him once, didn't you?"
"Chuck, look at me," Sarah said softly.
Chuck looked in Sarah's direction but wouldn't meet her eye.
"Damn it Chuck," Sarah said more firmly than she really intended. "Look at me right now!"
Surprised by her tone, Chuck's head snapped up to look Sarah in the eye.
"I want you to listen to me very carefully," Sarah said firmly. "I understand how you feel. I do. I know that if we were talking about you and Jill sharing a bed for a week, I would be a basket case. So, if you can't do this I'll understand. But if you think that for one second that Bryce, or anyone else, could steal me away from you, then you're just being plain silly. I mean, how could such a truly brilliant man be so stone cold stupid?"
Chuck just looked at Sarah to continue with his mouth hanging open.
"I've been looking for you my whole life," Sarah said in a much softer tone. "I was beginning to doubt that you even existed. And now that I've found you, I'm never letting you go. You're the love of my life. And nothing could ever change that. If I ever saw someone hurt you half as much as what you're describing, I would tear them apart with my bare hands. You have to know that."
Sarah could see the smile beginning to form
"And yes," Sarah continued. "I've told Bryce that I loved him. But I was being stupid. I always knew deep down, that I was settling, that I wanted more. And you're right, I suppose I've daydreamed about a wedding and a family with Bryce. But I always knew it would never happen. Chuck, you just can't compare how I feel about you to how I felt about Bryce. I love you so much that it scares me. And it hurts a little to think that you don't trust me enough not to destroy you by running off with someone else. I just couldn't do that."
"I'm really being stupid," said Chuck with a small smile. "Huh?"
"Yes Chuck," said Sarah with a growing smile. "Yes you are."
"I'm very sorry if I hurt you," said Chuck. "I never, ever want to do that. Please don't take it that way. I totally trust you. It's just so awful to think about. I think that Bryce still loves you. I don't trust him."
"Chuck," said Sarah slowly. "Bryce can't still love me. Because he never did love me. At least not the way we're describing. He may still be attracted to me. But that's different. And I think that Bryce knows that if he touches me at all inappropriately, he'll earn a trip to see Ellie in the ER. I'll make sure that he's reminded the very next time I see him."
"But I thought that Bryce was deep undercover," Chuck asked. "Isn't it a risk that he could be exposed to Fulcrum?"
"Yes," Sarah said. "That's how important that they think that this visit is. With our recent success with Fulcrum, they must think that they are lying low right now."
"So when do you have to leave," Chuck asked sadly.
"I would have to take the red eye tonight," said Sarah. "I have to be in Washington in the morning."
"I'm really going to miss you," Chuck said softly through tears as he hugged Sarah tightly."
"I'm pretty sure that I'll miss you more," said Sarah through her own tears. "I can't tell you how proud that I am of you right now."
"Thanks," said Chuck with a slight smile. "I just wish that I felt better about it."
"And Chuck," Sarah said with a twinkle in her eye. "Bryce and I were together for over two years. So he had quite a head start on you. And I haven't exactly been counting. But I'm pretty sure that you're closing in really quickly."
"That's good to know," said Chuck with a grin as he looked at Sarah's flimsy negligee. "I trust that you are going to take something more modest to sleep in?"
"You've got it," replied Sarah with a giggle. "I'll pack my granny stuff."
"Not that it will help," Chuck said with a grin. "You'd be sexy in a suit of armor."
"Trust me," Sarah said with a smile. "By the time I'm done with Bryce, the last thing he'll be thinking about is anything sexy. He'll be trying to stay as far out of my way as he possibly can."
"Great. Now that we have that settled, I have some catching up to do," said Chuck as he kissed Sarah passionately.
"Absolutely," Sarah agreed breathlessly as soon as the kiss broke.
- - - -
Casey and Carina picked up Chuck and Sarah to drive them to the airport. During the ride, Chuck and Sarah snuggled wordlessly in the back seat. Casey pulled up to the departing flight section of LAX and stopped the car. Chuck got out with Sarah to say their last goodbyes. He retrieved Sarah's suitcase and handed it to a skycap. Chuck held Sarah's carryon bag as he turned to embrace her.
"Do you think you can call," Chuck asked.
"Probably not," said Sarah sadly. "It's never a good idea on a mission. If I can I will."
"There won't be a minute," said Chuck. "That I won't think about you."
"Me too," said Sarah. "I know that a week sounds like a long time but it'll be over soon."
"I really love you," said Chuck sadly.
"I know," said Sarah. "It's the only reason that I can do this. Me too."
Chuck cupped Sarah's face in his hands and kissed her very tenderly. As soon as the kiss broke, he handed her the carryon bag and she walked into the terminal. Chuck just stood and watched long after she had disappeared from view.
As Casey and Carina watched Chuck from the car, Carina turned to Casey.
"You know," she said. "He is really going to be down. If you take any pleasure in that, it's the only pleasure you'll be getting for a long time. Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal clear," was Casey's stoic reply.
Chuck finally turned and opened the car door. As soon as he was in the car, he let out a big sigh.
- - - -
"Come on Chuck," said Carina in an exasperated tone. "You gotta eat."
"I'm not hungry," said Chuck in a tired voice. "I just want to go home."
"You want to go home," Carina repeated. "And how is sitting in an empty apartment, feeling sorry for yourself, going to make you feel better? Casey and I are taking you out for dinner and I don't want to hear another peep. Understand?"
"Yes mom," said Chuck with a small smile. "I understand. Do I have to finish all of my vegetables?"
"Only if you want dessert," Carina replied with a grin.
"Where do you want to go," Casey asked.
"We're not far away from the Casa Del Mar hotel," Carina replied. "Their restaurant is excellent."
Once they were inside the restaurant, Chuck couldn't help but be impressed. The hotel was directly on the beach. The wall of the restaurant that faced the ocean was totally glass. The view of the sun just starting to set into the water was breath taking. Carina, who was obviously taking charge of the evening, ordered a bottle of wine and some stuffed mushrooms as an appetizer. While they were waiting Carina turned to Chuck.
"Isn't this better than sitting at home alone," she said.
"I guess," said Chuck grudgingly. "I have to admit. The view is spectacular."
"I know that you miss her," Carina said softly. "But you don't have anything to worry about. As much as you think that you love her, she loves you twice as much."
"How do you know," Chuck asked.
"Well for one, she told me," said Carina with a smile. "But she didn't have to. I've known her for ten years and I can tell. Since Vegas, she's like another person. Her feet haven't touched the ground in ten days. I'm so jealous, I could spit."
"Jealous," asked Chuck. "Why are you jealous?"
"Because Chuck," replied Carina as the waiter brought their wine. "Every woman wants that feeling that Sarah has. She's very lucky. And trust me, she knows it."
"Thanks Carina," said Chuck with a smile. "That's good to know."
As Casey reached over to pour the wine, Chuck's eyes locked on a tall man across the room. That's when the flash hit. Casey recognized the flash right away. As soon as it was over, he turned to Carina.
"Well," Casey said. "You wanted to see a flash. There was one."
"No shit," said Carina in an excited whisper. "What did you flash on? Does it hurt?"
"Scott Wilson," said Chuck slowly. "He is suspected of being the head of a splinter group with ties to the terrorist group Hamas. He is a huge fund raiser. He has some legitimate charity work but a lot of what he collects is diverted to Hamas. And yes, it does hurt a little, thank you for asking."
"Ok," said Casey with a groan. "You two keep an eye on our new friend. I'll go out to the car and see what Washington wants us to do."
After a few minutes Casey returned.
"They want us to find out if he's staying at the hotel," said Casey. "Then it's back to my place for a briefing."
"But we haven't ordered dinner yet," Chuck said with a sigh."
"I thought that you weren't hungry," Carina asked with a smile.
"Well now I am," Chuck replied. "I just had an appetizer. Now I'm appetized"
"Don't worry," said Casey. "We'll stop by the Taco Bell drive through window on the way home."
"The one on the beach with the terrific view," Chuck asked in a sarcastic voice.
"Yup," was Casey's simple reply.
"Ok," said Carina in a soft voice. "Casey, you take Chuck out to the car. I'll find out where our buddy is staying."
"How are you going to do that," Chuck asked.
Casey and Carina both turned to look at Chuck like he was an idiot.
"Oh yea," said Chuck sarcastically. "I forgot. The slut technique."
"Casey," said Carina with a grin. "Remember what I said earlier about you not taking any pleasure in Chuck's situation?"
"Well Major. You can consider that order rescinded."
"Yes ma'am," said Casey with a grin. "Thank you ma'am."
Casey and Chuck were only in the car for a few minutes when Carina joined them.
"He's staying at the hotel," she said flatly. "He's been here for three days and has no plans to check out anytime soon."
"How did you find out," asked Chuck.
"Don't ask questions," said Carina with a grin. "When you don't want to know the answer."
- - - -
Sarah's flight arrived at Dulles airport just a little before two in the morning, Eastern Time. There was a limo driver holding a sign that said Sarah Larkin at the baggage claim. Sarah smiled at the fact that there was a time in her life when she would have gotten a thrill at seeing that name displayed. Now it just reminded her of Chuck. She wondered what he was doing. She hoped that Casey and Carina had taken care of him. The last thing that he needed was to sit in an empty apartment. She wondered what he was doing. The urge to call him overwhelmed her. The agent in her knew that was a bad idea. But she needed to hear his voice so badly. For now the agent won out.
On the ride to the hotel, she examined the packet that was waiting for her. It was the standard stuff. A new driver's license, passport, and credit cards proved to the world that she was, indeed, Sarah Larkin. At the bottom of the manila envelope was a wedding ring. "Whoever had supplied the packet must not have known," she said to herself with a smile. Sarah looked at the ring and then at the very similar ring that was on her finger. Even though they looked almost exactly the same, even though they had both been supplied by the CIA, one meant absolutely nothing to her and one meant everything. As tears filled her eyes, the urge to call Chuck again overwhelmed her. Again, the agent won out.
In the elevator on the way up to her room, she silently hoped that Bryce was not already there. That would give her a chance to get ready for bed before having to face him. Maybe she could pretend to be asleep and avoid talking to him at all tonight. Her heart sank when she opened the door to the room and saw Bryce's form already in the bed.
"Hi," Bryce said sleepily. "How was your flight?"
"Fine," said Sarah tersely as she threw her bags on the coffee table.
"Is there something wrong," Bryce asked softly.
"No," said Sarah just as tersely. "Why would you think that?"
"Come on Sarah," said Bryce sitting up in bed. "Something is wrong. Talk to me."
"You want to know what's wrong," Sarah asked harshly. "Ok. I'll tell you. I hate this fucking assignment. And right now, I'm pretty sure that I hate you."
"Well that's honest, at least," said Bryce with a smile. "Care to tell me why?"
"Fine," said Sarah, her voice still filled with hostility. "Right now the love of my life is lying alone in our bed while knowing that his wife of ten days is in bed with her ex lover. And he agreed to let that happen because he knew that it was the right thing to do. Even though it's killing him, he still did it. So right now, instead of me lying in bed next to this amazing man, I'm stuck here with you, Mr. somewhat less than amazing. So if you're expecting a good mood from me this week, you can forget it. Stay out of my way and maybe you won't get hurt."
Bryce's mouth fell slightly open as he listened to Sarah's wrath.
"And another thing," Sarah said as she continued her rant. "When I get back home, Chuck is going to ask me about every detail of this assignment. And I'm not going to lie to him. So if you give me any reason to cause him further pain, I'll hurt you. I'll blow your cover and be on the next plane to L.A. faster than you can lie to someone. And we both know how fast that is. Do we understand each other?"
"Damn," said Bryce softly. "Yes, I understand. You really love him that much?"
"Yes," said Sarah as she calmed down a little. "I do. I can't even describe it to you. It scares me. I'm not even sure that I can be an effective agent without him. It hurts me."
"Then I'm happy for you," said Bryce. "I know that you probably don't believe that. But I am. He's a great guy. That's what you've always wanted. Isn't it?"
"I love him too you know," Bryce said with a smile. "Maybe not quite as intensely as you do. Ok, not nearly as intensely as you. But I do love him. Would you tell him that for me?"
"I'll tell him," said Sarah. "He'll like that. But why don't you tell him yourself?"
"Come on Sarah," said Bryce with a laugh. "You know that I don't tell anyone that I love them unless I'm trying to get them into bed. I don't think that you or Chuck would appreciate that."
"You're right," said Sarah with a smile. "I forgot."
"Why don't you call him," Bryce said. It's only midnight there."
"Bryce," said Sarah softly. "We're on a mission. It's not done."
"Come on Sarah," said Bryce. "This isn't a real mission. It's a P.R. thing. Go on. Call him. You'll feel better. He'll feel better. Any maybe if I accidentally brush up against you in the car, you won't put a knife in my side. Or more importantly, if the King brushes up against you. I'm thinking that would be very bad for our international relations."
"Ok," said Sarah with a grin as she grabbed her cell phone. She walked into the bathroom and closed the door. Her fingers were shaking as she hit Chuck's number and then send.
He answered on the second ring.
"Hi. I didn't wake you did I?"
"Don't be silly. I'm just lying here staring at the ceiling. We have to paint, by the way."
"Chuck, it's an apartment. Nobody paints an apartment silly. Let's wait until we buy a house. Then we'll paint."
"How was your flight?"
"It was good. I hate the red eye. But at least it was on time."
"Is Bryce there? Is he behaving?"
"Yes. So far he is. I was pretty rough on him. He's the one who told me to call. I think that he's hoping that you'll cheer me up."
"I flashed tonight. Carina and I are going undercover tomorrow as a couple to get some intel."
"Really? You and Carina?"
"If you were here, I'm sure it would have been you and me."
"I'm sorry I'm not there. That sounds like fun."
"Don't be sorry. It's not your fault that I can't go two days without flashing on some perv."
"Be careful. Ok? Promise me that you'll do what Casey and Carina tell you?"
"Ok. But I miss the good old days when I just stayed in the car."
"But Chuck. You never stayed in the car."
"I would now."
"I know. I'm sorry but I have to go. I need to get some sleep before tomorrow. But I just had to hear your voice."
"I'm so glad that you called. Can you call again tomorrow?"
"I'll try. Ok?"
"Ok. Try hard."
"I will. I really love you."
"I know. I really love you too. Don't worry about me. Casey and Carina are taking good care of me."
"That's good to know. Hopefully, I'll talk to you tomorrow."
Sarah held the phone to her chest for several minutes after the call ended. Knowing that she couldn't let Bryce see her cry, she sat on the edge of the bathtub while she let the tears stream down her cheeks.
- - - -