Thanks so much to BrickRoad for all of the ideas, Verkisto for all the encouragement and to Tshadow for kicking my butt when I needed it. Although I really didn't do this for the angst competition, I think that it might qualify. Right up front, I vow to never, ever write another story that doesn't have a happy ending. I hope that didn't spoil it for you. I still don't own Chuck.

The Meltdown

- - - -

Sarah was sitting on a leather couch in a paneled office. On one wall was a build in bookcase. It was filled with impressive looking books that looked as if they had never been opened. She was sitting directly in front of a large mahogany desk. Sitting behind the desk in a large leather chair was a distinguished looking man in a business suit. He looked to be about in his mid fifties.

For the longest time, neither one would say a word. Each sat staring daring the other to be the first to break the silence. The only sound in the room came from the grandfather clock in the corner. Finally the man broke the silence.

"Sarah, can we get started?"

"Dr. Brown," said Sarah pensively after a long pause. "Why am I here?"

"Come on Sarah," said the man. "Please call me Frank."

"Ok, Frank," replied Sarah in an annoyed tone. "Why am I here?"

"Don't you remember?" asked Frank.

Sarah sat wordlessly staring at Frank. Finally she answered sullenly.

"Everybody freaks out a little on a mission at some point. I don't know of a single agent that this hasn't happened to, at least once."

"Well, Sarah," said Frank. "I think this went a little beyond that. Wouldn't you agree?"

"Maybe," said Sarah dismissively after pausing to look at her fingernails. "I need to check in with Chuck."

"Why don't you tell me about the mission." said Frank.

"Maybe after I talk to Chuck." said Sarah firmly with a scowl. "I need my cell phone."

"Why is it so important that you talk to Chuck?" asked Frank.

"I'm worried about him." said Sarah. "He's my responsibility. And I'm sure that he's worried about me. Let me talk to him for a few minutes and then maybe we'll talk."

"I don't think that's a good idea right now." said Frank. "Let's see how this goes."

"I want to talk to Chuck." Sarah said insistently. "Now! Am I being held against my will?"

"Well," said Frank with a smile. "I wouldn't put it that way but it's true that you can't leave."

"You know," said Sarah slyly. "I can get out of here on my own. I could kill you in about fifty different ways."

"Of course," said Frank. "But you'd never make it outside. You could easily kill me but there are fifty agents outside who would catch you. And the next doctor would be talking to you strapped down and sedated. Is that what you want?"

"Come on, Frank," said Sarah with a smile as she played with her hair. "Don't be like that. Let's be friends."

"Ok, Sarah," said Frank. "Please tell me about the mission."

"What do you want to know?" Sarah said with a coy smile as she stretched her arms forcing her breasts to strain against her shirt.

"I want to know what happened."

"But that's so boring." Sarah replied with a sexy pout. "Can't we talk about something else?"

"What do you want to talk about?"

"Well," said Sarah as she leaned forward to allow Frank an excellent view down her shirt. "I want to talk about how appreciative I'd be if you would let me call Chuck. And what I'd be willing to do to prove it to you."

"Sarah," said Frank with an amused look on his face. "Just to be sure, are you offering me sex if I'll let you call Chuck?"

"I'm not sure I would call it sex," said Sarah seductively with her patented Sarah smile as she continued to play with her hair. "I'm thinking more in the fantasy realm."

"My goodness." said Frank softly with a smile as he gently shook his head. "The CIA does an excellent job at teaching you ladies seduction skills, I have to admit that. I'd be less than honest if I didn't say that I was tempted. Any man would be. You're incredibly beautiful. Fortunately, this room is being monitored. You're not the first agent to think of seducing her therapist. My wife is on the staff and regularly reviews these tapes. So in the interest of me staying happily married, I think I'll pass."

"You know," continued Frank. "I'm trying to help you here. I know that you're angry. If you would stop fighting me and work with me, this will go a lot faster. That's the fastest way you're going to get to talk to him."

Like someone had turned a light switch, Sarah's demeanor went from sexy to sullen. She just stared at Frank defiantly with her arms folded over her chest.

"Ok, Sarah, if you don't want to talk about the mission, let's talk about this Mr. Bartowski. You seem to be very interested in him." Frank said softly.

"His name is Chuck." Sarah snapped.

"Ok," said Frank. "Let's talk about Chuck. Why is it so important to you that you talk to him?"

"I already told you." said Sarah sharply. "It's my responsibility to make sure that he is safe. I'm worried about him. I'm sure that he is worried about me."

"Don't worry about that." said Frank. "Chuck is perfectly safe. I just talked to agent Casey an hour ago. Chuck knows where you are and what you're doing. And while I won't pretend that he isn't concerned, he's comfortable that you're in the right place for now."

"Please let me talk to him." said Sarah softly. "Please. I'm not going to be able to concentrate on what you want to talk about until I can talk to him."

"I'll make a deal with you," said Frank softly. "If you will cooperate with me for the rest of our morning session, I'll see about letting you talk to him for a few minutes. Is that a deal?"

"Do I have a choice?" Sarah asked sullenly after a long pause.

"We always have a choice." said Frank. "Do we have a deal?"

"Ok." said Sarah with a huge sigh.

"Tell me about your relationship with Chuck." said Frank. "What is he to you that you're so concerned for him?"

"Come on Frank," said Sarah sarcastically. "Do you think I'm stupid? Are you trying to trap me here?"

"I'm a doctor." said Frank. "Whatever you say in here is in confidence."

"Give me a break." said Sarah derisively. "I've been with the CIA for ten years. Are you expecting me to believe that they would respect patient doctor privilege?"

"Ok," said Frank with a laugh. "I see your point. "Let's say this another way, one that I had hoped to avoid. Unless you can convince me you're telling me the truth, you're not talking to Chuck today."

Sarah stared at Frank for a full minute without either saying a word. This time it was Sarah's turn to break first.

"Ok. You win. I'm in love with him. I know it's against the rules, but I am."

"That's fascinating." said Frank. "Sarah, I don't care at all about those kinds of rules. Tell me; is he in love with you?"

"Yes. I hope so. No, he is."

"And for how long would you say you've been in love?"

"Probably about three months."

"Tell me about the first time that you told him that you loved him."

"I never have told him." said Sarah sadly.

"Really?" said Frank. "Why not?"

"I'm not sure." said Sarah "I just never got around to it."

"And your other boyfriend, Bryce, was it?"

Sarah nodded.

"Did you love him?"

"I guess," said Sarah. "In a way. But nothing like I feel for Chuck."

"Did you ever tell Bryce that you loved him?" asked Frank.

"Sure," said Sarah said casually. "Lot's of times."

"So," said Frank thoughtfully. "Would it be fair to say that you love Chuck more than you did Bryce?"

"Absolutely," said Sarah. "There is no comparison. It's not even close."

"Maybe it's a physical thing." said Frank. "Which one did you have the most passion for in bed?"

"Why does everything always have to be about sex?"

"Come on, Sarah," said Frank, laughing. "I'm a therapist. With us it's always about sex. Seriously, it's important. Which one is better in bed?"

"I don't know." said Sarah as she looked at the floor. "I've never been in bed with Chuck."

"Come on, Sarah," said Frank softly, "Why not? I mean, you're certainly not shy sexually. You just offered to have sex with me twenty minutes ago. Yet this man who you claim to be deeply in love with for three months? You've never told him that you love him and you've never had sex with him. But Bryce, who you say you didn't care nearly as much for, the opposite is true. I don't understand."

"I don't either." said Sarah as her eyes began to fill with tears.

"Ok, Sarah," said Frank. That's enough for this morning. "Why don't you go to your room and rest for a while. We'll talk again after lunch."

"Can I talk to Chuck?" Sarah asked expectantly. "You promised."

"Yes," said Frank with a smile as he rose from his chair. "You can talk to him for a couple of minutes. And then I want to talk to you about your mission. Is that a deal?"

"Yes." Sarah whispered as she stood up from the couch.

"And Sarah," Frank said soothingly. "I know that you feel like a prisoner here. I'm sorry about that. But please don't try anything stupid. If you try and escape, things are unfortunately going to get more unpleasant. We're genuinely trying to help you. If you will honestly work with me for a few days, I promise you'll feel better. Maybe you'll be able to have the kind of relationship with Chuck that you both want. That would be a good thing, don't you think?"

Sarah nodded as she left the room.

As soon as Sarah closed the door behind her, Frank picked up the phone.

"Janice," he said. "Could you get me in touch with Chuck Bartowski?"

- - - -

"Mr. Bartowski," said Frank. "My name is Dr. Frank Brown. I'm taking care of Sarah. Would you please call me Frank?"

"Of course," said Chuck. "As long as you call me Chuck. Please tell me about Sarah. I'm very worried about her. Is she going to be ok?"

"I think that she is." said Frank. "That's why I wanted to talk to you. I need your help to help Sarah get better. I'm sure that you want that, right?"

"Of course," said Chuck. "I'll do anything to help her get better."

"I just want to warn you," said Frank. "I need you to be totally candid with me here. I need to know the total truth if I'm to help Sarah effectively. I don't give a rip about CIA rules. I need the truth. Are you in love with Sarah?"

"I'm completely in love with her." said Chuck softly.

"I'm afraid I need you to be a little more specific," said Frank with a smile in his voice. "In love is a broad term. Could you describe your feelings?"

"I'm completely, head over heels, spending the rest of my life, can't imagine my life without her, married with three kids in love, Frank." said Chuck. "Does that help?"

"It does." said Frank with a laugh. "Could you tell me why you are in love with Sarah?"

"Well," began Chuck with a laugh. "Sarah is an enigma. She is the nicest person I know and I've seen her kill men with her bare hands. She makes me laugh when she smiles and makes me cry when she frowns. I think about her every minute of every day. I can look in her eyes and forget all of my troubles. She's been gone for a little over a day and I miss her like crazy. Is that what you wanted?"

"Yes, Chuck," said Frank. "That was perfect. I do believe that you love her. She's very lucky."

"You don't believe that she loves me," said Chuck sadly. "Do you?"

"You're insecure about that aren't you?" said Frank with a laugh. "Don't worry. That's completely normal when she won't reinforce your feelings. On the contrary, Chuck, I think that she is desperately in love with you, maybe more so than you with her. That's the main issue that she has to deal with. She's scared to death."

"How can I help her?"

"Well," said Frank. "I am going to let her call you in a couple of hours. It's very important that you be calm and supportive. She has quite a case of separation anxiety. I know that your instincts are going to be to press her to tell you that she loves you but that would be a mistake. She needs to hear that you love her and you want her to get better. She especially needs to hear that you'll be waiting. I assume that's true?"

"Of course," said Chuck. "I'll do whatever it takes to help her. Can I tell her that I love her?"

"Sure," said Frank. "Tell her often. It's good for her to hear it. Just don't be disappointed when she doesn't say it back. She can't right now. You're far more important in helping Sarah get better than I am. She needs a reason to fight. Knowing that you're waiting for her is that reason. If she loses that, she's in trouble. Are we clear?"

"Very clear." said Chuck. "Trust me. You're not asking me to do anything other than what I'm already desperate to do. How long is this going to take? I really want to see her."

"That's the first question everybody asks." said Frank with a soft laugh. "It's impossible to say. Sometimes only a few days, sometimes a few months. It's up to Sarah. But she has some things going for her. The main thing is that she has a good man who loves her. Don't let her lose that. For right now anyway I think it's best if she doesn't see you. There may be a time in the next few days when I would like to speak to you together. I'm assuming you would be ok with that."

"I'll do anything, Frank. I just want her back. Will she be ever be back to normal?"

"If this goes well," said Frank with a distinct smile to his voice. "She'll be better than normal."

- - - -

"Chuck, are you there?"

"Hi, Sarah, how are you doing?"

"Oh my God, Chuck I miss you. I want to come home."

"I know. I miss you too."

"Are you ok?"

"Yes. Don't worry. Casey hasn't let me out of his sight. I've been holding off on going to the bathroom for the past three hours."

"That's funny."

"Will you promise me that you'll do what they ask you to?"

"I will. I'm not really sure why I'm here though."

"Just get better. Ok? I love you and I'll be waiting when you get back. I need you. I can't imagine my life without you."

"Promise?"

"I promise."

"Frank is motioning me to get off so I'll say goodbye."

"Goodbye, Sarah. I love you."

"Goodbye Chuck, I'll talk to you soon."

As soon as Sarah hung up the phone, she turned to Frank.

"Thank you for letting me talk to him." Sarah said with her eyes shinning. "I needed to hear his voice. When can I talk to him again?"

"I'll tell you what," said Frank. "If you work with me, I'll make sure that you get to talk to him every day. Is that fair?"

Sarah nodded.

"Now," said Frank. "Tell me about the mission."

"Well," began Sarah. "Chuck had flashed on a drug smuggler. We were ordered to stake out his warehouse. Chuck came along to see if he could flash on anyone …"

- - - -

Casey and Sarah were crouched behind a large crate with guns drawn. Shots were flying all around them.

"How many?" Sarah asked as she fired a round.

"I don't know." Casey answered. "At least ten."

"Where's Chuck?" Sarah asked.

"Still in the car, I hope."

"Can we make it back to the car and get him out of here?" Sarah asked.

"I don't see how." Casey responded. "I'll cover you and you get back to the car and call for backup. I'll hold them off while you get Bartowski out of here."

Sarah didn't wait for a signal. She sprinted for the door. Several shots followed her but Casey's fire gave her enough time to make it out the door. When she looked inside the car, it was empty. She quickly glanced around the immediate area but there was no sign of Chuck.

Sarah panicked. She had to find Chuck. Figuring that he was in the warehouse with the bad guys, she turned and sprinted back into the warehouse. Just as she was passing where Casey was hidden a shot hit her in the chest knocking her down. And although her vest took most of the impact she lost consciousness for a moment. When she regained consciousness, Casey was kneeling over her.

"Are you all right?" he yelled.

"We have to find Chuck," Sarah screamed hysterically as she struggled to her feet.

Since bullets were still flying, Casey grabbed her by the waist and forced her to the ground. Sarah struggled against Casey trying to get loose so she could go find Chuck. She was hitting Casey with everything she had to get him to let go. All Casey could do was duck his head and hold on. As he held her, she screamed "I have to find Chuck." Over and over.

That's the condition they were in when the backup arrived. Chuck had called for backup the instant the first shot was fired and went out into the street to wait for them and show them where to go. It was well longer than an hour after the incident before Sarah could speak. All she could do was hold on to Chuck crying. Chuck, not knowing what else to do, rubbed her back as she sobbed.

- - - -

"Ok, Sarah," said Frank. "You're the best agent in the CIA. Why would you foolishly charge into that firefight?"

"I thought that Chuck was in there." Sarah whispered.

"And why did you think that?" said Frank. "There was absolutely no evidence that he was in there, right? And even if he was, going changing in there wouldn't have done any good. You almost got yourself and Casey killed. Why?"

"I don't know." said Sarah with tears in her eyes. "I couldn't think. I was paralyzed. That's never happened to me before. All I could think of was that I had lost him. I'd rather die than lose him."

"Is that how you were feeling this morning when you offered to have sex with me if I would let you talk to him?" Frank asked softly.

Sarah nodded.

"It's called acute separation anxiety." Frank said with a smile. "It's perfectly normal, except for deep cover CIA agents. Tell me something. I noticed that you didn't tell Chuck that you loved him on the phone. Why not?"

"I don't know."

"But you do love him," said Frank. "Don't you?"

"Very much."

"And you'll tell me that you love him, right?" said Frank.

"Yes."

"Why won't you tell him?"

"I don't know." said Sarah softly. "Why don't you tell me?"

"I think that you do know." said Frank with a smile. "You really need to say it."

"Ok, Frank. I guess you're right. I do know."

"It's ok, Sarah. Please just trust me this once. It would be therapeutic for you to just say it."

"I don't want to."

"Sarah," said Frank softly. "Do you want to get better? You need to face this."

"I'm afraid, Frank." Sarah whispered with tears filling her eyes. "Once I tell him, there's no going back."

- - - -