The site seems to have retroactively deleted all of my formatting. This makes the story semi-unreadable. So I'm going to try and fix it. I decided to post the entire story as a final chapter.
Warning: There is some adult content in this. Nothing major but please use discretion. I still don't own Chuck.
If you enjoyed this or any of the stories on this site, please take a second and send the author a review. It's the only reward that we get for putting ourselves out there. I really appreciate the support that you've given me. It really helps.
This story comes from a series of discussions between BrickRoad and me. She wanted me to go in a different direction. The more she tried to talk me out of it, the more ideas she gave me. So if you like the story, thank her for the inspiration. If you don't, please don't blame her. I would also like to thank my good friend Natty for her tireless work teaching me this grammar stuff.
Fair warning, this starts a little rough from a Charah point of view. Don't worry. I promise it will all work out.
Chuck vs The Fake Relationship
Chapter 1: The Breakup
"I'm not happy about this at all." Beckman said harshly. "This is a crisis. I shouldn't have to remind you that we need to protect the intersect at all costs."
Casey and Sarah were at Casey's place, having been hastily summoned to a conference to discuss the recent developments.
"Yes, ma'am," Sarah replied quickly. "But we have the situation under control. Agent Casey and I arrived before Colt could harm Chuc, um, I mean the intersect. He and his team are in custody."
"Yes, Agent Walker," said Beckman sarcastically. "At least we didn't lose him this time. But the fact of the matter is that he was lured into a trap, all by himself, while you and Agent Casey were running off tracking some dead end lead."
"Yes, ma'am," said Casey. "We had intelligence that led us to believe that we knew the location of the cipher."
"But your intelligence was wrong." replied Beckman coldly. "We can't have the intersect being alone to fend for himself."
"Yes, ma'am," replied Casey sadly.
"And I'm getting tired of the intersect being exposed to these kind of risks." Beckman continued. "So I've decided to make some changes. I'm assigning an additional agent to your team. Becky Ivan will be starting at the Buy More tomorrow. I want her to get close to the intersect."
"Get close, ma'am?" Sarah questioned hesitantly. "Close in what way?"
"She is going to do what you refused to do, Agent Walker." Beckman said firmly. "She is going to start a relationship with Bartowski, by any means possible. She is going to use that relationship to keep him controlled."
"With all due respect, ma'am," said Casey. "How is she going to do that? Bartowski is not really a good candidate to being seduced right now. He is in love with Agent Walker here. There's no way he is going to look at another woman."
"Is this true, Agent Walker?" Beckman said as she narrowed her eyes.
"Well, ma'am," Sarah said softly as she couldn't keep the smile from forming. "He's never said those words, but it's very possible."
"Well, Agent Walker," said Beckman firmly. "What can you do to make Agent Ivan's job easier."
"I know what to do." Casey said excitedly. "Agent Walker can tell Bartowski that she is still in love with Bryce Larkin. That will end any hope that he had in his mind for a relationship with Agent Walker. He will be ripe for a rebound."
Casey could tell by the sideways look that Sarah gave him that she was not happy.
"Excellent…," Beckman said.
"But, ma'am," Sarah interrupted. "Please, there has to be another way. That would crush him."
"Is there a problem, Agent Walker?" Beckman asked pointedly. "Are you compromised to the point that you can't do your duty here?"
"No ma'am," Sarah replied sadly. "Of course not."
"Maybe this isn't the best idea." said Casey softly trying to repair the damage. "Agent Walker is right. It would crush him. I'm afraid that his mood might impact his usefulness for quite a few days."
"No," said Beckman firmly. "I like this approach. Agent Walker, I want you to tell him tonight. I'm not worried about Bartowski. He'll be fine. Agent Ivan will get him back quickly. That's her specialty. As a matter of fact, we'll probably have to get used to a permanent smile on his face for a while. After a few nights in bed with Agent Ivan, he'll forget all about his puppy dog crush on Agent Walker."
"In bed," asked Sarah sadly.
"Come on, Agent Walker." Beckman said with a snide laugh. "How long have you been an agent? You know exactly what Agent Ivan is going to do. It's what you should have done a year ago. And another thing, we're not going to tell Agent Ivan about the intersect for the time being. She just thinks that Bartowski is a high value asset."
"Yes, ma'am," said Sarah with a sigh.
"Well, you have your orders." Beckman said with a growl. "Dismissed."
As soon as the screen went blank, Sarah quickly turned and began to walk towards the door without glancing at Casey.
"Walker," Casey called.
Sarah continued walking without responding.
"Sarah," Casey called softly. "Please wait."
Sarah stopped walking but continued to stand facing the door.
"I'm sorry." Casey said sadly. "I know it was my idea. I didn't think of how hard this is going to be for the two of you."
When Sarah turned to look at Casey he could see the tears starting to flow down her cheeks.
"This is why agents don't get involved with assets." Casey said softly. "I'm sorry, Sarah."
"I know," Sarah said softly. "Trust me, I know."
"How bad is it?" asked Casey.
"Its bad, John." whispered Sarah. "I'm totally in love with him. Now I have to destroy him."
"I know." Casey said softly. "What are you going to do?"
"My duty," Sarah whispered with a sob as the tears began to intensify and she opened the door and left the apartment.
Chuck was sitting in his normal spot at the Nerd Herd desk. Since it was a Tuesday afternoon, not much was happening. And that was totally fine with Chuck. After all, he had a lot on his mind. Of course, the main thing was that he was still the intersect. He had so been looking forward to getting his life back. That would be great. But there was a fly in the ointment. What would that mean for him and Sarah? She had agreed to the date. And it had gone amazingly well. Until Colt and his crew ruined it, that is.
"Hey buddy," Morgan said, startling Chuck out of his deep thoughts. "What's the matter?"
"Nothing," replied Chuck with a deep sigh. "Just daydreaming."
"You're thinking about Sarah." Morgan said with a short laugh. "Weren't you?"
"And why would you say that?" Chuck said as he turned his attention to his short friend.
"Come on, Chuck." Morgan said slapping him on the back. "This is Morgan you're talking to. I've seen that look before. And why not? I mean, she's the hottest thing I've ever seen."
"Ok, Morgan," Chuck said with a laugh. "Yes, I was thinking about Sarah. And I'd like to get back to it if you don't mind."
"Say no more." Morgan said as he walked away. "Hate to interrupt your fantasy session."
So Chuck went back to his thoughts. But now, what? Would Sarah agree to continue dating him when she was still assigned to protect him? Chuck knew that it would be a struggle to convince her. But he was determined to give it his best shot. Sarah had agreed to come over tonight and talk about it. Even that was a huge step in the right direction. Sarah never wanted to talk about that stuff. Chuck promised himself that he would make every effort to convince her. He'd beg if he had too. He needed her. And he knew that she felt the same way. He knew it. It was time for her to come clean.
The moment that Sarah walked into the apartment her eyes told Chuck that something was wrong. The sparkle that Chuck had grown so accustomed to seeing just wasn't there. For one thing, she wouldn't look him in the eye. For another she looked around the room, her gaze darting nervously from spot to spot.
"Hi," Chuck said with a smile. He could tell that she was very nervous. She never felt comfortable talking about her feelings. He tried to calm her down by making small talk. "How was your day?"
"Chuck," said Sarah with a deep sigh. "No offense, but can we just get this over with?"
"Sure," Chuck said softly. "I know that this is hard for you."
"I can't date you." Sarah said as she looked at the floor.
"Sarah, please," Chuck whispered urgently as he launched into his prepared speech. "I know that you have a job to do. I think that we can work it out. Please let us try. I love …"
"I'm still in love with Bryce." Sarah interrupted softly. "I'm sorry."
It took a long moment for Chuck to process what she had just said. He felt like he had just gotten punched in the gut. Of all of the things that he expected her to say, that was one he hadn't anticipated. Finally he composed himself enough to speak.
"Are you sure?" Chuck asked so softly that Sarah could barely hear him as his eyes filled with tears.
Sarah simply nodded, not trusting herself to speak.
"I thought… I um thought…" Chuck stammered as he tried unsuccessfully to fight back the tears. "Wow, I didn't see that coming. I was going to beg you to try and work it out with the job. I guess I never considered that you didn't feel the same way. I feel really foolish. I really thought that we had something."
"I'm sorry, Chuck." Sarah whispered. "The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you. But given the circumstances; I think that it would be best if we ended our cover relationship. It would be too awkward, don't you think?"
"If that's what you want." was all Chuck could finally choke out after a long pause. "Is that really what you want?"
"Yes, Chuck," said Sarah looking at him for the first time as she opened the door to leave. "It is. I'll work it out with Washington."
"Then I guess there's nothing left for me to say." Chuck whispered as the tears in his eyes began to overflow. "Please tell Bryce how lucky I think he is."
"Chuck," Sarah said softly as she walked out the door. "Please don't feel badly. This isn't about you. I can't tell you how great I think you are. And in another place and time, who knows. I'm so, so sorry."
"I'm sorry too," Chuck whispered to the closed door as tears streamed down his face. "I'm really sorry too."
Outside Ellie's Apartment:
Sarah quickly walked to her car and drove away. As soon as she was out of sight, she pulled into a deserted parking lot. She picked up her cell phone and dialed the number.
"Yes, ma'am, I told him."
"Yes, ma'am, he's pretty broken up."
"At least it's over, ma'am."
It took every bit of will power that Sarah could muster as she fought to stay composed while she talked. As soon as the call ended she put her head on the steering wheel and sobbed uncontrollably. It was well over an hour before she could compose herself enough to drive home.
Chapter 2: the New Girlfriend
When Sarah arrived at Casey's for the morning briefing Becky Ivan was already there. Sarah had to admit to herself that she was very attractive. "As long as she was your type" she thought to herself. Becky was tall, almost as tall as Sarah, and slender. She had dark auburn hair that was just past shoulder length. She had obviously picked out an outfit that accentuated her hazel eyes. She had a very fair complexion. Before she had even met her, Sarah could feel the dislike building inside her like the feeling after eating a bad taco.
"She could stand to gain a few pounds." Sarah thought to herself as Casey introduced them. "And how is she going to pass as a Nerd Herd employee? She looks more like she should be opening a suitcase on a game show than an agent."
"Agent Walker," Becky said with a smile as she stuck her hand out. "It's an honor to finally meet you. You're very famous."
"Thanks," said Sarah without much enthusiasm as she took Becky's hand and shook it. "It's nice to meet you too. Welcome to the team."
"What can you tell me about the mark?" Becky asked eagerly.
"Well," Sarah said briskly not trying to hide her displeasure. "First off, he is an asset, not a mark. We call him Chuck."
"Ok," Becky said in a chastened tone. "What can you tell me about Chuck?"
"Chuck is the nicest guy that you're ever going to meet." Sarah said softly. "His friends and family mean everything to him. Once you're in his inner circle, he is fiercely loyal. He is incredibly generous with his time and emotions. I've never seen him put on any sort of air. There is just nothing fake about him. With Chuck, what you see is what you get."
"This sounds like it is going to be easy." Becky said with a grin. "What are his favorite things to do?"
"Well," Sarah said thoughtfully. "He loves playing video games. I would say that is his main recreation. He loves music. He also likes to watch science fiction movies. And of course he loves computers. He hopes to become a software developer someday."
"Man," Becky said with a huge sigh. "He sounds like a total geek. Does he like to do anything normal?"
"Chuck may be a geek," Sarah said a little more harshly than she had intended. "But he is the sweetest person I've ever met. If he considers you a friend, there is nothing he wouldn't do for you. I guess he likes to walk on the beach. You would consider that normal, right?"
"Ok," Becky said, obviously taken aback by the intensity of Sarah's reply. "What about in bed? What does he like in that department? Does he like to be the aggressor? Something else? Any quirks?"
"Agent Ivan," said Sarah with a derisive laugh. "If I knew the answer to those questions, you wouldn't be here, would you? I'm afraid you're on your own in that area. I'm sure it won't take you long to find out for yourself."
"No," replied Becky with a smug smile. "It won't."
When Chuck's alarm went off it found him feeling worse than he had ever felt in his life. He couldn't muster the energy to reach up and turn it off. So it continued to buzz. After about five minutes Ellie came bursting into the room.
"Aren't you going to turn that damned thing off?" she exclaimed.
"What's wrong?" Ellie said with concern as she noticed Chuck's face. "Are you sick?
"No," Chuck said with a huge sigh. "I'm just down. Sarah and I broke up last night."
"No," Ellie said softly as she sat on the edge of the bed. "Sweetie, I'm so sorry. Are you sure? What did she say?"
"She told me that she is still in love with her old boyfriend." Chuck said sadly.
"Maybe she'll change her mind." Ellie said as she rubbed Chuck's head softly. "Maybe she's just confused."
"I don't think so." Chuck said as he sat up and hugged Ellie. "She sounded pretty sure."
"Love is a funny thing." Ellie said with a sad smile as she rubbed Chuck's back. "Sometimes, just when things look darkest, things turn around. I really thought Sarah was the one."
"So did I, sis." said Chuck as he hugged Ellie tightly and buried his head in her shoulder.
"So did I."
As soon as Chuck walked into the Buy More he noticed that there wasn't anyone at the Nerd Herd counter. As a matter of fact, the only employees that Chuck could see at all were Morgan and Anna. They were standing by the washing machines and it looked like they were having a heated discussion. As soon as Morgan spotted Chuck he came quickly over to him. Anna was just a step behind.
"Hey Chuck," Morgan said with his customary smile. "How's it going?"
"Hi Morgan," Chuck said slowly with a sigh. "Where is everyone?"
"Whoa, Chuck," said Morgan quickly. "What's wrong dude? You look like a bully just stole your lunch money."
"I guess everybody is going to find out sooner or later anyway." Chuck said sadly. "Sarah and I broke up last night."
"Dude," said Morgan with a smile. "Did you dump her again? That's like insane."
"Not this time, little buddy." Chuck said with a sad smile. "This time I was the dumpee."
"Man," said Morgan. "That sucks. So maybe you want to join all of the others."
"The others," Chuck asked as he looked around at the empty store. "Where is everyone?"
"They are surrounding the new girl." Anna said sarcastically. "Like vultures circling road kill."
"New girl?" Chuck questioned. "Since when is there a new girl?"
"Oh yea," Morgan said excitedly. We have a new employee in the Nerd Herd. She is in the back. Very, very hot."
As soon as Morgan saw the look on Anna's face, he visibly gulped.
"I mean if you're into that sort of thing." Morgan continued.
"Unbelievable," snorted Anna as she went stomping off with Morgan right behind her mumbling apologies as he chased her.
Just then, Big Mike walked up.
"Bartowski," Big Mike bellowed in his usual abrupt manner as he handed Chuck a call slip. "You have a service call. Take the new girl with you and show her the ropes. And for goodness sake, keep those clowns away from her. We don't want her quitting the first day."
"You got it, Big Mike." Chuck said with a nod. "What is her name?"
"Becky something," Big Mike replied over his shoulder as he walked away towards his office. "Introduce yourself. Do I have to do everything around here?"
When Chuck walked to the back room, it was hard to not recognize the commotion. Becky was sitting at a table in the break room filling out some paperwork. Jeff, Lester, and the rest of the crew were 'helping' her. Chuck could tell from where Becky was sitting that she could be very attractive if she wanted too. Her dark hair was pulled up into a bun. Her glasses looked like they were made in the eighties. And her nerd herd outfit did nothing to show off her curves. The lack of any makeup also didn't help. But she couldn't hide those gorgeous hazel eyes.
"Ahh, tax forms," Lester said confidently as Chuck walked up. "I think that you'll want to claim zero dependants. That will maximize your refund. I assume that you don't have a husband?"
"No, Larry," said Becky with a smile. "I'm not married."
"Boyfriend?" asked Jeff.
"No," said Becky, her smile now becoming forced. "I just moved here."
"Guys," said Chuck loudly. "Let's give our new teammate some air, shall we? And I'm sure that we all have some work that could possibly be getting done?"
"Hi," Chuck said as he smiled and extended his hand. "My name is Chuck Bartowski. Welcome to the Nerd Herd."
"Thanks Chuck," said Becky with a beaming smile. "My name is Becky Ivan. It's nice to meet you."
"Unless you're really into those tax forms," Chuck said with a smile. "Big Mike asked me to take you on a call. Would you like to get out of here for a while?"
"Very much," Becky replied with a smile.
Becky took off her glasses as they walked outside. Chuck noticed right away that she was much prettier without them.
"Thank you." Becky said with a sigh as soon as they were safely in the Herder.
"For what?" Chuck asked curiously.
"For rescuing me from that pack," Becky said with a sigh of relief. "You're a life saver. Are they always like that?"
"Pretty much," Chuck said with a laugh. "Especially when you happen to be an attractive female. Or actually pretty much just female now that I think about it."
"Chuck," Becky said with a blushing smile. "Do you really think I'm attractive?"
"Of course," Chuck said with a sly smile. "But I'm very sorry that I said that. Please don't sue me."
"Why would I sue you?" replied Becky with a huge smile. "It's the nicest thing anyone has said to me since I moved out here."
"Where are you from?" Chuck asked.
"I'm originally from Dallas." Becky said with a derisive laugh. "I moved here because my boyfriend got transferred. Of course, two weeks after I move here he dumps me. So here I am strange city, don't know a single person, and new job. I guess that makes me the most pathetic loser around."
"I see." said Chuck sadly. "A fellow dumpee. Welcome to the not so exclusive club."
"You too?" Becky asked in amazement. "What idiot would dump you?"
"Oh my goodness," Becky whispered as she blushed. "I can't believe that I just said that out loud. I'm so embarrassed. You must think that I'm a total dork."
"It was nice." Chuck said softly. "Thank you. To tell you the truth, it's a good thing for me to hear. I'm really still hung up on her. It's going to take a while."
"I'm sorry." Becky said softly. "I hope you don't think this is too forward but would you like to have dinner tonight? I mean, unless you have other plans."
"I don't know, Becky," Chuck said hesitantly. "I'm no where close to the point of being able to go on a date. I'm not sure when I will be."
"Please, Chuck," pleaded Becky. "It doesn't have to be like a date. Can't we just hang out? I'm lonely. I can't stand the thought of spending another night in my apartment all alone. Maybe you could show me the sights. I'd love to see the beach. I mean you're alone. I'm alone. Please. I'm getting desperate. If you won't go with me, I'll have to go ask Larry when we get back."
"It's Lester." Chuck said with a laugh. "And that's no fair. I can't feel responsible for you going out with Lester. I guess I could show you around. I have to warn you though; I'm not going to be the happiest guy you've ever been out with."
"Thank you," said Becky as she put her hand over Chuck's on the console. "I'll do everything I can to make sure that you have a good time."
As Chuck looked for the address, Becky put her head against the passenger window and whispered to herself.
Sarah was thankful that her shift was almost over. Not that she had anything to look forward to doing. Since she no longer had a cover relationship to worry about, she really had no excuse to not review those intelligence reports that she had been putting off. She couldn't help but let her thoughts drift to Chuck. What was he doing? Probably trying in vain to get Jeff and Lester to do some work. She smiled to herself as she saw them in her mind. She had the overwhelming urge to run over there and throw herself in Chuck's arms. But she knew that she couldn't. If Becky Ivan was half as good as Beckman said she would have Chuck in bed tonight. Even the thought of it made her mood worse. And just when she thought she couldn't be any sadder. Sarah was so absorbed in thinking about it that she didn't even notice Ellie come in.
"Hi, Sarah," said Ellie softly.
"Ellie," Sarah said as she jumped. "Oh my goodness, you scared me."
"I hear that you've had a bad day." Ellie said with a smile.
Sarah just nodded. "Please don't yell at me." she said sadly. "I can't take that right now."
"Why would I yell at you?" asked Ellie.
"Because I just crushed your brother." Sarah whispered.
"Sarah," Ellie said firmly. "I'm not really here to stick up for Chuck. He's a big boy. I'm here because I'm your friend. Do you want to talk?"
"I never meant to hurt him." Sarah said softly. "I lo- umm like him very much. How is he doing? Does he hate me?"
"He's hurting." Ellie said. "There is no question about it. But there's no way he could ever hate you. He loves you. Chuck will be all right. But right now I'm concerned about you. How are you doing?"
"It's tough." Sarah admitted with her eyes growing misty. "I feel like I lost my best friend and my family, not just my boyfriend."
"I hope you know that I'll always be your friend." Ellie said with a smile. "No matter what happens between you and Chuck, you didn't lose me. You know that, right?"
"Thanks," whispered Sarah as her eyes started to fill with tears. "That means a lot to me."
"So," said Ellie. "This is coming from your friend and not Chuck's sister. Do you believe that?"
"Then what are you doing, Sarah?" Ellie said softly. "I want you to be happy. I do. And if you can't be happy with Chuck then you should move on. The last thing I would want is for you to stay with Chuck if you weren't happy. But you can't tell me that you don't love Chuck. I can see it in your eyes. Tell me that I'm wrong."
"It's complicated." Sarah said with a huge sigh. "We can't be together. I can't explain it. Please just trust me. We can't."
"What's complicated?" asked Ellie firmly. "You love him. You just had a chance to deny it and you couldn't. And he loves you. We both know it."
"It just is." Sarah said as she burst into tears. "You have to help me, Ellie. Please don't give Chuck any false hope. Promise me that?"
"I promise." Ellie said as she embraced Sarah. "Don't worry. Whatever is meant to be will be. You believe that don't you?"
"Thanks Ellie," said Sarah as she returned Ellie's embrace.
"You know that you can always talk to me?" Ellie said firmly. "Right?"
"I know," Sarah said with a smile through her tears. "Please don't give Chuck any false hope. It's just going to make it harder for both of us."
"Don't worry," Ellie said with a smile as she walked out the door. "I won't give him false hope."
As soon as the door closed behind her, Ellie's face turned into a grin.
"I'm going to give him real hope."
Chapter 3: The First Non Date
Chuck had a little trouble finding Becky's apartment from the address that she gave him. He really wasn't looking forward to this at all. Having to smile at someone seemed like more effort than he was willing to put forth. Chuck would much rather crawl into bed and sleep until it was time to go to work again.
"We might as well get this over with." Chuck said to himself with a sigh as he knocked on Becky's door.
Becky opened the door almost immediately. Chuck was so surprised at her appearance that it almost made him forget about being depressed for a second. Long gone was the geek look from earlier at work. Her nondescript Nerd Herd uniform was replaced by a pair of very form fitting jeans and a sheer top with a neckline that was just north of respectable. Her dark hair fell over her shoulders and shinned in the light. Her lack of makeup at the Buy More had been expertly corrected. She was, indeed, quite the babe.
"Hi Chuck," Becky said with a full smile. "Please come in. Have a seat."
"Do I have the right address?" Chuck asked with a short laugh. "I'm looking for Becky Ivan. You must be her super model sister."
"Chuck," said Becky with a shy smile. "Please don't tease me. I'm very self conscious about my looks. Would you like a beer?"
"Why would you be self conscious?" asked Chuck as he took the beer from Becky. "You look beautiful. I'm just happy I can actually say it without being sued."
"Thanks," whispered Becky as she looked at the floor. "I can't tell you how long it's been since a man said something that nice to me."
"I find that really hard to believe." Chuck said as he took a sip of his beer.
"Well," Becky said excitedly as she sat next to Chuck on the couch. "What are the plans for tonight? I can't wait to actually have some fun for a change."
"I'm pretty open." Chuck said. "Is there anything in particular that you want to do?"
"You're the local." Becky said as she looked over at Chuck. "I trust your judgment. I'm totally in your hands tonight."
"A real risk taker, I see," Chuck said with a laugh. "You said earlier that you wanted to see the beach. Do you still want to?"
"I'd love that, Chuck." Becky replied.
"There's a hamburger joint right on the beach." Chuck said. "It's not much to look at but they make the best burgers I've ever had."
Somewhere on the Beach:
Chuck and Becky walked barefoot, side by side, on the beach. Dusk was just starting to settle in and the last of the surfers were gradually packing it in for the day. Chuck was right. The burgers were great as usual. Becky couldn't stop talking about them. Actually, Becky couldn't stop talking at all. Chuck couldn't help but smile at the change in Becky when she had a couple of beers.
"Tell me about her," Becky finally said softly as they continued walking.
"Her?" Chuck questioned.
"Your ex," Becky said with a smile. "The moron who dumped you. You really loved her, didn't you? I can see it in your eyes."
"I really do." Chuck said sadly. "Sarah is the most amazing person I've ever met."
"They why?" Becky asked. "Trust me, Chuck. Women don't usually dump men who love them like you do. It's too rare."
"There's apparently another guy." Chuck said with a sad smile. "I guess it's not all that rare."
"I'm sorry." Becky said as she looped her arm through Chuck's. "For what it's worth, I think she is making a big mistake."
"Thanks," Chuck whispered. "That's nice of you to say."
Becky used the arm that she had wrapped with Chuck's as leverage and spun around so that she was facing him. She put her other arm around Chuck's and pulled him closely.
"Take me home." Becky whispered. "And I'll show you how much I mean it."
"I don't know," Chuck said with a sigh.
"Please," Becky pleaded softly. "I'm not ever this forward but I really like you. I'm alone. You're alone. Why not? There would be no strings."
Ellie was waiting for Chuck when he walked into the apartment.
"Hi, Chuck," she said cheerily as he walked into the dining room. "Have you eaten?"
"Yes," said Chuck. "I had a burger a while ago with Becky."
"Becky," Ellie questioned. "Who is Becky?"
"She's a new employee at the Buy Moore." Chuck replied. "Today was her first day. She is from Dallas and has never seen the ocean. She wanted to see the beach. So I took her."
"You went on a date?" Ellie asked in a surprised tone. "You actually went on a date the day after breaking up with Sarah?"
"No," said Chuck. "It wasn't a date. I made sure she knew that it wasn't a date. She was lonely and I just showed her the beach."
"Good," Ellie said with a sigh of relief.
"Why," said Chuck. "Why is it good?"
"I talked to Sarah today." Ellie said with a smile. "I don't think that you should give up on her."
"Why," said Chuck hesitantly. "What did she say?"
"She loves you." Ellie said softly. "I know that she does."
"Did she say that?" Chuck asked skeptically.
"She didn't exactly say it." Ellie said in a soothing voice. "But I said it and she didn't deny it when I asked her. She is definitely struggling with something. I really don't know what. But I know one thing. She loves you. She has for quite a while. I'd bet anything."
"I don't know." stammered Chuck. "Sarah is a hard person to read."
"Trust me," said Ellie with a grin as she rustled his hair playfully. "Give her a couple of days and you'll be back together. I feel it."
As Chuck lay in his bed, he couldn't stop a smile from coming to his lips. "Maybe Ellie does know something." he said to himself. After all, women seemed to be able to sense those kinds of things. And what he wouldn't give for it to be true.
Sarah was driving to Casey's for the morning briefing. Actually, she had heard from Casey that there was going to be two briefings this morning. The usual one with Agent Ivan and another with Chuck to talk about a mission for tonight. Sarah had totally opposite reactions to the two briefings. She dreaded the first one more than anything. The last thing in the world that she wanted to hear was the detail of Chuck being seduced. Hopefully, she could show up a little late and they would have already talked about Chuck. That way she wouldn't have to hear it. On the other hand, she was really looking forward to the meeting with Chuck. After all, she hadn't seen him in over a day. It was the first time in quite a while that they had gone a whole day without speaking. She knew that the smart play was to stay away from him as much as possible. But she couldn't bring herself to do that. She needed to know that he was going to be ok. Hopefully they could start the healing process.
The first briefing had just gotten underway when Sarah walked into Casey's place. Beckman was speaking. And from the tone of her voice, she was not happy. And, as Sarah knew very well, when Beckman wasn't happy no one was happy.
"Agent Walker," snapped Beckman sarcastically. "How nice of you to join us. Weren't you aware of the scheduled starting time for this meeting?"
"Sorry ma'am," Sarah said quickly. "I got caught in traffic."
"Agent Ivan," Beckman said coldly. "Explain to me again how you were unable to complete your assignment with Bartowski last night. Was I unclear in some way when I told you how important it is that he be controlled?"
"No ma'am," Becky replied with a grimace. "You were very clear. It's just that the mark obviously still has a strong attachment to Agent Walker."
Sarah was having a hard time. She had to bite the inside of her lip to keep the grin off her face.
"Well, Agent Ivan," Beckman said harshly. "I suggest that you try again as soon as possible."
Yes ma'am," replied Becky. "Perhaps I could get some assistance from Agent Walker."
"What do you want me to do, Agent Ivan?" Sarah asked while still trying to hide her grin. "Would you like some seduction pointers? Do you want me to turn down the bed? Perhaps you'd like to borrow a negligee?"
"No, thank you." replied Becky as she cast a sideways glance towards Sarah. "But the mark obviously still has strong feelings for you. Perhaps you could do something to discourage him."
"I've already told him that I'm in love with his nemesis." Sarah said softly. "From all accounts he's crushed. Do you want me to throw a knife at him? What more can I do?"
"I'm not sure yet." Becky said with the venom clear in her voice. "But when I think of something I want to make sure that I can count on your full cooperation."
"Enough of this ridiculous cat fighting," Beckman said harshly. "Agent Walker, you are to do whatever is necessary to aid Agent Ivan in her mission. Is that clear?"
"Yes ma'am," said Sarah crisply.
"Good," Beckman growled. "Dismissed."
As soon as the screen went blank, Becky turned and walked towards the door. As she got about half way there, Sarah stopped her.
Becky stopped and turned towards Sarah with an icy stare but didn't respond.
"I think that we're already discussed this." Sarah said firmly. "But we don't refer to Chuck as the mark. He has a name. It is Chuck."
As soon as Becky stomped out of the apartment, Casey spoke for the first time.
"Sarah," he said softly. "Do you really think that making her your enemy is a good idea? She has Beckman's ear. And pretty soon she is going to be sleeping with the intersect."
"I don't like her." was Sarah's terse reply.
Chuck knocked on Casey's door exactly one minute before the briefing was set to begin. After Casey let him in, he walked to his usual spot in front of the monitor without a word. He carefully avoided eye contact with Sarah as he waited for Beckman to come online.
"Ok team," Beckman said as soon as she appeared on the monitor. "We have a mission for tonight."
"This is Avante Holdings." Beckman said as a building appeared on the screen. "Our intel indicates that it may be a front for a significant narcotic smuggling operation. We have arraigned for Agent Casey to pose as a member of the maintenance crew. He will wear a hidden camera while he goes through the building emptying trash cans. We would like Mr. Bartowski to monitor the video feed from the van. We would like to see if he flashes on anyone in the building. Agent Walker will provide security for Mr. Bartowski. We're not expecting any trouble but with this team, who knows. Any questions?"
"No ma'am," Casey replied for them all.
"Good," Beckman said. "Dismissed."
As soon as the monitor went dark, Chuck turned and wordlessly walked to the door.
"Chuck," Sarah called softly. Her look to Casey clearly told him that she wanted to talk to Chuck alone. He quickly excused himself and went into the bedroom.
Chuck stopped as he heard Sarah's voice but didn't turn.
"I just want to make sure that you're ok." Sarah said.
"Not really," Chuck said sadly. "I'd be lying if I said I was ok."
"I know." Sarah said sadly. She had to grab the table to keep from throwing herself into his arms. "I'm really sorry. I just hope that we can get through this. I don't want to lose my best friend."
"Friend," Chuck whispered to himself in disgust as he turned and looked at Sarah. For the first time he could see the anguish in her eyes. He knew that she was hurting, desperate even. Suddenly, his anger was gone like a balloon that had popped. He knew in that instant, that whatever else happened, he had to make her stop hurting.
"Don't worry," he said softly with as much of a smile as he could muster. "You're not going to lose your friend. I promise. It's just too hard right now. Give me a couple of days to mourn what I've lost, ok?"
"Thank you, Chuck," whispered Sarah as she turned her head to not let him see her cry.
"I'll see you tonight." Chuck replied as he left the room.
After a few minutes, Casey could no longer hear any muffled voices so he figured it was safe to come out of the bedroom. To his surprise, Sarah was still standing in the middle of the room silently sobbing.
"He was trying to make me feel better." Sarah said between her sobs in response to Casey's unspoken question. "Oh my God, I just destroyed him and all he can think about is making me feel better. What am I doing?"
"He's a good guy." Casey agreed softly. "This situation sucks. That's for sure."
The Mission Van:
Chuck and Sarah watched the video feed as Casey walked around the building empting wastepaper baskets. Casey was careful to aim his hidden camera at every face that he saw to give Chuck a good look. Casey had finished servicing about half the building with no results. Chuck looked at Sarah and noticed that she sat with a blank expression on her face. The sadness wouldn't have been noticeable to anybody but him. But he saw it. He felt her tenseness. He needed to help her. Maybe he could lighten the mood.
"One good thing," Chuck said softly with as much levity as he could muster. "Casey's cover is safe. He is totally believable as a trash man."
Suddenly the tension in the van was gone. Disappeared like it had never been there.
"Maybe after he retires from the agency, it would be a good second career for him." Sarah said with a smile.
Suddenly Chuck flashed on the face on the monitor.
"Casey," Chuck said into the microphone. "That last man is Peter Quincy. He is a banker with known connections to organized crime. He obviously is laundering the drug money."
"Good job, Chuck," Sarah said with a smile as she used the computer to capture the information and send it to Washington.
"Why does Chuck get all the credit?" Casey's voice came across softly. "I'm the one who took out the garbage."
The smile on Sarah's face lightened Chuck's heart. It was almost like it had been two days ago. It felt like the breakup had never happened. It was just Chuck and Sarah. Chuck had to resist the temptation to hug her.
"Maybe Ellie is right." he thought to himself as his spirits soared. "Maybe if I just give her a little room, it will work out."
Just then, Sarah's phone began to ring.
"That's strange," Sarah mumbled to herself as she looked at the phone. The ID didn't list a caller.
""Walker," she answered hesitantly.
"Yes, I'm secure."
"There has to be another way."
"I love you too, Bryce."
Sarah's eyes filled with tears as she ended the call. She could tell by the look in Chuck's eyes that he was dying inside. Neither Chuck nor Sarah said another word for the rest of the night.
Becky smiled to herself as she put down her phone. There was one thing that she knew for sure. Making Sarah say that in front of Chuck had just turned her into a serious enemy.
"That's ok," she said to herself as her smile turned into a grin.
"I don't like her anyway."
Chapter 4: Just Friends
Chuck was sitting in the cage working on computers. Well, he should have been working on computers. The truth was he was feeling sorry for himself. At that was pretty much a full time job. He smiled as he thought back to last night. For a while it was like old times. Sarah's smile could have lit up the city. But then Bryce had to call. Why did he let himself get his hopes up? Why did he let Ellie talking him into hoping? Sarah and he just weren't going to happen. She loves Bryce. The sooner he realized that and moved on the better off he would be. Chuck was concentrating so hard on feeling sorry for himself that he didn't notice Becky enter the cage.
"Hi," she said with a huge smile.
"Becky," Chuck said loudly as he jumped. "You startled me."
"Sorry," she said with a laugh. "I just wanted to thank you for last night. I had a really great time."
It was amazing how different she looked from last night. Although now that Chuck had seen her as a babe, he could tell that she was intentionally trying to hide being attractive.
"Do you think we could do it again some time?" Becky said softly. "Maybe next time we could call it a real date."
"I don't know, Becky." Chuck said hesitantly. "I'm not sure I'm ready to start dating."
"Please, Chuck," Becky said with a smile. "I really like you. I know that you're hurting. I know exactly how that feels. Let me help you get over this."
"Let me think about it." Chuck said softly. "I want to make sure that you know that it's not you. You're great. I'm just not sure I can make myself go on a date right now."
"Well, Chuck," Becky said over her shoulder with a sly smile as she walked away. "You know where I'll be when you decide you're ready. I'm from Dallas and we have a saying. It's like riding a horse. When one bucks you off, you have to get right back on. I promise that I won't buck you off."
As soon as Becky was out of sight, Morgan popped into the cage.
"Dude," Morgan said excitedly. "What are you thinking? She won't buck you off? You have to go out with her now."
"Still eavesdropping I see," Chuck said with a laugh. "I just don't think I'm really up to it right now, Morgan. I'm still not over Sarah. It has only been two days."
"Chuck," Morgan said firmly. "Dude, is there any real hope of you and Sarah getting back together?"
"I don't think so." Chuck said sadly.
"Then go over and talk to Sarah." Morgan said. "Get over her. Man, it's not every day that a hot babe promises not to buck you off. I'm not exactly sure what that even means but it has got to be good. It sure sounds hot as hell."
Sarah was pretending to clean off the counter. She was actually daydreaming. It was so nice that the CIA had sprung for a real cover job. This was perfect. Not only did it only have about ten customers a day, but it was built on a world class spy facility. Now, if she could just get her real job in order. She wondered how did this situation get so messed up. "This is exactly why spies don't get involved with civilians." she thought to herself. That point was drilled over and over again in training. She had violated one of the most basic rules that an agent had. She had fallen in love. And now she was going to have to pay the price. Her thoughts were temporarily interrupted by a customer coming into the store. That was odd, she though. They never had customers in the morning. Sarah wasn't even sure why they opened so early. She was so deep in her thoughts that she didn't realize that the customer was Chuck until he was standing in front of her.
"Hi," Chuck said hesitantly.
"Chuck," said Sarah, the smile automatically coming to her lips. "I wasn't expecting you. Is everything ok?"
"Everything is fine." Chuck said quickly with a smile as he recognized Sarah's agent instinct kick in. "I just came over to apologize."
"What do you need to apologize for?" Sarah asked as she stepped out from behind the counter to face him."
"I've been acting like a baby." Chuck said softly forcing himself to look into Sarah's eyes. "I've made you feel badly for something that you can't control. I feel horrible about that. I just want you to know that I'm very, very sorry."
Sarah wrapped her arms around Chuck wordlessly and buried her face in his chest so he wouldn't see the tears that were starting to well in her eyes.
"You're my best friend in the world." Chuck continued softly, speaking into the top of Sarah's head. "I can't lose you out of my life. If that means that I have to be your friend and nothing more then that's what I'll do. Nothing is more important to me than your happiness. And if Bryce makes you happy, then I need to support you. So, I don't want you to spend any more time worrying about me. I'm going to be ok. I just need to move on. I promise that I will."
Sarah just nodded and squeezed Chuck harder, not trusting herself to speak. They stayed that way for a long moment. Finally Chuck spoke again.
"I need some best friend type advice." Chuck said, trying to lighten the mood. "There is a new girl at the Buy More who just asked me on a date. Do you think that it's too soon? I mean we've only been broken up for two days. I wouldn't want to appear disrespectful to you."
Sarah paused for a long moment to compose herself. Finally she felt like she could speak without breaking down.
"I think that you should do whatever helps you get through this." Sarah whispered into Chuck's chest.
Sarah made no attempt to break the embrace. If anything she was holding him tighter.
"I don't know when I'll see Bryce again." said Chuck softly while rubbing Sarah's back. "I may never see him again. So I need you to give him a message for me. I need you to tell him that I think that he is the luckiest person in the whole world. Can you do that?"
Sarah nodded silently.
"And you also need to tell him." Chuck whispered. "If he ever fails to cherish you, if he ever lets you down, if he ever hurts you in any way, I know that he is a trained agent, but I'll find a way to kick his ass. Tell him that Chuck said that."
Sarah called on every bit of training that she ever had to compose herself to be able to break the embrace and look into Chuck's eyes.
"Thanks," was all she could say.
Sarah was able to keep her composure until Chuck walked out the door. But as soon as he was out of sight she broke down. Beckman would be pleased. Sarah had completed her assignment. They were officially Just Friends. But it's a good thing that no customers came into the store for the next hour because Sarah wouldn't have been able to help them.
When Chuck walked back into the Buy More he spotted Becky sitting alone at the Nerd Herd desk. She was busy working on finishing up some paperwork and didn't notice Chuck. He wasn't sure how she had managed to avoid Jeff and Lester but he didn't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, whatever that meant.
"Hi," Chuck said with a smile as he walked up to her.
"Hi," Becky said. Her eyes lit up as she recognized that it was Chuck.
"Would you like to go on a date with me tonight?" Chuck asked. "I mean if you don't have any other plans."
"I'd love that." Becky said as her face broke into a full fledged grin. "What are we going to do?"
"Well," Chuck said with a laugh. "I guess I haven't thought through that part. We could always go to dinner and a movie. Would you like that?"
"Do you really think you're up to that?" Becky asked softly.
"I'm going to move on." Chuck said. "I have to be able to be up to it. I really appreciate your understanding. You've been great."
"Why don't we start slow?" Becky said softly. "Come to my place and I'll make dinner. Then we can play some Call of Duty. I'm just learning the game and I could really use some help. Would you like that?"
"I don't want you to have to cook on our first date." Chuck said with a smile. "How about if I bring over a pizza? I know the best pizza place that is really close to your apartment."
"That sounds great." Becky replied with a long laugh. "I was actually worried that my cooking might scare you away anyway."
"What do you like on your pizza?" Chuck asked casually.
"I like everything." Becky said animatedly. "I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to this. I'm going to make sure that you have a good time.
"Well," said Chuck. "I really appreciate your understanding the situation. I'd better get back to the cage before Big Mike has a coronary. I'll see you around seven?"
"Sounds great," said Becky with a smile.
"Oh and Chuck?" she called to him as he walked away.
"Ask them for heavy olives on the pizza." Becky said as Chuck turned towards her. "I love olives. It's my favorite part."
"I will." Chuck said with a sad smile as he walked away.
Chuck was in his room getting ready for his date. "What do you even wear for a date to play Call of Duty?" he asked himself. He decided to settle on a pair of jeans and a blue polo shirt.
"Hi Chuck, what's going on?" called Ellie when Chuck walked out of his room.
"Hey sis," Chuck said with a smile. "I'm just heading out. I have a date."
"You have a date?" Ellie said as her face brightened into a huge smile. "I know that you kids would work it out. I must say, I didn't expect it so soon.
"Sorry sis," Chuck said with a sad smile. "I'm not going out with Sarah. We're over. I have to move on. I'm going out with Becky. She's the new Nerd Herd girl that I went to the beach with last night."
"No," said Ellie with a cry. "Chuck, you can't give up on Sarah. She loves you. I know it."
"You're wrong, Ellie." Chuck said softly. "Sarah is in love with her ex boyfriend. She told me so. I heard her tell him on the phone last night. It's over for us. I need to move on."
"I don't believe it." Ellie said firmly. "I looked into Sarah's eyes. She is in love with you. I promise. Don't give up on her."
"Ellie, please stop." Chuck said more loudly than he had intended. "You're killing me here. I would give anything for that to be true. But it just isn't. I don't know what you think you see in Sarah but you're just wrong. And if I don't move on, I'm going to lose her totally. Please quit telling me to hope. It hurts too much to hope. There just isn't any hope."
"I'm right about this." Ellie said with tears forming in her eyes as she hugged Chuck. "But I guess you need to do what you need to do. Tell me about this girl. She works in the Nerd Herd? That must make her a nerd."
"Maybe," Chuck said with a smile as he broke the embrace. "But she is definitely the hottest nerd I've ever seen."
How hot?" asked Ellie skeptically. "She can't be in Sarah's league."
"Sarah is the most beautiful woman I've ever met, except for you of course.' Chuck said with a smile. "So Becky is not Sarah but she is clearly in the same league."
"Get out of here." Ellie said with a laugh at Chuck's corny compliment as she playfully slugged him in the arm. "Just do me one favor. Go slow. I know that you're hurting. Just take a breath before you jump into anything serious."
"I will." Chuck said softly as he leaned in to give Ellie a peck. "Thanks for caring."
"One thing for sure," Ellie whispered angrily to herself as she watched Chuck close the door behind him. "I'm going to find out what in the hell is going on here."
Chuck had ordered the pizza before he left so it was ready when he got there to pick it up. When he opened the box to check on it, Chuck grimaced as he saw the olives piled on. He used to like olives but being with Sarah for so long had conditioned him to not having them. He knew that it was quite silly but he wasn't sure how he felt about olives anymore.
Becky quickly opened the door as soon as he knocked. Chuck couldn't get over the change in her appearance between work and home. She was obviously an expert at makeup. She looked lovely. She had on a pair of kaki pants that looked like they had been spray painted on. She wore a very sheer button up blouse that wasn't all that buttoned up. Chuck had to remind himself to resist the natural temptation to look down her shirt.
"Hi Chuck," Becky said with a grin as she gave him a quick peck and pulled him into the room. "I've been looking forward to this all afternoon."
As soon as Chuck arrived, Becky pulled him to the kitchen table and handed him a beer. As they ate the pizza, they made small talk for a few minutes. After they finished eating they started playing the game. It turned out that Becky was a much better Call of Duty player than she was letting on. She was not quite in Morgan's league but she was darned close. Chuck noticed that while they were playing Becky was sliding closer and closer to him on the couch. The longer they played, the closer she got. She had a habit of reaching over and touching his leg to get his attention. Before long, her head was resting on his shoulder. After playing for about an hour, Becky suggested that they take a break.
"So, Chuck," Becky said as she handed him another beer and sat next to him on the couch. "I know you like video games. Do you like any real sports?"
"I guess," Chuck said with a smile. "If a game is on, I'll watch. I'm not a huge fan."
"What about football?" Becky breathed as she leaned over and kissed Chuck."
"Basketball?" Becky whispered, not waiting for any answer as she reached her hand behind Chuck's head and pulled him in for an urgent kiss. Chuck was hesitant at first but quickly warmed to the action when he felt Becky's tongue pass his lips.
"How about baseball?" Becky whispered as she straddled Chuck. Her knees were on either side of Chuck on the couch. She wrapped both arms around Chuck's neck and resumed the passionate kiss. After a few minutes of serious necking, Becky finally broke the kiss. With a sly smile she grabbed Chuck's hand in hers.
"If you like baseball," Becky whispered as she guided Chuck's hand inside of her blouse. Just before their lips met again, she whispered.
"You must be a fan of second base."
Ellie was just about to settle down to watch a little television. Devon was working the late shift so she was alone. Her life was so busy that she hardly ever got to just sit and relax with a show. So much so that she had no idea what shows were even on Monday nights. Looking at the TV Guide channel she decided to try The Big Bang Theory. She had just settled in with her glass of wine when there was a knock at the door.
"Morgan, if that's you," Ellie groaned in disgust as she got up to answer the door. She was surprised that when she opened the door, there was standing in front of her a very nervous looking Sarah.
"Sarah, hi," Ellie said excitedly. "Chuck's not here right now."
"I know where he is." Sarah said sadly. "Actually, I came to see you."
"Come in," Ellie said soothingly. Once she took a good look at Sarah it was obvious that she was on edge emotionally. Ellie quickly let her to the couch and sat down beside her.
"Honey, you're shaking." Ellie said with the concern evident in her voice as she put her arm around Sarah and rubbed her arm. "What's wrong?"
"Ellie," said Sarah who was struggling to keep from breaking down.
"I need a friend."
Chapter 5: What is Love
Ellie had never seen Sarah in anything approaching this bad of an emotional condition. Simply speaking, she was a train wreck. Her eyes were glassy and filled with tears that threatened to spill over at any second. Her hands were visibly trembling and her upper lip was quivering. Ellie knew that she had to settle Sarah down before they could have any sort of meaningful discussion.
"Sweetie," Ellie said soothingly as she rubbed Sarah's arm softly. "You're a wreck. You need to calm down for a second. Whatever is wrong, we'll work it out."
"I'll try." Sarah whispered.
"Come to the table." Ellie said as she literally pulled Sarah to the table. "I'm going to make you a cup of tea and we'll talk this thing through."
While the water was heating up for tea, Ellie stood behind Sarah and rubbed her arms briskly. When she sat Sarah's tea on the table in front of her she took a seat to her side with her own cup of tea.
"Ok, Sarah," Ellie said with a smile. "Now tell me what's wrong."
"I feel horrible putting you in the middle of this." Sarah whispered shakily as she cautiously took a sip of her tea. "I mean, you're Chuck's sister. I know that you love him. I know that you want to protect him. But please, please promise me that this won't get back to him. You're the only person I have to talk too."
"I do love him." Ellie said with a smile. "I love him more than anything. And, you're right; I would do anything to protect him. But I love you too. You know that right? So why don't you take a deep breath and tell me why you're pretending not to be in love with Chuck when it's obvious that you are."
"Its complicated." said Sarah sadly while looking at the table.
"It's simple, really." Ellie said calmly with a smile. "You're just making it complicated. Either you're in love with the man or you're not. If you're not, tell me. I'll believe you. Now which is it?"
Sarah just sat and looked at Ellie sadly for a long moment as the tears began to flow down Sarah's face.
"I'm so in love with him that it hurts." Sarah finally whispered. "I've never felt like this in my life. I didn't think I could ever feel like this. I don't know what to do. I can't breathe."
"I'm sorry but I'm confused." Ellie said hesitantly. "That's the best news I've ever heard. We should be out celebrating at a club with a tall drink laughing at the tall men trying to hit on us. You do know that he loves you just as desperately, don't you? I don't know of any two people who are more perfect for each other. Why are you so messed up about it?"
"We can't be together." Sarah sobbed. "It just can't happen."
"Why?" Ellie asked firmly. "Sarah, talk to me. You're totally in love with him. He's totally in love with you. That's the hard part. We should be sitting here talking about what colors your bridesmaids are going to wear. You have to explain to me why we're not sitting here giggling like fourteen year olds."
"I can't explain it." Sarah said between sobs. "I have a good reason. I promise. I just can't tell you about it. I know that's not fair. But I just need you to trust me. It can't happen."
"Ok," Ellie said softly. "For the sake of argument I'll trust that you think that you have a good reason. Maybe we just have a different definition of what in love means. Love means different things to different people. You're a beautiful woman, Sarah. I'm sure that you've had men tell you that they love you to try and get you into bed?"
Sarah just nodded without looking up.
"When I just heard you describe how you feel about Chuck, I got a totally different feeling." Ellie continued. "What I heard was that you had met the man that you wanted to spend the rest of your life with. The one you wanted to grow old with. He would be the father of your children, the other half of you, the one you've been looking for your whole life. Am I wrong? Tell me, what did you mean?'
"I meant just what you described." Sarah said with a sad smile as she looked up for the first time. "Except, I wasn't really looking for him, it just happened."
"Then Sarah," Ellie said pleadingly. "Sweetie, please listen to me. If you're in love with someone like you're describing then they have to be first in your life. And no matter what reason you think that you have, it would have to pale in comparison to that love. If you really love him you'll eliminate that other reason. And if there is really something in your life that comes before Chuck, then you just can't say that you love him like you're saying. It's really pretty simple."
Sarah simply looked at the table and sobbed for quite a long moment. Finally she spoke.
"You know what?" Sarah said with a sigh. "You're absolutely right. There is something I've been putting ahead of Chuck. I'm so sorry to have caused all of this pain."
"So," said Ellie with a smile. "The big question is what are you going to do about it? What is first to you?"
Sarah's response was quick and sure.
"I'm totally and completely in love with your brother." Sarah said as her face turned into a huge grin. "I can't imagine my life without him. I hope that answers your question."
"I think that it does." Ellie said matching Sarah's grin as she got up to embrace Sarah. "See how easy that was?"
"I'll need a couple of days to work out my other issues." Sarah said softly as they embraced. "Please help me to win him back."
"These other issues," Ellie said with a smile in a matter of fact tone. "They have nothing to do with another man, right?"
"There is no other man." Sarah said with a giggle as she walked to the door. "There never was."
"Sarah," said Ellie after a long hesitation. "I think I know what your issue is. And I just want you to know that I'm not judging you. Please, just work it out."
"What do you mean?" Sarah asked with a smile. "What do you think that you know?"
"Come on, Sarah," Ellie said softly as it became her turn to look at the floor. "Beautiful girl who works in a yogurt shop but drives a Porsche. You're a high priced call girl, right? I mean, it's ok. I'm not judging you. Does Chuck know?"
"I'm not a call girl." Sarah said as she laughed loudly. "Ellie, I promise."
"Sarah, I'm so sorry." Ellie said with a cry. "Please forgive me. I'm so embarrassed."
"Ellie, don't worry." Sarah said with a laugh. "It was a reasonable guess. That would actually be a lot easier to explain than the truth."
"Light green," Ellie called to Sarah as she was leaving.
"Bridesmaid's dresses," Ellie responded to Sarah's confused look. "I've always liked light green."
Sarah ran back and embraced Ellie again.
"I've always been partial to light blue." Sarah whispered. "Let's hope we get the chance to fight it out someday."
"There'll be no fight." Ellie said with a soft laugh. "The bride always gets to choose."
"I love you, Ellie." Sarah said softly as she squeezed Ellie tightly.
"I love you too, sis." Ellie said as she returned the embrace.
"Hopefully we can make that title official soon," Sarah sighed as she broke the embrace.
"I'm still looking forward to laughing at the men trying to hit on us at the club." Ellie called to Sarah as she headed towards the door.
"Not half as much as I am," Sarah sighed. "Let's hope it happens very soon."
"Don't worry about Chuck," Ellie said with a laugh. "When he comes home tonight, I'm going to keep him inside of the house until you give me the ok."
Suddenly the smile left Sarah's face, replaced with a look of concern.
"I just hope he comes home tonight."
The morning briefing had just gotten underway. Beckman, as usual, had taken charge.
"Agent Ivan," said Beckman with a growl. "This is getting incredibly frustrating. Are you going to stand there and tell me that you failed to seduce Bartowski again?"
"Sorry, ma'am," Becky said stiffly. "I'm getting close. He just isn't being very helpful. I'm starting to question his preferences."
Sarah who was making no effort to suppress her grin couldn't hold in her reaction.
"Please," she said with a laugh. "Maybe you're just coming on a little too strong."
"And you think you could do better." Becky said coldly as she gave Sarah a sideways glance.
"Agent Ivan," Sarah said firmly as she turned to face Becky. "Give me five minutes and I could seduce him in the courtyard out there. Give me ten and I could talk him into the fountain. According to your report you've gotten to second base for about five seconds in two days. So, yes, I could do a lot better. I'm fairly sure that Casey here could do better."
Sarah and Becky turned to face down each other. Neither gave an inch. Just as Casey made a move to step between them, Beckman broke them up.
"That's about enough of this foolishness." she growled. "We're all on the same team here. Am I understood?"
"Yes ma'am," Becky said stiffly.
"Understood," Sarah said just as stiffly.
"Agent Ivan," Beckman said sharply. "I've been authorized to share some extremely sensitive information with you. The authorization comes from the commander in chief. This information is not to leave this room. Is that understood?"
"Yes ma'am," Becky said firmly.
"You've heard of the intersect project?" Beckman questioned.
"Yes ma'am," said Becky cautiously. "The computer that cross references all of the intelligence data from all of the various agencies?"
"Correct," said Beckman sharply. "Mr. Bartowski is the intersect."
"No shit," said Becky softly. "Umm, I mean yes ma'am."
"I think that you can now understand why we want you to keep Bartowski controlled." Beckman said. "I expect you to redouble your efforts. If you can't be successful, I'll find someone who can be. Am I being totally clear, Agent Ivan?"
"Crystal clear, ma'am," Becky said crisply. "Consider it done."
"Dismissed," said Beckman.
As soon as the screen went blank, Becky turned on her heel and walked directly out of the room without saying a word.
"Have a nice day." Sarah said sarcastically as soon as Becky had left the room.
"Wow." Casey said with a laugh. "You two almost got into it. I was about ready to get between you."
"That would have been a serious tactical error, Major." Sarah said with a grin. "Why would you want to keep me from kicking her ass anyway?"
"Who do you think would have to shampoo the carpet?" Casey asked as he laughed. Could you please take her out to the courtyard?"
"Speaking of that," Sarah said softly. "Can we talk?"
"As long as it's not about me seducing Bartowski," Casey said with a smile.
As soon as Becky walked into her apartment she ran to her closet and pulled out a briefcase. She sat the case on her table, opened it and carefully pulled out a cell phone that was hidden in a secret compartment. She connected the battery, turned on the phone and dialed a number.
"Jimmy, it's me. Are you secure?"
"Damn it shut up and listen. Are you secure?"
"Good, remember that assignment that I got called away on?"
"Yea, to seduce the nerd."
"Well, that part isn't going to well. I'm not sure that he likes women."
"Listen to me. I just found out that this guy is worth a fortune to the highest bidder."
"Well Fulcrum for sure. We'd have to be very careful. I'm not sure I want to deal with those ruthless bastards. Hopefully some Middle East country. They have tons of that oil money. They're always looking for our weaknesses."
"I'm thinking that the bidding would start at a hundred million. It might go for four or five times that."
"No shit. We could buy our own island and sit around drinking rum for the rest of our lives."
"Can you get ten men that you trust and meet me at the safe house in San Diego?"
"They have to be men that you trust. If we get caught on this one, we're dead."
"Don't worry. I can get him there."
"Jimmy, I've been trying to screw him for the past two days. What in the hell do you think I've been doing?"
"Don't worry. I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve."
"No, we need him alive. At least until we get the money."
"I'll be there with him tonight."
"If I have to. It would be better if he came willingly. It would raise a lot less suspicion."
"He has a bodyguard detail but I can get him away."
"Sure. I love you too."
"Don't worry. We'll be in bed together tonight."
"Yes. I'll be in a very good mood."
Chapter 6: Love is a Razor
"Ok, Walker," Casey said with interest as he handed Sarah a cup of coffee and sat down at the kitchen table across from her. "It looks like you're serious. What did you want to talk about?"
"I've never been more serious in my life, John." Sarah said with a sad look. "I wanted you to be the first to know. I'm planning on resigning from the CIA."
"I know." replied Casey softly. "I thought that is what you were going to say. Are you absolutely sure? There is no going back from that."
"I'm sure." Sarah said as a smile crept on her lips. "I love him, John. He needs to be first in my life. The greater good can't be first for me anymore. Chuck has to be. I'm sorry."
"Don't be sorry." replied Casey with a smile of his own. "I think it's great. My boy Chuck tamed the mighty Sarah Walker. I wish there was someone I could tell. I feel like bragging him up."
"I wouldn't say tamed." Sarah said as her smile grew into a full fledged grin. "Still, I see what you mean. I feel like a teenager."
"I can't tell you how happy I was listening to you and Ellie last night." Casey said as his grin matched Sarah's. "For what it's worth, I agree with you. Light blue would match your eyes a lot better. It's hilarious that she thought you were a hooker."
"Wasn't it?" Sarah said with a laugh. "I'm going to have a lot of fun teasing her about that for years."
"Ok," said Casey with his face growing serious. "Now that we've had this icky sweet moment, I'd like to talk to you as your partner for a minute. Are you sure that your resigning is what's best, for you or for Chuck?"
"I don't see any other way." Sarah said thoughtfully. "I need to put Chuck first. As long as I'm in the CIA they expect me to follow orders. There is just no way to do both."
"You realize that you'll be out of the loop operationally, right?" Casey said. "Who will protect Chuck?"
"You're not going anywhere, are you?" Sarah said softly. "Chuck trusts you and more importantly, I trust you. And just because I'm not going to be an agent doesn't mean I'll forget how to throw a knife or shoot. In a lot of ways, Chuck will be safer. I'll be in bed beside him every night."
"Well, actually," Sarah said with a laugh. "Sometimes I'll be under him. Maybe, on the rare occasion, I'll be on top of him. But you get the idea."
"You couldn't resist making me want to shoot myself." Casey said with a groan. "Could you?"
"Sorry," Sarah said as her eyes sparkled at Casey's discomfort.
Casey's demeanor suddenly grew serious.
"Walker, I need to tell you something." Casey said as he looked at the table. "Remember the night when you went to Bartowski's to tell him that the replacement intersect had been destroyed?"
"I was in the house that night." Casey continued. "I had been ordered to eliminate him as soon as the new intersect was up."
"No," whispered Sarah. "You were going to kill Chuck?"
"Honestly," Casey said as he again met Sarah's eye. "I don't know. But I have to admit, I was in the house with my gun drawn."
"John," said Sarah softly with tears starting to form. "Am I going to have to fight you?"
"It won't be me, Sarah." Casey said firmly. "I can promise you that. I'll be standing next to you fighting them off as long as we can. But that's not the point. As long as they think of Chuck as an asset, he's not safe. You and I can keep him safe from the bad guys. I'm confident of that. It's the good guys that worry me. Someday he's going to stop being an asset and become a liability."
"What are we going to do?" Sarah said with a huge sigh.
"There is only one thing to do." Casey said with a small smile. "We have to change their thinking."
"How?" Sarah asked.
"Walker," said Casey thoughtfully. "We both signed up for this life for the same reason, to protect the greater good, right?"
"To do that, we've been trained to follow orders without question." Casey continued. "The problem is that orders don't always mean what's best for the greater good. Beckman is a person. She makes mistakes. Sometimes she loses track of what's important. You're quitting will keep Chuck safe from the bad guys for a while. But it will only be a matter of time before they decide that he's a liability. We can fight, and we would. But we can't win. There would be too many of them."
"We could run." Sarah said softly.
"From them?" Casey asked with a sad smile. "I don't think so. Sarah, you know better then that. It would be a million to one chance."
"Then what should we do?" Sarah asked with tears starting to well.
"Convince her," said Casey firmly. "Make Beckman see that she is wrong about Bartowski. Let her know how dedicated we are to him. Make sure she sees we view protecting him as fulfilling our vow."
"Ok," Sarah said firmly as she motioned to the dark monitor on the wall. "I guess there's only one thing to do."
"Get that bitch online."
When Chuck came out of his room, on his way to work, the first thing that he noticed was Ellie in the kitchen making breakfast. It looked like she was making pancakes. She was actually hard not to notice since she was singing at the top of her lungs. Ellie's singing always brought a smile to Chuck's face for two very different reasons. Not only was Ellie a very bad singer, but also she only sang when she was in a very good mood.
"Hi, Chuck," Ellie called as soon as she caught sight of him. "Sit down and have some pancakes."
"No thanks, sis," Chuck said with a tight smile. "I'm not that hungry."
"It wasn't a request." Ellie said firmly but with a smile.
Chuck knew that when Ellie took that particular tone, it was pointless to argue with her. So he did the smart thing. He sat down at the table and started buttering the pancakes that Ellie sat in front of him.
"So," Chuck said with a smile. "What's with your good mood? Singing and pancakes? Please don't tell me anything I don't want to know."
"How was your date last night?" Ellie asked, ignoring Chuck's question.
"It was ok, I guess." Chuck said hesitantly. "It wasn't really much of a date. We ate pizza and played Call of Duty."
"Nothing else?" asked Ellie with a smile as she sat across the table from Chuck and started working on her own pancakes. "No romance? I see that you were home early."
"Ellie," Chuck said with a quizzical look. "Why are you so interested in my sex life, or more appropriately, my lack of a sex life?"
"I have my reasons." Ellie said with a sly smile. "So it's still the lack?"
Chuck just gave her an embarrassed nod.
"Good," replied Ellie.
"Why is that good?" Chuck said slowly. "Trust me. For a guy in his mid twenty's the lack of a sex life is hardly ever a good thing."
"It is in this case." Ellie said with a laugh. "As a matter of fact, it's a very good thing. Sarah was over last night."
"Ellie," Chuck said with a whine. "Please. We've been all through this. Please don't make me hope. It's too hard. I have to move on. I know that you think you're helping but you're just stretching out the pain."
"Chuck," Ellie said excitedly. "She loves you."
"I know that you think that." Chuck said softly as he got up to leave. "But Sarah is a hard person to read and I'm late for work."
"Sit down, dumb ass." Ellie said a little too harshly than she wanted. "I'm not telling you that I have a feeling or that I hope. I'm telling you she is in love with you. She sat in the same chair that you are and told me."
"Really," Chuck questioned with a confused smile. "But if that's true why wouldn't she tell me? I saw her yesterday."
"I don't know." Ellie said sadly. "She wouldn't tell me. She said that she needed a couple of days to work something out."
"Ellie," Chuck said skeptically. "That doesn't make any sense. You must have misunderstood her."
"She is kind of a basket case emotionally." Ellie said with a smile. "That's true isn't it? But there is no possible way that I misunderstood her. She was sobbing. Chuck, trust me. In two days you kids are going to be back together."
Beckman appeared on the monitor looking very annoyed.
"Agent Walker," she said firmly. "What is so urgent that it couldn't wait for tomorrow's briefing?"
"Well ma'am," Sarah said calmly. "I'm becoming concerned over the way we're supporting Chuck. I think that we need to change some things."
"Agent Walker," Beckman replied harshly. "That is not your concern. I would suggest that you do your job and let me worry about the intersect."
"I'm sorry ma'am." Sarah said softly. "But I'm afraid that I can't do that. I've taken an oath to protect the intersect. And that's what I'm going to do. Chuck is the intersect. They are the same."
"Agent Walker," Beckman said sadly. "You're obviously hopelessly compromised."
"I'm not even sure what that means any more." Sarah said with a smile. "If it means that I love him, then yes. I do. With all of my heart. And I'm ashamed of myself that I've let you treat him so poorly."
"You've let me?" Beckman said incredulously. "Agent Walker, just who do you think you're talking to?"
"Ma'am," said Sarah. "And if you would pull your head out of your ass for ten minutes, I think I could convince you that I'm right."
"Ok, Sarah," Beckman said angrily. "You have my attention. Be prepared to be reassigned if you can't convince me. Say your piece. How are you right?"
"General," said Sarah. "I've dedicated my adult life to the service of this country. As have you. This is no disrespect aimed at you. But we're just not treating Chuck in the right way. It's not right for him and it's not right for the country. Chuck is an amazing man. He has an incredible gift. He's not an asset that needs to be seduced, controlled and disposed of when we're done. He is a hero. He deserves our admiration, our support, and yes ma'am, our love. That's what he's going to get from me starting right now."
"Ok Sarah," Beckman said more softly. "But what if I disagree with your approach?"
"Well ma'am," said Sarah. "I've told you what I'm going to do. You can either support me or fight me. But if you fight me, tell whoever you send to bring lots of body bags."
"Sarah, are you threatening me?" Beckman said.
"No ma'am," said Sarah. "I'm sorry if it sounds like that. I genuinely have a lot of respect for you. I'm simply describing the facts as I see them.
"And you would be willing to fight the entire government alone to protect Chuck?" Beckman asked.
"Yes ma'am," said Sarah firmly. "If I have too. Proudly."
"Begging your pardon ma'am," said Casey softly, speaking up for the first time. "But she wouldn't be alone."
"So folks," said Beckman with a sigh. "What do you propose?"
"Several things," Sarah said with a smile. "First we need to send Agent Ivan packing. Agent Casey will be with Chuck at all times at the Buy More and I'll be with him at all other times. Casey will spend his day poking fun of Chuck and I'll spend my time making sure he knows how much I love and respect him. When you have missions for us, we'll perform them much like in the past. Except that we'll seek Chuck's input. Oh, and he needs to be put on the payroll and addressed as Chuck or Agent Bartowski, not as the intersect."
"Major," said Beckman after a long pause. "What is your assessment of Agent Walker's plan?"
"I'm in total agreement ma'am." said Casey softly.
"Ok Sarah," Beckman said softly. "You're either crazy or you're the most dedicated person I've ever met. And I don't think that you're crazy. We'll try it your way. Give Agent Ivan the message to disengage. I'm thinking professional courtesy would demand that she be given until tomorrow's briefing."
"Yes ma'am," said Sarah. "Thank you ma'am. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the confidence."
"And Sarah," Beckman said with a smile. "I assume we're going to have a wedding in the near future?"
"I hope so ma'am." said Sarah as her face broke into a huge grin.
"If I keep my head out of my ass until then can I attend?" Beckman said with a smile.
"Yes ma'am," said Sarah with a grin. "Of course. We'd be very honored."
"Send my invitation in care of the office." Beckman said. "Dismissed."
As soon as the screen went blank Sarah turned to Casey.
"Thanks, John," Sarah whispered. "But could I ask for just one more favor?"
Casey just nodded.
"Please let me tell Agent Ivan."
Becky was just starting to pack when she heard a knock at the door. When she opened the door Sarah was standing in front of her. Without waiting for an invitation, Sarah pushed past her into the room.
"Agent Walker," Becky said with obvious disdain. "To what do I owe this surprise?"
"There has been a change in your mission." Sarah said firmly. "You are to end your relationship with Chuck before tomorrow's briefing. After that, you will be given your new assignment."
"Says who?" Becky said.
"These orders come from General Beckman." Sarah said firmly. "Feel free to call her and confirm them if you wish."
"And what if I decide that I don't want to break up with Chuck?" Becky said with an evil smile. "I think he is really cute. I bet he's really good in bed. I can't wait to find out."
"Agent Ivan," Sarah said through gritted teeth. "I believe that you are aware of the many records that I hold at the academy. One of those records was for most consecutive victories in kickboxing. So let's be clear. If you haven't broken up with Chuck by tomorrow's briefing?"
"Yes?" Becky said with a smirk.
"Be prepared for me to break you up. Specifically, your face."
Chapter 7: Love is a River
As he sat in the cage, Chuck's head swirled. Try as he might to ignore it, hope had reappeared. Ellie was so sure. And what possible reason would Sarah have to lie to her? Why would Sarah even go over and talk to Ellie? It didn't make any sense. Sarah didn't like to talk about her feelings. That was for sure. And what could Sarah have to take care of that would take two days? One thing that he knew for sure, he was going to find out. All of those thoughts were driven out of his head as he saw Becky heading towards the cage. He had been trying to ignore her every since their date. But he was trapped here in the cage. He didn't want to hurt her feelings but he just wasn't ready to jump into her bed.
"Hi, Becky," Chuck said as he forced a smile on his face.
"Hi, Chuck," Becky said sadly as her eyes started to well with tears.
"Is something wrong?" Chuck asked softly.
"I just came to apologize." Becky said as she looked at the floor. "The last thing that I want is to drive you away."
"What do you mean?" Chuck said with a soft smile. "How could you drive me away?"
"I feel like such a slut." Becky said as she started to sob. "I'm never that aggressive. I was just trying to help you. I hate to see you hurting. So I came on too strong. I'm so sorry."
"Becky," Chuck said soothingly as he stood up and embraced her. "It's ok. I appreciate what you were trying to do. I'm just not ready."
"I know." said Becky as she sobbed into Chuck's chest. "I want to be your friend right now. Someday, if you get over Sarah, maybe we can be more. But I'm dying to have a second chance. I want to show you that I can be your friend."
"You don't need a second chance." Chuck said softly. "You are my friend."
"Really," Becky asked, looking up into Chuck's eyes.
"Of course," Chuck replied.
"Then could we go for a drive today and talk?" Becky said hopefully while still sobbing. "We both have the afternoon off. I promise not to try and jam my tongue down your throat. I'll even keep my hands to myself. I just want to be your friend."
Chuck just rubbed Becky's back without responding.
"You're still hoping to get back with her." Becky finally said with a smile. "Aren't you?"
"I won't lie to you Becky." Chuck said with a sigh. "I would love that. I just don't know if it can happen."
"Ok," said Becky softly. "How about this? You go over and talk to her. If she is interested, stay and work it out. I'll really be happy for you. If she isn't, we'll go for a drive and I'll help you deal with it. Does that sound fair?"
"Do you really think that I should?" Chuck asked.
"Absolutely," Becky said as she squeezed Chuck tightly. "Chuck, you're still in love with her. You'll never forgive yourself if you don't give it every chance possible. I would stop just short of where she files for a restraining order."
"You know," Chuck said with a smile as he kissed the top of Becky's head. "I'm going to be kicking myself for a long time for leaving last night."
"I know," said Becky with a sad sigh as she broke the embrace and began to walk away. "But look on the bright side. If it doesn't work out and you're ready, you know where I'll be."
As soon as Becky was out of sight her sad face turned into a huge grin.
"Crying," she whispered to herself. "Damn it, why didn't I think of that sooner? I could have sealed the deal last night. It would have been so much fun to watch Walker's face as she read that report. Oh well, I guess I'll have to settle for being a billionaire."
Sarah stood watching the seconds tick off the clock. She couldn't wait for lunch time so she could go over to the Buy More and tell Chuck how she really felt. She could imagine the look of joy on his face. Sure, she was going to need to get over the hurt that she had let him feel for the past few days. He might even be very angry. Sarah couldn't really blame him if he was. But she also smiled as she knew that she could get him to forgive her. It may take a little groveling but she was willing to do that and more. Oh so much more. If everything went well, Sarah was planning a night tonight that Chuck would never forget. She was so deep into her personal fantasy that she didn't even notice Bryce enter.
"Hi Sarah," Bryce said. "I can tell by your smile that you're happy to see me too."
"Bryce," Sarah said in a shocked whisper. "What are you doing here?"
"About that," Bryce said with a huge grin. "I was hoping you'd tell me. I got this urgent call from Beckman. She ordered me to report to you as soon as possible. Apparently you needed help on some mission."
"No," said Sarah sadly. "I'm sorry Bryce. But you came all this way for nothing. The mission has been resolved. Now you have to get out of here. It's critical that Chuck not see you here."
"Why," Bryce asked in a concerned voice.
"I'll explain later." Sarah pleaded. "For now would you please just get out of sight?"
Becky and Chuck sat in Becky's car just out of sight of the yogurt shop.
"Ok tiger," said Becky with a big smile. "Go get her. I'll be rooting for you."
"I'm scared," Chuck said nervously.
"Don't be," Becky said calmly. "Just let her know that you love her just like you told me. I'm betting that melts her heart. It would mine."
"What are you going to do?" Chuck asked. "I don't know how long I'm going to be."
"I'll just wait here for a while." Becky said with a smile. "If it doesn't go well, come back and I'll take you for a drive to talk about it. If it goes well, give me a call and I'll head home."
"Ok," Chuck said with a sigh. "Here goes nothing. Wish me luck."
"Chuck," said Becky as she held out her hand to bump fists with Chuck. "I'm totally confident that I won't be seeing you again until tomorrow at work. Now go get her."
As soon as Chuck left the car, Becky picked up her cell and dialed a number.
"Agent Walker, yes this is Agent Ivan."
"I have an extremely sensitive matter to discuss with you."
"Yes, I'm afraid it's urgent."
"Yes, Agent Walker. Could you please go to a secure spot in the facility?"
Chuck walked into the yogurt shop looking for Sarah. When he saw Bryce sitting there his heart sank. How could he have been so stupid? Everything that he had questions about suddenly made sense. That's why Sarah needed a couple of days to work things out. Bryce was going to be in town for two days and she wanted to get her fill of hot Bryce loving. She was in love with Bryce. Chuck knew that he was just a fill in for when Bryce wasn't around. Or, even worse, a cover to keep him controlled. Chuck's whole body went numb. The only thing that he could feel was the tears streaming down his face.
"Chuck," Bryce said. "How have you been buddy?"
When Chuck turned to face Bryce, he could plainly see the tears running down Chuck's face.
"Buddy," Bryce said with concern. "What's wrong?"
"Bryce," Chuck whispered. "You're the luckiest man in the whole world. Tell Sarah that now I understand why she needed two days."
With that, Chuck turned and ran out of the store.
"Chuck," Bryce called after him. "Wait. Sarah wants to talk to you."
As soon as Becky saw Chuck running towards the car she smiled.
"Sorry Agent Walker," she said. "I'll have to call you right back."
Becky ended the call just as Chuck got back in the car.
"Chuck," said Becky with tears forming in her eyes. "Baby, I'm so sorry. It obviously didn't go that well. Let's go for a drive and we can talk it through."
Chuck just nodded numbly.
"You know what? My sister and I have this routine when we talk." Becky said calmly. "We take the batteries out of our cell phones. That way no one can interrupt us."
"Give me your battery." Becky said as she took her own battery out and put it in the glove compartment.
Chuck couldn't see that Becky's hand was on her gun inside her purse as she waited to see if he would comply.
Chuck's eyes didn't really focus as he almost blindly handed Becky his phone. Becky smiled as she took her hand out of her purse and removed Chuck's battery. She placed it in the glove compartment next to hers. She then handed the phone back to Chuck who stuck it in his pocket.
"Don't worry Chuck," Becky said soothingly as she pulled out of the Buy More parking lot. "This situation will be entirely different in the morning. I promise."
Sarah walked back to the front of the shop with a very annoyed look. She wasn't sure what kind of game that Becky Ivan was playing but she was sure that she didn't like it.
"Sarah," Bryce said excitedly. "You just missed Chuck. He looked really upset."
"No," Sarah whispered as tears filled her eyes. "What did he say?"
"It was weird." Bryce said in a confused tone. "He was totally crying. He said I was the luckiest man in the world and that he understood now why you needed two days."
"Oh God," Sarah whispered to herself in a panic as tears flowed in streams down her cheeks.
"Oh God," she repeated as she frantically tried to call Chuck's cell. When it went directly to voice mail Sarah left a sobbing message.
"Chuck, it's not what you think. Please call me right away. I love you."
"Damn it Bryce," Sarah screamed. "I told you that Chuck couldn't see you here. Now he's off thinking the worst."
"Sarah," said Bryce with the concern evident in his voice. "What is going on? What is wrong with Chuck? Why did you need two days? And since when do you love Chuck?"
"I'll explain it in the car." Sarah said in a panic as she grabbed her bag. "I have to be at Chuck's waiting for him when he gets home. And he can't see you."
As soon as Becky was out of sight of the Buy More she turned to Chuck. The smile was no longer on her face.
"I need your watch." Becky said flatly.
Chuck took a long moment to register what Becky had said.
"Why do you need my watch?" Chuck asked.
When he glanced over at Becky he could see her pointing her gun at him.
"I need your watch Chuck." Becky said firmly. "Now."
As soon as Chuck handed her the watch, Becky tossed it out the window.
"I'm sorry Chuck," said Becky coldly. "But I'm afraid that the nature of our relationship has changed."
In the car on the way over to Chuck's Sarah tried to explain the situation to Bryce.
"So Chuck is in love with you?" asked Bryce.
"He's never said so." said Sarah. "But yes, I think so,"
"And you're in love with him?" asked Bryce.
"But you told him that you were still in love with me?" asked Bryce. "Why would you do that? Do you realize how much that would hurt him?"
"Orders," Sarah said with a sob. "Beckman brought in another agent to get close to Chuck. They wanted me to end any hope that Chuck had with me to make it easier for the other agent. I begged her not to but she wouldn't budge."
When they arrived at Chuck's complex, Sarah went directly to Casey's. Casey was still working his shift at the Buy More. Sarah used her key to let herself into his place. She went directly to the equipment that they used to monitor Chuck's apartment. She listened for a while until it became obvious that no one was home.
Sarah tried to call Becky's phone but when it also went directly to voice mail she didn't leave a message. Finally, Casey returned home after his shift. As Sarah briefed him on the situation, Casey tried to console her.
"Don't worry," Casey said calmly. "He probably just went for a drive to blow off some steam. I'll bet he is walking on the beach. Have you checked the location of his watch?"
"His watch," Sarah exclaimed. "Of course,"
Casey pulled up the location of the watch. It was on the freeway but wasn't moving. Casey told Sarah and Bryce to wait while he went to find the location. After about twenty minutes, Casey called Sarah's cell.
"I've got bad news." Casey said. "I found the watch by the side of the road. There is no sign of Bartowski. He must have thrown it out the window."
"Damn it Chuck," Sarah sighed, her frustration becoming evident. "You have to quit doing these stupid things."
"You mean like telling someone that you love and who loves you that you are in love with someone else?" Bryce said softly. "You mean stupid like that?"
"Yes Bryce," Sarah said softly. "Stupid like that."
Chuck looked at Becky pointing the gun at him. His initial reaction was anger.
"Becky," he said in shock. "Is this a joke? If it is, it's not very funny. What's with the gun?"
"Sorry Chuck," Becky said with a grim smile. "We're going to take a little longer ride than you thought."
"What's going on Becky?" Chuck said sadly. "Would you mind not pointing your gun at me? We're going seventy miles per hour on the freeway. Where am I going to go?"
"Let's make sure." Becky said as she handed Chuck a pair of handcuffs. "Will you please put these on, Mr. Intersect?"
As soon as Chuck had the cuffs in place Becky lowered her gun.
"So," Chuck said softly. "Why did you call me Mr. Intersect? You must be Fulcrum."
"Actually Chuck," Becky said with a sly grin. "I'm CIA, or at least I was ten minutes ago. Now I guess I'm more like a free agent. General Beckman told me that you are the intersect today at our regular morning briefing at Agent Casey's. Agent Walker was standing right next to me."
"Now shut up and let me drive."
Sarah was still waiting frantically for Chuck to return home. Suddenly Casey burst back in the room.
"I just got off the phone with Beckman." Casey said breathlessly. "She wants us to conference with her in three minutes."
Even before Beckman came online Sarah could not shake the feeling of dread that consumed her. Something horrible had happened. She could just feel it. One look at Beckman's face confirmed her worst fears.
"I have some very bad news." Beckman said stoically. "We've just heard from Agent Ivan."
Sarah leaned in to make sure she heard Beckman clearly.
"She's gone rogue. They are holding the intersect for ransom."
Chapter 8: Love is a Hunger
Becky's Safe House:
When Becky pulled into the driveway of the safe house, there were four men waiting for them. Becky jumped out of the car and went immediately to one of the men. She threw her arms around him and gave him a very long and wet kiss. As soon as the kiss broke Becky spoke.
"Hi, Jimmy," she said softly. "I've really missed you."
"Is that him?" Jimmy said with a grin.
"That's him." Becky said with a sly smile. "Are you ready to become a billionaire?"
"You know," Jimmy said as he kissed Becky again. "I think I am."
They took Chuck into the house and down into the basement. They tied him to a wooden kitchen chair. They fastened his arms and legs to the arms and legs of the chair respectively. As soon as they had him gagged and secured, the men left. After a few seconds Becky and Jimmy came downstairs. Becky was holding a video camera.
"Smile for Agent Walker." Becky said as she pointed the camera at Chuck.
"You know," Jimmy said menacingly. "Becky tells me that she couldn't get you into bed. What's the matter Chuck? My Becky isn't good enough? Or maybe you just don't like chicks?"
"Anyway," Jimmy said as he slugged Chuck as hard as he could in the gut.
"That pisses me off."
Sarah felt the warmth drain from her body when she heard Beckman say that Becky was holding Chuck for ransom. She was so stunned that she left it to Casey and Bryce to ask the questions.
"How do we know, ma'am?" asked Casey softly. "Have we had any contact?"
"We received a video." Beckman said. "I'll play it for you."
After a moment the video conference screen split. On the left side was Beckman. On the right was Becky's video. It looked as if it was shot using a webcam. The quality was very poor.
"General Beckman," said Becky. "This video is to inform you that I have taken possession of the intersect."
The scene switched to Chuck sitting on a chair in the middle of an otherwise empty room. His arms and legs were bound securely to the chair. His mouth was gagged. You could definitely see the fear in his eyes as they darted around the room.
"I'll bet you're asking yourself why I'm doing this?" Becky continued as she reappeared in the video. "Well there are several reasons. I joined the CIA to make a difference in the world. I've endured countless hours of training, and all the CIA has used me for is as a whore. I've grown quite tired of that. So now, we'll be offering the intersect to several organizations who have expressed an interest. My expectation is that he will fetch several hundreds of millions of dollars. That will be quite enough for me to get the taste of government service out of my mouth. I hope you're not disappointed that I can't allow you to participate in the bidding. I'm quite confident that I can't really trust you as a business partner. Naturally, any rescue attempt will result in the immediate execution of the intersect."
At this point Beckman paused the video.
"Actually," Beckman said with the embarrassment obvious in her voice. "I think that we'll stop there. The rest is just Agent Ivan cruelly baiting Agent Walker."
"Please, ma'am," Sarah whispered. "Let us see the rest."
"If you insist," Beckman said sadly. "But I'm warning you, it is not pleasant."
"And Agent Walker," Becky said as the video continued. "I just wanted to let you know that you shouldn't worry about Chuck. I've told him all about how it was your job to get close to him and how hot your sex life with Bryce is. I think that I have him pretty much convinced that he is better off working with the winning bidder."
Sarah closed her eyes as the image of Jimmy punching Chuck was displayed. She could hear his moan through the gag. They left the camera on him for a long moment so as to emphasize the pain on his face and the tears rolling down his cheeks.
"And, by the way, Agent Walker," Becky continued. "He is really cute when he's scared. I've promised him that if he fully cooperates that I'll show him a night of gratitude before he begins his new duties. I'm actually rather looking forward to it. I'll bet that he is very generous in bed. It's a shame that it's going to be his last pleasure for a long time. I'll be sure to send you a tape. Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, General Beckman. Thanks for all the training. It's really been a big help."
At that the video ended and Beckman again took the entire screen.
"Have we identified the computer that sent us the video file?" Casey asked through gritted teeth.
"Yes," said Beckman. "Unfortunately, it's not much help. The video came from a public access computer at the University of Tennessee. The Google email address that was used was created at the same time from that same computer."
"Any signal from his cell?" Bryce asked.
"No, Agent Larkin," Beckman said with a sigh. "But I guess that's to be expected. Anyone with any training would know to not allow a cell phone."
"What are our orders, ma'am?" Casey said softly.
"I don't have to tell you that recovering the intersect, I mean Chuck, is our top priority." Beckman said. "If he falls into Fulcrum hands it will be a disaster, for him and for the country. We're working every lead that we can. Hopefully something will turn up. I need the three of you to stand by and be ready to participate in a rescue mission."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said.
"Try and get some rest." Beckman said softly. "I'll be in touch the instant that we have a solid lead. I'll need you to be in top form. And Sarah, I'm really sorry. I know this is hard for you, in particular. Until we have something for you, you're dismissed."
As soon as the screen went blank Sarah turned to Casey.
"Do you have any ideas?" she pleaded.
Casey could see the desperation in Sarah's face. Her eyes were filled with tears. It was a testament to her training that she was able to remain even moderately composed. It broke Casey's heart to have to crush her hope.
"I'm sorry, Sarah," Casey said softly. "I really don't. We're going to have to wait for a break."
"I'm never going to see him again." Sarah sobbed as she finally succumbed to the emotion. "He's going to die never knowing how I feel."
"Why don't you go home and try to get some rest?" Casey said softly. "You need to be ready when we get our break."
"He's sitting there thinking that I've been playing with him." Sarah sobbed. Her crying made it hard to understand her. "He's going to die thinking that it was all an act."
"Come on, Sarah," Bryce said softly. "I'll drive you home. You're in no condition to drive."
"No, Bryce," Sarah whispered through her tears. "You need to stay here. I want to be able to tell Chuck that you didn't spend the night at my place."
Becky's Safe House:
Chuck sat in the basement alone trying to come up with some kind of plan. He knew that he had to find a way to let Sarah and Casey know where he was. He had to fight the feeling of despair about Sarah and Bryce. He was pretty sure that he couldn't trust Becky and that she would intentionally try to depress him. Right now, that just wasn't important. No matter how Sarah felt about him personally, he was sure she would do anything to protect the intersect. One thing that Becky didn't know was that Sarah had always insisted that he carry a spare cell phone battery. If he could only reach it he could turn on his phone. Chuck knew that they would be able to track his location if he could only get the battery in it and turn it on. But with the way his arms were secured all he could do was feel the battery through the outside of his pocket. There was no way he could reach inside his pocket. He was in the middle of his thoughts when Becky came down the stairs and removed his gag.
"How are you doing, Chuck?" Becky asked.
Chuck simply stared at her and refused to respond.
"Ok, Chuck," Becky said with a sigh. "Look, I understand that you're not really happy right now. I came down here to give you a choice. Some people are going to come and test you to make sure that you're the intersect before they agree to pay us an obscene amount of money. If you cooperate with us, things might not be so bad for you. If you don't, I'm afraid things are going to get very unpleasant. What do you say?"
"You'll never get away with this." Chuck spat out hostilely. "My people will find me."
"I'm afraid you're wrong." Becky said with a smile. "You see, Chuck; I'm just as trained as they are. This is a safe house that is totally off the grid. They have no idea where to even begin to look."
Chuck just looked deflated.
"Tell me, Chuck, is he good looking?" Becky asked softly with a sly smile.
"Who?" Chuck asked.
"That Bryce guy," replied Becky.
"I guess," Chuck said with a sigh. "He never did anything for me but most women find him attractive. Why?"
"I was just wondering." Becky said calmly. "Because all Agent Walker could ever talk about before our briefings is how good he was in bed. And all of the things that she did with him - nasty things, Chuck. She kept saying how she could never get enough. It was really unprofessional. But I have to say, I wouldn't mind buying a ticket for that ride myself. She said that he took her places that she's never been. Every woman wants that, Chuck."
Becky smiled as she watched the tears flow down Chuck's face.
"So you see, Chuck." Becky continued. "You're probably better off without her anyway. So, what do you say? Cooperate and make it easier on yourself?"
Chuck was openly sobbing.
"I guess," he was able to finally choke out. "What do I have to lose?"
"Good," said Becky with a relieved smile.
"Do you think I could go to the bathroom?" Chuck asked softly between sobs.
"Sure," said Becky softly. "As long as you cooperate with us, Chuck, you'll find that we're not so bad. I'll have the guys come right down and untie you for a minute so you can use the restroom, ok?"
"Thanks," Chuck sobbed.
Becky's Safe House:
The instant that they let Chuck into the bathroom, his sobs turned into a huge smile. He knew that Becky was lying. No matter how Sarah felt about Bryce she would never openly talk about her sex life. Chuck was sure of that. He quickly put his spare battery into his cell and turned it on. First he was careful to cover the speaker so that no one would hear the sound of it turning on. He quickly smiled as he noticed that he had twelve missed calls from Sarah. He knew that he couldn't risk calling her but he couldn't resist listening to the first message. He ran the water to cover the noise and was careful to press the phone to his ear so that it wouldn't be heard. When he heard Sarah say "I love you." his heart soared. The words that he had dreamed of hearing for so long were like music, even in these circumstances. Whatever the real deal was between Sarah, Bryce, and him, Chuck felt for the first time that it might work out. Chuck made sure that the ringer was turned off and quietly put the phone back in his pocket. He made sure that he was still sobbing when he walked out of the bathroom to be retied up.
Sarah numbly drove back to her apartment on autopilot. She really couldn't even remember getting into the car. As she drove up to her building the church that was three doors down from her apartment suddenly caught her eye. Even though she had passed by it every day for the past year she had never thought much about it being there. Certainly, she never had come close to going in. Sarah couldn't even remember the last time that she had been in a church. But the lights seemed to call to her. Almost like a moth. Sarah pulled the car in front of the church and sat for a moment. Something powerful was telling her to go in. When Sarah went cautiously inside she called out but the church looked to be empty. Sarah walked up to the front of the church and looked around. She still couldn't see anybody there. So with tears streaming down her face Sarah stepped up to the altar and did something that she hadn't done since she was thirteen.
She got down on her knees and prayed.
It probably wasn't the all time best prayer. After all, Sarah really didn't have much experience in that area. But as she cried about her concern for Chuck at the altar something amazing happened. Her dread disappeared. For the first time since seeing the video of Chuck's capture, hope had returned.
As Sarah was praying, Casey ran into the church looking for her. They had to get moving. He was going to rush in and tell her the news when something made him hesitate. As he stood and listened to Sarah's sobbing prayer, he realized that this was something that she needed to do. Figuring that they could use all of the help they could get, Casey bowed his head and silently joined Sarah in praying.
Sarah wasn't really sure if she had been praying for five or fifty minutes, but she ended by begging for a sign to find Chuck. She also asked for one more chance to tell him the truth. She promised that she wouldn't waste the next chance.
When she finished praying she was wiping the tears from her eyes as she noticed Casey standing at the back of the church. Something about the look on his face told her that something was up.
"How did you know I was here?" Sarah asked as she quickly walked up to Casey. She noticed the tears in his eyes.
"I came looking for you and saw your car." Casey said softly. "I figured you'd be in here."
Casey saw the anticipation and concern in Sarah's eyes. It was the concern that accompanied renewed hope.
"I'm thinking that you might want to consider praying more often." Casey said as his face lit up into a grin. "Come on. We just got a signal from Bartowski's cell. He is in San Diego."
"Thank you." Sarah sobbed as she threw her arms around Casey and cast her eyes skyward.
"You're welcome," Casey said softly as he patted Sarah on the back.
"I wasn't really talking to you." Sarah said with a half smile. "But thank you too."
"I know who you were talking to." Casey replied matching Sarah's smile. "Let's go get him."
They both ran and quickly got into their cars.
Sarah couldn't help the smile that came to her face as she drove. Even though the situation was still very grim, she now had hope. She also knew that if she was ever fortunate enough to marry Chuck where the ceremony would take place. The tiny church that she had passed so many times without even thinking about it was now part of her heart forever. "But first things first," she whispered to herself as she accelerated onto the freeway.
"Please hang on, Chuck. We're coming."
Chapter 9: Rescue Mission
Sarah was following Casey and Bryce down the freeway. She was getting very frustrated that Casey wasn't driving faster. Actually Casey was topping ninety and had almost caused several wrecks dodging in and out of traffic but it was obvious that Casey's Crown Vic was no match for the top end performance of Sarah's Porsche. Sarah was very tempted to leave them and get to Chuck's location as soon as possible. But after thinking about it she decided that it would be best for them to arrive together. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity on the road, they arrived at the location. The house appeared to be in a normal looking upscale suburban neighborhood. Sarah smiled to herself. It was a perfect house for an agent's 'off the grid' hiding spot. Someday soon, she was going to have to tell Chuck about her own safe house in Baltimore. Hopefully she could figure out a way to get Chuck off the grid for a couple of days to take him there. Casey drove past the house and continued until he came to a convenience store parking lot about three blocks away. Sarah followed him into the parking lot. She quickly parked the Porsche and got into the back seat of Casey's car.
"Ok," Sarah said as she took out her Glock and racked a round into the firing chamber. "Let's go get him."
She immediately felt Casey's hand grab her shoulder.
"Wait a minute." Casey hissed. "Are you crazy?"
"Chuck is in there." Sarah said with the concern evident in her voice. "What are we waiting for?"
"For one thing," Casey said. "All we know for sure is that Chuck's cell phone is in there. We're only hoping that Chuck is with it. For another, we don't have any idea how many men are in there or what room they're holding Chuck in. This could very well be a trap. Barging in there would only get Bartowski, and probably us, killed."
"Casey," Sarah pleaded. "Please, we have to risk it. Who knows what Chuck is going through right now? He might not have any time for us to wait."
"Casey's right," Bryce said softly. "Sarah, we need to have some intel if we're going to have a reasonable chance of success. I know that you're emotional about this but you need to start thinking like an agent if you ever want to see him again."
"What do you propose?" Sarah asked as she shot Bryce an icy stare.
"I'm going to become Fulcrum." Bryce said with a wry smile. "And I'll want to inspect the merchandise."
Becky's Safe House:
Chuck was sitting in the basement in the same position for several hours. He decided to try and get some sleep but the uncomfortable position he was in was proving difficult. Finally Becky walked down the stairs with a tray of food. Two of the men that had tied him up were with her.
"Hi, Chuck," Becky said calmly. "Are you hungry?"
"I could eat." Chuck said with a hint of sarcasm. "Are you going to feed me?"
"Would you like that?" Becky said with a sly smile. "I'll let them untie you so you can eat if you can convince me that you'll be a good boy."
"What would I do?" Chuck asked with a caustic laugh. "Let's see. I'm unarmed against a trained super agent and her two very large henchmen. I'm sorry, is henchmen the correct term? I mean no offense. Do you prefer thug?"
Becky laughed as she nodded to the men to untie Chuck.
"You're a charmer." Becky said still laughing as she motioned for Chuck to sit at the table. "I'm actually going to miss you. I hope burgers and fries are ok."
"It's better than that pizza last night." said Chuck with a grumble as he hungrily attacked his burger. "It took a long time to get the taste of all those olives out of my mouth."
"Is that why you turned me down last night?" Becky asked with a smile as she sat across the table from him. "Your stomach was upset from all the olives."
"That's really bothering you, isn't it?" Chuck asked with an ironic smile.
"I guess it really is." Becky said with a laugh as she nodded for the men to leave. "It's a professional pride thing. You're the first man that I haven't been able to seduce."
"Well, it's nice to be unique, I suppose." Chuck said more to himself than to Becky.
"I've come down here to give you one last chance." Becky said with a grin.
"You're saying that you want to have sex with me." Chuck said in a frustrated voice. "Do you expect me to believe that you have feelings for me now?"
"No Chuck," Becky said calmly. "Of course not. I'm not saying that I want to have sex with you. I'm saying that I'd be willing to. I have a couple of reasons. First, I'd like to keep my perfect record intact. It's sort of a professional pride thing. But most of all, I'd like to tape it and send a copy to Agent Walker."
"Why would you want to do that?" Chuck asked in a puzzled tone.
"Let's just say that Agent Walker and I aren't really friends." Becky said with a smile. "And I'm thinking that seeing us go at it would put her over the edge. It would be fun."
Chuck just stared at her incredulously.
"What do you say?" Becky said seductively as she began to slowly unbutton her blouse. "It would be a good way for both of us to get back at her."
"Why would I want to get back at Sarah?" Chuck asked softly. "You know that I'm in love with her."
"Come on Chuck," said Becky angrily. "Wake up. Agent Walker is the same as me. Tell me; did you have any clue that I have playing you for the past two days?"
Chuck shook his head sadly.
"Well Sarah has had the same training that I have." Becky continued loudly. "We went to the same academy for goodness sake. It's been her job for the past year to get close to you. And she's fooled you just like I did. But trust me; she has her real life just like I do. Where I have Jimmy, she has Bryce. We're exactly the same. Exactly. Now, do you want to get back at her or do you want to stay a chump? I'm never going to ask you again."
"I'm sorry Becky." Chuck sobbed as the tears flowed down his cheeks. "I can't."
"Suit yourself." Becky said loudly as she sent the chair that she was sitting in flying across the room. "I'll send the guys back down to tie you back up."
As Becky stormed up the stairs, Chuck tears quickly turned into a grin. Becky had just confirmed for him how Sarah really felt.
"Becky must know that Sarah loves me." Chuck whispered to himself. "Or why would it bother her to see me and Becky?"
"So Bryce," Sarah said in a skeptical tone. "How are you going to be able to convince them that you're Fulcrum? I don't understand."
"Easy," said Bryce confidently as he typed on his laptop. "I've spent the past six months infiltrating Fulcrum. From my contacts I've learned how they are communicating. They are using a message board with a code. The bidding is up to three hundred million. I'm going to bid twice that. And I'll demand to see for myself that they really have the intersect. They must be expecting that. So once they set up the meeting, I'll scout the house. If I get a chance, I'll give Chuck an earpiece. That way we'll be able to talk to him."
"What do you think?" Sarah asked softly as she turned to Casey. Sarah didn't notice the look of surprise that came over Bryce's face. But Casey did.
"You know," Casey said. "They are going to be looking for electronics. How are you going to carry an earpiece?"
"I have a compartment in the heel of my shoe." Bryce said. "Its lead lined. If they do a sweep, they won't pick it up. Hopefully I can be alone with Chuck for a minute to slip it to him."
"You're going to be on your own." Casey said firmly. "You know that, right? Walker and I will stay here. If they make you, it's going to be bad."
"I'm used to being on my own." Bryce said flatly as he threw a glance at Sarah. "Does anybody have any better idea?"
"Not really," Casey said with a sigh as he turned to Sarah. "It's either this or the three of us storm in there blind. I say Bryce's idea gives us the best shot."
"Good," said Bryce with a smile. "The meeting is set up. I have to be at the mall in a half hour. Sarah, I need the keys to the Porsche."
"Bryce," said Sarah with a grin as she handed Bryce the keys. "If you scratch my car, you'll…"
"Yea," said Bryce with a confident smile as he finished Sarah's sentence. "I'll wish I had never been born."
San Diego Mall:
Bryce had to hustle to get to the meeting place in time. They had picked a food court in the middle of a crowded mall. Bryce laughed to himself as he saw the sight. The four large men standing there waiting couldn't possibly be more conspicuous. Bryce walked up to them and gave them the code word.
"Agent Noname," said one of the men. "Would you please follow us?"
Bryce had to bite his lip to keep from laughing. "Do these morons really think that's my name?" he said to himself.
They led Bryce out into the parking lot and to a grey panel van. Once they were inside the van they searched him for weapons and performed an electronic sweep. Finally the same man spoke.
"Agent Noname," he said softly as he handed Bryce a hood. "If you would please put this over your head. We won't cuff you out of professional courtesy but please make no attempt to remove the hood until we're inside of the garage."
Becky's Safe House:
Bryce tried to estimate the amount of time that they were driving. It seemed to him that they were taking far longer to get there than he anticipated. Hopefully they were just taking a round about route to prevent them from being tailed. Finally the van slowed as it obviously turned into a garage. Bryce could hear the automatic opener as the door closed behind them. He was told to remove his hood and led into the house. A tall very attractive, dark haired woman stepped up to him.
"Becky Ivan," Becky said with a smile as she extended her hand. "And you are…?"
"In a hurry," Bryce said as he narrowed his eyes. "Can we get down to business, Miss Ivan? May I please see the merchandise?"
"Not much for pleasantries, I see." Becky said briskly. "Fine, he's in the basement. We'll take you down to see him."
"I need to go alone." Bryce said firmly. "And if I'm not mistaken, the amount of money that we're offering you should be pleasantry enough. Perhaps after our business is complete we can have a cup of tea."
"Alone," Becky questioned as her brow furrowed. "Why on earth would you need to be alone?"
"Miss Ivan," Bryce said sharply. "We at Fulcrum have been franticly looking for the intersect for the past year. We are probably the only organization outside the government who can tell for sure if you really have the intersect or just some guy. It doesn't seem fair to us that you witness our techniques and share that knowledge with our competitors. Wouldn't you agree?"
"And if I refuse," Becky asked.
"Then Miss Ivan," Bryce said calmly. "In that case, I'm afraid that we will be unable to do business. Once word gets out that Fulcrum was unable to certify the intersect as genuine, I'm afraid that your bids are going to be depressed significantly. You are about to make a decision that could cost you several hundreds of millions of dollars."
Becky started at Bryce for a long moment. Finally she spoke.
"Fine," Becky said with a sigh. "Will ten minutes suffice?"
"More than enough," Bryce said with a smile. "I should be able to be done in half that."
"Ok," Becky said. "Wait here for a second while I go and make sure that he is going to cooperate.
Fine," said Bryce. As he looked around the house he counted ten men. The house was a classic ranch style. The door from the garage was in about the middle of the house. Directly across from it was the stairs that led to the basement. To the right was the kitchen and dining area. In front of that was a living type room. It looked like most of the men were gathered around a big screen TV watching a football game. The front door was off the living room. In the back of the house, there appeared to be a den with a door that led to the back yard. The men looked relaxed. They obviously weren't anticipating any trouble. After a couple of minutes, Becky reappeared and indicated that he could go downstairs.
Becky's Safe House:
Chuck was just about to fall asleep when he saw Becky come back down the stairs. She walked up to him and removed his gag.
"Ok Chuck," Becky said softly. "Now is the time that will determine how the rest of your time with us will be spent. A man is going to come down and test you to make sure that you're really the intersect. We really need you to step up here, Chuck. If you don't, things are going to get really unpleasant. "Do you understand?"
Chuck just looked at her.
"Chuck," Becky said gently. "Please, don't make me get barbaric. I really don't want to. But trust me, I will if I have to. You don't want that, right?"
"Of course not," Chuck whispered.
"I'll tell you what." Becky said with a smile and she walked towards the stairs. "If I get a good report, I get you a nice juicy steak."
Chuck waited for the man to come down the stairs. He could hear his footsteps as he hit each step. Chuck dreaded whatever test was going to be performed. He closed his eyes at the horror.
"Hi Chuck," Bryce said softly. "I bet you're a hell of a lot happier to see me now then the last time you saw me."
"Bryce," Chuck whispered in amazement. "How are you here?"
"Well Chuck," Bryce said softly. "I convinced them that I'm Fulcrum and we needed to make sure that they really have the intersect."
"How's Sarah?" Chuck whispered as tears began to form in his eyes.
"She's fine." Bryce said softly as he took the earpiece out of his shoe. "She's kind of frantic right now worried about you. By the way, you're totally wrong about Sarah and me. I haven't talked to her since the last time we were all together. I had just gotten to the Yogurt shop about five minutes before you did."
"Then why did she tell me about her being in love with you?" Chuck whispered.
"She needs to tell you about that." Bryce said softly with a smile as he put the earpiece in Chuck's ear. "But the short answer is that Beckman ordered her."
"It's funny." Bryce said as he fished the cell phone out of Chuck's pocket and removed the battery. "You called me the luckiest man in the world earlier. I know that if you looked around right now you might dispute this. But the fact is you're the luckiest man in the world. Now, if we can just get you out of here alive, maybe you can start living the life that you deserve."
Sarah and Casey sat in the car parked down the street. It had been well over an hour since Bryce had left. Finally they saw the grey van pull into the driveway and into the garage. Sarah was on pins and needles as they waited for word from Bryce. There were so many things that could go wrong. But suddenly Sarah heard Bryce's voice over her earpiece. And then, beyond her wildest hope, came Chuck's voice. It took a minute for Sarah to gather her composure.
"Chuck," Sarah said softly. "I don't want you to say anything. Just cough if you can hear me."
The sound of Chuck's cough brought tears to Sarah's eyes.
"Thank God," Sarah cried. "Chuck, I made a promise that if I ever got another chance to talk to you that I wouldn't waste it. So I need you to listen very carefully to me. I can't put into words how much I am in love with you. I can't imagine my life without you. I need you to know that. And I know that I've caused you a lot of pain over the past few days. I'm so, so sorry. I've suffered a lot too. And I need you to know that as soon as we get you out of there, I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure the memory of that pain goes away."
Sarah paused for a moment to wipe her eyes.
"Having said that," Sarah continued softly. "This is a very serious situation. In order to get out of it, I'm going to have to count on you to do everything that I say. So I promise you if you do that, we'll get you out of there. You're both the man I've swore to protect and the love of my life. But I also promise that if you don't do exactly as I say, I'll break two of your fingers. And I'm not kidding, Chuck. Just cough if you understand."
Sarah's face broke into a huge grin as she heard Chuck's nervous cough.
Chapter 10: God's Gift to Women
Becky's Safe House:
When Bryce came back up the stairs after meeting with Chuck, Becky was waiting for him. Bryce walked up to her and put on his most boyish smile.
"Well, Miss Ivan," Bryce said as he stuck out his hand. "Congratulations. You are about to become a very wealthy lady. Could I please call you Becky?"
"Of course," said Becky with a dazzling smile of her own as she took Bryce's hand. "I take it that your tests went well."
"It went incredibly well," said Bryce as he continued to hold Becky's hand. "Let me apologize for my rude behavior earlier. We've been disappointed so many times in the past when we thought we were going to get the intersect."
"I understand." Becky said as she continued her smile and made no effort to withdraw her hand.
"You're quite an amazing woman, Becky." Bryce said softly as he gently grabbed Becky's hand in both of his. "Smart, aggressive, wealthy, and incredibly beautiful. That's quite a package."
"Thank you," said Becky. A slight blush came to her face but she continued to look Bryce in the eye.
"Have you ever considered joining Fulcrum?" Bryce asked. "It's not often we come across such an amazing talent."
"Thanks," said Becky. "I'm thinking that I might retire now that I'm rich. But the offer is very flattering."
"I'd love to get to know you a little better." Bryce whispered with a grin. "About being rich; do you think that maybe we could go get a drink somewhere and talk about our bid? I want to make sure that you're aware of just how much we want this merchandise."
"Are you sure that you want to talk about money?" Becky said with a sly smile. "Or something else?"
"Why don't we start with money?" Bryce whispered softly as he leaned in to speak directly into Becky's ear. "Then maybe we'll see what happens. I have to warn you. I'm not going to be held accountable for my actions."
"What specifically do you have in mind?" Becky said as the smile turned into a silly grin.
"It depends on what you mean by specifically." Bryce said with a definite twinkle in his eye. "How about you drive me back to my car? I'll put the hood on my head and think of some more specifics on the way. I'm sure you'll be impressed."
"You're pretty confident." said Becky with a laugh. "Aren't you?"
"Life is too short, Becky." Bryce said softly. "Especially in our line of work. I've learned that when I see something that I want, I go for it. Don't you agree?"
Becky looked at Bryce for a long moment trying to make up her mind. Bryce kept his eyes fixed on Becky's. His expression didn't change from the boyish smile. Becky was obviously weighing in her mind the risks versus what she desired. Bryce could almost see the wheels turning in her eyes. Finally desire had won out.
Fine," Becky finally said with sigh. "Give me a minute to let the guys know."
Becky walked over to where Jimmy was sitting in the living room. He and most of the other men were watching Sports Center.
"I'm going to take him back." Becky said. "He wants to talk about his bid."
"He doesn't want to talk." Jimmy said sarcastically without averting his gaze from the television. "Everybody in the room knows what he wants. There will be plenty of time to get laid after we're rich."
"Come on, Jimmy," Becky said with the hint of distain in her voice. "You're not going to start getting jealous on me now, are you?"
"You know better than that." Jimmy said while turning his head slightly to look at Becky for the first time. "Go have your fun. Just don't lose focus. There's too much at stake here."
"Make sure that nothing happens to our prize." Becky said as she turned to walk away. "I should be back in a couple of hours."
"You might want to consider trying to play hard to get once in a while." Jimmy said as he turned back towards the TV. "I've heard that some men consider that a turn on."
"Not any of the ones I've met," Becky said over her shoulder as she continued walking. "Oh, by the way, I promised our buddy a steak. He really came through for us."
After letting the seriousness of the situation sink in, Sarah decided that she needed to calm Chuck down a little.
"Don't worry about a thing." Sarah said soothingly. "As soon as Bryce gets back, we're going to come in and get you. Bryce scouted the house so he should be able to prepare us. They won't be expecting an attack. If we can surprise them it might be easy."
Chuck coughed to let her know that he understood.
"I'm assuming that you found a way to use your spare cell battery" Sarah said softly. "That was really quick thinking. I'm really proud of you, Chuck. Aren't you happy now that I make you carry an extra battery?"
Chuck coughed again.
"We're really going to have to look at that cough." Sarah said with the smile evident in her voice. "Once we get you out of there I promise to rub some warm oil on your chest. Maybe I'll even have you return the favor. Would you like that?"
Sarah really couldn't tell if Chuck's response was a cough. It sounded more like a whimper.
"Ok, Chuck," said Sarah with a laugh. "I want you to sit back and try and get some rest. It will be another hour or so before we come in. I know that you're scared but it's important that you try to relax and get some rest. We're going to need you alert when this goes down."
Then with her voice growing more serious, Sarah continued. "I'm going to call Ellie right now and let her know that you won't be home tonight. I'm going to stay off until just before we come in to let you rest but I'm listening. If you need to hear my voice, just cough. I'm going to see you very shortly. And lord help the poor bastard that gets in my way. Until then, please remember how very much I love you. I can't wait until I can say that to your face."
With that Sarah turned off her mike and picked up her cell phone.
"Hi, Ellie, I'm so sorry for calling this late."
"Yes, everything's fine. I just wanted to let you know not to expect Chuck home tonight."
"We're working on it. We're not quite there yet but I think it will work out tonight."
"He's right here. I would let you talk to him but he's tied up at the moment."
"Thanks, Ellie. I hope so too. I'll call you tomorrow and tell you how it worked out. Hopefully I'll have some good news."
"I love you too, Ellie."
Becky's Safe House:
Becky and Bryce walked together into the garage. Becky led Bryce to the passenger side of the van and opened the side door.
"Perhaps it would be better if you got in the back." Becky said with a grin as she handed Bryce the hood. "After all, it would look odd for people seeing someone riding in a van with a black hood on their head."
"Ok," Bryce said with his trademark smile. "But first let's have a preview of coming attractions."
With that Bryce stepped up to Becky and kissed her. He put his arm around her waist and pulled her close. While Becky did nothing to try and stop him, she didn't really participate at first either. After a moment, Becky put her hand behind Bryce's head to pull him tighter. After another moment she opened her mouth to give Bryce free reign. The kiss lasted a long moment with Becky being the most aggressive at the end. Finally Bryce broke the kiss by gently pulling Becky's lower lip with his until they separated.
"Wow," said Becky breathlessly. "If that was the preview, I can't wait to see the movie. Where are we going?"
"First," Bryce said slyly as he sat in the van and put the hood on his head. "Take me back to my car. I need to check in with my superiors to let them know that you really have the intersect. They are going to need a few hours to get that amount of money together. After that, I'm all yours."
Bryce wasn't sure if Becky would recognize Sarah's Porsche or not. But it didn't make sense to take any chances so he had Becky park out of sight of the car.
"Give me ten minutes." Bryce said calmly. "I'll be right back."
As soon as Bryce was back in the van, he turned to Becky and smiled.
"Everything's all set." Bryce said with a huge grin. "You're about to become one of the richest people in the whole world. My superiors want to make sure that you're kept happy. My orders are to make sure that happens. They're the best orders I've ever been issued. How do you want to celebrate?"
"I'm not sure yet." Becky said. "But first I'd like to go in the back of the van and get another preview. Would that be ok?"
"Orders," Bryce replied with a smile. "You have to follow them, right? After you."
As they sat on the rear bench seat Becky was the one who initiated the intimate contact. She threw both arms around Bryce's neck and urgently pressed her lips to his. The kiss, or more appropriately, series of kisses lasted for several minutes. Finally Bryce broke the contact.
"Let's slow down for a minute." he whispered in her ear. "A couple more minutes of that and the movie is going to break out right her in the van."
"I've always wanted to see a movie in the van." Becky whispered as she unbuckled Bryce's belt. "I don't think I ever got your first name."
When Becky looked back up at Bryce, all she could see was the barrel of Bryce's Glock pointing at her. She heard the unmistakable sound of a round being racked into the firing chamber.
"I'm sorry," Bryce said softly. "How incredibly rude of me. My name is Bryce. Bryce Larkin."
Sarah and Casey had nothing to do but wait. Being a veteran of scores of stakeouts, they knew that drill very well. Relax and be ready when the action came. Unfortunately they were both having some difficulty this time. It was Chuck in there, after all. Sarah was especially antsy.
"Where in the hell is he?" Sarah said with a sigh as she looked at her watch for the twentieth time in the past ten minutes. "He needs to get back here to brief us. This situation won't stay calm forever."
"Relax, Walker," Casey said with a moan. "He hasn't been gone for an hour yet. Bryce knows what he's doing. I just got off the phone with Beckman. I think that we have the whole San Diego office en route."
Just then Sarah's phone rang. She saw that it was Bryce.
"Where in the hell are you?" she asked anxiously.
"I'm at the convenience store at the corner." Bryce replied calmly. "You need to meet me here."
"We're not leaving." Sarah said sharply. "What are you thinking? We have the house in sight. What if they make a move and we miss it? Now get your ass back here so we can move."
"Damn it, Sarah," Bryce said in a frustrated tone. "Let me talk to Casey."
"Talk some sense into him." Sarah said as she tossed the phone to Casey.
Casey listened to the phone for about twenty seconds. Sarah noticed his eyes widen as he listened to whatever Bryce had to say. Then he started up the car.
"Don't worry," he said as his look silenced Sarah's objection. "We'll be right back."
When they pulled into the parking lot Bryce was standing there waiting for them. Sarah got out of the car and went to him.
"Where is my car, Bryce?" she asked.
"Tell me Sarah." Bryce said with a smile while ignoring her question. "Do you see yourself marrying Chuck anytime soon?"
"Bryce," Sarah said with a huge whine. "Now is not the time for this. I know you're jealous. I'm sorry. I just can't deal with that right now. I'm too worried about Chuck."
"I'm not jealous of Chuck." Bryce said with a huge laugh. "I'm really happy for you two. I think it's great. I don't know of any two people who I'd root for more. I'm just curious what your long term plans are."
"Ok," Sarah said, puzzled by Bryce's tone. "I guess a lot of that is up to Chuck. We have never discussed it. But I'd sure like that. Why do you ask?"
"Because," Bryce said with a huge grin as he opened the side door of the van. "I have an engagement present for you."
Sarah could see a person sitting in the back seat of the van. Their hands were cuffed behind their back. Bryce pulled off the hood and Sarah's mood instantly went from confusion to joy as she recognized what was happening.
"Bryce," whispered Sarah. "This is the best present I've ever gotten. I would hug you except I don't want it getting back to Chuck."
Bryce just smiled at her.
"Oh, the hell with it," Sarah said with a sigh as she threw her arms around Bryce. "Chuck will understand."
"I hope you know," Bryce said as he cautiously put his arms around Sarah. "What you both mean to me."
"Well hello, Agent Ivan." Sarah said softly as she pulled out of the embrace. "I was so hoping to run into you today."
Chapter 11: Love Hurts
Even though Bryce had worked with Sarah for years and had been with her in many tense situations, he had never seen the look on her face that was there when she looked at Becky. The fire in her eyes actually made him take a step back.
Sarah stepped up to Becky as she sat in the van. Becky, being the trained agent that she was, should have recognized that Sarah was going for her throat and been able to defend herself. But she was still in shock from being seduced and captured so easily. So by the time she recognized what Sarah was doing it was too late to get her chin down to protect herself. Once Sarah had her left forearm across Becky's throat the battle was over. With Becky's arms and legs secured, she had no way to escape from her grasp. Sarah clasped her left hand with her right and used it as leverage to lean into Becky, totally cutting off her air supply. The wild look in her eyes was terrifying.
"I can forgive your trying to seduce Chuck." Sarah said in a guttural growl. "After all, you were just following orders."
"I could forgive the shot you took on the video." Sarah said as she pressed even harder. "It was cruel, but it didn't really hurt anybody."
At this point Bryce stepped in to pull Sarah away. He had only taken a single step when he felt Casey's hand on his shoulder.
"Give her a minute." Casey said softly as the hint of a smile came across his face.
"I could even eventually forgive your friend hitting Chuck." Sarah continued. "Even though, what kind of man hits a defenseless man?"
"What I can't forgive," said Sarah. "Is that you betrayed your country for money. It doesn't get worse than that. But even that, doesn't mean you have to die."
Becky was beginning to feel herself start to black out. Her eyes darted around in a panic. At this point, Casey stepped up.
"Sarah," Casey said softly. "She's no use to us if you kill her now."
"What I'll never forgive," Sarah said as she reluctantly released Becky from her grip. "Is you messing with the love of my life. That is a capital offense."
Becky sat in the van trying to grasp for air. Sarah gave her a minute to recover because she knew that Becky wouldn't be able to concentrate on what she was saying anyway.
"Let me be perfectly clear." Sarah said slowly through gritted teeth. "If anything happens to Chuck, I'm going to come back here and slowly tear you apart one inch at a time. You have one chance to survive this night. That is to help us to get Chuck out of there safely. Do we understand each other?"
Becky nodded hesitantly.
"Do we understand each other?" Sarah repeated more forcefully as she put her face in Becky's.
"Yes," Becky whispered as a tear ran down her left cheek. "We do."
General Beckman's Office:
General Beckman was talking on the phone to the director of the San Diego FBI office. His name was Greg Holden. Beckman knew Greg quite well since he had until recently been assigned to the NSA in Washington. In fact, it was Beckman who had recommended him for the promotion and opportunity in San Diego. Certainly, they were not friends. But they did have the kind of relationship that allowed them to speak freely to each other without worrying too much about military protocol. It was the sort of privilege that Beckman only allowed a small set of individuals. Casey was close to that status but not quite there. Beckman was making arrangements for the FBI to provide support for Sarah's rescue mission.
"Greg," said Beckman firmly. "The details are classified, but I can't express how important it is to national security that this hostage be secured."
"Don't worry." Greg said smartly. "I'll get every man I have over there. Who is in charge from your side?"
"That would be CIA Agent Sarah Walker." Beckman said. "I'm sure you've heard of her."
"Of course," Greg said with the surprise evident in his voice. "Wow, that's impressive. This guy must really be important."
"More than you know," Beckman said softly. "There is one more thing that you should be aware of. Agent Walker is hopelessly compromised. She hopes to marry the hostage in the near future. I had to talk her out of resigning to be with him just yesterday."
"I understand, Dianne," Greg said just as softly. "You want me to ignore her orders and neutralize the hostage, whatever the means."
"No, Greg," Beckman said. "Before yesterday, you would have been exactly right. But Walker has convinced me that being in love makes her more effective in protecting her assignment. She deserves a chance to get him out alive. Let's give her that chance."
"Wow," Greg said with a smile. "As I remember Sarah Walker, this guy is one lucky bastard."
Casey indicated to Sarah and Bryce that they should get in the front seats of the van. Bryce went and got into the driver's side and Sarah quickly hopped into the passenger side. Casey stepped into the side door and closed it behind him. He then sat in the other seat next to Becky.
"Ok, Becky," Casey said softly. "What can you tell us that will help?"
"Why should I help you?" Becky asked sullenly after pausing for a long moment. "I'm dead either way."
"Look around." Casey said with a short laugh. "Your plan has failed. There's no way you are going to sell the intersect. Fifty agents are on their way as we speak to surround that house and go in and get him. If Chuck survives, I promise that I'll keep Sarah away from you."
At that Sarah shot Casey a dirty look.
"But I promise you," Casey continued. "If something happens to Chuck, I'm going to enjoy watching her tear you apart piece by piece. I'll stand next to her and hand her the pliers when she needs them.
At that Becky visibly gulped.
"Look at her." Casey said to Becky with a grim smile as he indicated towards Sarah. "And tell me that she won't do it. You know that she will."
Becky sighed as she saw the look of pure hatred on Sarah's face. Sarah was so angry that she was having a hard time controlling her hands from shaking.
"Fine," Becky said with a sigh after pausing for a moment. "There is something that you need to know if you're going to go in there. The basement is wired. There is a percussion bomb in the corner. It can be remotely detonated. If they suspect a rescue attempt the first thing that every man in there is going to do is to detonate the bomb. It will certainly kill Chuck and anybody else down there when it goes off."
"Where is it?" Casey asked continuing the good cop character. "And how is it detonated?"
"It's located in the corner of the basement opposite of the stairwell." Becky whispered. "It is set to detonate by a cell phone signal. Every man has the number on his speed dial."
"And I assume you've thought about cell jamming?" Casey asked.
"Of course," Becky replied with a sideways glance as though she was offended. "Any attempt to jam cell signals will detonate the device."
Just then they heard a pounding on the outside of the van. Sarah opened her door and stepped out. Greg walked up to her.
"Agent Walker," said Greg. "I'm Greg Holden. I'm sure you don't remember me. General Beckman tells me that you're in charge."
"Greg," Sarah said with a smile. "Of course I remember you. It's been a lot time."
"A long time," Greg agreed.
"Maybe we'll get a few minutes later to catch up." Sarah said briskly as she opened the side door of the van. "Right now we have a crisis. I'd like you to meet my partner, John Casey."
"Casey," Greg said as he broke out into a huge grin. "You don't say. How have you been?"
"And this," Sarah said as she nodded her head towards Becky. "Is our main perp."
"Yea," Greg said with a laugh. "I figured the way she was cuffed and bound that she wasn't a hitchhiker that you picked up."
"Her name is Becky Ivan and she is ex CIA." Sarah said flatly. "She has given us some intelligence about the location. Could you please have some of your men secure her? I need to have her kept on scene where I can get my hands on her. If the information that she has provided is bullshit, I'll definitely be talking to her again."
"Sure," Greg said as he nodded to two men who untied Becky's legs and led her away.
"And, Greg," Sarah turned to Becky and put her face a couple of inches from hers. "It would be good if these men had short memories. It's very possible that they've never seen this woman before in their lives."
"I understand." Greg said with a sigh.
At that Bryce opened the driver door to the van and got out.
"And who might you be?' Greg asked softly.
"Apparently nobody," Bryce growled as he slammed the van door and walked away.
Becky's Safe House:
Chuck was trying his best to follow Sarah's instructions and get some rest. He hoped that she was only kidding about the fingers. Although he knew that she would get extreme to protect him. But sleep? There was no way. It just wouldn't come. He was far to – well, how would you describe it? Afraid? Sure he was afraid. Becky and her friends would kill him in a second if they had too. He had no question about that. And even that would be better than being sold to Fulcrum. Uncomfortable? Absolutely, he had been sitting in the same position for several hours with only a couple of breaks. But overpowering all of those emotions was happiness.
"She loves me." he said to himself. "I really am the luckiest guy in the world."
Even though he was alone and the room was dark, Chuck felt embarrassed by the silly grin that he knew was plastered on his face. She was out there, probably just a couple of doors down the street. And all he had to do was cough and she would talk to him. Chuck had seen enough missions to picture what was happening. Sarah and Casey were checking their weapons. They were sitting in a darkened car making sure that all of their clips were loaded with rounds. They both would have their game faces on at this point. Sarah was probably hiding knives all over her body. It always amazed him the different places where she would pull out a knife. One thing that he knew for sure. Chuck sat in the dark and made a solemn promise to himself. He was going to use his newly created boyfriend status to discover every hiding place. Every single one.
Sarah looked in disgust at Bryce walking away. This was just what she didn't have the time to deal with. She was going to put a stop to this foolishness right now.
"Casey," Sarah said sharply. "Will you please brief Greg and his men on the situation? I'll be right back."
"Bryce," Sarah yelled as she ran after him.
Bryce stopped walking but didn't turn.
"What in the hell is your problem?" Sarah asked sharply as she let her anger boil to the surface. "Bryce, I'm sorry. I know that you're jealous. But I can't deal with that right now. We have to save Chuck. After he's safe, I promise that we'll talk."
"I'm not jealous of Chuck." Bryce said with a sad smile as he turned to face Sarah. "I've known for a long time that you two would eventually get together. I think that it is great. That's not what is bothering me."
"Ok, Bryce," said Sarah with a sigh. "Then you're going to have to tell me. I don't have the time or the patience to guess right now."
"I guess that I am jealous." Bryce said softly while looking at the ground.
"I knew it." Sarah whispered to herself.
"I am not jealous of Chuck." Bryce said firmly. "I swear. If anything, I'm jealous of Casey."
"Casey," Sarah asked in a stunned voice. "Why on earth would you be jealous of Casey?"
"I don't know," Bryce said with a sigh. "You and me, we used to be great together. On the job, I mean. We just clicked. Now, Casey is your partner. It's like I'm invisible."
"What," asked Sarah in amazement? "Bryce, I don't know what you're talking about."
"Ok, Sarah," said Bryce. "Let me ask you a question. What do you know about the inside of that house? The answer is not a damn thing. Yet you're planning an assault without asking the one person on your team who has been inside. Do you want to get Chuck out of there or not?"
"Of course," said Sarah softly. "I'm sorry. You're right. Please come back and help us plan. I need your help."
With a sigh Bryce returned and quickly huddled with Sarah, Casey, and Greg to share what he had learned about the layout of the house. Casey suggested that they might be able to use the van and enter through the garage without arousing any suspicion. Sarah would go down stairs and cut Chuck loose and get him back up the stairs as quickly as possible.
"Maybe it would be better if I went downstairs." Casey said softly.
Sarah didn't respond with words but the fire in her eyes gave no doubts as to what she was thinking. It was that fire that caused Casey to quickly concede. While Sarah was downstairs with Chuck, Bryce and Casey would cover the hallway. Hopefully they would be able to get Chuck up the stairs and out of the house before being discovered. At that point Greg's team, who was stationed at the three doors, would come in with overwhelming force. Bryce was going to be in contact with Greg. If they were discovered, Greg's team would move in immediately. They had special instructions to shoot anyone holding a cell phone and ask questions later.
Becky's Safe House:
Chuck was really growing antsy waiting. It seemed like hours since the last time he had talked to Sarah but, in reality, it had only been about twenty minutes. Suddenly he heard Sarah's voice in his ear.
"Ok, Chuck," Sarah said softly. "We're ready. Are you ready?"
Chuck's cough let her know that he was listening.
"I'm going to come down and cut you loose." Sarah said calmly. "It's important that we get out of there as quickly as possible. So there won't be any time for us to have any emotion. We'll need to save the romantic stuff until we're both safe. I need you to run as fast as you can to the stairs and up them. Do you understand me?"
Chuck quickly coughed.
"But don't worry," Sarah said with a smile. "In the car on the way home, I intend to make up for some lost opportunities in Casey's back seat. And it's a two hour drive. You know that, right?"
Chuck coughed with a smile.
Becky's Safe House:
Bryce, Sarah, and Casey pulled the van into the garage. They used the automatic door opener to gain access just like Becky would have on her way back. They left the garage door up to give easy access to Greg's team.
"Good luck," whispered Casey as the three agents quickly shared a fist bump and quietly exited the van.
Casey, Bryce and Sarah quietly entered the house through the garage door. Sarah quickly ran down the stairs. When she saw Chuck she immediately ran over to him and started cutting him loose.
Bryce and Casey covered the hallway with guns drawn. They were trying to stay low in the darkened room hoping to blend in. Suddenly one of the men came into the kitchen to get a drink and discovered them. His yell alerted the rest of the house of the attack. That's when all hell broke loose. Bryce ordered Greg's men into the house. They quickly burst into all three doors. Shots were being fired seemingly in all directions as Greg's team efficiently crushed the resistance. Five of the men, including Jimmy, were quickly killed. The rest, seeing they were grossly outmanned, surrendered. Unfortunately, in the confusion, there was one man in the bathroom that hadn't been accounted for. Greg's team was in the process of cuffing the men that had given up. Casey was standing at the top of the stairs waiting anxiously for Sarah to come up with Chuck. He was starting to believe that the worst was over.
"Well," Casey said to Bryce with a smile. "That wasn't so hard, was it?"
Casey saw the return smile from Bryce. He was just about to go down the stairs to help Sarah with Chuck when he was knocked down by the blast coming from the basement.
Chapter 12: The Hospital
Becky's Safe House:
As soon as Casey picked himself off the floor and cleared his head from the shock he hurried down the stairs. Bryce was right behind him. At first, it was a little hard to see because of the dust in the air. But after a few steps he could make out Chuck at the bottom of the steps. He was standing over Sarah who was obviously badly hurt. Chuck was focused so hard on Sarah's condition that he didn't recognize Casey's arrival. As soon as Casey put his hand on Chuck's shoulder he noticeably jumped. Once he recognized that it was Casey he turned to him.
"Sarah's hurt," Chuck screamed with tears running down his face.
"We need to get you out of here." Casey said firmly. "This is a dangerous place."
"I'm not leaving Sarah." Chuck screamed.
"Chuck," Casey said raising his voice. "You need to go with Bryce right now. No questions."
"I can't leave her." Chuck said but this time it was more of a whine.
"I should be helping Sarah right now." Casey said softly. "But instead, I'm standing here talking to you. Go with Bryce. I'll come right to you when I know something about Sarah."
"Do you promise?" Chuck said softly as tears started to flow.
"I promise," said Casey in a frustrated tone. "Now just go."
As Chuck allowed Bryce to lead him away, Casey knelt and checked for Sarah's pulse. He was relieved to find that it was strong and rapid. She looked to have hit her head against the wall. She had a small gash on her upper forehead, just below the hairline. Casey was interrupted from any further examination by the medics. Since there were several teams that were standing by, Bryce must have sent one down.
"What do we have?" asked one of the medics.
"Bomb blast victim," Casey said firmly. "It looks like the blast caused her to impact the wall."
Casey stepped out of the way to let the medics work. With amazing speed they called out Sarah's vitals. They quickly started an IV and had her loaded on a stretcher. Casey followed them as they carried Sarah's stretcher up the stairs.
"How is she?" Casey asked softly.
"Too soon to tell," said one of the medics. "Her vitals are good. That's a good sign."
"Where is she going?" Casey asked as they were loading Sarah into the ambulance.
"South General," the medic replied as he closed the door. "It's the closest trauma hospital."
With that he jumped in the ambulance and they were gone with sirens blaring.
Becky's Safe House:
Bryce took Chuck to the large FBI van that was parked about a hundred yards away from the house. They were using the van as a command center. They had only been in the van long enough to grab a cup of coffee and sit down when Casey came bursting in.
"How's Sarah?" Chuck asked with the concern obvious in his voice.
"She's alive." Casey said with a sigh. "The medics said her vitals were good but she was still unconscious. She is on the way to the hospital. Let me tie up a few loose ends here and we'll head over there."
Greg was in the van directing the cleanup after the attack. He noticed Casey and walked up to him.
"Chuck," Casey said. "Let me introduce you to a good friend of mine. This is Greg Holden. Greg, this is Chuck Bartowski. He was the hostage."
"Greg was a fair field agent." Casey said with a smile. "He was a little whiney sometimes, but decent. That was until he came out here and they bolted a desk to his ass. Now he is in charge of the San Diego FBI office."
"I'm glad to meet you, sir." Chuck said as her shook Greg's hand. "I appreciate your help in rescuing me."
"The pleasure is all mine." Greg said warmly. "It's an honor to meet the man who could take Sarah Walker off the market. That is quite impressive. Have you set a date?"
"Date," Chuck asked in a confused tone. "Date for what?"
"Agent Walker was injured in the attack." Casey said softly in response to Greg's puzzled look. "She is in route to South General."
"I'm sorry," Greg said. "That was very insensitive of me. I feel terrible. I hope she is going to be ok."
"It's ok," Chuck said sadly as he tried to manage a smile. "You had no way of knowing."
"But I feel terrible anyway," Greg said. "Let me get someone to take you over there."
"Thanks, Greg," Casey said. "That would be great. But first, we have some business to take care of. Could you point me to where you are holding Becky Ivan?"
Greg took Casey outside and pointed him to another van that was parked down the street.
"Come on," Casey said as he turned towards Chuck.
"Where are we going?" Bryce said as they walked together towards the van.
When Casey didn't answer, Bryce grabbed his arm.
"Damn it, Casey," Bryce said angrily. "We're all worried about Sarah. But you killing her isn't going to help Sarah."
"I'm not going to kill her." Casey insisted as he continued walking.
"Then what are we doing?" Bryce asked as they reached the van.
"I'm going to let Chuck kill her." Casey replied as he opened the door. "He deserves that chance."
There were two guards in the van along with Becky. Casey turned to them.
"Men," Casey said firmly. "We need to interrogate this prisoner. Would you please wait outside?"
"Yes, sir," one of the men said as they quickly left.
"Ok, Chuck," said Casey as he clicked off the safety on his gun and handed it to Chuck. "Here's the deal. Sarah told Becky that if anything happened to you, she would kill her. I figure that after what you've just been through, you deserve that same chance."
"You think that I should kill her?" Chuck asked with the fear evident in his voice.
"I'm not saying that." Casey said softly. "I'm saying that you've earned the right. If you do, no one will blame you. If you don't, that's your decision, too. The gun is all set. All you have to do is point it between her eyes and pull the trigger. Bryce and I will wait outside."
"What do you think I should do?" Chuck asked Bryce as he took Casey's gun in his hand.
"That's totally up to you." Bryce replied with a soft smile. "Casey's right. No one would blame you."
"Would you do it?" Chuck asked. "If you were me, would you pull the trigger?"
"Does it matter?" Bryce replied as he looked Chuck in the eye. "The only thing that really matters is what you want to do. I have to say that it's definitely the spy thing to do."
As Casey and Bryce left the room, Chuck felt the rage build inside of him. Becky was the reason Sarah was hurt, or even worse. Becky had lied to him about how Sarah felt. She had intentionally tried to break him. She was getting ready to sell him to Fulcrum, to who knows what horrors. Chuck knew without a doubt that, if the roles were reversed, Becky would pull the trigger. And that wasn't even the worst part. Try as he might to block it, the thought crept into his consciousness. If Sarah didn't make it he didn't know what he was going to do.
"You deserve this, you bitch." Chuck whispered angrily.
But as Chuck raised the gun he took a good look at Becky for the first time. She was obviously in shock from having to identify the bodies of her gang that had been killed in the attack. That's when she must have seen Jimmy's body. Her eyes were glassy and didn't focus. Even though she was securely bound, she was visibly shaking. She wasn't afraid to die. Chuck was sure about that. You didn't become an undercover agent if you were. Chuck realized that she was suffering. She simply closed her eyes and waited for Chuck to shoot.
But by some intuition that he couldn't even explain, Chuck knew that Sarah wouldn't want him to do it. Sarah wouldn't be worried about Becky. She would pull the trigger without question. Sarah would be worried about him. If he did this, would he ever be the same person? Would Sarah love the new him? And even more importantly; would he love himself? In an instant, he knew the answer. Chuck slowly lowered the gun to his side.
"I forgive you." Chuck whispered to Becky as he turned and left the van.
Becky's Safe House:
When Chuck went back outside he saw that Casey and Bryce were standing together off to the side. Casey was on his phone. Since Casey was busy, Chuck handed Bryce the gun. He knew that he didn't feel safe holding it. With Chuck being able to only hear one side if the conversation, it was hard to follow but he assumed Casey was talking to Beckman.
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said. "I guess that's good news."
"Yes, ma'am, I'll tell him."
"It should take us about two hours. I'll contact you once we arrive."
As soon as Casey ended the call he turned to Chuck and Bryce.
"That was Beckman." Casey said as Bryce handed him his gun. "I have some news about Sarah."
Chuck's heart leapt into his throat waiting for the news.
"They think that she is going to be ok." Casey said as a genuine smile broke out on his face. "She started to regain consciousness on the way to the hospital. They gave her some drugs to put her back out. They want her to sleep for a few hours. She has a serious concussion but there is no sign of any permanent damage. They want to make sure that there is no swelling. That's why they're keeping her under."
Chuck found that he had been holding his breath. "I want to go see her." he said as he finally exhaled in relief.
"They're taking her by chopper to Ellie's hospital." Casey replied. "She should be there in about twenty minutes."
"Why would they transfer her?" Chuck asked.
"For a couple of reasons," Casey said. "First, they have an excellent neurological center there. But most important, that's where the CIA doctor is that knows her cover."
"Ok," said Chuck. "Let's go. I really want to see her."
"Relax," Casey said calmly. "We're going right now. Beckman wants you to call Ellie and establish a cover for Sarah. You're going to tell her that you and Sarah were in a car accident and that Sarah was taken by helicopter to the hospital."
"Fine," Chuck muttered as he turned to Bryce. "I'll need my cell phone battery."
"Beckman wants us to debrief with her at my place for a minute." Casey said. "Bryce, you can drive Sarah's car and we'll meet at my place."
"Don't worry." Casey said with a laugh as he saw the look of despair on Chuck's face. "I'll get you to the hospital before she wakes up."
Chuck waited until Casey was on the freeway before he dialed Ellie. He looked at the clock on Casey's dash. It was three in the morning. Chuck hoped that Ellie was on duty so he wouldn't have to wake her up. When she didn't answer, he sent her a page with the emergency code that they had worked out. It wasn't three minutes before Ellie was calling him.
"Chuck," said Ellie breathlessly. "What's wrong? Are you ok?"
"I'm ok," Chuck quickly reassured her. "Sarah and I were just in an accident."
"My God, Chuck," said Ellie. "Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine." Chuck said shakily. "I'm a little shaken up and my left hand is sort of hurting but I'm ok. The problem is Sarah. She was unconscious when they took her away. They took her in a helicopter to your hospital. She should have gotten there just a few minutes ago. Can you please check on her and call me back?"
"I'll go right now." Ellie said. "Where are you?"
"I'm on my way." Chuck said as his voice began to crack. "I have to deal with the police and I'm about an hour's drive away. So I probably won't be able to make it there for a couple of hours. But please Ellie, I have to know if she is going to be ok."
"You're sure that you're ok?" Ellie said with concern. "I'll go check on her and call you back in ten minutes."
It was actually less then five minutes when Chuck's phone rang again.
"Don't worry," Ellie said softly. "Sarah is going to be fine. She took a serious blow to the head. It looks like a moderate concussion. She also sprained her left angle so it looks like she'll be on crutches for a couple of weeks. Whenever someone is unconscious for over ten minutes it's pretty standard procedure to keep them sedated for six hours. That's just to guard against any brain swelling. But don't worry, Chuck. There's no sign of that. She is going to wake up in a few hours. She'll have a serious headache. But she'll be fine in a couple of days."
"Thanks goodness," Chuck said with a cry. "Thank you, Ellie."
"When you get to the hospital, come directly to the ER and find me." Ellie said firmly. "I want to check you over and make sure you're ok. Then I'll take you to see Sarah. Do you understand?"
"Yes mom," Chuck said with a giddy laugh that was caused by his overwhelming relief. "I'll see you in a couple of hours."
"Damn straight," replied Ellie as she ended the call. "I mean it. Come right to the ER and find me. Otherwise prepare to have your ass kicked."
"She is going to be ok." Chuck said to Casey with a sigh of relief.
"That's good." Casey said with a sigh of his own. "We're going to be on the road for a while. Why don't you try and get some sleep. It sounds like you're going to have a long day ahead."
"You know what?" Chuck said softly. "That doesn't sound half bad."
Chuck suddenly realized how exhausted he really was. He hadn't been sleeping well for the past few days anyway, worried about the Sarah situation. And he definitely had been on the edge for the past fifteen hours. Now that the adrenaline was gone from worrying about Sarah, he suddenly couldn't keep his eyes open. Within a couple of minutes, Chuck was fast asleep.
Casey woke Chuck up just as they were pulling into the hospital parking lot.
"That's odd," he said to himself. "I thought we were going to Casey's for a briefing first."
But he was so anxious to see Sarah that he quickly decided not to complain. Maybe Casey had talked to Beckman while he was sleeping and made other arrangements. Whatever the reason, he couldn't wait to see her. He would have to carefully sneak up to Sarah's room. That was for sure. If Ellie caught him, he was in deep trouble. Her instructions left little room for interpretation. After he checked on Sarah, he could go back down to the ER.
When Chuck got to Sarah's room, he could see her through the window. She was wide awake and laughing. She looked like she had never been hurt. She also had never looked more beautiful.
"Great," Chuck thought to himself. "She's recovered faster than they thought. She looks fantastic."
Then Chuck spotted Bryce sitting in the chair next to Sarah. It made sense that he had gotten there first. After all, the Porsche was much faster than Casey's Crown Vic. Suddenly, Bryce stood up and began kissing Sarah. She put her arms around his neck and pulled him in passionately.
"I love you, Sarah." Bryce said between kisses.
"I love you too, Bryce," Sarah said with a moan as she attacked his lips again and again.
The words were like a knife had been stuck in Chuck's chest. He was having a hard time even breathing.
"No," Chuck whispered. "No, it can't be. Please…"
Chuck was awakened by Casey shaking him. They were in the parking lot of Casey's apartment. Bryce had just pulled the Porsche next to him and was getting out of the car.
"Son," Casey said gently as he saw the tears running down Chuck's face. "There is one thing that you have to learn to survive in this business."
"You have to get used to bad dreams."
Chapter 13: Agent Bartowski
The first thing that Casey did once they entered his apartment was to make a pot of coffee. All three men were starting to drag. It had been a very long day. Even though Chuck was the only one who actually had a nap, he was probably the most tired. After all, he had been through the emotional wringer for the past few days. Since he wasn't likely to be getting much sleep anytime soon, Chuck sipped his coffee gratefully. While the men were finishing their first cup of coffee, Beckman came online.
"Doesn't she ever sleep?" Chuck thought to himself as he marveled at Beckman's crisp appearance. Then he remembered the time difference. It was actually almost ten in Washington.
"Congratulations on your successful rescue." Beckman said as she started the meeting. "Chuck, you really used your head. Please pass along my congratulations to Agent Walker once she is back with us."
"Yes, ma'am," said Casey, speaking for all of them. "Thank you ma'am."
"Fortunately," Beckman continued. "It looks as if Chuck's cover is still intact. We were able to kill or capture everyone who knows about the intersect. So we can resume our cover with Chuck and Sarah being a couple. I assume that you'll be able to sell their reconciliation?"
"Yes, ma'am," Casey replied. "I don't think that will be a problem. Chuck and Agent Ivan only went on one date. I really don't think that the breakup fooled anybody anyway."
"Good," said Beckman. "Chuck, I do want to talk about some changes that I have made."
Chuck nodded that he was listening.
"Agents Walker and Casey have convinced me that we're not utilizing your skills properly." Beckman said. "So, effective immediately, you will be sworn in as a special agent. Agent Casey will fill you in on the details as soon as Agent Walker is available. I'm assuming that is acceptable to you?"
"Sure," Chuck said with a smile. "I mean, I'm assuming that I'm not going to be asked to disarm a room full of bad guys using only my pocket comb."
"No, Agent Bartowski," Beckman said sharply. "We don't expect your role to change on active missions. It's more important than ever that you stay safe. As a matter of fact, the main reason I'm agreeing with this is that Agent Walker has convinced me that you will do the right thing if you understand the situation. The situation is that the intersect must be protected at all costs. That was always Casey and Walker's top priority. Now it's going to be yours as well. Am I understood?"
"Yes," Chuck said.
"One thing that will change," Beckman said as she raised her voice. "Is the level of decorum. Now that you are officially part of the team, I expect to be addressed as either General or ma'am. Is that clear?"
"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said softly.
"Good," Beckman said as she calmed her voice. "We've also arraigned for you to be paid. It would be inconsistent with your cover as a poorly paid computer technician to start having money to spend. So we've arraigned a cover. We've created a front computer game company. Some time ago, you submitted an idea for a new video game. It turns out that it has become a huge hit. Your pay will come in the form of royalties from that game. We've already deposited some back pay into your account. Any questions?"
"No, ma'am," replied Chuck. "That is very generous. Thank you ma'am."
"Good," said Beckman as her face softened into a smile. "I'll let you and Agent Walker work out your new extended cover. Tell her that I have worked very hard to keep my head out of my ass. I still expect an invitation."
"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said with the confusion evident in his voice.
"Excellent," said Beckman. "We'll save the formal swearing in ceremony until Agent Walker can attend. Now go and take care of her. You're dismissed."
As soon as the screen went blank, Bryce stepped up to Chuck and extended his hand.
"Congratulations, Agent Bartowski. Bryce said with a grin. "Tell Sarah goodbye for me."
Chuck looked at Bryce's extended hand and threw his arms around him.
"Are you leaving?" Chuck asked as he embraced Bryce tightly.
"Yes," said Bryce as he returned Chuck's embrace. "I have to get back. I'll try and get back in time for the wedding."
"Thanks for everything." Chuck said softly. "What wedding?"
Bryce just smiled as he broke the embrace. He waived as he quickly went out the door.
"Why is everybody talking about a wedding?" Chuck asked as soon as Bryce left.
"Bartowski," said Casey with a laugh. "One thing is for sure. For being a genius, you sure are thick. Why don't you go and take a shower and change your clothes. Then I'll take you up to see Walker."
Once Chuck got out of the shower, he signed on to his online checking account. He was very curious to see how much money Beckman had deposited in his account. He hoped that his pay as an agent would allow him to get his own place. When he looked at the balance it took him a few minutes for the amount to sink in. There was a deposit for eighty seven thousand dollars.
"Holy shit," he whispered to himself.
Casey drove Chuck to the hospital and dropped him off at the ER.
"Aren't you coming in?" Chuck asked as he got out of the car.
"I don't think so." Casey said with a smile. "You and Sarah need some time alone. Preferably when one or more of you aren't unconscious or being held for ransom. Call me tonight and let me know how she's doing. I'm going home and take a nap."
"Hopefully it will be a long time before anything like that happens again." Chuck said with a laugh.
Suddenly Casey's smile turned much more serious. "Let's hope so. But you never know in this business." he said softly as he drove away.
The instant Chuck entered the ER he asked for Ellie. Joy, the receptionist on duty, recognized Chuck before he was even in the waiting room and had already paged Ellie.
"Hi Chuck," Joy said with a warm smile. "Dr. Bartowski asked me to keep a look out for you. She will be out in a minute. I'm so glad your girlfriend is going to be ok."
"So how do you know about my girlfriend?" Chuck asked with a confused smile.
"Chuck," Joy said with a laugh. "I think the whole hospital knows about you and Sarah. It's the most romantic story I've ever heard. I get teary eyed thinking about it. We all can't wait for the big day."
"Big day?" Chuck asked softly just as Ellie walked up.
Chuck didn't get a chance to continue his conversation since Ellie pulled him towards an examination room.
"Goodbye Chuck," he heard Joy call with a laugh. "Don't let us down."
As soon as they were in the examining room, Ellie turned to Chuck.
"You said that your hand was hurting." she said firmly. "Show me."
Chuck held up his left hand and pointed to the knuckle of his forefinger.
"I must have banged it on something in the accident." he said. "It's starting to get really sore and I'm having trouble bending it."
"I'll set you up for an x-ray." Ellie said as she gently examined Chuck's finger. "But first, I'm sure that you want to see Sarah. Come on, I'll take you to her."
"She still has an hour or so before she wakes up." Ellie said as they walked. "Press the call button and let us know when she is awake. It will be a good thing for you to be there when she wakes up. She'll need to be reassured that she will be ok."
"Ellie," Chuck said softly. "Joy was the forth person today who has hinted to me about a wedding. Am I missing something?"
"Yes, Chuck," Ellie said with an embarrassed smile. "You are. I didn't tell you this before because I didn't want to freak you out. But the reason that I knew so surely that Sarah loved you was that we talked about your wedding."
"What?" Chuck asked in surprise.
"We talked about bridesmaid's dresses." Ellie continued softly as her face turned into a grin. "I want light green and she wants light blue. I assume that either would be fine with you."
"I guess," Chuck said numbly.
"I assume that you kids have worked everything out." Ellie said.
"We were getting there." Chuck replied. "Until the accident sort of ruined the mood. But we never talked about any wedding."
"Chuck," Ellie said firmly but with a smile. "Sarah loves you more than anybody I've ever known. When she was at the house the other night she was shaking like a leaf. If you feel as strongly about her as I think that you do, you need to go into that room and not come out until you have closed the sale. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
"Absolutely," Chuck said with a grin. "You're saying I should close the sale while she is still groggy from the drugs."
"Whatever it takes," Ellie said as she returned Chuck's grin and suddenly embraced him.
"Thanks, sis," Chuck said as he returned Ellie's embrace.
"Ok, sweetie," said Ellie as she walked away. "You're up to bat. Don't strike out."
Sarah was in that state that was somewhere between being asleep and being awake. All she knew for sure was that her whole body hurt. Her left ankle felt like someone was hitting it with a hammer. Her head felt like someone had already hit it with that same hammer. She tried to remember where she was. Suddenly she remembered that Chuck was in danger. As her eyes popped open she saw that she was in a hospital bed. Chuck was sitting in the chair next to the bed. He was asleep with his head on the bed in what looked like a very uncomfortable position. He had her right hand firmly grasped in his. His soft snoring was so adorable that it brought a smile to Sarah's face in spite of the pain. She slowly took her left hand and touched Chuck's head to make sure that he was real. As she gently stroked his hair, Chuck awakened with a start.
"Are you ok?" Sarah whispered.
"I'm not the one who was been unconscious for the past eight hours." Chuck said with a smile. "How are you feeling?"
"Like I was just dragged by a car for a mile." Sarah said with a slight smile. "What is the situation?"
"We're in Ellie's hospital." Chuck said as he pushed the nurse call button. "Our cover is that we were in a car accident and you were transported here by helicopter."
"And what about the mission?" Sarah asked.
"We captured all of the bad guys." Chuck said with a smile. "I think we killed five. We had no causalities, except for you of course. Beckman is very pleased. She says that we can continue our cover. She asked me to tell you how happy she is."
Just then Ellie burst into the room.
"Sarah," Ellie said, with the concern evident in her voice. "I'm glad to see you awake. Let me take a look at you while your boyfriend here gets his finger x-rayed."
As soon as Chuck left with the x-ray technician, Ellie took her light and looked into Sarah's eyes. She held up a finger and asked Sarah to follow it just using her eyes as she moved it about.
"How is your pain?" Ellie asked gently.
"It's pretty good as pain goes." Sarah said with a smile. "My left foot is on fire. Other than that, it's just an ache that covers my whole body."
"I think you're going to be fine." Ellie said with a grin. "You're left ankle is sprained so you're going to have to stay off it for a few days. I'll have them bring you something for the pain. But otherwise, I'd say you're really lucky."
"When can I go home?" Sarah asked.
"Let's see how you feel this afternoon." Ellie said. "If you can sit up then without getting dizzy we'll let you go. You're not going to be getting around much for a couple of days so Chuck is really going to have to help you out."
"Oh no," Sarah said with a smile. "I may starve."
"I don't think so." Ellie said as she smiled. "Chuck is a genius at picking up take out."
"I'm embarrassed to ask this question." Sarah said as she blushed noticeably. "But what about sex?"
"I'm not sure if Chuck is a genius at that or not." Ellie teased. "You would have to tell me. But please don't. I'm sure that I don't want to know."
Sarah just smiled.
"There is no medical reason to not have sex." Ellie said more seriously. "I seriously doubt that you are going to be in the mood anytime soon. But if you are, please wait until you get home. These rooms aren't that private and that's' definitely something I don't want to walk in on."
"Trust me," Ellie said with a laugh as she responded to Sarah's look. "It wouldn't be the first time. As soon as you can walk without crutches, I'll take you out for a drink and tell you all about the scene I walked into right in this very room."
It was at that point that Chuck came back.
"Well," said Ellie as she smiled. "I see that my backup has arrived. I'll be back to see you again in a few hours. Try and get some rest."
Sarah tried to lift her head off the pillow to look at Chuck but immediately got dizzy and had to lie back down.
"Chuck, will you do me a favor?" Sarah asked.
Chuck just nodded.
"I can't move my head." Sarah said. "But I really need to hold you. Could you please lean over to me?"
"I can do better than that." Chuck said softly. "Slide over a little."
Chuck took off his shoes and got into bed along side Sarah. Sarah very carefully rolled over on her side and rested her head on Chuck's chest as he wrapped his arm around her.
"I've been waiting for this moment for six months." Sarah sighed contentedly. "It was worth getting blown up for."
"It's funny," Chuck whispered as he gently kissed the top of Sarah's head. "I've been waiting for this moment my whole life."
Within five minutes they were both sound asleep.
When Ellie popped her head in the room a little later to check on Sarah, she saw them sleeping. They looked so natural and peaceful in each other's arms that Ellie couldn't help the tears that started flowing down her cheeks. She couldn't resist taking their picture on her phone. As she sent the picture to Joy, she knew that in a matter of minutes the now famous love story of Chuck and Sarah would have a new chapter all over the hospital.
"I can't help it." Ellie whispered to herself as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
"They're just so darned cute."
Chapter 14: Urban Legend
When Joy received the message from Ellie with the picture of Chuck and Sarah sleeping, she felt the tears fill her eyes. They looked so peaceful. It was the most adorable story she had ever heard. So she immediately downloaded the picture to her computer. Using the hospital's email system, she composed a message to her friend Amy who worked in Pediatrics. It said "This is Dr. Bartowski's brother and his girlfriend. I'm sure you've heard the story of Chuck and Sarah. Aren't they just adorable? I hope Sarah is going to be ok from their head injury." As soon as Joy sent the message, she sat and thought about Chuck. Even though she had known him for years, she had always just thought of him as Dr. Bartowski's geeky little brother. As a matter of fact, Ellie had offered to set her up with him on more than one occasion. But she had always declined. Seeing him in the picture with Sarah changed her perspective totally. "Wow, is he cute." Joy whispered to herself wistfully as the blush crept up her neck and into her face.
When Amy received the message she immediately forwarded it to her friends Marge and Holly. In the text she wrote "Here is a picture of Chuck and Sarah. Aren't they the perfect couple? I'm sure you have heard their story. Isn't it a shame about Sarah's brain injury?"
Marge forwarded the picture to several of her friends. She began the message with "Here is a picture of the famous Chuck and Sarah. Isn't this the cutest thing you've ever seen? Too bad. It doesn't sound like Sarah is going to make it."
Each time the message got forwarded to another set of recipients, Sarah's prognoses became worse. Finally it became common knowledge that she had an inoperable brain tumor and only had six weeks to live. Thus the urban legend of the star struck love story of Chuck and Sarah was born.
Sarah was the first to wake. That was not surprising since she had gotten a lot more sleep last night than Chuck had. She was very surprised at how much better she felt. The pain medication that Ellie had given her was really doing a good job. She could still feel some tenderness in her ankle but everything else felt fine. Since her head was lying on Chuck's chest, she could feel every breath that he took. She had never felt so comfortable in her life. Slowly, so as not to wake him, Sarah shifted her head so that she could look at Chuck's face. It looked so peaceful. By the smile on his face, Sarah could tell that he was as content as she was. Wanting the moment to last forever, she snuggled into Chuck as closely as she could. How great would it be would wake up like this every morning?
"I love you so much that it scares me." Sarah whispered as she waited for Chuck to wake up. "I'm so, so sorry that I hurt you."
Ellie finally found a few minutes in the crazy morning to get to her office. She really hadn't had a chance all day to check her emails. So she was surprised to see that she had seventy three unread messages in her in box.
Ellie opened the first message. It was from an RN in the cardiac unit that she barely knew. It was a sympathy note telling Ellie how sorry she was about Sarah and how the story made her cry.
Confused, Ellie opened the next message. It was from a doctor in pediatrics. She included a link to a web site that talked about an experimental new treatment for brain tumors.
The next message was an offer to start a memorial fund in Chuck and Sarah's name.
"Oh dear," Ellie whispered to herself with a smile. "Only seventy more to go."
Ellie was about half way through reading her messages when her phone rang. She could tell from the caller ID that it was Devon.
"Hi, sweetie," Ellie answered.
"Hi, babe," said Devon in a concerned voice. "Is there something wrong with Sarah?"
When Chuck opened his eyes, it took him a long moment to remember where he was. All he knew was that he was holding an angel in his arms.
"Please," he whispered to himself as he took the hand that was behind Sarah and squeezed her shoulder gently. "Don't let this be a dream."
"It's not a dream." Sarah said with a soft smile as she lifted her head to look into Chuck's eyes.
"How are you feeling?" Chuck asked softly as he returned Sarah's smile.
"Let me show you." Sarah whispered as she slowly lowered her head to touch her lips to his.
The kiss started off very gently. Chuck was very willing to let Sarah dictate the pace since he wasn't sure how much she was still hurting. After a moment the kiss grew more intense with Sarah reaching her hand behind Chuck's head to draw him closer. Chuck, at first, was being very careful not to hurt her. But when he felt Sarah's tongue pass his lips, he figured it was ok to be more physical. Still trying to be careful of her head, he wrapped his hands around Sarah's shoulders and pulled her close. As their tongues danced, Chuck rubbed Sarah's bare back where her gown had come open. After a few minutes Chuck's hand started to drift towards her front. That's when Sarah gently broke the kiss.
"We'd better slow down." Sarah whispered reluctantly with a huge grin. "In a minute I'm going to break my promise to Ellie."
"I'd say you are feeling better." Chuck said with an equally large grin. "I know for sure that I'm feeling better. A whole lot better."
"I'm starving." Sarah said with a laugh as she sat up. "I haven't eaten in a whole day. I've been too worried about you."
"Do you want me to go down to the cafeteria and get you something?" Chuck asked.
"I can't tell you what I'd give you for a cheeseburger and fries." Sarah said with a grin as she arched her eyes seductively. "But you're going to have to wait until we get home to collect."
Chuck walked down the corridor of the hospital on his way to the cafeteria. He had been there many times with Ellie so he was very comfortable knowing the way. Chuck knew most of the ER staff by name. Most of them had even been to the house at one time or another. Ellie was quite the hostess, after all. So Chuck wasn't surprised at all when Dawn, one of the nurses approached him. He was very surprised however when she hugged him.
"That is the most romantic story I've ever heard." Dawn said in a rush as she buried her face in Chuck's chest.
"Umm, thanks," Chuck replied in a confused voice as he awkwardly didn't know what to do with his hands.
'I hope you're able to make Sarah comfortable." Dawn whispered.
"Sure," Chuck said while still confused. "She still has quite a headache."
"I know, honey." said Dawn softly. "It's hard. Are you still hoping to get married? Before, well, you know."
"I don't know," Chuck said with a smile. "We haven't had time…"
"I'm so sorry." Dawn said bursting into tears as she ran off down the hallway.
"But she's starting to feel better…" Chuck called after Dawn as she was running away.
"Wow," said Chuck to himself as his mouth fell open. "That was odd."
Ellie had just finished reading all of her emails when Chuck knocked on her office door.
"Hi, sis," he said sadly. "Got a minute?"
"Sure," Ellie said with a sideways glance. "What's wrong?"
"I'm hoping you'll tell me." Chuck said softly. "On my way to the cafeteria I was stopped by five different women. All of them told me some variation of they were praying for Sarah to get better. Two of them ran off crying. Is there something about Sarah that you're not telling me?"
"I guess there is." Ellie said with a laugh.
"Don't worry, sweetie," Ellie said as she noticed Chuck's look. "It's nothing bad. I promise. It's just that you two kid's story has sort of taken the hospital by storm. And like all urban legends it has sort of taken a life of its own. Some of the facts have gotten a little distorted."
"Distorted," Chuck asked. "Like how?"
"Well," Ellie said hesitantly. "Everybody sort of thinks that Sarah has an inoperable brain tumor and not much time left to live."
"And that's not true." Chuck said quickly.
"Sweetie," said Ellie soothingly. "Of course not. You know how rumors are. Every time another person tells the story, they add a little. Until eventually, it gets out of control. Sarah is fine. I promise."
"But how do they even know about Chuck and Sarah?" Chuck asked. "Until yesterday, I didn't even know about Chuck and Sarah."
"Well, actually," Ellie said as her face turned red. "That is my fault. I might have told some people. The story was just so romantic. I couldn't help it."
"Good luck explaining that to Sarah." Chuck said over his shoulder with a laugh as he walked away.
"Umm," Sarah said with her mouth full of burger. "This is the best burger I've ever had. And I thought hospital food was supposed to be bad."
Sarah was sitting up in her hospital bed with her food on her tray table. Chuck sat next to her in the chair.
"Well," said Chuck with a laugh as he ate his own burger. "For one thing I think you're really hungry. For another once they found out it is was for Sarah, they specially cooked one. They were pushing each other out of the way to cook it."
"They must know that you're Ellie's sister." Sarah said with a smile. "That's really sweet."
"Something like that," Chuck replied with a grin.
"That reminds me." Sarah said softly. "I need some clothes. Do you think you could run home and grab the emergency bag that I keep there? The CIA doctor just brought me my gun and knives. I can't wear the mission clothes that I was wearing last night. That would look to weird. And there's no place to hide them in this gown."
"That's for sure." Chuck said teasing her with a laugh. "You can barely hide you in that thing. There sure is not enough room for anything else.
"Stop," Sarah said playfully as a blush started to grow up her neck."
"Is there anything else that you need?" Chuck asked as he got ready to leave. "I'll borrow Ellie's car. I'll be back in about an hour."
"Yes, Chuck," Sarah whispered. "Come here and let me tell you."
Thinking that Sarah had some spy issue to tell him, he leaned his head close to Sarah's. Sarah wrapped her arms around his neck and crushed her lips to his. After a long moment she broke the kiss.
"I need for you to know how very much I love you." Sarah whispered as she kissed him again.
"I know," Chuck said softly with a grin when the kiss finally broke. "It's a great feeling."
As Sarah watched Chuck disappear down the hallway of the hospital, she could feel the tears fill her eyes.
"Then why won't you say it back." Sarah whispered to herself.
Chapter 15: Priorities
Chuck was whistling to himself as he walked up the hospital hallway carrying Sarah's overnight bag. There were multiple reasons for his good mood. First, he was able to park Ellie's car in the doctor's only parking lot. For some silly reason that always made him feel good. He also was able to tell all five women that stopped to tell him that they were sorry about Sarah that she was going to be fine. The smiles that he got would make anybody feel good. Then there was the fact that he had just been made an agent. Getting paid would mean that he could buy a new car and move out of Ellie's place. But overwhelming all of those other reasons, he was only seconds from seeing the love of his life. With any luck, he would be taking her home today. With even better luck, who knows how his night would work out?
"I'm due some good luck." Chuck whispered to himself as he opened the door to Sarah's room.
It was pretty obvious that Sarah had been crying. Actually, it was pretty obvious that Sarah was still crying. Although she quickly did her best to hide it, her eyes were red and puffy.
"Sarah, what's wrong?" Chuck asked softly as he hurried over to her.
"I need to talk to you." Sarah said as she wrapped her arms around Chuck's neck. "It's important. Please promise me that you'll let me finish before you say anything."
"Ok," Chuck said slowly as he sat on the side of bed and grabbed Sarah's hands in his. The concern was evident on his face. He had no idea what to expect but this couldn't be good.
"First, I just want to tell you how terribly sorry I am." whispered Sarah.
The look on Chuck's face changed from obvious concern to downright fear as his heart leapt into his throat and he feared the worst. He just knew that she was going to tell him that she had been reassigned.
"I've been hurting you because I didn't put you first." Sarah continued softly. "I was so stupid. I just want you to know that will never, ever happen again. From now on, you're the most important thing in my life."
Chuck realized that he had been holding his breath. His face broke into a smile as he suddenly felt relieved.
"I love you so much." Sarah said softly as the tears began to flow again. "And I'll do anything I can to win back your love. I know I don't deserve it but I'd be so grateful for a second chance. I'll wait forever for you to love me if I have too."
At seeing Sarah cry, Chuck's smile faded back to a look of concern.
"Please forgive me." Sarah finally said as she sobbed.
"Are you done?" Chuck said softly.
Sarah just nodded as she continued sobbing.
"That was nice." Chuck said softly with a smile. "But why on earth would you think that I don't love you right now? Don't you believe me when I say that I love you? What do I have to do to make you believe it? Whatever it is, I'll do it."
"If you said it, I would believe you." Sarah said as she took her right hand and wiped the tears from her eyes.
"Sarah," Chuck said hesitantly. "I'm confused. I've told you that I love you."
"No, Chuck," Sarah said softly as she looked him the eye. "No you haven't."
"Come on," Chuck said insistently with a scoff. "I have so."
"Trust me." Sarah said with more of an edge to her voice than she really intended. "You have never said it. I've been waiting to hear it. That's not something I would have forgotten."
"Oh my goodness," Chuck whispered as the realization hit him. He softly embraced Sarah. "I'm so sorry. I must have told everybody but you."
"I'm embarrassed. Please forgive me." Chuck sighed as he rubbed Sarah's back.
"Maybe," Sarah whispered as a smile began to break out on her face. She pulled out of the embrace to look at him.
"Maybe?" Chuck questioned in surprise.
"Chuck," Sarah said in a soft frustrated voice after a long pause. "You still haven't said it."
"I haven't?" Chuck said with a smile. Now he was obviously teasing her. "Are you sure?"
"Chuck," Sarah said in a warning tone.
"I love you." Chuck said quickly. "I can't describe how much. I have for a long time. I'm sorry if I made you question that."
Sarah softly wrapped her arms around Chuck's neck as the smile automatically came to her face.
"But as much as I love you, I have to tell you something." Chuck whispered sadly.
Sarah let go of Chuck so that he could pull back to look into her eyes. Her eyes told Chuck to continue as her smile faded.
"These past three days have been hell." Chuck said softly as his own eyes started to fill with tears. "Every time I see you I'm terrified that you're going to tell me that you just got a phone call. You're going to tell me that you've been reassigned. That you have to be in Paraguay to quell a coup in the morning and that I'll probably never see you again. Every time you say my name, that is going to be my first fear."
"I couldn't take that, you know?" Chuck whispered as he tried to choke back the tears. "That would kill me."
"Chuck, that's not going to happen," Sarah said softly as she shook her head firmly. "I promise."
"How do you know?" Chuck asked in a confused tone. "I mean, you never know what orders you're going to get, right?"
"Because I wouldn't allow that to happen." Sarah said firmly. "I'd quit first. Beckman already knows that."
"Really," Chuck asked.
"Chuck, listen to me." Sarah said gently. "You are the love of my life. But I hurt you. I know that. And I can hide behind the orders and I can blame Beckman all I want. But the fact is that I hurt you in a very cruel way. Me. And I'm ashamed of myself. I am. It's something that I'll regret for the rest of my life. I've always been dedicated to my duty. You know that. I've always been willing to sacrifice for the greater good. And I still think that is very important. But it pales in comparison to how I feel about you. It took Ellie to point out to me how stupid I was being. There is no way that I'm sacrificing you. And it took almost losing you to realize that would have killed me too. So, trust me Chuck, I'm not going anywhere."
"I really love you." Chuck said as he got into bed beside Sarah and reclined it so they could lie comfortably. "My intent is to keep telling you that until you get tired of hearing it."
"Hey," whispered Sarah with a smile as she snuggled into Chuck's chest.
Chuck and Sarah had snuggled for about twenty minutes when Chuck suddenly jumped out of bed.
"Man," he said excitedly. "I almost forgot."
"What did you almost forget?" Sarah asked mischievously.
"I stopped by the jewelers on the way back over here." Chuck said with a smile as he pulled a small plastic bag out of Sarah's travel bag. "I picked up a little something for you."
"Really," whispered Sarah as her eyes got big.
"Sure," Chuck said softly as he handed Sarah a purple velvet box.
When Sarah opened the box she saw a very fine chain with a diamond pendant.
"Chuck," Sarah whispered as she tried to hide her disappointment. "This is really beautiful."
"It's to thank you for saving my life." Chuck said with a smile as he took the necklace from her. "Let me help you put it on."
Chuck moved the chair next to Sarah's head. He sat on his knees on the chair to be able to reach around Sarah's neck. Finally he was able to fasten the chain.
"Thank you," Sarah said as she was still trying to hide the disappointed tears that threatened to overflow her eyes. She kissed Chuck gently. "This really is sweet."
"You know that I love you." Chuck said softly. "Right?"
Sarah just nodded with a sad smile.
"Well," Chuck said with a smile. "As long as I'm already on my knees, there's something else I'd like to say."
"The necklace was for saving my life." Chuck said as he pulled another velvet box out of his pocket. "This one is for helping me to begin my life."
When Chuck opened the box, Sarah was looking through the tears in her eyes at the biggest diamond ring she had ever seen.
"Sarah Walker," Chuck said gently. "I know that we're not the typical couple. We'll probably never be considered normal. But I also know that I never want to be apart. I don't know how this is all going to work out. A lot of things are going to happen. But I know that I want you by my side when they do. I can't make a lot of promises. But the one promise I can make is that I'll cherish you for the rest of my life. Will you please marry me?"
Sarah tried to answer but no words would come. Finally she simply nodded her head as the tears flowed freely down her cheeks.
As Chuck took the ring out of the box, Sarah held out her left hand. The grin on Chuck's face couldn't have been any bigger as he slipped the ring onto Sarah's finger. Sarah stared at her hand for a long moment, almost like she was in a trance. Then she threw her arms around Chuck's neck and hugged him as tightly as she could.
"I love you." Sarah whispered with a sob as she pressed her lips to Chuck's.
Chuck and Sarah sat side by side on the bed with it elevated waiting for Ellie to come and say that it was ok to go. Sarah's head was resting on Chuck's shoulder as she stared at her hand contentedly. Finally Sarah broke the silence.
"Chuck," Sarah said softly with a sigh. "This is the biggest diamond I've ever seen. How could you possibly afford something like this?"
"I forgot to tell you." Chuck said animatedly. "Beckman made me an agent. They established a cover software company and I'm being paid for a video game I submitted. They just deposited eighty seven thousand dollars back pay into my account. They want to swear me in as soon as you can be there."
"Congratulations, Agent Bartowski." Sarah said with a smile as she kissed Chuck on the cheek. "Now where is Ellie? I want to get home and celebrate our engagement."
Just them Ellie popped her head into the room. Chuck got off the bed to give her a hug.
"Hi guys," she said with a smile. "I bet you're anxious to get out of here."
Sarah nodded quickly.
"How do you feel?" Ellie asked Sarah. "Do you have any dizziness? Any pain?"
"My ankle is still a little tender." replied Sarah. "But otherwise, I've never felt better in my life."
"Great," said Ellie as she removed the IV from Sarah's arm. "Let's get you out of here. You're going to need to stay off your ankle for at least a couple of days. After that you can do whatever doesn't hurt. It's going to be sore for a week or so. I'm going to give you some pain medicine to take home. Do you have any questions?"
"I do have one question." Sarah said softly. "It's about balance."
"Are you having trouble with your balance?" Ellie said quickly with the concern evident in her voice. "Are you dizzy at all?"
"No, Ellie," Sarah said with a laugh. "I'm sorry. It's nothing like that."
Sarah could see that Ellie had a confused look.
"It's just that," Sarah said as she held out her left hand. "My one side has this huge rock on it and the other side doesn't. Do you think it will affect my balance?"
"Oh my God," Ellie whispered to herself as the tears filled her eyes and she threw her arms around Sarah. "That's the best news I've ever heard. Welcome to the family. I finally have a sister."
"It's all because of you," Sarah said as she hugged Ellie tight. "Thank you for knocking some sense into me."
"As soon as you're up to it," Ellie said with a laugh. "We're going to make the guys take us on the town to celebrate."
"I'm looking forward to it." Sarah said with a laugh.
"But you shouldn't drink any alcohol while you are taking the pain medication." Ellie cautioned.
"That's ok," Sarah said with a sly smile. "We'll just have to figure out another way to celebrate."
"So you closed the sale," Ellie said as she hugged Chuck tightly. "Good for you."
"Sarah's right." Chuck said with a grin. "It was all because of you. Those drugs really helped. I might need some more when it comes time for the actual wedding."
"Go get the car." Ellie said with a laugh. I'll go get a wheelchair and Sarah and I will meet you out front. You can keep the car for tonight. I'll get a ride home with Devon."
"Chuck," Sarah said softly as Ellie left and she pulled the curtain around the bed. "Could you please hand me my clothes?"
Chuck retrieved the overnight bag from where he had set it earlier. But to his surprise, when he tried to hand it to her she simply shook her head.
"I'll need you to help me." Sarah said softly as she gathered the curtain around her and poked her head out.
"Could you please hand me my underwear?" Sarah asked with a seductive smile as she dropped her gown and let the curtain fall away.
Chuck fished out a pair of bikini briefs from the bag and handed them to her. His face immediately turned red as he realized for the first time that Sarah was naked. He glanced quickly around the room not sure what to do with his eyes.
"Now sweetie," Sarah whispered softly with the same seductive smile as she enjoyed Chuck's obvious discomfort. "Can you hand me my bra?"
As Chuck handed her the lacey bra from the bag, his face turned even redder, if that was even possible. He kept his embarrassed gaze fixed at the floor. As she observed Chuck's uncomfortable condition, Sarah's smile turned sinister.
"Remember about an hour ago?" Sarah said softly. "When you teased me with that necklace? That is what you were doing, right?"
Chuck just nodded numbly.
"It's cute that you wanted to tease me." Sarah said with a sly smile. "I'll admit you got me. But I also think it's important that you remember that I have a lot of weapons at my disposal. You just witnessed one. Do we understand each other?"
Chuck just nodded as a smile crept on his face.
"Well sweetie," Sarah said softly with a grin. "You have to know that I love you like crazy."
"But paybacks are hell."
Chapter 16: Home
Chuck and Sarah were driving back to Sarah's place in Ellie's car. They were still a little embarrassed from the send off they received at the hospital. Although Chuck was aware that their romance had caused a buzz with the staff, Sarah had no idea. But even Chuck was stunned when they were greeted by a throng of smiling well wishers with a huge banner that read "Congratulations – Chuck and Sarah." He was surprised at how red Sarah's face was.
"I'm sorry that I didn't tell you." Chuck said softly to Sarah who was looking out the passenger window. "I know that you hate surprises."
"Tell me about what?" Sarah asked softly while continuing to look out the window.
"About the hospital staff," Chuck said. "Ellie told me that our story has really captured their imagination. I should have told you. We were just kind of busy. I'm really sorry."
"It's ok." Sarah responded. "It was kind of cute."
"So," Chuck asked hesitantly. "You're not mad?"
"Why would you think I'm mad?" Sarah asked, turning to look at Chuck for the first time.
"Well," Chuck said with a soft smile. "You're being awfully quiet for someone who just got engaged an hour ago. Are you ok?"
"I'm more than ok." Sarah said with the beginnings of a sly smile. "I'm just thinking."
"Care to share your thoughts with your future husband?" Chuck asked softly.
"No thanks," Sarah said.
"Come on, Chuck. You know that I'm teasing." Sarah said quickly as she noticed Chuck's look. "I'm just thinking about how our relationship just got a lot more complex."
"I don't know," Chuck said with a smile. "I think it just got simpler. It was always complex. Why do you think it is more complex now?"
"Because," Sarah said so softly that Chuck had to strain to hear her. "We have to balance being in love with staying safe and doing our duty. I'm going to be your wife but also your bodyguard. I hope that you'll be able to deal with that."
"What's changed?" Chuck said with a laugh as he pulled the car into the parking lot of Sarah's building. "I've been in love with you for months and you've been telling me to stay in the car."
"But you don't stay in the car." Sarah laughed.
"And you yell at me." Chuck said as he shared Sarah's laugh. "Again, what's changed?"
"Well for one thing," Sarah said as her mood suddenly shifted to being serious. "From now on, when you don't stay in the car, you'll be sleeping on the couch. Is that what you want?"
"Of course not," said Chuck as he visibly winced.
"Good answer," Sarah said with a smile.
"I can carry you." Chuck insisted for the third time as they struggled trying to get Sarah into her apartment.
"Damn it Chuck," Sarah snapped. "For the last time, you're not carrying me. That would look ridiculous. I'm fine. Just let me do it."
"Sarah," Chuck said softly. "You know that you're not supposed to put any weight on that foot for a couple of days. At least let me support your bad side."
Chuck went to Sarah's side and she attempted to put her arm around Chuck's neck. The problem was that Chuck was too tall for her and Sarah kept loosing her grip. As Sarah's arm slipped off Chuck's neck her foot came down hard on the pavement. Chuck could very clearly see the grimace as Sarah fought to keep her composure. Chuck held Sarah while he waited for the wave of pain to subside.
"Enough," Chuck said firmly as he scooped Sarah up in his arms and carried her into the building.
"You're embarrassing me." Sarah said in a low growl as they entered the building. "Put me down. I can walk."
"Sorry," Chuck said softly. "I'd rather have you embarrassed than see you hurt your ankle any more."
"Chuck, put me down right now." Sarah said in a harsh whisper as they entered the elevator.
"If you want to help," Chuck growled. "Push the button for the third floor."
As soon as Chuck carried Sarah into the apartment, he sat her down as gently as he could on the couch.
"Sit there," Chuck said firmly as he walked into the kitchen. "I'm going to get some ice for your ankle."
Sarah gave Chuck an icy stare as he dragged over a stool to elevate Sarah's foot. As he gently wrapped the ice around her ankle he tried to catch her eye. But she wasn't buying it at all.
"I'm going to the store." Chuck finally said softly. "I need to pick up some groceries. Is there anything that you need me to pick up for you?"
Sarah just shook her head as her eyes still flashed with anger.
"I'm going to let you cool off for a little while." Chuck said as he walked to the door. "I just want to leave you with something to think about. Loving someone means that when they hurt you hurt. Please don't expect me to watch you hurt when I can stop it. That's not fair. It hurts me too. I know that you wouldn't want to have to watch me hurting. Now I'm going to go to the store. I'll pick up something for dinner. I'm also going to run home and pick up some clothes."
"Hopefully, I won't be sleeping on the couch." Chuck said softly as his face broke into a smile. "But if I do, it was worth it. I love you."
As Chuck closed the door behind him, Sarah's face broke into a smile of her own.
"I love you too." she whispered to herself. "I'm pretty sure you won't be sleeping on the couch."
Unknown Office Building:
Inside of a typical looking business office a man in a grey suit sat behind his desk going over intelligence reports. It was by far the worst part of his day. As he read the rather boring reports about Iraqi resistance estimates he heard a sharp knock at the door.
"Come in," he said sharply.
"Agent Roberts," he said as the man entered the room. "Please sit down. Do you want some coffee?"
"No, thank you, sir." said Roberts stiffly as he sat in the chair across from the desk. "You wanted to see me sir?"
"Yes, Agent Roberts," said the man. "How long have you been with the organization?"
"About three years, sir," replied Roberts.
"What do you know about Bryce Larkin?"
"I know that he was one of our agents." Roberts said crisply. "He stole all of the intelligence for the intersect computer and destroyed it, sir."
"We've been searching all over the world for this man for the past year." The man said harshly. "There is no higher priority than finding Bryce Larkin."
"Yes sir," Roberts said.
"You're probably wondering what this has to do with you."
"Yes sir," Roberts said with a smile.
"This is one of our agents," the man said as he handed Roberts a picture. "Her code name is Lizzy. She was staking out a Buy Moore in Burbank. We had some intelligence that indicated that Bryce Larkin might have some connection to that particular Buy More."
"Yes sir," Roberts said in a confused voice.
"About three months ago, she suddenly stopped reporting in. We would like you to find out why. If there is some connection to Bryce Larkin, we need to know what it is."
"Yes sir," Roberts said stiffly.
"I don't need to tell you how badly we want that intersect. We'll settle for Bryce Larkin. The agent who delivers either one of them to us would find himself in a very powerful position. Do you understand me?"
"Yes sir," said Roberts. "Thank you for this opportunity, sir. I'll find out what's going on there."
"Good luck, Agent Roberts. You're dismissed."
"Is it safe to come in?" Chuck called playfully as he poked his head in the door. "Or should I go shopping for a while longer?"
"It depends," Sarah said softly. "What did you bring to eat? I'm starving."
"What do you think I brought?" Chuck said with a smile. "What would I bring to make up to you when I know that you're pissed at me?"
"Thai Curry Noodles," Sarah asked hopefully.
"With extra curry," said Chuck with a grin as he held up the takeout box by its wire handle. "Hey, who do you think that you're dealing with here?"
Chuck set the food on the table. He then quickly set out two plates and silverware.
"Can I show you to your table, Miss?" Chuck said playfully as he walked over to where Sarah was sitting on the couch.
"It depends," said Sarah in a sultry voice. "Would you please carry me? I hear that you're very good at it."
"Yes, ma'am," said Chuck as he scooped Sarah up in his arms and took her to her seat at the table.
When Chuck sat Sarah down in her chair, Sarah didn't let go of Chuck's neck.
"I'm so sorry." she whispered softly as she gently touched her lips to Chuck's. "You're right. I need to be more willing to let you help me. I'm just not used to trusting people. I hope that you're willing to be patient with me."
"I am," said Chuck with his trademark grin. "Patience is one of my strengths. I've waited for this moment for six months. I happen to be very much in love with you."
"Me too," said Sarah as she matched Chuck's grin. "And as soon as we've finished eating, prepare for me to apologize in a more physical manner."
"I don't think so," Chuck said skeptically.
"Not after you've eaten extra curry," Chuck said with a laugh as he responded to Sarah's look.
It was a mission gone bad. And like so many before it, Chuck just wouldn't stay in the damn car. Sarah was looking all over the empty warehouse franticly looking for Chuck. Sarah could see the bad guy holding the gun. He hadn't spotted her yet but he had Chuck in his sights. There was just nothing she could do. She would try and run to get to him but the faster she tried to run the farther away he got. She could see his face as the shot hit him in the chest. It was contorted in shock and pain. Suddenly, before she could even get to Chuck, Casey was standing over him. "No pulse," Casey said flatly. "I'm sorry Walker."
"No." cried Sarah. "No. No. Noooo…"
Sarah sat up in her bed with a start. Sweat had soaked the sheets on her bed. As tears ran down her face, she knew that it would be hours before she would be able to get back to sleep.
"Sarah," Chuck called again as he lay beside her in bed. "Hello. Earth to Sarah." Chuck was lying on his back and Sarah was on her side with her head on Chuck's shoulder.
"Where did you go?" Chuck said with a smile as he kissed her. "I know that it was great but I hope it didn't put you in shock."
"Pretty sure of yourself," Sarah said with a laugh as she slapped Chuck playfully. "Not bad. You improved a little the second time. Not a bad start at all."
"Give me ten minutes," Chuck said with a laugh of his own. "And I'll see if I can improve on my score even more. After all, I think that the extra curry is wearing off."
"Ten minutes," Sarah asked with a fake pout. "You didn't need a ten minute break the first two times. Are you fading on me already?"
"What were you just thinking about?" Chuck asked softly while ignoring Sarah's teasing.
"Nothing really," Sarah whispered.
"Tell me," Chuck insisted gently. "Please,"
"Ok," Sarah said with a sigh. "I just want to warn you. I've been having nightmares."
"Nightmares," Chuck questioned as he tightened his grip on Sarah's shoulder.
"It comes with the territory." Sarah said as she tried to ease Chuck's concern. "They told us over and over in training. Most agents have them."
"Do you want to talk about it?" Chuck asked softly.
"Lately, it has been the same dream." Sarah said with a sigh. "I can't find you and when I finally do you get shot. There's nothing I can do. Then I wake up screaming."
Chuck rubbed her back in soft circles to let her know that he understood.
"It's ok," Sarah said after a long pause. "Really. You just have to learn to deal with it. It's just part of the price of being an agent. So if I wake up screaming, don't get freaked out, ok?"
"I'm sorry," Chuck said softly. "I guess that's one of those sacrifices that nobody knows about. You know that I'll be right here beside you."
"I know," Sarah said with a smile. "I love you."
"And I love you." Chuck said with a sly smile as he kissed Sarah more urgently. "Now let's see if I can make you scream in the more fun way."
It was a mission gone bad. And like so many before it, Chuck just wouldn't stay in the damn car. Sarah was looking all over the empty warehouse franticly looking for Chuck. Sarah could see the bad guy holding the gun. Just at the point where the bad guy would shoot, Chuck instead quickly pulled out his own gun and shot. "Got him," Chuck said with a smile.
"Sarah," Chuck whispered. "Are you ok?"
Sarah woke up just enough to realize that Chuck had never gone to sleep. He had stayed awake to make sure to be there for her. He was still lying on his back. The hand that was wrapped around Sarah gently rubbed her back. Sarah snuggled her head back into Chuck's chest in her most comfortable spot and whispered contentedly just before she fell back into sleep.
"I am now."