Chuck vs The Cost of Love

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 want to thank everyone who has sent me a review. I really appreciate the support that you've given me. It really helps me stay motivated.

This story is a sequel to Chuck vs. The Fake Relationship. Shippers, be warned. This story does not start out very happily. But it's not how the story starts that matters, it's how it ends. I promise it'll all work out as it usually does. Thanks to Natty for the excellent beta. And thanks to BrickRoad for being the brains of the operation. It's her fault that the beginning has so much angst (not really but it helps me sleep better).

If you're a Chuck fan (and of course, you are), join us in the forum on this site. We would love to hear your thoughts on the show and where it's going. Since we've talked about every possible outcome, someone is sure to be right.

Chapter 1: Happy Anniversary

Buy More:

Chuck was sitting in his normal spot at the Nerd Herd desk. Normal, it felt so good to get back to normal. Even the word sounded so good. Normal. Well, at least as normal as he could ever get. Today was the first day that Sarah was able to return to work. Her ankle was still a little sore but the limp was almost imperceptible. That was one of the advantages to really being in great shape. She was a very quick healer. And while the past five days he had spent taking care of her had been fantastic, Chuck was really looking forward to getting back into a routine.

His life had never been better. He was now officially an agent. He was getting paid an obscenely large amount of money. Oh, and the best part. The woman of his dreams was wearing his engagement ring. Wow. After work they were going apartment hunting. Sarah's place was much too small for the two of them. Not that they had been using the space anyway, having spent most of the past five days in bed. Tomorrow they were going over to Ellie's to plan the wedding. Yup, life was good. Chuck was so intent in his daydreaming that, at first, he didn't notice Lester and Jeff staring intently at him.

"So," Lester finally said while shaking his head sadly. "Let me get this straight."

"Good morning, Lester." Chuck said in surprise. "Get what straight?"

"Well first off, you're going out with the most beautiful woman that any of us has ever seen." Lester began has he held up a finger.

"She is beautiful." Chuck had to admit with a smile.

"Then," Lester continued as he held up a second finger. "You break up with her."

"Then," Jeff chimed in as he held up three fingers of his own. "You start dating the super hot new Becky Ivan who starts throwing herself at you and promising to not 'buck you off,' whatever that means."

Chuck's face began to involuntarily spout a broader smile as he listened to them rant.

"Then," Lester said with his voice growing louder as he held up four fingers. "You dump this hot chick, Becky and she's so broken up about it that she moves back to Texas."

Chuck simply shrugged his shoulders as his smile turned into a grin.

"And now," Lester said as his voice shook in disbelief and he held up his open hand. "You're engaged to the original, most beautiful girl we've ever seen."

"It's been a busy week." Chuck said with a nod. "That's for sure."

"You suck." Lester said with a large measure of disgust. "What is it with you? Did you learn some Jedi mind control technique?"

"Can you teach us?" Jeff said hopefully.

"Come on guys," Chuck said with a laugh. "You don't need anybody to teach you, Jeff. Just be yourself. That's what women want."

"Yea," Jeff said slowly as he and Lester walked away. "We've tried that. It doesn't work."

Chuck shook his head and gently laughed as his gaze followed Jeff and Lester as they retreated. Just as they disappeared from sight, Chuck locked eyes with a customer that Morgan was showing some big screen TVs. That's when the Flash hit. He could see a CIA personnel data sheet.

Name: Seth Roberts

DOB: 08/03/1978

Height: 6' 0"

Weight: 183lbs

Hair: Brown

Eyes: Blue

CIA position: Undercover Agent

Security Clearance: Top Secret

Last Known Assignment: Iraqi Counter Insurgency

Current Status: Defected to Fulcrum in 2006.

Marital Status: Married

Spouse: CIA Agent Sarah Walker

Chuck had to grab the desk to keep from falling. This guy was married? To Sarah? What was going on? This had to be a mistake. How could Sarah possibly be married? Was it a cover thing? Maybe they were on a mission together. After taking a minute to gather his composure, Chuck quickly walked over to where Casey was talking to a customer about a Washer and Dryer.

"Not now, Bartowski," Casey growled under his breath. "I need to make my sales numbers."

"Now," Chuck whispered with the panic evident in his voice.

One look at Chuck's face told Casey that something was very wrong.

"I'll be right back," Casey quickly told the customer. He led Chuck to a quite spot.

"Ok, Bartowski," Casey said in a soft growl. "You look like you just saw a ghost. What's wrong?"

"See the guy looking at TVs with Morgan?" Chuck whispered.

"Tan slacks?" asked Casey as he looked over the man that Chuck had indicated.

"He's Fulcrum," Chuck whispered as he nodded. "His name is Seth Roberts."

Casey's face immediately showed alarm. He quickly glanced around the room for possible threats.

"Take a look at the other customers." Casey said softly. "See if you flash on anyone else. Hopefully is he alone."

Chuck took a moment to look at the other customers in the store. Since it was a Monday morning, the store was fairly empty. It only took a few seconds to look at everyone.

"It looks like he's alone." Chuck whispered.

Casey noticed that Chuck was beginning to shake visibly.

"Chuck," Casey whispered firmly. "Calm down. You're going to tip him off. I need you to go over to the Orange Orange and tell Walker the situation. I'm going to try and follow our new friend to see if I can figure out what he's up to. I'll meet you two back there when I'm done and we'll talk to Washington. Are you clear?"

Chuck nervously nodded.

"Ok," Casey growled. "Get moving."

Orange Orange:

Sarah's face automatically lit up like a Christmas tree as soon as she saw Chuck come through the door.

"Chuck," she said with a bounce as she hurried as quickly as her still slightly sore ankle would allow to get to Chuck and hug him. "What a nice surprise. I didn't expect you until noon."

She could immediately tell from the look on Chuck's face that something wasn't right.

"Sweetie," Sarah whispered. "What's wrong?"

"I just flashed on a Fulcrum agent at the Buy More." Chuck said nervously with his voice shaky. "Casey is going to try and tail him. He says that he'll meet us back here to brief Washington."

As soon as Sarah heard the word Fulcrum, she began to pull Chuck towards the secure basement. As they entered the basement, Sarah immediately turned on the surveillance equipment. Sarah sat Chuck down in a chair in the video conference room and sat next to him.

"Tell me exactly what happened." she said firmly.

"I was sitting at the Nerd Herd desk." Chuck started very shakily.

"Sweetie," Sarah interrupted softly as she grabbed his hand. "Please calm down. I really need to be an agent right now. I need you to be one too. Don't be afraid. Whatever it is, we'll deal with it just like we always do. Now, go on."

"Well, like I said, I was sitting at the desk." Chuck said slowly after taking a deep breath. "When I flashed on a customer that Morgan was trying to sell a TV to. I went and told Casey. I think you know the rest."

"What did you flash on?" Sarah asked softly.

"The standard stuff," Chuck said. "He was just on a mission to aid Iraqi Counter Insurgency. I saw that he defected to Fulcrum about two years ago. I also saw his personnel file."

Sarah just nodded for Chuck to continue.

Chuck raised his head to look directly into Sarah's eye. "His name is Seth Roberts."

As soon as Chuck said his name, Sarah dropped his hand and looked down at the table. He knew Sarah well enough to tell that she was struggling to keep her composure. Chuck could see that she was biting her lip to keep from crying.

"Chuck, please," Sarah whispered without meeting his eye. "I know that I owe you an explanation but right now you're in danger. I really need to be an agent. Please wait until we can talk before you make any assumptions. Can I please count on you to do that?"

Just then Casey entered the room.

"Beckman wants us to conference with her in three minutes." Casey said breathlessly as he plopped down in one of the chairs, obviously tired from running.

As soon as Beckman's face came on the monitor she started speaking.

"This is a very serious situation." Beckman said sharply. "We have to assume that Chuck's cover is blown to Fulcrum. I think that it would be prudent to bring Chuck in."

"But ma'am," Sarah said cautiously. "We're not sure what they know or what they're after. Having Chuck disappear now just might tip them off."

"Ok, Agent Walker," Beckman said with a touch of sarcasm. "What do you propose?"

"Casey," Sarah said as she turned to him. "Were you able to tail the suspect?"

"Yes," replied Casey with a sigh. "He is staying at the Hilton down the street. I tailed him there."

"Well ma'am," Sarah said firmly. "I have a relationship with the suspect. Let me find out what he is after and what he knows."

Chuck was trying very hard to catch Sarah's eye but she was having none of it.

"Major Casey," said Beckman firmly. "Take Chuck back to the Buy More and finish your shift. Keep a close eye out for Mr. Roberts. I would like to speak with Agent Walker privately for a second."

"Yes, ma'am," Casey said as he got up out of his chair. "Let's go, Chuck."

"What are you going to do?" Chuck asked with concern as he turned towards Sarah.

"Do you want to go into an underground bunker for the rest of your life?" Sarah said angrily as she looked at Chuck for the first time.

"Of course not," Chuck replied sadly.

"Then I suggest that you follow your orders." Sarah said sharply. "For once. I'll see you at home."

At that Chuck got up without a word and followed Casey out the door. Once they were gone Beckman spoke.

"Sarah," she said in a much softer tone. "I'm willing to give you forty eight hours to see what you can find out."

"Thank you ma'am," Sarah said softly.

"But Sarah," said Beckman firmly. "I have to tell you. I'm a little concerned for you here. I know what your relationship with Seth Roberts is. When push comes to shove, where are your loyalties going to be?"

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

Sarah stood in the hallway of the Hilton trying to compose herself. She had quickly gone home and changed out of her Orange Orange uniform. She picked out a blouse that had a generously plunging neckline and a matching skirt. She had been very careful to make sure that her makeup was perfect. That was no small task with her hands shaking as they were. She also made sure that she had taken off her engagement ring. Finally realizing that she needed to get this over with, she took a deep breath and knocked on the door.

Seth was lying on the bed watching Sports Center when he heard the knock at the door. Seth was surprised because he certainly wasn't expecting anyone. His hand automatically reached for the gun in the back of his slacks. "It must be housekeeping," he said to himself as he jerked the door open. His jaw dropped when he saw Sarah standing there.

"Hi, Seth," Sarah whispered with a shy smile.

"Sarah," Seth said in shock. "What are you doing here?"

"Is that any way to great your wife?" Sarah asked with a dazzling smile.

Suddenly Seth took Sarah into his arms. He pressed his mouth to hers passionately. Sarah put her hand behind Seth's head and pulled him into the kiss. She opened her mouth as an invitation. An invitation that Seth quickly accepted. Finally Seth broke the kiss.

"How did you know that I was here?" Seth asked as he pulled back to look into Sarah's eye.

"I saw you at the plaza today." Sarah replied as she kissed him again. "So I followed you."

"I knew that I would see you again." Sarah whispered after the even longer second kiss broke. "I've really missed you."

"I've really missed you too." Seth said with a smile as he stepped back. "You look fantastic as ever."

"You know," Sarah said softly with her most seductive smile. "Actually, last month was our anniversary. I didn't get a present. The traditional gift for the fifth year is wood."

"Well," said Seth with a huge grin of his own. "I'm thinking that you're in luck. I don't have any trees handy, but will you accept a substitute?"

Sarah's grin matched Seth's as he began to unbutton her blouse.

Chapter 2: Deception

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

Sarah smiled as she looked down and saw Seth starting to unbutton her blouse.

"Down boy," she said with a laugh as she took a step back. "I said that I missed you. Not that I wanted to get naked."

"Come on," Seth said with a seductive smile. "A husband has certain rights, you know. It has been five years, after all."

"Nice try, Seth." Sarah said gently as she refastened the buttons on her blouse. "We both know that you gave up those rights when I caught you in bed with my best friend."

"So," said Seth sadly. "You're still pissed about that? How many times do I have to say I'm sorry?"

"I'm not still pissed about that." Sarah said with a laugh. "It was a long time ago. But you have to admit, you're going to need to prove to me that I can trust you before we hop into bed."

"What do I have to do?" Seth said with a seductive smile. "Whatever it is, I'll do it. You have to admit, we had some good times in bed."

"We had some very good times." Sarah said with a sparkle in her eyes. "No question. If you want to get back to that, I'm willing to give it a shot. But you're going to have to prove to me that I can trust you. It's not going to happen today. Or tomorrow, for that matter."

"Tell me what you need." Seth said. "If I can give it to you, I will."

"Well," said Sarah with a smile. "You're going to have to talk to me."

"What do you want to talk about?" Seth said seductively as he stepped up to Sarah and put his arms around her.

"Ok, Seth," Sarah said firmly as she twisted out of his grasp. "The quick seduction thing isn't going to fly. What we had at one time was great. And, I'll admit, I miss it. I miss you. If you want for us to get back to where we were, it has to be more than just in bed. I'm willing to give it a shot. But you need to decide how far you're willing to go."

"But you're just so hot." Seth said with a sigh. "How can you blame me for wanting you right now? I've been dreaming about it for five years."

"Than a few more days won't hurt, will it?" Sarah said with a smile as she walked to the door. "I have to go. I want you to think about it. How much do you want to try again? I'll be back tomorrow and we'll talk it through. But it can't be just sex. I need more."

"Wait," said Seth as he took Sarah's face in his hands and kissed her again. "You'll get more. I've missed you too."

"Life's too short, Seth." Sarah said softly as she walked out of the room. "Think about it."

As soon as Sarah left the hotel, she called Casey on her cell.

"What's your status?" Casey answered briskly much like he always did.

"Are you alone?" Sarah asked softly.

"Yes," Casey said. "I'm assuming that you're doing what you do. How did it go?"

"That part is going ok." Sarah said sadly. "But there is a major complication. It's complicated but I was married to this guy. Technically, I guess I still am."

"Does Chuck know?" Casey said in amazement.

"I assume so." Sarah said with a sigh. "He said he flashed on the personnel file. That is going to mess him up. I should have told him. I really didn't want him to find out this way. I just can't deal with that right now. I'm struggling enough as it is."

"I'll talk to him." Casey said sadly. "Just for the record, does Chuck have anything to worry about?"

"Of course not," Sarah said firmly. "Casey, you know how I feel about Chuck. I hate this guy. But he knows me. He is going to be hard to fool. It's going to take every bit of concentration that I have to pull this one off. Please make Chuck understand."

"Roger that." Casey said. "Do you have another meeting scheduled?"

"Yes," Sarah replied. "Tomorrow afternoon."

"You should wear a wire." Casey said firmly. "I want to monitor you. This guy is Fulcrum after all. You might get in trouble."

"I can't risk it." Sarah said sadly. "I don't know where his hands are going to be. I can't have him stumbling across the wire by accident. I'll be ok. This guy really thinks he is getting in my pants. As long as I can keep him thinking that he wouldn't do anything to mess it up. Maybe I can plant a bug in the room."

"Where are you at right now?" Casey said.

"I'm on my way back to the apartment," Sarah said. "Tell Chuck that I'll see him there."

"Don't worry," Casey said with an evil laugh. "You just concentrate on doing what you need to do. I'll knock some sense into our boy."

"About that," Sarah said with a sad smile. "Do you think you could go a little easy on him? Please, he's had a hard day."

"Sorry, Walker," Casey said with a laugh. "I only know how to do this one way. And easy ain't it. Don't worry, he'll survive."

Buy More:

Casey walked up to Chuck at the Nerd Herd desk.

"Let's take a walk." he said gruffly.

Casey silently led Chuck to the employee break room.

"I just talked to Walker." Casey said as he looked at Chuck warily. "She wanted me to talk to you. She's worried about you."

"What is she worried about?" Chuck said sadly. "Is she afraid I'll find out that she might be going on a second honeymoon with her husband?"

"I think that she might be afraid that you misunderstand about that." Casey said sarcastically. "Here is a news flash for you, Bartowski. Women agents use sex to control men. It's the main weapon that they have. Walker is using it to try to save your ass."

"That kind of makes it hard to be in love with one." Chuck said sharply. "How do you ever know that she is just not controlling you?"

"There is a very good way for you to know." Casey said as his eyes narrowed. "Do you know what that is?"

Chuck just shook his head.

"Because you actually had sex, dumb ass," Casey said firmly. "If she was controlling you she would only let you think that you might have sex, if you did everything that she wanted. But you never actually would. I assume that you have?"

"Of course," Chuck said as his face became less tense.

"There you go," Casey replied with a sigh. "I'm telling you this because that's what she's doing with Seth Roberts. That's her training. She's letting him think that she will have sex with him if she gets her way. That is going to drive him crazy. It's going to consume his thoughts so that he will do anything she asks him, including telling her what he knows about the Buy More. But they'll never actually have sex. As a matter of fact, if she did ever have sex with him, she'd lose her advantage. So she'll never let that happen."

"Ok," said Chuck as a small smile began to form. "I like that concept so far."

"I thought that you might." Casey said with a grimace. "The problem is that, in order to fool him, she's going to have to look like she might be willing to sleep with him. And to someone looking at them that didn't know what was going on, they might be fooled just like he will be. She doesn't want you to be that person. She is going to have to do some things to fool him that a normal fiancé wouldn't like."

"Like?" asked Chuck cautiously.

"Like flirting with him," Casey said softly. "Maybe telling him how much she wants him or kissing him with an open mouth. Perhaps letting his hands go to places they shouldn't or showing him more skin than would otherwise be appropriate. Things like that."

"But I don't like her doing any of those things." Chuck said firmly. "Maybe I'm being selfish but I want those things all to myself."

"No shit." Casey said with a small smile. "Who would like it? Nobody's saying you should like it. You're not being selfish. That is totally normal. And there's no question, if she did any of those things for real, she'd be cheating on you. She's really hoping that you trust her enough to know that she would never, ever do that to you."

Chuck just looked at Casey sadly.

"This is going to be very hard on her." Casey said softly. "Walker is a pro. She's the very best that there is, bar none. But she knows this guy. And more importantly, he knows her. And that's tough. She's not trained for that. But she's doing this for one reason. For you, the man that she loves. So you need to ask yourself. Do you want her to get Seth to think he has a chance to sleep with her or do you want to go into an underground bunker for the rest of your life?"

"I want to trust her." Chuck said softly. "More than you'll ever know. But how can I be sure?"

"Let me ask you something, Bartowski." Casey said distantly as his eyes drifted off into space. "Have you ever seen Walker cry? I'm not talking about some tears in her eyes. I'm talking broken down, out of control crying."

Chuck just shook his head and looked at the table.

"I have," Casey said so softly that Chuck had to strain to hear him.

Chuck's head snapped up to look at Casey in silent amazement.

"She's pretty tough, isn't she?" Casey said softly with a sad smile. "I've been in unbelievably horrible situations with her. We've seen dead bodies. We've seen people die in front of us. We've seen people that we care about being tortured. Things that would make me want to cry. Do you know what I mean?"

Chuck nodded his head sadly after a moments pause, surprised by Casey's admission.

"But the only times I've ever seen Walker cry is this past week." Casey continued. "When she thought that she would never see you again. When Beckman showed us Becky Ivan's video of you, she sat in my kitchen and bawled like a baby. She sobbed for an hour that she would never get to tell you how much she loves you. It was one of the saddest things I've ever seen. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

Chuck nodded in response.

"So don't ask me how you can trust her." Casey said in a soft growl. "In my mind, you are the luckiest bastard in the whole world. The question I would ask is how do you deserve to be loved as much she loves you?"

"I know," said Chuck after pausing to wipe the tears that were forming in his eyes. "So, what should I do?"

"Give her some space." Casey said with a smile in a much softer tone. "Let her know that she doesn't have to worry about you. She needs to be able to concentrate on her job right now or she is going to be in danger."

"But, Casey," Chuck said with a distinct whine in his voice. "She's married to him. How could that be? This is too hard."

"I don't know the answer to that." Casey said softly. "And you deserve to have her explain it to you very soon. You absolutely do. I'm not saying that you don't. She just needs to know that you're willing to wait for a few days. She needs that to be safe. I'm sure that she has a good explanation. Trust her for a couple of days. She deserves it."

"She deserves it." Chuck agreed.

"One other thing I experienced that week," Casey said as a smile broke out on his face. "This is totally beside the point but I remember the look on Sarah's face when Bryce showed her that he had captured Becky Ivan. I'll never forget it as long as I live. And I learned something very important that day that neither one of us should ever forget."

"Never, ever, piss her off."

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

When Chuck walked into the apartment, Sarah was standing there waiting for him. He could tell by the look on her face that she was really struggling. Chuck walked up to her and took her in his arms. Sarah immediately buried her face into Chuck's chest.

"I love you so much." Sarah whispered. "I need you to know that. I really love you. Nothing is ever going to change that."

"I know." Chuck said as he held her tight. "I love you too. And I want you to know that I'm going to trust that you're doing the right thing. No matter how badly it looks to me, I'll wait until you're ready."

"It won't be long." Sarah whispered. "You can trust me. I promise."

"I know," said Chuck softly. "I just need you to be safe. Please tell me what I can do to help."

"You're doing it." Sarah whispered. "Thank you."

Chuck sighed as he rubbed Sarah's back gently.

"I guess normal is going to have to wait for another week."

Chapter 3: The Hook

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

Sarah made sure that she waited for Chuck to go to work before she got ready to go see Seth. She knew that he would notice the extra effort that she would need to make to look extra sexy. He knew where she was going today. The last thing that she wanted was to rub his face in it. As she was doing her makeup she sighed. What she wouldn't give to be able to be doing this for Chuck. He would be so appreciative. That was for sure.

"How did I get so lucky?" Sarah whispered to herself as she decided what outfit to wear. She knew exactly what outfit she would have worn for Chuck. The pale blue blouse never failed to get a reaction out of him. Even when he was trying to pretend that they didn't have a future together, his eyes gave him away every time. Every once in a while she would wear it just to see his reaction. A little evil maybe, but she was never disappointed. Not one time. Sarah firmly slid the blouse to the side of the closet. Seth was never going to see that one, that was for damn sure. "Besides," Sarah said to herself with a grim smile as she picked out one of her newer blouses. "Seth won't care what top I wear. As long as he can see down it."

As Sarah was getting dressed she couldn't keep the silly smile off her face as she thought back to last night. It had to be killing Chuck. But all he was thinking about was her safety. She had never met a man like that before. Well, Bryce didn't count. He wouldn't have minded. Chuck was different. It bothered him. A lot. They both knew it. But he was willing to put on a brave face because he knew that is what she needed. When this was over, she promised herself to think of a special way to make it up to him. Then her eyes settled on her engagement ring sitting on her dresser and her happy mood vanished like your breath on a cold morning. She had to call on her training to fight to keep the tears from forming. Yup, she was going to have to figure out something very special. Chuck deserved it.

"Come on Sarah," she finally whispered to herself firmly. "Get your damn head in the game before you get him killed."

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

Sarah stood in the hallway of the hotel just outside of Seth's room trying to get her game face on. Finally she took a deep breath and knocked on the door. She almost didn't have time to get her dazzling smile in place before Seth opened the door.

"Hi, Sarah," Seth said with a grin as he quickly pulled her into the room. "I've been waiting for you."

"I couldn't wait to get here." Sarah said softly as she put her arms around Seth's head and pulled him into a long kiss.

Where yesterday she had let Seth be the aggressor, today it was Sarah that pressed her tongue against his lips. Naturally it didn't take Seth long to respond in kind. Their tongues danced for a long while as they engaged in the extended hot and heavy kiss. Finally Sarah could feel Seth's hand enter her blouse and slide inside of her bra. That's when she broke the kiss and took a step back.

"Slow down," Sarah said with a soft smile. "You're trying to make to lose my resolve here."

"What resolve is that?" Seth asked with a grin of his own.

"I think that you know." Sarah answered as she patted his bed with her open hand. "I'm staying out of this bed until we've decided if we are going to go forward."

"What is it going to take for me to convince you that I want that too?" Seth asked softly. "Whatever it is, I'm willing to do it."

"Ok, Seth," Sarah said. "That's nice. I want to be convinced. But it's been five years. You're going to have to convince me that I can trust you."

"How can I do that?" Seth said with a grin.

"Well, for one thing," Sarah said with a smile. "You could start by not checking for loose change inside my bra every time I get within arms length."

"Sorry," Seth said with a sarcastic smile. "But I really don't see how you can blame me. You are just so incredibly hot."

"Let's start by talking." Sarah said with a grin. "We'll see how it goes from there. What are you doing in L.A. anyway?"

"How about you go first?" Seth said.

"Fine," Sarah said as she sat down in a stuffed chair. "I'm working. There is an employee at the Buy More. Her name is Anna Wu. Her dad is Vice President of Taiwan. I'm making sure that nothing happens to her."

"Wait a minute," Seth said with a confused tone. "Sarah, you're the top agent in the whole agency. Are you telling me that they have you babysitting a diplomat's kid? I find that hard to believe."

"I used to be the top agent." Sarah said sadly. "Not any more. My career didn't go so well after you left me."

"I'm sorry," Seth said with a nod. "That must hurt. I know how much your career meant to you. And for the record, it was you that left me."

"I'm really not looking for a fight." Sarah said sharply. "But the way I look at it, you left me when I came home that day and found you and Laura in bed."

"I know," Seth said softly. "I'm sorry. You'll never know how many times I've kicked myself for that bone headed move. What can I do to get a second chance?"

"Try and be the man I fell in love with." Sarah said as she looked at the floor. "That's all I've ever wanted."

"I'd like that." Seth said gently. "What is it going to take for you to believe that?"

"I don't know." Sarah said sadly as she looked at Seth. "I wish I could tell you specifically. But I can't. I do know that you're going to have to let me get to know you again without expecting sex. Maybe we could pretend that we just started dating."

"I'll really try." Seth said with a smile. "But I remember how great the sex was. I hope that you don't blame me for wanting it again."

"It was great for me too." Sarah agreed with a soft smile. "I've missed it. I've missed you. Let's work on getting back to that, ok?"

"Ok," Seth said softly with a smile. "You might have to tie my arms down. But ok."

"So," said Sarah trying to lighten the mood. "What are you doing in L.A. anyway?"

"I'm sorry, Sarah." Seth said sadly. "I'm working. I really can't say."

"Ok, Seth," Sarah said angrily as she got up and walked towards the door. "It was really nice to see you again. Maybe we'll do it again in five more years."

"Sarah, wait!" Seth called as she approached the door. "Please…"

Sarah stopped at the door but didn't turn to face Seth.

"I'll tell you."

Buy More:

Chuck was working on computers in the cage. He figured if he stayed buried in the cage, he had a much less chance of biting someone's head off. Not surprisingly, no one challenged him for that spot. Not only did no one like working in the cage, nobody wanted to get in his way. The look on his face told everybody that today was not a good day to mess with him. Loud and clear. Even Morgan, who normally was incredibly tone deaf to those sort of situations, seemed to get it. Finally Casey poked his head into the cage.

"Hey, tiger," Casey said trying to sound chipper. "How's your day going?"

"Great," Chuck said sarcastically. "She's in his hotel room right now. I wonder how many clothes she still has on."

"I thought you were going to trust her." Casey said with a laugh. "What happened to that? Besides, I'm sure that she still has some clothes on. Maybe."

"I trust her." said Chuck with a sigh as he shot Casey a sideways glance. "I do. I don't mean that. I just feel awful that she has to go through all this demeaning crap. Coming on to a guy that she can't stand. I'm thinking that maybe it's just better if I go to the bunker. It's probably going to happen anyway. It would save everybody a whole lot of trouble."

"You need to let Sarah make that call." Casey growled. "Trust me on this one. She is willing to make a hell of a lot more sacrifices for you than just flirting with some guy."

"I know," said Chuck sadly. "But maybe I shouldn't let her."

"Do me one favor." Casey said with a laugh. "Give me a heads up when you're going to tell Walker what you're going to 'let' her do."

"This I want to see."

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

"Come on baby," Seth said as he hurried over to Sarah and put his arm around her. "I'm sorry. Please come back and sit down."

"Seth," Sarah said sternly as she narrowed her eyes. "Are we just wasting our time here?"

"Please," said Seth softly. "It's been five years. Please cut me a little slack here. I'm really trying."

"Fine," Sarah said sullenly as she walked back over to the chair and sat down. "But this is the last time. Now, why are you here?"

"Ok, Sarah," Seth said as he looked around the room nervously. "But I have to warn you. This isn't classified information. It's the kind of information that can get you dead."

"Go on." Sarah said firmly.

"This isn't exactly a sanctioned mission." Seth said softly. "I'm working with a special group within the Intelligence Community. About a year ago we sent an agent to stake out the Buy More. We were looking for an ex agent named Bryce Larkin. About six months ago our agent disappeared without a trace. I need to find out why."

"Wait a minute," Sarah said in a surprised voice. "You mean my Buy More? The one I've been watching for the past year? What is this agent's name? What does he look like? Maybe I've seen him."

"It's a woman." Seth said as he handed Sarah a picture. "Her code name is Lizzy. Have you ever seen her?"

"No," Sarah said as she studied the picture. "But maybe I can help you. I have access to all the surveillance footage for the past year. Why don't I see what I can find out?"

"Why would you do that?" Seth asked cautiously. "You know that this isn't sanctioned, right?"

"Like I care about that." Sarah said with a scoff. "I've been babysitting a spoiled brat rich kid for the past year. My career is over. What do I have to lose? I thought that you wanted to try and get back together?"

"I do." said Seth with a smile. "Very much."

"Ok, Seth," Sarah said excitedly. "Here's the deal. If you will let me help you crack this case, I'll start to trust you again. I'll go with you to your next assignment and we can be together. Wouldn't you like that?"

"I'd like that a lot." Seth said with a smile. "Can you stay the night?"

"Seth," Sarah said warningly. "I'm not sleeping with you until I can trust you."

"Ok," Seth said with a laugh. "No sex. I just want to hold you in my arms for the night. Would that work?"

"I can't tonight." Sarah said quickly as she stood up to leave. "How about tomorrow? Would that work?"

"Absolutely," Seth said as he stood up and kissed Sarah with the same passion as their greeting kiss.

"We're going to be together again." Sarah said as she walked to the door. "I can't tell you how many nights I've dreamt of this happening."

"Me too, baby," Seth said as Sarah left the room. "Me too,"

As soon as Sarah left Seth picked up his cell phone and dialed a number.

"Hi Laura, it's me."

"Yea, I miss you too."

"It's going fine. It was kind of boring until yesterday. You'll never guess who I ran into."

"Sarah Walker, do you believe it?"

"I know."

"She actually wants to try and get back together."

"I know. She's crazy. She thinks that we're still married."

"Come on, baby. You're not going to tell me that you're jealous. I just want in her pants one last time. You have to admit, she's smoking hot."

"No, she's playing all hard to get."

"She's coming back over tomorrow night. How about our normal bet that I can seal the deal tomorrow?"

"Maybe I can keep her going for a few days. That would give you long enough to get out here and walk in on us."

"Yup, that would be a hoot."

"You're right, baby. Turn about is fair play."

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

When Chuck walked into the apartment, Sarah was waiting for him. The look on her face told him right away that something was wrong. Chuck walked up and quickly embraced Sarah. They stood silently for a long moment until Sarah broke the embrace.

"Come sit down," she said softly as she pulled Chuck into a kitchen chair and sat across from him. "I need to talk to you. I need to explain to you about what's going on and about me and Seth."

"I thought that you couldn't talk about it." Chuck said in surprise. "I thought that talking about it would mess you up."

"Maybe," said Sarah sadly. "But right now not talking about it is messing me up even more. We have to be at the Orange Orange in an hour for a briefing with Casey and Beckman. And there is something that I want you to hear from me before that."

"Sarah," Chuck whispered. "What is it?"

"I have to spend the night tomorrow with Seth."

Chapter 4: Trust Me

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

"Are you ready to talk?" Sarah said as soothingly as she could.

Chuck just nodded but he still wouldn't look Sarah in the eye.

"Ok, Chuck," Sarah said with a sad smile as Chuck sat across from her but still wouldn't meet her eye. "You're going to have to help me here. I need you to look at me."

Chuck slowly lifted his gaze to meet Sarah's eyes. The look on his face brought tears to Sarah's eyes.

"I'm so horrible at this." Sarah said softly as she grabbed both of Chuck's hands. "But I'm not getting up from this chair until you know how I feel. So I hope that you can be patient with me."

"Are you breaking up with me?" Chuck asked fearfully.

"Sweetie," Sarah said with the beginnings of a smile. "If you had a clue how I really feel, you would know just how silly that question was. I am so in love with you that it scares me. Its taking everything I have right now to keep from breaking down at seeing you hurt like this. If there was any other way around this, I would take it. You have to know that."

"How can you say that?" Chuck asked in a confused tone. "You're going to spend the night with him? Aren't you married to him?"

"Technically, yes." Sarah slowly said with a sigh as she looked at the floor. "Here's the deal with that. I'm so sorry you have to hear this story like this. I promise I was going to tell you. I met Seth right after I graduated from CIA academy. I really didn't have any experience with men. You know that I wasn't socially active in high school."

Chuck nodded to let her know to continue.

"Seth was really the first man in my life who actually took a serious interest in me." Sarah continued. "I guess I was really attracted to that. Anyway, we had been dating for about six months when I came home early one day and caught him in bed with my roommate."

"That must have hurt." Chuck said softly.

"More than I can say," Sarah said with a grim smile as she picked up her head to look at Chuck. "He begged me to forgive him. He told me that if I would marry him, he would stay faithful. I was stupid. Long story short, we had been married for about six weeks and I caught him in bed with the same girl. I hadn't seen him since that day until just yesterday."

"I'm so sorry." Chuck said. "But why are you still married? Why didn't you just get divorced?"

"I just never thought it would matter." Sarah said sadly. "When that happened with Seth I told myself that I was never going to get married again. I decided that I was going to dedicate my life to the greater good."

"So," said Chuck with a sad smile. "That's where super agent Sarah Walker was born."

"Precisely," Sarah said with a sigh. "And that's a big reason why I kept pushing you away for so long. The CIA offered several times to get it annulled. I'm sorry that I didn't follow through but I was always on a mission. I will as soon as this is over. I promise."

"So you have loved two other men." said Chuck softly. "What's different about me? I mean, how do I know that your feelings for me will last when they didn't for the other two guys?"

"I can see how it would look that way to you." Sarah said sadly with a sigh. "I can. I mean, I married Seth. I've told Bryce that I loved him. But you have to understand. I never came close to feeling for them like I feel about you."

Chuck's eyes widened as he listened to Sarah.

"You're my best friend." Sarah whispered as the tears started to form in her eyes. "You're the only one in my life, other than maybe my dad, who even knows who I am as a person."

Chuck squeezed her hands for reassurance.

I tried my best to keep from loving you." Sarah said as a single tear ran down her cheek. "I tried so hard, Chuck, but I just couldn't do it."

"I know," Chuck whispered.

"Believe me," Sarah continued. "When the time comes, I'll be able to shoot Seth in the head without batting an eye. There is nothing he could do or say to make me feel anything for him. You could make me stop wanting to live. You could absolutely destroy me. That's the difference. Do you understand?"

"I think so." Chuck said with the beginnings of his own smile. "You could absolutely destroy me too."

"I know.' Sarah said as she matched Chuck's smile. "And that's a privilege that I take very seriously. A year ago, at the beach, I asked you to trust me. Do you remember?"

"Of course,"

"At the time that was pretty easy." Sarah said. "You really didn't have much of a choice. I was only asking you to trust me with your well being. Now I'm asking that you trust me again. But this time, I need you to trust me with your soul. Just like I trust you with mine. And I promise, I swear to you, Chuck, that I won't violate that trust. I need you to believe. I need you to know, that no matter what it looks like, I would never, ever betray you."

"I trust you." Chuck said as his face broke into a grin. "You're actually pretty good at this talking about your feelings thing. I think you've been sandbagging me here."

"You're the only person in the world that I could have this discussion with." Sarah whispered. "I hope you understand what that means."

"I understand." Chuck whispered as his grin broadened. "You'll never know how honored I am."

"Good," Sarah said with a grin of her own. "Thank you. That's important because we're going to have to talk about some tough things now."

"I don't want you to spend the night with him." Chuck said sadly as his grin disappeared.

"I know," Sarah whispered. "I don't either. But I need to gain his confidence. Don't worry, nothing is going to happen."

"And I believe you." Chuck said firmly. "I do. I just feel horrible that you have to go through that for me. Maybe it's better if I just go to the bunker. It's probably going to happen eventually anyway."

"Come on Chuck," Sarah said firmly. "You don't want that."

"I'm terrified of the thought of a bunker." Chuck admitted. "I couldn't bear not ever seeing you again. But if it could keep you safe…"

"How can you say that?" Sarah interrupted pointedly. "Didn't we just agree to trust each other with our souls? Come on, Chuck. Do you really think that there is any chance that I would let you go anyplace without me? If you end up in a bunker, every night when you go to bed, my head is going to be lying on your chest. It's starting to hurt me that you don't believe that."

"I'm sorry." whispered Chuck. "I'm not trying to hurt you."

"Thank you," said Sarah softly. "But it would still be bad. We would have to tell Ellie that you are dead. Neither one of us would ever get to see her again. I know that you love her very much. But, guess what, Chuck? I love her too. That's why I'm hoping that you can trust me enough to let me try and get us out of this. I know that I'm asking a lot."

"I trust you." Chuck said softly. "There is no one on earth that I would want protecting me more than you. But this is going to be really hard."

"I know, sweetie," Sarah said sadly as she moved to sit on Chuck's lap. "I promise that I'll keep the physical stuff to as little as I possibly can. I'll also be as reassuring as I can be."

"Thank you," said Chuck as he gently touched his lips to Sarah's. "I really, really love you."

"I know," said Sarah. "I really, really love you too."

Sarah wrapped her arms around Chuck's neck and pressed her lips to Chuck's. For a long moment they shared a passionate kiss. After a few minutes, Sarah felt Chuck's hand enter her blouse much like Seth's had earlier that day.

"Sweetie," Sarah whispered between kisses. "I'm so sorry but we don't have time for this right now. We have to be at the briefing in fifteen minutes."

"All right," said Chuck reluctantly with a sigh as he removed his hand and broke the kiss. "It's just…"

"Just what?" Sarah asked softly.

"Casey told me that is how I could know." Chuck said sadly as he looked at the floor. "He told me that if we really had sex, I would know that it was real."

"Oh ok," said Sarah with a sigh as she began to unbutton her blouse. "But we really have to hurry."

"Wow," said Chuck with a surprised laugh. "I'm so sorry. I was just teasing you. You mean that really would have worked?"

"Don't you remember our discussion about paybacks?" Sarah asked with a sly smile as she refastened the buttons on her blouse for the second time today.

Chuck's only response was a very audible gulp.

Castle Briefing Room:

Casey, Chuck, and Sarah were all sitting at the conference room table waiting, more or less, patiently when Beckman came online.

"Agent Walker," Beckman said crisply. "Would you care to report what you've found out on your assignment today?"

"Thank you ma'am," Sarah said calmly as she flashed Chuck a quick smile. "Using my previous relationship with the suspect, I was able to gain his confidence. Once I had done that, I learned that he is, indeed, working with Fulcrum. He was sent to determine why their Agent Lizzy disappeared. He also verified to me that Lizzy was staking out the Buy More because of some vague intelligence they had that indicated there was a possible connection to Bryce Larkin. There was no indication that they have any knowledge of Chuck. I offered to use my contacts within the Buy More to help him determine what happened to Lizzy."

"Thank you, Agent Walker." Beckman said. "And what reason did you give the suspect for being in the area?"

"Well, ma'am," said Sarah. "Using our pre established contingency plan, I told him that I was assigned to protect Anna Wu, who's father is a senior Taiwanese government official. I told him that I spotted him in the plaza and followed him to the hotel."

"And he bought that?" asked Beckman skeptically.

"Yes, ma'am," Sarah replied curtly. "I believe so."

"Very good," said Beckman. "Now, what are we going to do? I'm open to any ideas."

"Can't we just arrest him, ma'am?" said Chuck tentatively. "Just like we did with Lizzy."

"That wouldn't work, Chuck." Sarah said softly. "If Fulcrum has another agent disappear, that will just confirm that they have reason to suspect the Buy More. They would send in twenty agents to find out why."

"Ma'am," said Casey. "Agent Walker has a former intimate relationship with the suspect. Perhaps she could appeal to his emotional ties to feed Fulcrum false intelligence."

"I'm afraid that won't work, Major Casey." Beckman said sadly. "On the printer is a transcript of a conversation that we intercepted from the bug that Agent Walker planted today. I think that it is clear that the suspect doesn't have any legitimate feelings for Agent Walker. He is just angling for a sexual encounter. Do we have any idea who this Laura is?"

"Yes ma'am," Sarah said sadly as she reviewed the transcript. "She is obviously Laura Carter. She was my roommate at the time Seth and I were married. They obviously have been having a long term affair."

"If he's Fulcrum," Casey said with a grimace. "Then it's a pretty safe assumption that she is as well."

"Ok, people," said Beckman sternly. "This is some very interesting information, but we still have no plan."

"Ma'am," said Chuck softly. "As much as I'd like to think I'm special, I'm assuming that Sarah is not the only female agent to fall in love while on an assignment."

"No, Chuck," Beckman said in a rather condescending tone. "It happens quite frequently. Much more often than it should. But what is your point?"

"Maybe," Chuck said a little more animatedly. "We could convince this Seth guy that Lizzie didn't disappear. She fell in love with someone and left with them."

"Exactly, ma'am," Sarah exclaimed. "She fell in love with a civilian and followed him off the grid. We have Lizzy in custody, right? It would be fairly easy to fake some store surveillance photos of Lizzy with some man who really doesn't exist. I could give them to Seth and Fulcrum would be looking all over the world for this mysterious man who doesn't really exist. They would no longer have any reason to suspect the Buy More."

"I like this idea." Beckman said firmly. "But what about Seth Roberts? We can't have him walking around knowing that Agent Walker is associated with the Buy More. It would only be a matter of time before someone puts two and two together."

"Well, ma'am," Sarah said as she winced while looking at Chuck sadly. "I've already promised Seth that I would go with him to resume our marriage once he was done with his current assignment. He is expecting us to resume our sexual relationship at that time. Once he was away from the Buy More, we could arrest him and nobody would any longer associate him with the Buy More."

"Very good," Beckman said. "We'll do exactly that. Agent Walker, when is your next meeting with Seth Roberts?"

"Tomorrow," Sarah said sadly. "I'm scheduled to spend the night with him."

"Do you really think that is necessary?" Beckman asked.

"Yes, ma'am," Sarah said while looking at Chuck. "I wish it wasn't but I'm afraid that it is. While I'm at it, I would like to take a stab at getting Seth to set up a meeting with his Fulcrum superior. Maybe we would nab him as well."

"Do you think that he would?" Beckman said.

"Yes, ma'am," said Sarah. "I think given the sentiment expressed on this transcript that we have a good chance of busting the Fulcrum leader, Laura Carter, and Seth Roberts. We could lead Fulcrum away from suspecting the Buy More forever."

"Excellent," exclaimed Beckman. "Let's get together tomorrow just before your meeting with Roberts. Good luck, Agent Walker. You're dismissed."

As soon as the screen went blank, Sarah turned to Chuck with eyes glistening.

"I'm so proud of you, sweetie." Sarah said. "That was brilliant."

"So, Walker," Casey said with a seer. "Care to share with us what you're going to do with Roberts tomorrow?"

"It's what I do, Casey." Sarah said with a sly smile as she winked at Chuck.

"It's what I do."

Chapter 5: The Nerd

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

Sarah was in the apartment packing her bag for her night with Seth. She was grateful that Casey had already picked up Chuck for work. Sarah knew that he was struggling with this assignment and the less reminders of it, the better. Sarah was grateful that there was a briefing before she had to leave for Seth's. It would give her a chance to sneak in a few minutes alone with Chuck. It was important that she make him as comfortable as possible.

"They have to realize that he hasn't had any training." she said to herself as she packed her bag.

It was easy to forget that she and Casey had the benefit of thousands of hours of training. It was a huge benefit in helping one with the psychological issues. It was actually very impressive that Chuck was doing as well as he was. Sarah made a mental note to tell Chuck how proud she was of him after the briefing. She also smiled as she made a mental note to get a few minutes of serious necking in.

Sarah had everything packed except for her nightgown. There were two choices, her flimsy negligee or the much more conservative one that Chuck had nicknamed the "granny" nightgown. There was no question which one the spy would choose. After all, the objective was to keep the mark consumed with lust. Even if it meant showing him a lot of skin.

"Or, in this case," Sarah whispered to herself with a smile. "All of the skin."

The negligee was pretty transparent. But with Seth, was that even necessary? He was already pretty consumed after all. But the last thing that Sarah wanted was to let her personal feelings lead her to bad decisions. That's how you got dead in this business. Unable to decide, Sarah threw both nightgowns into her bag.

"Oh well," she said to herself with a groan. "We'll make it a game time decision."

Castle Briefing Room:

Sarah was already in the briefing room when Casey and Chuck arrived. Sarah made sure that she flashed her brightest smile at Chuck and waited for his reaction. She breathed a huge sigh of relief when she saw his broad, if a little tense, smile in return.

"Hi sweetie," Sarah said softly as Chuck sat beside her at the conference table.

"Are you all set?" Chuck asked as he took a big breath.

"Don't worry about a thing." Sarah said softly as he grabbed Chuck's hand under the table where Beckman wouldn't be able to see. "This is just business. It doesn't mean a thing."

Casey took his customary seat at the other end of the table in silence. Casey, being a master at pretending that everyone else in the room was invisible, stayed silent. When Beckman came online she was, as usual, all business.

"All right people," Beckman said sharply. "We have a lot of things to cover and not a lot of time so let's get down to it. Agent Walker, are you still on target to meet with Seth Roberts tonight?"

"Yes, ma'am," Sarah said crisply.

"Good," Beckman said. "On your printer you will find a packet of information that we've prepared to assist in your cover."

"I have it, ma'am." said Casey as he retrieved the papers from the printer.

"First," Beckman said with a smile as a document appeared on the screen. "Is the Buy More employment application for our new imaginary Romeo, John Mark."

"Let Fulcrum try and track this guy down." Casey said with a laugh. "I wonder how many agents they will assign to that."

"Many, I would guess." said Beckman. "Next, are several photographs that appear to have been taken from the Buy More surveillance system." Several pictures appeared on the screen.

"This first one," said Beckman. "Shows John Mark and Agent Lizzy kissing in the break room. This next one shows then holding hands on the sales floor. And finally, this last one shows them in the home theater room umm, umm…"

"Pretending that they're Morgan and Anna, ma'am," Chuck said as the room erupted in laughter.

"Close enough, Chuck," said Beckman with a smile. "And this last item is an email sent from John Mark to the Service Group email account at the Buy More. It is describing how much John missed everyone and there is a picture attached." When the picture appeared on the screen, Lizzy was obviously present in the background.

"Agent Walker," said Beckman. "This should give you enough information to convince Seth Roberts that Lizzy is alive and well and went off of the grid of her own free will."

"Thank you, ma'am," said Sarah. "Is there anything else?"

"A couple of things, Agent Walker," Beckman said calmly. "First, I agree with your assessment of last night. I would like you to encourage Seth Roberts to set up a personal meeting between you and his Fulcrum superior as soon as possible. Maybe we'll get lucky and net a big fish."

"Yes, ma'am," said Sarah with a smile.

"The other thing is that we did some checking on Laura Carter and she may cause us a problem." said Beckman with the concern evident in her voice.

"Yes, ma'am," Sarah said in a confused voice.

"Unfortunately," Beckman continued. "It turns out that Miss Carter is much higher on the CIA food chain than Seth Roberts. She is privy to highly classified information. Since she knows you personally, it won't be long before she realizes that your cover story of protecting a foreign diplomat's child doesn't make sense. She may even be able to find out the association between you and Bryce Larkin."

"I always knew that association would come to no good." Chuck whispered under his breath.

"Yes, ma'am," Sarah said as she shot a dirty look towards Chuck. "How would you like me to proceed?"

"Fortunately," Beckman said. "We were able to trace the cell call that Roberts made to Miss Carter last night."

"Wait a minute," Casey said in shock. "Begging your pardon ma'am, but this moron made a call from his cell phone? To another undercover agent's cell phone? Of a personal nature? While he was on an active undercover mission?"

"It appears so, Major," Beckman said with a smile. "Seth Roberts' career has been somewhat less than stellar. He has acquired quite a reputation for being sloppy and lazy. For the past several years he had been used mostly for minor courier type assignments. That's probably why he defected to Fulcrum, to jump start his career."

"And you married this guy?" Casey asked with a sly grin as he turned to Sarah. "Gung ho, hard ass, super agent Sarah Walker? Wow! He must have had other qualities."

Sarah's face was very red, indeed. She looked at the table, obviously embarrassed until Chuck gave her hand a squeeze for encouragement.

"At ease, Major," Beckman said sharply. "But back to the point, since we are able to monitor Agent Carter's cell calls, we can tell if she attempts to tip Seth Roberts off. If she does, we'll have to abort. And I think everybody knows what that would mean. Is that understood?"

"Yes, ma'am," Sarah said softly.

"We'll reconvene at seven tomorrow morning to debrief and make plans on how to proceed." Beckman said. "Good luck, Agent Walker."

"Thank you, ma'am," said Sarah.

"Are there any questions?" Beckman asked without waiting for a response. "You're dismissed."

As soon as the screen went blank, Sarah shot a look at Casey that screamed for him to leave them alone. Not that Casey needed the look. He was already half way to the stairs. As soon as Casey was out of sight, Sarah slid over and sat in Chuck's lap.

"I need to know that you're going to be safe." Chuck said softly as he kissed Sarah.

"Don't worry about me." Sarah said with a smile. "I could take this guy with my eyes closed. You heard Beckman. He is very lazy."

"Yea," Chuck said with a twinkle in his eye. "But I also heard her say that he was sloppy. That's something I'm hoping that you don't experience tonight, if you know what I mean."

Sarah tried to keep the laugh in. She just couldn't.

"What am I going to do with you?" Sarah said as she giggled into Chuck's shoulder. "I just need to know that you're going to be ok."

"I'm not going to lie." Chuck said as he kissed Sarah again gently. "I wish you didn't have to do this. I'm going to miss you. Even more important, I'm going to worry about you. But I have to admit; a week ago I thought that you were single but in love with Bryce Larkin."

Sarah noticeably winced when Chuck mentioned Bryce.

"I've hurt you a lot lately," Sarah said sadly. "Haven't I? I'm sorry. I'm trying so hard not to."

"Hey," Chuck whispered as he held Sarah tightly. "I didn't say that to make you feel badly. I just wanted you to know how lucky I feel. A week ago you were out of my life. And today, with all of our problems, I can trust you with my soul."

"I like my position a lot better now."

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

Sarah stood in the hallway of the hotel trying to psych herself up to knock on the door.

"What's the big problem?" Sarah thought to herself.

After all, she had convinced many other marks in the past that she was in love with them. It really wasn't all that hard. She never worried about it before. What was so different about this situation that had her so freaked out? She certainly didn't feel sorry for Seth that was for sure. Reading that transcript just told her what she already knew. He had never really cared for her.

"That's Seth," Sarah whispered to herself with a grim smile. "He is just looking to get laid."

No, she had to admit that the person she was worried about was Chuck. He was home alone tonight wondering what was happening. And even though he told her he was ok, she could tell that he was worried. She could see it in his eyes. And why wouldn't he be? Look at it from his point of view. His fiancé was spending the night with her ex husband.

"Actually her not so ex husband," Sarah whispered to herself with a grimace.

Who could like that? And yet, there he was, putting on a brave face. He was doing that for her, because he thought it would help keep her safe. And in that instant, she knew how she was going to get through this. She had to do it to protect him. Suddenly, it didn't seem so bad. So with a silly grin on her face, Sarah stepped up to the door. As she knocked on the door a comforting thought raced through mind. It would be the last time for quite a few hours that she would be able to indulge in that thought so she was going to enjoy it as much as she could.

"Chuck loves me."

As Seth opened the door, he took in the sight of Sarah standing there.

"Damn," he thought to himself. "That woman can look hot in anything. Tonight's the night that I get with that."

"Hi, Seth," said Sarah with her dazzling smile as she walked in the door. "Did you miss me?"

Instead of answering, Seth grabbed Sarah in his arms and pressed his lips to hers. Sarah only let the kiss go for a couple of moments before she pulled back.

"I guess so," Sarah said with a laugh. "Hold on a minute, tiger. At least let me put my bag down. We have all night for that."

Seth grabbed Sarah's bag from her hand and placed it on the end table and quickly kissed her again. This time, after a few moments, his hand drifted towards Sarah's blouse.

"Damn it, Seth," Sarah said as she broke his kiss and stepped away. "Can you keep that little man in your pants under control for ten minutes? I have something to show you."

"I have something to show you too." Seth said as he smiled seductively. "And I've got news for you. He's not that little. And he's getting bigger. Maybe it's time that I reintroduced you."

"I don't think that will be necessary at this time." Sarah said with a laugh. "I remember what he looks like."

"It may not be necessary for you." Seth whispered as he grabbed Sarah around the waist and pulled her close. "But it sure as hell is necessary for him. He's dying in there. And me too, by the way."

"Stop," Sarah said firmly as she broke away and grabbed a manila folder from her bag. "Seth, do you want to be a hero or not? I'm not really in the best mood. I've been up all night doing the work that you should have been doing. Now, do you want to see this or not?"

Seth examined the material in the folder that Sarah handed him.

"How did you get this stuff anyway?" he asked in amazement.

"Well, Seth," Sarah said in a mildly condescending voice. "I did what an agent would do. I did what you should have done. I took the picture of Lizzy that you gave me and scanned it. Then I went backwards through the Buy More surveillance video using the CIA face recognition software looking for the last time she had been there. It turned out, that was in January."

"Very impressive," Seth said with a smile.

"Thanks," Sarah said shaking her head. "Then I went back a couple of weeks and found these and many more instances of her and this John Mark guy. They were obviously all over each other. It was actually kind of sweet. So I accessed the Buy More personnel system and printed a copy of his employment application."

"What about the email?" Seth asked.

"Standard procedure," Sarah said flatly. "I was doing a routine scan of the Buy More Exchange email system when I came across this message from him. You can clearly see Lizzy in the background. It is obvious that she went off the grid with this John Mark. That was almost a year ago so who knows where they might be. They are long gone. If you're interested in finding this Lizzy, you'll need to track them down."

Seth kept going back to the picture of them making love in the Home Theater room.

"Don't they know that there is a camera in there?" Seth asked with a gleam in his eye.

"Apparently not," Sarah said with a smile. "I have to watch my spoiled rich kid in there with her boyfriend about three times a week. It makes me lose my appetite. The good news is that I've lost ten pounds."

"Why did you do all of this?" Seth asked softly.

"Isn't it obvious?" whispered Sarah. "I did it for you, Seth. I did it for us. Maybe now we can go someplace and start over. I did it because I love you."

Seth went to grab Sarah again but was stopped by her hand on his chest.

"Come on, Seth,' Sarah said in an exasperated voice. "Can't you be an agent for ten more minutes? You really need to report this information. It's time for you to think about your career for a minute. It's time to be a hero."

As Seth picked up his cell phone, Sarah walked to the door.

"Where are you going?" Seth asked.

"I'm going to take a walk." Sarah replied as she shook her head sadly. "You really need to be secure when you report. I'll be back in twenty minutes."

"One thing that I don't understand," Seth said slowly. "Are we to believe that this sexy, sophisticated agent went off the grid because she fell for a nerd working in a Buy More? Isn't that quite a stretch?"

Sarah quickly turned towards the door so that Seth would not be able to see her face because she could feel the tears forming in her eyes.

"Trust me, Seth." Sarah whispered as she opened the door.

"It happens."

Chapter 6: The Test

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

Sarah was in the Porsche racing to get back to the hotel as quickly as she could. She was mad at herself. She should have just sat in the hotel lobby for twenty minutes. Why couldn't she resist the urge to go see Chuck? It just wasn't the professional thing to do. Even if the mission did allow it, twenty minutes just wasn't enough time. Now, Chuck was messed up. He knew where she was going and what she would be doing. All she had done was taken his upbeat mood and made it an anxious one. And for what, one kiss? That's all they really had time for. And now she needed to get her head back in the game. It was crunch time and she really needed to convince Seth that she was a love sick teenager. Fortunately, his ego made that a very easy sell. Sarah could allow herself one more minute to think about Chuck. That last kiss was easily the most powerful one they had ever shared. It was so powerful that for a minute, Sarah forgot where she even was.

"That's exactly the kind of thing that gets you killed." Sarah said to herself angrily.

It took everything that she had to get back in that car. Even though he didn't say so, she could tell the look in Chuck's eyes was begging her to stay. That he was willing to give up his freedom if only she would stay. It broke her heart to have to disappoint him. As she raced into the parking lot, she quickly checked her makeup in the vanity mirror. For the rest of the night she was going to have to be totally professional. She owed it to Chuck.

Sarah forced herself to calm down as she walked down the hallway to Seth's room. As she walked up to the door, she took a deep breath and put on her dazzling smile as she knocked on the door.

By the grin on Seth's face as he opened the door, Sarah could immediately tell that his conversation had gone well.

"Great news, baby," Seth said as he picked Sarah up and twirled her around. "My assignment is over. I have to report back to Vegas in the morning."

"What did they say?" Sarah said excitedly.

"It was great." Seth said in a gush of emotion. "He told me that was the most competent mission that he had heard of in a long while. He told me that he was proud of me. He's never said that to me before. He said that I was being wasted and that they had some bigger things in store."

"That's great." Sarah said with a shy smile. "Congratulations, baby. I'm so proud of you."

"I owe a lot of it to you." Seth said as he took Sarah into his arms. "We make a great team. We always have."

At that, Seth pressed his mouth to Sarah's for a very hungry kiss. As their tongues danced Sarah was expecting Seth's hand to slide inside her blouse. So she wasn't at all surprised when it did. Seth was very surprised however when instead of stopping him, Sarah turned slightly to give him an easier angle. Not one to ever pass up such an invitation, Seth quickly slid his hand inside of her bra before she changed her mind. Sarah let the second base action go on for about a minute before she slowly broke the kiss.

"Baby," Sarah whispered hoarsely with a shy smile.

"Can we talk?"

Ellie's Apartment:

Chuck knew that he needed to do something to take his mind off Sarah. So he decided to go to Ellie's and pick up some more of his things. As he walked into her apartment, Ellie and Devon were sitting on the couch.

"Chuck," called Ellie in a happy voice as she got up to embrace him. "Hi. It's so good to see you. Where's Sarah?"

"She is at a meeting for work." Chuck said with a smile. "She wanted me to tell you how sorry she is that she couldn't see you."

"Awe," Ellie said with a smile. "Tell her I said that's sweet."

"You know, sis," Chuck said with a laugh. "I think that the only reason she's marrying me is to become your sister."

"And don't forget it." Ellie replied with a laugh. "I love her so much. When are we going out on the town to celebrate? Her ankle must be feeling better."

"Yea," Chuck said thoughtfully. "It's feeling quite a bit better."

"But I think that she is going to stay off it tonight."

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

Seth groaned as he reluctantly removed his hand from Sarah's blouse.

"What do you want to talk about?" he said with a huge sigh.

"I need you to be honest with me." Sarah said softly as she led Seth to the couch and sat down beside him.

Seth nodded his head to let Sarah know to continue.

"The intelligence group that sent you here on this mission," Sarah whispered. "It's Fulcrum, isn't it?"

"Why would you say that?" Seth asked with a smile.

"Come on Seth," Sarah said with a large breath. "Please be honest with me here. Is it?"

"Yes," said Seth calmly. "It is. Does that bother you?"

"No, Seth," Sarah responded softly. "It doesn't. As a matter of fact, I'm hoping that you can put in a good word for me. Do you think Fulcrum would be interested in me?"

"Sarah," Seth said skeptically. "Why on earth would you want to join Fulcrum? You're the top agent in the CIA."

"Look around," Sarah said sarcastically. "I have been babysitting a spoiled rich kid for the past year. My career is long over. I'm so sick of the agency. I've learned a lot. It's not the agency that I signed up for. It's corrupt, Seth. You wouldn't believe how corrupt it is."

Seth smiled at Sarah to continue.

"I'm so tired of it." Sarah said with a cry. "I signed up to make a difference. That's not happening. Maybe it can happen with Fulcrum. Will you help me?"

Sarah was in the bathroom getting ready for bed. She stood looking at the two nightgowns trying to decide which one to put on. She knew that she should choose the negligee. She just couldn't make herself. She had already endured a lot tonight. And she absolutely knew that if she walked out of that bathroom in that invisible negligee, she would be fighting Seth's hands all night. She just wasn't up to that. So with a sigh she grabbed the conservative one and put it over her head.

She could see the look of disappointment on Seth's face when she came out of the bathroom and he saw what she was wearing. He was already in bed and had pulled down her side of the covers. He patted the sheets in an invitation. Sarah forced a smile on her face and quietly slid into the bed and pulled up the sheet up to her neck.

Right on cue, Seth slid over, wrapped his arm around her, and attempted to snuggle. Sarah quickly twisted out of his grasp.

"I want to talk," Sarah said softly.

"Again," Seth sighed as he rolled onto his back in disgust. "What now?"

"I still love you." Sarah whispered. "I just thought you should know."

"I love you too." Seth said quickly as he rolled back over on his side. "Now you're talking."

"Not so fast," Sarah said with a laugh. "Seth you have to listen to me for a minute. Can you please just hear me out?"

"Ok," Seth said with a sigh as he plopped back on his side of the bed. "I'm listening."

"Good," Sarah said with a smile. "I love you, Seth. I've never stopped loving you. I just need to know that I can trust you."

Seth's smile told her to continue.

"I've done a lot of thinking about this." Sarah said softly. "And I know now that I'm not upset with you about the sex with Laura."

"You're not?" Seth asked in amazement.

"No Seth," Sarah said. "I'm not. I realize now that it's just asking too much for an agent to be monogamous. What bothered me is the sneaking around. If we can cut that out, I think I can make you a deal."

"I'm listening." Seth said expectantly.

"Ok, Seth," Sarah said seductively with a sly smile. "I realize that I've been sort of a prude when it comes to sex. As long as I can trust you, I'm willing to let have your other women. I want to come with you to Vegas and be the wife that you always wanted. I can promise that I'll dedicate myself to your every desire. Would you like that?"

You're kidding," Seth said once he could get the words out of his mouth. "Right? I mean, who are you and what have you done with Sarah?"

"I've been lonely." Sarah said with a laugh. "And no, Seth, I'm not kidding. My career with the CIA was ruined because I wouldn't sleep with the higher ups. I don't intend on making that same mistake with Fulcrum. I want you to make sure that you let your Fulcrum contact know that I'm going to be willing to do anything to make a good first impression. I assume you don't mind."

"Of course not," Seth said with a sly smile. "It would actually be great for my career to deliver such a hottie. You do know what he'll be expecting?"

"I think that I have a pretty good idea." said Sarah. "Now, you just have to prove to me that I can trust you."

"How can I do that?" Seth asked expectantly. "Sarah, you're describing my fantasy life. I'll do anything that you ask to prove it to you. What will it take?"

"I thought of a test." Sarah said with a smile. "If you pass, I'll come in a couple of days to meet you in Vegas. I'll be your perfectly obedient wife. I'll defect to Fulcrum and do whatever it takes to advance both of our careers."

"Oh, I'll pass." Seth said. "I would do anything. What do you want me to do?"

"Simple," said Sarah with a grin. "If you can spend all night in bed with me without touching me once, you pass. Otherwise, we'll make love tonight and I'll go on my way. What do you say?"

"Wow," said Seth with a distinct whine in his voice. "That's quite a test. It's hard but I want the life. I'll accept the test."

"Well, Seth," Sarah said softly. "That's not exactly the test."

Seth felt Sarah rustling under the covers. Then he saw in the dim light the unmistakable sight of Sarah throwing her nightgown on the floor.

"That's the test."

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

Chuck was in bed alone looking at the ceiling. He knew that he should be worried about Sarah's safety. And he was, horribly. He also knew that he should trust her, and he did. But he couldn't help wondering what she was doing at that moment. The very thought made him shake.

He suddenly realized that this was the first time that he had been alone in this bed. It was Sarah's bed after all. And this was the first night she had not been there with him.

"I miss her." he sobbed to himself as he continued to stare at the ceiling.

Chuck was frustrated that he was not able to fall asleep when he realized that he missed Sarah's head on his chest. In their first week together, he had already gotten so used to her head lying there in her normal position. Chuck got so desperate that he finally put a pillow in the position trying to pretend it was her. But it was no good. There was no question that sleep would be a long time in coming tonight, if it came at all.

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

Sarah lay in bed feeling very proud of herself. Even though she was naked, she was totally covered by a sheet. And she had virtually guaranteed that she would not have to deal with Seth tonight. Her biggest problem was to keep herself from giggling and tipping him off. And she was driving Seth crazy. She was sure of that. The best part was she didn't even have to talk to him anymore. Now she was free to daydream about Chuck. At first, she was worried about how he was doing. But she chose instead to concentrate on that hot kiss. Wow. She couldn't wait for tomorrow's briefing. Hopefully, she could steal Chuck away for a minute. Finally she felt sleep approaching so she turned on her side away from Seth and sighed to herself.

"Phase one complete, sweetie."

Chapter 7: The Ring

The Burbank Hilton Hotel:

Sarah made sure that she was awake early so she could sneak into the bathroom and get dressed while Seth was still sleeping. Once she was packed she went back into the bedroom and gently shook Seth's shoulder.

"Where are you going?" Seth asked groggily as he saw that Sarah was fully dressed.

"I have to go, baby." Sarah said softly with a huge smile as she lay next to Seth and put her head on his shoulder. "I need to take care of some things if you want me to come meet you in Vegas in two days."

"So you are coming?" Seth asked as he turned to face Sarah.

"Of course I'm coming." Sarah said with a grin. "I have to follow my husband, don't I? You passed the test. I'm totally yours now. Where should I meet you?"

"I'm staying at the Monte Carlo." Seth said as he kissed her. "Why can't you just come with me now?"

"Seth," Sarah said between kisses. "I need to take care of some things here. If I go off the grid now, they'll catch me. You don't want that, right?"

"Let's celebrate." Seth said with a sly smile as he grabbed the hem of Sarah's shirt and began to lift it off her. "You're wearing far too many clothes."

"Baby," Sarah whispered softly. "I'd love that. But I just don't have time right now."

"I promise not to take long." Seth laughed as he reached behind Sarah and started to unhook her bra that he had already lifted out of place.

"I want this as much as you do." Sarah whispered as she rolled away and resituated her clothes. "Please don't make our first time in five years a quickie. I promise when I get to Vegas, I'll give you a night that you'll never forget."

"Ok," Seth grumbled. "But I'm holding you to that. I expect a lot."

"You'll get it." Sarah said with a smile as she held up a ring. "Do you know what this is?"

"Is that your wedding ring?" Seth asked.

"Yes, baby" Sarah said. "Would you put it back on my finger where it belongs? I've been waiting for this moment for five years."

It wasn't really her wedding ring. It was just a standard issue CIA ring that Sarah always carried in case her cover called for her to be married. She couldn't even remember where her real ring was. Probably in the bottom of her jewelry box in her apartment in Washington. As Sarah handed Seth the ring she hoped that he wouldn't notice the difference. Luckily he didn't seem to as he slid the ring on her finger with a smile.

"One other thing," Sarah said as she stood up and walked to the door. "When you set up the meeting with your Fulcrum contact, please don't tell them the name Sarah Walker."

"Ok," Seth said thoughtfully. "But why?"

"Sarah Walker has a reputation." Sarah said sadly. "One I really don't want to live with any more. I'm going to be Sarah Anderson now. Please let him know that Sarah Anderson is quite the party girl. She wants to do anything it takes to make a good first impression. And a second, and if he's up to it, maybe a third."

"Hey," said Seth with a smile. "I need you to save some of that for me. I've been waiting for five years."

"Trust me," Sarah said with a sly smile. "I have plenty to go around. When I'm done with this guy, he'll give us any assignment that we want. Then I'll meet you in the room and I'll make the rest of the night all about you. Sound fair?"

"I'll leave you a note at the front desk" Seth said with a sigh. "Don't keep me waiting."

"Don't worry, baby." Sarah said as she opened the door. "It will be so worth the wait. I'll make sure of that. I love you."

Sarah called on her professionalism to stay calm until she was on the elevator. As soon as the doors closed, she began to shake noticeably as the tears filled her eyes.

Castle Briefing Room:

Chuck and Casey were already in the conference room when Sarah arrived. Beckman was on line and they were just passing time waiting for her. Sarah quickly took her normal seat on Chuck's right. She flashed Chuck a quick smile as she grabbed his hand under the table. Sarah watched Chuck's happy smile turn immediately sad as he felt the ring on her finger. Chuck twisted the ring on Sarah's finger so there was no doubt that he noticed it.

"Shit," Sarah said to herself as she watched the tears start to form in Chuck's eyes. In her haste to get there she had forgotten to take off the ring. "What must he be thinking?" Sarah had to force her eyes off Chuck to be able to keep her composure.

"Agent Walker," Beckman said softly. "How did your assignment go? Do you have anything to report?"

"Yes ma'am," Sarah said after taking a deep breath to regain her composure. "My mission was successful. Seth Roberts believes that I am willing to defect to Fulcrum using my alias Sarah Anderson. Seth is going to set up a meeting with his Fulcrum contact He also believes that we are going to resume our marriage. We made plans to meet in Vegas in two days."

"Excellent," Beckman said. "I assume that Mr. Roberts doesn't suspect you. And what is your confidence level that this Fulcrum contact will agree to meet you?"

"Seth gave me no indication that he suspects anything." Sarah said softly. "I expect that the Fulcrum contact will meet me. Seth is going to offer me to him for the night."

At that point Sarah squeezed Chuck's hand for reassurance. When Chuck continued to play with the ring on Sarah's finger, she had to drop his hand to maintain her composure. As soon as she let go of his hand, Chuck grabbed the pencil in front of him and looked like he was taking notes. When he slid the pad over to Sarah, she could see what he had written."

"Are we still engaged?"

"Agent Walker," Beckman said in concern. "Are you ok?"

"I'm sorry, ma'am," Sarah replied after taking a moment to compose herself. "This was just a hard assignment for me. I'm fine."

"Are you sure?" Beckman said softly. "Do you need a minute?"

"Thank you ma'am," Sarah said while struggling to keep her composure. "But it would really help if we could keep going."

"Fine," Beckman said with a sigh. "Agents Casey and Bartowski, will you please excuse us for a moment? We just intercepted a call from Seth Roberts cell phone that we haven't had time to transcribe. I want to play it for Agent Walker and it has some embarrassing language. Out of professional courtesy, I would like Sarah to have the chance to listen to it first."

As Chuck and Casey got up to leave, Sarah spoke up as she grabbed Chuck's hand.

"Excuse me ma'am," Sarah said. "But I'm tired of keeping things from Chuck. And as hard as this assignment has been for me, I'm sure that it has been twice as hard on him. Would you mind if he stayed?"

"Are you sure?" Beckman asked. "There is some fairly crude language."

"I'm sure." Sarah said as she looked directly at Chuck. "I need for him to trust me so he needs to know how much I trust him. If we're going to spend the rest of our lives together, like I hope, we need that mutual trust. Casey is free to stay as well."

"Very well," Beckman said as she began playing the conversation.

The call was from Seth to his Fulcrum contact. He was setting up the meeting with Sarah. He was also describing in very graphic terms what a good time he could expect from Sarah. It was the kind of conversation that you might hear in a locker room.

As Chuck sat and listened to Seth brag about his night with Sarah and how many positions he had her in and how awesome she was in bed, he kept his eyes on Sarah. Even though she was trying her best to stay professional, Chuck could tell that she was struggling. Her eyes were starting to get glassy and there was a slight tremor forming in her hands. It broke Chuck's heart to see Sarah in such pain. To have to sit there and listen to this man who she hated, lie about her so crudely.

He just had to figure out the best way to help her. Getting mad wasn't going to help, that was for sure. And he knew that trying to comfort her in front of Beckman wasn't a smart move. The last thing she would want would be to break down in front of Beckman. She could probably live with Casey seeing her cry. But Beckman… No way. So that only left one thing to do.

"It's obvious that this Fulcrum contact is eager to meet Agent Walker." Beckman said in disgust. "I'm sorry that we had to all listen to that. Are there any questions?"

"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said in a hesitant voice. "Excuse me but I'm a little confused. What does it mean that Sarah is going to screw this Fulcrum guy's brains out? Is that some sanctioned form of CIA torture? It sounds really painful. And I thought we were trying to entice this guy, not scare him off."

As Chuck was speaking he looked directly at Sarah, smiled, and arched his eyebrows suggestively. Chuck could see that Sarah was fighting to keep a straight face.

"And another thing, ma'am," Chuck continued without waiting for a response. "What difference does it make to Fulcrum how religious Sarah is? Why would he care if she spends more time on her knees than the pope?"

That totally broke the tension in the room. For a long moment Sarah tried to hold her laughing in. Finally she gave up and joined the rest of the room as they exploded in laughter. Even the disciplinarian Beckman had tears running down her face. Casey could tell that she understood that this was a release that the team needed so he decided to join the fun. He turned to Chuck with his brow furrowed in mock confusion.

"And what did he mean," Casey said while trying to control his own laughter. "When he said that Sarah could suck a tennis ball through a garden hose? What's up with that?"

"I'm not sure." Chuck replied haltingly. "It sounds really hard. And actually kind of gross."

This sent the room into another fit of laughing. Sarah was laughing so hard that she had to lay her head on the table as the tears ran down her face.

Beckman let the laughter go on for a long moment before she finally tried to settle them down.

"Ok, people," she finally said. "We still have some decisions to make here. I think we can safely assume that Fulcrum no longer suspects the Buy More. We can simply deal with Seth Roberts and call it a day. Or we can follow up and perhaps catch some bigger fish. Since Sarah is doing the heavy lifting on this, I'm going to defer to her. Sarah, what do you want to do?"

"Well, ma'am," Sarah said. "Would it be ok if I talked to Chuck for a minute? I think that he deserves a voice."

"Of course," Beckman said. "You two take a minute and talk about it. Agent Casey and I will wait here."

Sarah took Chuck by the hand and led him to a private room. As soon as the door closed she threw her arms around him and smashed her mouth to his.

"I'm so sorry about the wedding ring." Sarah whispered when she finally needed to come up for air. "I needed to make Seth believe that I was going to meet him in Vegas. I was going to take it off. I just forgot."

Chuck just smiled at her.

"No one could expect you to endure seeing their fiancé pretend to be married to another man." Sarah said softly. "So if you say stop everyone, me included, will understand."

"But that's not what you want," Chuck said with a smile. "Is it? Please be honest."

"My top priority is you." Sarah said firmly. "It always has been. You're safe now. So I'm not willing to put you through any more pain."

"What pain?" Chuck said. "You hate this guy, right?"

Sarah nodded.

"And you're not really going to have sex with anyone, right?" Chuck asked with a smile.

"Well," Sarah said with a grin. "You have a serious shot if you play your cards right. But no one else."

"Then I want you to listen to me." Chuck said as his demeanor turned serious. "You're my best friend in the world. I love you very much. And I'm so sorry that I freaked out a little when I saw you wearing a wedding ring. Forgive me?"

"Of course," whispered Sarah. "There is nothing to forgive."

"So," Chuck said softly. "Let's do what you've dedicated your life to doing. Let's bust these bastards."

Sarah led Chuck back into the conference room. As soon as they sat back down, Sarah turned to the screen.

"We would like the chance to bust this Fulcrum guy, ma'am" she said softly. "It's what we do."

"Great," Beckman said. "If that's your decision, we have two days. Let's get together then."

"Yes ma'am" Casey said.

"I'm putting out a sanction on Seth Roberts and Laura Carter." Beckman said. "They can still connect Sarah to the Buy More. I assume that nobody has a problem with that."

"The only problem I would have," Sarah said with a smile. "Is if I don't get to pull the trigger."

"We'll see," Beckman said softly. "If there is nothing else, you're dismissed."

As soon as the screen went blank Sarah leaned over to whisper in Chuck's ear.

"Let's go home. I suddenly feel religious."

Chapter 8: The Fiance

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

Chuck and Sarah were lying in bed in their normal position. Chuck was on his back. Sarah was, as usual, on her side with her head on Chuck's chest. The top of Sarah's head was tucked in just under Chuck's chin. Her hair slightly tickled Chuck's neck each time she moved. It was the most peaceful feeling that Chuck had ever experienced in his life. Time seemed to have no meaning as he mindlessly rubbed Sarah's bare back. Chuck was reluctant to speak as he feared breaking the spell. Since he couldn't see Sarah's eyes, he couldn't tell if she was asleep or if she was simply enjoying the moment in the same way. Finally, Chuck had to find out.

"Are you awake?" Chuck whispered.

"So you can speak." Sarah said as she turned her head to look into Chuck's eyes. He could see the unmistakable sparkle. "I was afraid that I had rendered you mute."

"Not yet," Chuck replied with his own sparkle. "If that was your goal, I'm afraid that you've failed. Would you care to try again?"

"I wouldn't want to damage you permanently." Sarah said with a laugh. "So I've been holding back a little. I don't think you're ready for full power yet."

"Ok," Chuck said. "Let me know when you think I'm ready."

"Why would you think that I'm sleeping anyway?" Sarah said with a grin. "It's only one in the afternoon. Do you really think that I'd be so exhausted from your strenuous lovemaking session that I'd need a nap? Pretty full of yourself, aren't you?"

"I'm full of myself?" Chuck replied incredulously. "You're the one who just wondered if you had just struck me mute."

"Fair enough," Sarah replied with a laugh. "Why did you ask in the first place?"

"Well," Chuck began softly with a smile. "When I was at Ellie's last night, she asked me if we could go out tonight and celebrate our engagement. I really didn't know what to tell her because of this whole Seth thing."

"I'd like that." Sarah said softly.

Chuck could see the look of sadness that came over her face as soon as he said Seth's name. Not knowing what to say to help her, he just put his hand that had been rubbing her back around her shoulder and squeezed her for comfort.

"I'll call her and tell her that we can go." Chuck said with a smile as he kissed Sarah's forehead. "We could use a night out."

Sarah just nodded. After a long moment she looked back up at Chuck."

"Can I ask you for a favor?" Sarah whispered.

"Of course," Chuck replied.

"It's not a little favor," Sarah said. "It's a big one."

"Shoot," said Chuck. "I can't imagine you asking for any favor that I wouldn't do."

"I need a night off." Sarah said softly.

"Ok," Chuck said soothingly. "I'll call Ellie and let her know we'll make it another time."

"No," Sarah said quickly. "I didn't mean that. I mean I need a night off from being an agent. Tonight I just want to be a girl out having a good time with the love of my life and my new family. I don't want to have to worry about … umm … things."

"You mean that you might get sloppy drunk, don't you?" Chuck asked with a laugh.

"It might happen." Sarah said with the beginnings of a smile. "Do you think that you could be the agent tonight? Just don't let me say anything stupid."

"Of course," Chuck said with a silly grin. "You spend all of your time worrying about me. Let me spend tonight worrying about you. But I have to warn you. If you do get sloppy drunk, I'm not going to be accountable for my actions when we get back home. Be prepared to be taken advantage of."

"Fair enough," Sarah said as she slapped Chuck's chest playfully.

"I'm putting the over / under on how many times Ellie hugs you tonight at twenty." Chuck said with a smile.

"I'll take the over."

Washington D.C. – Dulles Airport:

Laura Carter sat in Dulles airport anxiously waiting for her flight to L.A. She was anxious for a variety of reasons that she really couldn't pinpoint. Sure, she hadn't seen Seth in about six weeks and the horns were growing long. Not that she was in love with him or anything. She was certainly not exclusive to Seth. Far from it. She was never bashful about hoping into bed when the mood struck her. It was a fact that many men inside the beltway could attest to. It was one of the benefits of being stationed in Washington. There were lots of horny men around. No, she wasn't in love.

"So why am I so jealous?" she asked herself.

She sure didn't expect Seth to be faithful to her. His bragging about his most recent conquest had become a running joke between them. Hell, she had helped him pick up an attractive female on several occasions. She had even joined them more than once. They had a routine bet where she would lay out a challenge to see how far Seth could get the girl of the night to go.

"I'm going to have to get much more creative." she thought to herself with a sly smile. "He is winning far too often. There must not be too much that those west coast chicks won't do."

So, what was so different about Sarah Walker? Why did Sarah bother her when the scores of others before her didn't? Could it possibly be because they were married? Seth didn't love Sarah, she was sure of that. Sarah had always wanted a faithful partner and Seth was never going to be that. Laura almost tried to warn Sarah about Seth before they were married but she knew that Sarah would never have listened. She was too infatuated with the first man to be interested in her to see his faults. Laura had always thought that Sarah would adjust to Seth's life style. I mean, that's how agents lived, right?

"If I don't love him," Laura thought to herself. "What is it?"

It's just that he was so comfortable. She knew that anytime she was ready, he would come through for her in bed. It was amazing. He always seemed to know just what she wanted. It was the one thing he was really good at. And while picking up some hot guy in a bar may be exciting, she was always drawn back to Seth. Back to comfortable Seth. And she would be damned if she was going to let Sarah Walker waltz back into their lives after five years and take that away from her. If she had to kill her to stop that from happening, she was totally willing to. One thing for sure, she vowed to find out what in the hell is going on.

"Oh my God," Laura whispered as she wiped the tears that were strangely forming in her eyes.

"I do love him."

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

Chuck and Sarah were still lying in bed when Sarah's cell rang. She could tell that it was Beckman.

"Walker, secure," Sarah answered.

"Yes, ma'am,"

"Yes, ma'am, we can be there in twenty minutes."

"Yes, ma'am,"

"Chuck," Sarah said as she ended the call. "Get dressed. We have to be at the Orange Orange in twenty minutes for a briefing."

"What's wrong?" Chuck asked in concern.

"I'm not sure." Sarah said. "But from the tone of Beckman's voice, we must have a serious problem."

Castle Briefing Room:

Beckman was already online talking to Casey when Chuck and Sarah entered the conference room. They quickly took their normal seats.

"Thank you for getting here so quickly." Beckman said briskly. "I'm afraid that we have a situation. In front of you is a transcript of a cell phone conversation that we just intercepted between Seth Roberts and Laura Carter. I'll play the conversation.

Seth: Hi baby. When are you coming to Vegas?

Laura: I'm at the airport right now. But there has been a change in plans. I'm stopping in L.A. for a while.

Seth: Why in the world would you be going to L.A.? I just left there.

Laura: I've been doing some thinking about Sarah Walker. Don't you find it odd that she would just pop back into your life after five years?

Seth: Maybe. What do you think?

Laura: I've been doing some digging. The word here is that she just got engaged to her partner.

Seth: She sure didn't act like she was engaged to me. She was all over me.

Laura: I know. The only partner that anybody knows about is some NSA agent named John Casey. Real burn out, hard core hard ass type. He would seem to be the last person in the world that Sarah Walker would fall for.

Seth: So what are you going to do?

Laura: I'm going to find out the real story here.

Seth: And how are you going to do that? You know that Sarah is coming to Vegas to meet me?

Laura: I know. I'm going to find out from this John Casey character. He's probably going to be lonely for a couple of days anyway.

Seth: Don't tell me that you're going to seduce a hard core NSA burn out. I'm not sure that's even possible.

Laura: I'm pretty sure that I can seduce anyone. At least I'm going to give it a shot.

Seth: Good luck. You're going to need it.

Laura: Seth, can I be serious for a minute? I need to ask you for a big favor.

Seth: Ok.

Laura: You know that I hardly ever ask you for anything, right?

Seth: I know.

Laura: This is really important to me.

Seth: Baby, what is it already?

Laura: Will you promise me that you won't hook up with Sarah until I get there?

Seth: Why? You know how much work I have put in already to get her in bed.

Laura: I have my reasons. Will you promise me? Please.

Seth: Laura, are you seriously jealous? I never thought I would ever hear that from you.

Laura: I know. I never thought I would feel this way either. But I do. I can't help it. Will you please promise me? I'll do anything you ask to make it up to you.

Seth: Really? You know what I'm going to ask for, right? You've only turned me down about a hundred times.

Laura: I know. It's been more like a thousand times. If you'll do this for me, I promise I'll do it.

Seth: Deal. How long do you think you'll be?

Laura: A couple of days tops. I'll call you as soon as I find out what the deal is with Sarah.

Seth: Ok, baby. But don't make me wait too long. She is really throwing herself at me. I'm not sure how long I can hold out.

Laura: So, you lost out bet last night?

Seth: Yes, I'm afraid so. She is crazy. She won't sleep with me until I passed some stupid test.

Laura: Good. I'll call you in a couple of days. I love you.

Seth: Really? That's the first time you've ever told me that. Have you been drinking?

Laura: I know. I just figured it out myself. I haven't been drinking but I think I'm going to start right now. I'll talk to you in a couple of days.

Seth: Goodbye, baby. I'll see you when you get here.

As soon as the conversation ended, Beckman cleared her throat.

"What are we going to do about this?" she asked. "I'm afraid that if she does too much digging, she'll find out about Chuck. That would be disastrous. I think we should abort."

"How can we abort, ma'am?" Sarah asked. "Seth is expecting me in Vegas tomorrow."

"It would be awkward," Beckman said. "But if you just didn't show up he might assume that you had reconsidered."

"Ma'am," Casey said. "Could I have a shot at this Laura Carter? Maybe I could convince her that Sarah and I are a couple."

"Do you really think that's possible?" Beckman said skeptically. "You don't make a very convincing couple."

"Well, ma'am," Chuck said softly. "Neither do Sarah and I. But we are. I have to pinch myself to believe it, but we are."

"That's true." Beckman said thoughtfully. "Ok, Major. We'll give you a shot. But I want Chuck away from the Buy More while Laura Carter is in the area. There is no sense in taking any chances."

"Yes, ma'am," Casey said.

"I love this plan." Chuck said to Sarah as soon as the screen went dark. "It will be fun to see Casey on the business end of one of these seduction things."

"One thing is for sure." Sarah said as she smiled at Casey. "She's right about the last person on earth I would ever fall for."

"Very funny," Casey said with his classic growl.

"One other side benefit," said Chuck with a laugh.

"There's nobody I know that needs to get laid more than Casey."

Chapter 9: The Father Figure

Castle Briefing Room:

"Oh my God," Sarah said to no one in particular as she stared at the table. "I'm going to have to kiss him."

"Kiss who?" Chuck asked with a smile.

"Casey," Sarah whispered as she indicated with her head Casey who was shredding the transcripts from today's briefing.

"Why on earth would you kiss Casey?" Chuck asked in surprise.

"Laura is going to be watching us." Sarah said. "She's going to be expecting me to kiss him."

"So," Chuck said in a confused tone. "Kiss him then."

"You don't get it." Sarah replied with a sigh. "I'm going to have to sell that we're engaged and I'm leaving for a few days. I'm going to have to kiss him with passion."

"What's the matter, Walker?" Casey said with a smirk. "Afraid you won't be able to stop?"

"Why would that bother you, Sarah?" Chuck asked suddenly concerned. "I mean, no offense, but you kiss lots of men. What's so different about Casey?"

"But Casey is different." Sarah whispered as the blush began to travel up her neck."

"What are you saying?" Chuck said as his brows furrowed noticeably. "Do I have something to worry about?"

"Yea, Walker," Casey said as his smirk widened. "What gives?"

"Of course not silly," Sarah said with a laugh as she punched Chuck in the arm playfully. "It's just that I've come to look at Casey as sort of a father figure. Kissing him like that just seems … I don't know … wrong somehow."

"A father figure," Chuck said as a smirk appeared on his own face. "Are you sure it's not a grandfather figure?"

"Cute," Casey said as his smirk disappeared only to be replaced by a scowl. "How old do you think I am anyway?"

"I'm not sure." Chuck said as he quickly glanced around the room. "Sweetie, have you seen my calculator anyplace?"

"Very funny, smart ass," Casey said as his scowl turned into a full fledged growl. "Come on, Walker. We're both professionals. What's the big deal? We'll kiss, and then you'll go on your merry way. Just wait a few minutes before you try and drive. We don't want any innocents getting hurt."

"Wait a minute," Chuck said skeptically. "So you're saying that you could have Sarah kiss you with an open mouth and not have it affect you at all? I don't believe it."

"Don't be stupid, Bartowski," Casey said gruffly. "This is the business that we're in. It comes with the territory."

"I don't know," Chuck said with a grin. "Sarah is a great kisser. She is also an incredibly beautiful woman."

"Granted," Casey growled in return. "But here's a news flash, Bartowski. There isn't a female CIA agent that isn't an absolute babe. It's a prerequisite. I'm sure that Laura Carter is a knockout as well. An agent is trained to not let that kind of stuff affect us."

"You're sure about that?" Sarah said softly with a sly smile as she stood and turned to face Casey. "There haven't been many guys that I couldn't get a reaction from."

"Of course," Casey said dismissively. "Why don't you two grow up…?"

Casey was interrupted as Sarah put her arms around his head and pressed her lips to his. Chuck could see Casey's eyes widen in surprise. After a moment, Sarah opened her mouth. It was only a brief moment before Casey followed suit as he quickly closed his eyes in surrender. After about thirty seconds Sarah broke the kiss.

"That's what I thought." Sarah said with a smirk of her own as she watched the blush quickly travel up Casey's neck. "I hope you have better luck with Laura Carter. You're going to end up handcuffed to your bed for sure, Mr. Professional Agent. And, by the way, you were right. She is absolutely gorgeous."

"I guess kissing him isn't going to be a problem after all." Sarah said as she smiled knowingly at Chuck and quickly grabbed his hand and led him to the exit. Just before they left the room, Chuck called out.

"Hey, Casey,"

"Umm," was all Casey could manage in response as he sat numbly in his chair.

"Who's your daddy now?"

Sarah's Car:

Chuck and Sarah were in the car driving to Ellie's. She had insisted on making them dinner. Then she had obviously conspired with Sarah to drag Chuck and Devon out dancing. Chuck was fairly sure this was just to torture him, knowing how self conscious he was on the dance floor. Chuck flashed back to the time Ellie she had set him up with the new cute intern and insisted they go dancing. Chuck had taken to drinking to get over his fear of dancing in public. Ellie still teased him about the fool he made of himself that night. There would certainly be no repeat of that tonight. Especially since he had promised Sarah that he would have her back. He would definitely have to watch his drinking tonight. Maybe just a couple to loosen up his dancing shoes.

Chuck looked over at Sarah sitting in the passenger's seat. She looked to be a million miles away. One good thing had come of Sarah's ankle injury. She had actually taught him how to drive the Porsche. Ok, so she had rented another stick shift car to practice on. But once he had proven to her that he could handle it, she had no problems with him driving. Chuck took that as just another example of how she really felt about him.

"Sorry to interrupt your daydream," Chuck said with a smile. "But can I ask you a question?"

"Sure," Sarah said as she turned towards Chuck with her sweet smile.

"Did you ever let Bryce drive your car?"

"No way," Sarah said as her smile dissolved into a puzzled look. "Bryce knew better than to even ask. The only time he has ever driven this car was the night that we rescued you from Becky Ivan. And I could tell that he was nervous as hell about it then."

"Good," Chuck said softly as he turned his gaze back to the road.

"Hey," Sarah said softly as her face broke into a grin and she grabbed Chuck's hand that was resting on the gear shift handle. "This isn't about the car, is it?"

"I guess not,"

"Sweetie," Sarah said as she squeezed Chuck's hand for emphasis. "What's it going to take for you to believe that you're the love of my life? That no other man has ever come close to how I feel about you? Whatever it is, tell me and I'll do it."

"I know that we're going out to celebrate tonight." Chuck said with a sigh. "And I don't want to spoil that. So if this gets too heavy tell me and we'll talk about it some other time, ok?"

"Ok, sweetie" said Sarah with the concern evident in her voice. "Talk to me. What is bothering you?"

"When you kissed Casey a few minutes ago," Chuck said slowly. "Did you feel anything?"

"Oh my God," Sarah said with a laugh. "Please don't tell me that you're jealous of Casey."

"It just looked so real." Chuck whispered.

"Well it wasn't," Sarah said softly. "It was an act. When I was kissing Casey all I was thinking about was how long I would have to let it go to make it believable. I was counting the seconds in my head."

"But how…"

"You wouldn't believe how many hours I've had to practice." Sarah interrupted with a soft smile. "In training they made us practice on a doll. Try passionately kissing a doll sometime while an instructor is screaming at you."

"No thanks," Chuck said sadly. "But what about Seth? I mean, you must have kissed him for real, right? So how did you separate those real feelings from the ones yesterday?"

"Chuck," Sarah said softly as her smile disappeared and tears started to fill her eyes. "I want to tell you all about that. I do. When it's over, I promise that I'll tell you every detail. But right now is not a good time. I am still going to have to see him again tomorrow and I don't want to mess up my head about it. Please, you don't have anything to worry about. I promise."

"I'm sorry," Chuck quickly said as he squeezed Sarah's hand. "Please don't feel bad. I totally trust you."

"Thank you, sweetie," Sarah whispered as her smile returned. "I can't tell you how good that makes me feel."

Chuck pulled the Porsche into the parking lot. As they walked hand in hand towards Ellie's apartment, Sarah put her head on Chuck's shoulder.

"I bet you're wondering." Sarah said softly.

"About what?" Chuck replied.

"You're wondering how you can tell that it's real when I kiss you." Sarah said. "Aren't you?"

Chuck stopped at Ellie's door and turned to face Sarah. His sad nod brought a smile in response.

"You can't tell." Sarah whispered. "Not by any physical sign anyway. You just have to know."

With that Sarah got up on her tiptoes to be able to put her arms around Chuck's neck. Just before their lips met, Sarah whispered "Remember, I need you to trust me."

As their tongues danced, Chuck lost all track of time. The kiss might have lasted for a single minute or thirty. He wasn't quite sure. All he knew for sure was that he never wanted it to end. So he wrapped his arms around Sarah and held her tight as they continued to kiss. She felt so soft in his arms that he closed his eyes to make sure that he could concentrate on how good she felt.

As they continued to kiss, Chuck could hear Sarah softly moan. That's when the realization hit him. This very moment… right now, was the very highlight of his life. And nothing else really mattered to him anymore. Not Seth or Bryce. Not the CIA or the intersect. Not Fulcrum or an underground bunker. Not even the fact that his life had been turned upside down and would never be the same again.

Chuck could sense through the fog of his mind that Devon had opened the door and was watching them kiss. How long he had been standing there Chuck couldn't tell. Yesterday, he would have died from embarrassment. Today, it just didn't matter. All that mattered was the electricity that was flowing through his lips. Devon could watch all night if he wanted.

All that mattered was that he had the most amazing woman in the whole world in his arms. And she was making him feel, well, he couldn't really say. He didn't have anything in his life to compare it too. He had always known that he was in love with Sarah. He had been for a long time. But suddenly the realization of what that really meant came to him. For the first time, he actually understood what Sarah meant when she asked him to trust her with his soul. And, for the first time, he also realized that she truly trusted him. They had become one. As their tongues continued their passionate dance, for the first time he knew that his life was no longer his own. For better or for worse it now belonged to her.

It totally belonged to her.

Chapter 10: The Celebration

Ellie's Apartment:

Sarah had no idea that this kiss would end up being so important. It wasn't to her decision. She was going to marry Chuck. That was never in doubt. Of course, they had kissed scores of times before. And it had always been very nice. More than very nice, hot even. Chuck was definitely a great kisser. But all those previous times put together couldn't hold a candle to the electricity Sarah was feeling now. She surely didn't plan it this way. She was simply trying to reassure Chuck before spending the evening with Devon and Ellie. Lately Chuck had seemed… well how would you describe it… off. It was like he was just waiting for something else bad to happen. And who could really blame him? Lots of bad things had happened lately. And more were yet on the way. She couldn't blame him at all if he didn't want to have anything to do with her. If he was smart he would run as fast as he could.

That was the one thing that she knew. She didn't deserve him. She was damaged. She had done too many horrible things. And he had to find out she was married by flashing on the guy. He had to stand by and watch her spend the night with him. And to top it all off, he couldn't even talk to her about it. Who could be expected to tolerate that? But he did. And he was still worried that she didn't love him. The fear in his eye haunted her. Silly boy, if he only knew. If he really knew how she felt, it would scare him. It sure as hell scared her.

And yet here he was, kissing her like she was the only other person in the world. She just felt so right in his arms. As an agent, she was taught to always be aware of her surroundings. But that was totally out the window now. The only thing she was aware of was how safe she felt, how his arms wrapped so tightly around her kept the rest of the world far away. She had never felt like this in her life. Nothing else even came close. If Chuck hadn't been holding her, she doubted that her legs would support her weight. She had totally surrendered. She never wanted it to end.

Sarah was vaguely aware that the door had opened. Although she didn't open her eyes, she was sure that Devon and Ellie were watching them. She hoped that Chuck wouldn't be embarrassed. But judging from the way his tongue was still dancing, being embarrassed didn't seem to be the emotion that was registering.

It was irony in its purest form. She had kissed him to reassure him. But it was her that ended up being reassured. She had known for a while that she was in love with Chuck. Love was even a poor word. She had a hard time describing, even to herself, how she felt using words. But now, maybe for the first time, she understood in her heart what it really was. She didn't think that there were any lingering doubts, but even if there were once they were long gone now. She was his now… and she would be for the rest of her life.

Ellie's Apartment:

Devon had thought that he heard someone at the door. He and Ellie were expecting Chuck and Sarah so there was no surprise when he opened the door and saw them. He wasn't even that surprised when they were kissing. They were recently engaged after all. The surprise was how long they were going. And, goodness, how hot it was. Could it be possible that they were so into it that they didn't realize he was standing there? He was sure that they would break up as soon as they realized he was there. Chuck was bashful after all. But they didn't break up. If anything, it got hotter. Finally Devon felt awkward so he just left the door open for them and walked back into the house.

"Babe," Ellie called from the kitchen. "Are they here?"

When Ellie looked up Devon was franticly motioning towards the door. As she walked out of the kitchen to see what was going on, she caught sight of Chuck and Sarah kissing.

"Oh my God," Ellie whispered with a grin. "That is the hottest thing I've ever seen. How long have they been going at it?"

"I don't know." Devon responded with a silly smile of his own.

They both knew that they should turn away. They just couldn't make themselves. It was like watching a train wreck. So Ellie leaned into Devon. And as he put his arm around her, they stood and watched in awe.

Finally Chuck broke the kiss. He pulled back a little to be able to see Sarah's reaction. It was a long moment before she opened her eyes. When she did she was looking directly into the most amazing smile she had ever seen. She wouldn't have been able to keep the silly grin off her face even if she wanted to.

"Wow," Chuck whispered.

"Wow," Sarah agreed.

Sarah wanted to tell Chuck how much she loved him. But she was having trouble coming up with the right words to express her feelings. Everything that she thought of seemed far too lame to describe how she really felt. After a short moment, Chuck took the lead.

"I know," he whispered as if he could read her mind. "Me too,"

Sarah's slight nod as she reluctantly took a step back was more than enough to tell him that he was right.

Suddenly Ellie was all over them. She had been standing there, waiting impatiently for them to separate. And when they finally did she pounced. Ellie had Sarah in a bear hug, had one arm around Chuck's neck, and was dragging them into the living room. All at the same time, it seemed.

"Come and sit down." Ellie said excitedly as she steered them towards the couch. "Dinner's almost ready."

"Let me help you." Sarah said as she followed Ellie into the kitchen.

Ellie didn't really need any help but she was anxious to get Sarah alone for a minute so she didn't protest. As soon as they were alone in the kitchen, Ellie grabbed Sarah hands.

"Oh – my – God," Ellie whispered with a giggle. "That was the hottest kiss I've ever seen. Do you guys kiss like that all the time?"

"We've had our moments," Sarah whispered back. "But, oh my God, never like that. I can't explain it. We just connected somehow. I've never felt that way before in my life. Not even close. If you weren't holding me down, I'd run back out there and jump on him right now."

"I am so jealous." Ellie said with a smile. "Don't get me wrong, Devon is plenty passionate. But I've never been kissed like that before in my life."

The View Nighclub:

By the time they got to the club, Devon, Ellie, and Sarah were very, for lack of a better word, relaxed. The two pitchers of Margaritas had made that happen. Chuck held off on drinking at dinner. For one thing, he knew that he was going to have to drive home later. For another, he had promised to keep an eye out for Sarah's back tonight. She was actually quite easy to keep track of. She was never more than six inches away from him at any moment. Not that you would ever hear a complaint from Chuck.

Chuck had offered to drive, being the only one who was actually sober. And since they wouldn't all fit in the Porsche, Chuck drove Devon's car. Devon and Ellie gratefully piled into the back seat while Sarah snuggled as close to Chuck as the bucket seats would allow. When they got about half way there, she leaned into his ear.

"Check out the back seat." Sarah whispered. "It looks like I'm not the only one that you turned on with that kiss."

Chuck made the mistake of looking into the rear view mirror. Once his brain registered what he was seeing he quickly looked away in horror. But not before he saw the obvious sight of Devon rounding second base with his sister.

"I can't look at this," Chuck whispered in disgust.

Sarah obviously misunderstood Chuck's meaning because she decided to give him a play by play commentary of what was going on. Chuck looked at her in disbelief. But she was just too cute to get mad at. So he sat there and listened to the very drunk love of his life describe, in amazing detail, his sister necking with her fiancé in the back seat as they drove.

"At least it's dark." Chuck laughed to himself as he shook his head.

The club itself was a blast. Chuck soon discovered that being the only sober one could actually be a lot of fun. He had seen Ellie tipsy many times over the years. But Devon usually liked to keep himself under control. And Sarah, wow. He had never seen her anything like this. She was so cute when she was silly. And she had so much energy it was unbelievable. She wouldn't let Chuck off the dance floor all night. One thing was for sure. She was the sexiest thing in that club that night. Actually she was the sexiest thing that club had seen in quite a few nights. At first Chuck was a little intimidated by the stares. But finally, he decided to hell with it. He might as well have some fun.

"Yup," Chuck said with a grin to the man across the room who was staring so hard that his date stormed off in protest. "She's with me. Did I mention that we're engaged?" Of course the man didn't hear Chuck at all. The music was so loud that he could barely hear himself.

"You should see what she can do with a tennis ball and a garden hose."

Finally Chuck was tired. He was able to bribe Sarah into sitting out a dance by promising her another Margarita. Devon, through his own haze, saw that Chuck was winded so he asked Sarah to dance. Chuck was grateful for the break so he sat next to Ellie trying to catch his breath.

"That was the hottest kiss I've ever seen." Ellie said to Chuck with a grin as soon as Devon and Sarah left the table. "I didn't think you had that in you."

"As I recall, you were getting pretty friendly yourself in the back seat on the way over here." Chuck replied with a grin of his own.

"You saw that?" Ellie said as she blushed slightly. "I hoped it would be too dark."

"I didn't" Chuck said. "Or I would have to poke my eyes out. But my beautiful blonde was giving me the play by play."

"I'm so proud of you." Ellie said with a tipsy giggle as she leaned in to hug him. "You landed quite a catch."

"You helped," Chuck said with a laugh. "You were quite a wingman. I don't think I could have done it without you."

"I would love to take credit." Ellie said with a smile as she slightly slurred her words. "But I can't. She was in love with you from the moment I met her. All it took was for you to hang in there until she figured it out."

"It sure took her long enough." Chuck said with a sigh.

Suddenly Ellie's eyes became serious. Gone was the Margarita induced vacant look. Her eyes flashed as she grabbed Chuck's hand for emphasis.

"Don't ever let her go."

"Don't worry, sis." Chuck said softly. "I'm never going to."

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

Chuck had to practically carry Sarah into the apartment. She was staggering so badly that without Chuck's support, she wouldn't have been able to walk. Chuck was actually laughing so hard that he was having trouble walking himself. Finally they made it. As soon as they were through the door, Sarah threw her arms around Chuck's neck.

"Thank you, sweetie," she said clumsily. "I had the best time tonight."

"You're very welcome," Chuck said softly. "I had a great time too. Let's get you ready for bed."

Chuck helped Sarah out of her clothes. He found one of his t-shirts and pulled it over her head. One by one he helped her get her arms in the sleeves. After he helped her get between the sheets, Chuck just stripped down to his underwear and climbed into bed beside her. It didn't take Sarah long to find her favorite position on Chuck's chest. Her eyes were already closed and she was almost asleep.

"I love you," Chuck whispered as he put his arm around her protectively and kissed the top of her head.

Sarah mumbled something in return that Chuck couldn't quite make out.

"What?" Chuck asked.

He was instantly sorry that he did. Because when Sarah repeated herself there was no doubt what she had said.

"I love you too, Seth."

Chapter 11: The Betrayal

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment:

Sarah was getting ready to go leave for Vegas. But first she had to make a stop at the Orange Orange to kiss Casey goodbye.

It's funny, for as much as she had to drink last night, she didn't feel that badly. Of course it helped that Chuck was waiting for her with aspirin and coffee ready when she woke up. It had been a long time since she had allowed herself to lose control to that extent. Agents could never be sure when an enemy was watching, just looking for a moment of weakness. But last night had felt so good. It felt so, well, so normal. She needed that. Especially knowing what she was going to have to do today.

"Well," said Sarah with a sigh. "I guess I'm all ready."

"You're going to say goodbye to Casey?" Chuck asked sadly. "Where are you going to do it?"

"The best place would be the Buy More." Sarah said softly. "That's the place that Laura will be surely watching. But that would never work. If any of the people we know see me and Casey kissing, we've got problems. So he is going to come over to the Orange. Hopefully she'll follow him there."

Seeing the look in Chuck's eyes, Sarah turned to face him and grabbed his hand.

"Sweetie," Sarah said soothingly. "Please tell me that you're not worried about me kissing Casey. We've been over that."

"No," Chuck said with a sigh. "I wish it didn't have to happen, but I'm ok. I'm just worried about you."

"Sweetie," Sarah whispered as a concerned look came to her face. "Why are you worried?"

"Sarah," Chuck began. "Please be honest with me. The last thing I would want to do is mess up your head right now. But you're struggling with this assignment more than you're saying. Aren't you?"

"I am," Sarah whispered as she looked at the floor and tears began to fill her eyes. "I just need to get it over with."

"Can I help you?" Chuck whispered back as he took Sarah in his arms.

"Yes," Sarah said struggling to get out the words as she buried her head in Chuck's chest. "I just… I just need you to trust me."

"I trust you." Chuck whispered as tears filled his own eyes.

"Thanks," Sarah said as she broke the embrace and walked to the door. "That's what I needed to hear."

"I trust you." Chuck said to the now empty room as tears began to flow down his own cheeks.

"I have no choice."

Orange Orange:

When Casey walked into the Orange Orange, he could see Sarah was fighting to keep her emotions in check.

"What's wrong?" Casey asked as softly as he could.

"I don't want to do this." Sarah said sadly as she walked up to him and put her head on his chest. "Chuck is the last person on earth that I want to hurt."

"When are you going to be in Vegas?" Casey asked.

"I'm going to leave as soon as we're done here." Sarah replied. "I'll call you sometime mid afternoon. I should know what I'm going to do by then."

"Are you going to be able to do your job?" Casey asked.

"I hope so. What choice do I have?" Sarah said as she wrapped her hand around Casey's head and pulled him into their goodbye kiss.

"We always have a choice, Sarah." Casey said softly as soon as the kiss broke.


Buy More:

Casey waited until he was back in the Buy More to call Beckman. He went back to the loading area so he couldn't be seen by anyone.

"Casey, secure,"

"Yes, ma'am, Walker is in route."

"Yes, ma'am, I'm very concerned. I'm afraid we're asking too much of her."

"Yes, ma'am, of course the intersect is the top priority. If things go badly, I'll have to deal with it."

"I'm not sure ma'am. He is already more than a little messed up."

"Thank you, ma'am. I hope so too."

As soon as Casey walked back into the sales area, he could see what must be Laura Carter walking through the front door. Even though he had seen her picture, the live shot was ten times better. Sarah was right, she was absolutely gorgeous. He looked like she had just stepped off the page of a swimsuit calendar.

"Where does the CIA find all of these babes?" Casey whispered to himself.

At about five feet, six inches, Laura had jet black hair that hung over her shoulders and sparkled in the light as she walked. She had a very pretty face with perfect white teeth. She carried an air of innocence about her but also one of sophistication. But the main feature that stood out at you was her beautiful long legs. And, based on her choice of skirts, she obviously knew it. The slit was definitely high enough to get your attention. Every eye in the store, of either gender, was on her as she walked directly up to Casey.

"Hi," Laura said as she stuck out her hand with a dazzling smile. "Are you John Casey?"

"Yes ma'am," Casey said hesitantly as he accepted her hand and shook it softly.

"My name is Laura Carter." Laura said in a friendly tone. "I'm looking for Sarah Walker."

"Sorry, Miss Carter," Casey said with a smile. "I've never heard of her."

"Come on, John," Laura said softly as she leaned in so that only Casey could hear her. "I'm Sarah's best friend. She's told me all about you. I went over to that Orange Orange place where she works looking for her but she wasn't there. Do you know where she is?"

"I'm sorry, Miss Carter…" Casey began.

"Please, John," Laura interrupted softly. "Call me Laura."

"Ok," Casey said with a smile. "I'm sorry Laura, but you just missed her. She went to clear up something with her ex husband for a couple of days. She just left for Vegas a few minutes ago."

"Shoot," Laura said in disgust. "I knew that I should have called. I was trying to surprise her. We haven't seen each other in a couple of years. Is her dad still in San Diego? When did he get out of jail?"

"I'm not sure," Casey said awkwardly. "We try not to talk about our prior lives too much. It makes things much less complicated."

"So," said Laura with a grin. "She has never told you about me?"

"I'm afraid not," Casey said with a grin. "I'm sure I would have remembered."

"Well then," Laura said with a sly smile. "What time is your lunch? I'll take you back to my room, we can order some room service, and I'll tell you some stories about your gal that you'll never hear from her. There's no way you could say no to that."

"Sounds like fun," Casey said with a smile. "Actually I have the afternoon off. I can go right now if you're ready."

Laura Carter's Hotel Room:

"So," Laura said as she popped a French fry into her mouth. "Have you guys set a date?"

"Not yet," said Casey as he sat his beer bottle back on the table. "We're thinking that we might wait until this assignment is over. It would be hard on our cover to pull off being married now."

"You say that Sarah is going to see Seth." Laura said with a smile. "What do you know about him?"

"Is Seth her ex husband's name?" Casey asked. "I guess that alone would answer your question. We've agreed to never ask questions about each other's past. It's a lot less complicated that way."

"Really," Laura said softly. "Most couples would be curious."

"You know the life we lead." Casey said with a laugh. "If we had to explain every time we slept with another person or betrayed someone, that's all we'd be doing. We decided that we would just start from scratch."

"I hope you won't be offended, John." Laura said with a smile. "But you don't seem like Sarah's type to me."

"I'm not offended at all." Casey said with a laugh. "I'm always thinking the same thing myself. I'm not sure why she wanted to get engaged."

"She's trying to settle down." Laura said with a sly smile. "You probably don't know how wild she was. That's what broke up her marriage. He got tired of coming home from a mission and finding a strange man in his bed."

"Really," Casey said with a smile. "That doesn't sound like the Sarah I know at all."

"She's really struggling with it." Laura said. "That's for sure."

"Did she tell you about our tradition?" Laura asked with a sparkle in her eye.

Casey just shook his head.

"Sarah and I have this thing," Laura said softly as she began to unbutton her blouse. "Where we try out each other's guys and give them our seal of approval. We've been doing it every since the academy."

"I don't know," Casey said slowly. "I'm not sure that I'm comfortable cheating on Sarah. Have you seen her throw a knife?"

"Relax, John," Laura said with a sly smile as she reached behind her back to unclasp her bra. "Nobody is cheating. Sarah knows all about this. I was supposed to be here next week. My assignment ended a week early, that's all."

When she saw Casey's smile, Laura's smile turned into a grin.

"After all, John," Laura whispered with a sly grin as she let her bra fall to the floor.

"You can't mess with tradition."

Casey's Apartment:

Casey was back in his apartment smiling broadly. One thing was for sure. He had always been an admirer of tradition. It was a characteristic that was common for military officers. But, he had to admit, his admiration was never higher than it was right now. He was so caught up in reliving his afternoon that his cell phone ringing startled him. One look at the caller ID told him it was Sarah.

"Casey, secure," he answered.

"Walker, secure," was Sarah's sad response.

"What is your status?" Casey asked.

"I've made a decision." Sarah said slowly after a huge sigh. "John, I'm not coming back."

"What do you mean?" Casey said in a confused tone.

"Seth is my first love, John." Sarah said as she fought to keep from breaking down. "I didn't know this was going to happen. I don't understand it myself. But I still love him. I have to find out if it can work. I'm so sorry. Please don't hate me."

"Sarah," Casey said softly. "Please don't do this. Please."

"I'm sorry, John." Sarah said as she began to cry. "I need you to take care of things there."

"Sarah, please," Casey said as his own voice broke. "You don't understand what this kind of betrayal does to a man. It can kill him."

"I know," Sarah sobbed. "I never meant for this to happen. I swear. I need you to be strong. I'm afraid that we're going to be on opposite sides from now on. I'm not going to insult you by telling you that I love you. But I need you to know how much I respect you."

"Sarah, please," Casey said as he himself was now openly sobbing. "I'm begging you. Please think about what you're doing. Who you're hurting."

"Goodbye John," Sarah said. "I'm counting on you."

"Sarah, no…" but Casey was speaking into a dead phone.

Once he realized that line was dead, Casey simply dropped the phone on his desk and slumped in his chair.

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

As soon as Sarah ended the call she just stood and sobbed uncontrollably as she let her phone fall to the floor. After a couple of minutes, Chuck, who had been standing holding her hand all the time, bent down to pick up her phone. Then he took her into his arms.

"Do you want to tell me why you're still crying so hard?" Chuck said with a concerned smile on his face. "I'm sure that Casey has been dumped by fake girlfriends before."

"I can't help it." Sarah said as she buried her head in Chuck's chest. "Even thinking about hurting you like that makes me cry."

As Chuck gently rubbed Sarah's back while she silently sobbed into his chest, a secure message came up on the laptop that was sitting on the desk.


We just intercepted a cell call between Laura Carter and Seth Roberts. I'll send the transcript as soon as it is available. It looks like they took our bait. Please proceed with the plan.


General Beckman

As soon as they read the message, Sarah tears turned into laughter.

"I'm so proud of you." Sarah said as she kissed Chuck. "You are a true genius."

"Thanks," Chuck said with a grin in between kisses as he tried to unbutton Sarah's blouse.

"Oh hell no," Sarah said as she pushed Chuck to the bed and began to take off her own blouse.

"You're taking way too long."

Casey's Apartment:

When Casey read the message from Beckman, he finally lit the cigar that he had been nervously playing with. He took a sip of his scotch as a huge grin crept over his face. He didn't really have much time to celebrate. After all, he had to be on the road to Vegas in a couple of hours. He really had enjoyed letting Laura Carter bug his cell phone. As he took a drag on his cigar he laughed out loud.

"Chuck Bartowski may be a whiny, genuine pain in the ass." Casey said to himself. "But he is sure as hell a genius. That worked exactly as he said it would."

As Casey went over the day's events in his mind, he couldn't help but think that he wasn't the only member of team Chuck that was going to get lucky that day. Then he couldn't help but laugh again.

"I sure hope that's the only bug that Laura gave me."

Chapter 12: The Decision

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Chuck and Sarah were lying in their favorite position trying to catch their breaths. Finally Chuck felt recovered enough to speak.

"Wow," he said with a sigh. "If I had known about the reward for good ideas, I would have come up with some a long time ago."

"I believe in the incentive system." Sarah said as she picked up her head from Chuck's chest to flash him her dazzling smile.

"Good to know," Chuck said with his own smile.

After a moment the smile faded noticeably from Sarah's face.

"We have to talk." she whispered as she sat up in bed.

"Sounds serious," Chuck said with a smile.

"It is," Sarah said as she got out of bed and threw on Chuck's t-shirt. "That's why I'm putting clothes on. I need you to look at my… eyes."

"Ok," Chuck said cautiously as he sat on the side of the bed next to Sarah. "This is about Seth, isn't it?"

"I'm afraid so, sweetie." Sarah said sadly. "You asked me earlier if I was struggling with this assignment. It's time to tell you why."

Chuck just looked intently into Sarah's eyes to tell her to continue.

'When a female agent is working a male mark," Sarah said softly. "You always try and keep him wanting you for as long as possible. But at some point, you either have to actually give him what he wants or break off the cover."

"Ok," Chuck said softly.

"And I'm at that point with Seth right now." Sarah said as she stared into Chuck's eyes. "I've strung him along as much as I can. I can either have sex with him this evening or arrest him and end the cover."

"What are you going to do?" Chuck asked softly.

"I don't know," Sarah said with a small smile. "That's what we have to decide together. I was just going to do it and never tell you about it. But I can't, Chuck. I realized that my life isn't just mine anymore. It belongs to you too. You need to help me decide. Whatever you say is what I'll do."

"What will happen if you don't?" Chuck asked nervously.

"The Fulcrum guy will get away." Sarah said with a sigh. "I'll arrest Seth. We'll question him but he doesn't know much. If we can get the Fulcrum leader, now he knows a lot about Fulcrum's organization and what they're planning. If we can get him to talk, it could be the biggest break we've ever had with them. He could lead us to possibly ending Fulcrum as a threat. It would be huge."

"What do you want to do?" Chuck asked sadly.

"Whatever is best for you, sweetie," Sarah said with a soft smile. "That's all I'm ever going to want again. Two weeks ago I would have done this without even thinking about it. Now, I'm never going to do anything to hurt you if I can help it. I hope that you trust me."

"You know," Chuck said softly with a sad smile of his own. "Trust is a funny thing. Some people say the trust means no secrets, that you share every detail."

Sarah smiled as she nodded.

"But real trust," Chuck continued. "Means you don't have to share details. Real trust means knowing that you're going to do the right thing for the right reason. Don't you agree?"

"Of course," Sarah whispered.

"I love you, Sarah." Chuck said firmly. "But even more importantly, I trust you. If you want some advice from your best friend, I'm happy to talk about it as long as you want. But if you're looking for permission from your lover, you don't need it. No matter what you decide today, I trust… no, I know where your heart is. It's the same place that mine is. Do you believe that?"

Sarah nodded as tears started to fill her eyes.

"Ok," Chuck said as his smile grew. "Now before I drag Jealous Boyfriend Chuck over to the closet and let out Best Friend Chuck the jealous one wants to ask you one question and then I promise I'll let it drop. Do you have any feelings for Seth?"

"Of course not," Sarah whispered as a single tear fell down her cheek. "None. How could you ask that?"

"Last night just before you went to sleep, you said I love you, Seth." Chuck said sadly.

"No," Sarah whispered as she burst into tears. "You mean that you've been living with that for a whole day now? Damn it, Chuck, why didn't you talk to me?"

"I didn't want to mess you up." Chuck said softly.

"Well you just did." Sarah said angrily. "I knew that you were worried about something. Don't you see how that messes me up? I never want you to do that again. Do you understand me?"

Chuck just nodded.

"Damn it, Chuck," Sarah said louder. "Its important. Do you understand me?"

"Yes," Chuck said as he nodded.

"Good," Sarah said. "When you're undercover, the thing that catches you is the thing you say when you're surprised or sleeping. So you're trained to tell your subconscious to assume the cover. I had to tell my subconscious that I'm in love with Seth. So I guess it came out when I was drinking and half asleep. Do you understand?"

"Yes," Chuck said with a soft smile. "I'm sorry. Please don't cut me off."

"Never," Sarah said with a smile of her own. "But if it ever happens again, I am going to break a finger."

"I understand." Chuck said with a broader smile. "You keep threatening to break my finger. How long do you think it will be before you actually break one?"

"Let's not find out." Sarah said as her smile turned into a grin.

"So," Chuck said. "Are you ready to talk to your best friend now?"

Sarah nodded with a smile.

"Ok, Jealous Chuck is locked in the closet." Chuck said with a smile. "I assume you've done this before."

"Sleep with a mark?" Sarah asked. "Of course."

"How many times?" Chuck asked.

"I thought that Jealous Chuck was locked in the closet." Sarah said with a laugh. "But maybe five or six times."

"Sorry," Chuck said with a smile. "He snuck out there for a second. Don't worry. He's back in there now. How did those other times affect you? After, I mean."

"Not at all," Sarah said. "You wouldn't believe the training that we have. We're taught that sex is just like a weapon. It's like my gun. I'm careful who I shoot with my gun. But when I shoot a bad guy, I don't feel bad. I've stopped someone from hurting you, maybe. It's the same with sex. I only use it when it's needed but I never feel bad. The end result is always worth it."

"And," Chuck said with a sigh. "You think that it's worth it in this case?"

"I can't lose you." Sarah said sadly. "That would kill me. Please don't let me do anything that is going to hurt you."

"That's not what I asked." Chuck said firmly. "There is nothing that you could ever do to lose me. The question is simple. Is it worth it to you?"

"Don't look in that closet." Chuck said quickly as he saw Sarah's hesitation. "I'm asking you… Sarah… Do you think that it's worth it?"

"Yes," Sarah whispered as she nodded her head. "I do. It would help protect the love of my life. And it also is a vow I took to do anything I could to protect the greater good. I absolutely do."

"Then I think that you should do it." Chuck said softly.

"Really?" Sarah asked with her eyes shining.

"Really," said Chuck firmly with a smile. "Don't pay any attention to that pounding coming from the closet. That's just Jealous Chuck trying to get out."

"Let him out for a second." Sarah said softly. "There is something I want to tell him. I know that it is hard. But he has absolutely no reason to be jealous. I love him so much that it hurts. And I would never do anything to hurt him. Do you think that you could help me explain that to him?"

"He knows," Chuck said with a laugh. "I'll have a chat with him later. But for right now, I think that it's best if he stays in there."

"I know that you didn't ask." Sarah said softly with a sad smile. "But I know that you're dying to so I'm going to tell you anyway. I don't have sex with you. I make love with you. Please don't confuse the two. Its totally, totally, totally different. Its night and day."

"Thanks," Chuck said with a grin. "Got it. While we're on that topic, I was sort of hoping to let Horny Chuck out of the closet right now, if that's ok."

"Ok," Sarah said as she struggled to control her laughing. "But it will really have to be quick. We only have a few minutes."

"Trust me," Chuck said with a smile as he lifted the hem of Sarah's t-shirt. "Right now, a couple of minutes are plenty."

Chuck and Sarah were enjoying the last few minutes of cuddling before Sarah had to leave when Chuck noticed a secure message on the laptop.


Attached is a transcript of Laura and Seth's phone conversation. Confidence remains high. Proceed with current plan. Report status as soon as practical.

Good Luck,

General Beckman.

Sarah immediately stepped up to the computer and opened the attached document.

Laura: Hi, Baby, how is Vegas?

Seth: Great, I'm up over a hundred bucks at blackjack.

Laura: No, baby, I meant do you have your new assignment?

Seth: Not yet. He is waiting until I introduce him to Sarah. I can't wait until he sees her. His eyes are going to pop out.

Laura: Yea, about that. I just had lunch with her fiancé.

Seth: Lunch?

Laura: Well, we ate first.

Seth: What did you find out?

Laura: He's pretty good, actually. I was surprised.

Seth: No, smart ass. I mean what did you find out about Sarah?

Laura: I never would have believed it. It looks like she is on the level.

Seth: Really?

Laura: I heard them talking on the phone. She broke up with him. She said that she was still in love with you and had to see if it could work. The poor bastard was totally crying.

Seth: See. I told you. She is crazy.

Laura: What exactly did she say to you?

Seth: I don't know. It was a bunch of babbling bullshit about how she was lonely and how she didn't mind the other women as long as I was up front with her. She said that she would come and be my obedient little wife. That she would do anything I asked.

Laura: She said that?

Seth: She said those words exactly. I seriously think I can get her to do anything. She's crazy.

Laura: Let's find out.

Seth: What do you have in mind?

Laura: I'm not sure yet. Let me think of something really good. I'll be there tomorrow.

Seth: Ok. I'll see you tomorrow.

Laura: Seth, you remember your promise don't you?

Seth: I guess.

Laura: Please baby. Don't make me act all psycho jealous. You promised me.

Seth: But you are psycho jealous.

Laura: That's right. I am. And if I hear that you have touched her before I get there, I'm going to hurt you.

Seth: Come on baby. How are you going to hurt me?

Laura: I'm going to wait until you're sleeping and cut you. And I think that you know where. And, Seth, you know that I will do it.

Seth: Ok, baby, you win. I won't touch her. When are you going to be here?

Laura: I can't get a flight until tomorrow. I'll be there about noon. I love you.

Seth: I'll see you then. I love you too.

Laura: Thank you, Seth. You won't believe how I'm going to make this up to you.

Sarah's eyes lit up as she read the transcript.

"Good news, sweetie," Sarah said with a grin.

"How is this good news?" Chuck said disgustedly. "It sounds like they are planning an evil-fest… with you as the main attraction."

"No," Sarah said with a laugh. "This is a get out of jail free card. Laura will kill him if he touches me. And, trust me, she would do it."

"But what if he just lies to her?" Chuck said with a wince. "He doesn't sound that trustworthy to me."

"No sweetie," Sarah said as she hugged Chuck excitedly. "She would find out. And he knows it. He would never risk that. I'm going to be able to throw myself at him and he won't be able to do a thing. It will drive him crazy."

"It's going to be so much fun."

Chapter 13: The Strip

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

"You're not going dressed like that, are you?" Chuck said with a sigh as Sarah headed towards the door.

"What is wrong with the way I'm dressed?" Sarah asked in mock indignation.

"Don't get me wrong." Chuck quickly backpedaled. "You're gorgeous. You're more than gorgeous. It's just – you look like a… a…"

"A pro," Sarah finished for him with a giggle.

"Yes," Chuck said sheepishly. "I'm sorry. Please don't be mad at me."

"I'm not mad at you." Sarah said with a laugh. "This is Vegas. You're supposed to look like a hooker. I don't want to stick out, do I?"

"Trust me," Chuck said with a sigh. "You're not going to be blending in."

"I'm sorry, sweetie," Sarah said with a smile as she grabbed Chuck's hand. "I wasn't going to dress like this but I want to have a little fun with Seth."

"Not that kind of fun, silly." Sarah added quickly as she noticed Chuck's eyebrows arch. "I just want to rub it in a little on Seth, that's all."

"Yea," said Chuck softly. "I'll bet he's looking forward to some rubbing."

"Don't worry, Chuck," Sarah said with a laugh. "The only thing he'll be rubbing tonight is himself."

"When will you be back?" Chuck asked as he joined in the laugh.

"I'm not sure." Sarah said softly. "Hopefully he'll want me out of there as fast as he can. But I suppose it's possible that I might have to spend the night. I'll get back as soon as possible."

"Can I go down to the casino?" Chuck asked hopefully.

"Sweetie," Sarah said sadly. "Please don't. I'd feel a lot better if you stayed in the room. I'm sorry. If I'm not back in a couple of hours, order some supper from room service. Will you promise me?"

"Ok," Chuck said with a pout.

"I'm so sorry, sweetie," Sarah said as she kissed Chuck goodbye. "I promise that I'll make it up to you when I get back. I love you."

"I know." Chuck said softy. "I love you too. Good luck."

Las Vegas – Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino:

Sarah smiled slyly as she sat in the cab. Normally she would have made the twenty minute walk down the strip to the Monte Carlo. But walking through the casino, she quickly came to the conclusion that Chuck was right. Even in a city famous for scantily clad beautiful ladies, she was standing out. Even for someone who was used to turning heads, the stares were becoming pretty obvious.

When she got to the front desk at the Monte Carlo, she asked for any messages for Sarah Anderson. The clerk apologized and said that there weren't any. Sarah shook her head sadly as she asked the clerk if there were any messages for Sarah Walker.

"Yes, Miss Walker," the clerk said with a smile as he handed her an envelope containing a room number and a key.

"Seth is the worst spy I've ever heard of." Sarah laughed to herself as she rode up in the elevator.

"Ok, Walker," Sarah said in the hallway outside of Seth's room as she tried to keep from laughing. "Time to get your head in the game."

As Sarah knocked on the door she put on her most dazzling smile. As soon as Seth opened the door she flung herself into his arms.

"Baby," Sarah said with an excited sigh as she pressed her lips to his. "I'm here. We're together again at last."

"I'm sorry, Sarah," Seth said with a grumble as he turned his head away from the kiss. "But I can't do this right now. I have a meeting."

"But, baby," Sarah whispered. "I'm here. I'm all ready for you. I've been waiting for this for five years."

"Sorry," Seth said as he broke from her embrace. "Like I said, I have a meeting."

"How long will your meeting last?" Sarah said seductively as she sat on the bed. "Maybe I can just wait for you here in bed. Would you like that?"

"I don't think so." Seth said with a sigh. "I don't know how long I'm going to be. I may not even be back tonight."

"Please, baby," Sarah said pleadingly as her began to unbutton her blouse. "Surely you have time for a quickie. I remember what you used to like. I bet you still like it."

"Sorry, Sarah," Seth said with a groan as he tried to look away. "I'm late already."

"But Seth," Sarah cried. "What am I supposed to do tonight? I've been thinking about being with you in bed all day. You can't leave me like this."

If Seth was saying words at this point, Sarah couldn't make them out. It only sounded like a low groan.

"Here," Seth finally choked out as he handed Sarah a packet. "This is the information on your Fulcrum meeting tomorrow that you asked me to set up. The meeting is at ten. I'll talk to you tomorrow afterwards."

"But Seth," Sarah cried as he practically dragged her to the door. "Please, I need you."

As soon as Seth closed the door Sarah walked to the elevator. Somehow she managed to keep a straight face until she was safely inside. But as soon as the elevator doors closed she lost control. She was laughing so hard that she had to lean against the walls of the elevator to keep from falling. As she wiped the tears from her eyes, she whispered to herself.

"I think that's the most fun I've ever had."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Sarah was still laughing as she opened the door to her and Chuck's hotel room. Chuck was working on the laptop computer and didn't recognize at first that she was even there.

"Hi sweetie," Sarah said with a huge grin. "Have you eaten yet?"

"Wow," Chuck said in surprise as he knocked over his chair in his haste to get up and embrace Sarah. "That didn't take long at all."

"Nope," Sarah said as soon as their long kiss broke. "I told you. It was a get out of jail free card. I have the rest of the night off."

"I assume that it went about the way you expected." Chuck said softly.

"It was even better." Sarah said with a hard laugh. "He was scared to death. He practically pushed me out the door. I wish you could have seen him."

"Something tells me that I wouldn't really appreciate seeing you coming on to someone." Chuck said with a smile. "Even under those circumstances."

"Maybe not," Sarah said with a soft smile. "Anyway, I'm starving. Can we order something to eat?"

"Can't we go out?" Chuck said hopefully. "You just said we have the night off. We're in the party capital of the world. Can't we go and have dinner at a nice restaurant and maybe walk around the strip for a while?"

"I don't know," Sarah said hesitantly. "It would be safer if we just stayed in the room and ordered room service."

"What's the danger?" Chuck said softly. "There is only one person in this whole city who knows who you even are. There's nobody who knows me."

"I guess that's true." Sarah said slowly.

"Please," Chuck pleaded. "You'll never know how much I'm looking forward to having some fun with the love of my life. How much I want to show you off to the world. After all, I danced with you all last night."

"Well I guess," Sarah said with a sigh as a smile came over her face. "If we stayed away from Seth's hotel, it would be ok. You were great last night, that's true. But I'm not drinking much. I'm not feeling all that good yet from last night."

"I'm so sorry," Chuck said quickly. "I didn't even think that you might not be up to it. We'll stay in."

"No sweetie," Sarah said as she gently kissed Chuck. "We'll go out."

"Are you sure?" Chuck said softly.

"Absolutely," whispered Sarah. "I want to show you off to the world too."

"Thank you," Chuck whispered in response.

"You don't mind if I change into something less conspicuous," Sarah said with a smile. "Do you?"

"Mind," Chuck said with a grin of his own. "Actually, I prefer it."

"Don't take that the wrong way." Chuck said quickly while he looked at the floor as he noticed Sarah's look. "I mean you look incredible. And I hope this doesn't sound possessive, but I like it when I'm the only one that gets to see it."

"It doesn't sound possessive at all." Sarah whispered as she put her arms around Chuck's neck and kissed him. "It sounds sweet. Don't worry. I'm one hundred percent yours tonight."

"Better be careful," Chuck whispered with a smile. "In a second you're going to hear Horny Chuck pounding to get out of that closet."

"I love Horny Chuck." Sarah said with a laugh. "But can get keep him in the closet for a while? I'm starving. I promise we'll let him out as soon as we get back."

Las Vegas – The Strip:

It was one of the best nights in Chuck's life. Although he had been to Vegas many times before, this was the first time that he could actually afford it. Since they were staying at Caesar's Palace and they were starving, they decided to eat at the Japanese Steakhouse. Sarah was in one the best moods that Chuck had ever seen her in as they played with the cook while he prepared the meal at their table. Chuck kept her in stitches as he pretended to let the waitress teach him to use chopsticks.

After the meal was finally over, they leisurely walked down the strip. Even dressed more conservatively, Sarah was still turning heads. She was obviously the most beautiful woman around, in a city known for beautiful woman. Judging from the heads turning, everybody else thought so as well. And it was clear that she was making a point. Every time they would walk somewhere she would immediately grab his hand. It felt so great to walk down the strip swinging their arms like teenagers.

Chuck could tell that Sarah looked a little wistful when they passed the Forum shops.

"Sarah," Chuck said softly. "It's ok if you want to shop for a while. I really don't mind."

"Thanks, sweetie," Sarah said with a sigh. "That's so nice of you. But if we walk into those shops, we're probably going to spend the rest of the night in there. And I'm having too much fun being here with you. This is your night."

They quickly developed a pattern. They would walk into a hotel. Check out whatever attraction there was, and then they would play a slot machine for a few minutes and have a drink. Then they would move on to the next hotel. They rose in the Gondola at the Venetian, they rode to the top of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris and watched the Volcano erupt at the Mirage. As they watched the Fountains at Bellagio, Sarah finally turned to Chuck.

"I've had the best time tonight." Sarah said softly as she rested her head against Chuck's chest.

"Me too," replied Chuck with a goofy smile.

"But don't forget," Sarah said as her smile turned mischievous. "We left Horny Chuck locked in the closet. I'm getting a little worried about him."

"You're right," Chuck said as his smile turned into a grin. "We'd better go check on him."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

As Chuck was trying to open the door to their room, Sarah was purposely distracting him by kissing his neck. When he finally got the door opened, he grabbed Sarah and kissed her. Laughing but still locked in their kiss they stumbled into the dark room. Suddenly Chuck could feel Sarah tense as if something was amiss.

"Don't try it, Walker." said a voice from the dark room followed by the unmistakable sound of a handgun being racked.

When the light came on they were looking at Laura Carter. Her Glock was pointed directly at Sarah. Sarah could feel Chuck tense as he obviously flashed.

"Hands on your head," Laura ordered.

Both Chuck and Sarah quickly complied. Laura turned to Chuck.

"Take the gun out of her waist and slowly put it on the table." Laura said calmly.

Chuck very slowly reached around Sarah's back and took out the gun from the spot where she always kept it. Sarah kept her hands on her head. Chuck carefully set the gun on the table.

"Ok," Laura said as she indicated the couch. "Have a seat."

"Well Sarah," Laura said in a mocking voice. "One thing has changed. You sure as hell have a lot more boyfriends now, don't you?"

"We need to talk."

Chapter 14: The Talk

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Sarah glared at Laura as she sat on the couch. Her hand instinctively found Chuck's as she squeezed it in a show of reassurance.

"Ok, Laura," Sarah said harshly. "You're holding the gun. What do you want to talk about?"

Suddenly Laura's face softened noticeably.

"I'm sorry about the gun." she said softly. "I'm not here as an enemy. I just didn't want you to shoot first and ask questions later. I need a chance to talk."

"From where I'm standing," Sarah said slowly. "The gun pointing at me tells me that you are an enemy."

"You're right," Laura said as she handed her Glock to Sarah. "Is that better?"

"Much," replied Sarah with a sigh of relief as she retrieved her own gun from the table where Chuck had placed it. "So, Laura, how did you know that I was here?"

"I followed you back from your visit with Seth." Laura said with the beginnings of a smile. "You're slipping. You were really easy to track. All I had to do was follow the tongues hanging out of the guys mouths."

"Ok, Laura, why are you here?" asked Sarah.

"I need your help." Laura said sadly.

"You need my help?" Sarah asked incredulously. "The last time I saw you, you were in bed with my husband. You were groaning so hard that you didn't even notice I was standing there for a long time. That doesn't put you at the top of my 'people who I want to help' list."

"I know," Laura said with a sigh. "And for what it's worth, I feel horrible about that. I tried to warn you about Seth. But you would never listen. I know that I'm not your favorite person. I wouldn't be here for me. I'm worried about Seth."

"Why are you worried about Seth?" Sarah asked cautiously.

"Come on, Sarah," Laura said. "Be honest with me. You're not really interested in getting back together with Seth. Why are you really here?"

"I don't know what you mean." Sarah said calmly.

"Ok, Sarah," Laura said after taking a deep breath. "Fair enough, I'll go first. You're going to arrest Seth or worse for being Fulcrum, aren't you?"

"Is Seth Fulcrum?" Sarah asked casually.

"Please, Sarah," Laura said as tears started to form in her eyes. "I need to find some way to save him."

"Laura," Sarah said firmly. "I want you to look me in the eye. Are you Fulcrum?"

"Of course not," Laura said firmly as she looked directly at Sarah. "I knew that Seth was talking to them and I looked the other way. But I've never had anything to do with Fulcrum. I never would. I hate those ruthless bastards. I'm as loyal to the country as anyone."

Sarah looked at Chuck expectantly. Recognizing the question she was asking, Chuck whispered in Sarah's ear."

"She's telling the truth."

Las Vegas – Fulcrum Offices:

Peter West sat behind his desk deep in thought. It was quite late for him to be in the office but he had problems of his own. That was the problem with being the head of the Las Vegas Fulcrum office. The big shots loved to schedule meetings there as an excuse to party. And every time a big shot came into town, he expected to get laid. And this time, it wasn't just one big shot. It was six. All of the Fulcrum regional commanders were going to be meeting to talk about global strategy. And they expected a party.

Peter's phone began to ring. He let it ring a few times before he remembered that his secretary had gone home for the night.

"West," he answered briskly.

"Yes, sir," Seth said. "This is Roberts. I'm sorry to call so late sir. I just wanted to confirm that Sarah Anderson will be coming to meet with you tomorrow at ten."

"Refresh my memory," Peter said softly. "Is this the girl whose picture you showed me the other day?"

"Yes, sir," Seth said. "She's pretty, isn't she?"

"She's stunning." Peter said with a smile. "And am I to understand that she is eager to prove herself?"

"Yes, sir," Seth said. "She wanted me to tell you that she is willing to do anything to make a good first impression."

"Excellent," said Peter as he ended the call. "I'll talk to you tomorrow after our meeting. Nice work."

Peter smiled as he leaned back in his chair.

"This might work out well, after all." he said to himself softly under his breath.

"And if it doesn't, I can always find work as a pimp."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

"Aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" Laura said softly.

Without waiting for a response, Laura turned a dazzling smile towards Chuck and stuck out her hand.

"Laura Carter," she said cheerily.

"I know who you are." Chuck said coldly as he barely touched her hand.

"This is Chuck," Sarah said quickly. "I think that will do for right now anyway."

"Well, Chuck," Laura said softly. "Something tells me that you've heard the story of Sarah, Seth, and me."

"I have," Chuck said firmly as his eyes narrowed. "And I have to say, Laura, that it disgusts me. Men cheat on their wives, it happens. But to betray your best friend like that. I can't think of much worse."

"I know, Chuck," Laura said sadly as the smile quickly faded. "Actually, I agree with you. It was the scummiest thing I have ever done. I'm ashamed of myself."

"So why did you do it?" Chuck asked angrily as he put his arm around Sarah's waist. "This is the nicest, most loyal person in the whole world. She is the last person that should be betrayed like that. I would do anything to keep her from being hurt. And I'll be damned if I'm going to sit here and not tell you what a piece of crap I think that you are."

"Wow," said Laura as a sad smile crept onto her face. "You might have found a keeper, huh?"

"I have," Sarah said with a smile as she gently put her head on Chuck's shoulder and put her arm around him. "I'm very lucky."

"I'm glad," Laura whispered sadly. "For what it's worth, I'm glad."

"Chuck," Laura said as she turned towards him. "You're right. She is very special. I lost the best friend I've ever had that day. I can't tell you how much that I've missed her. I would give almost anything to be able to go back and handle that differently."

"So," Sarah said with a sigh. "Let's get down to brass tacks. Why should I help Seth Roberts? He is a traitor."

"I guess being married to him isn't going to mean much in this discussion." Laura said with a resigned smile.

"Absolutely nothing," Sarah said firmly.

"Seth isn't a traitor, Sarah." Laura said softly. "He's just lazy and stupid. He's not ideological at all. He saw a chance to be a bigger player and he took it."

"That is pretty stupid." Sarah said skeptically.

"He didn't think it through." Laura said. "Seth isn't evil. I know what it looks like but he's not."

"I don't know," Sarah said softly.

"Sarah, please," Laura said as the tears started to form in her eyes. "I know that you hate me but please help me. I'm desperate. I'll do anything."

"Tell me why." Sarah said curiously. "Why are you risking so much to help him?"

"I love him." Laura said as the tears began to flow down her cheeks. "I just realized that. I know how stupid that sounds to you but I do. I love him. I can't stand by and watch him get killed. You probably can't understand that."

"Actually," Sarah said with a sigh as she squeezed Chuck as hard as she could. "You're wrong."

"That's the one thing that I understand totally."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

"Agent Walker," Beckman said with a yawn as her picture appeared on the laptop. "Do you realize that it is three in the morning? This had better be good."

"I'm very sorry ma'am," Sarah said briskly. "But we have a situation. First, I want to make sure that you're aware that this is not secure."

"Why not?" Beckman asked.

"I have Laura Carter with me, ma'am," Sarah said softly. "She has approached me about possibly helping Seth Roberts defect away from Fulcrum."

"Agent Carter?" Beckman said briskly.

"Yes, ma'am," Laura responded.

"Tell me why I should believe a single word that you say?" Beckman said harshly. "I should have Agent Walker slap the cuffs on you and lock you up faster than I can salute. How can you prove to me that you're not Fulcrum?"

"Yes, ma'am," Laura began. "I understand what you are saying. And I don't know how to prove a negative. All I can say is that I'm a lot of things but traitor is not one of them. You can question my judgment. I've made some decisions that are downright stupid. But you can't question my loyalty. I swear that I'm as loyal as Agent Walker here. I just need your help to save the man that I love."

"Ma'am," Sarah said softly. "The information we have on site seems to indicate that Agent Carter is indeed loyal."

"Ok," Beckman said much more softly as her eyes widened. "Agent Carter, what is it that you want me to do?"

Before Laura could answer, there was a knock at the door. Chuck went to the door and looked through the peep hole. When he saw that it was Casey, Chuck let him in."

"I'm sorry, ma'am that I'm late." Casey said firmly. "I got here as fast as I could."

"Agent Carter," Beckman said firmly. "Forget my question. I don't really care. This is what I'm willing to do. Agent Casey will take you and Agent Roberts into custody. You will be housed in the local FBI office. If Agent Walker needs any assistance during her mission tomorrow, you will immediately provide it. If I'm satisfied that you have cooperated and Agent Walker's mission is successful, then I'll remove the sanction against Agent Roberts. At that time we'll discuss terms of his release. Is that acceptable to you?"

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said with a smile. "Thank you ma'am."

As soon as the screen went blank, Sarah cleared her throat.

"Laura," Sarah said softly as she looked at the floor. "There is something that you need to hear. You saw how I was dressed when I went to see Seth."

Laura nodded with a sad smile.

"Well," Sarah continued. "When I was there this afternoon, I threw everything that I had at him and he didn't budge."

"Thanks, Sarah," Laura said with a smile. "That means a lot to me."

"No problem," Sarah whispered.

"Agent Casey," Laura said with a grin. "Something tells me that I've been played. You're not with Sarah at all, are you?"

"I'm afraid not." Casey said with a grin.

"So our little encounter this afternoon was all for show." Laura said as she burst out into a laugh.

"Well," said Casey thoughtfully with a grin. "You can blame Chuck here. It was his idea. For what it's worth, I enjoyed it."

"Damn it. I knew that you weren't her type."

Las Vegas – Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino:

"Ok," Casey said as he and Laura rode up the elevator. "This is how it's going to work. I'll stay in the hall out of sight while you go in and talk Roberts into surrendering. I'll give you five minutes. Let me in and I'll take him into custody."

As soon as Laura knocked on the door, Seth opened it.

"Baby," Laura cried as she threw her arms around Seth. "I've missed you so much."

Laura pressed her mouth to Seth's and they shared a very passionate kiss.

"Wow, baby," Seth said as soon as the kiss broke. "That was quite a hello."

"Seth," Laura said sadly. "Come over and sit down. I need to talk to you."

"Can't we talk later?" Seth said as he began to unbutton Laura's blouse.

"I'm afraid not." Laura said firmly as she pushed Seth away. "I have some bad news. I just talked to Sarah Walker. She was not looking to get back together. She was looking to make herself a widow."

"A widow," Seth said in confusion. "How would she do that?"

"By putting a bullet between your eyes, dumb ass," Laura said forcefully. "They know that you are Fulcrum. They are going to execute you."

"They know," Seth said in a panic. "I didn't think anyone would even care. I mean, who cares about me? I'm nobody. What am I going to do?"

"Relax," whispered Laura. "I've got it all worked out. I talked to General Beckman."

"Beckman," Seth said. "She's a hard ass."

"She's a very hard ass," Laura said. "It was tough but I got her to agree. If we help Sarah bust your Fulcrum guy, they are going to let you go."

"Really," Seth said. "Why would she do that?"

"I talked Sarah into speaking for you." Laura said softly. "She has a lot of pull with Beckman. Her partner is in the hall right now waiting for us to go downtown."

"But why," Seth said softly. "Why are you and Sarah doing this for me?"

"Sarah is doing it because I begged her." Laura said with a smile.

"I'm doing it because I love you."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

"I'm so very proud of you." Sarah said as she kissed Chuck tenderly.

"Why," Chuck asked in surprise.

"Because you stuck up for me with Laura." Sarah whispered with tears filling her eyes. "I've had partners who had my back physically before but you're the first person who has ever had my back emotionally. Thank you. I can't tell you how much that meant to me."

"You're so welcome." Chuck said with a smile as he kissed Sarah again. "I meant every word. I have never met a person who deserves to be hurt less than you do."

"Thanks," Sarah said with her eyes shinning. "I love you."

"I love you too," Chuck said softly. "And I'm proud of you too."

Sarah's eyes told him to continue.

"It's just so easy to hate." Chuck said softly. "I'm proud of you that could overlook the horrible way that you were treated and still do the right thing."

"It is the right thing." Sarah whispered. "Isn't it?"

"Yes," Chuck said as he kissed Sarah again this time more urgently. "Yes, it is."

"You know," Sarah said with a grin. "Horny Chuck has been locked in that closet for an awfully long time. It's time to let him out, don't you think?"

"I don't know." Chuck said with a grin. "I think he might have fallen asleep."

"Let him out," whispered Sarah as she pushed Chuck onto the bed.

"I bet I can wake him up."

Chapter 15: The Bait

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Sarah had wakened to the sounds of some all night partiers crashing down the hallway. One of the liabilities of being an agent was that you were, by necessity, a light sleeper. And that meant you didn't get much sleep in Vegas.

"There is always someone coming down the hall." she smiled to herself.

The light starting to cascade through the drawn curtains told Sarah that the sun was coming up. As she rested her head on Chuck's chest, she took a moment to watch him sleep. She loved to watch him sleep. It was one of her favorite things to do. His life was so tense. It just took such a toll on his face. But he looked so very peaceful when he was sleeping. His chest was gently raising and falling as he breathed. Sarah's head was just as gently keeping pace. His soft snoring was just so cute that it made Sarah smile.

"I love you," Sarah whispered softly. "I don't even know how to say it properly. I know that you worry about it. That somehow you think that it isn't real or won't last. And if there was something I could do to make you realize, I would do it. But if you really knew how much I love you, you would never worry about it again. There is nothing that I wouldn't do if you asked me. If you really knew, it would probably scare you."

Chuck took a deep breath and that caused Sarah to pause.

"And I'm so sorry that I'm not the girl that you deserve." Sarah continued whispering as she began drawing small circles on Chuck's bare stomach. "I'm so sorry for all of the crap that you have to put up with just to be with me. I really hope that you don't get tired of it. I'm so scared of losing you."

"And most of all," Sarah whispered as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "I'm sorry that I can't talk to you this way when you're awake. You deserve it. You deserve so much that you're not getting. Please hang in there with me. I know that it's hard but I'm trying my best. Please don't give up. Don't ever give up."

Chuck wanted so very badly to open his eyes. He wanted to wrap his arms around her and make her demons go away. He wanted to tell her that he felt just as strongly about her. That he would die before he gave up on her. And that the idea had never crossed his mind. But he knew that she wouldn't want that. That it was helping her that she could talk to him without him hearing. Chuck realized that she was getting ready for an important mission this morning and this was part of her preparation. So he did the only thing that he could do. He lay still on his back and pretended to be asleep while the love of his life whispered her words of love through her tears.

And he promised himself that as soon as she got back from her mission, he would make her feel as loved as he was feeling right now.

Las Vegas – Fulcrum Offices:

Peter West sat behind his desk staring intently at Sarah. He quite obviously was liking what he saw. But what was not to like? Sarah had made a special effort to look extra nice. Her dark blue skirt had the maximum slit that she had of any in her wardrobe. And the sheer light blue blouse set it off perfectly. She had it unbuttoned to the point where it was screaming "look down me" to every man that got a glimpse of her. And that, most definitely, included her taxi driver on the ride over. And Peter was certainly no exception. Sarah made sure that she leaned forward to give him the best possible view.

"Agent Anderson," Peter said with a smile. "One thing is for sure. You are quite stunning. How long have you known Seth Roberts?"

"Thank you, sir," Sarah said with a shy smile. "That is very nice of you. I've known Seth for about five years."

"Tell me, Sarah," Peter said thoughtfully. "Why would you be interested in joining Fulcrum?"

"Well, sir," Sarah softly. "Would you like the short answer or the long one?"

"Why don't you give me the long one?" Peter said with a leer. "I have some time and I like watching you talk."

"Yes, sir," said Sarah with a blushing smile. "Well, if you would have told me that I would be sitting here two years ago, I would have said that you were crazy. When I joined the agency, I was young and naive. I was ready to conquer the world. I believed that becoming an agent was the best way for me to serve mankind. So I worked my – well let's just say that I worked really hard to be the best."

Peter nodded to let Sarah know that he was listening.

"But I have since found out that the agency that I loved is corrupt." Sarah continued with a schoolgirl pout. "I found out that being the best didn't really matter to them. All that mattered was how much time you were willing to spend on your back with the men at the right level."

Peter's smile told her to continue.

"I found that out too late." Sarah said sadly. "By the time I figured out what they really wanted me to do, they had already written me off. So now I'm babysitting a rich foreign national's kid. And I have been for the past year."

"That's sad." Peter said.

"Yes, sir," said Sarah with a sigh. "It is. All of that work, all of training, for nothing. So I guess that I'm looking for some revenge."

"Revenge," Peter questioned.

"Yes, sir," Sarah said firmly. "I want them to know the talent that they wasted. I want them to regret it. I'd really appreciate it if you would give me that chance for some revenge. I promise that I won't make the same mistake with you."

"Mistake," Peter questioned.

"The one about being willing to be on my back, sir," Sarah said with a smile as she played with her hair. "I just want to make sure that you know that I'll do anything to prove my loyalty to you."

"Sarah," Peter said with a grin. "You sound resolved."

"Yes, sir," Sarah whispered as she placed an innocent pout on her face. "I am. I'm on a quest. I have something to prove."

"I do believe that I am willing to test that resolve." Peter said with a smug grin. "I'll leave a note for you at the front desk of the Monte Carlo with my room number. Meet me there at nine tonight. Be prepared to be tested vigorously. If you pass my test, there is a party here in two days with the six regional commanders. They are here to talk about global strategy. It will be the first time they have been in the same room in many years. And we're going to have a little get together for them. It would be a perfect opportunity for a new recruit such as yourself to make a good impression on the very highest members of the organization. What do you think about that?"

"It sounds great, sir," Sarah said with a beaming smile. "Should I come prepared to spend the night tonight? I'm looking so forward to this party. You can count on me to make quite an impression."

"Not so fast, Sarah." Peter said with a leer as he fought a losing battle to keep his composure. "You haven't passed my test yet. I think that a couple of hours tonight will be enough."

When Sarah ever so innocently licked her lips and her red lipstick glistened in the light, Peter knew that his personal battle was lost.

"Thank you, sir," Sarah said with a shy smile as a blush crept up her face. "But I have no doubt that I'll pass. Is the test written or oral?"

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Chuck was sitting at the desk in their room mindlessly playing solitary on the laptop when his cell phone rang. Not knowing what her status was, he answered plainly.


"Hi, sweetie," Sarah said.

"How did it go?" Chuck said with a laugh. "He didn't want a quickie on his desk, did he?"

"Maybe," Sarah replied with a laugh of her own. "But don't worry. Nothing like that happened. Sweetie, I'm sorry, but I don't have time to talk about that now. I need you to go get Casey and meet me at the FBI office. We have some things to talk about. Please get here as soon as you can."

Somebody had obviously notified Casey because he was ready to go the instant that Chuck knocked on his door.

Las Vegas - Taxi Cab:

In the cab, Chuck decided that the silence was getting a little too awkward so he decided to engage in his favorite sport… needling Casey.

"So, Casey," Chuck said with a wry grin. "That Laura Carter chick is pretty hot. Care to debrief me on how you debriefed her yesterday?"

"I do not," Casey said sharply. "Just like I don't want to hear about you and Walker and your exploits between the sheets.

"But there's a big difference." Chuck insisted as his grin broadened. "Sarah and I are personal. What you did with Laura was part of a mission. I think that you need to share all mission details with your partner. Don't you agree?"

"Maybe you're right, Bartowski." Casey said with a hint of sarcasm. "I'll make sure that you get a copy of the report. And while I'm at it, I think I'll make sure that you get a transcript of the times that Walker spent in Seth Robert's hotel room. The bug that Walked planted picked up every sound. The transcripts are part of the mission file, after all. Sound fair?"

"On second thought," Chuck said softly as the smile faded from his face. "That information is fairly need to know. I guess I don't need to know."

"Good answer," Casey said with a laugh. "Very good answer,"

Las Vegas FBI Office:

As soon as Chuck and Casey walked into the conference room they noticed General Beckman on the monitor. Sarah was sitting talking to her. When Sarah saw Chuck her face lit up into a smile. Chuck returned the gesture.

"Come in gentlemen." Beckman said when she noticed them enter the room. "Please take your seats quickly. We have a lot of information to cover."

Chuck quickly took the seat next to Sarah and Casey walked to the other side of the table. Sarah immediately took Chuck's hand under the table and gave it a quick squeeze. As soon as they were seated Beckman placed a picture on the monitor. Immediately, Chuck flashed.

"This is Peter West." Beckman said. "He is the man who Agent Walker met with this morning."

"He is Fulcrum, ma'am." Chuck said. "He is the head of the Las Vegas office."

"Very good, Chuck," Beckman said. "Agent Walker, would you please brief Chuck and Casey on your mission?"

"Yes, ma'am," Sarah said firmly. "As soon as I had gained West's confidence, he told me of a party that all six of the Fulcrum regional commanders will be attending in two days. He invited me to attend."

"We believe that this might be the entire Fulcrum senior management." Beckman said briskly. "If we could capture them, we could possibly strike a blow to Fulcrum that they could never recover from. It goes without saying that we need to infiltrate this party."

"Where is the party being held?" Casey asked.

"That's the problem," Sarah said sadly. "I'm not sure yet. West wants me to meet him tonight at a hotel room for a test. If I pass, he'll invite me to the party."

"What," said Chuck with a grimace? "Like a vision test? A hearing test? Maybe a math test?"

"Sorry," Sarah said softly while looking at the table as she squeezed Chuck's hand. "It's more like a loyalty test. I'll talk to you about it later."

"I think that we need some help on this one." Beckman said firmly. "We can't have Sarah go into that party all alone. So I've asked Agent Roberts to set up a meeting between Agent Carter and Peter West. He seems to have a proclivity towards attractive agents."

"Who doesn't?" Chuck said with a smile.

"Are we sure that we can trust her, ma'am?" Casey asked softly while ignoring Chuck. "If they get tipped off, Agent Walker is in big trouble."

"That's very true," Beckman said wistfully. "I and Agent Walker had a long talk with her. Agent Walker has convinced me that she is loyal. It is a risk that I feel we have to take."

"You know, Sarah," Casey said in almost a whisper. "She has betrayed you before. You're putting a lot of faith in her."

"Not really," Sarah said softly. "She is anxious to help Seth. She is going to be eager to help us as much as possible to use it as a bargaining chip later."

"Agent Carter is meeting with West right now." Beckman said calmly. "Hopefully, she'll get invited to the party as well. We'll get together tomorrow and discuss Agent Carter's and Walker's meetings. Then we'll discuss how to proceed."

Just then Laura poked her head into the room.

"Excuse me, ma'am," Laura said. "I'm back from my meeting with Peter West."

"Come in, Agent Carter." Beckman said quickly. "Give us your report on your meeting. How did it go?"

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said as she sat down at the table. "I believe that I convinced West that I am willing to defect to Fulcrum. He invited me to the party as long as I could pass his test."

"You too," Casey said. "What is this guy, a machine?"

"No, Casey," Laura said sadly with a big sigh. "My test is a little different than Sarah's. It could be a big problem."

"He wants me to kill Seth."

Chapter 16: The Switch

Las Vegas FBI Office:

Beckman sat silently trying to comprehend the news that Laura had just delivered. Finally she broke her silence.

"Agent Carter," Beckman said introspectively. "Why would West want you to kill Agent Roberts? He is one of their agents, correct? Do they suspect him of being disloyal?"

"Well, ma'am," Laura started softly. "Anything that I would say is a guess. But my opinion is that they are just trying to give us some things that they know we don't want to do to prove our loyalty."

"And they would sacrifice one of their agents?" Beckman said skeptically.

"I think that it shows that they don't think too highly of Seth." Laura said sadly. "I guess they consider him expendable."

At that, the room fell silent for a long moment. Finally Casey cleared his throat.

"It sort of makes sense, ma'am," Casey said thoughtfully. "If they could get two agents of the quality of Walker and Carter that they had confidence in, it would be worth the sacrifice. Especially given that they don't think very highly of him anyway. I also think that means that West is planning on putting Sarah through the wringer tonight. He is going to press the limits of what she is willing to do to prove herself."

At that, Sarah looked at the table sadly. Chuck gave her hand a quick squeeze of encouragement which brought a slight smile to her lips.

"I'm afraid that I agree." Beckman said with a deep sigh. "I'm sorry Sarah. I know that this is above and beyond what could be reasonably expected of you. Chuck, I know that this is a tough situation but the payoff is just so huge."

"Thank you, ma'am," Chuck and Sarah said together.

"Let's take a ten minute break." Beckman said. "After that, I would like to meet with Agents Casey and Walker to go over some highly classified sensitive Intel. Chuck, I hope that you won't feel offended. Normally, you would be included in this discussion. But I think that it would be best for now if Agent Carter accompanied you back to the hotel. Agent Walker will join you in an hour or so."

"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said without emotion.

As soon as Beckman called the break, Sarah pulled Chuck into a small interrogation room and quickly closed the door.

"I'm sorry, Chuck," Sarah said angrily as she grabbed both of his hands. "I don't know why Beckman doesn't want you at the next session. But I sure am going to find out."

"Don't worry," Chuck replied with a soft laugh. "I actually am looking forward to talking to Laura for a few minutes."

"Really," Sarah said in surprise. "Why?"

"Lot's of reasons," Chuck said as his eyes sparkled. "But most of all I want to know about you. I'll bet that she's the one person in the world who knows what makes you tick."

"Well actually," Sarah said softly. "You're the one person in the world who knows what makes me tick. I know that I don't have to say this. And I'm sorry if this sounds possessive, but I'm nervous about her being alone with you."

"You're right," Chuck said with a grin. "You don't have to say it. For one thing, she was just with Casey yesterday. That alone disqualifies her in my book. Hurry back. I want to spend some time with you this afternoon. I want to make sure you know how much you're loved."

"That's sweet," Sarah whispered as she kissed Chuck gently. "But I think I already know."

"No," Chuck said as he shook his head. "You know how much I loved you yesterday. I love you even more today. As soon as you get back, I want to explain the difference."

"Ok," said Sarah with a laugh. "Am I going to have any clothes on while you're doing this explaining?'

"That's up to you," Chuck replied with his own laugh. "But, speaking of that, do you think you could do me one small favor?"

"What's that?" Sarah asked.

"I'm sorry if this sounds possessive." Chuck said softly. "But do you think you could button one more button on your blouse?"

Las Vegas FBI Office:

As soon as Casey and Sarah were back in the conference room, Beckman started the meeting.

"Begging your pardon, ma'am," Sarah said firmly. "But what do you want to talk about that couldn't include Chuck? I thought that we agreed that we were going to treat him as an equal."

"Relax, Sarah," Beckman said softly. "I don't really want to talk about anything."

"I'm confused, ma'am," Sarah said softly.

"I just wanted to get Chuck and Agent Carter alone for a while." Beckman said with a smile. "I want Chuck's opinion on how much we can trust her. Why don't you two give them about an hour before you return to the hotel?"

"Thank you, ma'am," Sarah said while obviously relived. "But as long as we have a minute, Chuck was just telling me some thoughts that he had."

"Ok, Sarah," said Beckman. "Talk too me,"

"I think he's figured out how we can kill Seth."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Chuck and Laura were pretty much silent during the twenty minute cab ride back to the hotel. When Chuck opened the door to the room, Laura walked in and went directly to the refrigerator.

"I need a drink." she said with a sigh. "I'm taking a wine out of the mini bar. I hope you don't mind."

"Thirty six dollars for a glass of white wine," Chuck replied with a smile. "I don't mind. The government is paying for this. Just don't let Casey find out."

"Why?" Laura asked softly. "Why would Casey care?"

"Wasting the taxpayer's money pisses him off." Chuck said with a grin. "Well actually, a lot of things piss him off."

"I don't know," Laura said with a smile. "He was very nice to me. Do you want anything?"

"I assume you mean from the mini bar." Chuck said as his grin broadened. "But even if you didn't, no thank you."

"I guess I had that coming." Laura said with a sad smile as she sat on the couch. "You don't trust me at all, do you?"

"I'm sorry," Chuck said as he sat in the chair as far away from Laura as he could. "It's just that I can't imagine anyone who would betray Sarah the way that you did. She is the most special person in the world."

"You really love her." Laura whispered. "Don't you?"

"More than I could possibly explain," Chuck whispered in return. "I can't even bear to think about how she must have hurt walking in and finding you and Seth."

"You don't think like an agent." Laura said sadly. "That's why I'm glad that Sarah found you. If I try and explain, will you give me a chance and have an open mind?"

"I'm listening."

"Agents just feel differently about sex." Laura began softly. "That's how we're trained. We're taught to treat sex as a weapon. Just like we're taught to shoot, we're taught to screw."

"I know that." Chuck interrupted. "Sarah knows that. She uses sex on missions. What you did was different. It was personal."

"But that's what I'm trying to say." Laura said insistently. "Most agents don't distinguish between mission sex and personal sex. Sex is sex. We're pretty casual about it all. So that is why I didn't see it as betraying her at the time. Seth was the last person on earth Sarah should have married if she was looking for a faithful husband."

"But I read a transcript." Chuck said firmly. "Where you threatened to make Seth no longer a man if he touched Sarah. Tell me you weren't jealous. That sounds pretty hypocritical to me."

"I was totally jealous." Laura said with a sad smile. "Guilty. But that is a very recent development. A month ago, I wouldn't have cared at all. Seth and I would have made it a game to see how far he could push her. Under the right circumstances I might have even joined them."

"So, what's changed?"

"I fell in love." Laura said softly. "I can't explain it. I'm even a little embarrassed about it. I mean, I still want to kick his ass about once every ten minutes. But I love him. I do. And that just changes your perspective. That's why I understand for the first time how Sarah really felt that day. And it makes me want to cry. I'm so sorry. I love her, Chuck."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Talk to her for me?" Laura said as tears began to flow down her cheeks. "She'll listen to you. I just want a chance to win my best friend back. I've missed her."

"I'll talk to her." Chuck whispered.

"Thanks," Laura whispered between sobs.

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

When Sarah walked into the hotel room, Chuck was lying on his back on the bed deep in thought. He was so deep in his thoughts that he didn't even recognize that Sarah was there until she was lying next to him.

"Hi, sweetie," Sarah said with a smile as she rested her head on Chuck's chest. "Are you ok?"

"Just thinking," Chuck responded with a sigh.

"About me, I hope," Sarah said as she reached up to kiss him.

"What else would I be thinking about?" Chuck said with a sly smile as he reached around Sarah to rub her arm. "In case you haven't noticed, besides you, my life is pretty boring."

Sarah smiled as she snuggled up to Chuck.

"Sarah," Chuck said in a far off, distant tone. "Do you want to kick my ass every ten minutes?"

Sarah lifted her head to look at Chuck quizzingly.

"What brought that on?" Sarah whispered.

"Laura told me." Chuck said softly. "She said that she loved Seth but she still wanted to kick his ass every ten minutes."

Sarah's frown turned into a slight smile.

"So do you?" Chuck whispered.

"Sometimes, I guess." Sarah said softly. "I mean when you don't stay in the car. When you get yourself in trouble."

"Who do you talk to?" Chuck asked softly. "Who do you talk to when you can't talk to me?"

"Sweetie," Sarah whispered as she propped her head on her arm to be able to look Chuck directly in the eye. "What's bothering you?"

"I just think you need a friend." Chuck said with a smile. "I know. I'm your friend. But you need a girlfriend. Someone to talk about the things that I just can't understand."

"Like?" asked Sarah.

"Like how you're going to get through tonight." Chuck said softly as tears started to form in his eyes.

"I just can't help it," Chuck whispered as the tears started to flow down his cheeks. "I know that you have to do it. I'm trying to be as supportive as I can. But there is nothing I can say to help you. I want to kill him, Sarah. I just want to kill him."

Sarah immediately rolled on top of Chuck and put her arms around his neck. She buried her face in his shoulder.

"I'm sorry," she whispered through her own tears. "I'm so sorry."

"See," Chuck said as he wrapped his arms around Sarah and held her tight. "That's exactly what I mean. You have nothing to be sorry about. You're the victim. And yet when you talk to me about it, you just end up feeling guilty. That's not fair. And I'm so sorry that I can't help you."

They just continued in their embrace, wordlessly for several minutes. Finally, Chuck broke the silence.

"I just want you to know how much I love you." he whispered as he sobbed. "Even the worst days with you by my side are better than the best days before you got here. I loved you yesterday. I love you today. And I'll love you tomorrow and the next day and the next day. And nothing is going to change that. Do you understand? Nothing."

"And you think that you can't help me." Sarah whispered in reply. "As long as that's true, I can do anything."

Chuck as Sarah just held each other without saying another word until it was time for Sarah to go.

While Sarah was getting dressed to go meet Peter, she called Casey and asked him to take care of Chuck.

"Sweetie," Sarah said as she put on her lipstick. "Casey is going to come and get you and take you down to the casino. Promise me that you'll try and have a good time. Have as much to drink as you want. We can sleep in tomorrow. Will you promise me?"

Chuck simply nodded, afraid to speak for fear of breaking down.

"I'll come and find you as soon as I get back." Sarah said as softly as she could. "Then maybe we can have a few drinks and forget about it."

Casey knocked on the door just as Sarah was getting ready to leave. As she let him in, she whispered so only Casey could hear.

"He's really hurting. Get him drinking."

Casey's slight smile was the only indication that he had heard her.

Las Vegas – Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino:

Sarah made the twenty minute walk down the strip in silence. Where before she had taken a cab, tonight she wanted to walk. Although she told herself that the night air would clear her head, the real reason was it would take longer. And Sarah dreaded this assignment. She already felt like her shoes were made of cement. And every step closer that she got to the Monte Carlo, the heavier her shoes got.

"Come on, Walker," she whispered as she attempted a self pep talk. "You've done this before. It's no big deal."

But she knew that was a lie. Or more accurately two lies. She had never done it before. Because she never had Chuck in her life before. And even though she knew that he didn't feel she was betraying him, she felt like she was. And that was a big deal. It was a very big deal.

Sarah had to call on her training to keep her hands from shaking as she checked at the front desk for messages. Sure enough, the clerk handed her an envelope. When she opened it there was a single sheet of paper with a room number written on it.

"Get a grip, Sarah," she whispered to herself as she attempted to psyche herself up to complete the mission. "Go in there. Put a smile on your face and do whatever he asks you. It will be over in a couple of hours. This is important. Chuck will understand."

But she knew in that moment that it was over. There was no way she was going to do this. It just wasn't worth it to her any more. She pulled out her cell phone to call Beckman to let her know her status and determine what to do next when Laura walked up to her.

"Hi," Laura said with a sad smile. "I've been waiting for you. You can't do it, can you?"

Sarah shook her head as tears filled her eyes.

"I didn't think so," Laura said sadly. "Don't worry, Sarah. I know what you're feeling. I talked to him today. Wow, you're so lucky. He's great. And he really loves you."

Sarah just nodded her head, unable to speak without breaking down.

"Give me the note." Laura said softly as she took the paper from Sarah's hand. "I'll do it."

Pure surprise caused Sarah to speak.


"I don't know." Laura said with a smile. "Maybe because I owe you. Maybe because I can and you can't. Or maybe because I hope you'll give me a chance to prove that I am your friend. But mostly because I met a man today who is perfect for you. And you need to go be with him."

"Come by my room when you're done." Sarah said as she forced herself to look into Laura's eyes while she fought unsuccessfully to fight the tears from overflowing."

"Maybe we can catch up."

So for the first time in her career, Sarah Walker failed to attempt an assignment. It was a pretty impressive streak. It was almost assuredly a record, not that the CIA kept those kinds of statistics. But like all streaks this one had to end sometime. And even more amazingly she didn't feel badly about it at all. She actually felt at peace. Something had just happened that she had missed desperately for the past five years.

Her friend, Laura had come through for her.

Chapter 17: The Briar Patch

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Sarah made no attempt to keep the grin off her face in the cab back to the hotel. She decided to take a cab instead of walking mainly because it was faster. She knew that if she walked she would have to fight the urge to run. And she wasn't wearing running shoes, that was for sure.

As soon as she got to the hotel, she went into the casino looking for Chuck. She figured that Casey would drag him to a Blackjack table. She just hoped that he hadn't already had too much to drink. So she was beginning to get concerned when she scanned all of the tables and couldn't find them.

"Maybe Casey took him to another casino." Sarah said to herself.

She was just getting out her cell phone to call Casey, when she spotted Chuck at a Craps table. Casey was the shooter. A large roar went up from the table as Casey had obviously hit the point. As Casey continued as the shooter, Sarah carefully studied Chuck's face. To anyone else, Chuck would have looked like he was having fun. After all he had a smile on his face. And if the stack of chips in front of him was any indication, he was having a very good night. But Sarah could tell that his eyes were troubled. She could see the sadness in them and it broke her heart.

Sarah maneuvered herself so that she could walk up behind Chuck without being seen. Casey had just crapped out so it was Chuck's turn as the shooter. As Casey turned to hand the dice to Chuck he caught sight of Sarah standing there. Sarah shook her head to let Casey know not to tell him.

"It's intimidating to be the shooter." Chuck said with a smile to no one in particular. "All of these people depending on you."

"You're supposed to get a hot babe to blow on the dice for luck." said an elderly man who was standing on the other side of Casey and had obviously had a bit much to drink.

"That's too bad." Chuck replied with a sad smile. "My hot babe isn't here right now."

"Excuse me, sir," Sarah said with a grin as she put her hand on Chuck's shoulder. "I don't know about hot. But will I do?"

Sarah smiled at a stunned Chuck. She gently grabbed his hand that was holding the dice and raised it to her lips. She half kissed his hand and half blew into it. Chuck was so stunned that he was momentarily paralyzed.

"Throw the dice." Sarah said softly with a grin. "And then kiss me."

Chuck would never be sure if the roar from the table was because he threw two sixes which was an automatic winner. The much more likely cause was the kiss that Sarah applied to him while he stood there in awe. Chuck normally would never have been comfortable with such an explicit display of PDA in such a public place. But as soon as he felt Sarah's tongue slide past his lips, those thoughts were driven from his mind.

"How are you here?" Chuck whispered as soon as the kiss broke.

"Christmas came early." Sarah whispered back with a smile.

The grin on Chuck's face threatened to explode.

"When Sarah whispered "Take me to the room." Chuck immediately moved to comply.

It actually took Casey to quickly gather Chuck's chips that were sitting on the table and hand them to Sarah. Sarah smiled at the pit boss and handed him a ten dollar chip as a tip. The grin on her face was unmistakable.

"It's time for a new shooter."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

"Wow," said Chuck as he struggled for breath. "That was as intense as it's ever been. What's gotten into you?"

"I just figured out what was most important to me." Sarah replied with a coy smile as she listened to Chuck's heart race.

"I assume that you didn't…" Chuck began softly.

"I didn't." Sarah finished for him. "I couldn't."

"But what about the mission?" Chuck said quickly. "Sarah, the last thing I would want would be to keep you from doing what you feel that you should do. Now I feel horribly guilty."

"Sweetie, don't feel guilty." Sarah said calmly with a smile. "It wasn't you. It was me. You asked me before if it was worth it to me. I said yes, but I was wrong. Hurting you isn't worth it to me any more. And it never will be again."

"But what about Fulcrum?" Chuck asked. "Will they get away?"

"Laura took over for me." Sarah said with a smile. "I guess it's still worth it to her."

"Wow," Chuck whispered softly. "That was nice of her. I think she is really trying.

"I know." Sarah said as her smile intensified. "She is coming here after she's done to talk."

"I hope that you can work it out." Chuck said softly. "I'll go back down to the casino with Casey and let you talk. But I still feel guilty."

"Sweetie, please," Sarah said as she snuggled as tightly as she could. "I know that I'm horrible at saying this. But if you only knew, Chuck. If you only knew how I feel. It would probably freak you out a little."

"I think that I do know." Chuck whispered as he rubbed Sarah's back.

"I don't think so." Sarah whispered back with a smile. "Because if you did, you wouldn't feel guilty. You'd know how important it is to me that you be ok. That you get what you deserve from me."

"Ok," Chuck whispered with a smile. "But…"

"Please let me finish." Sarah whispered a little more sharply than she intended. "This is important. You don't deserve to know that your fiancé is in bed with another man. No matter what the reason. And even if you're supportive, that still doesn't mean you deserve it. And I know that you deserve to hear it said better. I'm sorry. I'm doing my best."

"Can I speak now?" Chuck asked after a moment. "Are you finished?"

Sarah just nodded.

"Are you crazy?" Chuck said with a smile. "I'm lying here in bed with the most incredible woman in the world. She speaks seven different languages, saves my life daily, and is the most beautiful woman I've ever met. I've just made love with this amazing person. And if I could just get her to stop talking for a minute about how badly I'm being cheated, I'd like to go for it again."

Sarah's face lit up into a beaming smile.

"Seriously," Chuck continued with a laugh. "What planet are you on anyway? As much as you say that you love me, I love you at least that much. And don't worry about being able to talk about your feelings. I get it. I'm not worried about any of that stuff. And another thing…"

"Chuck," Sarah interrupted gently with a sly grin. "Who is keeping us from making love now by talking too much?"

Las Vegas FBI Office:

"I want you to wear a wire." Beckman said firmly, the veins on her neck clearly visible through the monitor. "After what Agent Carter went through last night, I don't trust this pervert. What time does he want to meet?"

"Ma'am," Laura said. "He asked to meet with Sarah at ten this morning."

"And he didn't give you the location of the party." Beckman said tersely.

"No, ma'am," Laura replied sadly. "That's about the only thing that he didn't give me. I assume he'll tell Sarah after she passes her test."

"My guess is that he'll ask Sarah to kill Agent Roberts." Beckman said. "That was what he originally wanted."

"We hope so, ma'am," Sarah said with a smile. "Thanks to Chuck, we're prepared for that."

"But what happens if he changes the test?" Casey said in thought. "There is no telling what he might ask her to do."

"We need that party location." Beckman said firmly. "Agent Casey, I want you to monitor Agent Walker's meeting. Chuck and Agent Carter, you can return to the hotel. Now does anyone have any ideas on how we can influence West's test?"

"Yes, ma'am." Chuck said with a smile. "It's really fairly easy."

"Care to enlighten us, Chuck?" Beckman said skeptically.

"Yes ma'am," said Chuck with a grin directed at Sarah. "Haven't you ever heard the story of Br'er Rabbit and the Briar Patch?

Las Vegas FBI Office:

Sarah had to leave the room to be fitted with her wire. As Casey and Sarah were testing the equipment to be sure it was ready for her meeting with West, Chuck quickly pulled Laura aside.

"I wanted to thank you for last night." Chuck said softly. "It meant a lot to Sarah. I know that. And I appreciate it too."

"You're welcome." Laura said with a smile. "I owe her a lot."

"Well," Chuck said with an equal smile. "Now I owe you a lot."

"We're even." said Laura softly. "Thank you for talking to her for me. I think that we really made some progress last night. It was almost like I had my best friend back. And I would do a lot more than I did last night to make that happen."

"Sarah feels the same way." Chuck said. "Trust me on that."

"I hope so," Laura said with a sad sigh.

Chuck stepped up to Laura and gave her a friendly hug.

"She loves you." Chuck whispered.

"She loves you too." Laura whispered as she returned Chuck's embrace.

They were both so caught up in the emotional moment they were sharing that neither one noticed Sarah looking at them through the glass. Casey was the only one who caught the look in Sarah's eye as she watched Chuck and Laura embrace.

Las Vegas – Fulcrum Offices:

"Sir, I'm so sorry about not being able to come to your room last night." Sarah said with a sly smile as she sat across from Peter West. "I was really looking forward to it."

"Laura said that you were ill." Peter said. "I trust that you are feeling better today?"

"Yes, sir," Sarah said softly. "I must have had a touch of food poisoning or something. I hope that Laura was an acceptable substitute. I'm feeling much better today."

"Laura was great." Peter said with a small smile. "But I was really looking forward to seeing you last night. I had been thinking about it all day."

"I know, sir." Sarah said sadly. "I feel terrible. Please tell me how I can make it up to you."

"Well, Sarah," Peter said calmly. "There is still the matter of your test. You do know what I had asked Laura to do?"

"Yes, sir," Sarah said with a sigh. "I was just hoping that we could think of something else. That is something that I really don't want to do."

"Maybe we could work something out." Peter said as his eyes narrowed. "What's the matter, Sarah? You're not in love with him?"

"Of course not, sir," Sarah said softly. "Don't be silly. Agents don't fall in love. It's really sort of embarrassing. It's just that Seth is the best at… well… you know."

"Really," Peter asked with a smile. "Sarah, I thought that you wanted to prove to me your loyalty? This is how I'm asking you to do it. Is there a problem?"

"No sir," Sarah said with a sigh. "I said that I would do anything and I meant it. Can I bring him by this afternoon?"

"Come at two," Peter said with a smile. "Make it something not so messy. I just had the office redecorated. You are aware that this has to be public?"

"Yes sir," said Sarah sadly. "Don't worry, sir. I know just what to do. It's actually a specialty of mine."

"Excellent," Peter said with a smile as he stood. "Invite Laura to come along and I'll give you the details for tomorrow's party after it's over."

"Yes sir," Sarah said with a soft smile as she stood to go.

"You know, Sarah," Peter said as he put his arm around Sarah. "You still owe me a special night."

"Absolutely," Sarah said as she softly laid her head against West's chest. "Maybe after the party I can come see you. Whatever Laura did last night, I promise I'll do double."

"Double," Peter said in mock horror. "That would kill me."

"No sir," Sarah said in a sexy pout as she walked out the door. "We can't kill you."

As soon as Sarah left the office her face broke into a grin.

"Not until we've questioned you for about a month."

Las Vegas:

As soon as Sarah got in the car, Casey started to laugh.

"You know, Walker," Casey said as he started the car. "I honestly don't see what you see in Bartowski in the romance department. But I have to admit, he is a true genius."

"I guess," Sarah said sadly.

"That went exactly the way he said it would." Casey continued as he snickered.

Sarah just looked out the passenger window wordlessly.

"Come on, Sarah," Casey said with a sigh. "Do you realize how stupid you're being?"

"What do you mean?" Sarah said as she turned to look at Casey for he first time.

"I saw the look on your face when you saw Bartowski hugging Carter." Casey said with a soft smile. "If you're worrying about Chuck betraying you, I don't know what to tell you. I've never seen anybody have it so bad. Except for you, maybe. He would walk barefoot over broken glass to bring you a glass of water."

"I guess you're right." Sarah said as her face slowly turned into a smile. "I'm being silly. And you're right about him being a genius. I'm so proud of him. What would we do without him?"

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

When Casey and Sarah returned to hotel, their attention was drawn to a crowd gathered cheering around a craps table. It was actually the same table that they had been at last night. As they got close, they could see that Chuck was the shooter and Laura was standing beside him. They could see Laura blow on Chuck's hand as he threw the dice and another roar come up from the crowd.

"Holy shit," Casey said as they approached. "Look at that pile of chips. He must really be on a roll."

But all Sarah could see was Laura throwing her arms around Chuck's neck as they celebrated. Chuck picked her up by the waist and spun her around as the other gamblers were busy patting him on the back.

Chuck was just getting ready to shoot again when he spotted Casey and Sarah.

"Hey guys," Chuck shouted with pure joy as his eyes widened in recognition. "I love this game. I've just hit eight straight passes. I'm up over two thousand dollars."

Suddenly Sarah turned and quickly left the area. She basically ran towards the elevators.

"What's wrong with Sarah?" Chuck asked Casey with sudden concern as he tossed the dice. "Is she sick? Did something bad happen on her assignment?"

The crowd groaned as the dice showed snake eyes and Chuck's turn as shooter was suddenly over.

"You really don't know." Casey said with a smile as he shook his head in amazement. "Do you?"

Chuck's confused look told Casey all he needed to know.

"She's jealous, dumb ass."

Chapter 18: The Widow Maker

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

When Chuck made it into the hotel room, he could see Sarah lying face down on the bed. Her head was buried in the pillow. She was obviously sobbing. Without saying anything Chuck walked to the bed and lay down beside her.

"Wow," Chuck said softly as he gently rubbed Sarah's back while she continued to sob. "I guess I just did what the most evil men on the planet couldn't do. I mean, they had guns and knives and sometimes bombs. They've hit you and choked you and sometimes even tortured you. But they could never make the great Sarah Walker cry. If it wasn't so horrible, I'd feel a little proud."

"I'm so sorry." Chuck whispered as he put his arm around Sarah's shoulder and pulled her close to him. "If I gave you any reason to hurt, them I'm so ashamed of myself. You should know that I would do anything before I would let you be hurt."

"I'm sorry." Sarah whispered as she rolled on her side and buried her face into Chuck's chest. "I'm being pretty stupid, huh?"

"You're being very stupid." Chuck said as a smile appeared on his lips.

Suddenly Sarah's sob turned into a laugh.

"How could you possibly think that I would ever look at another woman?" Chuck asked softly as he rolled onto his back. Sarah rolled with him leaving then in their favorite position. "I thought that you trusted me?"

"I'm trying." Sarah whispered as she looked up at Chuck through her tears. "I really am. You just don't know how hard it is."

"I do know." Chuck said softly as his own eyes filled with tears. "Of course I know."

Sarah's eye widened as she watched Chuck's reaction.

"I've had to watch you make out with Bryce Larkin." Chuck whispered. "I've had to go to bed knowing that you that you were lying in bed naked with someone who you once married. I had to watch you leave knowing that you were going to be the sex toy for some Fulcrum guy for the night. I know that all of those things were for missions. But believe me; I know exactly what it feels like."

Sarah didn't respond but the look on her face told Chuck that she understood.

"So if I made you feel like that," Chuck continued softly. "Even for a second, I'm so terribly sorry. You should never have to feel like that. You're the great love of my life."

"No," Sarah said as she smiled. "I'm the one who is sorry. I was being stupid."

"Did anyone ever tell you how adorable you are when you're crying?" Chuck asked with a grin.

"Actually, yes," Sarah replied with a grin of her own. "It was a class at the academy. Seduction through tears."

"You mean…" Chuck started hesitantly.

"Oh no," Sarah said quickly as she realized Chuck's meaning. "Those tears were real."

"Good," Chuck said with a sigh. "Well, not good… but you know what I mean."

"I'm sorry," Sarah said as she reached up to kiss Chuck. "You were really on a roll down there."

"You think so?" Chuck said in a teasing tone. "She's cute and everything. But come on, she was with Casey. I mean, that's disgusting."

"I'm talking about the gambling, smart ass,"

"I'm up over two thousand." Chuck said with a smile as he kissed Sarah a little more urgently.

"I'm sorry that I ruined your luck." Sarah whispered between kisses. "You do realize that I'm going to go down with you after I get back this afternoon and help you lose it all back?"

"Well actually," Chuck said as he slid his hand into Sarah's blouse. "I was sort of hoping my luck would follow me up here."

"I guess there's only one thing left to say." Sarah said seductively as her eyes sparkled.

"It's time for a new shooter."

Las Vegas – Fulcrum Offices:

Sarah sat in Peter West's office very calmly. It was the training, after all. It was the first thing they taught you. How to be calm in crises. Nerves got you killed.

Peter looked across his desk at Sarah intently. He couldn't get over the change in her persona. Long gone was the pouting sexpot. In her place was a cool determined professional agent. Peter wasn't even sure which Sarah he found more attractive. But he sure was willing to give both an equal chance.

"Well, Sarah," Peter said calmly. "I understand that Seth and Laura are waiting in the reception area. Are you ready to complete your assignment?"

"Yes, sir," Sarah replied crisply. "I am. But before I begin, I have a bit of a confession to make."

"Confession," Peter asked in a confused tone.

"Yes, sir," Sarah said. "Laura thinks that we're going to fake Seth's death."

"Fake," Peter said. "Why would you do that?"

"She is in love with him, sir." Sarah said softly. "She begged me to set this up to look like we were killing him. I agreed at first."

"How were you going to do it?" Peter asked with a smile.

"I have blanks in my gun, sir." Sarah said without an expression. "Seth is wearing an exploding bag of blood in his jacket. I was going to make it look like I had shot him."

"Why are you telling me this?" Peter said.

"Full disclosure, sir," Sarah said with a sigh. "If I'm joining Fulcrum, it's important that you know where my loyalties lie. You need to know that I'm in this one hundred percent."

"So," Peter said as a smile came to his face. "Are you still planning on completing your assignment?"

"Yes, sir," Sarah said firmly without any hint of emotion. "It's already done."

"Care to explain?" Peter asked as he leaned forward in anticipation.

"Yes, sir," Sarah said coolly. "The CIA developed a drug several years ago. It has a very long technical name but the agents call it Instant Heart Attack or IHA for short. It works by causing a massive coronary attack."

"Ok," Peter said.

"Just before I came in here," Sarah said calmly. "I gave Seth a dose of IHA in a stick of gum. Any second now, he is going to die of a massive heart attack."

As Sarah was speaking they could hear a loud commotion in the reception area through the door.

"Very resourceful," Peter said with a grin. "Sarah, this is most impressive."

"Thank you, sir," Sarah said without any emotion. "But there is going to be one problem."

Peter raised his eyebrows but didn't respond.

"Laura is going to hate my guts."

Peter calmly got up from his desk and walked to the office door. Sarah remained in her seat with no emotion registering on her face. When Peter walked into the reception area he found Seth stretched out on the floor. He was totally unconscious. Laura was franticly trying to administer CPR while she regularly paused to breath into Seth's mouth. Peter noticed the tears running down the face of his secretary.

"He just collapsed, sir." the secretary said nervously as she watch Laura work. "I called 911. The paramedics should be here any minute."

'Oh God," Laura said in a panic as she continued her rhythmic chest compressions with tears streaming down her face. "Please come back."

Peter knelt down and grabbed Seth's wrist to check for a pulse. Satisfied that there wasn't one, he let Seth's hand drop back to the floor.

Just then the paramedics burst into the room. Laura reluctantly moved to let them have easier access. She simply sat on the sofa and watched them work. They quickly checked Seth's vitals and started an IV. As they worked to load him on a gurney, Peter turned to them.

"How is he doing?" Peter said with concern. "Is he going to be ok?"

"I'm sorry." one of the medics answered flatly. "He's gone. We can't legally declare him dead. That would take a coroner. So we'll take him to the hospital but he's gone."

"You bitch," Laura screamed as she walked into Peter's office where Sarah was still sitting emotionless. "What did you do?'

"I completed my assignment." Sarah said as she stood and faced Laura while assuming a defensive posture. "I'm sorry. I tried to make it painless."

"Laura, sit down." Peter said sternly. "Both of you. Sarah just did what I assigned her to do. I know that this assignment was painful. But you need to understand that this organization does not play games. It demands totally loyalty. I expect the same from both of you. Are we clear?"

"Yes, sir," Laura said numbly as she made no attempt to wipe the tears from her eyes. "We are very clear."

"Yes, sir," Sarah added.

"Laura, are you going to be able to continue?" Peter asked more pointedly.

"Yes, sir," Laura said softly after a moments pause. "I will do my duty. No matter what."

"Good," Peter said calmly as he handed each of them an envelope. "Here is the location of the party. There will be about fifty guests. There will be no attempt to identify the regional commanders since their identity is top secret. So I would suggest that you act very, very friendly to any man who approaches you. Do you have any questions?"

"Yes, sir," Sarah said calmly. "How friendly? Do you mean sex?"

"This is a party, Sarah." Peter said with a smile. "Not an orgy. I just want these men to feel good about themselves. Now if you want to make a date to meet someone later, that's your call. It might help your career but I'll leave that up to you."

"What style of dress?" Laura asked numbly.

"Evening gowns," Peter said with a smile. "I would tell you to take extra care to make sure you are most attractive. But that would be silly, in this case. It's hard to imagine either of you being anything else. You're dismissed."

As they got up to leave, Sarah turned to Laura.

"Come on, Laura," Sarah said softly. "I'll take you back to the hotel. I know that you're hurting."

"Go to hell." Laura spat out as she stormed out of the room. "You and I are done."

"Well, Sarah," Peter said with a laugh. "One thing is for sure. She isn't going to be watching your back for a while."

"No sir," Sarah said with a slight smile. "Maybe you could take over for her for a while. How about after the party, we hook up?"

"I'd like that." Peter said with a broad smile of his own.

"I'd like it too." Sarah said seductively. "I promise you a night that you'll never forget."

As Sarah left the office her smile turned sinister as she whispered to herself.


Las Vegas FBI Office:

Sarah and Laura were in the conference room at the FBI office quietly waiting for Beckman to come online.

"Agent Carter," Beckman said as she appeared on the screen and began the conference. "I just want to reassure you that Agent Roberts is fine. The fake CIA paramedics were able to revive him using the antidote. The CPR that Agent Carter administered and his slowed metabolism caused by the drug made sure that he suffered no long term affects. Another corpse was taken to the hospital and pronounced DOA. The substituted is scheduled to be cremated this afternoon. Seth Roberts is officially dead."

"Thank you, ma'am," Laura said with a sigh. "That's a relief. Where is he?"

"He is waiting in your hotel room." Beckman said. "I didn't want him stored at the FBI office in case it is compromised. It is vital that he not leave that room for any reason until we've wrapped this up. Is that clear?"

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said quickly. "It is very clear. Don't worry, ma'am. I'll make sure that he stays put."

"Good," Beckman said. "Did Peter West buy all of this?"

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said with a laugh. "He bought it hook line and sinker. Having Sarah confess the plot to fake his death really sealed it. It was brilliant. I have to say that I was starting to hate Sarah a little myself. She played the stone cold bitch to perfection."

"What do you mean?" Sarah said with a laugh of her own. "I'm pretty sure that I felt a cool breeze of my own when you told me to go to hell."

"Seriously, ma'am," Laura said as her mood suddenly turned more somber. "I want to express my gratitude for your help. I know that you didn't have to do this."

"Well, Laura," Beckman said softly. "You're welcome. We ask a lot of our agents. It's nice to be able to do something in return. But you should really thank Chuck. It was his plan."

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said. "He really is a genius."

"He is," Beckman agreed quietly. "But please tell him that in private. His head is too big as it is. If you know what I mean."

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said with a laugh. "I think I understand."

"Do you think," Laura said as she turned to Sarah. "That I could give him a physical expression of my gratitude without you going postal on me?"

"Maybe," said Sarah softly. "It depends on what you mean by physical. I'm thinking a hug. Your hands stay above his waist and it lasts no more than ten seconds."

"Duly noted." Laura said softly.

"If we could get back to business," Beckman said firmly. "I've made the decision to share some information with you. There are only eight people in the world with this knowledge. The authorization to tell you comes directly from the commander in chief. And this information is to never leave this room. Do you understand?"

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said softly. "It sounds important."

"Terribly," Beckman said. "I hesitate to tell you because the last time that I shared this information it didn't work out too well. But for you to be effective at this party, you'll need to know. I bet that you're wondering why we've assigned our top agent to protect an analyst. Even one as bright as Chuck."

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said with a soft smile. "The thought had crossed my mind."

"Chuck is not an analyst." Beckman said. "He is the human intersect. That makes him the most valuable intelligence asset in the world."

"Chuck is a computer, ma'am?" Laura asked in confusion.

"No," Beckman said with a smile. "For some reason that we don't totally understand, Chuck was able to assimilate all of the intersect data. He can identify that data when he is properly stimulated."

"Wait a minute," Laura said in amazement as she turned to Sarah. "He's your asset? Your relationship is a cover?"

"It started off as a cover." Sarah said with a smile. "But it is real now. Laura, I love him more than I could ever say. Chuck and I are going to be married as soon as possible. And he will be my last assignment."

"I've tolerated this unusual circumstance." Beckman said firmly. "Because of my high regard for Agent Walker and the unbelievable success that they have had as a team. But let me be clear. There is no higher priority then the safety of the intersect, I mean Chuck."

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said firmly. "You can count on me."

"Now that we know the location of the party," Beckman said. "We'll work on a plan to infiltrate. Let's all get together tomorrow at five. We'll go over our plan at that time. Until then, go have some fun. You've certainly earned it. You're dismissed."

As soon as the screen went blank Sarah turned to Laura.

"I guess we need to go shopping for evening gowns." Sarah said with a smile.

"Yup," Laura agreed with a laugh. "Look out Vegas."

"It's too bad that Seth is stuck in your room all night." Sarah said with a smile. "We're in the party capital of the world. How are you going to have any fun?"

"Don't worry, Sarah." Laura said with a sly smile.

"I'll think of something."

Chapter 19: Love is Blind

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Sarah struggled to carry her packages and still open the hotel room door. It had been a very successful morning of shopping. So much so that she had more packages then she could really carry. So it shouldn't have been a surprise when she stumbled coming into the room. Chuck who was sitting at the laptop quickly jumped up to help her.

"Are you ok?" Chuck said in concern as he helped Sarah to her feet.

"I'm fine," Sarah said with a heavy laugh as she allowed Chuck to lift her up. "Clumsy but fine,"

"How much stuff did you buy anyway?" Chuck asked as he started to pick up the packages that had gone flying as Sarah fell.

"Well," Sarah said hesitantly. "We were just going to buy an evening dress for tomorrow night."

"And…" Chuck said with a smile.

"Well," continued Sarah with a laugh. "When Laura and I go shopping, this is usually what happens. I hope that you don't mind."

"Why would I mind?" Chuck asked cautiously.

"I don't know." Sarah said with a smile. "We are going to be married soon. I think that it's fair that we discuss it before either of us spends a lot of money. Don't you think?"

"How much did you spend anyway?" Chuck said in mock horror.

"You said that you were up a couple of thousand gambling." Sarah said with a sly smile. "Well not any more."

"You had a good time." Chuck said softly as he wrapped Sarah in a bear hug. "Didn't you?"

"I really did." Sarah said with a sigh as she returned the embrace. "I missed having Laura to go shopping with. That was always our favorite thing to do. It seemed like old times."

"Then I don't care how much money you spent." Chuck said as he pulled back on the embrace to kiss Sarah gently. "Are you going to show me what you bought?"

"That reminds me." Sarah said with a smile as she pulled away from Chuck and grabbed one of the bags from the bed. "I bought something for you."

"You bought clothes for me?" Chuck said hesitantly.

"Not really," Sarah said with a sly smile. "I'll wear it."

"But it is definitely for you."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Seth was lying on the bed watching Sports Center when Laura came into the room with her own load of packages. Laura dropped her packages on the floor and immediately jumped on the bed and threw her arms around Seth.

"Baby," Laura whispered as tears started to fill her eyes. "Are you ok? How are you feeling?"

"I'm great," Seth said as he wrapped his own arms around Laura. "I'm a little tired. But the doctor said that would wear off in a few hours. Do you think that they bought it?"

"Hook, line, and sinker," Laura said confidently. "You're free. Fulcrum thinks that you're dead."

"That's great." Seth said with a smile. "Thanks."

"You're welcome, baby." Laura said as she kissed him. "You must really be tired."

"Why would you say that?" Seth said.

"Well," Laura replied with a grin. "I've been here for five minutes and I'm still wearing my bra. I think that's a record."

"We'll get to that." Seth said with a smile. "First I want to hear about you and Sarah. Are you two ok?"

"I think we're getting there." Laura said with a happy sigh. "Sarah really sold it today. You should have seen her. She was the ice queen."

"Good casting," Seth said with a smile. "She really came through for me. I would really like to thank her."

"I really don't think that she is going to be too receptive to your style of thanking." Laura said with a giggle. "Besides, if you're going to thank someone, you should thank her boyfriend. It was his plan."

"I think that she might be more receptive then you think." Seth said with a smile. "She was throwing herself at me the other night. It was all I could do to get her out of the room."

"Come on, Seth," Laura said with a laugh. "She was totally playing you. She bugged your cell. They had transcripts of all of our conversations. Sarah knew that you couldn't touch her. That's why she was all over you."

"What!" Seth said with an alarmed laugh. "That teasing bitch. I'm going to get back at her. I guess that means that the three of us together isn't going to happen."

"You can ask her." Laura replied with a giggle. "But I totally wouldn't get my hopes up. She has it bad for this guy."

"Her partner?" Seth asked. "The one that you just had in bed?"

"No," Laura said softly. "They were playing me too. This guy isn't a spook at all. He's pretty much a regular guy. But she is totally into him. I would have never believed that Sarah Walker could fall like that."

"You have to help me get her back." Seth said with a soft laugh. "Baby, you have too. I owe her."

"We'll see." Laura said firmly as she sat up in the bed. "Now do I have to take my own bra off or what?"

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

"It's really a shame." Chuck said breathlessly as he collapsed on his back in exhaustion. "Such an expensive negligee and you didn't even get to wear it that long."

"That's how you measure the value of sexy clothes." Sarah said with a grin as she put her head on Chuck's chest. "By how little time you actually wear them."

"Well then," Chuck said as he began to catch his breath. "You certainly got your monies worth out of this one. Thank you for the present."

"You're so welcome," Sarah said with a sexy smile. "I owe you a present for coming up with today's plan. You're such a genius."

"So," Chuck said. "It worked?"

"Exactly how you said." Sarah said. "He was all over himself buying it. The confession totally sold it."

"Great," Chuck said with a sigh. "I'm glad."

"Laura was going to thank you." Sarah said with a short laugh. "But I thought it would be better this time if it came from me."

"Nice thinking." Chuck said.

"It's not half of the reward that you deserve." Sarah whispered as she reached up to lightly kiss Chuck.

"I think you might want to look around." Chuck said with a laugh. "I'm in one of the swankiest hotels on the Las Vegas strip. I'm in bed with the most beautiful girl I've ever seen."

Sarah smiled at that.

"And, oh my God," Chuck continued as he arched his eyebrows and lifted the sheet a little. "She's naked."

Sarah tried her best to keep from laughing but was totally unsuccessful.

"I'm thinking I'm pretty lucky."

"Stop," Sarah said with a twinkle in her eye as she struggled to control her laughter and playfully slapped Chuck in the chest. "I'm pretty lucky too."

"So, what are we going to do tonight?" Chuck said as he rubbed Sarah's back.

"Anything you want," Sarah said happily. "We have the rest of the night off."

"Do you think we could hang out with Casey for a while?" Chuck asked softly. "I mean if you don't mind."

"Casey," Sarah asked in surprise.

"I feel kind of bad for him." Chuck said as he smiled at Sarah. "I don't want him to feel like a third wheel. Maybe you could talk to him for a while. You know, agent to agent."

"Chuck," Sarah said with a huge grin. "Are you asking me to flirt with Casey?"

"Not flirt," Chuck said quickly. "I didn't mean flirt at all. Just make sure that he knows how much we value him."

"Wow," said Sarah as her grin transformed into a look of total admiration. "You really are the nicest man in the world."

"I know," Chuck said with a grin. "I think that deserves another reward, don't you?"

"Absolutely," Sarah whispered as she pulled the sheet over their heads.

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

It was now Seth and Laura's turn to catch their breaths. As they lay in the spoon position, they were content to just enjoy the moment for several minutes. Finally Laura felt calm enough to speak.

"Thank you," Laura whispered as she clutched Seth's arm that was wrapped around her and used it to draw him closer. "I really missed that. It's been a long time."

"Can we talk?" Seth said softly as he kissed Laura on the shoulder.

"You're ready for round two already?" Laura said with a smile as she turned quickly to face Seth.

"In a minute," Seth said much more seriously then Laura had expected. As she saw the look that Seth was giving her, Laura's face took on a concerned look of its own.

"Baby, what is it?" Laura finally whispered.

"I just want you to know that I get it." Seth whispered as tears started to fill his eyes. "I understand what you just risked for me. And I want you to know that I'll never forget it."

Laura just nodded for Seth to continue.

"And I also know," Seth continued softly. "That whatever you would call me, friend, boyfriend, lover, partner, whatever it is, I've been lousy at it. I hope that you will give me the chance to do better. I really want to. I guess I'm trying to say that I love you."

"I love you, too," Laura said as the tears started to flow down her cheeks. "I would also like to do a better job. I know that we are never going to be a traditional husband and wife. But whatever we are going to be, I want it to be together."

"I'd like that." Seth said with a smile. "You know I don't think I've ever seen you cry before."

"Don't get used to it." Laura replied with a laugh through her tears. "Are you ready for round two now?"

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Sarah was fairly surprised when Laura knocked on the door and said that Seth would like to talk to her. Sarah was pretty sure that she was the last person that Seth would want to see. But Laura was insistent when Sarah told her no. Finally, when it really came down to it, it was the pleading in Laura's voice that made Sarah reluctantly agree. So here she was, knocking on the door to Seth's room.

"Hi," Seth said with a pensive smile as he opened the door to let her in.

Sarah cautiously entered the room. Figuring that it would be best to control the agenda, Sarah was the first to speak.

"Laura said that you wanted to see me." Sarah said firmly. "What do you want?"

"I just want to make sure that you are going to be ok." Seth said. "I don't know. I sort of feel responsible with us being married and all. Are you going to be ok?"

"I'm going to be fine." Sarah said with a slight smile. "Come on, Seth. We really haven't been married for a long time. What is this really about?"

"I just need to hear it from your lips." Seth said softly. "Tell me that you're still not in love with me. I need you to tell me so I can move on."

"I'm not in love with you." Sarah said with a broader smile. "I'm in love with Chuck."

"Ok," Seth said as his face broke out into a smile of his own and he held out his arms as an invitation. "I want to wish you the best."

Sarah looked at Seth's open arms with skepticism.

"Seth," Sarah said in a warning tone. "If you put your hand inside my blouse, I'm going to break every finger that I can grab."

"Come on, Sarah," Seth said softly as his eyes started to water. "I was your husband for a little while anyway. Let me wish you well."

Sarah should have been more careful when she stepped into Seth's open arms. She just didn't consider him a threat. So she didn't feel the cold metal of the hand cuff until it was already secured on her wrist. Using the secured hand as leverage Seth was able, with more skill then she gave him credit for, to force her arm behind her back and secure her other wrist.

"What are you doing?" Sarah screamed as she tried to throw a kick at Seth. But he was too quick for her. With hers arms secured behind her back it was fairly easy for Seth to push her into a chair and fasten her cuffs to the back. He quickly taped her legs to the legs of the chair. Sarah tried to kick herself free but in her helpless condition she was no match for the powerful man.

"Relax," Seth said calmly after he was satisfied that Sarah was totally secured.

"Why are you doing this?" Sarah said breathlessly as she looked around the room looking for any advantage.

"Come on, Sarah." Seth said with a cruel laugh. "Are you really this stupid? Did you think that Fulcrum was going to pass up a chance at getting the intersect?"

"You'll never get away with this." Sarah cried as she racked her brain to think of any possible escape.

"On the contrary," Seth said with an evil smile. "I'm pretty sure that we will. You see Laura is taking the intersect right now. He thinks that they are going to pick up Agent Casey at another hotel. He trusts her so she'll easily be able to get him in the car without arousing any suspicion."

"No," whispered Sarah with tears starting to form. "Please."

"He will be off the grid and in a Fulcrum secure facility with the hour." Seth said confidently. "Beckman isn't expecting you for over twenty four hours. By the time they even start looking, he could be anywhere in the world."

"Seth, please," Sarah said with tears streaming down her face. "Please help me. I'll do anything."

"I like the sound of that." Seth said with as he leered at Sarah. "You're never going to see him again. That's for sure."

"Chuck," Sarah whispered as she shook her head frantically.

"But I might be talked into letting you live." Seth said as he began to unbutton Sarah's blouse. "Depending, of course, on how much cooperation I get. We are married after all."

"Chuck," Sarah cried in anguish as Seth continued his effort.

"Relax," Seth said firmly. "It's over. Just do the smart thing. Sit there and when I'm done move on."

"Chuck," Sarah screamed as loud as she could.

Suddenly Chuck was shaking her awake. Sarah was lying on the bed next to him.

Sarah sat up in the bed with a start.

"Sweetie," Chuck said softly. "Are you ok? You must have fallen asleep while we were cuddling."

Sarah took a moment to figure out where she was. Once she realized that it was only a bad dream and that Chuck was safe, she wrapped her arms around his neck tightly.

"Sweetie," Chuck said softly as he hugged Sarah close. "You're shaking. What happened?"

"Bad dream," Sarah whispered as she continued to cling to Chuck. "Please hold me."

Just them Casey came bursting in the door. Chuck had to quickly pull the sheet over them.

"I heard her screaming." Casey said quickly as he diverted his eyes. "What's wrong?"

"She just had a bad dream." Chuck said with a smile as he continued to hold Sarah.

"Roger that," Casey said as he returned Chuck's smile. "I've give you two a minute. Meet me in the casino when you're ready and we'll go to dinner."

Chuck nodded at Casey and began to rub Sarah's back as she sobbed.

"No hurry," Casey said softly to Chuck as he closed the door behind him.

Chapter 20: The Rivals

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Sarah, Chuck, and Casey were sitting in a booth having a sandwich. It was a little too early for a huge dinner but they were hungry. So they decided to grab a snack and wait and have a late supper after doing some gambling. All three were in a great mood. Long gone was any remnant of Sarah's bad dream. She had a huge smile on her face. And when Sarah smiled, it was hard to see it and not be in a good mood. Since agents didn't get many opportunities to relax, the ones they did come across were always taken advantage of. Casey and Sarah were engaged in their newest favorite pastime. Trying to one up the other about past missions.

"There is not much more important," Casey said with a smirk. "Then flying a Stealth Bomber. Do you know that they carry up to six nuclear weapons?"

"I don't know about that." Sarah replied with her eyes shinning. "But there was the time when our missile launch codes were compromised and I had to go under cover to retrieve them. They could have launched our entire missile fleet. It would have started World War III."

Casey knew when he was beat so he simply smiled and turned to the casino to check out the sights.

Chuck felt sorry for Casey and decided to help him.

"Under cover or under the covers," Chuck asked softly with a grin.

"Yea, Walker," Casey said, suddenly emboldened to resume the sport. "Tell us. How many missiles did you have to make… umm… stand down anyway?"

"That's classified," Sarah said with a laugh.

"And you," Sarah said as she rolled her eyes at Chuck in laughter. "Are getting entirely too cocky for your own good. Don't you remember our talk about paybacks?"

The entire table was laughing so hard that they didn't notice Laura until she was slipping into the empty seat next to Casey.

"Hey guys," Laura said as she smiled at their laughter. "Why are you in such a good mood?"

"We have the night off for a change." Sarah as she tried to control her laughing. "Where is Seth?"

"He's sleeping." Laura said. "I guess dying earlier today really tired him out."

"And that's all?" Sarah said skeptically. "There is no other possible reason that he might be tired?"

"Ok," Laura said with a sly smile. "I may have had something to do with it."

"Wait a minute." Chuck said softly. "You mean to say that you just had sex with this woman's husband? And you're bragging about it to her face?"

Laura didn't know how to react so she simply starred meekly at the distance. Suddenly the entire table erupted in laughter.

"Don't mind Chuck," Sarah said as she laughed. "He's looking for trouble."

"And he just found it." Laura said she joined the laughter in relief. "As long as Seth is sleeping I thought I would come down here and see what you guys were up too."

And what they were up too was having a good time. Chuck had never seen Casey in anything close to this good a mood that didn't involve a gun of some kind. Of course it didn't hurt that he was up a couple hundred at Blackjack. And it certainly didn't hurt that he was with the two most beautiful women in the city. Since Laura was a natural flirt and she knew that she better not direct any of that Chuck's way, Casey got the full treatment. Not that he complained.

The two couples laughed their way around the casino. At first they played Blackjack. Then they tried Craps for a while. Eventually they wound up at the slots. Chuck had long since introduced Sarah to his favorite drink in Vegas, the Mai Tai. Chuck knew that there was no way to talk Casey into drinking anything other than Scotch. So that left Laura. After a fair amount of convincing he finally got her to try one. It became a running joke between them when she actually liked it. So Chuck insisted that he get the drinks for the rest of the night.

On one of his trips to the bar to fetch another round, Chuck locked eyes with a tall man with curly dark hair similar in color to his. That's when he flashed on the Fulcrum agent.

As Chuck was carrying the tray of drinks back to the other's Laura got up from her slot machine to help him. She noticed the look of alarm on Chuck's face right away.

"What's wrong?" Laura said softly as she walked up to Chuck.

"See that tall man sitting at the bar with the red shirt?" Chuck asked.

"Grey slacks?" Laura said as she picked out the man that Chuck indicated.

"Yes," Chuck said softly. "He's Fulcrum."

Laura immediately switched into agent mode as she quickly scanned the room for possible threats.

"How do you know?"

"It's what I do." Chuck responded sadly. "Trust me. He is definitely Fulcrum."

"Has he identified you?" Laura asked softly.

"I don't think so." Chuck replied.

"Go tell Sarah and Casey." Laura said firmly as she headed towards the bar. "I'm going to see if I can find out what our new friend is up too."

Sarah was playing a bonus on her slot machine when Chuck walked up so she didn't turn to look at him.

"What was Laura whispering to you?" Sarah said with a smile as she kept her eyes fixed on the slot machine. "I know that you're looking for trouble tonight but you're not trying to make me jealous again, are you?"

"I just flashed." Chuck whispered. "There is a Fulcrum agent at the bar."

That immediately got Sarah's total attention as she stood and quickly scanned the room for threats.

"Where is Laura?" Sarah asked as she gently pulled Chuck behind her.

"She is going to try and find out what he is doing here." Chuck whispered.

"Could you tell what he was doing?" Sarah asked as she started to pull Chuck towards Casey. "Do you think that he recognized you?"

"He was just sitting at the bar having a drink." Chuck said while shaking his head. "He couldn't even see us from where he was sitting. He didn't look that he recognized me but you can never be sure with you spy types."

Casey was alerted immediately by the tone of Sarah's voice that something was up.

"What's our status?" he said softly.

"Chuck just flashed on a Fulcrum agent at the bar." Sarah said quickly. "It's probably just a coincidence but we've been way too sloppy. Laura is trying to make friends with him to figure out what he's up too. Why don't you take Chuck up to your room and I'll stay here in case Laura needs a hand."

"No way," Casey said firmly. "The last thing we can afford is for them to see you two together. They think that you hate each other, remember?"

"What do you want to do?" Sarah said in a frustrated whisper.

"Here," Casey said as he handed Sarah his room key. "Take Chuck and hang out in my room. It will be the one that's least likely to be compromised. Wake Seth up and get him in the room with you. I'll stay down here and keep an eye on Laura and her new boyfriend."

"Chuck," Sarah said softly. "I need you to look carefully at every person that you can see. Tell me if you flash on anyone."

"I've already been doing that." Chuck said with a smile. "Nothing so far."

"Ok let's go." Sarah said as she gently grabbed Chuck's arm and led him towards the elevators. Chuck's response caused Sarah to stop in her tracks. She was so surprised that she had to ask Chuck to repeat himself. The second time she hear it was no less traumatic.

"It looks like I'm finally going to meet this Seth."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Casey quickly found a slot machine that gave him a view of the bar. He could see Laura standing a few yards away with her back seemingly turned to the bar.

Laura waited patiently until the Fulcrum agent was getting up from his seat at the bar. While his back was turned she quickly walked up behind him. When the agent turned to leave he ran smack into Laura. Laura pretended to fall backwards and grabbed the man's shirt to steady herself. The agent's arms instinctively went around Laura to keep her from falling. As their chests came together, Laura made sure that her blouse opened by the friction of his shirt afforded him a very clear view. An opportunity that she quickly noticed he was taking full advantage of. Putting on her most dazzling smile Laura finally spoke.

"I'm so sorry. Are you ok?" Laura cooed as she batted her eyes innocently. The look she got back from the Fulcrum agent told her everything that she needed to know. She now had a date for the evening. Or for as long as she wanted it.

Casey, who had watched the whole scene as a not so innocent bystander, had to smile. Casey almost felt sorry for the Fulcrum agent. Men were simply defenseless against such a weapon. And she knew it. All Casey had to do was wait while she worked her magic. He just hoped he wouldn't run out of cash to feed the slot machine before Laura had the poor guy singing like a canary.

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

As soon as Sarah closed the door to Casey's room behind her and Chuck she turned to him.

"I'm going to go get Seth." Sarah said in a pleading tone. "Sweetie, please don't start anything with him."

"Why not?" Chuck asked calmly. "I've been wanting to know how he knows what you can do with a tennis ball. And why he feels free to share his knowledge with every man he speaks too."

"Sweetie, please." Sarah whispered as she threw her arms around Chuck's neck. "I know that I ask a lot of you but I'm asking you. Please don't start anything tonight. Will you please do that for me?"

"Sarah," Chuck said softly as he rubbed her back. "What's really going on here? You're shaking. Why don't you want me to meet this man?"

"Honestly?" Sarah whispered. As she pulled back to look into Chuck's eyes he could notice the tears that were filling her eyes.

"Of course," Chuck whispered. "You know that you can tell me anything. Do you still have feelings for him?"

"Of course not, silly." Sarah said as a smile quickly replaced her tears. "How could you even ask me that question?"


"I'm embarrassed." Sarah quickly added. "That's why I don't want you to meet him. You're going to be asking yourself how I could have possibly married this guy."

"Why did you?"

"I don't know." Sarah said sadly as she looked to the floor. "That's why I'm embarrassed."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Casey could see Laura and the Fulcrum agent sitting at a table just off the bar. Laura was just laughing at something. As she laughed, Casey saw her hand casually come to rest on the agent's knee. As Laura leaned forward to embrace the agent, she motioned to Casey behind his back to come to her. Casey cashed out his slot machine and cautiously began to walk towards them. When Casey was about ten feet away, Laura pretended to notice him.

"Jim, there you are." Laura said loudly as she got up to take Casey's hand and led him to the table.

"Andy," Laura said in an excited voice. "I'd like you to meet my husband, Jim. Jim, this is my new friend Andy."

Casey had to work to keep from breaking down laughing at the look of disappointment in the agent's face. Instead he forced a smile to his own face.

"Nice to meet you Andy." Casey said as he extended his hand warmly. "Has she been talking your ear off? She gets like that when she's drinking."

"I did not." Laura said with a pout as she put her hand on the agent's shoulder. "Tell him, Andy."

"No," the agent replied as he stood up to leave. "She's been great. But I have to get going. I'm running late for a meeting."

"Oh Andy," Laura said with a pout as she grabbed his hand. "Please don't rush off. We were having such a good time."

"I'm sorry," the agent replied hastily as he nodded to Casey. "I'm supposed to meet some other people and I'm late. It was really nice to meet you both."

At that, the agent made a hasty retreat. Casey waited until he was out of sight before he started laughing. He didn't have long to wait as the agent quickly moved to the exit without a backwards glance.

"That's just pain cruel." Casey said as he laughed. "I actually thought he was going to cry."

"He really thought he was going to get lucky." Laura said with a laugh of her own. "Didn't he?"

"What did you find out?" Casey asked while he was still laughing. "Other than the obvious, I mean."

"I don't think he knows anything about us." Laura said softly with a smile. "He has the hots for one of the cocktail waitresses here. But by the look on her face when she was leaving, I think he took a major step backwards."

"So," Casey said. "He had a bad night all the way around."

"Very bad," said Laura. "Speaking of bad times, let's get upstairs. I think we need to rescue Sarah from Chuck and Seth."

"Let's give them a minute." Casey said as he sat down in the seat that the agent had been sitting in. "Let's have a drink."

Casey could see the question in Laura's eyes as she hesitantly sat down.

"Chuck's had a bad week." Casey explained. "And once you get past the wanting to kill him for being so annoying part, he's actually a pretty good kid. He deserves his shot at Seth. Don't you think?"

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Sarah was only gone for a few seconds before she opened the door dragging the man that Chuck had flashed on in the Buy More a few days ago. He looked like he was still half asleep. He was dressed in pajama bottoms and a t-shirt.

"Seth," Sarah said after taking a big breath. "I would like you to meet my fiancé, Chuck Bartowski."

"Chuck, this is Seth."

Chapter 21: The Love Story

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Chuck tentatively held out his hand to the man that Sarah had just introduced him to. Seth yawned for a moment before he finally took Chuck's hand.

"Finally," Seth said as a smile came to his face. "I finally get to meet the man who is screwing my wife."

Chuck could see Sarah visibly wince as she was standing behind Seth.

"Congratulations," Seth said warmly.

"Congratulations?" Chuck repeated in a confused tone.

"For bagging such a hottie," Seth said with a laugh as he turned to Sarah. "I mean, come on Chuck. Look at her. Tell me that you know of any man who wouldn't want to hit that."

"And we both know," Seth turned back to Chuck with a wink. "How very good she is. Right, Chuck?"

Chuck looked past Seth to look at Sarah. He could see the pleading in her eyes as the tears started to fill them.

"Please," she mouthed silently to him.

Trying to control his anger, Chuck smiled at Sarah to reassure her as he turned to Seth.

"She is a total babe." Chuck said with a smile. "Isn't she?"

Total," Seth said in agreement. "You don't know how hard it was for me to keep my hands off her when she was in my bed the other night."

"That's the first thing I noticed about her too." Chuck said softly, willing his smile to stay in place. "I mean, that's the first thing that you see, right?"

Seth nodded with a derisive laugh.

"But now, Seth," Chuck continued. "I have to say that I'm ashamed of myself."

"Ashamed?" Seth asked with a leer. "What did you do?"

"I thought of her as an object." Chuck said sadly. "I wanted her before she had even said hello to me. And I feel terrible about that. Do you know why, Seth?"

Seth simply shook his head.

"Because I totally underestimated her," Chuck said with a smile. "Sarah Walker is the most amazing person that I've ever met. She got me through the toughest period of my life. She not only protected me physically, Seth. She protected me emotionally. She let me into her life when she didn't have to. She became my best friend. She cheers me up when I'm down. She makes fun of me when I get too cocky. She is always there for me. And even now, in this very uncomfortable moment, I'm ok. Because she is here with me."

Seth smiled at Chuck as if he was joking.

"And even after I totally fell in love with her," Chuck continued. "She kept protecting me. She kept denying her own happiness to make sure that I was safe."

"Do you know the happiest moment of my life?" Chuck asked.

"Not really," Seth said as he shook his head. "But I have to believe it was the first time that you got her in bed."

"No," Chuck said with a soft smile. "It wasn't. I was being held for ransom. I was bound and gagged in a dark room. I had been sitting there for over ten hours. They were getting ready to kill me. And then I heard Sarah Walker tell me over the radio that she loved me for the first time. I could have floated out of that room, Seth. And my feet haven't touched the ground since."

Chuck looked over at Sarah and could see her eyes shining.

"I came in here really looking to dislike you." Chuck said with a grin. "But now I just feel sorry for you."

"Sorry?" Seth asked.

"You had a chance to get to know the most amazing person in the world." Chuck said. "And you let it slip right through your fingers. All you can see is the blonde hair, the blue eyes and the perfect body. But that's only the surface of Sarah. You've had her in bed. But you'll never know the person inside. And that's one thousand times better. I'll tell you one thing, Seth. As long as she'll have me, I'm never, ever, ever going to let her go. I'm not going to spend a single minute that she doesn't know how much I treasure her."

"Wow," said Seth with a sharp breath. "That was quite a speech."

"I'm the luckiest man in the world, Seth." Chuck said.

It was at that moment when Casey and Laura entered the room.

"I've tried to be civil here." Chuck said firmly as he grabbed Sarah's hand and walked towards the door. "I mean you were married. But now hearing you speak. I'm going to have to insist that you stay away from her. She doesn't deserve to be disrespected like that."

"And just what are you going to do?" Seth said in a menacing tone.

"I'm not going to do anything." Chuck said with a laugh as he pulled Sarah out of the door. "I'm just going to let Sarah kick your ass."

Chuck's eyes met Casey's as he looked back over his shoulder. The almost imperceptible nod told him that he had Casey's approval.

"I'm pretty sure that she would do that for me."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

As soon as Chuck and Sarah were back in their room, Chuck turned to her.

"I'm sorry," Chuck said softly. "I know that you didn't want me to start anything with him. I just couldn't let him talk about you like that. I had to let him know how precious you are to me."

Sarah stood looking at Chuck with her lip quivering, unable to speak.

"Are you mad at me?" Chuck said.

Still unable to speak, Sarah shook her head as the tears started to flow in earnest down her cheeks. Suddenly she threw herself into Chuck's arms. It was a long time before Sarah could do anything except sob. Chuck gently rubbed Sarah's back as he waited for her to regain her composure.

"Did you mean it?" Sarah finally whispered as she continued to cling to Chuck's neck.

"I meant every word." Chuck said softly as he wrapped his arms tightly around her. "Listening to Seth made me realize something that I've been taking for granted. I'm so, so sorry if I act like a pig around you. I need you to know how much I value you in my life."

That started the flow of tears again. Finally after a long moment, Sarah pulled her head back and smashed her mouth against Chuck's. As soon as the lengthy kiss broke she smiled at him.

"Thank you." Sarah whispered as she smiled. "What you said to Seth is the nicest thing anybody has ever done for me in my whole life. I've never really felt loved before. Thank you for that."

"I do love you." Chuck said with a smile as he gently touched his lips to Sarah's. "I'm sorry that I don't tell you that enough. Thank you for being there for me."

"I love you." Sarah said with a growing smile. "And just for the record, I've never felt like you were acting like a pig."

"Trust me," Chuck said as he gently kissed Sarah again. "Sometimes I've been thinking like a pig."

"Like when?" Sarah asked with a broader smile.

"Please don't make me tell you." Chuck whispered. "I'd be too embarrassed."

"That just proves that you're not a pig." Sarah whispered back. "A pig wouldn't be embarrassed. Trust me, I've been around a lot of pigs. I even married one. You're not a pig, Chuck."

"I know." Chuck said with a sigh. "But I'm sorry anyway. I promise to do better. I need to prove it to you. How about tonight if we just cuddle?"

Sarah firmly pushed Chuck onto the bed. She stood grinning at him as she began to unbutton her blouse.

"Maybe tomorrow,"

Las Vegas FBI Office:

Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Laura sat in the conference room waiting for Beckman to come online to begin the briefing. Sarah and Laura were in their evening gowns. Needless to say, they both looked breathtaking. Casey and Chuck were just dressed casually.

Chuck, Sarah," Laura said softly as she looked at the table. "I just want to apologize for whatever Seth said to you last night. I could tell by the look on your faces that it must have been bad."

"It wasn't good." Sarah said with a smile.

"Seth is not a bad person, Chuck." Laura said with a sigh. "I know it must look that way to you. But he's really not. Stupid maybe, but not bad. He just doesn't get how regular people think. I hope he didn't ruin your evening."

"No…" Chuck began.

"Actually," Sarah interrupted with raised eyebrows. "I think that Seth caused Chuck to have quite an extraordinary evening. Wouldn't you agree sweetie?"

Casey very conspicuously groaned before Chuck could answer. Casey was spared whatever zinger Chuck had planned for him as Beckman took that instant on come online.

"Ok people," Beckman said in her most businesslike tone. "Let's get started."

As usual, when Beckman was speaking, all eyes snapped to the screen and all previous conversation stopped.

"It is vital that we identify these Fulcrum leaders." Beckman said. "So I have arraigned for Chuck to pose as a bartender. He will be wearing a wire and an earpiece. Laura and Sarah, your job will be to bring as many men to the bar as possible. As soon as Chuck flashes on anybody he will relay the names to Agent Casey who will be on the phone with me."

"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said.

"Sarah and Laura can wear wires." Beckman said. "But we had better not risk earpieces."

"Yes, ma'am," Laura said in a puzzled tone. "But aren't we going to try and arrest these men?"

"No, Agent Carter." Beckman said with a smile. "That would be far too dangerous. And it really isn't necessary. All of these Fulcrum leaders are probably fairly prominent people. Once we identify them it should be very easy to arrest them individually in a week or so. That way they won't be able to tie in the arrests with the party and they will have no reason to suspect you or Agent Walker."

"So, ma'am," Casey said. "We just lay low?"

"Precisely," Beckman said. "It is very important that we get Chuck out of there at the first sign of trouble. The last thing we can have is for him to fall into Fulcrum hands. Chuck's safety is tonight's top priority. Is that understood?"

"Yes, ma'am," Casey said briskly.

"But, ma'am," Sarah said softly. "What are we going to do about Peter West? He is the only one who will be able to connect Laura and I to the party."

"Yes, Agent Walker," Beckman said. "I see your point. We will have to deal with him. Does anyone have any ideas?"

Even though Beckman had asked the whole group, all of the eyes in the room instantly turned to Chuck.

"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said with a smile. "I think I know what to do."

"Ok, Chuck," Beckman said with a smile that she was unsuccessfully trying to hide. "Let's hear it."

"We'll give him a night that he'll never forget." Chuck said with a grin.

"It will be a pig's fantasy."

Las Vegas FBI Office:

Chuck quickly changed into his bartender's uniform while the rest of the team was getting fitted with their wires and earpieces. Casey was disguised as a limo driver and he was going to drive Laura to the party. Sarah was going to ride in another limo. Chuck was going to ride in a taxi. Just as Chuck was about finished getting dressed, Sarah opened the door and came in with a smile.

"Hi sweetie," Sarah said softly as she handed Chuck his earpiece. As he inserted it into his ear, Sarah gently unbuttoned Chuck's shirt enough to tape the wire to his chest.

"Don't worry about a thing." Sarah said as she touched her lips to Chuck's. "Laura and I are going to be flirting like crazy to get as many men past you as we can."

"I know," Chuck said with a smile.

"But the only guy I'm going to have any eyes for," Sarah said as she kissed Chuck again. "Will be behind the bar."

"Tell me," Chuck said with a silly grin as he took in Sarah's appearance. "Just where would you hide a wire in that outfit?"

"Play your cards right," Sarah said with a sly grin as she kissed Chuck again. "And after we're done I might just show you. I want you to remember that and stay safe."

"I know," Chuck said softly. "I do. And I want you to stay safe too. We're a team, you know?"

"Yup," said Sarah with a smile. "And you know that I would never let anyone hurt you."

"Me either." Chuck said as he smiled at the surprise on Sarah's face.

Chapter 22: The Pig

Las Vegas FBI Office:

Chuck and Sarah were in their private room waiting for the time to leave for the party. They had also just about gotten down to the point of some serious necking when Casey's voice crackled over Chuck's earpiece.

"You do realize," Casey growled sarcastically. "Being a genius and all. That you are both wearing wires. I'm listening to every sound that you make. Are you really trying to make me nauseous before a mission? That hardly seems prudent."

"Come on Casey," Chuck said with a smile as he acknowledged the growing smirk on Sarah's face. "Surely you've been subjected to more vigorous torture than this before."

Chuck was grateful that Sarah wasn't wearing an earpiece. At least she wouldn't be subjected to Casey's profanity filled response.

"Laura and I are leaving now." Casey finally ended his tirade. "Give us twenty minutes and then you can leave. That way we won't show up at the same time."

"Tell Sarah," Laura's voice interjected. "That as soon as I get there I'll find West and implement our post party incentive."

"We have twenty minutes." Chuck said to Sarah as he looked at his watch. "Laura wants you to know that she is going to talk to Peter West as soon as she gets there. Oh, and Casey wants us to know that he doesn't appreciate our pillow talk."

"I'll see if I can be a little quieter." Sarah whispered as she kissed Chuck gently.

Quickly the intensity of the kissing increased until they were really going at it. It wasn't very long at all before Sarah could feel Chuck's hand slide into her top.

"Are you looking for the wire?" Sarah asked with a smile as her eyes sparkled. "Because you're not that close. Trust me. That's the first place that this crowd would look."

"Maybe," Chuck said with a grin of his own. "But maybe, I'm just trying to prove to you that I can be a pig."

"You're not a pig, sweetie." Sarah said softly with a grin after another long kiss broke. "You're just trying to build up my self esteem before an important mission. Thank you."

"Wow," said Chuck with a short laugh. "I really can't do anything wrong with you, can I?"

"One thing that you could do," Sarah whispered. "Would be to put yourself in danger tonight. I want to make myself perfectly clear. I love you more than I ever thought I was even capable of. But if you do anything stupid tonight…"

Chuck's eyes told her to continue.

"You'll be sleeping on the couch for a long time."

Las Vegas - Limo:

"Ok," Casey said as he drove Laura's limo to the party site. "Let's go over this one last time. Chuck will be behind the bar pouring champagne. You and Sarah will try and drag as many men over to him as possible. If Chuck flashes, he'll relay the information to me."

"What does a flash look like?" Laura said curiously.

"It's hard to describe." Casey said with a laugh. "It's sort of like someone trying to hold in a sneeze."

"Will he be conspicuous?" Laura said. "Should I do something to distract the mark's attention?"

"No," Casey said calmly. "Bartowski has gotten pretty good at hiding his flashes. But remember. Chuck's safety is our top priority. At the first sign of trouble, I'm getting him out of there. If you see him missing, that means either we've aborted or we've identified all six regional commanders. Get out of there as safely as you can and we'll meet back up at headquarters."

"Sounds like a plan." Laura smiled at Casey through the rear view mirror. "Don't worry about me. I could do this in my sleep."

When the limo arrived at the ballroom, Casey pulled right up to the front door. He quickly got out of the car and walked to open the door for Laura, shooing away the valet with an intimidating look.

"Good luck," Casey whispered to Laura as he extended his hand to help her out of the car."

Laura kept her gaze directed at the ballroom entrance. Her lips never moved. But clearly through his earpiece Casey heard Laura's soft voice.

"I don't believe in luck."

Las Vegas – Undisclosed Party Location:

As soon as Laura entered the ballroom she went looking for Peter West. She found him talking to the hotel coordinator about some last minute details for the party. Laura waited patiently until his conversation was over and then walked up to him with her most dazzling smile.

"Laura," West said with a smile of his own as he saw her approach. "I'm so happy that you could make it."

"Thank you for inviting me, sir." Laura said as she reached in to kiss West's cheek. "I know that you're busy but do you think I could have just a minute in private?"

West quickly led Laura to a small private room.

"What can I do for you?" West said as soon as the door was closed.

"I'm sorry to bother you, sir." Laura said softly as she directed her most seductive smile. "But I just wanted to make sure that you know how eager I am to prove my value to you and the organization. I know that you have a thing for Sarah. And she's very pretty. I'm just hoping that you will give me a chance."

"You two are pretty competitive." West said. "Isn't that right?"

"Yes sir,"

"You are stunning in that dress." West said as he looked at Laura from head to toe.

"Thank you, sir." Laura said as she kept her smile. "I've been told that I'm not bad out of it as well. Please give me a chance to prove it to you."

"Laura," West said with a smile as he opened the door to leave. "Of course you'll get a chance. How about tonight after the party I'll get a room at the Monte Carlo and you can meet me there just like last time. Say midnight?"

"I'll be there." Laura said eagerly. "I'll see you then, sir. Thank you."

Las Vegas – Undisclosed Party Location:

Chuck had the cab pull around to the service entrance. As soon as he paid the driver, he walked towards the entrance.

"I sure hope nobody actually asks me to make a drink." Chuck said, more to himself than anybody.

"You're pouring glasses of Champagne, moron." came Casey's instant reply. "How hard could it be? A trained chimp could do it."

"Well," said Chuck with a fake yawn. "It's a skill. Like anything else."

Las Vegas – Undisclosed Party Location:

Sarah entered the ballroom about ten minutes after Laura left the conversation with Peter West. She immediately went looking for Peter West herself. She found him standing near the bar with what looked to be a gin and tonic. As Sarah approached him she forced her most seductive smile on her face. She was very grateful that Chuck wasn't yet on duty to have to witness this. It was enough that he had to hear it.

"Sarah," West said as she walked up. "You look simply ravishing."

"Thank you, sir." Sarah said as a blush started up her neck. "Do you think I could have a word in private?"

"Of course," West said with a smile as he led her to the very same room that he had just been in with Laura ten minutes ago. "What's on your mind?"

"Well, sir," Sarah began shyly as she nervously licked her lips. "I wanted to ask you for a favor."

"Ask away," West said with a smile.

"I think that you know how ambitious I am." Sarah said softly as she put her head on West's chest. "I think that we have sort of a connection. And I know this wasn't part of our deal but I was hoping that you could point out a couple of the regional commanders to me. It would really give me a leg up in impressing them."

"Wow, Sarah," West said with a grin. "I don't know. Their identities are supposed to be secret. You're asking an awful lot of me."

"I know," whispered Sarah as she put her arms around West's neck and kissed him. "But I would be so grateful. I'm sure that I could find a way to pay you back."

"Ok," said West as he wrapped his hands around Sarah's waist and kissed her again. "You're far too pretty to say no to. Here is what I'll do. When I introduce you to a regional commander, I'll say that you're excited to be here. That will be your tip off."

"Thank you, sir."

"I'll have a room at the Monte Carlo after the party." West said as he lowered his hands to Sarah's hips suggestively. "Let's say midnight?"

"I'll see you then." Sarah said happily. "Get ready for a night you'll always remember."

"And Sarah," West said as he opened the door. "I'll have a special surprise waiting for you. I'm sure that you'll like it."

As soon as West left the room, Sarah spoke knowing that Chuck would be able to hear her.

"Now see, sweetie," she said softly with a sad smile.

"That's a pig."

Las Vegas – Undisclosed Party Location:

Chuck quickly found out that pouring champagne wasn't quite as easy as he had hoped. It really wasn't the pouring that was hard. It was getting the damn bottles open without shooting the cork across the room. More than once he caused his fellow tenders to scatter in terror. It was getting to be a long night. Sarah and Laura kept bringing men past him and he flashed on almost every one. He had already identified five of the six regional commanders and countless other Fulcrum big shots. Not to mention that he had also identified about one hundred hands on Sarah's ass.

"How can she stand there smiling," said Chuck to himself. "While all of these men are pawing her and making passes at her."

All of which he could plainly hear over her wire. Chuck was getting a serious headache from all the flashing. He was tired of being on his feet. And he wanted to get Sarah out of there. He was really looking forward to finding that last commander so they could call it a night.

Chuck had heard Sarah get propositioned so many times tonight that he was beginning to tune it out. So it barely registered with him when he heard a voice ask Sarah if she would like to take a walk. Chuck quickly looked around the main room for her. He just caught a glimpse of her dress as she disappeared out of the room. He could still hear her breathing over the wire but there was no speaking.

Suddenly he heard Sarah's voice.

"What are you doing?" The alarm in her voice was evident.

The next sound was the unmistakable noise made when a handgun was racked.

"Well, hello, Agent Walker," a strange woman's voice said. "Just how stupid do you think that we are?"

Las Vegas – Undisclosed Party Location:

Sarah stood in a room with four men and the one woman. All of the men held handguns.

"Have a seat, Agent Walker." the woman said harshly.

"I don't know what you mean." Sarah said with a smile as she sat down in the chair indicated. "My name is Sarah Anderson."

Sarah didn't see the slap coming so it registered with full force.

"You must really think that we're stupid." said the unknown woman who was obviously in charge. "Do you really think that anyone in the Washington intelligence community wouldn't recognize the famous Sarah Walker?"

The men quickly handcuffed Sarah's hands behind her back and secured them to the back of the chair. They then quickly tied her legs to the legs of the chair.

"Agent Walker," the woman said. "I'm going to ask you once nicely. "What are you doing here?"

"I don't know what you mean." Sarah said softly as she forced tears into her eyes. "My name is Sarah Anderson."

"Wrong answer," the woman said as she slapped Sarah again.

"Wow," Sarah said as soon as the stars faded away. "For a woman, you really throw a mean punch."

"I took a class," the woman said with a smirk as she slapped Sarah again.

"I'm going to ask you one more time before I let the men take over." the woman said. "What are you doing here?"

Sarah simply looked forward and refused to answer. Just then the door flew open. Casey was roughly shoved into the room. Since his hands were cuffed behind his back he had no way to stop his momentum except crash into the wall solidly. Behind him was a tall Fulcrum agent holding his gun on Casey.

"Ms. Bowles," the Fulcrum agent said softly. "I see that you have captured Agent Walker. Here is her partner. His name is John Casey. We have been following these two for the past few days. They have been trying to learn the identities of the Fulcrum commanders at the party tonight."

The men quickly secured Casey in the same way that Sarah was. Casey had a mouse that was beginning to form under his right eye.

"Do they have backup?" Bowles asked.

"No ma'am," the Fulcrum agent replied. "I don't know if you have heard of these two but they are famous. They are also arrogant enough to think they could come in here without backup."

"What was their mission?" Bowles said softly. "Besides what you've just told me. What were they going to do with the information?"

"We're not sure ma'am." The Fulcrum agent replied. "We need to question them. But for right now, I fear for your safety. Why don't you let your guards escort you back to your room and I'll take care of these two."

"How can you handle these two by yourself?" Bowles asked.

"Don't worry ma'am." The Fulcrum agent said confidently. "I have other men on the way. And besides I have an advantage."

With that the Fulcrum agent took out a gas powered hypodermic gun and pointed it at Casey's neck. Casey tried to resist but he couldn't move out of the way. Several seconds after he was injected, he was unconscious.

"He'll be out for a few hours ma'am." the Fulcrum agent said with a laugh. "I'm going to interrogate Miss Walker here. I hope you don't mind if I have a little fun while I'm doing it."

"What sort of fun?" Bowles said with a smile.

The Fulcrum agent walked over to where Sarah was tied and showed her the hypodermic gun.

"I have a special mixture for you." he said evilly as he slid his hand into Sarah's top. "You're very pretty. This is a mixture of Rohypnol, pentothal, and a special narcotic. This will make sure that you feel every sensation. You just won't be able to do anything to stop it. I'll bet after a few hours, you'll be begging me to let you tell me what I want to know. I'm actually hoping that you hold out for a while."

"You pig," Sarah screamed as she tried to move away from the Fulcrum agents hand inside her top. When she was unable to break free, she tried to bite his arm but she couldn't get close enough.

"Night, Night, Agent Walker," the Fulcrum agent said as he pointed the narcotic gun at Sarah's neck. "I'll see you in bed."

"Please," Sarah said with a tear falling down her cheek as she quickly fell semi conscious.

"Well," said Bowles softly as she extended her hand. "It looks like you have this situation well under control. I guess we'll leave and let you get on with it. Would you please contact me next week and let me know personally what information you were able to get?"

"Yes ma'am," replied the Fulcrum agent as he took Bowles hand. "Please let me say what an honor it is to meet you. I've been an admirer of yours for a long time."

"How nice," Bowles said with a grin as she made no attempt to withdraw her hand. "I would like to commend the fine job that you've done here. I'll speak to Peter West personally. What is your name?"

"That would be so nice of you." the Fulcrum agent said with a smile as he continued to hold her hand. "Thank you, ma'am. My name is Special Agent Carmichael."

"Charles Carmichael."

As soon as Bowles and her men left the room, Chuck knelt down beside Sarah and began to untie her.

"Who in the hell was that?" Casey said as he waited for Chuck to get to him.

"That was Jennifer Bowles." Chuck said with a smile. "She is a congresswoman. She is also chair of the House Intelligence committee. She is also the sixth Fulcrum regional commander."

As soon as Chuck had Sarah free, she went to help him with Casey. Sarah felt Chuck's hand on her shoulder.

"Just one second," Chuck said. "Casey you might want to close your eyes for this."

As Chuck pulled Sarah in for a strong kiss he whispered in her ear.

"I told you I could be a pig."

Chapter 23: The Reward

Las Vegas – Undisclosed Party Location:

Laura was still at the party, working the room when she noticed that Chuck was missing from his station.

"It's about freaking time," she whispered to herself under her breath. After all, with the hundreds of fingerprints that she had accumulated on her ass tonight, six of them must surely belong to the Regional Commanders.

Laura was barely listening to the conversation that she was currently having. She was too busy trying to plan her exit strategy. She just couldn't walk out. That would be far too conspicuous. Wherever she walked that night, at least twenty eyes followed her. Fortunately, the two men that made up her current suitors really weren't that interested in anything that she had to say anyway. They were far to busy trying to one up the other to impress her. The shy smile that she had permanently affixed to her face was plenty. The occasional nod only added to the allusion that she was remotely interested. And since the hand that had started at the middle of her back had gradually drifted south, Laura could tell who they thought the victor was going to be anyway. So whoever belonged to that hand, she thought his name was Paul, was going to be her ticket out of there.

As soon as the other man drifted away Laura moved closer to Paul.

"I thought that he would never leave." Laura whispered seductively in his ear. "Would you like to get some air?"

"So, Paul," Laura said softly as they stepped outside together. "How long have you been stationed in Vegas?"

"About two years," replied Paul. "It's really a nice city."

"I'm sure it is." Laura said with a smile. "This was a nice party but I'm actually getting kind of tired being here. I'd invite you to my room but I have a roommate and she can get sort of cranky. Maybe you can take me home and tomorrow maybe show me around?"

"I'd love that." Paul said with a grin. "Except I have a roommate too."

Laura could tell by the way that he said roommate that he actually meant wife. She had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

"How about I get a room?" Paul said. "I have a friend who works at the MGM."

"I'll tell you what," Laura said as she put her arms around his neck. "You go get us a room. Leave me a note at the front desk. And I'll swing by and pick up something to wear that I'm sure you'll like. I'll meet you there in an hour."

"I'll order some champagne." Paul said with a smile as he kissed Laura goodbye. "I can't believe how lucky I am tonight."

Laura waited with a grin until Paul was out of sight.

"Sorry, Paul. No luck tonight."

Las Vegas – Undisclosed Party Location:

Sarah was so fully into agent mode that she quickly broke Chuck's embrace with barely a smile. She took the gun from Chuck's hand and trained it at the closed door.

"Free Casey," Sarah whispered urgently. "We have to get out of here."

Chuck fished the key to the handcuffs out of his pocket and moved towards Casey.

"Where is Laura?" Sarah said as she kept her eyes and the gun focused at the door.

"I'm not sure." Chuck said as he unlocked Casey's cuffs. "She was still at the party. But I lost track of her when you got captured."

"Hopefully," Casey growled as he took the knife that Chuck handed him and began to cut his legs loose. "She saw that Chuck was gone and extracted. That was our plan. If she's not in the limo, we'll have Chuck take a quick look around. If he can't find her, we'll check in with headquarters."

"Are you ok?" Chuck asked Sarah pointedly. "I heard you get hit a few times before I took my earpiece out."

"I'm fine," Sarah said dismissively. "She hit like a girl."

"Maybe so," Casey said with a smirk. "But one thing she was sure doing like a girl was digging on Special Agent Carmichael here."

"I noticed that." Sarah said as she glanced at Chuck; whose face was beginning to get very red. "That hurt a lot worse than her punches. I owe her one for that."

"It was really clever, Walker," Casey said sarcastically. "You getting captured and all. We would never have guessed that the sixth Regional Commander was a woman. Nice thinking."

"Thanks," Sarah said with a smile. "I'm always thinking of the mission. Ok, Agent Carmichael, you're going to have to lead us out of here. Bowles and her men can't see us. I hope that they left but we don't know for sure. Casey and I will hang back while you lead us to the limo."

Chuck quickly walked outside. When he could see a clear path to the limo, he motioned for Casey and Sarah to follow him. When Chuck opened the door to the limo all he could see was the barrel of Laura's gun pointed at him.

"There you are," Laura said in relief as she lowered the gun.

Casey quickly got in the driver's side and Sarah climbed into the back.

"Do you think that you could ride up with Casey?" Sarah asked Laura.

"I guess so," Laura replied in a surprised tone. "Why?"

"I need to thank Special Agent Carmichael here for saving my life." Sarah said softly. "I'm pretty sure that you don't want to see that taking place."

"I'm not so sure," Laura said with a laugh as she quickly moved to the front. "I'm always up for learning new moves."

"We have to be at the Monte Carlo in forty five minutes." Sarah said as she raised the privacy window.

"Take the back way."

Las Vegas - Limo:

Sarah had her arms around Chuck's neck and was letting him know, in no uncertain terms, how grateful she was to be rescued.

"Well, Special Agent Carmichael," Sarah said in her most seductive tone. "How would you like to be rewarded?"

"What is up with you?" Chuck whispered as soon as he could free his mouth enough to speak.

"I've never been turned on this much in my life." Sarah whispered. "Not ever."

"By Agent Carmichael," Chuck said sadly.

"Of course,"

"I'm sorry," Chuck said sadly as he slid over to the other side of the limo. "Agent Carmichael isn't in the mood."

"Ok, Chuck," Sarah said with concern. "What's bothering you?"

"See," said Chuck. "When you're turned on, I'm Agent Carmichael. When you're concerned I'm Chuck. I'm not Carmichael, Sarah."

"I know that." Sarah said in a confused tone.

"Sometimes I think that you would be happier with a Carmichael." Chuck said as he looked out the window.

"What in the hell is that supposed to mean?" Sarah asked as her voice started to rise in anger.

"Look at the men that you've been with." Chuck said fighting to keep his composure as he continued to look out the window. "Seth and Bryce are just like Carmichael. You just said that Carmichael turned you on more than you ever had been with Chuck. I can see someday someone like that swooping in and sweeping you off your feet. I just can't compete with that."

"Hey," Sarah said softly. "Look at me."

When Chuck didn't respond, Sarah grabbed his finger and bent it awkwardly. As Chuck's eyes widened in pain Sarah slid over to Chuck's side of the limo."

"I'm sorry that I'm hurting you." Sarah said firmly. "But this is important. If you'll look at me and let me talk, I'll let go. Ok?"

Chuck quickly nodded as Sarah let go.

"Ok," Sarah said firmly. "I'm sorry that I hurt you. But I need you to listen to me. If you never hear another thing that I ever say hear this. There is no Carmichael, dumb ass. He doesn't exist. There is Chuck. And sometimes he calls himself Carmichael. You're jealous of yourself. How stupid is that?"

Chuck half winced and half smiled.

"And if you think that I was turned on because you were like Bryce or Seth, that's even more stupid." Sarah started to rant. "The truth is it's exactly the opposite. I was turned on because you love me enough to risk your life for me even though you haven't been trained. Do you know what Seth or Bryce or Casey for that matter would have done in that situation?"

Chuck just shook his head.

"Seth would have left me to fend for myself." Sarah said disgustedly. "Bryce would have hid for a few hours and waited until he had an advantage. Probably while I was being tortured or worse and come in with guns blazing. We might have made it out but the mission would have been destroyed. And I would have been seriously hurt."

"But you," Sarah said much more softly. "Used your brain instead of your guns. You tricked them into letting me go by thinking that you were one of them. I didn't get a single scratch and the mission was still successful. Bryce never could have done that. Seth wouldn't have tried. I don't know a single spy who could have done what you did tonight. And you think that someone like that is going to sweep me off my feet? I hoped that we were past this. I would laugh at that if I wasn't so pissed off."

Chuck just looked at Sarah sadly.

"I'm so proud of you that I could cry." Sarah said as she grabbed Chuck's hand. "And that's what turned me on. Charles Carmichael is not a spy. He's better then a spy. He'll do whatever it takes because he loves me. He's amazing. There is nobody who I'd rather have at my back. When he's not acting all brain dead, that is."

"I'm sorry," Chuck said softly. "I feel foolish."

"Well maybe," Sarah said with a smile. "But you don't feel nearly as foolish as you should. Bryce and I were together for two years. We've probably ordered a hundred pizzas. Do you know how many times he saw me pick the olives off my pizza?"

Chuck shook his head.

"The second time I had pizza with you it didn't have olives." Sarah said in an animated tone. "Do you think that Seth knows where I went to high school? Do you think he would even care? Do you know how many chocolate croissants Bryce ever brought me to cheer me up when I was down? It would be easy because the answer is none. Why are you being so stupid, Chuck? If you had a clue in that massive brain of yours. If you only knew how I feel you would never doubt me again. Now I'm really pissed."

Chuck knew that she was angry so he held his tongue.

"And another thing," Sarah continued. "Tell me. Who are you in love with, Chuck? Sarah or Agent Walker? I really want to know. Do I have to worry that some better agent is going to come and steal you away?"

"Ok," Chuck said. "Everything that you just said is totally right. Now I'm officially really sorry. I'm embarrassed. I'm begging for mercy. Can we forget that this happened?"

"Only because I am so head over heels in love with you," Sarah said. "But you wasted all of our reward time with your foolishness. Now I have to go see Peter West all turned on. I guess I'll have to jump him."

"You're kidding, right?" Chuck asked quickly.

"Yes, Chuck," Sarah said with a faint smile. "I'm kidding. But now you are going to have to wait until we get back to the room for your reward. And that's going to be a while. We have to go deal with Peter West and then back downtown for a debriefing."

Just then Casey pulled into the Monte Carlo limo entrance and parked the car.

"Can I at least have a kiss?" Chuck asked sadly.

"I guess," Sarah said with a grin. "But I'm still pissed. I might have to bite you."

"I'll take my chances." Chuck whispered.

Sarah sat on Chuck's lap and put her knees on the seat on either side as she faced him. Gently Sarah touched her lips to Chuck's. Quickly, the kiss escalated.

"Crap," said Chuck in between kisses. "Now I'm more turned on then I ever have been."

"Good," Sarah said with a smile. "Now you know what it feels like. I'll tell you what. I'll go up to the room with Laura and jump Peter West and you can stay here in the car and talk to Casey."

"Wow," Chuck said matching Sarah's smile. "Now I know that you're really pissed at me. Ok. I have that coming. But that was just wrong on so many different levels."

"Damn," said Laura as she opened the back door. "Are you guys still going at it? That must have been some kind of reward."

"Laura," Sarah said with a smile as she broke the last kiss and began to climb out of the car.

"We haven't even started the reward yet."

Chapter 24: The New Widow

Las Vegas – Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino:

Sarah was torn standing outside the door to Peter West's hotel room. A large part of her wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible so she could get back to Chuck. But this would be a great opportunity to have some fun with Laura by making her fend Peter West off for a while. And Sarah owed Laura a little friendly payback. After all, at the party she did blatantly steal a man right from her side. That was never a good idea to do to someone as competitive as Sarah was. She decided to compromise by using the mirror hanging at the end of the hallway to make sure that her hair and makeup were perfect for a few minutes. Even though she already knew that they were.

So finally willing the silly smirk off her face, Sarah knocked on the door. When Peter West finally opened it, Sarah had to bite the inside of her lip to keep from laughing at the look of pure hatred that Laura was shooting her. If that was for their cover or was expressing annoyance for Sarah's tardiness, she couldn't tell. What she could tell was that Laura's top was very disheveled. Obviously West had completed his pre game warm up routine.

West grabbed Sarah and basically pulled her into the room and into his arms. He quickly pushed his mouth to Sarah's for an urgent kiss. Sarah really had no choice but to participate. In their pre mission planning downstairs, Sarah was expecting Laura to interrupt any second now. But as she felt West's tongue past her lips, Sarah could tell by Laura's smirk that a little gentle revenge was taking place.

"What is that bitch doing here?" Laura finally said, this time with a look of genuine hatred.

"Peter," Sarah whispered in disappointment. "I thought it was just going to be us tonight. I've been looking forward to this so much."

"Ladies," West said calmly as he walked to the table and poured Sarah a glass of champagne. "I really think that the two of you need to make up."

West smiled at Sarah as he handed her the glass.

"You can just call me the peacemaker." West said as he raised and then drained his own glass of champagne.

"Ok," Sarah said with a grin as she walked over and stood next to West. "I think I see what you want here. There is just one thing that I'd like you to do for me first."

"And what's that?" West replied with a confident smile.

Sarah responded with a vicious kick to West's groin. As he doubled over in pain, Sarah continued.

"When they are questioning you." Sarah said sweetly. "I'd like you to tell them everything that you know."

"What are you talking about?" West groaned as he fell into a chair.

"Remember that Instant Heart Attack drug?" Sarah said. "Well, Laura just put a dose in your champagne."

West looked at Laura expectantly.

"That's right, Peter." Laura said with a smile. "You are under arrest."

As soon as West lost consciousness, Sarah went to the door and let in the paramedics who were waiting in the hall. They quickly loaded Peter West onto a gurney and whisked him away.

As soon as they were gone, Sarah turned to Laura.

"Thanks for waiting until I had a mouthful of his kiss." Sarah said sarcastically.

"You're welcome." Laura responded with an equal tone. "Thanks for waiting until I had accumulated all of his fingerprints."

Las Vegas FBI Office:

Beckman was as happy as Chuck had ever seen her as she addressed the team. Not that he had a big collection of moments to choose from.

"I just don't see how this could have gone any better." Beckman said loudly. "There is no Fulcrum presence left that knows anything about the Buy More. We captured Peter West. We identified all six Fulcrum Regional Commanders. And now they believe that Agents Walker and Casey have been interrogated and killed. We may be able to use that to our advantage in the future. Great job, team."

"Thank you, ma'am," Casey replied stiffly for the team.

"Agent Carter," Beckman said. "Since you kept your part of the bargain, I'm keeping mine. A new identity has been established for Seth Roberts. I have arranged for him to be released into your custody."

"Thank you, ma'am" Laura said softly.

"I trust," Beckman said a little more sharply. "That you will ensure that I never hear his name again."

"Of course, ma'am," Laura said with a smile. "Thank you again."

"Oh," said Beckman. "Before I forget, Agent Walker, I sent a package to you at the office. Make sure that you pick it up before you leave."

"Yes, ma'am," said Sarah curiously.

"Enjoy the rest of your night." Beckman said. "You're dismissed."

As soon as the screen went blank, Laura turned to Sarah.

"Thank you for forgiving me." Laura said as she hugged Sarah.

"That sounds like a goodbye." Sarah whispered.

"It is," Laura said with a smile. "I'm heading out. I want to get Seth as far away from here as possible."

"Where are you going?" Chuck asked.

"I could tell you, Chuck," Laura said with a laugh. "But then I would have to kill you."

As Sarah left the room to pick up her package, Laura said her goodbyes to Casey and Chuck.

"Nice working with you," Laura said to Casey with a grin. "I could have done without the seduction thing."

"If I remember right," Casey said with a smile. "It was your idea."

"I'm glad that you found each other." Laura said softly as she wrapped her arms around Chuck's neck. "She needs you. Take care of her."

Laura then surprised Chuck by kissing him. She broke the kiss just as Sarah reentered the room.

"Pretty good kisser," Laura said to Sarah with a wink as she walked out of the room.

"Yes," replied Sarah with a grin more to herself than anybody.

"Yes he is."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

"Are you mad at me?" Chuck asked softly as he sat on the bed.

"Why would you ask that?" Sarah said with a smile.

"Well," Chuck said thoughtfully. "You haven't said a word to me since we left the debriefing. We've been back in our room for ten minutes."

"I'm not mad." Sarah said softly. "I'm a little worried. I don't know what to do to get you to believe how much I love you."

"I know," Chuck said as he blew out a breath in disgust. "I messed up. I'm way too insecure. It's just that every since you first showed up in my life, I've worshiped you. I just never thought that there was any way that someone like you could be satisfied with me. I guess I keep waiting for you to come to your senses."

"It's been a hell of a week," Sarah said with a sigh. "To find out that I was married. To have to see me get close to every man in the tri-state area. I can see how that would mess you up a little. But, Chuck, I need you to trust me. I promised that I will never betray you. And I never will. If there is anything that you need me to do to prove that to you, just tell me. I'll do it."

"Will you wear this?" Chuck said as he held out the box with Sarah's engagement ring. "I mean our mission is over, right?"

"You brought it?" Sarah said excitedly as she opened the box and put the ring on her finger.

"We probably won't be able to get married for a while." Chuck said sadly. "I know that you have to get divorced. I guess I'll feel better once we're married."

"Let's go." Sarah said softly as she held out her hand.

"Go where?"

"We're going to get married." Sarah said with a smile. "That was the package that Beckman sent me. It was Seth Robert's death certificate. I'm legally a widow."

"Are you sure this is what you want?" Chuck asked.

"Sweetie," said Sarah. "If it makes you feel better then I'm totally sure."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

Chuck and Sarah were sitting in the waiting room of the wedding chapel. They were waiting their turn for the ceremony when Chuck turned to Sarah.

"You don't want to do this." Chuck whispered.

"Of course I do," Sarah said with a smile. "Why would you think that?"

"Come on, Sarah," Chuck said softly. "Do you really think I can't tell when something is wrong? Don't expect me to trust you if you're not willing to be honest with me."

"Ok," said Sarah with a smile. "You're right. But this has nothing to do with not wanting to marry you. It's just that I sort of had this dream about getting married in the little church across the street from our hotel. I was praying there for a second chance with you when Becky Ivan had you captive. I was there when we got word that we had your cell phone signal. It's sort of a special place for me."

"Come on," Chuck said as he stood up and grabbed Sarah's hand. "That's where we're getting married."

"No, Chuck," Sarah said. "We're getting married tonight. If that's what it takes to make you feel secure then that's what I want to do."

"I'm ashamed of myself." Chuck said as he sat back down next to Sarah. "That's exactly what Seth said to you to get him to marry you, isn't it? That he would feel better about being faithful if you would marry him?"

Sarah just nodded sadly.

"If there is one thing that you could do for me tonight," Chuck said softly. "It would be to forgive me for being such an ass. I'm so, so sorry. You shouldn't marry me to make me feel better. You should marry me because we are in love with each other. And if I don't trust you enough to wait a few weeks, I don't deserve you."

"Are you sure?" Sarah whispered. "I'm perfectly willing to get married tonight. In a big way, I'm looking forward to it."

"I'm sure."

Las Vegas – Caesar's Palace Hotel and Casino:

As soon as Chuck and Sarah were safely back in their room, Sarah launched herself into Chuck's arms. As their kissing intensified, Chuck suddenly pulled back.

"Did I ever tell you how incredible you look in that dress?" Chuck said with a smile.

"Yes," Sarah said. "It may have been mentioned. Thank you."

"I think I remember something about a reward." Chuck said with a twinkle in his eye. "Does that still apply?"

"Absolutely," Sarah said with a grin. "What would you like your reward to be?"

"Anything?" Chuck asked breathlessly.

"Absolutely anything," Sarah replied with a smile.

"If I can have anything," Chuck said softly. "I was thinking that we could just cuddle tonight. I feel badly about acting like a pig with Bowles earlier."

"I guess," Sarah said while trying hard to hide her disappointment. "If that's what you want. I did say anything."

"No, sweetie," Chuck said with a laugh as he kissed Sarah. "I'm just teasing you."

"Thanks goodness," Sarah breathed between kisses as they stumbled to the bed. "You really had me worried."

Just before she turned out the light, Sarah turned to Chuck with a sly smile.

"You just don't get the concept of paybacks. Do you?"

The End