AN: Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorrysorrysorrysorrysorry! Seriously, I feel horrible that this took so long. I hope you don't all hate me.
AN2: Part of this story (Lou's citing of California law) is me getting back at "Chuck vs. the Marlin" for being inaccurate. Granted, I don't know what the law is now, but I did grow up in a restaurant in California and I highly doubt they would have changed the law to make things so obviously less safe.
AN3: (Yeah, it's the last chapter, I get to have lots of notes.) I still haven't seen the end of the season. I know, what am I doing with my unemployment? Obviously not watching enough Chuck. Regardless, I'm only to "vs. the Dream Job" but I still know how it all ends (at least for our boy). So please, no comments on the end of season two when you review.
Lou wasn't sure who she was more angry at: Bryce, Chuck, Stavros, or herself. Currently though, Stavros was winning.
"I do not appreciate being tied up in my own car," she muttered. Stavros had grabbed her in the Buy More and practically dragged her to her car, where he proceeded to tie her up with the only thing available: jump cables. If they had still been dating, he would be totally dumped for this.
"It won't be for long," Stavros said, clutching the wheel and glancing in the mirrors. "I still have some friends in the city and when your little boyfriend comes to save you --"
"Chuck and I broke up before you even got thrown in prison."
"Really?" His grip on the wheel slackened and his expression grew contemplative. "Huh, that changes things I suppose."
"So, you're not going to kill Chuck?"
"Of course I'm going to kill Chuck. There was more to me hating him than you." His eyes widened and he half-turned, patting her shoulder comfortingly while keeping one eye on the road. "But you were the biggest part, I assure you."
"I'm honored," she said, rolling her eyes. She wasn't particularly worried, which seemed odd, but her life had become odd so she embraced it. The last time she'd seen Bryce he'd been hunting down a terrorist all on his own. If she hadn't come along he probably would have taken the guy down all by himself. He probably would have killed him.
"Here we are!" Stavros said happily, pulling over. They had reached a very nice hotel, the kind Lou wouldn't even dare set foot in for fear of being charged a thousand dollars to have the doormat cleaned of her middle class dirt. Stavros got out first, then came around the side and untangled her from the cables.
"No running," he ordered, and took her arm. "I'm sure my friends will be happy to harbor us for a while," he said as he led her into the lobby.
She suppressed her shudder and steeled herself. Between Bryce and Chuck's … friends she would be fine, she was sure of it.
"She had better be fine," Bryce growled.
"Jeez," Casey said, cutting off a little old lady as he checked the location of Lou's car, "you and Chuck are just pathetic."
"Shut up, Casey," Bryce muttered.
"I mean, you both keep picking these women," Casey continued as if Bryce hadn't spoken. "They're interesting and attractive, I'll give you that, but in the end they're just trouble."
Bryce rolled his eyes and sagged in his seat. Maybe he should have done this alone.
"Sarah gets you and Chuck all confused because she's confused about which one of you she likes more -- and that, frankly, is the lamest contest in the history of the world -- and now Lou is getting us all in trouble because you couldn't keep your stupid secret."
"Hey! This was totally not my fault! Even if I'd never met Lou, she still would have been driving down that road at that moment and have hit that terrorist. How was I supposed to explain that? And anyway, it's not like you're impervious to women. Oh yeah," he added when he saw Casey's shocked expression, "I know all about your little Russian friend."
Casey's jaw clenched and for a moment Bryce wondered if he was going to have to fight him inside a moving vehicle.
Finally Casey ground out, "Let's just find your stupid girlfriend so I can kill Stavros."
"Who says you get to kill Stavros?"
The car jerked to a stop and Bryce grabbed the dashboard to keep his balance. "Oh, come on," he said, "we don't have time to fight over who gets to kill him."
"Of course not," Casey said, "but they stopped here." He waved to where Lou's car was sitting beside the curb.
"Stavros must have friends here," Bryce said, looking up at the hotel.
Casey nodded. "We'll have to figure out which floor they're on. I say we go in as jani--"
"Look!" Bryce hissed, ducking down in his seat and pointing to the hotel's doors. Stavros was practically running from the building and pulling Lou along with him.
Casey chuckled. "Looks like his friends weren't so happy to see him."
"We still can't attack him here," Bryce said, watching as Stavros started the car and began pulling into traffic. "They may not be willing to harbor a fugitive and his hostage, but we can't be sure they won't try to help him."
"Or I could just broadside the car."
Bryce blinked. "You know that would probably kill Lou, right?"
Casey shrugged. "Fine, we'll save the damsel in distress."
Lou rolled her eyes as they pulled into the restaurant parking lot. "Seriously?" she asked. "You're going to hideout here?"
Stavros glared at her. "Yes, now come on."
She glanced at the Buy More as he pulled her towards the restaurant. They'd spent two hours driving around, visiting Stavros' old "friends," looking for a place to hideout before he brought her back here. The parking lots were dark now and the only business that was still getting customers was the all night pizza place at the other end of the shopping center.
Stavros had already taken her purse and was digging around for her keys. She sighed and grabbed it away from him, taking her keys out and unlocking the door herself. She breezed inside, immediately heading towards the freezer.
"What are you doing?" he asked, glancing out the windows for any sign that they'd been seen.
"Cooking!" she cried, slamming a ham down on the counter and cutting into it fiercely. "I cook when I'm stressed!"
Stavros watched her warily as she began making sandwiches. She could tell that he was wondering if he would be getting a sandwich but she wasn't about to give him the satisfaction of telling him.
She wasn't so much angry at him anymore. Sure, he had kidnapped her and planned to murder Chuck, but he wasn't the worst person in her life right now. Bryce still hadn't saved her. She'd been kidnapped over two hours ago and he hadn't even made an attempt to rescue her! He was definitely going to be in trouble when he finally found her.
She looked down at the sandwiches she'd made with a frown. She forgot the mayonnaise in the freezer and it just added to her anger with Bryce. She stomped to the back, her fists clenched at her sides. While she was cursing Bryce's name she heard the first shot ring out. She ducked instinctively and looked towards the door.
"Sorry," Stavros muttered as he closed her in.
"What!" she shrieked. "Stavros! You ass!" she yelled as she pounded on the door. She couldn't hear anything through the heavy metal but assumed Bryce was fighting Stavros. He was putting his life in danger to save her and she was mad at him, which just made her feel horrible. She sat on the stool they kept in the freezer so she could reach the top shelves, and put her chin in her hands. Now she was just mad at herself again.
Just when she was starting to get really cold the door opened. Stavros pushed a very unhappy Bryce inside with the barrel of his gun. He pulled a pair of handcuffs out of Bryce's pocket and tossed them to Lou.
"Take off your jacket," he ordered Bryce.
Bryce rolled his eyes and handed the jacket to Lou, who took it gratefully.
"Cuff him to the shelves," Stavros said, "I don't want him attacking you while I'm gone."
"You're leaving me in here?" Lou demanded.
"I have to catch his partner and I don't want you to be in danger."
Lou rolled her eyes and cuffed Bryce to the nearest shelf.
When the door closed Bryce groaned. "Great, now Casey'll get to kill him."
"That's what you're worried about?" Lou asked, rubbing her arms.
Bryce sighed and his breath came out in a visible puff. "Are you okay?" he asked.
"Fine," Lou muttered. "But where have you been?" she asked, slapping his shoulder angrily.
"Following you! We didn't want to attack him somewhere where you might get hurt."
"And this was the first place we came where you thought you could handle the situation?"
"Yes!" he bellowed. "That crack den where you almost got shot in a drive-by didn't exactly seem like the safest place! And anyway," he added more quietly, "if you'd ever stopped anywhere long enough we would have gone in. We are elite spies."
Lou smiled. "Stavros doesn't seem to have as many friends left as he thought."
"No," Bryce agreed, smiling slightly. A moment later his gaze slid to the door and his frown returned.
"You really want to kill him, don't you?" Lou asked.
Bryce looked at her for a moment before nodding. "Yeah," he admitted.
She rolled her eyes as she headed to the back corner. "I don't know why I'm not more scared by that," she said and reached behind the metal shelves.
"What are you doing?" Bryce asked.
She smiled back at him. "Saving you," she said, teasing. She stood up, hefting a large axe over her shoulder.
"Whoa," Bryce breathed. "What exactly is that used for in a sandwich shop?"
She frowned at him. "California law requires all walk-in freezers to have an axe, just in case you get locked in. Now hold still." With that she brought the axe down on the handcuffs, severing the chain.
Bryce leapt back the second he was free and Lou calmly walked to the door. She shrugged off his jacket and tossed it back to him.
"Here," she said, "I don't think I'll need it."
Before Bryce could question her she had swung the axe back and began cutting through the door.
"By the way," she added between cuts, "you so owe me for this one."
Rather than answer, Bryce took a seat on the stool and sat back to enjoy the view.
"Where would they go?" Lou asked as they left the sandwich shop.
Bryce could tell she was trying very hard to ignore the damage to her restaurant and decided not to question her decision to keep carrying the axe. He checked a gun he'd found in the rubble of the shop and scanned the area deftly.
"There!" he called, pointing to the Buy More. The lights were on, sending an eerie glow into the parking lot.
Lou rolled her eyes. "Why do these battles always take place in centers of capitalism?" she asked, following him across the street.
"Terrorists hate capitalism?" Bryce said with a shrug, though he really thought it had something to do with this being Chuck's town. None of his other missions ever went this crazy. "Are you sure you want to come?" he asked. "It's pretty dangerous."
"You think you want to kill Stavros?" she asked, coming to walk beside him. "He made me destroy my own freezer. If that doesn't earn him an axe in the family jewels I don't know what does."
Bryce balked, and paused for a moment as that visual formed in his brain. Not that Stavros didn't deserve it but … He shuddered and hurried to catch up with her. It seemed she was bent on heading straight into the store, not that he could blame her. When they neared the doors he pushed her to the side and carefully activated the automatic center. When he didn't hear any shooting he made his way inside, keeping low to the ground and holding his gun at the ready as he went. He could hear Lou close behind him and wished he'd made her stay behind. As they waddled through the electronic censors he heard a loud bang and turned sharply.
Lou was wincing and holding her axe away from the machine. "Sorry," she mouthed.
"Who's there?" Stavros asked and Bryce saw him pop up from behind the Nerd Herd desk.
"Gotcha," Casey said from somewhere among the shelves and a shot rang out.
Lou gave a small cry as Stavros fell. Casey and Bryce both stood and looked at the desk.
"Who got him?" Casey asked.
"I think we both did," Bryce said.
The two exchanged a look of revulsion at the thought of sharing credit.
"Is that an axe?" Casey asked, looking over Bryce's shoulder.
Lou stood on shaky feet and nodded. Casey gave her a look of newfound respect as Bryce put a tentative arm around her shoulders.
"Can you handle this?" Bryce asked.
"Yeah," Casey said, "I'll have a crew come in and clean up here and in the restaurant."
"Thanks," Bryce said and steered Lou out the doors.
He didn't trust her to drive and apparently she didn't either, since she gave him her keys immediately after retrieving her purse.
He didn't trust himself to speak until they were almost to her house. "So," he said, "big night, huh?"
He heard her sigh and winced internally. He was already wondering where he would get his sandwiches in the future.
"If only I still kept a diary," she said hollowly. "I think this day might actually beat when Steve McAdams talked to me in ninth grade."
"Steve McAdams?" Bryce asked carefully. "Sounds dreamy."
"Oh, he was. Dreamiest guy in school." Her hand touched his shoulder and it took all his training not to jump. "Thank you."
He let out a laugh as he pulled onto her street. "For what? Putting your life in danger in the first place?"
"Stavros would have come back without you," she said. "And it wouldn't matter either way. You saved me. That earns you major bonus points in my book."
"Enough that you don't hate me?" he asked as he pulled into her driveway.
"Enough that you get free sandwiches for life."
"Really? I still get sandwiches?"
"Just so long as you try to leave the terrorists and smugglers at home."
"Hey, the smugglers are your fault."
She bit back a laugh. "Seriously, I want you to come back. Even if it means you have to bring the terrorists with you."
He smiled. "You may live to regret that."
She met his smile with one of her own. "I certainly hope I do."
AN: That's it! I hope you all enjoyed this little adventure in made-up-ship land. Thanks for sticking with me through all this and, as always, I love a good review.