author notes: So this is my first Chuck fic, and my first fic in a long time, so hopefully it's not complete trash... please leave a review! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

They sit by the fountain in the courtyard on Christmas Eve, listening to the soft trickle of water. Sarah shivers and, ever the gentleman, Chuck gently wraps his coat around her shoulders. But he avoids her eyes, and he hasn't directed the goofy, warm Chuck-smile at her all night.

He sits a little further from her than he usually does. Their shoulders don't brush tonight.

"Is everything okay?"

"I saw you. Tonight. You…you just, you just shot him. You killed him." His tone more sad than accusatory, like someone killed his puppy and he can't quite believe the world would be that cruel. The memory flits through his brain. Sarah, the gun, the body. Her eyes were so hard, so…not Sarah.



"…He would have destroyed your life. He knew you were the Intersect, and Fulcrum would have gotten to him eventually. I just…I promised I would protect you Chuck. I couldn't let him hurt you. I can't ever let anyone hurt you."

He doesn't think she could have hurt him worse if she tried.

She reaches for his hand and he shies from her touch without thinking. Sarah feels her chest tighten painfully. He might has well have slapped her.

"I should go."

"No, wait, Sarah-"
"No, it's okay…Tell Ellie dinner was wonderful."

She leaves his jacket on the edge of the fountain. Chuck sits in the frosty air awhile longer, and doesn't put his jacket back on.

They're more professional than ever now. Chuck doesn't tell her jokes to make her smile. Sarah doesn't gently fix his out of place hair, or adjust his sloppy ties.

"Let me guess. You finally gave in and rocked the little geek's world, and he couldn't handle it?"

"Fuck off, Casey."

Sometimes, the distance between them makes Sarah feel like she can't breathe. Sometimes, Chuck lies awake and thinks he'll break if he can't see her smile again.

They're on a mission when it happens. It was going to be a routine mission. Chuck will slip into Agent Carmichael's digs, and he will play him as suavely as an elephant in a china shop. He will flash on something and he will be captured, and Sarah and Casey will come save him. Like always. Just a routine mission.

Only it's not just a routine mission, because Sarah has no body armor, and she's on the ground, and his hands are pressed against her chest, and there's a lot of blood. And it's not like in movies where the hero and heroine get some big, teary goodbye, because Sarah just gazes up at him, and coughs up blood, and her eyes close as she slips into unconsciousness.

She cannot die thinking Chuck hates her. She can't. He hears Casey calling in for aid.

Chuck's crying when the ambulance arrives, shaking hands slippery, wet and red.

Chuck sits in the uncomfortable hospital chair, the harsh lights and sallow walls and smell of disinfectant assaulting his senses. Ellie holds his hand and Morgan pats his back while Casey tells them someone tried to rob the Orange Orange.

Chuck wants to laugh at that, because he can't do anything else.

But he doesn't laugh either.

Sarah wakes up to bright lights and itchy sheets. Her voice cracks when she tries to speak, and feels like she swallowed several cotton balls.

Casey gives her a cup of water and she drinks gratefully.

"How are you feeling?"

She can't hide her surprise. Casey cares enough to ask? Casey looks even more surprised at his own question than she does.

"...Kinda feel like I was shot."

Casey grunts and nods. She glances around the room, and it stings when she realizes Chuck's not there. Ok. It more than stings. It feels like someone reached down her throat and rearranged her insides.

"Don't worry. I sent the kid out for some coffee. He's been here all night, and he's all jacked up on Red Bull. If he didn't leave, I was going put him in the hospital too."

The door opens and Chuck walks in looking tired and jittery and still so adorable it makes Sarah's chest ache. When he sees her open eyes, he fumbles and drops steaming coffee. On Casey's lap.

Several minutes of pleading for his life later, Casey has gone, and Chuck is alone with her. There's an awkward silence before Chuck breaks it.

"…So do you need anything? Water? A blanket? Morphine? Well, actually, I think the doctor said you're pretty much maxed out on the morphine…but I know some people, and I think I could get them to up it if you wanted me to-"

"Chuck, I'm fine. I don't need anything. I just…Can you sit with me?" She smiles at him crookedly. He gives her the first goofy, Chuck-smile in over a month, complete with twinkling, warm brown eyes. She's not surprised that it does more for her pain than any amount of morphine.

He sits next to her bed and talks to her. Really talks to her, for the first time in a while. She slips back into unconsciousness, feeling safe wrapped in his voice.

A week later, she lies on Chuck's bed, dozing lightly. At Ellie's insistence, Sarah is recuperating at the Bartowski residence.

Chuck watches her slow inhales and exhales from the window. He wants to reach out and touch her, to make sure she's still real. Just one short week ago, Sarah was lying on the floor of a cold warehouse. She almost stopped breathing.

She almost died.

Chuck wants to reach out and touch her but something is holding him back. Instead, he crosses the room and lays next to her, leaving space between them.

Sarah feels the mattress dip under his weight and she opens her eyes, smiling drowsily at Chuck. He smiles back, but there's something sad in it. His lips don't stretch as far, his eyes don't crinkle at the edges as much.

She gazes down at the chasm of light blue sheets between them.

"I'm sorry."

He doesn't have to ask to know what she's talking about. They still haven't talked about it.

"It's okay." It's not really, but he can't say anything else.

He reaches across the divide, and gently touches her elbow, and slides his index finger up her arm, leaving a trail of gooseflesh in its wake. Sarah's eyes close as it touch. Her meds make her sleepy.

He fingers the charm bracelet on her wrist. She hasn't taken it off since he gave it to her.

"You can have it back if you want. I shouldn't have accepted something so important in the first place."

He looks into her blue eyes and takes her hand.

"No. I want you to have it. I meant what I said, and I still do."

Sarah squeezes his hand and lets her eyes close again.

He meant what he said, and nothing can change that. Because Chuck thinks there are two Sarahs: There's Agent Walker and then there's Sarah.

Agent Walker protects him from bad guys, and bombs, and bullets. Agent Walker kills people.

Sarah, on the other hand, protects his ego when she laughs at his jokes even if they aren't funny. Sarah protects his heart when she tells Lou and Jill not to hurt him. Sarah is gentle and caring and would give her life to protect Chuck, not the Intersect.

Chuck loves Sarah, and that hasn't changed.

He moves closer, wrapping his arm protectively around her waist and draws circles on her back. She curls against him, nuzzling into his neck and breathing out hot air against his skin.

And Chuck knows the Sarah is Agent Walker and Agent Walker is Sarah. He knows the lines between them are blurred.

Sarah has a penchant for blurring lines. She begins to drop butterfly kisses against his neck.

But with all that line blurring, who will protect Sarah from Agent Walker?