A/N Woke up this morning and this was in my head. Not sure what that says about me and mornings. Hope you enjoy it.
I don't own Chuck. But I keep buying Powerball tickets just in case.
Chuck vs. The Funeral of Sarah Walker
Standing in front of the mirror, he fiddled with his tie. This was already his third attempt and it was wrong again. Disgusted, he ripped it off and tossed it to the bed. For days he had been avoiding any thought of her, but he couldn't stop the parade of images running through his mind. She had always been straightening his tie as part of their cover, it let her get close when she needed to tell him something. Even more, it was always perfect when she was done. Toward the end, he knew she took some pride in making sure he looked good. At the end, she made sure he knew how real that feeling was.
The date had been wonderful. Sarah suggested meeting right after work. So, they changed at the Orange Orange and left in her Porsche. She'd planned everything and promised a night he wouldn't forget. The first stop was dinner at the same mexican restaurant they went to on their 'First Date'. Chuck was pretty sure the mariachi band was the same as well. He should have known from the start that something was wrong. Sarah had never talked that much in all their time together. It was because she was trying to squeeze a lifetime into one night he realized later.
"Chuck....." Walking in, Ellie stumbled on her words at the lost look he wore in the mirror. Her sisterly instincts kicked into high gear, wrapping him up in a hug. "You don't have to go. It's been two years since she up and left you and I don't see why you have to put yourself through this. If she'd cared as much about you, she never would have walked out in the first place. Chuck, you have Heather now, and she's......really.....nice. Shouldn't you be thinking about your future and not the past?"
Planting a brothers kiss on her forehead, "Maybe that's why I need to go, sis. Get the closure I never had, say my good byes." Cracking a joyless smile, "You know how much trouble it is for me to move on. This is the right thing to do."
"When did you get so grown up?" Combing some curls back into place with her fingers. "Heather will be here soon and John is already in the living room. I guess Sarah made an impact on everyone while she was here if he is going too." She picks up the abandoned tie and soon has it proper and in place. "Be ready in five minutes, we don't want to hit any traffic."
He watches her go, takes one more look in the mirror and contemplates how much he hates black today. Gathering up his wallet, his eyes fall on a little pink and green plastic whistle. Dusty and alone in it's spot on his shelf, Chuck picks it up.
"Oh come on Chuck, you love the arcade." Sarah giggled as she dragged him into the blare of lights and sounds. Their next stop was the Santa Monica Pier. She tried to learn a couple of the games he liked.. Going so far as to have him stand behind her and reach around to help with the controls. Needless to say, they scored horribly on every game but went through a lot of tokens. Then she saw the skee ball machines and had to try it. He watched her acting like a teenager as she played. Jumping up and down with a huge smile as the tickets would come spilling out on a good throw.
"You're kidding! 20,000 in tickets and I can only choose from that shelf?" The kid behind the counter wouldn't budge and Sarah ended up picking a little pink and green whistle. Turning to Chuck, she handed it over like it was an academy award. "For you Mr. Bartowski." She followed that by giggling and leaping into his arms to kiss him until breathless.
Bringing the whistle to his lips, he gave a halfhearted puff. And heard a dull warble in response. On impulse, he put it in his pocket before leaving his room to join the others. The living room was full as he walked in. Casey was standing off to the side. Chuck walked over and they shared a look that was free of the usual sniping that defined their relationship. John opened his mouth a few times before finally finding the words. "She was a good agent." Chuck nodded at the high praise.
That was when Heather came up and hugged Chuck from behind. She felt his violent reaction instantly, pulling away as if burned. He was immediately sorry and turned to apologize. Reaching out he drew her into a hug, bringing his lips to her ear. "I'm sorry Agent Marcus. Can we suspend the PDA for today? I can't do it. I just can't." Ending the brief hug, he breaks contact quickly.
Heather knew today was going to be rough on him, but he hadn't called her Agent Marcus in over a year when off mission. You couldn't help but care for the guy. She knew Casey had a soft spot for him as well. But, on her very first day, he'd made it perfectly clear that a cover relationship was all there would be. Of course, she agreed to that, it was the job she was sent to do. Over 2 years though, she had come close to slipping on numerous occasions. Chuck would shut her down instantly in his fierce need to keep the separation. Having read the file, she knew the score on Chuck and Sarah, but seeing it brought things to a whole new level. That call a week ago had nearly destroyed him, now he was going to face her for the last time.
Chuck dug out his phone and looked at the picture. "This can't be good." Thumbing the answer button, "Hey Casey, what is it? Did we get a mission?"
"No, Chuck, no mission. Are you sitting down?"
"Umm, yeah, that's my preferred way to play on my Xbox" It was then the tone of Casey's voice finally sunk in. "What is it? Just tell me John, that's what your good at, just say it."
"It's Walker. I'm.......really sorry. They won't tell me any of the particulars either, so I don't have any answers. All I can tell you is, her will requested burial here in LA. The funeral will be on Saturday. Agent Marcus is on the way over now, don't do anything stupid Chuck. Sarah wouldn't want that."
She had found him curled in a ball on his bed. The crying hadn't let up since Casey's phone call. Heather sat through the night with him and informed Ellie when she came home from the hospital. She hated herself the moment it popped into her head, but she couldn't stop thinking if anyone would care this much at her passing.
They all piled into John's suburban. It had taken some coaxing, but Chuck was able to convince Ellie and Devon to come. He argued that even with the way it ended, they had made her family while she was with them. It was a good reason, but he was pretty sure Ellie relented simply to make him happy. All the while, his fingers toyed with the whistle and he stared out the window.
The church loomed ahead, looking decidedly ominous to Chuck with it's baroque front. The walk up the steps was done in silence and he had to stop at the doors. He didn't want to go in, to see her would make it all irrevocably real. For some reason, there didn't seem to be enough air. Floundering before the entrance, he was losing it until he felt a hand at each arm. Heather and John were flanking and supporting him, they would make sure he got through the day.
He remembered thinking how tasteful her coffin was. A simple affair of dark wood and white satin without all the excessive trim that some people went for. It seemed right for her. With a shock, he recognized her dad standing there at his daughter's side. Their eyes met, they stumbled into a hug as tears started to fall. "I'm so sorry Jack. I promised to keep her safe, but I couldn't. She wouldn't let me. I tried so hard....so hard...."
"It's all right Chuck, it's all right. I know my daughter and she would never have let someone take that role for too long. It's my fault in not being the parent she deserved. I made her into the person that had to run from you."
They finally withdraw and Chuck has his first clear view of Sarah. Smiling, he always thought purple was her color. That was probably due to some of his best memories and what she wore on those nights. She is lovely as ever, with a look of peace he's seen just one other time.
Leaving the pier, they returned to Chuck's room, sneaking in through the Morgan door like rebellious teens after curfew. In the dark, Sarah attacked him. Her kisses were full of fire as she tore at his clothes. He responded quickly and soon they fell to his bed, naked and entangled in every way possible. The release of a year's pent up tensions was explosive. Casey hadn't needed his bugs to know what was happening on that night. One minute she was submissive, the next demanding, needing everything that Chuck had to give. And he was the same. They drank from each other's passions, only to discover new plateaus of pleasure until the brightly burning fire was sated.
Suffused in the warm afterglow, they lay together as silvery moonlight filtered through the blinds. Chuck was mesmerized by her. There was a purity in her expression that needed to have a poem written to describe it properly. "I love you Sarah." And the look was gone.
The line had been growing behind him, Casey was gently tugging him away. His last act was to drop the whistle next to her. "For you Miss Walker." They found seats easily, the number of guests was a surprise to Chuck. There weren't a lot of people there, but he'd wondered if there would even be this many. The service was short. How much can you put in the obituary of a CIA agent. Then came the time he had dreaded as the pastor asked if anyone gathered wanted to say a few words. For most of the week, he had told himself he wouldn't, he couldn't, it would be too hard. Those thoughts still tumbled through his brain as he found himself walking up the center aisle with all eyes on him.
Standing at the podium, he looked out over the too small group. He thought she deserved more, a church full of people thanking her for the ultimate price she paid for them. What he wanted to do, was tell them all everything he knew about her. That way there would be no denying the amazing woman she was. He couldn't betray that confidence, even in death. The things she had let him know were for him alone. Instead, he chose a different tack.
"We are all here to pay our respects to Sarah Walker. I can tell you, there is no one more deserving. If she were here, I doubt she would let me say anything out of embarrassment. Our Sarah never looked for praise or recognition, it was only in the doing that she found her reward. Did any of us really get enough time to know her? I know I didn't." Chuck made it a point to meet their eyes and memorize every face present. He wanted a record of everyone she had been special to. It was his small tribute to her memory.
He starts to crumble at the pain on the assembled faces. Turning to face the casket, "Please, join with me in welcoming her home. It was here she found a home and here she promised to return." Standing beside her, he leans over and brushes her forehead with his lips. "Welcome home Sarah Walker, you will always be loved."
Organ music starts to swell and the congregation rises. Chuck forces himself to watch as the lid is brought down and she is truly gone from his sight for the last time. Taking his place with the other pallbearers, he leads Sarah on her final journey. Safely in the hearse, they return to the suburban. Slow and stately, her procession winds through the city streets. Chuck starts to notice numerous cars, some stopped at lights, others parked alongside the road. All giving a flash of their headlights as they pass.
Heather leans close and whispers, "Those are her fellow agents. It would be impossible for them to just show up at someone's funeral. This is how we pay our respects to a fallen comrade."
He nods his thanks for the explanation before returning to gaze out the window. The trip to the cemetery is too short for his liking. Climbing from the vehicle to assemble at the hearse, he has a moment of stunned surprise. He is staring down a rolling hill and over residential rooftops, but he knows without a doubt, the beach he glimpses is their beach.
He knew the other shoe was going to drop and it was killing him. Sarah had dimmed at his revelation before getting up and urging him to get dressed. She had one more thing planned and it was imperative to her they do it. Chuck could never deny her a wish and before long, they were back in her car. This drive was in silence. She had tight hold of his hand the whole way, squeezing almost too hard at times. They parked and walked out into the sand. It used to be his spot, long ago. Now, it was their spot.
She brought him down to the sand with her and leaned in. The night was warm with barely a breeze, but she couldn't get close enough to stop the shivering. She started talking, "I've been selfish Chuck, but I can't help it. There aren't words to describe how I need you. But, now is not our time. I planned this night so we would have something special to remember for as long as it takes. I'm going away Chuck." Placing her fingers to his lips so he can't interrupt. "I've been reassigned. My room is already empty, I packed and sent it on ahead. My replacement will be meeting you and Casey at tomorrow's briefing. I hear she is a very capable agent. I know you'll be safe."
Looking out over the water, "I never want this night to end, please believe me. It was everything I dreamed and more, which breaks my heart." She turns a fierce gaze to Chuck and cups his face in her hands. "I 'll make you one promise. You will see me again, I will come back to you one day. Share the sunrise with me?"
He did, and they sat like that till there was no time left. Chuck drove her to the airport where she gave him a last surprise. She handed him the title to her car, "For safe keeping till I return." She had said. That was the last time he went to their beach.
She'd picked a wonderful place to be buried. They could look down on their corner of the ocean anytime he visited. There were more words spoken that Chuck really didn't hear. And all to soon she was being lowered into the ground. He stepped forward with her father and they tossed in gardenias, her favorite. One by one, the rest of the funeral party stepped forward with a final offering or heartfelt words. Chuck never left her side. In ones and twos, they drifted from her grave site. Devon and Ellie wrapped him up in their arms before leaving for the car. Casey and Heather gave him a look that said they would wait as long as he needed.
Standing tall in the waning light, he looked down over the ocean with her. "Does it feel weird to attend your own funeral?" Turning to regard the last remaining guest. She was tall, brunette, strong cheekbones, pert, upturned nose and narrow, full-lipped mouth. So very not Sarah until he met her eyes in the church.
"I told them you would never be fooled. What was it that gave me away?"
"I suspected at the church, but wasn't sure until I saw you walking through the cemetery. You've tried to modify it, but I had no doubts it was you. Why couldn't you tell me? Do you know what I've been through?"
"Oh god Chuck, I wanted to. I had to restrain myself from driving over to your place at least twelve times a day. No one can know, not Casey, Agent Marcus, no one. You are one of 5 people in the world that knows Sarah Walker is not in that grave. I have so much I want to tell you. I need to know one thing. Am I welcome home?"
Through the whole conversation, they stood apart, looking for all the world like two people in private contemplation. Chuck heaved a sigh before turning for the car. Her stomach starting to flip painfully at his departure.
"My window has always been open." Reaches her ears and she sobs in relief.
Keeping a silent vigil, he waits for her. So many questions burning in his mind, he thinks he will go crazy in another 10 seconds. Finally, he is rewarded by Sarah and yet not Sarah climbing through his window. She immediately jumps into his lap and moves to kiss him. He leans from her with arms crossed, "Not yet. You have some explaining to do."
Her eyes drop to the floor as she moves to his chair, "Fair enough, you deserve as much before deciding if you really want me back in your life."
"First, I have to know, Devon and Ellie getting called to the hospital on short notice. That was you?" She nods. "And the all night stakeout that suddenly was assigned to Casey and Heather?" She nods again. "What about the....you know...." Waving his finger in a circle to indicate all the bugs.
"Casey will find you had a quiet evening and went to bed early when he checks the recordings."
"Okay, why did you let me believe you were dead for a week?"
Sarah fidgets under his stare. "Like I said at the graveyard, I had no choice. Everything had to appear totally genuine for this to work. Good people sacrificed a lot for this. I wanted you to know right away and save you from the pain, but your reaction was the most important of all. God, that sounds like I was using you." Her face might have changed, but the eyes are still hers, and she stares back to him.
"I was on a mission. To say it went badly would be an understatement. I screwed up beyond measure and really came close to being killed. They hid me away in a company facility to recuperate, but the damage had been done. More than one foreign government was pressing the US for my return to face charges of war crimes. I had to die or they would need to comply. They found a woman, about my age, no family, in the final stages of lymphoma. She was terminal with only months to live. Angelica Tanner was her name and this is what she looked like.", gesturing to her face.
"The CIA made sure her final days were as comfortable and pain free as possible. We shared a room as the surgeries and treatments were performed. She and I became friends in those few months. You would have loved her Chuck, she was sweet and funny, even with the death sentence over her head. I told her all about you. She was proud to use her remaining time to do this for us. I was with her right to the end, Sarah died so Angelica could live." Tears were streaming anew as she relived those moments. It was too much for Chuck and he dropped to his knees to gather her close.
"Unfortunately, the rest you know and had to live through. I wish I could take it all back and make the pain go away. You must think I'm a monster to do such a thing to the man I love. I will understand if you never want to see me again."
"What kind of man would I be to let these sacrifices mean nothing? How can I let the woman I love go through her own private hell to get back to me and then turn her away? Sarah, what are we going to do? I can't just start dating you and not raise suspicions."
"I won't lie Chuck, this isn't going to be easy. First and foremost, you can never call me Sarah again. Not even locked in a room alone with me, never. You buried Sarah today, she is gone. I am Angelica from now on. You'll have to break up the cover relationship with Agent Marcus and convince both her and Ellie that the two of you are going to see other people but can remain friends. We can't be seen together for a few weeks. I am starting at Largemart on Monday, so will be close."
As she continues to lay out the plans, they move to the bed. She curls up in his arms and things are once again perfect. "You don't have to worry, Angelica will pass muster when Casey and Heather become aware of your intent to date her. I've made a few mistakes like a normal person would, but nothing to raise red flags. General Beckman knows the whole story and will do what she can to keep things in line and not raise suspicions. I'm not too worried about Casey. He loved to try and get a rise out of me by commenting on your thing for brunettes." They share a smile and a laugh, the tension in the room is popped like a bubble.
"I can't help it, living in California you see blonds everywhere." She punches him at the teasing tone.
"We won't ever have to worry. The CIA was quite generous to Angelica for her services. And you are going to absolutely love the apartment I have. It's a one bedroom, but all the rooms are spacious. The only thing it needs is a man's touch to decorate it properly. And, it is walking distance to our spot." She becomes serious again. "I have one thing I need from you. It was a promise I made before Sarah passed away. We will go and visit her at least once a year. She wanted to be kept informed of how our lives were going."
"Of course Angelica, of course. There is no way I could not visit Sarah. I love her after all. She gave me my life back by coming home." Now, he brings her in for a kiss. It starts soft, tentative. Soon that isn't enough for them as they hold each other painfully close.
"Chuck, I love you so very much."
"I love you too Angelica...mmm....now you really are my angel. Since we only have tonight before our plan to begin dating starts, I want to celebrate our long, long, long life together."
Grinning, "But Chuck, do we really have time for a long...long....long celebration?"
"If we start right now, only just."
A/N: Minor edits and a fix based on one of the reviews. Thanks very much for all the kind reviews.