Chuck Vs The Negotiation
This is not new content. My custom was to separate my scenes with a line of broken dashes. The site decided to retroactively delete any line that starts with a dash. That made 100 of my chapters instantly unreadable. To fix them all would be a huge effort. So I decided to add a chapter at the end of each story that was the whole story.
I still don't own Chuck. Prospects are not good for me ever owning it. But, boy if I did…
I wanted to explore how Chuck and Sarah could have as close to a real relationship as possible while keeping Chuck safe. Here is what I came up with. It follows Chuck vs. The Incentive. And thanks to Happydayz for the ideas,
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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: More
"You're late." Sarah snapped as she flung open the door to her hotel room.
"I'm so sorry." Chuck said with a sigh. "Just as I was walking out the door, Big Mike asked me to go on a quick service run. It was on the way over here so I said ok."
"Why didn't you call?" Sarah asked angrily.
"I should have." Chuck said sadly. "I didn't think it was going to take long. But then the customer kept asking questions. I couldn't get away. I'm very sorry."
"I'm sorry that I got mad." Sarah said as she exhaled a cleansing breath. "I just don't think that you realize how much I look forward to this."
"You're looking forward to it?" Chuck asked sarcastically. "Sarah, it's all I think about all week. It was a brilliant idea. I have nightmares about the one week when I screwed it up. I never want to do that again."
"Yea," said Sarah with a smile. "I thought it would be a good incentive."
"It really was…"
Chuck was interrupted as Sarah threw herself into Chuck and smashed her mouth into his. It only took about a second for Chuck to get over his surprise and respond by wrapping his arms around Sarah and pulling her to him. Sarah, as was her custom in this weekly event, grabbed two handfuls of Chuck's hair and used it as a handle to keep their faces pressed together.
In a sense it was an odd kiss. Where most passionate kisses start off gently and build intensity, this was just the opposite. It started off as raw hunger. But after a few moments, once the physical need was satisfied, it became much more tender. As their tongues explored each other's they became one. It was one of those magical moments where time seemed to lose all meaning. It seemed to last forever and was far too short at the same time. It wasn't until Sarah felt Chuck's hand creeping up the front of her shirt that she broke the kiss.
"I'm sorry, sweetie." Sarah whispered while she kept her lips touching Chuck's and grabbed his hand to stop its progress just as his fingers were slipping under the edge of her bra. "If we go there, we won't be able to stop."
"I want more." Chuck said softly as he stared into space. His half eaten slice of pizza sat on a paper plate on his lap.
"Don't worry, Chuck," Sarah said with a soft smile. "There's a whole pizza here. But you have barely touched the slice that you have."
"That's not what I mean…" Chuck started.
"I know what you mean." Sarah said as her smile faded. "I want that too."
"Can you help me?" Chuck said with a sigh. "What is it going to take?"
"First off," Sarah said a little more sharply than she intended. "You need to understand something. I want this more than you do. I'm not holding out on you or teasing you or trying to be mean. I just need to keep you safe. That has to be the first priority."
"I'm sorry how it sounded." Chuck said softly. "I'm just desperate. I want this so much. What is it going to take? Is there anything I can do to convince you that I'm ready?"
"I know, sweetie," Sarah said with a sigh. "It's messed up. Let's talk. But there just are some things that are out of my hands."
"Like," Chuck questioned.
"Beckman," Sarah answered quickly. "If she even suspects how I really feel, I'll be out of here faster than Jeff can find porn on the internet. If I'm in Jakarta and you're here, we're not going to be having much of a relationship, are we?"
"I guess not," Chuck whispered. "How do we keep her from finding out?"
"We have to keep our feelings inside of this room." Sarah said quickly. "If we go forward, we're only safe here. Anyplace else, we have to assume that we're being watched and listened too."
"Are we going forward?" Chuck said eagerly as his eyes brightened. "I can live with that. We'll just spend all of our time here."
"I'm not sure if we're going forward yet." Sarah said sadly. "That was just the first hurdle. And we can't spend all of our time here. That would get their attention. We're going to have to limit the amount of time that we can spend as a couple. Are you going to be able to live with that?"
"Is this forever?" Chuck asked.
"I hope not." Sarah responded slowly. "Once we have a track record, I think I can go to Beckman to tell her that me being close to you is keeping you controlled. Maybe I can even talk her into letting us move in together someday. But for right now, we're going to have to be extra careful. One screw up and she'll separate us. And, Chuck, that would be non negotiable. So it would be better if we kept things the way they are if we're going to screw up. Do you understand?"
"I understand." Chuck said sadly. "I have no choice."
"There is something more." Sarah said with a sad smile. "I'm not trying to paint a bleak picture here. But it's important that you understand. If Beckman orders me to get close to someone like a Lon Kirk, there is no way for me to refuse. I'd have to do it. And you'd have to accept it. Can you do that?"
"I'd hate that." Chuck said. "But again, I have no choice. I'm assuming that you would try and make it as easy on me as you could."
"Of course," Sarah said. "And naturally, when we say Beckman, I mean Casey as well. I don't think that he is going to try and find out anything but we can't rub his face in it either."
"Is that all?" Chuck asked expectantly.
"Well, that's all for Beckman." Sarah said with a grin. "Now you just have to convince me."
"I thought you already said…"
"Not convince me of our feelings," Sarah quickly interrupted. "You're going to have to convince me that we can be a couple and still have you be safe. I love you, Chuck. If anything ever happened to you it would kill me."
"I thought that you wanted to wait on the saying 'I love you' thing?" Chuck asked with a grin.
"What I said," Sarah replied with her eyes shining. "Was that I wanted to wait until we are ready to do something about it. That's what we're talking about now, isn't it?"
"So," Sarah said softly. "You've done a lot better for the past couple of months. Can you stand here and look me in the eye and promise me that your safety will continue to be the top priority?"
"I have a couple of questions." Chuck said slowly. "The last thing I want to do is not be honest. But there have been a couple of situations that I'm not sure what you would expect me to do."
"Like?" Sarah asked.
"Like when the Black Widow had you captive and was going to kill you." Chuck said quickly. "I'm afraid that you would have expected me to take the Cipher and let her kill you. Please don't ask me to do that. I couldn't. I'd be lying if I said that I could."
"I know," Sarah said with a smile. "Actually, I'm going to cut you some slack on that one. You tried to contact Beckman. You worked with Roan. And while I wasn't happy to see you jump off the roof, I was very proud of you."
"Good," Chuck said.
"But here is what I would expect." Sarah said firmly. "I would expect you to do anything that it took to not fall into Fulcrum's hands. And that means not trading you for my life. It also means that you wouldn't have confessed to Mouser on Christmas eve. When he threatened to shoot Ellie, you would have to call his bluff. That's where I'm drawing the line. Can you do that?"
"You want me to see someone shoot Ellie?" Chuck asked incredulously.
"Of course not," Sarah said. "First off, we never should have gotten to that point. You should have left when you had the chance. But this is what I'm asking. I need you to look me in the eye and promise that you will do whatever it takes to keep from falling into Fulcrum's hands. No matter what. If you can do that, we can move forward."
"I love you." Chuck said softly as he looked directly into Sarah's eye. "And I promise you. But having said that, we need to protect Ellie."
"Thank you," Sarah said as her eyes began to fill with tears. "We will protect Ellie. I promise.
"We've talked about all the harsh realities." Chuck said with a smile as he opened his arms as an invitation that Sarah quickly accepted. "Can we talk about some good stuff?"
Sarah just nodded her head for Chuck to continue.
"We talked about getting married." Chuck whispered. "Is that still a possibility?"
"I'll marry you." Sarah whispered as she hugged Chuck even tighter. "But it has to be real. If I'm going to say vows that say 'for better or worse', 'for richer or poorer', and 'till death do us part' I want both of us to mean that. If we're going to get married, it's going to be for the rest of our lives."
"That's what I would want too." Chuck whispered with a grin.
"We're the only two people who could know." Sarah said softly. "Not anyone. Not Ellie or Morgan. Just us. That means we can't wear rings."
"And we'll have to use cover names." Sarah said with a smile. "We can't have Sarah Walker and Chuck Bartowski showing up on some Vegas web site. You can be Carmichael. I'll be someone you've never heard of. I'm not sure how legal it will be but it would be real to us anyway."
"Ok," Chuck whispered. "As long as it is real to us."
"And we're going to need some time to be able to get to Vegas and back." Sarah said softly. "So it can't be tonight. Let me think of some excuse next week for us to get away for a few hours."
"Sarah," Chuck whispered excitedly. "Are we engaged?"
"Yes," Sarah whispered back. "I'd say that we are."
"Can we celebrate?"
"Well," Sarah said with a grin. "Our cover is that you came over to watch a movie. I'd say we have about an hour left. What do you think two people madly in love could do for an hour?"
"Do you have any ideas?" Chuck said as he gently touched his lips to Sarah's. Quickly the kiss turned intense.
"A couple," Sarah whispered between kisses as she grabbed Chuck's hand and guided it up her shirt. "When I stopped you earlier, I think you were right about here."
As Sarah resumed the passionate kiss she quickly broke it for a moment.
"You do realize," Sarah whispered lustily as she pulled back enough to look into Chuck's eyes.
"I'm out of ideas. You're on your own now."
Chapter 2: Married Life
Sarah sat in Ellie's kitchen slowly sipping her cup of tea and flipping through the pages of Ellie's bridal magazine. As she was waiting for Ellie to get out of the shower, she had a hard time believing how much her life had changed. And not just with Chuck. Not that things weren't great with Chuck. They were better than she had ever hoped. As a matter of fact, today was their two month anniversary.
"Could it possibly have been two months?" Sarah asked herself with a smile.
It seemed like only yesterday that she drove then to Vegas. She could tell by the look in Chuck's face that he didn't think she would really go through with it. She could actually see the surprise in his eyes when she said I do. Thinking about the total look of contentment is his face when the official told them that they were husband and wife never failed to bring a tear to her eye.
"We'll have to go out tonight and celebrate our anniversary." Sarah whispered to herself with a smile.
And that's the moment that she realized how far gone she really was. Sarah Walker didn't celebrate special days. Even things like birthdays and Christmas were just another day. Well, maybe the occasional pretend thing if there was a cover to protect. But surely nothing as trivial as a two month anniversary. Truth be told, Sarah had always looked down on women that got all mushy about those sorts of things. And yet here she was, feeling all aglow planning on taking her new husband out to dinner.
She had come to look forward to her and Chuck's 'movie' nights so much that it scared her. It wasn't healthy for an agent to be so driven by her personal emotion. That was for sure. And she would have to be very careful not to tip off Casey, or even worse, Beckman. But she just couldn't help it. She felt so good in his arms. So…well, so normal. And if a three hour movie night three times a week was the only time that she could be normal, she was sure going to make the most of it. It simply broke her heart to have to push Chuck out of bed and back home. And while he was great at never complaining, she could definitely see the sadness in his eyes.
And Chuck, he was so…how would you put it? Afraid. Not in a bad way, but definitely afraid. He was so afraid of overstepping his bounds that he had always hung back and let Sarah make the first move. It was so cute. Not that he had long to wait. Sarah had long decided that she was tired of waiting. She was in love. For the first time in her life, she finally understood what that meant. And while she couldn't give him everything that he deserved, whatever she could give she was damn sure going to. Gladly. Because she got so much more from him in return. They had made an unspoken agreement. Inside that room, she was no longer Agent Walker. She was Mrs. Chuck Bartowski.
But she had really expected all of those things. She had lain awake in bed many nights dreaming about them, after all. What she hadn't expected was how close she was coming to Ellie. That was an unexpected bonus. It was funny. Before Sarah was actually a little afraid of Ellie. Not afraid in any physical sense. Ellie would never hurt a fly. Just afraid in that she never knew how to act. All of her training was in how to act with men. She was an expert at that. Whenever she got in trouble, she always knew that one bat of her eye, one embarrassed smile, or in extreme cases, a tear would get her out of any mess with a man. But those tactics didn't work with Ellie. She was defenseless. That's why Sarah had always avoided being alone with her.
But all that changed the second that she said I do. For some reason that Sarah couldn't explain, even to herself, she now felt of Ellie as a sister. Ellie had always made her feel welcome. Part of the family even. There was no question about that. But Sarah always knew that if Ellie knew the truth about her and Chuck's cover relationship, she would feel betrayed. Maybe that's why Sarah felt so good about it now. She actually deserved it. She really was Ellie's sister now. Even if Ellie didn't know it yet.
Sarah was never much for girlie things. She had developed a sense of fashion. But that was part of the CIA training. She had learned to shop for the right clothes and apply the right makeup. But those things were work for her. She never really enjoyed them. She would much rather spend a couple of hours at the shooting range than go shopping. That's why it surprised her that she was looking forward to these wedding planning sessions so much. Two months ago she would have tried hard to get out of it. And only done the bare minimum to protect her cover. But the real truth was that, aside from movie nights, this was becoming the highlight of her week.
Sarah loved Chuck. There was no question about it. She had for a long time. But now she realized that her love for Ellie was a close second. And there was nothing that she wouldn't do for her.
Sarah was so wrapped up in her daydream that she didn't hear Ellie come into the kitchen until she was almost on top of her. She had to call on her training to not jump.
"Did you see anything that you like?" Ellie asked as she continued to dry her hair.
"You know what?" Sarah said with a smile as she pointed to a picture in the bride's magazine. "I'm really liking this traditional layered cake with the plastic bride and groom. It might be a little old fashioned, but I like it."
"I like it too." Ellie said with a huge grin. "It's been the trend to go with separate cakes on different height stands. But I agree, the more traditional, the better."
"What flavor do you want?" Sarah asked.
"Well," replied Ellie as she thought about it for a moment. "Why couldn't each layer be a different flavor? That would be different. What flavors do you think?"
"I don't know, Ellie," Sarah said hesitantly. "The way my stomach has been feeling lately, thinking about food doesn't sound that good right now."
"What's wrong with your stomach?" Ellie asked showing sudden concern.
"It's nothing," Sarah said in a dismissive tone. "It's just that my stomach has been upset for the past few days. It goes away and then I'm fine. It's nothing to worry about."
"Let me look at you." Ellie said as she moved to face Sarah.
"Ellie, please," Sarah said. "It's no big deal."
"Sarah Walker," Ellie said firmly as she held the back of her hand to Sarah's forehead. "You listen to me. I went through four years of undergraduate school, two years of medical school, two years of internship, and two years of residency. If I can't use all of that training to take care of my best friend, what good was it?"
Ellie felt around Sarah's neck and under her chin. Then she noticed the tears filling Sarah's eyes.
"Sarah," Ellie said quickly. "Am I hurting you? Does this hurt? Where is it tender?"
Sarah just looked at Ellie for a long moment. Finally she was able to whisper.
"Did you just call me your best friend?"
"Of course," Ellie said with a laugh as she gave Sarah a quick hug. "Sweetie, come on, you knew that."
"I've never been a best friend before." Sarah said as she threw her arms around Ellie's neck.
"I find that very hard to believe." Ellie said softly, surprised by Sarah's emotion. "But even if it is true, you're one now."
"I love you, Ellie." Sarah whispered.
"Hey," Ellie said with a giggle. "I love you too. But that settles it."
Ellie softly broke the embrace and walked over to a cupboard. She opened it and pulled out a box. She walked back to Sarah and handled the box to her.
"No way," Sarah said with a laugh.
"Morning sickness, mood swings, slightly swollen glands," Ellie said softly.
"Ellie," Sarah said while trying to control her laughing. "There is no way that I'm pregnant."
"There is one way to find out." Ellie said with a smile.
"Humor me." said Ellie gently. "But if you're not pregnant, we're going to the office for some blood work. Do you want to take the test or go to the office?"
"Fine," Sarah said with a sigh. "I'll humor you. But, Ellie, there is no way."
So sensing that it would be easier to just take the stupid test, Sarah took the box from Ellie and went into the bathroom. When she came out she sat the test strip on the counter.
"Well," said Sarah with a big grin. "That was a waste of eighteen bucks."
The test took twenty minutes to give accurate results. And, to tell the truth, Sarah forgot about it. She was having such a good time talking with Ellie that she stopped worrying. After all, it just wasn't possible.
One thing was for sure. Sarah was glad that Casey was working at the Buy More with Chuck this morning. The last thing that she wanted was to have to listen to his needling her about taking a pregnancy test. Hopefully he wouldn't find the need to listen to the tapes. That's all she needed. In her current mood, one crack about her having Bartowski's bun in her oven just might cause her to go on a multi state killing spree.
But Sarah was having so much fun listening to Ellie's funny hospital stories that she totally lost track of time. After a while, as they were talking, Ellie walked to the kitchen to get another cup of tea. In doing so she passed where the test strip was lying. Ellie grinned as she wordlessly held up the test strip to Sarah. Finally, seeing the shock in Sarah's face she whispered with the same grin.
"It looks like I'm going to be Aunt Ellie."
Chuck Vs The Negotiation
Chapter 3: Happy Anniversary
Casey was in the Castle talking to Beckman on the video conference hookup.
"Get Agent Walker in here as soon as possible." Beckman said firmly. "I want to brief her. If the new intersect comes online tomorrow as planned, we'll have to talk about new assignments."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said. "I'll set up something for this afternoon. What are your thoughts?"
"I think it would be prudent to give the new intersect a week to make sure that it is working properly." Beckman said thoughtfully. "After that, you can take care of Bartowski. Think of something that makes it look like an accident. After Agent Walker attends the funeral, I'll give her the new assignment."
"Ma'am," Casey said softly. "With all due respect, isn't there another solution? Bartowski has served his country with honor and to the best of his ability. It just seems wrong to kill him."
"Major," Beckman replied angrily. "We have been all through this. We simply can't have an intersect walking around the streets. And I can't afford to have my top two agents baby sitting him. I know that it's not the fairest thing in the world but it needs to be done. Now, are you going to be able to do this or should I send someone else?"
"I follow orders, ma'am." Casey said sternly. "I think that should be above question."
"What about Agent Walker?" Beckman said. "What is your assessment of her possible reaction?"
"It's going to be about ten times stronger than mine just was, ma'am." Casey said with a sad smile. "I'm really not sure what she'll do."
"On second thought," Beckman said thoughtfully. "Cancel today's briefing. You can tell her about the new intersect and that we are thinking about leaving one of you to watch Bartowski. Then, when he has his accident, we can reassign Walker. She'll never know."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said stiffly.
"Dismissed," Beckman said as the screen went dark.
"You bitch," Casey spat to the blank screen.
"How could this be?" Sarah whispered as she stared at the test strip that Ellie was holding, unable to look away.
"I know that I'm kind of like an older sister," Ellie said in a teasing voice. "But I was really hoping that we were past me having to give you a birds and bees type talk."
"But Ellie," Sarah said with her eyes still fixed to the test strip that Ellie had just handed her. "I take birth control. We're very careful to use a condom. How could this be?"
"Sweetie," Ellie said soothingly. "Didn't you take sex education classes in high school? No method of birth control is one hundred percent effective."
"I can't believe it." Sarah whispered.
"Sweetie," Ellie said softly as she put her arm around Sarah. "You know how very much I love you, right? Can I ask you some incredibly personal questions?"
"It's Chuck's…" Sarah said quickly.
"Oh my God, sweetie," Ellie said quickly with a gasp. "I wasn't going to ask you that. I assume that it's Chuck's. I was just going to ask where it's going between you two. Sometimes I think that I know and sometimes I'm not so sure."
"You're not so sure?" Sarah asked.
"Please don't take that the wrong way." Ellie said quickly. "I can look in your eyes and tell that you're in love with him. And people passing by on the street can tell that he is in love with you. But…"
"There's a but?" asked Sarah sadly.
"Sweetie," Ellie said sadly. "It's just that you two have been together for a year and a half now. And it doesn't look like its progressing. Frankly, until I saw that test result, I wasn't sure that you had a physical relationship at all."
"It's complicated…" Sarah said sadly.
"And that's your way of telling me to mind my own business." Ellie said softly. "I got it."
"No, Ellie," Sarah said softly. "It's my way of saying that I don't know how to explain it to you. Most of it is I'm ashamed to admit this to you. I treated Chuck really badly for the first year. I only gave him enough to keep him interested. But never enough to make him feel secure. I just knew how bad I was at relationships and I didn't want to screw up his life. So I kept insisting that we go ridiculously slow. All that changed about three months ago."
"I realized that I was in love." Sarah said as tears filled her eyes. "For the first time in my life, I realized that I trusted someone enough to admit that I loved him. He is my life now, Ellie. And I'm ashamed that I held myself back. But that's over. I'm not sure how much that I have to give. But whatever that is, I'm giving it."
"That's so sweet," Ellie said as she wrapped her arms around Sarah.
"I'm scared, Ellie" Sarah whispered as she clung to her.
"That is perfectly natural." Ellie said softly as she gently rubbed Sarah's back. "But you're not alone. Never forget that."
"Off the top of my head I can think of a hundred reasons why I shouldn't have a baby." Sarah said. "I should be sobbing right now. But instead, I can't keep this silly grin off my face. I don't understand."
"You're in love." Ellie said. "Having someone's baby is the ultimate expression of love. I'm so excited. I can't wait to be an aunt. I want to baby sit. A lot."
"I can't wait," Sarah said with a grin as she held up the test strip. "To see the look on Chuck's face when he sees this."
"Promise that you'll call me later." Ellie said. "And tell me all about it. I'll want every detail."
"I'll call," Sarah said while trying to suppress a giggle.
"It will be a movie night that he'll never forget."
It was a relief when Casey called and asked Sarah to meet him at the Castle. She was dying to find out if he had listened to the tape and what he knew. Not that it really mattered anymore. There was no way to hide this for very long. It would be nice to have a few more weeks to work on contingencies. But, no matter what, it had to be dealt with.
Sarah really couldn't put a finger on how much support she could depend on with Casey. She knew that she could never ask him to violate orders. But he had proven in the past that he might be willing to look the other way on occasion. And inside of that gruff shell, he had a soft spot. She saw it. But she also knew that she would have to deal with Casey straight up. There was no way to gain an advantage by flirting with him or with fake tears. He would see right through that and it would make him even more distant. She was going to have to make a rational, morally clear argument if she expected any help from him.
As Sarah climbed down the steps into the Castle, she could see Casey sitting at the table. His face showed no sign of any concern. But Sarah would have been surprised if it had. Teaching you to have a poker face was one of the first lessons a spy learned.
"Hey," Sarah said as she sat down across the table from Casey. "What did you want to talk about?"
"I just got off the phone with Beckman." Casey said without looking up from the report that he was reading. "The new intersect will be coming online tomorrow."
"And," Sarah asked expectantly.
"Beckman wants to give it a week to shake out." Casey said as he looked at Sarah for the first time. "She is thinking that one of us might have to stay for a while to watch over Bartowski. The other would be immediately reassigned."
Sarah willed herself to keep the excitement from showing on her face. This might actually work out.
"You know, John," Sarah said as casually as she could. "I actually wouldn't mind staying for a while. I know that you're anxious to get to something a little more exciting."
Suddenly the schooled super spy persona was gone. Sarah could immediately tell by the look in his eye that something was seriously wrong.
"I'm sorry, Walker," Casey said. "But I need to tell you something. This is off the record. Are we clear?"
Sarah nodded as her heart leap into her throat.
"A week after the new intersect is up," Casey started slowly. "Bartowski is going to have an accident. They are going to let you stay for his funeral to end your cover. Then you'll be reassigned."
There was silence for a long moment as Sarah tried to figure out what Casey meant.
"Son of a bitch," Sarah finally yelled. "Those ungrateful, low life bastards. After everything that Chuck has done, they are just going to dispose of him?"
"It looks like it," Casey said sadly. "I tried to talk her out of it but she wouldn't even have the conversation."
Suddenly Casey was looking into the barrel of Sarah's Glock.
"I'm not going to let you do it." Sarah said as tears started to flow down her cheeks.
"Relax, Sarah," Casey said calmly. "You know better. If it's not me they'll just keep sending replacements until someone is successful. That's just the way it is."
"Why are you telling me this?" Sarah asked as she tried to wipe the tears from her eyes.
"Because you're carrying the baby intersect," Casey said with a smile. "Congratulations, I guess. Not the brightest thing you've ever done but it does change things. You deserve to know."
"We've been married for two months." Sarah said softly as she lowered her gun. "I love him, John. I can't stand here and let him be killed. What am I going to do?"
"You only have a few options." Casey said calmly. "You can run. I can give you a three day's head start. But you know what your odds are going to be. You can make Bartowski valuable again. And that would mean destroying the new intersect. Or you could convince them that he isn't a threat. And I have no idea how to do that."
"Or I can track down Beckman," Sarah said with a guttural growl. "And put a bullet between her fucking eyes."
"You could do that." Casey said softly. "And that might make you feel good for a minute. It might even be justice. But it won't help Chuck."
Sarah looked in the mirror to make sure that there was no sign of her earlier crying before Chuck came over. She knew that the news was going to freak him out enough as it was. The last thing that he needed was to see fear or despair in her face. She was going to have to convince him that she had a plan. For them to have any kind of chance he was going to have to truly trust her to an extent that he never had before. And for her plan to work he was going to have to witness things that he had never seen before. And she vowed he was not going to see her cry.
When Chuck came through the door, he was carrying a grocery bag. Sarah immediately took it from his hand and sat it on the table. Then she launched herself into his arms for their traditional movie night kiss. It was no more intense than usual but that didn't mean much. They always had put everything they had into that kiss. Sarah, as was her routine, grabbed two handfuls of hair as she pressed their faces together. It was funny, at some point Sarah had expected this routine kiss to become, well, routine. But it certainly had showed no sign of that happening yet. If anything, each time it was growing more important. As their tongues danced, Sarah was almost able to forget their troubles for a moment. But as her knees weakened she realized that if she let this go on much longer they were headed directly for the bed. Just like they had about half the times before on previous movie nights. So Sarah reluctantly broke the kiss with a smile.
"I missed you." Sarah said as she led Chuck into the room. "What's in the bag?"
"Well," Chuck said with a smile. "I don't know if you know but today is our two month anniversary. So I brought you a little surprise for dinner.
"Thai Curry noodles," Sarah said expectantly.
"Of course," Chuck replied with a grin as he took the take out box from the bag. "I bought a small bottle of wine. Oh, and we were about out of condoms. So I picked up a box."
Sarah took the box of condoms from Chuck. She hadn't played basketball since high school but her shooting form was still excellent as the box arched towards the waste basket.
"One good thing," Sarah said with a smile as she dragged Chuck to the table. "We won't be needing those any more."
Sarah had to laugh at the look of horror on Chuck's face as he was unable to tear his eyes from the trash can.
"Why don't we need condoms?" Chuck asked hesitantly without looking away from the trash can.
"Have I done something wrong?"
Chapter 4: Options
"We're going to have a baby?" Chuck whispered in disbelief.
"Yes, Chuck," Sarah said as she couldn't keep the smile at Chuck's reaction off her face. "We're going to have a baby."
"And that's why you threw away the condoms?" Chuck asked in relief.
"Would you forget about the stupid condoms?" Sarah said with a laugh. "Did you hear the first part, Chuck? The most powerful organization in the world is trying to kill you?"
"I heard." Chuck said with a grin. "So what. It's not going to happen tonight, is it?"
"So what?" Sarah said incredulously.
"We're going to have a baby!" Chuck exclaimed as he picked Sarah up and twirled her.
"Put me down," Sarah said as she tried to control her laughing.
"I'm so sorry," Chuck said, suddenly serious. "I didn't mean to hurt you. How are you feeling?"
"Don't worry, sweetie." Sarah said with a grin still on her face. "You didn't hurt me. It's going to be a few months before we have to worry about that."
"How are you feeling?"
"I have a little morning sickness." Sarah said calmly. "It's nothing to worry about. Other than that, I feel great."
"No," Chuck said even more insistently. "How are you feeling?"
Sarah wanted to tell Chuck how scared she was. Make him understand how long their odds were. That before this morning having a baby was the furthest thing from her mind. That she had no idea how to be a mother. How she just wasn't ready for this. But she couldn't. As soon as she looked into Chuck's brown eyes, all those thoughts were driven from her head.
"I feel fantastic." Sarah whispered with a smile. "I'm going to have the love of my life's baby."
"It's a good thing that we got married." Chuck said with a smile as he took Sarah in his arms and gently kissed her.
As the kiss quickly intensified and Sarah felt the weakness growing in her knees, she quickly realized that there was no way of keeping this from ending up in bed.
Sarah had just resumed semi normal breathing patterns from the most intense experience of her life. Not even Chuck's silly concern over possibly hurting the baby was able to make a dent as they connected at a level they had never approached before. But Sarah had long ago stopped trying to figure out why Chuck and she clicked so well in bed. Part of it had to be due to the fact that they were so fiercely in love. But it was more than that. It's funny, in most relationships the newness made the first times the most exciting. But with Chuck and Sarah there was a growing trust between them that just kept getting better and better.
As Sarah lay on her back trying to catch her breath, Chuck had his head gently resting on her stomach whispering softly. Even though Sarah couldn't tell what Chuck was saying, he was obviously talking to the baby. Whatever he was saying, he was simply beyond adorable saying it.
"I don't think that she can hear you." Sarah said with a smile. "She doesn't have ears yet."
"What makes you think that it's a girl?" Chuck replied with his patented grin.
"Just a guess," Sarah whispered back.
"I'm not so sure," Chuck said as he finally lifted his head to look at Sarah. "Bartowskis are famous for having boys."
"Oh yea," Sarah said as she sat up. "Then explain Ellie."
"Exception that proves the rule," Chuck said with the blazing smile that could melt Sarah's heart and get her to do anything that he wanted, as he sat up with her and pulled her into a soft kiss.
"Once he learns the power he has with that smile, I'm really in trouble." Sarah said to herself as she closed her eyes and simply yielded to the warmth that enveloped her.
But Sarah knew that they had to talk. Their problems were just not going to go away. And if the intensity of their kissing was any indication, she had about ten seconds to act or get ready for round two.
So Sarah reluctantly broke the kiss and got out of bed. As she threw on Chuck's t-shirt she could see the obvious disappointment in his face.
"It can't be time for me to go already." Chuck said sadly as he sat on the side of the bed.
"No, sweetie," said Sarah with a grin. "You're spending the night. But we have to talk."
"I'm spending the night?" Chuck repeated with the enthusiasm of a ten year old who had just learned that he was getting a new puppy.
"This day just keeps getting better and better."
"Can't we just talk to Beckman?" Chuck asked with a smile. "We'll tell her that we're married and we're not looking for any trouble. Maybe she'll just leave us alone."
"I wish that would work." Sarah said with a sigh. "But it won't. Right now she views you as a national security risk. You still have a ton of vital secrets in your head. If Fulcrum captured you, they could use you very effectively. You are still very valuable in the wrong hands."
"If I'm so valuable," Chuck said in a confused voice. "Then why is she having me killed."
"Cause she is a machine." Sarah said sharply. "She is just looking at this from an asset perspective. Since they have a replacement intersect, you're no longer worth two of her top agents to protect you. She doesn't understand that you can't measure people's value like that."
"But isn't that putting you in an awkward spot." Chuck said. "I understand how important your duty and following orders are to you…"
"Not anymore," Sarah interrupted. "Beckman just eliminated herself from giving me orders. Even if I wasn't in love with and married to you. You don't defend freedom by violating its principles. Especially when your motivation is your own convenience. No, Chuck. We're in this together. You're my husband. I took a vow. For better or worse. I'm respecting that vow."
"What are we going to do?" Chuck said.
"Well," Sarah said. "I was talking to Casey and he had three options. We can run. We can make them need you again. Or we can make you no longer a threat. For right now, I think that we need to run."
"Can we make it?" Chuck asked.
"We have a good shot for a while anyway." Sarah said with a smile. "Casey is going to give us a three day head start. That's huge. An agent is always ready to go off the grid. I have a house in Denver that nobody knows about. I have enough cash to last us a while."
"What about after that?" Chuck said softly. "Can we get jobs?"
"That's the problem," Sarah said. "Once we have to go out into public and make money, we're much more likely to get caught. You have a degree from Stanford. But the day that Chuck Bartowski fills out an employment application, they will find him and kill him."
"They would let you go, wouldn't they?" Chuck said softly. "I mean they want me. You're no threat to them. They would probably let you and the baby go."
"What are you saying?" Sarah asked.
"Maybe I should just give myself up." Chuck said with a sigh. "That way you and the baby would be safe."
"No, Chuck…" Sarah whispered.
"But Sarah," Chuck interrupted. "That's a dad's job. To sacrifice for his child."
"No way," Sarah said flatly. "A dad's job is to take the two o'clock feeding. It's to play catch in the backyard. It's to scare the crap out of her first date. It's to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. I just found you. There is no way on earth that I'm letting them take you away from me."
"So what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to show them what a huge mistake they just made." Sarah whispered. "I'm going to prove to them that I'm really the top agent that they had. I'm defending my husband and my family. Even if that means that I have to kill every one of them."
"I'm sure glad that you're on my side." Chuck said with a smile.
"More than you know." Sarah said with her own smile. "But I want to warn you. You're going to see a side of me that you've never seen before. Are you up for that?"
"Yes," Chuck said softly. "They have it coming."
"They definitely have it coming."
"You're bound and determined that this baby is a girl." Chuck said with a laugh. "Aren't you?"
"It's a girl." Sarah said with a laugh. "I know it. But tomorrow we need to go over and explain things to Ellie."
"What are we going to tell her?" Chuck asked.
"The truth," Sarah said with a smile. "What else?"
"How much truth?" Chuck asked cautiously.
"We're going to tell her everything." Sarah said as she smiled at Chuck's shocked expression. "For one thing, we need her help. But mainly, she deserves to know."
"Wow," said Chuck. "Be prepared to be hugged to death when she finds out about the baby."
"She already knows," Sarah said with a smile. "She's the one who told me. Wait till she finds out that we're married."
"That reminds me," said Sarah as she walked over to the desk and picked up a box. "It's time that we started wearing these."
"We going to wear our wedding rings?" Chuck said with a grin.
"Yup," Sarah said as she slid Chuck's ring on his finger and held out her own finger for Chuck.
"Sarah," Chuck said softly as he slid Sarah's ring in place and kissed her tenderly. "This is the best day of my life."
"Sweetie," Sarah said with a pained expression. "You really starting to scare me. We are in big trouble. A lot of things have to go our way for us to even survive. In seven days, the entire U.S. government is going to be trying to kill you."
"I know that." Chuck said softly as he kissed Sarah again. "I'm not stupid. I know that things are going to be desperate. But I get to tell my family and friends that I tricked the most wonderful girl in the world into marrying me. We're going to start living together as husband and wife. And we're going to have a baby. How could this not be a great day?"
"Ok, Chuck," Sarah whispered as the kissing intensified. "You win. Today is a great day. But starting tomorrow we are in survival mode."
"We're going to win." Chuck said. "I know it. We're smarter than they are. We have surprise. And we have you. I'm starting to feel a little sorry for them."
Sarah was lying in bed with her head on Chuck's chest after round two. He was lying on his back. They hadn't spoken in some time.
"Sweetie," Sarah whispered as she drew little circles on his chest. "Are you asleep?"
"I'm just thinking." Chuck said softly out of the darkness as he rubbed her back.
"If we have a little girl," Sarah whispered. "Would it be ok with you if we named her Kate after my mom?"
"You really miss her, don't you?" Chuck said.
"I really barely remember her." Sarah whispered. "But I just figured out how she must have felt once."
"I'll tell you what," Chuck said with a smile. "If you give us a baby with ten fingers and ten toes, you can be in charge of the naming."
"Thank you sweetie," Sarah whispered.
In order to keep her vow of not letting Chuck see her cry, Sarah snuggled closely to his chest. If he felt the tears, he didn't say anything. All he did was continue to gently rub her back.
"You're very welcome."
Chapter 5: Sad Sister
As soon as Chuck popped his head through the door, Ellie was on him like white on rice.
"Daddy," Ellie squealed as she wrapped her arms around Chuck's neck and squeezed with all of her might. "How does it feel?"
"Pretty much like I'm about to lose consciousness," Chuck said with a laugh as he tried to free himself.
Fortunately for Chuck, Ellie quickly spotted Sarah.
"Here's the new mom," Ellie said as she left Chuck standing and threw herself into Sarah. Perhaps a little more gently, but not much. "Did anything happen after you called me last night? He didn't go into delayed shock or anything, did he?"
"Well," said Sarah with a small giggle as a blush started in her neck. "Some things happened but I don't think that you want to hear about them. Could you please put on your doctor hat for a minute and explain to him that he doesn't need to treat me like I'm made out of Paper Mache?"
"Come on, Chuck," Ellie scolded. "It's going to be months before you have to worry about anything like that."
"We have something important to talk to you about." Chuck said softly. "This is going to take a while. So do you have an hour?"
"Sounds serious," Ellie said with a smile. "I'm pretty sure that I already know what you're going to say. But, Ok, I have the rest of the day. Fire away."
Beckman was on the video monitor in the Castle talking to Casey.
"Good news, Major," Beckman said with a smile. "I'm not going to ask you to kill Bartowski."
"Thank you, ma'am," Casey said with a sigh of relief. "I hoped that this would work out. Are you planning on leaving Agent Walker to watch over him?"
"Of course not," Beckman said flatly. "We certainly can't afford to waste our top agent babysitting a civilian. I just have arranged for Bartowski's accident another way. On Thursday, he will be assigned to go on a service call at a Jewelry store to repair a computer. When he is on that call, the store will be robbed. Mr. Bartowski will be shot and killed during the robbery."
"Thursday," Casey questioned. "That's in five days. Ma'am, I thought you wanted to give the new intersect a week."
"This should work," Beckman said calmly. "It's the only time I could arrange for this setup. I'm only telling you this out of professional courtesy. You'll need to be support for Agent Walker. She'll have to attend the funeral as an ending to her cover. I want you to make sure that she is fully operational after that. We can't afford to have her all emotional."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said stiffly.
"You're dismissed," Beckman said as the screen went blank.
Sarah indicated to Ellie that she should sit. Sarah took a seat on the couch next to Chuck and grabbed his hand for comfort.
"Ellie," Sarah began with a sigh. "I love you. I'm saying that because I'm about to tell you some things that are going to make you doubt that. I'm going to do the talking because if you get angry at anyone, it should be at me. This is my fault."
Ellie just nodded to let Sarah know that she was listening.
"First off, this information can't ever, ever leave this room." Sarah said firmly as she handed Ellie her ID. "I'm committing a felony by telling you this.
Ellie's eyes widened as she looked over Sarah's ID. "You're in the CIA?"
"Yes, Ellie," Sarah said. "I'm in the CIA. My mission, along with my partner, John Casey, has been to protect Chuck."
"Protect Chuck," Ellie scoffed. "Protect him from what?"
"Chuck is very important." Sarah said. "He has a unique ability to assimilate intelligence and to identify security threats. We don't totally understand how. But he is the only person in the world with this ability that we know of. And that would make him incredibly valuable in the wrong hands."
"So," Ellie said. "Bad guys are after Chuck?"
"I'm afraid so." Sarah said with a sigh. "And they would stop at nothing to get him. They would use you in a second. And if they captured him, his life would be over. They would torture him and use him until he wasn't of any more use. When they finally killed him it would be doing him a favor. Do you understand?"
"I understand." Ellie whispered. "But how can two people protect him if these powerful organizations are after him?"
"Because," Sarah said with a sad smile. "They don't know that it is Chuck that they are looking for. We have managed to keep his identity hidden up till now. That's why we've insisted that he stay working at the Buy More. It's the perfect place to hide."
"So," Ellie said sadly with tears flowing down her cheeks as she flung Sarah's ID back to her. "You're not his girlfriend? Who's baby is this really?"
"I have that coming." Sarah said sadly. "I understand that you're angry. But this baby is Chuck's. I love him."
"But you're fake." Ellie whispered.
"We started off as fake." Sarah said softly. "I'm sorry. But about six months ago I fell in love with Chuck for real. It was really complicated because if my CIA superiors knew how I really felt, they would reassign me. Having real feelings for your assignment is totally against the rules."
"Sure," Ellie said angrily. "You expect me to believe that you're real now after lying for a year?"
"Yes, Ellie," Sarah said with a smile. "I do. Chuck and I were secretly married two months ago yesterday. We've been sisters for two months. And please believe me when I say that Chuck is my life. I would do anything for him. But you're a close second. I love you, Ellie. You're my only sister. I'm sorry for hurting you. But we only did it to protect you."
"Look me in the eye," Ellie said to Chuck firmly. "And tell me the truth."
"Sis," Chuck said as he looked directly into Ellie's eye. "Every word that Sarah just said is true. She is my wife. We are very much in love. And she thinks of you as her sister. I'm sorry that we couldn't tell you before. We thought that we were doing the right thing."
"Why are you telling me this now?" Ellie asked numbly as the acceptance crept into her face.
"Because," Sarah said sadly. "I'm afraid there's more. My bosses have decided that Chuck is just too great of a risk to be walking around. I just found out that they are going to kill him. Needless to say, I'm not going to let that happen. So we are going to be forced to run."
"Can you make it?" Ellie whispered.
"Yes," Sarah said. "We are going to have to be very careful and the odds are long. But, trust me, Ellie, nobody is going to hurt Chuck while I'm alive. It just isn't going to happen."
"Sarah is the top agent the CIA has." Chuck said with the pride evident in his voice.
"They are going to kill him," Ellie repeated angrily. "What kind of people are they?"
"The kind that don't let emotions factor into their decisions," Sarah said sadly.
"I need to give you some instructions on how to contact us."
As soon as Sarah and Chuck left Ellie's, Sarah called Casey.
"Can you give me the address of that chop shop that your cop buddy knew about?" Sarah said with a voice as clear of emotion as she could manage. "I need to get rid of the Porsche and get a new ride that is clean."
"FYI," said Casey. "I just talked to Beckman and she has pushed up Chuck's date by two days."
"Damn," Sarah said under her breath. "I could have used those two days."
"These car thief guys are usually pretty slimy." Casey said. "Do you want me to go with you for backup?"
"Thanks for the offer," Sarah said. "But you need to keep some deniability. Besides, I think I can handle myself with some two bit crooks."
"Where are we going?" Chuck said as soon as Sarah had ended the call.
"I'm dropping you off at work." Sarah said with a smile. "I'm going to sell the car and get us one that they won't be able to track us in. I'm going to go to a chop shop that buys stolen vehicles and cuts them up for parts."
"That sounds dangerous." Chuck said with a grimace. "Can I come with you?"
"Sweetie," Sarah said as gently as she could. "I know that you want to protect me. And that's sweet. But I'm really safer on my own. I can handle myself much better if I don't have to worry about protecting you. This is one of those times when you need to trust me. I'll meet you back home."
"My home or your home," Chuck said with a smile.
"For right now, our home," Sarah said as she grabbed Chuck's hand and squeezed it. "The hotel room,"
Sarah was at the garage negotiating with Louie. She was fairly sure that he wasn't named after one of the kings of France. The place had small time written all over it. There were about five men that she could see working taking various cars apart. The place reeked of transmission fluid and acetylene torches. Sarah really couldn't tell if Louie was in charge or just the lucky one that she got stuck with. But in looking around, there weren't really any better choices. Sarah had to force the smile off her face at the pathetic operation. It was the most minor of minor league deals. No wonder that LADP hadn't bothered to close it down yet.
"Look," Louie said. "The most I can give you is twenty."
"Twenty," Sarah scoffed. "This is a hundred grand sports car. I could put an ad in the paper tomorrow and get sixty. I need at least forty."
"I can go thirty." Louie said with a smile.
"Thirty five," Sarah said quickly. "And I'll need a clean replacement car with valid plates. Something that I can take for a long ride."
"You sound desperate." Louie said softly after a minute. "Ok. Thirty five. With one more consideration."
One look at Louie's eyes staring at her like a side of beef quickly told Sarah what that other consideration was going to be.
"You've got to be kidding." Sarah sighed as her shoulders noticeably sagged.
"Sounds fair to me," Louie said with a leer. "I have something that you want and you have something that I want."
"Do you at least have a bedroom?" Sarah asked disgustedly in defeat. "Or were you expecting us to go for it here on the floor?"
"Upstairs," was Louie's single word reply as he extended his hand.
"Let's get this over with." Sarah sighed as she took his hand and allowed him to lead her up the stairs.
Sarah could see why Louie had insisted on taking her hand. It was to show off to his buddies. Sarah didn't have to look around to know that every eye was on her walking up the stairs. Louie quickly led her to a very small room that was finished in cheap wood paneling that looked to be about fifty years old. In the corner was a single unmade bed.
"You are very hot." Louie said as soon as the door closed behind them. "I'm going to enjoy this a lot."
"Not half as much as I am," said Sarah with a smile as she kicked him just under the rib cage. As Louie struggled to catch his breath, Sarah kicked him again in exactly the same spot. Sarah then guided him to the bed and sat him down. Sarah waited patiently for Louie to recover enough for him to be able to pay attention. After all, there was no sense in talking to him now. He was too busy trying to breathe. Sarah took out one of her knives and waited.
"Look here, pervert," Sarah finally said when Louie's eyes told her that he had returned to the living. "This isn't the optimal day to mess with me. I have hormones coursing through my veins that you wouldn't believe. Right now, I could bite the head off a live chicken. Do you understand?"
Louie quickly nodded.
"So here is what's going to happen." Sarah said through gritted teeth. "You are going to go down and find me a good clean dependable car. And then you're going to put thirty five thousand dollars in the trunk. In five minutes, I'll follow you down the stairs buttoning up my blouse with a look on my face that says you just rocked my world. You'll get to brag to your buddies for the next year how you nailed Blondie. Sound fair?"
"Yes," Louie nodded in obvious fear.
"Get going before I change my mind."
When Sarah got home, Chuck was waiting for her. She immediately stepped into his open arms for a much needed kiss. Both Chuck and Sarah lingered in the embrace longer than then would have normally. And even though Sarah knew that much worse days lay ahead, it was so great to be able to stand there and let Chuck hold her until the tension of a long day melted away. Even though it had only been two months, Sarah was starting to forget how it felt before she had that. It felt good to forget. As long as he held her, she could face anything. Nobody, but nobody was ever taking that feeling away from her.
"How did it go?" Chuck finally said softly.
"Like it always does," Sarah said with a grin as she kissed Chuck and handed him a set of keys. "In the parking lot is a grey Camry. In the trunk is a bag. Will you do me a favor and bring it up?"
"Sure," Chuck said with a smile. "What's in the bag?"
"Our travel money,"
Chapter 6: The Backchannel Meeting
"Sarah," Chuck whispered. "Are you awake?"
They had been lying in bed in the dark for some time in their favorite position. Chuck was on his back with Sarah on her side with her head lying on his chest.
"Going for round three tonight, are we?" Sarah answered quickly. And even though he couldn't see her, the smile was evident in her voice. "I must say, I'm impressed."
"Well, maybe," Chuck said softly as he switched on the light. "I mean, it's hard to imagine me turning that down. But I was really thinking about what we talked about yesterday."
"What about?" Sarah asked as she quickly turned her head to face Chuck as soon as she realized he was serious.
"About our options," Chuck said. "You told me that Casey said that our third option was to make me not a threat."
"Sure," Sarah said. "But he also said that he had no idea how to do that."
"I know," Chuck said. "I'm just thinking out loud here so this might not make sense. But how about this? If we uploaded a bunch of false data into my brain, it would probably overwrite the information that was there. I would still flash on stuff. But the information would be worthless. I'd be worthless. Would that be enough to convince them?"
"I like that idea." Sarah said quickly. "If we could prove to Beckman that you were not a risk, she would really have no choice. But who would know how to do something like that?"
"I'm not sure," Chuck said with a sigh. "But I know someone who would."
"Bryce," Sarah breathed.
"It's too bad we can't get a hold of him." Chuck said with a defeated tone. "We can't go through Beckman. It would tip her off."
Sarah rolled over so that she was facing Chuck and practically on top of him.
"Are you trying to start round three?" Chuck said with a smile in between the short kisses that Sarah was giving him. "I'm enjoying the effort but you can relax. I'm very willing."
"Maybe in a minute," Sarah whispered. "But right now I want to make sure that I have your attention. I love you. Nothing is even going to change that. You know that right?"
Even though Chuck couldn't see Sarah's face as it was buried in his chest, he could tell immediately by the tone of her voice that something was up.
"Ok, Sarah," he said as he broke the latest kiss and sat up. "Tell me what is going on."
Of course Sarah knew that Chuck could tell that something was wrong. After all, he had a sixth sense about those things. He usually knew that something was bothering Sarah before Sarah even knew it herself. And while, that was one of the things that she loved most about him, it was hard to tell him difficult things without him jumping to conclusions. And she really needed him to not jump to conclusions about this.
"Ok, sweetie," Sarah said softly. "I'll tell you. But please don't overreact. I know how to contact Bryce."
"How," Chuck asked softly.
"When Bryce was here last time," Sarah said slowly. "When I was in the hospital, he gave me a code to use. Very similar to what we gave to Ellie today. If I contact him, and he responds, he'll meet me."
"Where," Chuck asked.
"At the spot that he set up," Sarah said as calmly as she could.
"Where," Chuck simply repeated with more intensity.
"Ok, Chuck," Sarah said with a big sigh. "He set it up for us to meet at the Brookshire hotel."
"You would meet him at a hotel," Chuck said sadly as he got out of bed. "You would really meet him at a hotel?"
Sarah could tell by the look in his eyes that she had to settle him down before they could have any sort of rational conversation.
"Sweetie," Sarah said firmly. "Please listen to me. I can see where this is going and you're getting yourself worked up for no reason. I have never contacted Bryce. I've never had any reason to. And I know that you get kind of crazy when it comes to him. So that's why I never told you about this. I'm your wife. I love you. I would never cheat on you or do anything to hurt you. I hope that I've earned that much trust from you."
"This isn't about trust." Chuck said quickly. "You're right. I do get crazy when it comes to Bryce. And you're also right; you've earned a lot more than that from me. But Sarah, he wants to meet you at a hotel. You know what he is going to expect, don't you?"
"You're jumping to a conclusion." Sarah said softly. "You don't know that. Please don't underestimate Bryce. He is a good guy who genuinely cares for you."
"Now you really have me worried." Chuck said with a sigh. "Just how good of a guy do you think he is?"
"I can't win with this discussion, can I?" Sarah asked gently with a smile. "Bryce and I are over. I think that Bryce knows that. He's a smart guy. And I tried to make that clear to him last time. But no matter what he thinks, I'm married, to a wonderful man. I'm going to have his baby. I'm pretty sure that Bryce will be happy for us when he finds out."
"I hope so." Chuck said softly.
"I hope so too." Sarah said with a smile. "But if not, he'll just leave disappointed."
"I'm sorry that I freaked out." Chuck said as he pulled Sarah to him and kissed her.
"I'm sorry that I didn't trust you enough to tell you." Sarah whispered as soon as the kiss broke. "So, it's ok for me to contact him? He could really help us."
"I don't suppose there is any way for me to go with you?" Chuck asked wistfully.
"Not the first time anyway," Sarah said softly. "Bryce is deep undercover. He'll be looking for anything wrong."
"And you promise to tell me every detail?" Chuck asked with a smile. "Even if it's something that I won't like?"
"I promise." Sarah said. "Thank you for understanding. There is nothing to worry about. I'm really very proud of you."
"Round three proud," Chuck asked with a grin as he kissed her again.
"Yes, sweetie, round three proud,"
Sarah sat in the dark hotel room waiting for Bryce. It was really lucky that he responded so quickly because they didn't have many days to waste. But Sarah couldn't shake the image of Chuck as she kissed him goodbye. He was trying so hard to put up a brave front but Sarah could tell that his eyes were troubled. But this was important. So she went to the hotel and checked in using the alias that no one but Bryce knew about. Even Chuck had never heard of Becky Johnston. Sarah made a mental note to correct that as soon as she was back home. She wasn't going to keep any secrets from Chuck. Finally there was a soft knock on the door. Even with the hat and dark glasses, Sarah could tell Bryce's form easily. Bryce entered the room without a sound as soon as Sarah opened the door and stood looking at her.
"Hi," Sarah said finally to break the silence.
"Hi, Sarah," Bryce said with a small smile as he took off his jacket. "Why are you leaving Chuck?"
"Why would you think I'm leaving Chuck?" Sarah asked in a confused tone.
"Don't get me wrong," Bryce said with a sigh. "I'm glad to be working with you again. I'm just worried about Chuck. Did you two have a falling out? He really cares for you, you know? I'd hate to see him hurt."
"Beckman called you," Sarah whispered after a moment as she finally figured out what Bryce meant. "She told you that I was going to be reassigned to work with you, didn't she. That's why you were in the area to meet me so quickly."
"Yes," said Bryce. "She contacted me two days ago and told me to prepare to debrief you to join up with me. Who is taking over for you with Chuck? Is he ok? He was really struggling with how to deal with his feelings for you. I hope that you didn't hurt him."
"You don't understand." Sarah said with a smile. "I'm not leaving Chuck."
"You're not leaving Chuck?" Bryce repeated. "Sarah, I don't understand. How could you stay with Chuck and still come and partner with me? You're not making sense."
"I know." Sarah said softly. "I'm sorry. I'll try and explain. Beckman thinks I'm going to be free to be reassigned because she is having Chuck terminated when the new intersect comes online in five – no crap four days from now."
"I was afraid of that." Bryce whispered. "What are you going to do?"
"What do you think that I'm going to do?" Sarah asked softly. "I'm going to defend my husband."
Bryce just stood and stared at Sarah. It took a long moment for the realization to come to him but when it did a huge grin came over his face.
"No freaking way," Bryce said. "How long?"
"Two months and two days." Sarah said with a grin of her own. "We went to Vegas and got married using aliases."
"Who knows about this?" Bryce said as he hugged Sarah.
"Casey, Chuck's sister, and you," Sarah replied as she returned Bryce's embrace.
"Well," Bryce said as he broke the embrace. "You've kept him alive so far. What are your plans for keeping him away from Beckman?"
"Casey is giving us a three day head start." Sarah said. "We're going to have to run. I'm pretty sure with three days I can get us off the grid for at least a year. Then we're going to run out of money."
"That's going to be tough." Bryce said. "Beckman has a lot of resources at her disposal."
"I know," Sarah said angrily. "I'm going to have to deal with her."
"She's just doing what she thinks is right." Bryce said sadly.
"What?" Sarah sighed in disbelief.
"You just have to worry about Chuck." Bryce said softly. "She has to worry about a whole country."
"Well," Sarah said fiercely. "Now she better start worrying about me."
"How can I help Chuck?" Bryce said calmly. "I'm sure that you didn't call me here to tell me that you were married."
"No," Sarah said firmly. "Chuck had an idea. If we could somehow upload false data into Chuck, it might overwrite the intersect data. Chuck's flashes would be worthless. Then Chuck wouldn't be a threat. We were hoping that you could help get us in touch with someone who could help us do that."
"Dr. Wilson," Bryce whispered to himself. "He could help."
"Who is that?" Sarah asked.
"Frank Wilson is the man who was in charge of building the intersect data file stream." Bryce said. "He is the only one who would know how to do what you're proposing. If it's even possible."
"Will you talk to him for us?" Sarah asked.
"Of course," Bryce said as his eyes sparkled. "I'd do almost anything for my best friend and his new wife."
"Not to mention the mother of his baby," Sarah said softly.
Suddenly Bryce's face turned sad as he shook his head.
"Are you sure that is a smart thing?" he asked softly after a long pause. "It sounds to me like you've got enough on your plate right now."
"No, Bryce," Sarah said as the tears welled in her eyes. "Actually, it's pretty damn stupid. But I've never been happier about anything in my whole life."
"Get Chuck off the grid." Bryce said firmly. "I'll get a hold of Wilson. I'll be in contact through our normal method. In the meantime, if you need anything, and I mean anything, contact me."
"Thanks Bryce," Sarah whispered as she hugged him.
"Tell Chuck how happy I am for you." Bryce said as he put on his jacket.
"I'm hoping that you get a chance to tell him yourself." Sarah said. "Bryce, Chuck is fairly insecure of you because of our history. A good word from you would go a long way towards making him feel better."
"He's insecure of me?" Bryce said with a laugh. "You married him didn't you?"
"He was worried that you wanted to meet at a hotel because… well, you know." Sarah said softly.
"I have to be honest. Before I knew that you two were married," Bryce said with a laugh as he walked out the door.
"The thought had crossed my mind."
Chapter 7: Road Trip
Sarah's muffled cry from the pain drove a chill through Chuck's bones. He knew how much pain she really must be in to let it show like this. After all, here was an agent that had withstood the most evil torture techniques without breaking.
They had made it to Sarah's safe house in Denver several months ago. Chuck had lost track of how many months. The days seemed to blur together as they spent all of their time inside the house. They only ventured outside for critical essentials and even then those events were carefully planned, complete with disguises, multiple escape routes, and code phrases. The only true way for Chuck to judge the passage of time was the size of Sarah's belly. And of course, Chuck was no expert but it was starting to look plenty big. And so now it was time.
"Sarah," Chuck whispered as he wiped the sweat off her forehead with a cool cloth. "Please let me take you to the hospital. Something is not right."
"Can't… risk… it," groaned Sarah as the contraction finally eased. "You'll need to deliver the baby. Ellie told you what to do."
"But Sarah," pleaded Chuck. "This is not normal. You're in way too much pain. We have to risk it."
"They'll… catch… us." Sarah said through gritted teeth as another contraction started. Sarah grabbed Chuck's hand so hard that he thought she might be breaking bones.
Chuck was truly close to panic. He knew that something was very, very wrong. He just didn't know what. Ellie had given him some instructions before they left. But they assumed a normal labor and delivery. And this was nothing like she had described. Living with a doctor didn't make you one. Chuck had no idea what to do.
Suddenly Sarah let out a blood curdling scream that made Chuck jump out of his skin. Sarah was totally limp. When Chuck leaned in to check on her he noticed that she wasn't breathing.
"Sarah," Chuck screamed as he tried to see through his tears while he tried to shake his wife awake. "Please don't leave me."
"Please don't leave me all alone. I can't make it without you. Please,"
When Chuck woke up Sarah was shaking his shoulder.
"Sweetie," Sarah said softly. "Wake up. You're just having a bad dream. I would never leave you."
Dr. Frank Wilson sat in his windowless office deep inside the bowels of the Pentagon. The office was very richly appointed as was appropriate for a man of his position. The desk was crafted from the finest mahogany and the chair was made from the richest leather. Wilson knew that he should be happy to work in such a nice office. But he still yearned to be able to see the sun and the trees blowing in the breeze. One thing was for sure. That was not going to happen as long as he was on the intersect project. And that showed no signs of ending anytime soon. They had security so tight that he had to pass through five different checkpoints just to get to work in the morning. He had to pass through two just to get to the bathroom. It took a little planning but everything usually worked out all right. As long as he didn't drink too much coffee. He was in the middle of his typical morning daydream about life after the intersect when his phone rang.
"Janice," Wilson said sharply to his administrative assistant as he picked up the handset. "I don't want to take any calls."
"Yes sir," the AA replied apologetically. "But Bryce Larkin is on line one. I thought that you might want to take the call."
Without bothering to reply to Janice, Wilson pressed the blinking button for line one.
"Bryce," Wilson said in a shocked tone. "I'm surprised to hear from you. Aren't you deep undercover?"
"Yes, sir," Bryce said. "I'm on a clean cell phone but I can't guarantee that I'm secure so I'm going to speak very vaguely."
"Go ahead," Wilson said cautiously. "Is there a problem?"
"I'm concerned about the asset that your recent product launch made obsolete." Bryce began calmly. "I'm hoping to be able to salvage this asset, more or less, intact."
"I understand." Wilson said cautiously. "And how do you intend to deal with the sensitive data?"
"I'm hoping that you can help me with a technique that will allow us to format and overwrite the data with some that is less sensitive." Bryce said just as calmly.
"That's very interesting." Wilson said. "That might just work. Let me think about it."
"Absolutely," Bryce said as he disconnected the call. "I'll get back to you in one week. Thank you, sir."
Once Chuck realized that it was only a dream, he wrapped his arms tightly around Sarah's neck.
"Sweetie," Sarah whispered as she put her own arms around Chuck. "You're wringing wet. That must have been some bad dream. Do you want to talk about it?"
"It was awful." Chuck said as he released his death grip on Sarah. "We were in Denver."
"And you had to eat my cooking?" Sarah asked with a glint in her eye.
"It wasn't quite that bad." Chuck replied with a smile of his own. "I just had to deliver the baby. Please promise me that I'm not going to be delivering the baby."
"Don't worry." Sarah said firmly. "One thing is for sure. You're not delivering our baby. I want a hospital with lots and lots of drugs available."
"Thank goodness," Chuck said with a sigh of relief. "I was afraid that you wouldn't want to go to the hospital to avoid being caught."
"Trust me," Sarah said with a laugh. "The very, very last place in the world that the CIA would look for Agent Sarah Walker is in a maternity ward having a baby. It's actually a brilliant disguise."
"I do want to talk to you, though." Sarah said as she kissed Chuck quickly and got out of bed. "Are you calmed down enough to talk?"
"Uh oh," Chuck said with a smile. "Is this the part where you tell me that I actually have to eat your cooking?"
"Chuck, please," Sarah said a little more sharply then she intended. "I really need you to be serious about this."
"Sorry," Chuck said sheepishly as he looked at the floor.
"I'm sorry that I snapped at you." Sarah said as she quickly grabbed Chuck's hand. "But starting today the entire United States Government is after us. And if they find us, they will shoot first and ask questions later."
"I know." Chuck whispered.
"We can make it through this." Sarah continued. "But in order to make it we can't afford a single mistake. The first mistake we make, we're dead. And that's why I need you to trust me like you've never trusted me before."
"I've always trusted you." Chuck said in protest.
"Maybe," Sarah said softly. "But not anything like I'm going to ask of you now. You've always wanted to protect me. And that has led to you doing some silly things. So now, when I ask you to stay in the car, I need to know that you will do it. I'm going to base my life or death decisions on knowing that you're in that car. I need to be able to depend on it. Can you look me in the eye and promise me? It's important, Chuck."
"I promise." Chuck whispered as he hugged Sarah.
"Thank you, sweetie," Sarah said as she returned Chuck's embrace. "I want you to always remember that, no matter what it looks like, I'm always looking out for you. I love you."
"What is it going to look like?" Chuck asked with a smile.
"You know." Sarah said with a smile of her own. "You've seen it all before. I might have to flirt with someone."
"I know." Chuck said softly. "And I hope that you know that I love you too. That's why I want you to promise me some things as well."
Sarah just pulled back to look at Chuck in surprise.
"I realize that you're going to be in agent mode." Chuck said. "And that means you're going to be on edge whenever we're in public. I just hope that we can find some time every day to relax and enjoy each other. This is the happiest time of my life. Please don't let them steal that away from us. Let's have the best time with this that we can."
"I'd like that." Sarah said with a smile. "We are newlyweds after all."
"This next one is harder." Chuck said softly with a sad smile. "I want you to promise me that if you have to make a life or death decision between me or you and the baby, that you'll choose you and the baby."
Sarah started to shake her head even before Chuck had finished speaking.
"Let me finish." Chuck said gently but firmly as he silenced Sarah's objection. "I understand that you want us all to make it. And that's what I want too. And I promise I'll never bring this up again. But I just want you to tell me that you'll make sure our baby is going to be ok. And since the baby is inside of you; that means that you have to be ok as well. I need to know that. So I need you to promise me. And I'm not leaving here until you do."
And, just like that, Sarah's vow to not let Chuck see her cry was broken.
"I promise." Sarah said finally as the tears rolled down her cheeks. "But I need you. I need you to help me. I have no idea how to do this on my own."
"I'll be there." Chuck said with a smile. "I can see myself walking her down the aisle with my eyes open. After all, someone is going to have to be around to let her have a little fun. You'll be having her practicing throwing knives by the time she's three."
"It's a good skill to have." Sarah said with a laugh through her tears as she threw herself into Chuck's arms.
"It's a very good skill." Chuck agreed with a smile as he gently rubbed Sarah's back.
"I'll teach her how to break things." Sarah said as she wiped the tears from her eyes. "And you can teach her how to put them back together."
"Sounds like a plan," Chuck said with a laugh. "But whatever we do, let's make sure that we do a better job then our parents did."
Chuck gently kissed Sarah. As the kissing quickly intensified, Sarah knew Chuck's tendencies so well that she could predict the exact moment that his hand would start to enter her shirt.
"Hold on bub," Sarah said with a laugh as she grabbed Chuck's hand. "It's agent time right now. There will enough time for fun when we stop for the night."
"Ok," Chuck sighed.
"Let's get on the road."
General Beckman was sitting at her desk when her administrative assistant knocked on her door.
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said smartly. "But Dr. Wilson is on the phone and was asking to speak with you."
"Hello, Frank," Beckman said as she picked up her phone. "I hope everything is going well."
"Incredibly well, Dianne," Wilson said with a smile. "The intersect is online and functioning well within our expectations."
"Great," Beckman said with a sigh of relief. "Then for what other reason do I owe the pleasure of this call?"
"I just talked to Bryce Larkin this morning." Wilson said confidently. "I've been thinking over your suggestion and I think it has some merit."
"What suggestion?" Beckman asked sharply. "And how did you talk to Bryce Larkin? He's deep undercover for goodness sake."
"Bryce Larkin was asking about making the old intersect worthless by overwriting the data with false data." Wilson said. "I think that idea might actually work. I'm having a simulation model performed to see how our testing goes."
"How did you get a hold of Agent Larkin?" Beckman asked.
"He called me." Wilson said in surprise. "Surely his contact was sanctioned?"
"Let me get back to you." Beckman said suddenly as she hung up her phone. She just sat at her desk for several minutes deep in thought. Suddenly she picked up her phone.
"Yes. I need to get an agent out to Los Angeles as soon as possible."
"Yes, absolutely today."
"I need someone to put a tail on Agent Sarah Walker."
Chapter 8: Separate
"I thought that we were always going to be together." Chuck said sadly as they sat in the car. They were parked five blocks away from the bus terminal. "I'm going to miss you."
"I'm sorry, sweetie." Sarah said softly. "It's just for a little while. We need to throw them off the track. Once they figure out that we're gone, this is the first place that they're going to look. If they find out that you got on a bus alone, they'll concentrate on that."
"Sneaky," Chuck said with a smile as he leaned over to kiss Sarah goodbye. "I thought we were getting a three day head start?"
"I know how they think." Sarah said just before their lips met. "I'm not taking any chances. Just follow the plan and everything will be ok."
"I'm not sure I'll ever get used to you being a brunette." Chuck said with a smile after the lengthy kiss broke and he opened the car door. "It almost feels like I'm cheating on you."
"As long as this is the closest you ever get." Sarah said with her own grin. "Besides, I thought that you liked brunettes."
"I like whatever you are." Chuck said with a smile as he climbed out of the car.
"Chuck," Sarah called just as he was about to close the car door behind him. "Please remember. I need you to trust me. I'll see you soon. And no matter what you see today; know that I'm looking out for you. I love you."
"I know," Chuck said with his classic grin. "I trust you. I love you too."
Sarah waited until Chuck was out of sight before she started the car. As she pulled away, she let out a huge sigh.
"I'll miss you too."
Casey was awakened by his cell phone ringing. If there was one thing that agent training taught you, it was to be a light sleeper. Since it was a little after seven, Casey would have normally been up long ago. For some reason, he had deviated from his routine and used his day off to sleep in.
"Casey, secure," he answered the phone crisply.
"Beckman, secure," Beckman responded. "Major, I need to speak with you and Agent Walker as soon as possible."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said quickly.
"Agent Walker is not answering her cell." Beckman said firmly. "I need you to find her and arrange for a briefing either at your place or the castle, whichever is more convenient."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said with a smile. "What about Bartowski?"
"No," Beckman said sharply. "I just need the two of you. It would be better if Bartowski didn't know about this meeting."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey responded. "I'll get a hold of Walker and contact you as soon as we're available."
"Dismissed," Beckman growled as she terminated the call.
"Well, Walker," Casey said to himself with a smile as he began to get dressed. "Let's see if you're really as good an agent as your reputation says that you are."
"Hello, John," Ellie said as she opened the door. "Is there something that you need?"
Casey thought that there was a coolness to Ellie's tone that had never been there before.
"Hi, Ellie," Casey said in as friendly a tone as he could muster. "I'm sorry to bother you but I'm looking for Chuck. He is not answering his phone. Is he home?"
"Chuck and Sarah are spending the day at the beach." Ellie said. This time there could be no mistaking the coldness in her tone. "I guess they wanted a little alone time since they both have the day off. They probably left their phones in the car. I don't expect them back until late."
"No problem," Casey said with a smile, trying to soften the mood. "I'll talk to him tomorrow. I'm sorry to have bothered you."
As soon as Casey got back in his house he decided to check the location of Chuck's watch. Sure enough, it was at a spot on the beach and not moving.
"Impressive, Walker," Casey said to himself with a smile as he dialed the phone. "Very impressive. You're making this easy for me."
"Yes, General," Casey said. "I'm afraid that Walker and Bartowski are off the grid for today. They went to the beach."
"The beach?" Beckman questioned harshly. "Why on earth would they go to the beach?"
"I'm not sure, ma'am," Casey said. "I didn't know anything about this. I assume it was to protect their cover."
"Are you sure that they are at the beach?" Beckman asked.
"Well, ma'am," Casey replied. "Bartowski's watch is at the beach. Do you have any reason to doubt them?"
"I'm not sure." Beckman said softly, more to herself than to Casey. "I need to speak to Walker as soon as she returns. No matter what time that is. Am I understood?"
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said with the grin starting to grow on his face.
"Dismissed," Beckman growled as she ended the call."
"Good luck finding her now." Casey said to himself with a full fledged grin.
"She'll lead you to hell and back."
Chuck sat on the bus staring out the window. So far everything was going according to Sarah's plan. He walked into the terminal and paid cash for a one way ticket to San Francisco. Having attended Stanford, he was very familiar with the drive. He had even taken the bus a couple of times when his car was in the shop. But he had blocked from his memory how much he hated the bus. The normally three hour drive became six hours as the bus stopped at every podunk town between L.A. and San Francisco.
As the semi mountainous country side flew by outside the window, Chuck tried to think things through. Even though he that he wasn't a super spy, he was trying hard to think like one. After all, he wasn't stupid. He knew why Sarah had chosen San Francisco. Chuck had a connection to the area. And buying his ticket without any disguise meant that they would very quickly figure it out. If the CIA tailed him there, they would assume that he was going to Stanford. They would spend a lot of time checking up on all of his old friends. Time that Sarah would use to their advantage.
But for the most part Chuck was preoccupied with feeling sorry for himself. Even though he knew that their situation was very dangerous, he thought that he was going to be with Sarah. That thought alone was actually making him look forward to this adventure. But here he was, all by himself, on a bus in the middle of nowhere, without his stunning blonde.
"Well," Chuck thought to himself with a smile. "Brunette now,"
It had only been five hours and he missed her like crazy.
General Beckman was sitting at her desk deep in thought when her phone rang.
"Yes," she said quickly as she picked up the handset.
"Dr. Wilson is on line one, ma'am" her AA said.
"Frank," Beckman said as she pushed the blinking button. "What is your status?"
"I have good news." Wilson said. "Our testing is fairly conclusive. We could prepare some false data to upload into the intersect."
"How would that work?" Beckman asked quickly.
"Just like any other update," Wilson replied. "It's just that the information would be false. He would still flash on things. He would just see incorrect information."
"So," said Beckman firmly. "He would no longer be a threat."
"That's right." Wilson said. "He would be totally worthless from an intelligence point of view. Should I have our team start working on the update?"
"Yes," Beckman said quickly. "Please let me know as soon as it's ready."
When Chuck got off the bus in San Francisco, he immediately began to look for the hotel that Sarah had described to him. Since it was about a mile from the bus terminal, it was about a twenty minute walk. But Chuck found it easily. Following Sarah's instructions he registered for a single room for one night and paid in cash. He had a little argument from the clerk who wanted a credit card on file. But he quickly gave in when Chuck insisted that he didn't have one. From looking around, Chuck could tell that the hotel wasn't close to being full and they could use the business. Chuck signed the register as Charles Carmichael just as Sarah had told him. He was looking for the elevator to go up and find his room when he passed the hotel bar.
That's when he saw her.
He almost didn't recognize her himself with the dark hair. But it was obviously her. Sarah was sitting at a table on the other side of the room with a man in a business suit. He looked to be in his mid thirties. They were both laughing. From the way that the man had his arm around Sarah, it was obvious that he had staked a claim.
Chuck knew that he had to get moving. He just couldn't make himself leave as he watched the couple for a long moment. When he finally got to his room he collapsed on the bed in exhaustion.
It was about nine in the evening when Casey's phone rang. He knew immediately that something was wrong. After all, it was midnight in Washington.
"I assume that you haven't heard from Walker." Beckman said crisply.
"No ma'am," Casey said.
"Damn it," Beckman said in a frustrated tone. "I need to talk to her. I have cancelled the termination order on Bartowski."
"That's great, ma'am." Casey said. "You don't sound very happy about it."
"It's not that," Beckman said softly. "This conversation is off the record. Are we clear?"
"I screwed up." Beckman said in defeat. "I briefed Bryce Larkin on the fact that Walker was going to be assigned to work with him. I never thought that it would get back to her. I'm afraid that she has figured out about the termination order."
"I see ma'am."
"Tell me, John," Beckman said with a vulnerability in her voice that he had never heard before. "Give me your honest opinion. If she knew about the termination order, do you think she would run?"
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said so softly that she could barely hear him. "I'm almost positive that she would."
"If we can find her," Beckman said. "Would she accept a new assignment if Bartowski was safe?"
"I'm not sure." Casey said after thinking about it for a moment. "I guess that would depend on the assignment. But I would seriously doubt that she would leave Chuck for any length of time."
"I know." Beckman admitted softly. "We have to find them. No matter what, we can't have the intersect running around the streets. I'm creating a task force to begin the search. I want you to take command."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said firmly.
"Let's be clear." Beckman said with the emotion obvious in her voice. "Our primary objective is just to bring them in. But we can't have Bartowski falling into the wrong hands. That has to take precedence. And if that means we have no other choice…"
"I understand, ma'am." Casey interrupted.
"Please, John," Beckman said. It was more a plea than an order. "Get them back. I'll feel horrible if this ends badly."
"Yes, ma'am, I'll do my best."
The call ended with Casey being much less enthused about Sarah's prowess as an agent.
"Damn, now it's me that you're going to be leading to hell and back."
Chuck was lying on his back on top of the bed when he heard a soft knock on the door. As soon as he opened the door, Sarah quickly entered the room and closed the door behind her. As soon as the door was closed she threw herself into Chuck's arms.
"I saw you looking at me in the bar." Sarah said after a long moment of pure embrace. "You knew that was going to happen, right? You really should have kept moving."
"I know." Chuck sighed. "I'm sorry. All part of the plan. Make sure that nobody associates you to me. No worries. What happened to the guy?"
"He's in his room waiting for me." Sarah said. "Poor guy is going to have to drink a whole bottle of champagne by himself. That's what he gets for trying to cheat on his wife."
"He got off easy." Chuck said with a sad smile. "He'll never get to see you throw a knife. But in his defense, you are quite the temptation. He looked like he was having a good time in the bar."
"I'm sorry, sweetie." Sarah said softly. "That must have been hard to watch."
"A little?" Sarah said with the beginnings of a smile. "It better have been very hard to watch."
"Good," whispered Sarah as she touched her lips to Chuck's.
"Now I have a good reason to make it up to you."
Chapter 9: Task Force
Chuck was just beginning to recover from the latest round of Sarah making it up to him. Naturally, they had found their favorite position. Chuck on his back with Sarah on her side with her head on his chest.
"How's our baby doing?" Chuck asked with his classic grin as he rubbed Sarah's stomach. "Is she kicking?"
"Not yet, silly," Sarah said with a grin of her own. "She doesn't have legs yet."
"What is she going to look like?" Chuck whispered, more to himself than to Sarah, as he continued to stroke her stomach.
And even though there wasn't a thing about their current situation that could remotely be called normal, Sarah was overwhelmed by the normalcy of it. Here she was, Agent Sarah Walker, lying in bed with her husband talking about their unborn baby. If you would have told her six months ago this was going to happen she would have laughed at you. Eighteen months ago she would have said you were trying to pick a fight. And to tell the truth, she couldn't be happier.
"I don't know, sweetie," Sarah whispered softly as she snuggled closer to Chuck and closed her eyes.
"But I can't wait to find out."
Casey was sitting in a conference room inside of the Los Angeles FBI office building. He was addressing the group of agents that Beckman had assembled to find Walker and Bartowski. Beckman had pulled out all of the stops this time. Inside the room were representatives from the NSA, CIA, FBI, ATF, DEA, LAPD, and the California State Police. Casey wasn't sure how she had gotten so many resources in so short a period of time or what she had told them. But there was absolutely no question that he was about to get their full cooperation. Interagency rivalry was being set aside in a way that Casey had never witnessed before.
And even though Casey was a little conflicted about this particular mission, he had to admit, he enjoyed the chase.
"Ok people," Casey said gruffly as he started the meeting by putting Chuck's picture on the screen that took one whole wall of the conference room. "Here is our main objective."
The room drew suddenly silent as all the peripheral conversations stopped.
"His name is Charles Irving Bartowski." Casey continued. "He usually goes by Chuck. He is a total civilian. No real fighting or weapons skills. Fairly average athletically."
"He doesn't look like much of a threat, sir." said one of the men to Casey's right. "If I might ask, why all of us for this guy?"
"Because," said Casey as he put Sarah's picture on the screen. "He is being protected by her."
As soon as Sarah's picture went up, there were several whistles and catcalls.
"Yea, I get it." Casey said with a smirk. "She's pretty. But don't let that fool you. This is Sarah Walker. She is the number one agent in the CIA. She is an expert at hand to hand combat, small arms weapons, and covert tactics. She speaks five different languages fluently and if she throws a knife at you, you're dead. It is imperative that no one try to apprehend Agent Walker without a minimum of a ten person team. Make sure that your people know; anyone who tries to get macho and collar her themselves is going home in a body bag. Is that understood?"
Casey heard a chorus of "yes sir" in response.
"They have at least a twenty four hour head start." Casey said firmly. "They have almost certainly changed their appearance. And we can forget about the normal stuff like cell phones and credit cards. Walker is way too smart for that. Let's concentrate on video surveillance. Somebody must have them on tape someplace. Assemble and brief your teams and we'll get back together in an hour for a SitRep."
As the people in room started to break up, Casey spoke loudly over the growing din.
"Remember people." Casey said. "We're trying to bring them in, not hurt them. Overwhelm them with force and then promise them that no harm will come to them. Use my name. They may trust that."
When Chuck opened his eyes all he could see was his lovely wife staring at him with a sad smile.
"Good morning," Chuck said with a concerned look. "Why are you staring at me? Is something wrong?"
At first Sarah just shook her head but Chuck could see the mist growing in her eyes.
"Sarah," Chuck said as he sat up in bed. "What's wrong?"
"This is something I've been dreading." Sarah whispered softly, afraid her voice would break. "I really don't want to do this."
"Sarah," Chuck said quickly, his senses now on full alert. "You're scaring me. What is it?"
Sarah just stared at Chuck for a long moment. Finally she sighed, "I have to cut your hair."
"You're kidding." Chuck said with a sigh of relief. "Sarah, you scared the crap out of me."
"I love your hair." Sarah whispered as she threw her arms around Chuck. "Now you have to be the blonde of the family."
Chuck laughed as he lay back down on the bed taking Sarah, who was not expecting it, with him.
"I'll tell you what." Chuck said as he tried to control his laughing. "How would you like to make out with a man with brown hair for the last time?"
"Sure?" asked Sarah as she looked around the room laughing. "Do you know one?"
Casey was getting ready for the first sitrep of the morning. One thing was for sure. Beckman was sparing no expense on this mission. On a table at the side of the room was an assortment of pastries and fresh fruit. A large urn of gourmet coffee was at the end of the table. Usually on these task force assignments you were lucky to get five minutes to go to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee. The team was obviously similarly impressed. They were helping themselves to the continental breakfast as Casey walked up. He poured himself a cup of coffee and stepped to the front of the room.
"Ok, folks," Casey said in a business like tone. "What is our status?"
A Captain from LAPD was the first to speak.
"Sir," he said. "We have video of Bartowski at the bus station yesterday morning. He purchased a one way to San Francisco. No sign of Walker."
"Concentrate on San Francisco." Casey said immediately. "Check the video from the bus terminal and make sure he got off the bus. Then check all the hotels within a five mile radius of the terminal."
"He attended Stanford." said the chief of the L.A. FBI office. "Maybe he had a friend pick him up. Should we check out his known friends?"
"Not yet," Casey said with a smile. "That's what Walker is planning. She allowed Bartowski to board a bus in his normal appearance and travel to someplace alone where he has a known association?"
"Yes, sir," the Chief said. "It appears so."
"She wants us to spend a lot of time and energy checking out Stanford." Casey said. "She would never trust anybody that knows who Bartowski is. This is a head fake."
"We still don't have anything on Walker." the Captain said stoically. "We'll keep checking the area."
"Back burner," Casey said softly as his eyes gazed over in thought. "Wherever Bartowski is…"
The men leaned in to strain to hear what Casey was saying.
"Walker is with him. You can count on that."
"When did you learn to cut hair?" Chuck asked as he sat in the chair while Sarah was putting the final touches on his new short spike do.
"Training," Sarah said without pausing. "A spy needs to be able to disguise herself. It's saved my life more than once."
"But where did you learn to cut a man's hair?" Chuck asked with a grin.
"A man is a perfect disguise." Sarah said as she carefully collected the scraps of Chuck's hair and put them in a bag.
"How could you possibly be believable as a man?" Chuck asked incredulously.
"You'd be surprised." Sarah said with a smile. "I actually considered it for this mission. But we would have to keep it up for too long. And you're too tall to make a believable woman."
"Woman?" Chuck questioned.
"Way too tall," Sarah said with a grin as she kissed him while ignoring his question. "And I don't have the equipment here to cut six inches off your legs."
"You're kidding." Chuck whispered in horror."
"Of course I'm kidding." Sarah said as her smile turned into a huge grin. "Now let's make you a blonde. We need to get moving. We're behind schedule."
Casey was on his forth cup of coffee and third prune Danish. The caffeine was making him feel a little jumpy. And if definitely didn't improve his mood. He had just decided that he's had enough coffee this morning when the FBI chief came bursting into the room.
"Sir," the Chief said excitedly. "We have located Bartowski. He checked into a hotel last night."
"Under his own name?" Casey asked with a sarcastic smile.
"Yes, sir," the chief said. "There was no sign of Walker."
"Quietly surround the building." Casey said quickly. Maybe Sarah was expecting more of a head start and they could surprise her. "Don't make a move until you have a team in place. I want them unharmed."
"Yes, sir," said the chief as he quickly left.
Chuck was coming through the hotel lobby on his way to the parking lot. Sarah had insisted that they come down separately. He was just about to go out the main door when he noticed a man standing at the front desk in a business suit. As the man turned his head, Chuck got a good look at his face. Then he flashed. As soon as the flash was over he quickly found his way outside and into the car.
"FBI agent in the lobby," Chuck whispered.
Most people wouldn't have noticed the brief look of alarm that came over Sarah's face.
"Shit," she said softly as she started the car. "Did he see you?"
"No," said Chuck quickly. "I'm pretty sure he didn't."
Sarah pulled the car calmly out of the parking lot and into the parking lot of a convenience store a block away and across the street from the hotel. As they sat in the car they could see the many unmarked cars that were obviously carrying agents. Sarah watched as they set up a perimeter around the hotel.
Chuck looked at Sarah's face. She seemed unworried, except that her Glock was sitting on her lap just under the steering wheel.
"What's going on?" Chuck said in concern. "I thought we were getting a three day head start."
"Not now, Chuck." Sarah snapped as she pulled the car into the street. "I need to think."
Casey was in the conference room having just gotten off the phone with General Beckman. She was definitely not in a good mood and Casey was thankful that the call had ended. Especially since he really had nothing to tell her. Suddenly the FBI chief entered the room.
"We just missed him," he said quickly.
"How long?" Casey said.
"Maybe five minutes," the Chief replied. "The hot water pipes in the bathroom were still warm.
"Put surveillance on all exit routes within a ten mile perimeter." Casey said quickly. "We'll have them trapped. Plant a story on the local media. Make it a convenience store robbery and post their pictures. They won't be able to hide for long."
As the Chief quickly left the room to make the arrangements, Casey face was wrapped in a smile.
"Sorry, Walker, but we've got you now."
Sarah carefully drove on through the city avoiding any main roads. Finally, she spotted what she was looking for. She pulled the car into a truck stop restaurant. The morning rush was about over but there were still several rigs in the parking lot. Sarah pulled up next to a car hauler that had a variety of used cars and parked the car.
"Sweetie," Sarah said softly as she turned towards Chuck. "I'm so sorry that I snapped at you."
"Sorry enough to make it up to me tonight?" Chuck asked with a grin.
"I'm afraid that you're going to have to add it to today's list." Sarah responded with a sad smile. "I might have to put in some overtime tonight. I need you to wait here in the car for a few minutes."
"Why?" Chuck asked softly. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to get us out of here." Sarah said with a smile as she opened the car door and climbed out. "Trust me?"
"Always," Chuck said with a smile.
"I'll be right back." Sarah said as she placed her Glock in its normal resting place and unbuttoned the top button of her blouse.
"I'm going to go pick up a truck driver."
Chapter 10: Escape
Even though Devon and Ellie were doctors in the same hospital, they hardly ever saw each other at work. After all, they worked in totally different areas of a very large hospital. Devon was a surgeon and Ellie worked in the Emergency Room. Oh, once in a while, Ellie would have to hand off a patient from the ER to have an emergency surgery. But that was very rare. On occasion they had consulted on a patient but you could count those on one hand. They tried to meet for lunch whenever possible. But even that was getting more and more difficult because of their schedules. So Devon was very surprised when Ellie asked to meet with him in a conference room.
"Hi babe," Devon said to Ellie as he closed the door. "Is there something wrong?"
"I have something to tell you." Ellie said, ignoring Devon's question. "And I can't do it at home."
"What is it?" Devon said as his eyes widened in alarm. "Is there something wrong with the wedding?"
"No, sweetie," Ellie said as she noticed the concern in his eyes. "Don't worry. It's not about us. Everything is perfect with us. It's about Chuck."
"Ellie," Devon said softly. "Chuck is welcome to stay as long as he wants. I hope you know that I think of him as a brother. He'll get back on his feet soon. I know…"
"No, sweetie," Ellie interrupted. "It's bigger than that. Let me tell you the whole story."
So as Devon sat in shock, Ellie told him the story that Sarah and Chuck had just told her. When she got to the part about Chuck being in danger and on the run, tears began to stream down her face.
"So," Devon said as soon as Ellie was finished. "Sarah is in the CIA, Chuck is a national security asset, both bad guys and the government are after him, our apartment is bugged, Chuck and Sarah are married, and Sarah is pregnant. Is that about right?
"Yes," Ellie whisper trying to compose herself. "I need to teach you how to contact them in case they are watching me."
"Way to go Chuckster." Devon finally said with a broad grin.
"And here you were worried that he wasn't living up to his potential."
Chuck had seen this scene play out so many times that he was barely jealous. Of course he knew that Sarah was beautiful. You could see that from a mile away. But what always blew Chuck away was how easily she could get men that she had never met before to do her bidding. Men just seemed to lose all sense around her. Take this truck driver that she was walking out of the restaurant with. The smile on his face told the world that this was just going to be the luckiest day of his life. And she played the part so well. Her smile as she wrapped her arm through his would melt a glacier. Chuck almost felt a little sorry for the man. Almost.
"So, Earl," Sarah said as they walked towards the truck. "You actually sleep inside your truck?"
"Of course," Earl said with a grin. "The sleeper is nicer than my bedroom."
"This I have to see." Sarah said with a laugh.
Earl opened the door to the cab. As he reached his hand out to help Sarah up all he could see was the barrel of Sarah's Glock pointed at him.
"What the…" Earl said in surprise.
"Sorry," Sarah said softly. "I promise if you do everything I say you won't be hurt."
Sarah motioned for Chuck to join them.
"What's going on?" Chuck said to Sarah with the concern obvious in his voice.
"They know that we're here," Sarah said calmly. "Standard procedure is to put up roadblocks for a ten mile radius. If we can't get past those roadblocks we're going to be in real trouble."
Chuck glanced at Earl. He was visibly shaking.
"Don't worry, Earl," Sarah said with a soft smile.
"We just need a ride."
Casey had assembled his team for a mid morning briefing.
"Are all of the roadblocks in place?" Casey asked firmly.
"Yes, sir," said the Captain from the California State Police. We have a checkpoint on every road for a ten mile radius. It was a lot easier since the bay already cuts off a lot of routes."
"Make sure that all the teams know," Casey said calmly. "That Walker may well decide to shoot it out. Everybody needs to be alert. I want every team to check in every five minutes."
"Yes, sir," replied the Captain.
"What about the story plant?" Casey said.
"We have leaked a story to the local media." the Captain said with a grin. "These two held up a convenience store and capped the clerk. We posted their pictures and asked that anybody with information call 911. They are to be considered armed and dangerous. We've already received a few calls. But nothing has panned out yet."
"Great," Casey said. "I want two person roving patrols checking out every business. Somebody has to have seen them. They can't lay low very long."
As the team broke up to perform their tasks, Casey looked at his watch. It was just a little after ten.
"Hopefully," Casey said to himself with a smile. "We can wrap this up by suppertime."
One of the great things about Sarah was that she was able to command a situation without raising her voice. She quickly had Chuck take the license plate off their car and had Earl load it into this trailer. Then within just a few minutes they were on the road.
"Ok, Earl," Sarah said softly as she leaned her head out of the sleeper to speak directly in his ear while she gently rubbed his shoulder. "Please relax. Here is the deal. We're not looking to hurt anyone. We just need past this roadblock. If you can get us through that, this will all be over. If you make me shoot it out, a lot of innocent people are going to be hurt. You don't want that, do you?"
All Earl could do was shake his head.
"Great," Sarah said with a smile. "I know that you're not going to let me down."
For some reason that he couldn't begin to explain, Chuck was very relaxed lying in the sleeper compartment. Well, that wasn't totally true. There were some things he could explain. Even though he had never been involved in a car jacking before, the love of his life was lying next to him. And her smile was infectious. After all, Chuck was a man too.
And Earl was great at the roadblock. They never expected a thing. It was actually a good thing that Earl was a little nervous. It kept him from speaking. When the officers showed Earl the pictures and asked if he had seen anybody, all he did was shake his head and cough. Even when the officers told Earl that they were looking for the pair because they had robbed a store and murdered the clerk, Earl never wavered. After a minute, they were back on the road.
"Good job," Sarah said as soon as they were safely past the roadblock. "Where are you headed anyway?"
"Seattle," Earl replied nervously. "Why?"
"Just curious," Sarah said with a smile. "Don't worry. I'm just going to get my husband here to take a nap and them I'll come down and sit with you for a while."
Chuck really hadn't been married to Sarah all that long. Just a couple days over two months. And for most of that time, they weren't even living together. So he was just beginning to be able to pick up her moods. One mood that Chuck had never had any trouble picking up on was when she was in the mood. And now was definitely one of those times. Chuck tried to close the curtain between the sleeper compartment and the cab but was stopped by Sarah's hand before he could close it completely.
"That's an odd way to get me to take a nap." Chuck whispered with a grin in between the passionate kisses that Sarah was planting on him.
"What can I say?" Sarah whispered back with a sly grin as she began to unbutton Chuck's shirt. "Escapes always turn me on. So it looks like it's either you or Earl here."
"Oh, it's definitely going to be me." Chuck whispered with a smile of his own. "But aren't you afraid that he can hear us?"
"I want him to hear us." Sarah whispered. "He needs to think about something other than being afraid."
Chuck was lying on his back trying to catch his breath when he noticed that Sarah was getting dressed.
"What's going on?" Chuck asked inquisitively.
"It really would be a good idea if you could take a nap." Sarah whispered to him as she kissed his ear. "We are going to have to drive through the night."
"What are you going to do?" Chuck asked with his eyes narrowed.
"I'm going to go up and talk to Earl for a while." Sarah replied with a grin. "He needs to calm down a little. Look at him. He's scared to death."
"Don't worry, sweetie," Sarah said with a soft laugh as she recognized the look on Chuck's face. "I'm just going to talk to him."
"Don't you think you might need this?" Chuck said with a smile as he handed Sarah her bra.
"I wasn't really planning on it." Sarah said as her face blossomed into a full fledged grin. "But if you insist."
Casey was on the phone with Beckman. It was already the fifth time today that she had called. She was obviously anxious to have this over with.
"Yes, ma'am," said Casey. "We have all of the exit routes blocked. There is no way for them to escape now."
"Do you think that she will try and shoot it out?" Beckman asked.
"It's very possible, ma'am." Casey said sadly. "She may feel that she has nothing to lose. If she's desperate enough, who knows what she'll do?"
"Let's give ourselves a negotiating chip." Beckman said. "Have the sister picked up.
"Do you think that's a good idea, ma'am?" Casey said. "I really don't think she knows anything."
"We need to have something to offer Walker." Beckman said harshly. "Right now, she feels that she has nothing to lose. Let's have something to offer her in exchange for her giving up. Have her picked up."
Sarah was sitting next to Earl. By looking at them one would never guess that a hijacking was taking place. Sarah turned on all the charm to make Earl feel comfortable. And Chuck was actually able to fall asleep. Something about the rhythm of the moving truck. Sarah let Earl drive until they got a little north of Redding. Then she had him pull off onto a desolate road in the country. After waking up Chuck, she asked Earl to get their car off the trailer. Then she asked Earl to get into the sleeper compartment and climbed in with him.
"Are you going to kill me now?" Earl asked sadly.
"Relax, Earl." Sarah said softly. "I'm not going to kill you. I want to show you something."
"You're a CIA agent?" Earl asked as he looked at Sarah's ID.
"That's right." Sarah said with a smile. "I'm actually one of the good guys. So you don't have to worry. But I do need to get a head start before you talk to the police."
"I won't say anything." Earl said quickly. "I promise."
"Come on, Earl," Sarah said softly. "Of course you will. And you should. So I'm going to give you a shot. Don't worry. You'll just sleep for about six hours. When you wake up, feel free to contact the police. I wouldn't tell them about the CIA part. They're not going to believe you anyway."
As soon as Sarah injected Earl, she leaned over to him and placed a paper in his shirt pocket.
"This is a note that I would like you to give to the authorities." Sarah said with a smile. "They will know what it means. I am also leaving a thousand dollars just to compensate you for the inconvenience."
Just as Earl's eyes were starting to droop, Sarah leaned over and kissed him gently.
"That was to remember out little adventure." she whispered. "Thanks for the ride."
As soon as Sarah got out of the cab, she walked over to Chuck.
"Do you think you can drive for a while?" Sarah said with a grin. "We need to drive through the night. The farther we can get from this spot before he wakes up, the safer we'll be. I'll take a nap for a couple of hours. Wake me up when you get tired."
"Where are we headed?" Chuck asked as he pulled the car back on the road.
"East," Sarah said as she rolled on her side and closed her eyes.
"We're heading for Denver."
Casey was just getting ready to order some supper. It was getting close to eight and there still was no word on Walker. He had just accepted the fact that he would be spending the night in the conference room when the FBI agent walked in.
"I'm afraid I have some bad news, sir." he said. "We just got a call from a car hauler. Walker and Bartowski kidnapped him and he drove them past the checkpoint at gunpoint. They left him a little north of Redding."
"Damn," Casey said. "How much of a head start do they have?"
"Over six hours, I'm afraid." he said sadly. "Walker left a note for you. I had them fax it to us."
Casey read the note that the agent handed him. Even though he was about to have his ass handed to him by Beckman, he couldn't help the smile that came over his face. He threw the note on the table so that it was plain to see what was written.
Chapter 11: Home
"Sarah," Chuck whispered softly. He felt so horribly guilty waking her up. She absolutely looked like an angel sleeping there. So much so that Chuck had grabbed her left hand and had been holding it for the past couple hours. Something about agent training must include how to sleep. Because it was only late afternoon and Sarah had been sleeping soundly for almost four hours.
"Sarah," Chuck whispered again, this time a little more urgently and accompanied it with a gentle tug on her hand. Sarah's eyes popped open immediately into agent mode.
"What's wrong?" she said quickly as Chuck could see her reach for her gun.
"Nothing is wrong." Chuck said as soothingly as he could. "We're just getting low on gas. Where should I stop?"
Sarah's smile was enough to make him forget all of his troubles, for a moment anyway.
"Gas is going to be a problem." Sarah said with a sigh. "Any gas station that we stop at will almost certainly have video. They will eventually find it."
"They're going to catch us?" Chuck asked in alarm.
"No, sweetie," Sarah said with a smile as she squeezed Chuck's hand for comfort. "We just have to make it hard on them. Fortunately there are two six gallon gas cans in the trunk. We're not going to have to stop for gas for another six hours."
"But what if they already know?" Chuck said.
"Don't worry, sweetie." Sarah said with a laugh. "Earl won't wake up for a while yet. By the time they discover what he means, we'll have at least another three hours. By the time they know it was us, we'll be five hundred miles away. That's a lot of gas station videos to look at. Even for them. It will take them days."
"Good," said Chuck. "I'm in good hands."
"Where are we anyway?" Sarah said as she yawned.
"We just crossed the Idaho border." Chuck replied. "Could we stop and stretch our legs for a second?"
"Sure," Sarah said with a smile. "We'll stop at the next fast food place. We can get something to eat and use the rest room."
So Chuck drove until Sarah indicated that he should take the next exit. As soon as they got off the freeway, there was a variety of fast food restaurants.
"Ok, sweetie," Sarah said as she directed Chuck to pull into the closest burger joint. "Seconds count here. We need to put as many miles as possible between us and where we left Earl before they figure out that we escaped. Order us some food while I go to the restroom. Then I'll wait while you go."
"What do you want?" Chuck said as he got out of the car and stretched.
Casey was fairly sure that if he took the phone away from his ear, he would be able to hear General Beckman screaming all the way from Washington. She was definitely not pleased. Being a military officer for the past sixteen years, Casey had certainly heard his share of curse words. And he didn't hear anything from Beckman that he hadn't heard many times before. But what Beckman lacked in originality, she more than made up for quantity… and volume. But Casey knew Beckman well enough to know that she was stressed. And why shouldn't she be? Not only had she lost control of the Intersect. It was her poor decision that caused the whole crises in the first place.
"What are we doing to find them?" Beckman said as she finally took a break in her seemingly endless stream of profanity. "Were we able to get a decent description?"
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said quickly. "It was definitely them. Walker changed her hair color to dark brown. Bartowski is now blonde with a spiked haircut. We've altered their pictures to account for the new appearance and have distributed them."
"Did you get a description of the vehicle?" Beckman asked.
"I'm afraid not, ma'am." Casey said with a sigh.
"What do you mean?" Beckman said in a shocked tone.
"Apparently, he was scared, ma'am." Casey said cautiously. "All he can remember is the car was grey… or silver."
"This is a nightmare." Beckman said followed directly by an additional stream of profanity. "A freaking nightmare."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said sadly.
"Let me get this straight." Beckman said. "They have a seven hour head start. Which means they could be anywhere within a five hundred mile radius. And all we have to go on is that they are driving a grey car?"
"Or silver, ma'am," Casey said as he visibly winced. As soon as the words were out of his mouth he realized how stupid a thing it was to say.
"Or freaking silver," Beckman repeated sarcastically. "I'm coming out there. Expect me in six hours."
Yes, ma'am," Casey said. For once he was glad that they were not on a video conference so he wouldn't have to hide the disappointment in his face.
As soon as Beckman ended the call, Casey treated the team that was still assembled in the room to a torrent of his own brand of profanity.
They mostly agreed.
As Sarah and Chuck headed back to the car with their food, Chuck went to the driver's door and got into the car.
"Sweetie," Sarah said. "I can take a turn driving."
"If it's ok with you," Chuck said softly with a grin. "I'd like you to take a few minutes and relax. Eat your dinner. Then maybe we'll figure out a way to smile for a second while we're escaping the entire government and certain death."
Sarah unpacked the food as Chuck pulled back onto the freeway. She had to smile when she saw what Chuck had picked out for her. A chicken salad, two bottles of white milk, and an apple. Naturally, he had chosen his typical burger, fries, and soda.
"Looking out for the baby, I see." Sarah said with a grin as she handed Chuck his burger.
"Just being a dad," Chuck said with a matching grin. "But, just for the record, I'm looking out for you too."
As they ate their food, neither said much. But eventually their hands found each other in the twilight.
"I'm having a blast." Chuck finally whispered as he gave Sarah's hand a gentle squeeze.
"You are?" Sarah asked in amazement.
"Yup," replied Chuck. "Before today, I had never even ridden in a big rig. Much less made love to the most beautiful woman in the whole world in one."
"I have to admit," Sarah said with a huge smile. "I enjoyed it too."
"I'm really hoping," Chuck said with his trademark grin. "That it was a first for you as well."
"Well…." Sarah started hesitantly.
"Come on, sweetie," Sarah said quickly as she saw the look on Chuck's face. "I'm just teasing you."
Even in the semi darkness Sarah could see the sadness in Chuck's face. So she unfastened her seat belt and slid as close to Chuck as the bucket seat would allow.
"I'm so sorry." Sarah whispered as she put her head on Chuck's shoulder. "I was just kidding. I didn't think."
"Don't be silly," Chuck said sadly. "You didn't do anything wrong. This is my issue. It's ok. I really don't expect you to understand."
"You don't think I understand?" Sarah asked softly. "Trust me, Chuck. If I had to see you in anything like the situations you have had to see me in, I'd be a wreck. You'd be scraping me off the ceiling. Sweetie, I totally understand."
"I try so hard not to get jealous." Chuck said with a deep sigh. "I'm really trying."
"I want you to listen to me." Sarah said. "I've never told you this before. Are you listening?"
Chuck just nodded his head.
"You'll never know how much you mean to me." Sarah continued. "You're way more than my husband. You're my best friend. You're the other half of me. I never thought I'd ever feel this way about anyone. And it kind of scared me for a long time. So I kept pushing you away."
"I remember." Chuck said with a slight smile.
"That was cruel." Sarah said. "I'm sorry. I was just scared. I didn't know what to do. But I want you to know that is over. I know that I don't say this very often, but I love you."
"Wow," Chuck said with a little broader smile. You must really be panicked. That's the most I've ever heard you talk about your feelings."
"I am," Sarah whispered. "I don't want anyone to hurt you. But I feel especially terrible when it's me."
"I know that." Chuck said with an even broader smile. "You know how much I love you."
"I can't wait to see you get jealous." Chuck said with a grin. "I bet it is really cute."
"Be careful what you wish for." Sarah whispered, more to herself than to Chuck as she snuggled her face deeper into his neck.
So, even though their situation was grim, Chuck had never felt better in his whole life. Driving down the now dark mostly deserted freeway, he felt himself wishing that this would never end. For an entire hour they drove as Sarah snuggled into him. Finally he couldn't help but whisper to himself.
"I'm the luckiest guy in the world."
Ellie and Devon finally had a chance to spend an evening together. Since it didn't happen all that often, they always made an extra effort to make the most of it whenever it did. So it wasn't a surprise at all that quickly after dinner they had found themselves necking on the couch.
"Wow, babe," Devon said as soon as he could come up for air. "You're really into this. I was afraid that you would be too worried about Chuck."
"Me too." Ellie said with a sly smile. "But the truth is; I'm not all that worried about Chuck."
"You're not?" Devon asked in pure amazement.
"Nope," Ellie said. "Don't get me wrong. I miss him. But you didn't see Sarah's eyes when she told me that she would never let anyone hurt Chuck."
"Sarah?" Devon said with obvious skepticism.
"Don't underestimate her." Ellie said. "I saw the fire in her eyes. I know that we think of her as this sweet, shy person. But when push comes to shove, she is going to turn into a tiger. I know it."
"That makes me feel a lot better." Devon said with a sigh.
"If you think that makes you feel better," Ellie said as she pulled Devon to his feet and led him towards the bedroom."
"You ain't seen nothing yet."
Sarah gently shook Chuck awake. Chuck wasn't quite sure how long he had been sleeping. He remembered Sarah telling him that they had to leave the freeway and use back roads for the rest of the trip. He remembered stopping for gas. And that was when Sarah insisted on driving. Her instructions to Chuck to get some sleep left very little room for interpretation. But he had fallen asleep while it was still dark. It was light out now. From where the sun was positioned in the sky, Chuck guessed that it was mid morning. When he finally got his eyes to focus, he could see that they were parked in a driveway.
"Where are we?" Chuck asked as he yawned and stretched his arms.
"We're here." Sarah said softly.
That caused Chuck to become instantly alert. When he looked around he could see what looked to be an average middle class suburban neighborhood. It wasn't a cul-de-sac but it may as well have been. Chuck was looking at a ranch style house. It was very average looking. Nice and clean but modest. Chuck guessed that it had two bedrooms. He could see an attached garage.
"This is your house?" Chuck asked.
"No, sweetie," Sarah said with a smile. "Of course not. This is our house."
"Sarah," Chuck whispered. "We actually have a house in the suburbs?"
"We sure do." Sarah replied as she opened the car door. "Come on. Don't you want to see it?"
Sarah walked up the sidewalk with Chuck right behind her. When they got to the front door, Sarah took a key out of her purse and unlocked it. As she was ready to walk into the house she felt Chuck's hand on her shoulder, stopping her.
"Is there something wrong?" Sarah asked.
"I'm afraid so." Chuck said with a smile. "We've been cheated out of a lot of things but we're not being cheated out of this."
With that, Chuck scooped Sarah up into his arms and carried her over the threshold and into the house.
"Welcome home, Mrs. Bartowski."
Chapter 12: Closing In
Sarah had insisted that they move the car into the garage even before they unpacked. Only after the car was safely in the garage with the door closed would Sarah allow Chuck to bring in their bags. Once the bags were in the house Sarah announced it was time for a nap.
When Chuck opened his eyes, it took him more than a moment to even remember where he was. But the sight of Sarah's head lying on his chest immediately calmed whatever nerves he had. Then he remembered. They had been so exhausted that they just stripped down to their underwear and went right to bed. Since Chuck had slept in the car, he was a little more rested. Not wanting to wake Sarah, Chuck just lay quietly and watched her sleep. There was absolutely no thought of complaint since that was one of his favorite things to do anyway.
It was only a few minutes until Sarah's eyes started to stir.
"Hi, sweetie," Sarah whispered with her classic smile. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm feeling like it's our honeymoon." Chuck said with his own smile as he pulled Sarah into a kiss.
"Chuck," Sarah said softly as she returned the kiss. "It is our honeymoon. Let's get something to eat and let me check the news. Then I'll prove it too you."
Casey was lying on a cot in the back room. It wasn't very comfortable. But, after all, he had slept in worst places. And he needed to get some rest. He knew full well that once Beckman got there nobody was getting much rest. It seemed like he was just shutting his eyes when someone was shaking him. When Casey's eyes popped open, he was looking at the director of the L.A. FBI office.
"What's up?" Casey said with a yawn as he struggled to clear the cobwebs.
"Sorry, sir," the Director said excitedly. "They've been spotted."
That quickly snapped Casey' attention to full alert.
"Just outside Twin Falls, Idaho." the director said as he walked out of the room.
Casey quickly followed the director into the conference room where a group of men were gathered discussing the events.
"They've been spotted?" Casey said loudly enough to get the men's attention.
"Yes, sir," one of the men responded. "We got lucky. They stopped at a gas station way off the beaten path. The owner's brother is the county sheriff. So, when he saw the BOLO that we posted, he thought he recognized them. When they ran the surveillance tapes, and we got them."
"Are we sure it's them?" Casey asked.
"Yes, sir," the man responded as he handed Casey a picture. He could clearly see both Chuck and Sarah as they went into the station to use the facilities.
"How long ago?" Casey asked as he walked to the large map that was posted on the wall.
"About four hours," one of the men replied.
"Do we have any info on the car?" Casey asked eagerly.
"Yes, sir," the man said with a smile as he handed Casey another picture.
Casey's face lit up into a huge grin as he could clearly see the California license plates on the car.
"They are headed for either Salt Lake City or Denver." Casey said as he studied the map. "Alert the locals in both cities. Make sure that they understand how dangerous Walker is."
"There's one more thing." one of the men said softly with a smirk. "We got something more from the truck driver. It seems like our couple got really friendly in the back while he was driving."
"Good for them," Casey whispered under his breath.
As Casey was studying the picture of Chuck and Sarah he couldn't help the grin that was overcoming his face. Unfortunately, whatever enjoyment he was taking from the moment was interrupted by a string of profanity.
General Beckman had arrived.
Chuck was sitting at the kitchen table finishing his eggs. Who knew that she could cook? Ok, so maybe scrambled eggs didn't qualify her for chef's school. But man, did she look sexy cooking them in her underwear. It was almost enough to make him forget how hungry he was. Almost.
"Do you want some more eggs?" Sarah asked as she took a bite.
"No, thanks," Chuck said with a grin. "I would like to see you cook some more, though. Will you promise that you'll wear that same stuff every time you cook?"
"Stop," Sarah said as she playfully slapped Chuck's chest.
"Come to think about it," Chuck said with his trademark smile. "It might not work too well having Ellie and Devon over for Thanksgiving dinner. Devon might not mind. But I don't think Ellie will go for it."
But instead of smiling at his joke, Sarah just turned away.
"Don't worry." Chuck said with as soothing a voice as he could. "I know that you miss Ellie. But we'll get through this."
"I know." Sarah said sadly. "That's not it."
"What's the matter then?"
"It's just," Sarah began with a sigh. "On Thanksgiving, I'm going to be fat and ugly."
"You're kidding, right?" Chuck asked incredulously.
Sarah simply shook her head sadly as she carried the dirty dishes to the sink. Chuck quickly followed her and stepped up to her back and put his arms around her.
"Listen to me." Chuck said softly as he nuzzled her neck. "I understand how you feel. I mean you're the most beautiful woman I've ever seen in my life. And I can see how that would become a big part of how you see yourself. I'll admit; that's how I first saw you. But now I'm so happy that I got to know you. Now I understand that your good looks are your least important quality."
"Are you sure?" Sarah asked in a half whisper.
"Trust me," Chuck said with a grin. "On Thanksgiving, when you're almost ready to have our baby, you'll never be more beautiful to me."
"Thanks," Sarah whispered as she turned to face him.
"And I'll finally have a chance to be able to outrun you." Chuck replied just before their lips met.
So, instead of a kiss, Chuck got something much better. He was able to make the love of his life laugh.
"What's this I heard about a honeymoon?" Chuck said as soon as they had both stopped laughing. "Does that still apply?"
"Absolutely," said Sarah with her eyes still shining with laughter. "Just give me a minute to get on the computer and let Ellie know that we're ok."
Ellie was home alone making dinner. It was actually the second night in a row that Devon and her were going to be able to have dinner together. Ellie couldn't remember the last time that happened. So she fully intended to take advantage of the situation. Where last night had been about the quick passion of two lovers that hadn't had much time for each other, tonight Ellie wanted more romance. And Ellie knew that when she wanted something it was up to her to make it happen. So the rack of lamb was just about to come out of the oven. Devon's favorite custard pie was already cooling on the counter. The finest china was set on the dining room table and the candles were already lit.
Devon was due home any minute so Ellie quickly changed into Devon's favorite dress. A tight fitting burgundy number that had a high slit and a low neckline. When Devon walked in the door his jaw dropped at the sight. Fortunately, Devon had a meeting with the Head Surgeon today so his usual scrubs were replaced with a sports jacket and tie.
"Hi, babe," Devon said as he took in the sight of the rack of lamb sitting on the candlelit table. And the topper, Ellie poured into his favorite dress. "What's the occasion?"
"No occasion." Ellie said softly. "I just figured it was time to treat ourselves to a nice night."
"I thought that last night was pretty nice." Devon said with a smile.
"It was." Ellie replied as her face blushed a little. "It was very nice. I just thought we'd go for a little romance tonight."
And it was totally romantic. They say at the table and talked and ate and connected on a level that they hadn't seen in a long time.
"Babe," Devon said. "You look awesome in that dress. Why don't you relax for a minute while I clear the table and then maybe we can find out what you look like out of it?"
"That's sweet." Ellie said. "I think I'm going to check my email."
So Ellie turned on her laptop. One of the first things that she always did was check the Lost forum. That's where Sarah would post any messages in the code they had set up. She knew that it might be some time before she heard from them. Sarah had warned her against that. So she was very surprised to see a post from ILovNerds. That was the handle that Sarah had given her. With her hand shaking so badly she could barely type, Ellie opened a word document and keyed in the words from the post using the sequence that Sarah had specified. Ellie immediately took the laptop over to where Devon was working.
"Babe," Devon said softly. "What's wrong? You're shaking."
Little did Devon know that his romantic evening was about to take a dramatic turn for the better. With tears streaming down her cheeks, Ellie turned the screen so that Devon could read the five word message.
Arrived Safely. All is well.
Beckman, as was her custom, took charge immediately.
"What are we currently doing?" she demanded.
"Well, ma'am," Casey began. "We have issued a BOLO for a five hundred mile radius. We have published a description of the car and its plates. Hopefully Walker wasn't counting on us finding that tape so quickly so she is still confident. Maybe she'll make a mistake."
"What about the local media?" Beckman said.
"Yes, ma'am," said Casey. "We have planted a story in the Salt Lake City and Denver media similar to what we ran in San Francisco. We altered their pictures to be in line with their current appearance. It's the same story. They're wanted for robbing a convenience store and killing the clerk. That should motivate the public to keep an eye out for them."
"They won't be able to last long." Beckman said. "If they travel, we find them. If they stay in one place they will become familiar."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey sighed. "I think we have them now."
Casey about fell over when he saw the smile on Beckman's face. She was reading the report from Earl, the truck driver.
"They made love in the semi while they were on the run?" Beckman said softly, more to herself than to Casey. "I guess they really are in love."
"Yes. Ma'am," Casey agreed. "They did a good job at hiding it. But they must be."
Casey wasn't sure if he saw tears in Beckman's eyes or not. And she quickly turned away so that Casey couldn't tell. But when Beckman's voice actually cracked, Casey knew for sure.
"I'm sorry, Sarah," Beckman whispered.
"But we can't have the intersect walking around the streets."
Chuck was lying on his back in his usual position. Round one of honeymoon action had just finished.
"You know," Sarah said softly as she picked her head up from Chuck's chest to look into his eyes. "I hope you're pacing yourself. We're going to be stuck in this house all day with not much to do."
"Really," Chuck said with a grin. "A prisoner in paradise, huh?"
"Exactly," Sarah said with a laugh. "Be careful what you wish for, mister. You might just get it."
"I'll tell you what." Chuck said with a laugh. "If I ever get tired of this, we might as well turn ourselves in. I'm dead anyway."
"True," Sarah said.
"When are you going to tell me about how this house is so livable?" Chuck asked. "I know you haven't been here in almost two years. How could there possibly be fresh fruit?"
Suddenly Sarah's face fell and lost its glow.
"Ok, sweetie," Sarah whispered sadly.
"I knew that I was going to have to tell you sometime."
Chapter 13: Wild Oats
Chuck could tell that Sarah was nervous. It was pretty easy for him to see. Sarah always got really chatty when she was nervous. And now she was really chatty. She had thrown on Chuck's t-shirt and was pacing the room like a caged tiger.
"Sarah," Chuck said. "What's wrong?"
"Sweetie," Sarah began nervously. "We would never be able to make it on our own without help. I always knew that. Whenever we would have to get groceries someone would eventually recognize us. So I got us some help."
"What kind of help?" Chuck asked.
"I have a friend," Sarah said as she continued to pace. "She was my first partner in the CIA. We worked together until she got hurt on a mission in Columbia and had to retire. She lives a couple of miles away. She is going to help us. She'll bring us groceries and stuff until the heat goes away."
"That sounds nice," Chuck said. "Why is it bothering you so much to tell me this? Don't you trust her?"
"It depends," Sarah said sadly. "I trust her with my life. I trust her to help us and to not betray us to the CIA."
"But…" Chuck asked.
"I don't trust her with you," Sarah finally blurted out after a long pause. "You don't know her. She's not going to rest until she gets you in bed."
"She sounds like Carina," Chuck said with a smile.
"Sweetie," Sarah said with a sigh. "Carina is a virgin compared to her."
"Wow," Chuck said softly. "Are all spies like that?"
Chuck could immediately tell by the look on Sarah's face that he had said the wrong thing.
"Sarah," Chuck said as he quickly walked over and put his arm around her. "You know that I didn't mean it like that. I don't think you're like that at all."
Sarah simply buried he face into Chuck's shoulder.
"Sarah," Chuck said softly as he wrapped his arms around her. "You can't seriously be worried about me cheating on you. I hope you know that I would never do that."
Sarah was silent for a long moment. Chuck, not knowing what else to do, just rubbed her back.
"I know," Sarah finally whispered. "Just don't under estimate her, ok? She'll try anything and she is very good at what she does. And she's going to consider you a challenge."
"How do you know that?" Chuck asked as he continued to rub her back.
"Trust me," Sarah whispered. "I just do. She's coming over in a little while."
"So," Chuck said with a smile. "What is this super seductress's name?"
"Janice," Sarah said as she looked Chuck in the eye for the first time. "Janice Beckman."
Sarah saw the look on Chuck's face and for the first time a slight smile came across her face.
"Don't worry. No relation."
General Beckman was conducting the morning briefing. She was not in a very good mood. As a matter of fact, she was downright surly.
"Are all you people going to sit there and tell me that we don't have a single damn lead?" Beckman said as she pounded the podium in frustration. It was far more accusation than question.
"Yes, ma'am," The FBI representative said. "We haven't had a peep since the gas station sighting."
"How could that be?" Beckman growled. "We have a description of the vehicle and the plates. There is no way they could avoid being picked up for very long."
"No ma'am," the FBI agent agreed. "They must be holed up somewhere."
"Then they have to buy food sometime." Beckman said. "Let's redouble our stories to the local media. Make them sound very dangerous. Somebody must see them."
"Yes ma'am," the agent said quickly.
"You're dismissed," Beckman told the group. "Agent Casey, could you please stay for a moment?"
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said after everyone else had left the room.
"Major," Beckman said. "If they are holed up somewhere, they must be checking the news."
"Makes sense, ma'am," Casey agreed.
"I want to ratchet up the tension a little," Beckman said. "Have the sister picked up. We'll plant a story that says we've arrested her as an accomplice."
"Isn't there a better option, ma'am?" Casey said softly. "Dr. Bartowski is innocent here. She is not even aware that her brother is the intersect."
"We have no choice," Beckman snapped. "We need to find these two as soon as possible. The more tension we can put on them, the sooner they will make a mistake."
"Ma'am," Casey said with a sigh. "At least, can I go personally? She knows me. It might ease her fears a little."
"Fine," Beckman said. "Just make sure it's done right away."
Chuck and Sarah were sitting on the couch relaxing. Chuck had finally been able to calm Sarah down. But it took some doing. Chuck had never seen Sarah anywhere close to this worked up. It was actually more than a little disconcerting. After all she was the best agent in the CIA. She routinely faced bombs and men with guns, and much worse without fear. So why was she afraid of this woman who she claimed as a friend? It couldn't be that she was afraid that he would cheat on her. That just wasn't possible. And how was she so sure that this woman would try and seduce him? Suddenly the light bulb in Chuck's head went on.
"So," Chuck said softly. "How wild were you anyway?"
Sarah jerked her head up in surprise and immediately looked back at the floor.
"You're not worried about me cheating on you," Chuck continued. "You're worried about what she is going to tell me."
"How did you know?" Sarah whispered.
"Pretty easy," Chuck said with a smile. "I can't imagine you sitting by knowing that someone was going to come on to me. For you to be so sure that she is going to try something, you must have had a contest."
Sarah nodded sadly as she continued to look at the floor.
"Why don't you tell me the story," Chuck said. "I'd much rather hear it from you."
"I'm embarrassed," Sarah said softly.
"All the more reason to tell me before she does," Chuck said softly. "It'll be ok, Sarah. Just tell me."
"There was a time in my life where I was pretty wild," Sarah began so softly that Chuck had to strain to hear her. "After Janice and I graduated from the academy, we went through a lot of men. It was crazy."
"What about your contest?" Chuck asked.
"Whenever either one of us would bring home a guy," Sarah continued sadly. "The other would have three days to seduce him. I'm ahead by one. So she's going to pull out all the stops."
"Well, I've got good news," Chuck said as he put his arm around Sarah's shoulder. "You're going to win."
"I'm so sorry," Sarah said as she buried her head in Chuck's shoulder. "I don't know what came over me there for a while."
"I do," Chuck said.
Pure surprise caused Sarah to look at Chuck for the first time.
"Bad family life, awkward teenage years, suddenly beautiful, daddy issues, and on your own for the first time," Chuck said as he ticked off the points on his fingers. "I'd be stunned if you didn't get wild for a while. You're a walking stereotype. What made you stop?"
"It started to feel empty," Sarah whispered. "It was just a bunch of people using each other."
"You're not mad at me?" Sarah asked.
"Of course not," Chuck replied. "Sarah, that was years ago."
"Thank you," Sarah whispered as she buried her face deeper into Chuck's neck.
"I'm not going to be seeing you in a Girls Gone Wild video, am I?" Chuck said with a smile.
"For one thing," Sarah said as she looked up at Chuck. "Why on earth would you be watching a Girls Gone Wild video?"
"Good point," Chuck was forced to agree.
Just then there was a knock at the door.
"You know that you don't have anything to worry about," Chuck said to her softly. "I would die before I would hurt you."
The smile that Sarah flashed was all Chuck needed to know that she was ok. Sarah carefully checked out the window before opening the door. But when she finally opened the door, Chuck was looking at one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. If not for Sarah, it would definitely be the most beautiful. Her long blond hair hung over her shoulders much like Sarah's had before she went brunette. The blouse and matching skirt that she wore looked right out of a fashion magazine.
"Janice," Sarah said as she led the visitor into the room. "I would like you to meet my husband, Chuck. Chuck, this is my friend Janice." The way Sarah emphasized the word husband left little doubt as to her intent.
"It's very nice to meet you, Chuck," Janice said as she flashed him the most stunning smile that Chuck had ever seen. "Any husband of Sarah's is ok in my book."
"Thanks," Chuck said as he stood and took her proffered hand and shook it. Chuck noticed that Sarah's eyes were burning a hole through him as he had to almost forcibly withdraw his hand.
"So, Chuck," Janice said as she sat next to him in the spot that Sarah had just been occupying. "Who is this and what have you done with Sarah?"
"What do you mean?" Chuck asked in confusion.
"I've been here for two minutes and I still don't have a drink," Janice said with a smile. "That doesn't sound like the Sarah Walker that I know and love."
Sarah went into the kitchen and found the bottle of Scotch. "Do you want something, Chuck?" Sarah asked as she poured a liberal amount of the liquor into a glass. "I see that you stocked the house with your favorite Scotch."
"No thanks," Chuck said.
"Oh come on," Janice said as she put her hand on Chuck's arm. "Ladies don't like to drink alone. Have just one."
Sarah poured a drink for Chuck without waiting for his response. As soon as Sarah handed Chuck and Janice their drinks, she sat down on the chair opposite from them."
"Well, Sarah," Janice said with a grin as she stared at Sarah. "Husband, huh?"
Sarah's smile was noticeably forced as she nodded.
"You do realize that it isn't going to make a difference?"
Ellie was just getting ready for work when she heard the knock at the door. Devon had an early surgery scheduled and had already left for the hospital. When Ellie opened the door she saw Casey standing there.
"Hello, John," Ellie said as coldly as she could muster. "What do you want?"
"I'm looking for Chuck," Casey said softly. "Ellie, it's important that I find him. If you know where he is, you need to tell me."
"I've heard a rumor that he might be on his way to hell," Ellie said sarcastically. "Why don't you go there and wait for him?"
"I'm sorry," Casey said so softly that Ellie had to strain to hear him. "I'm just following orders. I'll try and make this as easy on you as I can. Please don't hate me."
For the first time, Ellie noticed the two State Troopers standing behind Casey.
"Eleanor Bartowski," Casey said loudly, obviously for the trooper's benefit.
"You are under arrest for Obstruction of Justice."
Chuck sat on the couch in stunned silence as Janice told him story after story of her years as Sarah's partner. And with each drink her stories got louder and wilder. And with each new story, Sarah's face got redder and redder. It turned out that Sarah indeed had a very wild side at one time. And that alone kept Chuck's interest. Part of him wanted to save Sarah the embarrassment. But he had to admit, he was enjoying the stories.
"Sarah's probably told you that I intend to sleep with you," Janice said with a wicked grin as she took another sip of her scotch. Chuck couldn't help but be impressed. She could really hold her liquor. If Chuck had that much to drink he would be passed out by now.
"She told me that you might try," Chuck said with a smile directed toward Sarah. "I'm sorry. I'm pretty sure it's not going to happen."
"Not tonight, maybe," Janice said confidently, even though her words were starting to slur a bit.
"But I've got two more days."
Chapter 14: With Friends Like You
"I want to speak to a lawyer" Ellie practically screamed. "I know my rights."
Casey stood in the holding cell trying to decide how best to proceed. He knew that he needed to calm Ellie down. He just wasn't sure how to do that. Would she respond better to authority? Or to a friend? And one thing was obvious. She didn't view him as a friend. Casey knew that it would take some time to get her to think of him in that way again, if she ever would. And time was something that Casey didn't have a lot of right now. But he knew that he'd better try. For one thing, Sarah would have his guts for garters if he didn't make every effort to make her as comfortable as possible.
"Ellie," Casey said as soothingly as he could. "Please calm down. I…"
"Don't you dare tell me to calm down," Ellie interrupted with a near scream. "I want a lawyer, you pig."
"I'm sorry," Casey said calmly. "You're being detained under a national security executive order. Your constitutional rights have been temporarily suspended."
"What," Ellie exclaimed. "You mean that I can't see a lawyer?"
"I'm afraid not."
"Can I at least talk to Devon?" Ellie said as tears of frustration started to flow down her cheeks.
"I'm sorry," Casey said softly. "I wish it could happen. But it can't right now."
"You bastards," Ellie said as she turned her head so that Casey would not see her cry.
"Look, Ellie," Casey said as he stood up to leave. "I know that it might not look like it to you right now but I'm trying to be your friend. I'm trying to look out for you. I know that the situation is hard but we just need to find Chuck. Someday, you'll realize that I did everything for you and Chuck that I could."
Ellie just stood silently facing the wall.
"This is totally against the rules," Casey said. "And if my superiors found out, I would get in serious trouble. But I'll go talk to Devon and explain as much as I can to him so he won't worry."
"Will you take him a note?" Ellie finally whispered. "We haven't spent a whole day apart in over a year. He needs to know how much I miss him."
"Ok, Ellie," Casey finally said with a sigh. "You can't tell anyone. But I'll give him a note. I'm going to read it first. Just so you know."
"Thanks, John," Ellie said as soon as she could compose herself enough to speak.
"In my line of work you really don't make friends very easily," Casey said as he opened the cell door. "And understand something. I will do my duty, no matter what. I know that you hate me right now. I don't blame you. I would hate me in your shoes too. Hell, I even hate myself a little. But someday I hope you'll understand."
Ellie turned just enough to be able to see Casey's face. She was surprised at the concern she saw.
"Chuck is my friend, Ellie," Casey finally said as he struggled to keep his own composure.
"I'm just as worried about him as you are."
Chuck sat at the kitchen table trying to eat a bowl of cereal. Over the past two years he had been in a lot of tense situations. He had been threatened with death more times than he could count. He had been thrown off buildings many more times than an actuarial would have predicted. But as he sat at that kitchen table, Chuck longed for those good old days. Because across the table from where he was sitting, Janice was eating her own bowl of cereal. She had crashed in their guest room last night since she had a lot to drink. And having nothing else to sleep in, she had stripped down to her underwear. She was still wearing said underwear… and nothing else. And, wow, what underwear. Chuck had never heard of a bra made out of cellophane before. And given the coolness of the room, the impression was unmistakable. Chuck didn't know what to do with his eyes. No matter where he looked, Janice's more than ample assets filled his vision. And it totally didn't help that Janice pretended to stretch her arms every couple of minutes which did nothing except amplify the view that Chuck was getting.
"If your plan is to resist sleeping with her," Sarah finally leaned in to whisper in his ear. "It might be a good strategy to stop staring at her chest so much."
Chuck quickly turned his head to look at Sarah. There was a small smile on her face. But her eyes were nothing but serious. Given the blush that he could feel raising from his neck, Chuck knew that a denial was pointless. So he did the only thing possible under the circumstances. He retreated.
"I'm going to check the computer to see if there is any update on our news story," Chuck said as he got up from the table and walked over to where the computer was set up.
While Chuck was booting up the computer he missed the exchange of looks between Sarah and Janice. And it's probably a good thing that he did. Because the look of determination that both had on their faces would have been more than a little intimidating. Just as Chuck was about to bring up the local newspaper's web site he felt Sarah slide in to sit on his lap. She was obviously making a statement for Janice's benefit as she put her arms around Chuck's neck and kissed him tenderly.
"I'm sorry," Chuck whispered as soon as the kiss broke. "I tried not to look. I swear I tried. Please don't be mad at me."
"Sweetie," Sarah whispered back. "I'm not mad at you. There isn't a man on the planet that wouldn't have looked. That's what I'm trying to tell you."
With that Sarah kissed Chuck again with a little more intensity.
"Don't underestimate her."
Casey sat in the cubicle that the FBI had set up to be his makeshift office. He was so frustrated that he struggled to stay in his seat. For the life of him, he couldn't figure out how Chuck and Sarah could avoid being seen for so long. Especially someone as attractive as Sarah. She would be sure to be noticed by any man that she passed. The first time they walked into a store, someone would be sure to recognize them.
"It just couldn't be possible," Casey whispered to himself.
Casey finally pounded his fist on the desk in frustration. As he did, he knocked a stack of folders onto the floor. The top folder opened as it hit the floor and its contents scattered across the room. The top folder just happened to be Sarah's file. As Casey picked up the papers to shove them back into the file, his eyes locked on a table that detailed Sarah's partners and their current location.
Name / Current Status
Janice Beckman / Retired – Current residence – Denver, Co.
Jeff Bloom / KIA
Bryce Larkin / CIA – Currently on deep cover assignment
John Casey / NSA – Currently on classified assignment
As Casey stared at the paper, the light bulb suddenly went on.
"Son of a bitch," he whispered to himself. "That's how she is staying hidden."
The smile that came over his face was more relief than humor. And it was the first time in days that he had hope. He had finally figured it out.
"Someone is helping her."
Chuck was only pretending to be interested in looking at the local newspaper's web site. Virtually all of his attention was being taken up by the fact that his lovely wife was sitting on his lap. And she wasn't just sitting there. She was putting on quite the show.
"I just figured out my new strategy," Sarah whispered into his ear as she kissed her way up and down his neck. "I'm going to leave you so exhausted that you wouldn't have any energy left for Janice even if you were inclined to do anything with her."
Chuck tried to tell her how silly she was for even thinking that he would cheat on her. But before he could say anything, Sarah's mouth was on his. Not only was Sarah's tongue preventing him from speaking, it made him totally forget what he had wanted to say anyway. So Chuck simply surrendered. And it became a movie night type kiss. One like they hadn't shared in a few days. As their tongues danced, Sarah grabbed two handfuls of Chuck's hair as was her custom. Finally Sarah broke the kiss and returned to Chuck's neck.
"Can't we take this into the bedroom?" Chuck whispered as soon as he could breath. He could see Janice staring at them intently out of the corner of his eye. She was making absolutely no effort to look away.
"Nope," was Sarah's simple response. "I'm tired of this. It's about time that she saw how you actually seduce someone. And I'm going to show her."
"Sarah," Chuck whispered. "I'm not going to have sex here on this chair in front of Janice."
"Wanna bet?" Sarah whispered mischievously as she attacked his lips again.
Chuck could feel his resolve to not put on an exhibition quickly fading away. So, to distract himself, he tried to concentrate on the web site.
"You're fighting this I see," Sarah said softly. "I would have expected your hand inside my shirt by now."
"I'm trying my best," Chuck said with a smile of his own. "Are you making this a battle of wills?"
"Yup," Sarah replied with a small giggle in between kisses. "It's a battle of wills. And I will win. We both know it."
And Chuck did know it. He was trying to fight but it was pointless. Who did he think he was kidding anyway? His hand had entered her shirt and was about halfway to its target when the battle suddenly ended. The problem is that Chuck had forgotten if he had won or lost. But regardless, it was over when he saw Ellie's picture pop up on the website. The headline under her picture was telling. It also ended any hope that Sarah had of proving her seduction skills for a while.
"Doctor arrested in connection with convenience store killings,"
Casey knocked on the door of Beckman's temporary office. Rank had its privileges, after all. She had an office with real walls and a door. Not just a cubicle.
"Ma'am," Casey said quickly as soon as Beckman invited him to enter. "I would like to go to Denver."
"Why?" Beckman said as she looked up from her report for the first time.
"I have a feeling that they are there, ma'am," Casey said. "And I think I would be more effective directing activities there on scene."
"Do you have any specific leads?" Beckman asked.
"No ma'am," Casey lied. "It's more of a feeling."
"Ok," Beckman said. "It makes some sense. You'll be closer when they are found."
"Thank you, ma'am," Casey said. "I would like to take Dr Bartowski with me. She would be valuable in talking them down if we do trap them somewhere."
Beckman paused for a long moment. Finally she responded. "Do you think she will cooperate?"
"I'm not sure, ma'am," Casey said softly. "Right now, no. But I think I can work on her a little. She once viewed me as a friend. Maybe I can get that back."
"Ok," Beckman said with a sigh. "Carry on. It's better than sitting here, I suppose. Arrange for a military flight. Check in with the FBI office in Denver when you arrive."
"Thank you ma'am," Casey said as he turned to leave.
"John," Beckman said causing him to turn back towards her. This time there could be no doubt that there were tears in her eyes.
"Please bring them back,"
Chapter 15: Who Needs Enemies
Ellie was sitting on the side of her bunk worrying. One thing was for sure. She didn't lack for things to worry about. Here she was, in jail, with absolutely no rights. Her fiancé didn't even know where she was. And not to mention that Chuck and Sarah were on the run. But first things first. She wouldn't be able to help Chuck or Devon unless she could get out of her own mess. She was so deep in thought that she didn't even notice Casey enter the cell.
"I need to talk to you," Casey said very softly as he pulled a chair over to where Ellie was sitting and sat down. "I don't have a lot of time so I need you to listen to me very carefully."
"What," Ellie said without looking up from the floor.
"I'm going to Denver to look for Chuck," Casey said quickly. "I got permission to take you with me."
"I'm not going with you anywhere," Ellie said coldly. "Do I have a choice?"
"Technically, no," Casey said. "But, Ellie, I won't force you. It's just that if you come with me I can give you a lot more freedom then you'll have here. I can also let you go home and pack a bag. That would let you talk to Devon for a couple of minutes."
Ellie didn't say anything as her eyes narrowed.
"Come on, Ellie," Casey said as soon as he saw Ellie's face. "Relax. I'm trying to be a good guy here. I hope that when we find Chuck and Sarah that maybe you can help me talk to them. They are going to be scared. They may not trust me."
"I don't trust you," Ellie said softly.
"You will," Casey replied.
After a long moment Ellie finally responded. "Ok, I'll go. Anything beats being locked up in this cell."
"But I need you to understand something," Casey said as he took out his cuffs. "I'm doing you a favor here. I'm sticking my neck out a mile. So if you mess with me, I'll cuff you and drop you off at the nearest police station. We're not going to the beach. You're in my custody. Are we understood?"
Ellie looked at Casey for the first time and saw the determination in his eyes. "Understood," she sighed.
"Good," Casey said as he stood up. "Now turn around. I have to cuff you for appearances sake until we're out of sight."
Sarah was so into her seduction routine that she didn't notice at first that Chuck was no longer paying attention. But she quickly recovered as Chuck reached around her to click on the article about Ellie. Sarah could tell by the color draining from Chuck's face that something was very wrong. As soon as she turned her head to the monitor, she could see Ellie's picture. Sarah quickly read the article along with Chuck.
Doctor arrested in connection with convenience store killings
Los Angeles – by The Associated Press
Diane Beckman, Assistant Chief of The Los Angeles Police Department announced the arrest of Dr. Elle Anderson today in connection with a double homicide during the robbery of a convenience store last week. The main suspects in the brutal slayings are Dr. Anderson's brother, Chuck Anderson and his wife, Sarah Anderson who are believed to be currently at large in the Denver area. Prosecutors have charged Dr Anderson with two counts of capital murder and two counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice. They also confirmed that they will be seeking the death penalty in connection with these crimes. Anyone who has any information regarding this couple is requested to contact their local police department immediately.
At the bottom of the article were pictures of Chuck and Sarah. They obviously had been altered to represent the current hair color and styles from the gas station video. Chuck could feel Sarah shaking on his lap. At first he could tell if she was unnerved or angry. But one look at her face quickly told him that angry was definitely the winner.
"What does it mean," Chuck said shakily. "What does it mean that they will be seeking the death penalty? Ellie didn't do anything."
"That bitch," Sarah whispered to nobody in particular, ignoring Chuck's question.
"Sarah?" Chuck said as soothingly as he could while he tried to wrap his arms around her.
"Not now, Chuck," Sarah screamed as she broke free and ran into the bedroom.
For the first time Chuck noticed that Janice was standing over his shoulder reading the article.
"Beckman is sending you a message," Janice said softly. "It looks like she has taken charge of the search personally."
Chuck didn't know what to say so he just looked into her eyes.
"The death penalty line is her telling you that if you don't give up," Janice said with a grim look.
"She'll kill her."
Casey pulled into the parking lot of their complex with Ellie.
"I won't cuff you," Casey said softly. "But you can't leave my sight. We only have a few minutes and we have to go catch our flight."
"How long are we going to be gone?" Ellie asked.
"I would plan on three or four days," Casey said.
"What can I tell Devon?" Ellie asked with tears starting to form in her eyes.
"Tell him the truth," Casey said in a matter of fact tone. "I assume he already knows about Chuck. Tell him that we're going to Denver to find him and that you're under arrest."
"He's not going to be happy," Ellie said sadly. "He may want to fight you."
"Ellie," Casey said. "Please don't let him try and fight me. I don't want to hurt him and I don't want to have to arrest him. Calm him down and we'll get through this."
Sarah came storming out of the bedroom. She was dressed in her black mission outfit. She had her gun in her hand.
"What are you doing?" Chuck asked her as she stormed by. When she didn't answer him, Chuck grabbed her arm.
"What are you doing?" Chuck said more forcefully.
Sarah tried to pull her arm out of Chuck's grasp but he had a good hold. On the second attempt she was able to jerk her arm free. But instead of leaving she just stood there. Chuck could tell by looking at her face that she was really struggling. So Chuck did the only thing that he could think of. He wrapped his arms around her as tightly as he could. At first, Sarah tried to break away. And naturally, she could have easily if she had really wanted too. But after a moment she just stood passively.
"I understand," Chuck whispered to Sarah as he continued to hold her as tightly as he could.
And just as suddenly, Sarah broke down. Her gun dropped to the floor as she threw her arms around Chuck and sobbed openly into his chest.
"It's ok," Chuck whispered as he loosened his grip a little to be able to run Sarah's back. "Baby, it's ok."
"I'm tired," Sarah said between sobs. "I'm just so tired of the people that I love being hurt because of me."
"Sarah," Chuck said firmly as he grabbed both of her shoulders had held her at arms length. "I want you to listen to me. None of this stuff is because of you. It's not your fault. You're the hero here. If you weren't here I'd be dead. And I love you so much. So much that I'm actually grateful that all this stuff has happened. Because it brought you to me."
Sarah fell back into Chuck's chest still sobbing.
After a long moment, Janice finally broke the silence.
"What are you going to do?" Janice said softly.
"I'm going to go get her." Sarah said as she used Chuck's shirt to dry her eyes. "I'm going to trade Beckman for her."
"Do you want me to come with you?" Janice said.
"No," Sarah said after a moment. "I need you to stay here and look after Chuck."
"I want to come with you," Chuck said in protest.
"I know, sweetie," Sarah said as a slight smile came to her for the first time. "I wish you could. But the truth is I'll be much safer on my own. Don't worry about me. I know just what I'm going to do."
"I'll go get you a car," Janice said as she headed for the door. "There's no way you can drive back in the car that they know about."
"Wait a minute," Chuck called to her. "Aren't you forgetting something?"
Janice just looked confused.
"You're still in your underwear," Chuck said with a smile.
"Unless you're looking for a real good deal."
Ellie sat on the plane deep in thought. She was grateful to get to explain things to Devon. But that really didn't go very well. It had taken a lot of pleading to keep him from fighting John. And that would have been a mess.
And she was worried sick about Chuck. She wasn't even sure what she was hoping for. She desperately wanted to see him. That was for sure. And she missed Sarah almost as much. But a large part of her wanted them to stay hidden. As long as they were hidden they were safe. And she wasn't totally sure how much she could trust John.
And then there was that. How much could she really trust John? Why was he really taking her away?
"In his custody," Ellie reminded herself.
Ellie absolutely strained her brain to think of any possible time when she had given him the wrong impression. She had always made an effort to be friendly with him. She was a naturally friendly person, after all. But she couldn't remember any overt flirting between them. But John wouldn't be the first man to mistake friendliness for something more. And she had to admit to herself; under different circumstances she might even be interested. Not now. There was no way that she would even consider cheating on Devon. But there was something about the way that Casey carried himself. The strong silent type had always pushed her buttons a little.
So, if he did make a pass, what should she do? No way was she going to encourage him. But making a big scene wouldn't work either. She needed him to help Chuck, after all. Would it be so terrible if she let him think that he had a chance? It certainly wouldn't be the first time in her life that she had played that card. And it probably wouldn't be the last. That might actually work. She just needed to keep it from getting to far.
Just then, Casey walked up to where Ellie was sitting and wordlessly handed her a bottle of water.
"Yup," Ellie whispered to herself with a sly smile as she took a sip of her water.
"That might work."
As soon as Janice got dressed and left, Sarah quickly kissed Chuck and twisted out of his embrace. He reluctantly let her go.
"Come on, sweetie," Sarah said as she took Chuck's hand and pulled him into the bedroom.
"What are we doing?" Chuck asked in confusion.
"I need to get some sleep," Sarah said with a smile. "I'm going to have to drive through the night. Will you take a nap with me?"
Without waiting for an answer, Sarah pulled Chuck to the bed.
But instead of lying on the bed, Sarah wrapped her arms around Chuck's neck and pulled him into a kiss. As the kiss quickly escalated Sarah pulled Chuck's shirt out of where it was tucked into his pants. She then broke the kiss just long enough to pull Chuck's shirt over his head.
"A nap?" Chuck asked with a grin as Sarah unbuckled his belt. "Is that what we're calling it now?"
"We're not going to see each other for a few days," Sarah said with her own grin as she pushed Chuck onto the bed and took off her own shirt.
"I thought you said that you needed to get some sleep," Chuck said as his grin widened.
"I do," Sarah said as she crawled up to where Chuck was lying and kissed him.
"This is going to help me sleep."
Chapter 16: What She Doesn't Know
Sarah was right about one thing. It really did help her to sleep. Chuck had been only able to sleep for about an hour and was now wide awake. It was only mid afternoon, after all. But something about agent training allowed Sarah to sleep when she really needed to. And whatever it was, Chuck was incredibly grateful. Because he was having the time of his life. As Chuck lay still on his back Sarah's head gently rested on his chest. It was softly raising and falling with each breath that he took. It was the most mesmerizing image that Chuck had ever seen in his entire life. So he lay there watching her. He knew that he wouldn't see her for a few days. So he was trying to memorize how soft she felt. And time stopped having meaning for him. He honestly couldn't tell if he had been watching her for one hour or ten. All he knew was that he never wanted it to end. Because once she woke up, she was leaving. Chuck had heard Janice return some time ago. She obviously had brought the car that Sarah would use to drive back to L.A.
Chuck was so into his thoughts that he didn't realize for a long moment that Sarah's eyes were open. Even though she was awake, she was obviously enjoying the moment as much as he was.
"Hi," Sarah finally whispered. Her smile could have stopped traffic on the freeway. "I'm really going to miss you."
"I know," Chuck said with his own smile. "Me too. I have a favor to ask."
"What favor?" Sarah said with a sly smile. "I would think that you would be a little worn out from earlier."
"No," said Chuck as his gaze turned serious. "I need a real favor. This is not a little favor. It is a big one."
"Sweetie," Sarah said as her face turned equally serious. "What is it?"
"I've never interfered with how you do your job," Chuck began softly. "I mean, I know that what you do is dangerous. And there's no way around that. I just need to know that you are going to be careful. That you're going to take care of yourself and the baby."
The smile gradually returned to Sarah's face as Chuck spoke.
"And if you get in a bad spot," Chuck continued. "I want you to promise me that you'll surrender rather than shooting it out in a hopeless situation. I need to know that you're going to be ok."
"Hey," Sarah said with a definite sparkle in her eye. "I want you to know something. My life began ten weeks ago. It did. I was born on the drive to Vegas that night. And I know that it took a lot longer than nine months. And I know it was a long and hard labor and delivery. But there is no way in the world this is going to end now. Please tell me that you understand."
"Good," Sarah said as her smile broadened into a full fledged grin. "Because I've carried that analogy as far as I can anyway."
"I know," Chuck said with his own grin. "I was wondering where you were going next. Somehow I pictured me changing a diaper."
"You're lying to me," Sarah said with a laugh. "I know that whatever you were picturing had something to do with breast feeding."
"You got me," Chuck said as he shared the laugh. "You know me too well."
"Don't worry about anything," Sarah said. "This is a piece of cake. The last place they will be expecting me will be anywhere close to Los Angeles."
With that Sarah raised her head to give Chuck a gentle kiss.
"They'll never know what hit them."
Ellie was sitting in the plane waiting for it to land in Denver when Casey came and sat by her.
"There is something that you should know," Casey said as he handed Ellie a paper. "We planted a story in the Denver media about you being arrested."
"You used my driver's license picture," Ellie said as she looked at the paper in horror. "I hate that picture."
"Sorry," Casey said. "The point is that you are likely to be recognized. We really don't want to draw attention to ourselves. So it would be best if we can avoid you being recognized."
"How will we do that?" Ellie asked.
"If we see anyone looking at you," Casey replied. "I'll act like your boyfriend and hug you. You can hide your face in my chest. They will just think of us as a couple and dismiss you."
"Ok," Ellie said with a sly smile. "I guess that will work. How much of my boyfriend are you going to play? Are you going to kiss me?"
"No," Casey said quickly as he was puzzled by Ellie's question. "We're trying to blend in, not draw any attention to ourselves."
"I understand," Ellie said with a wry smile at Casey's obvious discomfort. And she did understand… totally. John was no longer in charge of this particular situation. She now was. As she turned her head to look out the window, she whispered to herself so that Casey couldn't really hear her over the din from the plane.
Chuck was ready to carry Sarah's bag out to her car when she stopped him.
"Sweetie," Sarah said as she grabbed the bag from his hand. "I really don't want you to go outside. We'll need to say our goodbyes in here."
"You're taking quite a chance," Janice said with a smile. "You're leaving me here alone with him with a whole day left. You must really want me to tie up the score."
"No, I'm not taking any chance at all," said Sarah with a smile as she turned to face Janice directly. "I've been being stupid. There is no way on earth that Chuck would betray me. I appreciate your taking care of him for me. But take your best shot. You're going to strike out."
Then Sarah walked up to Chuck and put her arms around his neck.
"I'll be back in three days," Sarah whispered. "I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen. I might be alone. I might have Ellie and Devon with me. Or I might have Beckman."
"Beckman," Chuck whispered with his eyes wide.
"It'd be nice to have a roommate who isn't trying to sleep with my husband," Sarah responded with a grin as she kissed him goodbye. And while she didn't look at Janice, her meaning couldn't have been more clear.
Casey was walking through the concourse of the Denver airport with Ellie. Per his request, the local FBI office had provided him with an unmarked car. Suddenly Casey felt Ellie grasp his hand.
"If we're supposed to be a couple," Ellie said with a smile in response to Casey's questioning look. "We should be holding hands. Don't you think?"
Now it was Casey's turn to rack his brain trying to think of any instance where Ellie might have gotten the wrong impression. To tell the truth he had never even thought of Ellie as anything except Chuck's sister. He had always tried to be respectfully friendly. But he had always avoided any more contact then absolutely necessary. That was his style after all. Never draw undue attention to yourself.
As they continued to walk hand in hand, Casey reexamined his view of Ellie. Naturally, the first thing that hit you was how truly beautiful she was. And it was not in an overtly sexy way. Not at all. More like a girl next door sort of way. Assuming that you were incredibly lucky in your choice of neighbors. But you didn't get very far in thinking about Ellie without realizing how truly brilliant she was. To get through medical school was hard enough for anybody. To do it with no parents while raising a younger brother was nothing short of phenomenal.
But Casey knew that he and Ellie could never happen. For so many different reasons that he lost count. First and foremost, Casey was a spy. There was no way he was going to consider getting involved with someone from his cover. Look at the mess that Walker had gotten herself into. And that was another thing. Chuck would have a cow if he thought there was anything between Ellie and him. And given Walker's relationship with Chuck, when he had a cow, she was the butcher. And there was no way that Casey was going to intentionally provoke that particular butcher. But really the main reason was Devon. They were not friends by any stretch of the imagination. Just a few hours ago Devon had offered to fight him, after all. But the truth was that Casey knew Devon and liked him. And you didn't go after another man's woman. It just wasn't honorable. And that, for Casey, was the biggest show stopper one could think of.
No, Casey knew that there could never be anything between Ellie and him. It just wasn't possible. But having said all that, what would be the harm in letting Ellie think that he was interested? If it kept her controlled, after all, that would be a good thing. He just had to make sure that he didn't let things get too far. The last thing that he wanted was to break her heart. But he had to admit; it would be nice to be in control.
"Yup," thought Casey as he flashed a smile at Ellie and noticed how quickly and sweetly it was returned.
"That might work."
Sarah had only been gone for a couple of hours. And Chuck was already depressed from missing her. It was pretty obvious. He hadn't moved from the couch since she had left. And, of all things, he was watching a sappy romance on the Lifetime channel. With nothing else to do, Janice was forced to sit on the couch and watch it with him. But as the credits rolled Janice could finally take no more. She picked up the remote and turned the television off.
"This is way too depressing," Janice said with a sly smile in response to Chuck's look. "Can't we find something more fun to do?"
"Janice," Chuck said with a sigh. "Didn't you hear Sarah? There is no way I'm going to betray her."
"I know," Janice said with her own sigh. "You two really have something, don't you?"
"We really, really do," Chuck said softly as he blinked away the tears that were forming in his eyes. "I'm not sure what she sees in me. But I'll be counting the minutes till she gets back."
"That's nice," Janice said with a half smile. "But you have to know how much I hate to lose. How about if we just never tell Sarah? At least I'd know."
"I really am sorry that you have to lose because of me," Chuck said in a near whisper as he looked at the floor. "Maybe there is something more fun that we can do together. Can you promise me that Sarah will never find out?"
"Of course," Janice said as her mood brightened. "It would just be between us."
"Good," said Chuck as he looked up for the first time. "I really want to surprise her."
Janice's eyes turned puzzled as she struggled to figure out Chuck's meaning.
"Can you help me find Sarah's dad?"
Chapter 17: Won't Hurt Her
Sarah was driving down I-70 being very careful not to exceed the speed limit. Under normal circumstances, this would be a drive that she would have enjoyed. Sarah had always enjoyed driving through the mountains. And the terrain that she was currently driving through was some of the most picturesque in the whole world. But these were anything but normal circumstances. She was actually grateful that it was starting to get dark. The one thing that she couldn't afford was to get distracted by the scenery. She was already distracted enough as it was.
"What am I doing?" Sarah said to herself. As an agent, she knew that going after Ellie like this was a mistake. That is exactly what Beckman was baiting her into doing after all. Into making a foolish mistake. It was more than obvious that her main mission was to protect Chuck. And Sarah knew that if she was captured or worse, Chuck wouldn't last a week. Even Janice wouldn't be able to keep him from doing something stupid and getting caught. But she knew that protecting Chuck meant much more than just physically. If something happened to Ellie, Chuck would never be quite the same. And Sarah couldn't live with herself if she ever let those brown eyes lose their sparkle. And who was she kidding anyway? She loved Ellie, no question. She would do anything for her. But right now that was overshadowed by her hatred of Beckman. She looked so forward to seeing the expression on her face as Sarah pointed her Glock directly between her eyes.
But first, she had to get there. And that's why she was being careful not to exceed the speed limit. And that was unusual. Sarah never worried about things like speed limits. For one thing, she knew that her smile could get her out of any ticket. Especially with that one extra button on her blouse open. Okay, so there was the one time when the cop turned out to be a woman. But in this case Sarah knew that she couldn't risk getting pulled over so close to Denver. Since the story was in the Denver paper, Sarah was sure that they were looking for her there. Normally in that situation Sarah would just pick the fastest car and follow them at a safe distance. But that wouldn't work now. There was no traffic. So even though Sarah was dying to get there as soon as possible, she was driving the speed limit. But she sure wasn't happy about it.
There was one thing that she was very happy about. She owed Janice. Big time. How did she ever find her a car with California plates so quickly? And a quick check of the trunk revealed enough weaponry to fight a small war.
"There are some things you're better off just not knowing," Sarah smiled to herself. One thing she knew; Janice would do anything for the mission. And now her mission was evening the score. A week ago, Sarah would have been frantic with this situation. But not now. She knew that Chuck was in a bad spot. But he would die before he betrayed her. That simply wasn't a question. It had only been a few hours, but man, did she miss him. Sarah found herself smiling as she thought of what torture Janice was putting him through right now.
"Poor Chuck," Sarah actually laughed out loud as she drove down the mostly deserted freeway. "Sweetie, I'll have to find a way to make this up to you."
And that was something she was becoming somewhat of an expert at.
When Casey and Ellie finally made it through the airport to the car, Ellie was grateful. She was actually starting to get a little winded. Ellie was in good shape. After all, she was engaged to one of the world's top fitness freaks. But John was a faster walker than even Devon was. And it was usually all she could do to keep up with Devon for very long. And they didn't call Denver the mile high city for nothing. The lack of oxygen in the air was starting to make her feel a little light headed. She was becoming so tired that she was finding it hard to keep up the sweet smile that she had placed on her face. She was so looking forward to plopping into the car and resting that she was very disappointed to see a man in a business suit leaning against the car. And Casey obviously shared her disappointment, judging from the look on his face when they got close enough to recognize the man.
"Major Casey," the man said sternly. "I thought that we had an agreement that you would stay away from Denver."
"Trust me," replied Casey with a growl. "This is not in my top ten list of places where I want to be."
"The last thing we need here," the man said as he pushed away from the car and squared his shoulders to Casey. "Is any more of your shootout at the OK corral bullshit tactics."
"And the last thing that I need," Casey said as he squared off towards the man. "Is a group of local pussies getting in the way of some real law enforcement because they might be late for taking their wife to the opera."
"How dare you bring up my wife," the man quickly responded.
Ellie had been around enough macho guys in her past that she could read the body language. These guys were getting ready to go at it. As she dropped John's hand and stepped out of striking distance, Ellie wondered to herself which one she would root for. This guy was obnoxious, no question about that. But she also wouldn't mind seeing Casey take a few punches in strategic areas. It would let her be the doctor, after all. And using that to control the situation was much better then what she currently had working. Being the doctor beat playing doctor hands down. So Ellie was a little disappointed and more than a little surprised when, instead of throwing a punch, Casey threw his arms around the man.
"Speaking of the wife," Casey said laughing. "How is Amy doing? She hasn't come to her senses and dumped you yet?"
"Mean as ever," the man replied with his own laugh as they embraced. "I don't know about dumping me. But I do keep the guns locked up at home. She can't wait to see you."
"Brian," Casey said as he broke the embrace. "I would like you to meet my friend Ellie. Ellie, this is my ex partner Brian. Brian is now the Chief of Police here in Denver."
Actually Casey struggled what terms to use. Describing Brian as an ex partner was telling Ellie more about himself than he was really comfortable with. And describing Ellie as a friend was surely going to cause Brian to make some false assumptions. But both of those were necessary to keep Ellie where he wanted her. And Casey had to admit, he didn't mind that Brian was thinking that he and Ellie were a couple. After all, Amy was the greatest girl he had even known. Normally Casey would be uncomfortable knowing that someone had stopped serving the greater good for a woman. But in this case, he couldn't argue. Brian was the luckiest guy he knew. And besides, the Chief of Police of a major city wasn't a total sell out.
"Ellie," Brian said warmly as he extended his hand. "I hope you're not letting this big lug get you into any trouble. It follows him around, you know?"
"It's nice to meet you, Brian," Ellie said as she flashed her sweetest smile and took his extended hand. "It nice to know that if we get into trouble, we at least know some people in high places to get us out." Ellie could tell by the look that Brian flashed Casey that he approved. And for some odd reason, that made Ellie feel good. Much more good than it should have.
"Come on, kiddo," Ellie said to herself. "You can't afford to be competitive here. Keep your head in the game. Chuck's counting on you."
But if Casey picked up on anything, he didn't show it.
"Brian," he said softly. "I need a big favor."
"What a surprise," Brian said with a sarcastic laugh as he slapped Casey on the back.
"When don't you?"
Chuck was sitting on the couch. He was trying to keep his eyes on the television. Trying was the key word. Because Janice was doing everything in her power to fill his field of vision. And the funny thing was, she wasn't doing all that much.
"Isn't Sarah's dad still in jail?" Janice asked while leaning forward to ensure that Chuck had an unobstructed view down the front of her shirt.
"No," replied Chuck. "He's been out for a while. The problem is that he's on the run. If they catch him, he's going back."
"Why do you want to contact him?" Janice asked. "Sarah doesn't really have a good relationship with him, you know?"
"I know," Chuck said with a smile. "She really misses him though. He means a lot more to her than she lets on. And it would mean a lot to her if he could come through for her once."
"But what makes you think he will?" Janice asked. "He never has before."
"Just a hunch," Chuck said with a smile. "Something about being a grandpa changes people."
"That's true," laughed Janice. "Now all you have to do is find a baby."
"Didn't Sarah tell you?" Chuck asked softly.
Janice's confused look told Chuck to continue.
"No way," Janice finally whispered after a long pause. "Sarah Walker, pregnant? How long?"
"Actually, it's Sarah Bartowski now," Chuck said with his trademark grin.
"I'm not really sure how long." Chuck continued with a laugh.
"But if it's over ten weeks she and I are going to be having a serious talk."
As soon as Casey and Ellie got into the car, Casey turned to her.
"We're going to have a long day tomorrow," Casey said as he started the car. "We really need to get some rest. I'll give you an option. I'll take you to the city jail and let you spend the night in a cell..."
"I don't know what the other option is," Ellie interrupted quickly with a wince. "But whatever it is, I'll take it."
"The other option," Casey said without looking at her. "Is that we get a hotel room for the night."
"Here it comes," Ellie thought to herself. "For someone who is using their position of authority to get me in bed, he is acting pretty bashful about it. I guess I have to go along for now. Otherwise I'll lose control. But how do I keep from sleeping with him? No way that's happening. I'll have to come up with something."
"Ok, John," Ellie said with a sly smile. "I suppose I'm still in your custody. Are you going to cuff me?"
"Oh my God," Casey thought to himself. "She is flirting with me. This is getting totally out of hand. How am I going to avoid her expecting me to sleep with her? There is just no way that can happen. I'll have to think of something."
"No," Casey said as he stumbled to speak. "No cuffs. You just can't leave my sight."
Ellie smiled at Casey's obvious discomfort. It felt good to be back in control, after all. As she looked out the window she whispered to herself more than to Casey.
Chapter 18: The Crack
Ellie tore through the bag that she had packed in a panic. How could her conservative nightgown not be in here? Now what was she supposed to do? She was already here in the bathroom getting ready for bed.
"I swore I put it in here," Ellie whispered to herself.
But it just wasn't there. After looking through the bag some twenty times Ellie was forced to accept that. The only thing that was there was her normal nightgown. And while it wasn't so shear as to be transparent, it didn't hide that much either. And it certainly wasn't something that she would want to wear in front of John.
"It looks like I have no choice" Ellie whispered in despair as she opened the door. "Maybe it will be dark in the room and I can get right into bed. At least there are two beds."
But there was no such luck as Casey was sitting up in one of the beds watching television. The room, although not well lit, wasn't dark either. Casey did a double take when he saw what Ellie was wearing.
"Here it comes," Casey said to himself as he stood and locked eyes with Ellie, not trusting himself to look anywhere else.
When Ellie felt Casey's eyes met her own, she simply froze, not knowing what else to do. They both stood motionless for a long moment just looking at each other. Both were afraid to move. Finally Casey broke.
"I'm sorry, Ellie," he said softly. "I just can't. Please don't be offended. I think you're great."
"Can't what?" Ellie said in confusion.
"I can't do this," Casey said with the confusion evident in his own voice. Finally he simply blurted out. "I can't sleep with you."
"Oh, thank God," Ellie said with a cry. "I can't either. I'm sorry if I led you on. I'm just worried about what you're going to do to Chuck."
"Ellie," Casey said with a smile finally coming to his face. "You don't have to worry about me doing anything bad to Chuck. I'm here to try and help him. I brought you here to help me do that."
"Do you promise?" Ellie said as tears started to fall down her cheeks.
Either Janice had stopped and picked up some sleepwear or she had always had it and the underwear thing was just a ploy. Whichever it was, she was sitting at the kitchen table drinking a cup of coffee in a fairly conservative robe when Chuck came out of the bedroom. Without asking she handed him a cup of coffee.
"How did you sleep?" Janice asked.
"Not that well," Chuck said with a sad smile. "I haven't slept alone in a while."
"You didn't have to sleep alone last night," Janice said with a sly smile.
"Yes, I really did." Chuck said with his own grin. "Have you seen her throw a knife?"
"You really love her," Janice said as her smile turned into a grin. "Don't you?"
"Yes," Chuck said. "I really do. Haven't you ever been in love?"
"Not like that," Janice quickly said. "The first thing an agent is taught is never to fall in love."
"But you're not an agent anymore," Chuck said softly in protest.
"But I'm still trained," Janice said without looking at Chuck. "I'm going to get dressed and run home for a few minutes. I have some contacts that might be able to help with Sarah's dad. Do you need anything while I'm out?"
"I'm good," Chuck said with a smile. "You're a really good friend. I'm glad that Sarah has you."
"I owe her," Janice said softly as she finally looked Chuck in the eye.
"Ask her about it someday."
Sarah had driven through the night and she was getting tired. She was currently on I-15 and had just passed the Vegas strip. It was actually pretty anticlimactic. You could see the strip from the mountains from about fifty miles away. So by the time you actually got there, you had been looking at it for an hour and it was fairly boring. And while that would have been the landmark most people would look for, Sarah wasn't interested. Sarah had her eyes peeled for quite another place altogether. And her heart started beating faster as she finally spotted it. It was a little motel just on the Nevada side of the California border. And although Sarah didn't have any time to waste, she couldn't help herself from getting off the freeway. And as she sat in the parking lot of the motel and wedding chapel where her and Chuck had been married she had to smile at how big of a dump it was. Under normal circumstances Sarah Walker would have never set foot in such a place. But that day was nothing close to normal. Sarah pulled into the parking spot directly in front of the room that had served as the location for their wedding night.
"Well, wedding afternoon, actually," she said to herself with a smile.
Sarah could remember every single detail about that day, every sight, sound and smell. But mostly it was filled with the memory of Chuck being so nervous. It was so adorable. He was so nervous that he could barely say I do. He was so nervous that it actually made Sarah a little nervous. Although she would never admit that.
That afternoon in that room wasn't the first time they had made love. That would have been the night they got engaged. And it certainly wasn't the hottest. Far too many nerves for that title. That would have been the night that she told Chuck about the baby.
"Or was it yesterday before I left?" Sarah wondered with a sad smile. "That was pretty hot. Maybe they were tied for first."
Whichever one was hotter; there was one thing that Sarah was absolutely sure of. It was the day that the Sarah Walker she knew herself as died. And in her place was this new Sarah Bartowski person. It took some getting used to. But she was really starting to like this Sarah Bartowski person. She was starting to like her a lot. And another thing that she was sure of. She was dying to take her brown eyed husband back in that room and try and improve their hotness score. How could you possibly miss someone so badly after just ten hours? As Sarah sat and tried to wipe the tears from her eyes she vowed that she would bring Chuck back here… soon. As she reluctantly pulled back on the freeway Sarah had a look of determination on her face that would have made General Beckman run for her life had she seen it. Sarah softly whispered to herself.
"Time to get our life back."
Casey and Ellie were checked out of the hotel. And after the tension of last night was over, they found that they actually got along. It turned out that Casey was a great listener. And since Ellie was a great talker, that made for a great potential friendship. They were just finishing breakfast at the restaurant in the lobby when Casey's cell rang. He could tell that it was Brian.
"Casey," he quickly answered.
Ellie could see Casey's eyes widen as he listened to the call. As soon as he ended the call, Casey grabbed Ellie's arm.
"Come on," he said quickly. "We have to hurry."
"Where are we going?" Ellie asked as she got into the car. Casey had already started it and had pulled away even before Ellie could fasten her seat belt. Casey's answer both excited and scared her.
"We're going to find your brother."
Sarah had finally arrived in L.A. She went directly to the FBI office and parked in a ramp across the street. She made sure that she parked in a spot that had a strategic view of the building entrance. Sarah already had a pretty good idea where Beckman was staying. It was the same hotel that all the out of town guests stayed at. But she wasn't taking any chances. That was one of the characteristics of Agent Sarah Walker. She never took chances. So she sat and waited. And as it turned out she didn't have very long to wait.
At just about noon, Beckman's considerable motorcade began to stir. After all, the head of the NSA didn't stroll the streets alone. She had a six person protection detail that traveled with her anywhere she went. One good thing, it made them very easy to track. Sarah was able to follow them from a very safe distance. And they led her to exactly the hotel that she was thinking. Sarah quickly parked the car down the street where she could still see what was going on.
"You're making this easy," Sarah said to herself with a smile.
And Beckman was making it easy. She was only in the hotel for about twenty minutes before she came back out and the motorcade was on the move again. Assumedly back to the office.
"Well, General," Sarah whispered to herself humorlessly.
"I've got you now."
As Casey drove to the address that Brian had given him, he tried to bring Ellie up to speed.
"Sarah's first partner is a woman named Janice Beckman," Casey said. "I had a hunch that she might be helping them so I had Brian stake out her house. This morning, she arrived, stayed for an hour and then left again. Brian had a surveillance aircraft track where she went. And that's where we're going. There is a good chance that Chuck and Sarah are there."
As Casey pulled into the driveway, Ellie turned to him.
"John," she whispered as tears started to form. "Please, you promised me."
"Don't worry," Casey replied with as much of a reassuring smile as he could muster. "I'm trying to help them. If you see a gun today, don't freak out. They are going to be pretty nervous. Stay calm and everything will be ok."
As they walked up to the front door, Casey knocked on the door. After a long moment the door opened and Casey was looking at the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
"Hi," Casey said with a smile. "I'm sorry to bother you. But we're looking for Chuck Bartowski. Is he home?"
"Sure," Janice said with her own dazzling smile. "Please come in. I'll go get him."
As soon as the door closed behind them, Casey and Ellie were looking directly down the barrel of Janice's Glock.
"Hands on your head," she ordered firmly as her feet were spread firmly in a perfect firing position.
"Please don't shoot," Ellie said in a frightened voice. "I'm Chuck's sister."
"Right," Janice replied sarcastically. "And I'm the Easter bunny."
"It's ok, Janice," Chuck called as he came bounding out of the bedroom.
"This really is my sister."
Once Sarah was sure that Beckman had left the hotel, she drove to a fast food restaurant to freshen up a little in the ladies room. After all, she had been in the car for the last twenty two hours. And she needed to make sure that her hair looked nice and her makeup was reapplied. Just before she entered the hotel lobby, she unbuttoned the secret weapon button on her blouse.
The clerk behind the counter couldn't get to Sarah fast enough.
"Can I help you?" he asked.
"Yes," Sarah said with her most dazzling smile. "I'm here to see my aunt. Do you have a message for April Beckman?"
"I'm sorry," the clerk said as he looked through the papers. "There is no message for an April."
"You're kidding," Sarah said in a pout. "She must have forgotten. She was going to leave me a key at the front desk. Now I can't get in."
"Look, Jim," Sarah said softly as she read his nametag. "I'm really tired. Do you think you could give me a key? It would be a huge favor."
"I don't know," the clerk said slowly. "We're not supposed…"
"Please, Jim," Sarah said as she leaned forward to allow him a good look down the front of her blouse. An opportunity that she saw him take full advantage of. "I'd be so grateful."
"What's your aunt's name?" the clerk said with a sigh.
"Dianne Beckman," Sarah said with the smile of victory.
As soon as Sarah was comfortably in the room, she knew that she had a few hours to kill so she relaxed on the sofa and picked up the phone.
"Yes, this is Dianne Beckman. I would like to order some room service."
General Beckman was just getting back to her room after a long unfruitful day. It was the latest in a series of long unfruitful days. She was getting very frustrated. After all, she wasn't used to dealing with disappointment. She had an entire staff dedicated to making sure that she was never disappointed. But Chuck and Sarah had simply dropped off the face of the earth. It just wasn't possible. Every person in the Denver area knew what she looked like. They had to go to a store or restaurant sometime. And she knew that the clock was ticking. She had to find them soon. There was only so long that she would be able to keep a lid on this. Pretty soon her superiors were going to start asking questions.
As she entered her dark room she sighed to herself.
"I'll find you Sarah Walker. You can't stay hidden forever."
As soon as she turned on the light, she immediately heard the unmistakable sound of a handgun racking a round into the firing chamber.
"I've got good news," said Sarah as she pointed her Glock at Beckman's head.
"You've found her."
Chapter 19: The Chosen One
Chuck came running out of bedroom towards Ellie. Janice still hadn't relaxed her stance. Her gun was in both hands firmly pointed at Casey's chest.
"Chuck," Janice said firmly without turning her head towards him. "Stay behind me."
"Janice, Its okay," Chuck said calmly. "This is my sister and my handler Casey. He's one of the good guys. I trust him."
Janice paused a moment before finally lowering her weapon. As soon as she did, Ellie ran to hug Chuck.
"How are you here?" Chuck asked Ellie as soon as he had recovered from the crushing bear hug that Ellie laid on him. "We read that you had been arrested."
"I was," Ellie said with a sheepish smile. "I am. John brought me with him. I am in his custody."
"Where's Sarah?" Casey said as he looked around the house anxiously. "I've got some good news. Beckman canceled the termination order on you."
"She went to rescue Ellie," Chuck said sadly.
"What," exclaimed Casey? "When did she leave?"
"She left yesterday," Chuck said quickly. "She said that she was going to be gone for three days."
"Shit," Casey said quickly as he took his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed. "We have to get back to L.A. and stop her. If she kills Beckman, it's going to make you two fugitives again. Get in the car and I'll arrange for a flight back."
As Casey was talking on the phone, Ellie pulled Chuck away from the group.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Ellie asked.
"I'm great," Chuck said. "I'm just worried about Sarah."
"If you're worried about Sarah, then who is that?" Ellie whispered as she nodded her head towards Janice. "She is really beautiful. Should I be worrying about Sarah?"
"Don't be silly, that's Janice," Chuck said softly with a smile. "She is Sarah's friend. They used to be partners. She has been helping us."
"And you spent the night here all alone with her?" Ellie whispered in a lecturing tone.
"Do you have any idea what that looks like?"
General Beckman was so shocked that she couldn't speak for a long moment. Almost all she could see was the barrel of Sarah's gun pointed at her. Sarah's face was taut and grim. Beckman, to her credit, stayed reasonably calm given the situation.
"Agent Walker," Beckman finally said.
"You're wrong," Sarah said slowly without a hint of humor. "Doubly wrong. I'm no longer an agent. And I'm no longer a Walker. You can call me Sarah."
"On second thought," Sarah said thoughtfully as she noticed the look on Beckman's face. "Call me Mrs. Bartowski."
"I'm sure that you remember my husband," Sarah continued as soon as she realized that Beckman was not going to respond. "You ordered that he be killed because he was an inconvenience for you. Do you know what that makes you?"
Beckman just stood staring at Sarah without responding.
"I asked you a question," Sarah said much more forcefully. "Do you know what that makes you?"
"No," Beckman whispered.
"It makes you dead."
As soon as Casey ended his call, he quickly turned to Chuck.
"You have five minutes to pack a bag." Casey said. "We have to be at the airport in twenty five minutes."
When Casey threw Chuck's bag into the trunk, he was surprised by Janice throwing her bag next to it.
"What are you doing?" Casey asked in surprise.
"I'm coming with you," Janice said firmly. "I made a promise to Sarah to watch over Chuck."
"No way," Casey growled. "I've been watching over Chuck for the past two years. I think I've got this."
Ellie and Chuck were already in the car. Ellie was sitting in the front with Chuck in the back.
"And I see what shape he's in after those two years," Janice replied as she got into the back seat next to Chuck. "He's on the run and afraid for his life. I made a promise to someone who I owe my life to. I'm coming with you."
Chuck was sitting in the plane looking out the window. They had just comfortably taken off from the Denver airport. Chuck wasn't sure what kind of airplane they were in. But it was obviously military. And it was just as obviously being under utilized. The plane would have seated fifty people very comfortably. And it didn't look like a commercial plane would at all. There were ten rows of seats, very similar to the first class cabin in a commercial plane. But in the back, there was a conference room of sorts. It was only a table with some seats situated around it with a series of large computer monitors mounted on the back wall. But it still was very impressive. And, after all, it was just the four of them. And once he could shake out of his thoughts of worrying about Sarah, he took a look around the cabin.
"Casey must have told Ellie to give me some space," Chuck thought to himself with a smile. There was no way that she was going to let him get away with not telling her every detail of his and Sarah's adventure. But there she was, sitting five rows in front of him and across the aisle, next to Casey. They looked to be having a very friendly conversation. Of course, it appeared that Ellie was doing most of the conversing. But there was nothing unusual about that. When Ellie got on a roll, it was hard to get many words in. But Chuck's eyes were drawn a couple of rows back. Janice was sitting in a seat staring out the window. Chuck could plainly see the tears on her cheeks.
"Hey," Chuck said as he plopped into the seat next to Janice. "Nice plane, huh?"
"It's a C-130," Janice said flatly without turning away from the window. "It's been retrofitted as a command center. This is probably General Beckman's personal transport. Sarah and I had one almost exactly like this assigned to us when we were on foreign missions."
"You really miss it," Chuck said softly. "Don't you?"
"More than you'll ever know," Janice said wistfully. As she turned her head to face Chuck for the first time, he could see that indeed, her eyes were filled with tears. "I hoped that maybe I could get back to active missions."
"I thought you were injured," Chuck said softly. "That's what Sarah told me."
"Sarah was being nice," Janice said. "My injuries were mostly psychological. I'm not up to telling the story right now. But ask Sarah and she'll tell you. I hoped that I was over it."
"Why don't you get back in?" Chuck said with a smile. "Sarah said that you were one of the best."
"I can't do it anymore," Janice said as she turned her head back to the window. Chuck could definitely hear her voice break. "I'm out of practice. I got careless and led them right to you."
"I'm sorry I let you down, Chuck," Janice whispered as she turned to face him again. Chuck could plainly see the tears streaming down her cheeks.
"Hey," Chuck said firmly as he grabbed Janice's hand and intertwined their fingers. "Don't you ever apologize again. You risked your life for Sarah and me and I'll never forget it. With all the resources they had trying to find us, we knew that we couldn't stay in one place for very long. You're a great agent."
"How do you know?" Janice said with the hint of a smile as she looked at their hands clasped together but made no attempt to withdraw her hand. "With all due respect, you're not qualified to judge agents."
"Maybe not," Chuck said with a smile. "But I'm married to someone who is. And she trusts you with her life. So that means that I do too."
Janice responded by burying her face into Chuck's shoulder. Chuck took his arm and wrapped it around Janice's shoulder in a semi embrace.
"I can see what Sarah sees in you," Janice said softly with her head still buried. "It took a while to get past the nerd thing. But I can see."
"That's nice," Chuck said with a laugh. "I really can't but I'm happy if you can. And I get the nerd thing a lot."
Notwithstanding his concern about Sarah, Chuck was feeling pretty good about himself and life in general until looked up and saw Ellie looking back staring at them. The look on her face was definitely not pleased. Chuck had seen that look only a few times in his life but its meaning was unmistakable.
"I've got some explaining to do."
"Why would you do it?" Sarah asked softly as a single tear made its way down her cheek. "Chuck is a true hero. After everything he's done for the country, how could you just order him terminated?"
Beckman opened her mouth to speak but Sarah didn't give her much of a chance to really say anything.
"You'll never know how much I admired you," Sarah continued. "I've always looked up to you. I've always tried to pattern my career after you. I can't tell you how excited I was when I heard that I would be reporting to you on this mission. So why would you do this? I need to know."
"We've been following you ever since you joined the agency," Beckman began softly. "You've been on the fast path for the past eight years."
"Fast path?" Sarah questioned.
"Think about it, Sarah," Beckman continued. "Since when does a junior agent get assigned to foreign missions? Colombia, Afghanistan, Rome? Those were all hand picked assignments designed to give you a global feel for the agency and everything we were into. Why do you think you were assigned to the Omaha project? Why do you think that you were kept in the dark when we assigned Larkin to steal the intersect? Why do you think we've entrusted you to watch over the most important asset that we have ever had even after we learned how vital he was?"
Sarah just stared ahead deep in thought.
"You were being groomed, Sarah," Beckman said with the hint of a smile. "And it was getting to the point where we couldn't afford to waste you babysitting Bartowski any longer. You were never going to go on any active missions with Larkin. It was going to be more like a working vacation. He was going to spend six weeks in the Bahamas debriefing you. Maybe in more ways than one. We know that you two had more than just a professional relationship. Please don't try and deny that. Then you were going to be brought back to Washington and promoted. You were going to be the Deputy Director of the agency in charge of directing the fight against Fulcrum."
"Did Bryce know about the Bahamas?" Sarah quickly asked in a suspicious tone as her eyes narrowed.
"Of course not," Beckman replied. "You were going to receive your orders after you were together."
"I'll not deny that Bryce and I had something once," Sarah said after a moments's pause. "It was a mistake and it's been over for a long time. But, even if you just wanted me reassigned, why kill him?"
"I didn't see a choice," Beckman said sadly. "Bartowski was still far too much of a threat to trust to a lesser agent. But we couldn't waste you any longer. I needed you to assist me in Washington. And since the new intersect computer was operational, Bartowski wasn't so critical."
Sarah took a deep breath trying to stay composed.
"I was trying to free you up to give you your dream job, Sarah," Beckman said softly.
"I did it for you."
Chapter 20: The One Chosen
"Are you feeling better now?"
"I am," Janice said without looking up. "Thanks for being there. I don't have many people in my life that are ever there for me."
Janice still had her head on Chuck's shoulder. But the tears were only a memory. As a matter of fact, from Chuck's angle it actually looked as if she was smiling. And that was confirmed when she turned her head to whisper in his ear.
"It's pretty obvious that your sister wants to talk to you."
"I know," Chuck said with a forced smile. "I'm sorry but she's pretty protective."
"Protective," Janice repeated in a questioning voice. "What is she worried about? What am I going to do to you here on the plane?"
"She's not being protective of me," Chuck said trying to keep the grin off of his face. "She's being protective of Sarah. They're very close. And I don't think she likes the idea of me having my arm around a beautiful woman who isn't Sarah."
"Wow," Janice said with an even broader smile. "She sounds like a pretty straight arrow."
"The straightest," Chuck said in his best deadpan impression.
"Wait until she hears about Sarah's and my contest," Janice said.
"Yea," Chuck said as he stood up out of his seat, breaking Janice's semi embrace. "I'm sort of hoping that never comes up with Ellie. And I'll bet that Sarah does too."
"Seriously, are we going to be friends?" Janice said with a huge smile. "I'd really like that."
"I would too," Chuck said with his classic grin. "I just hope it doesn't get me in trouble with Sarah."
"You know how much I like to mess with people's heads." Janice said with a mischievous grin.
"That's the part that I fear is going to get me in trouble." Chuck replied.
Janice didn't say anything. She just smiled at him.
"Well," Chuck said with a resigned sigh. "I might as well get this over with."
So Chuck moved to an unoccupied aisle out of hearing distance. And sure enough, it wasn't long at all before Ellie sat next to him.
"She's really beautiful," Ellie said softly. "She might even be prettier than Sarah."
"She's not prettier than Sarah," Chuck said in surprise. "What are you talking about?"
"Just checking," Ellie said as she flashed a grin. "So Sarah doesn't have anything to worry about?"
"She has plenty of things to worry about," Chuck said with his own grin. "But me cheating on her is not one of them. If that's what you're asking."
"I'm worried about Sarah," Ellie said suddenly serious. "Aren't you?"
"Of course," Chuck replied. "What makes you think that I'm not?"
"Then why was she just all over you?" Ellie said. "Do you know what that looks like?"
"She wasn't all over me," Chuck said with a grin. "She was just down because she didn't do a good job hiding me. I know what this is. You're just cranky because you're tired. You must have had a long day. Flying in this morning and turning around and flying back."
"No," replied Ellie. "I'm fine. We flew in last night."
"Where did you sleep?" Chuck asked now that his curiosity was piqued.
"In a hotel," Ellie relied calmly as she tried to avoid Chuck's eyes.
"Wait a minute," Chuck said after a moment as his eyes narrowed and he had just figured out a way to get out of trouble. The best defense, after all, is a good offense. "Casey would never let you out of his sight if you're in his custody. You slept in the same room."
"Nothing happened," Ellie said quickly as it was suddenly her turn to blush. "I swear."
"Maybe," said Chuck as he enjoyed turning the tables.
"But do you know what that looks like?"
"Even if you're right and you did it for me," Sarah said softly. "Why do you think I would give up Chuck, allow him to die just for a job?"
"You weren't supposed to fall in love with him," Beckman said with the hint of a smile. "Come on, Sarah. I don't have to tell you that."
Sarah just sat and stared blankly into space for a long moment. Finally she whispered, more to herself than Beckman.
"Two years ago, I would have walked away. I would have done it. I know I would. And two months later I wouldn't have felt a thing."
"Why do you think that spies are taught never to fall in love?" Beckman asked softly. "Why do you think that it's covered over and over in training? Why we don't ever let male and female partners stay together for over a year?"
Sarah just sat and stared.
"You should have told me," Beckman said.
"You would have taken me away," Sarah said quickly.
"That's right," Beckman replied just as quickly. "I would have. And we wouldn't be in this mess today. You should have told me, Sarah. It wouldn't have hurt so much."
"You don't understand," Sarah whispered while looking at the floor.
"I know," Beckman said with a smile. "The only one in the world who can truly understand what you're feeling is you. I'd be lying if I said that I did."
Sarah just nodded without lifting her head.
"But there is one thing that you don't understand," Beckman continued. "I know what it is to be in love."
"Yes, Sarah," Beckman said as she noticed the look of surprise. "Even I've been in love. His name was Jim and we went to the Academy together. Naturally, women being in the Air Force Academy were still pretty uncommon and fraternization of any kind was strictly forbidden. We would have both been immediately dismissed had we been discovered. So we could hardly ever get together. But when we did find the time, oh my goodness was it great. When we finally graduated I think we spent six straight weeks in bed. The night that he proposed was the happiest I've ever been in my life. We were going to be married when he got back from his first overseas tour."
"What happened?" Sarah asked as she lifted her head for the first time.
"He never made it back," Beckman said softly. "He was killed in the terrorist bombing of the Beirut Embassy."
"I'm sorry," Sarah said in shock.
"Don't be," Beckman said sadly as her eyes drifted off into space. There were no tears but she was obviously deep in thought. "I was lucky. I had just been accepted into the NSA training program."
"I don't understand," Sarah said.
"The NSA didn't allow you to be married," Beckman said. "So it was a good thing that I was able to throw myself into my work. It kept me sane. I was actually lucky in another way."
"I didn't have to break his heart."
As soon as the plane touched down in Los Angeles, the pilot taxied to where Casey's car was waiting. All four quickly piled into the car and Casey drove to the hotel. As soon as they pulled up, Casey jumped out of the car.
"Ellie," Casey said cautiously. "I need you to promise me that you'll stay in the car. You're still in my custody. Chuck, you need to come with me."
"Do you want me to come and back you up?" Janice asked.
"Would you please stay here with Ellie?" Casey asked.
Janice quickly glanced at Chuck with the question obvious on her face.
"I'll be okay," Chuck said to reassure her. "We'll be back in a couple of minutes."
"Okay," Janice said with a sigh after thinking about it for a moment. "I'll be here if you need me. Good luck."
As Casey led Chuck in the hotel lobby, Casey couldn't help but take a shot.
"I sure hope that this Bartowski stays in the car better than you do."
"But maybe," Casey continued after seeing the wince on Chuck's face. "If you had Janice in the car to keep you company you might stay better. I sure as hell would."
Casey walked directly to the front desk and flashed his badge at the clerk.
"John Casey," he said firmly. "NSA. This is a national security situation. I need Dianne Beckman's room number."
"Do you have a warrant?" the clerk asked in a monotone without looking up.
"Yea," Casey growled. Quicker than Chuck could even react, Casey had his gun pointed between the clerk's eyes. "Here is my warrant. Any questions?"
When Chuck and Casey got in the elevator, Chuck turned to Casey.
"Since when did you name your gun warrant?" Chuck asked with a smirk. "It sounds sort of sentimental."
"I'll tell you what I named my shoe," Casey replied. "Right after it kicks your ass."
"Speaking of kicking, if we need to kick in the door," Chuck said with a grin. "Let me do it. I'm getting pretty good at it."
"Sure thing, sport," Casey said with a smirk. "It's just window sills that give you trouble."
As soon as Chuck and Casey got off the elevator, Casey held his fingers to his lips to tell Chuck to be quiet. As they walked up to Beckman's room they could hear her and Sarah talking.
"It's not too late, you know?" Beckman said after taking a moment to collect her thoughts. "You can still have your dream job."
"How would that work?" Sarah replied skeptically.
"I'm willing to overlook the past week," Beckman said. "Let's just forget that it happened."
"But I'm married," Sarah said in an exasperated tone.
"Are you really?" Beckman said with a sly smile. "We couldn't find any record of any marriage when we were looking for you."
"We used cover names," Sarah said.
"There you go," Beckman said firmly. "It wasn't legal. You're not married."
"There is no way that I would ever allow Chuck to be killed," Sarah said firmly as she raised her gun again. "No way in hell."
"Relax, Sarah," Beckman said. "Nobody is talking about killing him. I canceled the termination order. We found out a way to overwrite the intersect. We're going to make him normal again. That's what he wants isn't it?"
"Why don't you take six weeks," Beckman continued, seeing the look on Sarah's face. "Go and lie in the sun. Recharge your batteries. Let Agent Larkin take good care of you. Bartowski will be okay. He'll get his life back."
"Why are you so intent on hooking me up with Bryce?" Sarah said after a moment. "I don't love him."
"That's good," Beckman said with a grin. "Because I wouldn't allow that. I'm not trying to hook you up, Sarah. You're a big girl. I'm just pointing out that a fling with Agent Larkin is the kind of thing that would be allowed."
Sarah didn't respond. She just started at Beckman.
"Just let him take care of you while he's debriefing you," Beckman said softly. "Agent Larkin has a reputation of knowing his way around the bedroom. You probably know that better than anybody. Then, after your head is back in the game, come back and take the position that you've worked your whole life for. The job that you've earned. The one you were meant to have, serving the greater good with me."
Back out in the hallway, Casey looked over at Chuck. He could see the tears streaming down Chuck's face as he listened to Beckman's full court press. Chuck began to walk away aimlessly in defeat when he felt Casey's hand grab his wrist.
"Listen to her answer," Casey whispered, "before you assume the worst, dumb ass."
Sarah's smile couldn't have been any bigger. Beckman had no doubt that she would accept.
"It's funny," Sarah said. "Two years ago I would have done anything for this chance. And I do mean anything. But right now, all I can see is Chuck's silly grin. And all I can think about is finding my husband and wrapping my arms around him. And seeing the look on his face when I tell him that we don't have to run anymore. So, I'm sorry. I have zero interest in your job."
"Sarah," Beckman interrupted. "Think about this."
"I am thinking about it," Sarah responded. "Why do you think I'm smiling? There is simply no decision to make. For the first time in my life I feel loved. Do you really think that I could give that up? I've been away from him for a little over a day and it feels more like a year. So I'm going to find Chuck and beg him to forgive me for making him wait so long. And then I'm going to thank him for saving me. I hope you don't take this the wrong way but he saved me from becoming you."
"Is that your final decision?" Beckman said disappointedly.
"It is," Sarah said firmly. "And, as long as we're having this chat, you should know something else. I'm pregnant. I'm going to go now and have his little girl. And then we're going to start working on a little brother for her."
"And, by the way," Sarah continued as she broke into a giggle. "Bryce may know his way around the bedroom. Lord knows, he's had plenty of practice. But the truth is Chuck is ten times better."
At that point Casey knocked on the door. "Are you okay in there?" he called.
Casey then used the key that the clerk had given him to open the door and dragged Chuck into the room.
"Ma'am," Casey said.
"Good news. I've found him."
As soon as Sarah saw the shape that Chuck was in, her protective instincts kicked in immediately. Whether they were the protective instincts of an agent or those of a wife, even Sarah couldn't tell.
"Sweetie," she said quickly as she ran to him. "What's wrong? Are you all right?"
Chuck opened his mouth to speak but no words would come. So he just nodded his head.
"Damn it Casey," Sarah said angrily as she raised her gun. "What did you do to him? Is it Ellie? Where is she?"
"Relax," Casey said with a smile. "Ellie is fine. She and Janice are down waiting in the car. Chuck is just messed up because he heard the General talking about Larkin helping you recharge your batteries."
"Sweetie," Sarah whispered as she wrapped her arms tightly around his neck. "I'm so happy to see you. You heard me tell her no, didn't you?"
Chuck just nodded and wrapped his arms around Sarah as tightly as he could.
"Then tell me what's wrong," Sarah said with the concern obvious in her voice. "Chuck, please talk to me. You're scaring me."
"You've told me that you love me lots of times," Chuck finally whispered. "And I've always wanted to believe you. I desperately wanted to believe you. But part of me never did. I mean Roan said it, right? How could a girl like you fall for a guy like me?"
"Sweetie, please," Sarah pleaded with her own tears quickly forming. "You have to know…"
"Please, just… let me finish," Chuck interrupted. "Deep down, my biggest fear was always that someday I'd wake up and you'd be gone. You would have realized that you missed your old life. But then I heard you tell her that you didn't want your dream job, the job you've worked for your whole life, to have our baby. And it hit me. I'm being stupid. You really truly do love me."
Sarah just squeezed Chuck as hard as she could.
"And I promise," Chuck continued as he tried unsuccessfully from keeping his voice from breaking, "that this is the last time for the rest of my life I'll ever ask you this. But are you sure?"
Instead of answering, Sarah smashed her mouth into Chuck's. And while Casey and Beckman being in the room might normally have dented the passion a little, tonight it made absolutely no difference. It was a movie night kiss of old. Sarah grabbed two handfuls of Chuck's hair as was her custom. And as their tongues danced the tension in both of their bodies slowly faded away.
Finally when the kiss broke, Sarah looked at Beckman who was quickly trying to wipe the smile off her face to maintain at least some illusion of decorum. Casey had turned away but Sarah knew that was only to try and respect their privacy. Sarah gently kissed Chuck again only for a second and then drew back to be able to look him in the eye. Neither made any attempt to wipe the tears from their eyes but Sarah could see the beginnings of a twinkle.
"Did that answer your question?" Sarah asked.
"I think so," Chuck said with the beginnings of a smile.
"Don't you dare tell me that you think so," Sarah said in mock anger.
"Yes," Chuck said as his smile turned into his classic grin. "It did. But I have one more question."
Sarah's eyes told him to continue.
"Really? Ten times better?"
Chapter 21: Ten Times Better
Neither Chuck nor Sarah had loosened the grip that they had on each other very much, if at all. But the tension was long gone. And after the tension of the past few days was relieved, not much was left. As a matter of fact, Chuck was sort of losing track of where he was, totally lost in the glow. All he could think about was how good she felt in his arms. At it looked like Sarah was similarly inclined. Finally, after a long moment, General Beckman broke the silence and brought them out of the trance.
"Well, Agent Walker," she said with the beginnings of a smile. "You came in here to shoot me. Is that still your intent?"
"You've cancelled the termination order on Chuck?" Sarah asked tentatively. Her question was directed at Beckman but she was looking directly at Casey.
"Go ahead, Major," Beckman said softly. "Tell her."
"It's been cancelled for some time," Casey said while making sure that he was looking Sarah directly in the eye. He knew how important it was that she believed him.
"Then no, ma'am," Sarah said softly. "I have no such intent."
"Good," Beckman said. "In that case will you surrender your weapon to Major Casey as a show of good faith while we talk about to do next?"
"Yes, ma'am," Sarah said as she handled her gun to Casey.
"Have a seat," Beckman said in a forceful but obviously relieved voice.
Chuck sat on the sofa and Sarah sat next to him. Casey remained standing, obviously uncomfortable being too casual in front of Beckman.
"Okay, Sarah," Beckman said as she studied her carefully. "I'm not eager to take you into custody. But I also can't lose control of the intersect again. What can you do to convince me of your loyalty?"
"General," Sarah began. "I'll not deny that my first loyalty is to my husband and my family. But having said that I'm still a CIA officer. I still take my duty very seriously. I would never betray my country. And neither would Chuck. I would hope that is not in question."
"It's not," Beckman replied quickly. "That's why we're having this discussion."
"Thank you, ma'am," Sarah said with a sigh of relief.
"We will arrange for Chuck to come to Washington in a few weeks for his procedure to remove the intersect," Beckman said. "What do you propose that we do until then?"
"I would hope that we could go back to the status quo," Sarah said hopefully. "Chuck will move in with me to my hotel room. We'll report to the castle on a regular basis to check in."
"I'll agree with the following conditions," Beckman said slowly after a long pause. "That Chuck will wear his watch at all times and you'll answer your cell phone?"
"Yes, ma'am," Sarah said with a smile. "Agreed."
"Very well, Agent Walker," Beckman said with a sigh. "Carry on."
"One more thing, ma'am," Sarah said. "I almost forgot. We need to drive to Vegas for a couple of days."
"Vegas?" Beckman asked with a puzzled look. "Why on earth do you need to go to Vegas."
"You were right, ma'am," Sarah said as she grabbed Chuck's hand. "We're not legally married. That is something we want to fix right away. Someday our daughter is going to want to know that her parents are actually married."
"Is that okay with you, sweetie?" Sarah asked Chuck softly.
"Why Sarah," Chuck said with a smile. "Are you proposing to me?"
Sarah tried unsuccessfully to keep in the laugh.
"Of course," Chuck whispered in reply so that only Sarah could hear. "You know that when you propose to someone, you're supposed be on one knee? Would this involve another wedding night?"
"Major Casey will accompany you," Beckman said briskly, ignoring Chuck. "I assume that will be acceptable."
"Yes, ma'am," Sarah replied as she tried to stop laughing. "Actually I hope there will be several people accompanying us. Chuck's sister and her fiancé. My friend Janice Beckman and Chuck's friend, Morgan Grimes."
"In that case," Beckman said. Her voice lost much of its authority. And even though Beckman wasn't looking up at all, Sarah could sense the vulnerability in her face. "Would you mind if I attended?"
"Of course not, ma'am," Sarah said softly as she stood up to leave dragging Chuck to his feet with her.
"We'd be very honored."
While Chuck, Sarah, and Casey were waiting for the elevator, Casey turned to Sarah who had her face buried in Chuck's shoulder.
"Here," Casey said as he handed Sarah her gun. "I think you want this back."
"Thanks," Sarah said as she separated from Chuck just long enough to store it in its usual spot in the small of her back.
Chuck saw the redness in Casey's neck and remembering his discomfort in the room decided to have a little fun. And Casey had an obvious weakness. So he grabbed Sarah and kissed her. Sarah's face showed a little surprise but she soon melted into the kiss.
"Good lord," Casey mumbled as he turned away in disgust.
As soon as Chuck saw Casey turn away he started a low moan. Since Sarah knew of Chuck's aversion to PDA she immediately opened her eyes to try and get a read on what Chuck was doing. But Chuck just indicated towards Casey with his eyes. That and the twinkle in his eye was enough to get Sarah to join the sport.
"Umm…" mumbled Sarah as soon as the kiss broke. "I've missed that."
"Ten times better?" Chuck asked with his classic grin.
"At least," Sarah said just loud enough so she was sure that Casey could hear. "Much more of that and I'm going to jump on you right in this elevator."
At that point the elevator door opened. But instead of getting in, Casey turned away.
"You coming?" Chuck asked as he guided Sarah into the elevator.
"I'm taking the stairs," Casey growled over his shoulder as he half walked and half ran away.
"I've taken about as much of this as I can take."
Chuck and Sarah were forced to lean on each other in the elevator to keep from falling as they laughed.
Fred Jones sat at his desk drinking his morning cup of coffee. And also contemplating his life. On the one hand, his career had reached the peak. Being named a Fulcrum Elder in charge of the Western Region was something he had worked his whole career to achieve. And, at fifty three, to be the youngest Elder in the history of Fulcrum was something that he was very proud of.
But it was days like this that reminded him. What should have been the pinnacle of his career instead was becoming his downfall. And all because of this stupid intersect. The number of agents that he had lost looking for it was approaching triple digits. And all he had to show for it was the stack of reports documenting failure after failure.
And it was abundantly clear. This was an organization that didn't tolerate failure. They didn't demote you. They ended you.
It was in the middle of that contemplation that his phone rang.
"Yes," Jones answered briskly.
"Sir," his admin assistant answered. "Agent Adams on line one."
Jones knew Skip Adams well. He was a real go getter. Had worked in L.A. up until a couple of months ago but was transferred to the Denver office. He was being groomed to take over that office soon.
"Hi, Skip," Jones said as he pushed the button on his phone. "How are things in Denver?"
"Great, sir," said Adams. "Thanks for asking. But that's not why I called. I just saw a very interesting newspaper article. I just sent you a copy in an email."
As Jones brought up the email, Adams continued.
"Remember last year when we were looking for Bryce Larkin and we identified several agents working at the Burbank Buy More?"
"Of course," Jones said briskly. "We've lost twenty agents trying to figure out what is going on there."
"Well sir," Adams said quickly. "The woman in the picture is almost certainly Sarah Walker,"
"I remember her," Jones said with a sigh. "She's CIA. Very top flight. Assigned to protect someone at the Buy More. But who and why?"
"Well, sir," Adams said with the smile evident in his voice. "I can't help you with the why. But I may know who. The man in the article is Charles Bartowski. We got his name from the Buy More employment records. The woman in the second article is Dr. Ellie Bartowski. She is his sister. It looks like that may have gone rogue."
"That would explain the task force and all the chatter lately," said Jones, more to himself than anybody. "So, you think that the Bartowski's are who Walker is protecting?"
"Yes, sir," Adams said softly. "They must be desperate to find them to publish their pictures like this. Something must be up. They must believe that they are in the Denver area. How would you like me to proceed?"
"Let's let the CIA find them," Jones said thoughtfully. "You know that they will. And as soon as they do, we'll arrange for a little chat with Dr. Bartowski. She looks like a very intelligent lady."
"Yes, sir," Adams said with the smile obvious in his voice. "I'm sure she'll be able to tell us something, starting with who is her brother. Maybe you'll even get her to play a little doctor with you. That might be fun."
"It might be a lot of fun," Jones said to himself as he hung up the phone and leaned back in his chair. "Well, things might be looking up."
"I deserve it."
Chuck and Sarah were lying in bed in Sarah's hotel room. Even though it had been a few days since they had been there, it was by far, the place they felt the most comfortable. And that comfort, combined with the relief that their situation was no longer life and death led to a new hotness record. As Chuck held Sarah in his arms he was reluctant to speak for fear of ending the glow which enveloped them. So he just gently rubbed her back as she lay with her head on his chest like always. And they stayed that way for several minutes. Chuck couldn't even tell how long it had been. Finally it was Sarah who surprised him by breaking the silence.
"Ok, sweetie," Sarah said with a soft smile as she turned her head to look at him. "Care to tell me what's wrong?"
"What makes you think there is something wrong?" Chuck replied with his own smile.
"Chuck," Sarah said as she picked her head up from Chuck's chest for additional emphasis. "Do you really think that I can't tell when something is bothering you?"
"I'm just thinking about the future," Chuck said with a sigh. "I'm just a little worried that you're going to be happy."
"Okay, Chuck," Sarah said with a warning in her voice. "If you're worried again about me being in love with you…"
"No," Chuck interrupted with a laugh. "I'm actually pretty secure in that area."
"Thank you," Sarah said with a sign of relief. "Because I'm running out of ways to prove it to you."
"Yes," Chuck said with his classic grin. "You did just make a great effort. Thank you."
"My pleasure," Sarah said with her own grin. "And I mean that quite literally. So tell me what is bothering you?"
"Please don't take this wrong," Chuck said slowly as took his hand from around Sarah's back and softly rubbed her stomach. "I know that you're excited about this baby. Just as much as I am. I'm just concerned that going from Super Spy to wife and mother might be a little overwhelming. I just hope that you don't miss the excitement too much."
Sarah didn't respond. She just snuggled into Chuck's chest a little closer.
"I understand," Chuck continued. "That you don't want to talk about it because you think I'll feel threatened. But, trust me, I won't."
"I loved being an agent," Sarah finally whispered after a long pause. "I did. I do. Knowing the good thing that we did, knowing the difference we made makes me feel good about myself. And the honest truth is that I might miss some things about it a little someday."
Chuck just nodded to let Sarah know that he understood.
"But understand something," Sarah continued. "I've never wanted anything in my life before as much as I want to have this baby with you. I can't wait until she says her first word, when she takes her first steps, her first day of school."
Chuck's smile told her to continue.
"And you're the one person in the whole world," Sarah whispered. "That I want to share this with. And if I miss my old life, I'll just go pick a fight with her teacher or the neighborhood bully, or the mechanic who doesn't fix our car right."
"How about you try and not throw a knife at that teacher, bully, or mechanic?" Chuck said with a grin. "That's frowned upon in the real word."
"Duly noted," Sarah said with her own grin.
"Promise me one thing," Chuck said softly. "I know that you don't like to talk about your feelings much. And I keep pressing you. I'm sorry about that. But if you are ever missing the action, please promise me you'll talk to me. I'll promise to understand. And I'll try and help. I want you to be happy."
Sarah simply reached up and captured Chuck in a gentle kiss. It started off gentle anyway but quickly intensified. As soon as the kiss broke Sarah smiled.
"Do you want to talk?" Sarah said with a sly smile. "Or something else?"
The hunger in Chuck's return kiss was all the answer that Sarah needed.
"You know," Sarah said with a sly smile. "We have a wedding night scheduled tomorrow. You might want to rest up."
"Duly noted," Chuck whispered as he pressed his lips to Sarah's again, this time with a little more urgency.
"By the way," Sarah whispered as soon as the kiss broke.