SUMMARY: Chuck and Sarah have a wonderful marriage and daughter and live the normal life in a good house at a good island community. Or do they?????

DISCLAIMER: I don't own "Chuck."

NOTE: OK, here is the final chapter. I hope you have enjoyed the story. Please review.


CHAPTER 10 – No Matter What Happens

The next evening, Sarah arrived at the Bartowski home and was let in by Ellie. Sarah started to speak but was shushed. She looked curiously at Chuck's older sister who smiled and pointed at the couch. Sarah turned and saw Chuck reclined there, dozing with his head tilted back and his arms wrapped around Sallie who was asleep in his lap.

Sarah stood and stared for a long time at the two of them. And for a moment, images of Chuck as a father, bottle feeding an infant, changing diapers, walking with a child, sitting with a child in a rocking chair, helping the child with homework and much more filled her mind.

Ellie came up by her side, stood there and looked at the sleeping pair.

"He's really good with her. I never thought of my brother as being good with kids much less imagined him as a parent. But he's been great with her. I can't get over at these parenting skills that I never knew he had," she said as she shook her head in amazement.

Sarah said nothing but continued to imagine. Eventually, she went over to the couch and sat down near Chuck and then gently stroked his hair. Chuck's eyes popped open. He glanced down at Sallie who was still sleeping in his lap. Then, seeing Sarah, he spoke softly and tried to remain still so not to wake the little girl.

"Hey," he greeted Sarah. "How are things going with work?"

"That's one reason I came by." Before saying anything else, she glanced around to make sure that Ellie was out of earshot. "They think they have the cure for the brainwashing. So tomorrow, we're supposed to bring Sallie to a medical facility that they have set up. And they also want to see you."

"Me? What for?"

"I'm not sure. I think they just want to check you over and make sure you're OK," Sarah said.

Chuck sighed. "What time?"

"I'll come by tomorrow around 9am and pick you up."

"We'll be ready."


Sallie was definitely leery and hesitant about all of the men and women in white lab coats examining and talking to her at the secured medical facility that Sarah brought her and Chuck to the next morning.

She was OK with her vitals being taken but when the doctors wanted to whisk her away into another room, away from Chuck and Sarah, she started crying and screaming. So Chuck and Sarah stayed with her for the rest of the way – when they gave her a shot, when they put her down on a table and attached some sort of helmet that was connected to some sort of machine on her head. She looked scared but both Chuck and Sarah stood by each side, held a hand and did their best to calm and reassure her. The doctors turned on the machine and about a minute later, Sallie's eyes went wide and she stared at Chuck and Sarah.

As a doctor removed the helmet from Sallie's head, she continued to stare sadly at the two people holding her hand.

"You're not my mommy and daddy, are you?" she asked.

"No," Sarah replied softly. "But we do know who your real parents are and some people will take you home right now."

Two nurses came over and one picked up Sallie and carried her out of the lab. The little girl stared at Chuck and Sarah the whole way out. And as she was carried through the door, she lifted up one hand and waved goodbye. Chuck waved back, as did Sarah. It was then that Chuck noticed that Sarah was standing closely, pressed against him as if in need of support or something to lean against.


For the rest of the morning, Chuck went from room to room, machine to machine, doctor to doctor and got tested, re-tested, re-re-tested. He lost count of how many blood samples were taken from him, how many blood pressure and temperature checks were made, how often his eyes and ears were looked at, and how many questions he had to answer from so many doctors. They also did X-Rays, MRIs, CAT Scans, and some tests that Chuck couldn't name. And three doctors spent about an hour talking with him and asking question after question about the brainwashing.

As the afternoon of tests and questioning continued, Chuck lost track of time and often forgot which doctor was testing him for what. He eventually found himself in an office, talking with some doctor seated at a desk. The doctor asked Chuck a few more questions, nodded at Chuck's answers, and then announced that they were finished and that Chuck could go. The doctor stood up and left the office. Chuck leaned backed in his chair. When he felt someone shaking him awake, he realized that he had fallen asleep.


He looked up and saw Sarah standing next to him.

"They told me that they're done. So I can take you home now," she said.

Chuck didn't say anything. He was exhausted but he stood up and followed Sarah out of the building. When he got in the car, he leaned back into the seat and closed his eyes as Sarah started the car and drove him home.


The next day, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey sat at the Orange Orange Castle conference table in a video meeting with General Beckman who was filling them in on the latest developments of Fulcrum's island brainwashing facility.

The general explained that they weren't sure how many Fulcrum agents and scientists had escaped. The entire brainwashing lab had been dismantled and all of the technology had been transferred to CIA labs. The CIA, NSA, FBI agents and military personnel who were under the influence of the brainwashing had been helped and all brainwashing had been erased. They were all back to normal just like Chuck and Sarah.

"It's an incredible piece of technology. We still trying to figure it all out," Beckman noted. "We think that they can implant new memories, new pasts into a subject, give them a completely new background and identity or the same identity with different backgrounds and even manipulate the subject's perspective of how much time has passed in that new identity or new background. Hence the two of you believing that you had been married and had a daughter for years while in reality you had been on that island for only weeks."

"What good would that do?" Casey asked. "Exactly how does that help them gain some zombies to do their bidding? Surely if they go back into their normal life with a new identity, friends or family aren't going to be fooled."

"As I said, our scientists are still working on figuring everything out but they believe that implanting new backgrounds and new identities into the subjects was, for the most part, tests to see how the subject reacted and handled the brainwashing. If the subject maintained that new identity in their fake town and wasn't able to resist, then Fulcrum had someone who they could convert over to their side without anyone the wiser. The susceptible subject gets back his original identity and memories along with a Fulcrum conversion. So they truly would have the best undercover agent, an agent who wouldn't even know that he is undercover for Fulcrum. And it worked for the most part." Beckman explained.

"For the most part?" Casey asked.

"Our scientists tell me that what they found and what they could determine from all of the notes and everything, that Fulcrum had a greater than 90 percent success rate in converting people over with this brainwashing. They said that there were a few cases that had reactions or rejections to the brainwashing. Some reactions were violent, some were subtle. Some of those would have these reactions right away or hours or days later. Fulcrum referred to those failures as anomalies, rare cases where the brainwashing just didn't work the way they wanted it to. No one was able to successfully and consistently resist or overcome the brainwashing – until Mr. Bartowski came along," Beckman said.

"Huh?" Chuck said.

"That's correct Mr. Bartowski," Beckman said. "You repeatedly beat the Fulcrum brainwashing and became a constant source of frustration and annoyance for the Fulcrum scientists."

"Well, he does that to us without any brainwashing," Casey noted sarcastically.

Both Sarah and Beckman glared at Casey.

Chuck, who was still surprised at what Beckman said, didn't even hear Casey's comments. "Well … General … as I said before, when we made our report, I don't think it was me that did that. I think it was the Intersect. I think when I flashed on people on the island, the Intersect kind of disrupted the brainwashing. Sometimes it took three or four flashes and other times just one flash, and I think that weakened the brainwashing and enabled me to resist. And believe me, there were plenty of Fulcrum agents on that island to flash on," he said.

Beckman nodded. "Without revealing too much about you and the Intersect to our scientists, we attempted to duplicate your flashing condition in an effort to see what, if any, effect it would have on the brainwashing. And they don't agree with your assessment. Their determination is that the Intersect had little if any effect on the brainwashing."

Both Sarah and Casey looked at Chuck, who said nothing.

Beckman paused. "And there are some other things that our scientists found out." She looked down at some papers before continuing.

"As I said before Mr. Bartowski, your ability to beat the Fulcrum brainwashing constantly astounded and frustrated the Fulcrum scientists. In looking through their notes, we found that only a few subjects successfully beat the brainwashing once and, even more rarely, twice. According to the notes we found, you beat the brainwashing nine times."

Chuck suddenly found his mouth very dry and was unable to speak. Sarah's jaw dropped and her eyes grew wide as she looked at Chuck. Even Casey seemed astounded.

Beckman continued. "And each time they brainwashed you, they increased the potency of it. Our scientists discovered that you were getting extremely powerful levels in the last few treatments. According to the notes they left, no other test subject got as high levels as that. When this technology was in the early stages, when they were experimenting, some subjects got brainwashing treatments almost as high as those levels that you received and none of those subjects survived."

Chuck's jaw dropped. Under the table, Sarah's hand reached over and grasped his hand and held onto it.

"Hence the thorough medical examination that we put you through the other day, Mr. Bartowski. We wanted to make sure that there weren't any adverse effects or reactions in you because of that conversion process. You passed every medical test with flying colors, you were given a clean bill of health. So you beat that brainwashing in every way possible," Beckman said.

"Uhhhh … well … as I said before General, I don't think it was me that did that. I think it was the Intersect. After all, I'm not a trained spy or commando. I don't know what else it could have been," Chuck said.

And then Chuck couldn't believe what happened. The hardened, tough, all military, all commanding General Beckman actually smiled at him. "Have a little faith in yourself Chuck," she said.


The briefing continued for another 30 minutes and when it looked like Beckman was about to end things, she noted to Chuck and Sarah that there was something that they needed to do.

"It turned out that Sallie, the young girl who was brainwashed as your daughter, was the kidnapped child of United States Senator Brendan Stafford. As you know, she has successfully recovered from the brainwashing and is now happily and safely back with her parents. Her parents are very grateful and appreciative of that and want very much to personally express their thanks to you two," Beckman said.

"That's not necessary ma'am. Both Chuck and I were glad to help Sallie. And besides, our identities could be compromised with them as we do a lot of undercover work," Sarah said.

"Noted and agreed. That's why we sent some substitutes in for the parents to thank. But the daughter Sallie, is very fond of the two of you and is looking forward to seeing you both again. When those substitutes went in, Sallie knew right away that they weren't the two who took care of her and saved her and told her parents that. Senator Stafford wants the real couple to visit with him and his family and thank you personally. We have tried to explain to the senator about the secrecy that you two have to maintain but he would have none of it. He is a very influential and powerful senator and I think you do need to visit him," Beckman said.


Later on, Chuck was informed by Casey that Jill was nowhere to be found when the CIA and NSA raided the island. Evidently she had escaped. Chuck gulped a few times when Casey told him the news while they were working at the BuyMore. But his reaction was nowhere near to the level of Sarah's. Casey said that Sarah angrily hurled a few things in the Castle's conference room after she was told about Jill. Then she marched into the workout area where she hit and kicked the punching bag for more than an hour. After that, she immediately went into the Castle's shooting range area and spent a half-hour in there blasting away with her pistol.

"I found several of these in the trash after that," Casey said. He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and unfolded it to reveal a bullet-ridden blown up photo of Jill's face that Sarah had used for her impromptu target practice.


The visit to Sallie's parents took place a couple of days later. After Chuck and Sarah showed their identifications at the front door of the Stafford home, a man escorted them to a living room where they sat on a couch and waited. During that time, Chuck noticed that Sarah was quiet and that she stared off into space.

"Are you OK?" he asked her.

She acted startled, snapped her head towards Chuck. "What? Oh … yeah … I'm fine … fine." She looked at him as if studying him or checking him for something. She reached over with one hand and picked at some lint on the shoulder of his coat and pushed back a stray lock or two of his hair. And then her hand moved down to his face, stopped at his cheek and lingered. She stared into his eyes and for a moment, Chuck thought he detected a trace of sadness or regret in her eyes.

"Are you OK?" he repeated.

"Yeah," she said as she pulled back her hand but continued to look at him. "It's just …." She stopped and then shook her head.


She started to say something and then stopped. Chuck thought that was the end of it but then she spoke.

"Do you ever think about having kids?" she asked.

Of all the things that she could possibly say, that definitely would have never occurred to Chuck. But before he could reply or even think of what to say back, the pair was startled by a loud, high-pitched squeal that erupted from the living room doorway, followed by the clatter of tiny footsteps. And just as Chuck and Sarah turned their heads to the source of that noise, a small, dark-haired girl leapt up onto the couch and tried to hug both of them at the same time.

"CHUCK! SARAH!" she screamed. It was Sallie, happy, enthusiastic and excited. She hopped up and down on the couch, her head darting back and forth between Chuck and Sarah while she excitedly talked nonstop.

"You're here! You're here! I'm so glad to see you! You finally got here! I've missed you! You're here! You're here!"

Neither Chuck nor Sarah could get a word in. Chuck finally put his hands on her shoulders. "Hey, hey, hey," he said softly, trying to calm her down. "It's good to see you too. Hold still a second and let us get a look at you."

Sallie finally stopped for a moment and looked at the two of them. Then she launched herself into Chuck's arms for a hug wrapping her arms around his neck. "I missed you!" she said. Chuck returned the hug and then pulled back. Sallie turned her head, looked at Sarah and leaped into her arms for a hug. "I missed you too!" she said to Sarah.

She looked delighted as she stood between the two of them. Chuck was about to say something when a voice came from the doorway.

"Well, I guess that confirms that you are indeed the real Chuck and Sarah."

Chuck and Sarah looked up. There stood a tall woman, in her thirties with brunette hair, dressed in white blouse, green jacket and green skirt. She looked at how Sallie seemed so happy to be with Chuck and Sarah.

"You would not believe that they actually sent some people to pose as you two, not even realizing that my daughter wouldn't fall for that, that she would instantly know on sight that they weren't really the people who took care of her for all those weeks," said the woman. Then she moved toward them and stopped right in front of Chuck.

"Angela Stafford," she introduced herself and held out her hand.

Chuck stood up. "Charles Carmichael," he replied and shook her hand. He indicated his head toward Sarah who had also stood up. "And this is Sarah Walker," he said.

"Pleased to meet you," Mrs. Stafford said. But she didn't even glance in Sarah's direction as she continued to hold Chuck's hand. "May I call you Chuck?" she said huskily.

"Uhhh … sure … yeah, that's what everybody calls me," Chuck replied. He was suddenly feeling uncomfortable. Mrs. Stafford was still holding onto his hand and she had stepped even closer to him. He looked at Sarah for some help and she had her arms crossed and an icy look on her face. He wasn't sure what to do but then help came from an unexpected source.

"CHUCK!" Sallie yelled.

Chuck looked down at Sallie. "Want to see my room?" she asked.

"Sallie, our visitors came here to—"

"I'd love to see your room Sallie," Chuck quickly replied. He finally freed his hand from Mrs. Stafford's clutches and leaned down to look eye-to-eye with the little girl. Sallie looked thrilled.

"Wouldn't you like to see her room, Sarah?" Chuck asked and looked inquiringly at her.

Sarah still had that icy look on her face but she nodded.

"Very well, let's go see my daughter's room," Mrs. Stafford said. Then she reached down to take Chuck's arm. Chuck quickly held out his arms to Sallie. "Here, I'll carry you Sallie," he said to the little girl. Sallie leapt into his arms and squealed with delight.

He held her up on his left side, the side facing Mrs. Stafford and then put his right arm out toward Sarah, hoping that she would take his arm and help put Mrs. Stafford off. Sarah looked at him with a small smile and looped her left arm through Chuck's arm.

"Lead the way," Chuck said enthusiastically.


In addition to Sallie's room, Mrs. Stafford gave them a tour of the whole house, a beautiful and large place that looked as if it had the best of everything. It was so much bigger and so much nicer than the house that Chuck and Sarah had lived in with Sallie during the brainwashing episode. Chuck couldn't help but make comparisons. But he also noticed that Sallie acted the same. Small house, small furnishings or large house with lots of furnishings, the girl was the same delightful, loving, wonderful kid.

Throughout the tour, Mrs. Stafford kept eyeing Chuck and talking to him. She rarely acknowledged or even looked at Sarah. All of which was very much noticed by the CIA agent. Brunettes! It's always brunettes! she raged internally.

That rage brought Jill to her mind. Even though the brainwashing had deleted Jill from both hers and Chuck's memories, Jill's presence still caused strong emotions in both of them. Sarah could still recall how worried and concerned she became whenever Jill got near Chuck while they were on that island. Chuck had even admitted that he got nervous whenever Jill was around. Evidently, our subconscious memories were causing all of that, Sarah recalled. She didn't think anything could ever drive Jill from her mind after what that woman did to Chuck at Stanford and after. Yet, it was Jill that saved me, she thought.

Sarah could still vividly remember the argument that she and Chuck had, while he was free of the brainwashing and he tried to get her to leave. After she had calmed down and came out of the bedroom where she had locked herself in intending to talk to Chuck, the first thing she saw was Jill. I got so mad at seeing that bitch there, Sarah thought. And then when she heard Jill saying that she was going to take Chuck away and that Chuck would be hers, something inside Sarah exploded and she attacked Jill. And that enabled me to beat the brainwashing, Sarah thought. That bitch helped me beat it.

Sarah thoughts were interrupted when she saw Angela Stafford trying to move closer to Chuck. Sarah gripped Chuck's arm tighter and pulled him away. She glared at Angela Stafford, the MARRIED Angela Stafford, and wondered how her head would bounce on the floor in this house.


The tour stopped at a room which Senator Brendan Stafford used for an office. The senator was meeting with several people but upon being told who was here, immediately came out to shake Chuck and Sarah's hands and thank them profusely.

"I can't tell you what a relief it was to get our daughter back safe and unharmed. We were so worried, heck, we were frantic and wrecks. We had assumed the worst and thanks to the two of you, we got her back safe and unharmed – not even a scratch. Thank you! Thank you! If there is ever anything I can do for the two of you, just ask," he said.

He talked with them for a while asking about their jobs, what they did, their backgrounds and eventually an aid came up and said that he was needed back in the meeting. The senator nodded and thanked Chuck and Sarah again, shook their hands, and left.


Eventually, they had to leave. Sallie seemed sad to see them go and Chuck and Sarah felt a little sad as well. They hugged her goodbye and then Sallie asked them to wait a minute. She ran off to another room.

"This is for you Chuck and this is for you Sarah," she said when she returned and handed each of them a large sheet of paper.

Chuck looked at the paper Sallie gave him. It was drawing made with Crayons of a house on an island on a sunny day. Next to the house were three stick figures – a tall man with dark hair, a woman with yellow hair, and a young girl with dark hair. Sallie had made a drawing of all of them. Chuck looked at Sarah's drawing. It was of two stick figures, a woman with yellow hair and a young girl with dark hair, on a playground on an island. Sallie had made a drawing of her and Sarah's trips to the playground in the park on the island.

Both Chuck and Sarah crouched down to speak to Sallie at her eye level.

Chuck put his hand on the girl's shoulder. "Thank you. This is wonderful. I like it a lot. And I'm going to hang it up on the wall in my room so that I can see it every day," he said.

"I love my drawing too Sallie. Thank you! I'm going to hang mine up too," Sarah said.

Sallie moved forward and hugged Chuck and Sarah together.

After which, Mrs. Stafford escorted Chuck and Sarah to the door.

"Thank you again for all you did for my daughter. We are so grateful," she said, again looking only at Chuck. She pulled out a card and handed it to him. "If there's ever anything I can do for you, don't hesitate to call me."


Sarah glared at Chuck as they walked toward the car. Chuck pretended not to notice but as usual, whenever Sarah looked at him, it was impossible to ignore. He turned toward her, smiled, and held up the card that Mrs. Stafford had given him. Sarah frowned. Chuck still smiled and then grasped the card with both of his hands and tore it into tiny pieces until the card was a pile of unreadable and illegible scraps in the palm of one hand. And with that, he dumped the pile in a garbage bin that stood at the end of the driveway. He then made a big play of wiping his hands against each other and on his jacket as if dusting and wiping off any remaining traces of Mrs. Stafford as they reached Sarah's car.

Sarah tried to keep a frosty glare on him but found that she couldn't. She smiled and her eyes brightened a bit.

"Good boy," she said.


The next day, Chuck went back to work at the BuyMore Nerd Herd desk and after an hour there, felt like he had never left. It was then that he admitted to himself that things were back to normal, including him and Sarah returning to their usual walking the fine line of their mutual attraction for each other and the handler-asset thing. Chuck had hoped that Sarah would talk to him about their being married on that island and acting like a married couple in all ways. But every time he had tried, Sarah closed up and put up walls.

So I guess EVERYTHING is back to normal, he emphasized to himself. Then a customer came up to the Nerd Herd counter needing help with an iPod and things stayed busy for Chuck the rest of the day.


When Chuck finally punched out from his shift at the BuyMore, he was exhausted. As soon as he got home, he went to bed and almost immediately fell asleep.

And then sometime later, he opened his eyes. He was still in his bed but something felt different. He looked and in spite of the darkness of the bedroom could easily recognize Sarah sitting beside him. At first he thought he was dreaming and shook his head, shut his eyes and opened them again and again but Sarah was always there. She watched him do all of that and then finally proclaimed to him that she wasn't a dream, that she was really there and she was real.

"Did you sneak in here?" Chuck asked.

Sarah nodded. "Through the Morgan door. You really shouldn't leave that open so much. That is dangerous," she said.

"Is something wrong?" Chuck asked.

Sarah didn't say anything at first. She just stared at Chuck for a long moment. "We need to talk," she finally whispered.

"Well, we do but … this may not be the best … private place for a conversation," Chuck said, hoping that she would get his meaning without him having to say it outright.

"What? Oh. Don't worry about the bugs. Casey had to go out of town, so he's not in his apartment. I went in there and disabled the monitoring equipment for the evening before I came in here. And just in case I missed something …." She pointed at the small table near the head of his bed. Chuck looked and saw some sort of mechanical device.

"If I missed any bugs, that will jam them, prevent anyone from listening or looking in," she explained. "So for tonight, it's just you and me – really just you and me."

She then looked down at him and started to say something but stopped.

Chuck stared at her emotionless face and then spoke up.

"Sarah, it's OK. I know what you're going to say and you don't have to say it," he said with a sigh. "You're going to say that what happened was mistake, a mistake that you're going to ensure never happens again and as far as you're concerned, it didn't even happen, it never happened. And that we need to--"

"No, no, NO," Sarah interrupted. She grasped his chin with one hand and turned his head towards hers. She looked directly into his eyes and Chuck could see that tough, strong, powerful Sarah Walker looking very tenderly, lovingly, and kindly at him.

"Chuck, it did happen and I'm glad it happened," she said softly. She held his gaze when she said those words and didn't flinch or blink.

"I'm glad it did too," Chuck replied. "I enjoyed being married to you."

"A part of me wishes that we still were," she replied.

Chuck almost gasped. Did she really say that? he wondered.

The hand that held his chin moved down to his shoulder. Her other hand reached over and grasped his other shoulder. Chuck immediately put his arms around her neck, pulled her down to him and they kissed. They kept kissing and their passion increased. Chuck could hear Sarah softly moaning as she moved one hand up to the back of his head where she stroked his hair. He moved one hand down her back and drew her in closer, tighter. After another long and lengthy kiss, the two broke apart, breathing heavily.

Sarah moved her hands to front of his chest. "Chuck, that one time we made love … on our anniversary … you tried to stop me and … you were yourself that time, weren't you?"

He hesitated. But there was no denying it and no way around it. "Yes, I wasn't brainwashed then. I was clear-headed then and … well, I wasn't very clear headed … it was really hard to concentrate and resist you, you … well … I tried, I tried Sarah … I'm really, really sorry. I shouldn't have done that."

Sarah once again grasped his chin with her hand and directed him to look at her. "It's all right Chuck. I know you tried. But you didn't do anything wrong. I wanted you and I loved it, I really did. The reason I was asking is that I just wanted to know if there was ever any time on that island where we made love and we both weren't brainwashed. I wanted to know that because …."

She stopped talking and then moved off of the bed and stood on the floor. She removed all of her clothes and once nude, she got into the bed, under the covers with Chuck. "Because I want to make love to you now and it be totally, completely the real you and me – no brainwashing, no excuses, just you and me," she said as she removed his T-shirt and underwear.

She kissed him and their hands moved quickly onto each other, touching, feeling, and stroking. And they didn't stop for a long time.


Afterwards, they lay under the covers, naked, and in each other's arms.

"There's a part of me that wishes that could have been real, that what we had on that island during the brainwashing had been real," Chuck said to her.

"I know you do, because you had that normal life that you want so bad," she replied.

"No, it wasn't that, it had nothing to do with that life being normal…or appearing to be normal. It was wonderful because I had a life WITH YOU. It was so great because I was with you. I'll trade normal any time just to be with you."

Sarah reached over to him with one hand and playfully stroked his hair. "I know. I understand." She paused for a moment and then she looked him directly in the eye. "Chuck, no matter what happens, I want you to know that I love you and I will always love you."

"I love you too Sarah. But what do you mean no matter what happens?"

"I don't know what will happen to us, what they'll do if they find out about you and me. It could …." Sarah stopped, not wanting to say anything more.

Chuck sat up and then pulled her up to a sitting position beside him in the bed. "Take a look at that shelf. See those three action figures on it?" he asked as he pointed at the toys.

Sarah looked and did see the three super-hero figure toys but gave Chuck a puzzled look as she had no idea how this had anything to do with what they were talking about.

"Those are three really rare, valuable, and expensive action figures. Back when I was about 17, 18, I really, really wanted those – as did everybody. They were the hottest action figures back then and selling out fast."

He pointed at the first one, the one on the left. "That one was given to me by Ellie for my birthday. I unwrapped one of the presents she gave me that day and there it was. She got it for me."

He pointed at the second one, the one in the middle. "To get that one, I drove all around one Saturday afternoon, stopping and shopping at every comic book shop, toy store, mall, department store. I drove for hours and miles. It took all day, but I finally found one buried behind a bunch of other action figures on a store shelf."

Then he pointed at the third one, the one on the right. "With two down and just one to go, I wasn't about to give up. I called comic book stores all over the country asking if they had one in stock. Finally, I reached a shop in Florida who had one left. The guy on the phone said he wanted it for himself. But I persuaded him to sell it and ship it to me. And then I had them all."

He smiled at Sarah, who still looked puzzled about what he had just told her. "Hang on, there's a point to all of this. And it's this Sarah. Sometimes the things that you want most in life come to you on their own, without you doing anything -- like the action figure that I got for my birthday. And sometimes you have to work very, very hard to get the things you want in life, like the action figure that I drove all over for. And then sometimes, you have to fight to get the things you want in life, like the action figure that I had to persuade that guy to sell to me."

He hugged Sarah. "A relationship is like that Sarah. Some things happen on their own, some things you have to work for and some things you have to fight for. If we really, really want to be together, then some things will happen on their own, some things we'll have to work for and some things we'll have to fight for. I consider you worth all of that and much more. And I hope you consider me the same."

Sarah wrapped her arms around Chuck and drew him in tight. How did this happen? she thought. How did a top-rated, hardened, world experienced CIA agent and assassin fall completely, totally, absolutely head-over-heels in love with a computer nerd? How did this computer nerd turn out to be the most wonderful, wise, fulfilling, loving, compassionate and perfect man for me?

"Of course I consider you worth all of that and a lot, lot, lot more," she said softly. "I'm in this all the way Chuck. How about you?"

"All the way, Sarah, all the way."

"Well …." she said. And then before Chuck knew what happened, he found himself rolled over onto his back with Sarah on top of him and pinning down his hands above his head. She leaned her face down very close to his and seductively said, "Then let's get to work!" And then she kissed him. And as they kissed, Chuck's eye strayed to the drawing hanging nearby on the wall, the drawing of him, Sarah, and Sallie as a family that Sallie had drawn and given to him. And his heart was filled with hope and love.



A NOTE ABOUT WHAT TV SERIES INSPIRED THIS STORY: The classic TV series that gave me the idea for this story is called "The Prisoner." It first aired way back in the late 1960s and since then has been shown various times in syndication. The series was created by and starred that great actor Patrick McGoohan (who unfortunately died recently; he will be missed). McGoohan played a secret agent who resigned from his post and then tried to go on leave. Before he could, he was rendered unconscious and when he woke up, he found himself in a mysterious place known only as "The Village" where all of the residents there referred to him as "Number Six." The Village seemed to be a very nice place but there was no way to leave or make any contact with the outside world. Number Six battled to find out what was going on and to escape. While my story isn't exactly like "The Prisoner," the series definitely inspired me to write "Chuck Vs. The Good, Normal and Wonderful Life." And I couldn't resist putting in references to that series in my story. Lines like "Be seeing you!" and "By hook or by crook, we will" are from "The Prisoner." Plus Chuck and Sarah's home address on the island was #6 McGoohan Drive and the name of the island was where "The Prisoner" TV series was actually filmed. And practically every Fulcrum agent or villain's name is the name of a director, writer or production person from the show. If you've never seen this classic TV series, go rent it. It's available on DVD. The first episode is titled "Arrival." Check it out and watch out for the Rovers!