Chuck vs. The Spring of Laughter

The obvious something bothered Chuck, but the "other something" almost bothered him more. Time to do something about it. Chuck/Sarah, one-shot.

Rating: T, because this whole story is the most innocuous things ever, there are less than a handful of instances involving strong language in the actual story, so I'd rather err on the side of caution.

A/N: The "other something" in this story is something I've noticed for a few weeks now, but it was only two nights ago that I suddenly thought of a plot to go with it. I scribbled down a plot outline, with the intention of writing the story once I actually had time, but tonight, I decided that I wanted to write it out ASAP…and therefore made time. Thank God for a random, one-day lull at work. I came up with the entire plot of this before tonight's episode ("Chuck vs. the Suburbs"), so canon-wise, it includes everything before tonight for sure (though I gloss over certain occurrences, but it's not like I deny they happened outright). Since I'm writing this all during the episode (yes, that's right—I'm Chuck multitasking), I'm not sure if tonight fits in or not yet.

As an aside, if anyone's wondering if there's going to be a sequel to "Chuck vs. SHA," I can now say with 97.4% certainty that there's going to be one. If you're wondering where it is, it's currently occupying a piece of paper similar to the one I grabbed the other night to write out this story's plot. The plot for that story (the sequel) is nearly all worked out, but while I happened to be able to move some things around so I could write a short one-shot story tonight, a multichapter one is not in the near future, which I'm none too happy about. For those of you who have chosen to refrain from skewering me and are patiently waiting for the sequel (though Lord knows why), I'm appreciative of the non-skewering. Very appreciative.

Since I wrote this in a smaller timeframe than I normally do, I am willing to bet that there are more errors than normal, despite my proofing the story. For the errors, I apologize. I'll try to fix them as I find them. A sentence (or series of sentences) in italics tends to indicate a character's thoughts (in this story, they're all Chuck's). Finally, I don't own Chuck, because if I did, I would be able to start the sequel to SHA now, rather than in a few weeks or months…AND my cable wouldn't have cut out tonight 10 minutes before the end of the episode, or else I could tell you whether this story still 'works,' given tonight.

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With the events of Christmas Eve, the more-acute-than-normal relationship limbo, and the general funk they had managed to get themselves into, the tension between Chuck and Sarah as of late had been unbearable—not only was it thick enough to cut, but it was thick enough that a knife wouldn't do much of anything. Even a light saber would only possibly make a dent…and that was a big possibly. The mission that night had gone well, but the conversation before, during, and after was non-existent. It had gotten so bad lately that even Casey was in full retreat: upon walking back into the apartment complex's courtyard after the mission, he had all but run into his apartment, leaving the other members of Team Chuck standing very awkwardly in the courtyard, totally alone.

Other than the obvious problem, Chuck had noticed an additional something over the past few weeks. It was bothering him almost more than the fact that they seemed incapable of speaking and had both been in a melancholy funk over their situation. He was so intent on trying to finally bring up what was wrong that he hadn't even noticed that Sarah was walking toward her parked car, nearly through the first arch leading out of the courtyard. The shock of seeing her that close to leaving without a good night started his feet moving toward her and his mouth spitting out any sentence to stop her.

"Hey, is something wrong?"

She stopped walking and slowly turned around to face him. With her eyes directed at a spot over his shoulder—something she had been doing a lot lately, rather than having to look at him—she offered an indifferent shrug before answering.

"Fine. Everything's fine."

Chuck half heard her. He was still trying to process the fact that Sarah was so tense that her attempt at a shoulder shrug was a…non-shrug, actually. Never before had he seen her that tense, and never before had he seen her with such a miserable, yet CIA-approved neutral, expression on her face. With her continuing to stare at the spot over his shoulder with a cool, but sad, look, he had enough.

"That's it. This isn't going to work anymore."

Sarah's eyes snapped to his face, and she looked directly at him for the first time in weeks. Bingo, he thought, finally got through. Her stoically miserably exterior hadn't changed any, but he had caught the brief flash in her eyes before she hid it away.

"What are you talking about, Chuck?"

Oh you know exactly what I'm talking about, Sarah. His eyes slightly narrowed, as if in anger, but the corners of his mouth twitched upward—he suddenly knew exactly how to address the "other something" that had been bothering him. More importantly, he had a plan for how to fix it, perhaps fixing the big something at the same time. Breaking into a full smirk as he folded his arms across his chest, Chuck voiced what "other something" had been bothering him.

"When's the last time you laughed?"

More progress was made on the showing-any-emotion-at-all front. Sarah's eyes slightly bulged and her mouth hung slightly agape. But, as was occurring so often as of late, she quickly hid the treacherous emotional outburst beneath her neutral—and still very tense—mask. Sensing an impersonal, vague spy-esque answer in the works, he preempted her with a devious, but sagely, nod.

"Uh huh, just what I thought. We're ending that right. now."

And with that, Chuck bolted back toward the courtyard's fountain and jumped in, still completely clothed in his Nerd Herd attire. The splash was enormous, nearly drenching him from head to toe, but it did not phase him at all. Loosening his tie a bit more as he jumped up and down a few more times, he ended up standing in the barely shin-deep water, calmly looking at Sarah, who was combating both shock and a smirk.

"Yes, that's right: a grown nerd is both jumping and standing in the middle of a fountain. Do you find that amusing, Agent Walker?"

He got an eyebrow raise in return, followed immediately by a hand-flying-to-face to hide the smile that was starting to form. Still no laughter, though. Fine. I've got more where that came from. Not wanting to lose the momentum he had going, he started running around the fountain clockwise while singing at the top of his lungs.

"SPLISH SPLASH, I was takin' a bath, long about a Saturday night!"

Splish splash, indeed, Chuck thought. If he wasn't completely drenched before, he definitely was now. He glanced over to assess how close Sarah was to laughing. Pretty darn close. Her hand was clamped firmly over her mouth as she shook with silent laughter, just barely keeping it in, both out of respect for the neighbors (since it was midnight, despite the fact that they were all probably awake after Chuck's singing) and in an attempt to keep the CIA façade up (the emotional fallout from Chuck being so utterly adorable was easier to handle with it in place). Chuck noticed the extra effort, and comically lifted one eyebrow as he screeched to a halt right in front of her, causing a small wave to lap over the rim of the fountain.

"Holding it in, eh? Not acceptable."

Before she could react, he barreled out of the fountain—Converses squishing the entire way—scooped her up in his arms, and raced back to the fountain, spinning them both around a few times once he had jumped back in. She was having a harder time not laughing now that both her hands were around Chuck's neck for stability and no longer over her mouth. The first fact did not go unnoted by Chuck. Why are you so stubborn, Sarah Walker? The second fact was making it hard to think at all. Cementing the first fact in his mind while firmly ignoring the second, he launched into song again while hysterically sloshing around the fountain in a run like before, with Sarah still in his arms and her laughter growing as the rhyme went on.

"Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posies, ashes ashes…"

A sudden moment of clarity dawned upon Sarah as she realized what words came next.

"Don't you DARE!"

Oh I totally will dare. Mischievous smile crossing his face, he finished the rhyme while waggling his eyebrows.

"…we all fall DOWN."

Chuck suddenly dropped them both toward the water, causing Sarah to hold on to his neck tighter in an attempt to avoid getting wet. A beat passed before she realized that Chuck had stopped just short of dropping into the fountain. He had, somehow, managed to drop into a perfect crouch, with the water up to the bend in his knees, resulting the bottom half of him being completely soaked, but left the top half of him dry… right where she was. Peals of laughter echoed off the courtyard walls as Sarah, at long last, broke into audible laughter. There we go! The mega-watt smile burst on to Chuck's face as he stood them up, letting out a victorious yell while doing a spastic victory dance around the fountain, causing even more laughter from Sarah. While dancing around, Chuck stopped looking where he was planting his feet and instead looked up at the laughing CIA agent in his arms, not realizing that Sarah was considerably closer after his "all fall down" scheme and her subsequent reaction. Startled by the closeness and the intensity of the connection from their eyes meeting, his victory dance quickly slowed until Chuck was standing still in the fountain. What had started off as a goofy moment had suddenly morphed into a very intimate one. He couldn't have stopped the words from coming out of his mouth even if he had wanted to.

"Hearing you laugh is…awesome. I can't bear seeing you so miserable. I just can't, I'm sorry. It absolutely kills me. And the fact that it's me making you miserable is enough to make me want to call Beckman and request that bunker."

Her eyes widened as her hands found their way to the sides of his face and closed the small gap that had been between their foreheads, gently bumping his against hers for emphasis as she talked.

"Don't…please, don't. That would make it unbearably worse. Please, promise me you won't."

The wild, pleading look in her eyes made him lose his voice. He had to clear his throat a few times to get it to function again.

"OK, OK, I won't, I promise."

He felt her relax a little his arms, with her one hand moving back behind his neck to play with his hair, and the other moving down to play with his waterlogged tie. Both enjoyed the silence and closeness for a moment or two, with Chuck being the one to finally break it.

"We have to fix this. I never want to see you so miserable again."

She let out a small sigh and shifted a bit in his arms, leaning more on him than she was before.

"It's not like you've been the most cheerful person lately, either."

"Hard to be cheerful when the most beautiful woman in the world's not."

How did I manage to keep eye contact during all of that? Somehow, he had, and he'd been able to see the range of emotions contained in her eyes as he delivered the statement. Before he could even backtrack, she leaned forward enough to place a kiss on his unsuspecting lips. It was short, sweet, and extremely loaded. Stunned into silence for a few seconds after it ended, he had to look up at the night sky and cough a few times before looking back down at her. She was looking at him rather intensely, but with an amused almost-grin on her face. She never fails to blow me away.

"You know I'm still absolutely crazy about you, right?"

It was her turn to break eye contact as she looked down at his tie and fiddled with it more than she was before. A small, shy smile had replaced the amused one.

"I have a pretty good idea, yeah."

Her eyes instantly snapped back up to his as he bounced her once in his arms. His gaze was deadly serious.

"No, you need to know for a fact: I'm still absolutely crazy about you."

The shy smile grew as she fought the urge to look back down at his tie.

"Then yes, I know: you're still absolutely crazy about me."

Nodding once seriously before breaking into a grin again, Chuck continued.

"OK, good, just wanted to make sure that was clear. So, we know…"

He was not anticipating the next thing Sarah said at all. She said it so softly he wasn't even sure he heard her correctly, and had to ask her to repeat it.

"Wait, sorry, what was that?"

She screwed up enough courage to say it louder.

"I said, 'I'm so crazy about you it scares me.' "

He tipped his head from side to side, as if to drain water from his ears.

"One more time, please?"

Her eyes narrowed as she caught on to his game, but the even-larger grin he now had on his face was contagious and had spread to hers. She still managed to deliver the line with the right amount of sweetness and malice.

"I think you need to remember the fact that I know over 100 ways to kill you."

"Hmmm, point taken. And remembered for future reference, too."

Sarah was about to fire right back when a gentle kiss to her forehead stopped her. Chuck's non-verbal acknowledgement of her declaration was enough to freeze all coherent thought for a good half minute. Closing her eyes to regain her bearings, opening them again ended up being a sign to continue, which he did.

"So, as I was saying, we now know that we're both crazy about the other, right?"

She didn't know whether to chuckle, giggle, sigh, hide, or smack him in the shoulder. She settled for an eye roll instead.

"Yes, I think we've established that fact."

The eye roll did not go unnoticed, and he gave her an extremely exaggerated one several times, mixed with a few crossed eyes, before continuing as her laughter trailed off into an incredulous smile.

"OK, and we also both know a relationship can't happen for 10 million reasons. I don't like that fact, but I know it, just like you don't like that fact, but you know it. Ignoring that we're both crazy about one another, though, is making things a little ridiculous…"

He heard her mutter a no kidding to that concept.

"…so we're just going to have to deal with it. We need to stop pretending that the whole attraction thing's not there, because doing so is going to make us go insane. I'd rather joke and kid about it, both of us knowing that the other understands that there can't be anything more, than go insane and be miserable like the past few weeks."

She was silent for a moment, seriously considering the logic of his argument before answering.

"I'm alright with trying that, as long as you know that I have nothing to do with some of those 10 million reasons and don't like them at all."

"Same here."

The finality to her nod was akin to a gavel tap on a judge's bench.

"It's settled. We'll now joke about our doomed non-relationship."

Oh my God, did Sarah Walker just make a JOKE about this already?!? BEFORE I DID!? He was impressed, and judging from the slight eyebrow raise and smug look on Sarah's face, she knew he was, too. Turnabout's fair play, though… He made sure that the sigh he gave before responding sounded real as possible.

"Now that we've dealt with that—rather effectively, I may add—there are other pressing issues to deal with."

The sigh, coupled with the solemn tone used to deliver the line, made her tense up as her spy senses tingled.

"What other pressing issues?"

He shrugged as much as he could before explaining.

"Now that we've started the laughter recovery process, we must continue. You're dangerously low on your laugh quota, and while I feel that we've staved off any immediate danger, an all-nighter filled with comedy movies is the only way to get you to on your way to full recovery."

Relaxing again, she gave relieved sigh while smacking him in the chest with his wet tie. Once her spy senses ceased tingling, her eyebrows shot up as she replayed Chuck's professional laughter assessment in her head and took stock of it. The retort she gave was slightly argumentative, but her eyes sparkled with amusement.

"Oh is that so?"

The answer she got back was punctuated by a small poke in the back.

"Oh, I know it's so."

She pretended to internally debate for a few moments before conceding the point.

"Then I suppose we're just going to have to watch movies all night."

Grinning from ear to ear, causing Sarah to blush wildly and bury her head in his damp shoulder, he stepped carefully out of the fountain. He had not even taken two steps toward the bedroom window when Sarah tugged his tie lightly. She apparently had controlled the blush enough to deem it safe to dislodge from his shoulder to see what he was doing.

"I'm capable of walking over to your window, you know."

He shook his head as he continued walking.

"Nope, you're exhausted from that laughing because you're so out of laughing shape. I don't think you'd be able to make it to the window without seriously injuring yourself."

He got not only a genuine Sarah Walker laugh for that one, but an eye roll and gentle smack to the back of the head. He looked affronted as he started to very obviously stumble toward the window with huge, not-natural motions.

"That was brilliant. Give the person carrying you a concussion."

The stumbling caused even more laughter, and by the time he got them over to the window, he was laughing pretty hard as well. They watched comedies all night, producing even more laughter. When Casey swung opening his front door early the next morning, he was immediately greeted by that very sound coming from Chuck's open bedroom window…both his and Sarah's. Laughter. Sweet, sweet laughter. Standing in his open doorway for a moment to bask in the long-absent sound, the NSA agent couldn't help but allow a small smile to cross his face as a single thought crossed his mind.

Thank. God. About damn time.

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A/N2: The song Chuck starts to sing while running around the fountain the first time is Bobby Darin's "Splish Splash," for those who aren't familiar with it. Searching on YouTube for it should give you a good idea how the song goes, if you really want the full visual of Chuck prancing in the fountain whilst singing it. The second fountain-running "song" is really a children's rhyme that has different variations around the world, but it's normally said in the States in a sing-song manner, hence me calling it a "song."