Chuck vs. the Future Redux, The Big Damn Epilogue – "All You Need Is Love"

CAST (in order of appearance):
Chuck Bartowski – Zachary Levi
John Casey – Adam Baldwin
Sarah Walker – Yvonne Strahovski
Mal Reynolds – Nathan Fillion
Jayne Cobb – Adam Baldwin
Captain Omar Yagosian – Olek Krupa
Kaylee Frye – Jewel Staite
Inara Serra – Morena Baccarin
Ellie Bartowski – Sarah Lancaster
Devon Woodcomb – Ryan McPartlin


8:30 AM, Pacific Standard Time
February 14
th, 2009
Burbank, California

Things had been slow lately. In fact, ever since Chuck, Sarah, and Casey had returned from the twenty-sixth century, there had been very little activity. They had been sent to Washington for the Inauguration, but Chuck didn't flash on anybody who was trying to bump off Barack Obama – instead, he just froze, along with the other two million people on the Mall.

Sure, there had been the whole "keep Tyler Martin from getting his ass killed" mission two weeks ago. There was the bit where Anna started seeing another guy, only for Chuck to find out that said guy was a Triad assassin who was out to kill the Chinese ambassador to the United States. He had ended up throwing a bomb into a Herder and driving it away by remote control before it blew up.

Sarah had thought that he was in the Herder when it blew. Chuck got slapped for that one.

And now, it was Valentine's Day. It felt a little weird to Chuck for it to be Valentine's Day – he had just celebrated it two and a half months before – or, depending on the perspective, five hundred ten years hence.

He exited the Large-Mart, a slim black box in one hand, a fresh de-thorned rose, a Valentine's Day card, and a 16 megabyte SDM card (courtesy the 99 Cents Only store) in the other. He had intentionally gotten to the plaza a little early so that he could get things taken care of.

Chuck sighed as he unlocked the door of the Buy More. He had been in space. He had traveled through the stars. He had set up the government computer network on a planet hundreds of light years away.

And now, here he was again, back to fixing the computers of people who were generally pretty stupid. It was enough to make him want to scream.

But, he refrained. Locking the Buy More doors behind him, Chuck made a beeline for the Nerd Herd counter. Bringing his computer out of sleep mode, he slid the SDM card into the computer's reader and told the computer to upload a certain file to it.

While that was being done, he took the rose and headed toward the appliances section of the store. Sitting on a display table was just the appliance he needed – the Black & Decker VS1300 vacuum sealer. The green-shirts had had a bit much fun playing with it as of late; however, on the upside, the ability to vacuum seal leftovers had somewhat eliminated the whole Mystery Crisper game, and that was something that Chuck was quite alright with.

Popping the rose into one of the plastic bags, he placed its edge into the machine. A moment later, it was finished, the bag vacuum sealed. The rose was a little flattened, but Chuck was okay with that – it was liable to be in far worse condition by the time it reached its destination.

Chuck returned to the Nerd Herd counter. The file was done copying to the SDM card. Chuck popped that out, and put it in the envelope with the signed card. Sealing that shut, Chuck placed both the envelope and the sealed rose into the box. The lid went on the box, the box was taped shut, and then a Buy More shipping label went on the top of the box.

The label had been pre-printed. Under "Deliver To:", it said "Kaywinnit Lee Frye." Below that, under address, Chuck had simply put: "Transport Serenity." Finally, on the line for date to deliver, Chuck had printed "14 February 2520; to be held in National Security Agency archives."

That done, Chuck slid the box under his desk and began getting the counter ready for opening. The morning passed uneventfully – right up until Emmett Milbarge came in and started playing Must Love Dogs on the entire wall. "God," Chuck groaned, lowering his head to the counter. Three hours later, when John Casey came FINALLY in for the mid-shift, Chuck grabbed the box and approached him, grateful for a distraction.

"Morning, Bartowski," Casey grumbled as usual when Chuck walked up.

"Well, good morning to you too, sunshine," Chuck replied, amused. "Listen, I need to ask you a favor."

Casey turned and stared at Chuck, a look of mock disbelief on his face. "Unbelievable," he muttered. "February 14th, 2009. Chuck Bartowski asks me for a favor."

"Ha, ha," Chuck replied sarcastically. "Seriously, though. I need you to arrange for a package to be held in the NSA archives."

Casey narrowed his eyes. "What is it?" he asked, reaching out and grabbing the box from Chuck before he could object.

Chuck began to turn red as Casey read the shipping label. "Oh, for God's sake," Casey groaned, rolling his eyes. "Surely you can't be serious."

Chuck raised an eyebrow and nodded. "Oh, but I am serious."

Casey shook his head and turned away from Chuck. As he walked away, Chuck called after him, "AND STOP CALLING ME SHIRLEY!"

As Chuck watched Casey go, he grinned – and his smile immediately faded as a dog began barking onscreen. I will kill Emmett, Chuck growled internally –

"Are you okay, Chuck?" Sarah's voice came from behind him.

Chuck turned around. Sarah had healed completely. There was no sign of her head wound, no memory loss. And despite everything that had happened to Chuck, his stomach still jumped a little bit when he saw her.

"Uh, no, not since Emmett started playing romantic comedies twenty-four, seven," Chuck sighed. "He must love Must Love Dogs, because that's all he's been showing."


1:30 PM, Alliance Mean Time
February 14
th, 2520
Serenity

It was dark and cold out in the black – but this was the part of space that Mal Reynolds liked best. The part that was quiet. The part that was never disturbed –

Well, that's not ENTIRELY true, he thought to himself. The five hundred year old Toyota sitting in his cargo bay was testament to that.

And for that matter, so was the Alliance cruiser that had just appeared out of nowhere in front of him. "What the HELL?!"

Mal rapidly brought Serenity's throttle down to stop. The old Firefly coasted to a halt, never in any real danger of colliding with the cruiser.

"Transport Serenity, this is MKV Columbia," the vaguely familiar voice of Columbia's captain sounded over the radio. "Please release helm control and prepare for docking."

Ordinarily, Mal would've wanted to know exactly why he was doing that, but over the course of a month one year before, he had come to know and, if not trust, then respect the captain of Columbia. "Roger, wilco," Mal replied over the radio.

Reaching up over his head, Mal flipped a series of three switches, releasing helm control of Serenity to Columbia's computer. As he watched, Columbia brought Serenity about, pulling her toward and into a docking bay.

Mal grabbed the PA microphone. "This is the captain speaking," he said. "We are currently docking with an Alliance cruiser. Don't be alarmed; we know this ship. We should be back on our merry way in a few minutes here."

Hanging up the microphone, Mal headed aft, toward the cargo bay. As he stepped out into the corridor, Jayne emerged from his quarters, with his trusty shotgun Vera and a belt of grenades strapped on.

Mal stopped in his path, and gave Jayne a look of death. "NO," he growled.

"Aw, c'mon, Mal!" Jayne whined.

"Jayne!" Mal snapped. "Down! Back! Sit!"

Pouting, Jayne grunted and returned to his quarters. Mal shook his head and continued on his way toward the cargo bay.

As the door opened, Mal saw one lone individual standing outside his ship – Captain Omar Yagosian of MKV Columbia. "Captain Reynolds," Yagosian said by way of greeting. "Good to see you again."

"Captain Yagosian," Mal replied. "First time in my life, I can say the feeling's mutual to an Alliance officer."

Yagosian cracked a small smile. "Give us a chance, Captain," he said. "You'll find we're full of surprises."

"Oh, I bet," Mal muttered under his breath. "So. What can I do you for?"

Yagosian held up a black box. "This," he replied. "It's been in the National Security Agency archives for the last five centuries. There were strict instructions to deliver it on this date, to a member of your crew."

Mal reached out for the box, but Yagosian pulled it away. "I'm sorry, Captain," he said, "but we've been ordered to only release it to the addressee."

Five centuries in the archives? "It's for Kaylee Frye, isn't it?" Mal asked.

"Yes, it is," Yagosian replied with a nod.

Mal nodded as well, and stepped over to the comm panel. "Mal to Kaylee," he said, depressing the button.

"What's up, Captain?" he heard Kaylee say.

"You got mail in the cargo bay," he replied.

A moment later, Kaylee emerged from the catwalk above into the cargo bay. She looked at Mal and Captain Yagosian curiously, then descended the stairs.

"I'm Kaylee Frye," she said, approaching Captain Yagosian. "You have mail for me?"

"I do," Yagosian replied, handing her the box. "And I have to say, you must be a very important person, seeing as how the NSA kept that around for five hundred years."

Kaylee looked at the box. A faded shipping label was attached to the top – addressed to her, with an address printed in the upper left corner – Buy More Electronics SuperStore, 9000 Burbank Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502. A small grin appeared on her face – there was only one person this could've come from.

"The person who sent this thinks I am," she replied quietly.

She turned and walked away from the two men, leaving the captains to converse with each other. Climbing the steps, she returned to engineering.

Kaylee sat down on her hammock and very gently pulled the packing tape off the edges of the box. Centuries old dried-out adhesive crumbled and fell away from the tape, leaving a slightly sticky residue on the box.

Carefully, Kaylee shook the bottom of the box out of the lid – and there, inside, were a plastic package and a paper envelope.

The plastic package had been vacuum sealed shut, and inside was a flower which Kaylee immediately recognized as a rose. It was many centuries dead, and had long since dried out, but Kaylee thought that the blood-red and forest-green hues which it had turned were absolutely beautiful.

Kaylee slid a finger under the edge of the envelope, opening it, and resulting in more dried adhesive crumbling off. Inside was a card, which split in two the moment she removed it. An SDM card fell out onto the deck as the card split.

Leaning over, Kaylee picked up the SDM card, and slid it into the music player she kept in engineering. Immediately, the strains of a song she had come to know and love began to fill the engineering compartment.

"Words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup… they slither while they pass, they slip away, across the universe…"

Gingerly, Kaylee turned the now-split card over. The writing inside was still completely legible, despite its age.

Dear Kaylee,
By the time you receive this, it will have been about eleven months for you since I left
Serenity. For me, it's been about a month and a half.

When we celebrated Valentine's Day in 2519, I didn't have a card or a rose to give you, and as clichéd as they have become in the 21st century, they're still the most enduring symbols of the day.

With that in mind, I decided to send you a Valentine's Day card. As you can see, I also got you a rose. I had to press and vacuum-seal it to make sure it got to you, and so it doesn't look nearly as nice as it would have fresh. Nonetheless, that makes you one of the very few people living in your time – if not the only one – to have seen an actual rose, up close and in person.

But, besides wanting you to get to see a rose, in my time, a man giving a woman a rose is supposed to be a sign that he cares about her. And I truly do care about you, Kaylee. You won't even be born for another 490 years, but you really are a very special person.

Anyway, I'm really not good at this sort of thing, so I'm just going to stop before I make an idiot of myself. I'll always remember you, Kaylee. You'll be with me in my heart.

Aaand… there it is. I've made an idiot of myself. I'm going to stop now.

I'll always love you,

Chuck

Kaylee laughed at Chuck's clumsiness at the end, but couldn't help but be touched at how sweet he was, even across five centuries. A tear gently made its way down her right cheek, and she wiped it away.

Setting down the card, she headed out of engineering – these days, she had other responsibilities to tend to besides just the engines.

Inara was waiting in her shuttle when Kaylee arrived. She always looked so natural holding the little three month old boy – almost like one of those Earth-That-Was pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, Kaylee thought, smiling slightly at the irony.

Kaylee watched Inara for a moment, as the Companion spoke quietly to the little boy. He never cried when she held him, and always smiled when she talked to him. Inara would've made a perfect mother – and maybe she'll have the chance yet, Kaylee thought.

The little boy had gotten a lot from his father – curly hair, a slightly pointed chin, and piercing eyes that seemed to be observing everything, all at once. But somehow, genetics had gone a little wacky and given him his mother's red hair and green eyes.

Inara looked up, to see Kaylee standing in the doorway. "Hi," Inara said softly. "Chuck's almost asleep. He started crying a little when we were first docking with Columbia – I think he could feel the tension in the air, and he didn't like it."

"I wouldn't either, if I was three months old," Kaylee replied with a smile.

Inara rose and crossed the shuttle to Kaylee. She handed the little boy off to his mother. "I think it's funny how much he looks like Chuck, but ended up with your hair and eyes."

"Freakish genetics, as I understand it," Kaylee replied, shaking her head. "Simon tried to explain it to me once –"

"And you were bored to tears, right?" Inara laughed.

"Absolutely," Kaylee agreed. She turned to leave the shuttle, but Inara stopped her.

"Kaylee," she said quietly, "why didn't you ask Chuck if you could go with him?"

Kaylee turned back around, and was quiet for a moment. "He asked me to," she nearly whispered. "He practically begged me. It broke my heart to say no, maybe even more than it broke my heart for him to leave. But I told him I had to stay for the same reason he had to go – family."

Inara was quiet for a moment. "You're an amazing young woman, Kaylee," she finally said.

Kaylee didn't say anything. She just smiled, turned, and left the shuttle, heading to her quarters.

By the time Kaylee had reached her quarters, little Chuck had woken up. When she looked down at him, she saw him staring up at her with his inquisitive green eyes.

And for the first time since he had been born, Kaylee went to her computer terminal and pulled up a picture of Chuck Bartowski. "Charles Irving Frye," she said quietly, holding Chuck in her lap, "I'd like to tell you a story about your father. It begins on Christmas Day, 2008, in Los Angeles, California…"


9:30 PM, Pacific Daylight Time
March 17
th, 2009
Echo Park, California

Chuck stood in his bedroom, staring at the back of the Tron poster. No matter how long he spent trying to figure out the whole twisted network of insanity, any logical conclusions still escaped him.

It all came back to Orion, and he had no idea who Orion was.

With a sigh, Chuck picked up the poster and hung it back on his wall. He'd have to figure it out later.

He turned away from the poster, and headed toward the bathroom. Before he reached it, though, he noticed something sitting on his dresser.

It was the four-leaf clover charm that he had purchased on Persephone, months beforehand. He had brought it home, pulled it out of his duffel bag, and completely forgotten about it.

But… this was perfect. A four-leaf clover charm, on St. Patrick's Day.

Smiling, Chuck grabbed the charm, and headed out the door. "Going to Sarah's," he called to his bewildered sister. "Be back later."

Ellie shook her head. "Didn't he just decide to not move in with her a week ago?"

Devon laughed. "Never underestimate the pulling power of a beautiful woman, babe."

Chuck reached Sarah's hotel in downtown L.A. fifteen minutes later. As the elevator ascended to her floor, he kept running over what he wanted to say in his mind. It had to be perfect. No mistakes, no looking back this time.

When he knocked on the door, it was a moment until she opened it. That moment filled Chuck with dread – and made him think of the last time he had shown up at Sarah's place at this time of night, only to find Bryce Larkin there, doing his best to get into Sarah's pants.

But not this time. No Bryce Larkin, and no – THANK GOD – Cole Barker. Just Sarah, her hair wet from, Chuck was guessing, just getting out of the shower.

"Hey," she said, her face breaking into a smile as she looked out at Chuck.

"Hi," Chuck said. "Can I come in?"

Sarah shrugged. "Place is a little messy, but sure."

Chuck walked in and looked around. The room was nearly immaculate, except for some disarray on Sarah's dresser. "This is a little messy?" he asked in disbelief. "For me, a little messy means I have a path to walk across my room."

"I'm aware," Sarah replied dryly. "We need to work on that."

Chuck laughed. "Sure," he said. "Anyway, there was something I wanted to talk to you about."

Sarah turned to him. "Oh?"

Chuck nodded, and sat down on the edge of Sarah's bed. He patted the bed beside him, and Sarah sat down next to him.

"So, I've been doing a lot of thinking the last couple of months," Chuck began. "I've realized some very important things."

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "Such as?"

"Well, I've realized that there's a very big difference between two parts of a certain part of life," Chuck said. "You see, when a person truly cares about another person, enough so to make themselves completely vulnerable to that person, and make them a part of their life, that's love. I know that's how Kaylee Frye felt about me, and that's how I felt – and still do feel, a little – about her.

"But…" Chuck hesitated. "When a person does all that, and then, on top of that, is willing to lay down their life for another person, is willing to go to any extent for that person…"

Chuck turned and looked at Sarah. "When a person is willing to kill somebody to protect somebody else, and then lie to them to keep them from being wracked by feelings of guilt – that, if you'll excuse the clichéd manner, is true love."

A small smile appeared on Sarah's face, as her eyes began to fill with tears. "And that is probably the biggest reason I came back," Chuck finished quietly.

Sarah just nodded, not trusting her voice. "I also got you another charm for you bracelet," Chuck said, reaching into his pocket. "Let me see your wrist?"

Sarah held up her left wrist for Chuck. He came out with the four-leaf clover charm. "I picked this up at an Earth antiques store in Eavesdown," he explained. "It seems to be some sort of a locket, but nobody's been able to open it. As legend goes, it can only be opened by its true owner."

"Is that so," Sarah said softly, as Chuck attached the charm to the bracelet. Twisting the bracelet around, she took the locket between the thumb and index finger of her right hand. There seemed to be a bit of a smudge on one side of the locket, which she rubbed with her thumb –

And to both their astonishment, with a tiny hiss of centuries-old air, the locket popped open. Chuck looked up at Sarah, a look of amazement in his eyes.

Sarah, for one, was speechless. Gently, she pulled the locket open –

Inside the locket, on the left hand side, was a tiny picture – a picture of Chuck and Sarah. They were quite a bit older, but it was unquestionably them. On the right hand side was print too small for Sarah to read without magnification.

Still stunned, she turned to her nightstand and pulled out a magnifying glass. Holding it over the print, she read it aloud, her voice filled with shock.

"To Sarah, my lucky charm, on our twenty-fifth anniversary," she said quietly. "Love, Chuck. June 14th, 2036."

She looked back at Chuck. "What was that you were saying about true love?"

Chuck grinned. "It's all you need."

THE END