Chuck is currently my favorite TV show (after Pushing Daisies, of course) and this idea appeared out of nowhere and wouldn't stop kicking my brain until I wrote it down. It's actually one of the darker things I've ever written, which I am proud of. My writing is way too warm and fuzzy considering I'm such a dark and twisty person. So... hurray for that.

This takes place um... pretty much anytime during this season I guess. There's no information specific to any episodes. I suppose it's more of a future thing now that I think about it. Near future. Ah whatever, just read it or something.

Disclaimer: I do not own Chuck



"Chuck? Chuck, where are you?"

Sarah came skidding into her apartment, still dressed head to toe in her black mission gear. The knuckles of her right hand were bleeding from punching someone in the face, but she held her gun aloft regardless, just in case. She paused on the threshold, pushing the door closed behind her with her foot.

"Chuck?" she called again, tense with anxiety. He had always been on the cowardly side, sure, but this was the first time in her memory he had just run for it after the end of a mission. These were the most dangerous times, for him in particular. She had already checked his house, Casey's house, Morgan's, the Buy More, Orange Orange. He wouldn't answer his phone. So here she was, back at her place in a last ditch effort to find him.

Sarah swallowed hard and dialed his number on her phone. A few long moments passed in which she held her breath before she heard it. Something vibrating on the tiled floor of her bathroom. She exhaled in a relieved sigh, lightheaded for a moment. She left her gun on the dresser, knowing the sight of it wouldn't help him, and peeked around the corner into the bathroom. She bit her lip.

Chuck was sitting in her bath tub, fully clothed in his Nerd Herd uniform. His phone was on the floor in a puddle. Apparently he had overfilled the tub. He didn't seem to notice. Sarah let out a shaky breath. He hadn't even removed his shoes. He was just sitting there in the water, knees drawn up to his chest, staring at the wall.

"Chuck," she said quietly. He didn't make any indication he had noticed her. "Chuck." Still nothing. She sighed and slowly crossed the bathroom floor, coming to a stop beside the tub. She watched him for a few long moments. He was unresponsive. And shivering. Her chest started to hurt, like she was holding in a breath, and her heart thumped uncomfortably against her ribs. Nothing else for it. Without a word, she stepped over the tub's edge and sat down in the chilly water in front of him, sitting cross-legged at the other end.

"Chuck ," she said, her voice low. He finally looked at her, right into her eyes, and she immediately wished he hadn't. She looked down at his sodden shoes under the water. "Are you hurt?" He slowly shook his head. She sighed, suddenly very aware of how cold the water was. She didn't know how long he'd been sitting here. "I've been looking for you." No response. She let out a frustrated breath and reached forward without thinking about it. He shrank away from her hand and she stopped, dropping it back into her lap. "Please, say something."

"I don't know what to do now," he said, very quietly. "I… I don't know what to do now."

Sarah looked down. "You just… go on, like always," she murmured.

"Like always?" he repeated, his voice so flat it barely sounded incredulous. "I don't always kill someone, Sarah."

He fell silent, jaw clenching tightly. Sarah opened her mouth to speak, but couldn't think of anything to say.

"I killed a man," Chuck muttered into his knees. "I picked your gun up off the ground and I fired it and it hit him and he died."

"You had no other choice," Sarah offered seriously. "There are people in this world that won't be swayed by reason. People you can't talk to. They just want chaos, they want pain and destruction, and they don't care who gets hurt or killed. The CIA deals with these people a lot, but this was your first run in. I'm sorry we couldn't have prepared you better but…" She looked down again. "You're never really prepared when it comes to people like that."

"There's always a choice."

Sarah looked up at him and swallowed hard. "It's my fault," she sighed, twisting her hands in her lap. He glanced up at her. "I'm supposed to protect you. These guys weren't after the Intersect, they were after me. I let the bad guys from my past get to me, and I would have been killed if you hadn't intervened." He looked away. She frowned. "You saved my life, Chuck. I'm sorry you had to kill someone to do it, but you saved me."

"I'm not sorry I saved you," Chuck said. Sarah looked up in surprise. His voice was low and even, he was no longer hiding behind his knees. He was looking straight at her, his brows drawn down and a tired frown on his face. "But… no matter who he was, he had a family. Somewhere in the world, he had a mother and a father. He was somebody's son, and I took him away from them."

"Stop," Sarah snapped. Chuck jerked back in surprise. Sarah was leaning toward him, her hands on his knees. "Stop doing this to yourself."

"Why do you care?" he muttered, looking away.

"Because this is something I can't protect you from," she said firmly. He stared at her. She stared right back. "I can only protect you from the bad guys out here. The demons in your head are out of my reach. And I'm not okay with that."

"Sarah…"

"You're not a killer, Chuck," she cut him off, hands tightening on his knees. "There's no use dancing around the fact that you killed someone, but that doesn't make you a murderer. You have to understand that."

He took a deep breath and bit his lip. "What did you do, the first time you killed someone?" he asked quietly.

Sarah blinked in surprise. She couldn't tell him that. That would compromise her cover. That was her past, he couldn't know anything about her past. He couldn't. He glanced up at her, their eyes met again. In that split second, her cover seemed to matter less than it ever had.

"I guess… I guess it was just part of the mission," she murmured. "I had been trained for it, so it didn't really…"

"Don't lie to me, please," Chuck cut her off suddenly. "Not right now. I don't care how well trained you are. It made you feel something. Just tell me what."

Sarah swallowed hard. He was pleading with her. Pleas shouldn't have been able to affect her like this. She shouldn't have been swayed so easily. But before she knew it, the truth was slipping out of her.

"I guess I felt like something broke inside me," she said flatly, hands fidgeting slightly on his knees. "Something I couldn't fix. Something nobody could fix." She frowned thoughtfully. "And I remember wishing I had someone… someone I could talk to I suppose. Someone who would at least try to fix that thing inside me, even though we both knew it was beyond repair." Silence followed her admission, and it was in that silence that she realized what a personal piece of information she had just divulged. She glanced up at him, wide-eyed, to find him calmly watching her reaction. She sighed, shoulders sagging. "I guess I wanted someone to do what I'm trying to do right now."

The two of them were silent for a long time, Sarah focused on her hands on his knees and Chuck quietly watching her. She finally couldn't take it anymore. She felt her adrenaline screaming at her to do something, every instinct on fire, trying to get her to move, to speak, to do anything. So she looked up at him, right into his eyes.

"Tell me what to do," she said, her voice firm but quiet. "Please, I'll do whatever you need. Just tell me what to do."

Chuck just looked at her for a moment. She held his gaze, almost defiantly. He sighed, very slowly.

"I need you to humor me," he said. "Just for a little while."

In those few words, Sarah knew exactly what he meant. And to her great surprise, it broke her heart a little more.

He leaned toward her, and she met him halfway without hesitation. It was a very different kiss from those they had shared before. It wasn't frantic and rushed, brought on by a stressful situation. It was slow and soft, almost shy. But the amazing part of it was the simple part. It was just Chuck. Just Sarah. No cover, no complication. It was just the two of them, kissing in a bath tub full of cold water.

The situation dissolved shortly. Chuck's lips left hers and his arms wound around her, pulling her close and burying his face in her shoulder. She was surprised to feel the harsh breaths he was taking, the way his shoulders shook. She didn't think Chuck had ever cried before. And she wasn't entirely positive he was now. She didn't feel any tears on her shoulder, but then they were both pretty soaked regardless. So she wrapped her arms around him. She ran a hand up into his hair. She kissed the top of his head and hushed him.

In that moment, Sarah realized she had never comforted someone like this, never taken someone into her arms, sincerely trying to console him. Wanting him to feel better, to feel loved and cared for. Not once in her entire life. It didn't matter if Chuck was crying at this point, because Sarah certainly was. She wouldn't let him know, of course. She would let the tears run their course. She would keep holding on to him until he was good and ready to get out of this bath tub. This was about him.

"Sarah… you're crying."

Damn. How could he tell?

"I'm fine."

He pulled away from her abruptly. She hastily attempted to wipe her eyes, but he beat her to the punch. He took her face in his hands, smoothing the tears from her cheeks with his thumbs. She stared at him, vaguely wondering how she had gone from comforting him to being comforted in a few seconds flat.

"What's wrong?" he asked firmly.

"Nothing. It's… it's not about me, this is about you. I'm supposed to be trying to fix you, remember?" she stammered. He dropped a soft kiss on her forehead that brought a furious blush to her cheeks. Later, she would deny it ever happened. Secret agents don't blush.

"I'm all fixed," he continued quietly, resting his forehead against hers. She let out a shaky breath, completely unused to any kind of intimacy that wasn't job-related and therefore fake. He offered her that crooked smile of his and she swallowed hard. "Think you can humor me a little longer?"

She took a deep breath before she shook her head. "No," she sighed. "I don't think I can." Before his face could fall, she leaned in and kissed him. If he was surprised, he didn't show it. They fell effortlessly back into that slow, soft kiss. It was nice, Sarah mused. It didn't make her feel all hot and bothered like their previous endeavors had. This was just… nice. She'd never been kissed like this before.

Another stark realization in so many minutes. She paused, putting a few inches of space between them. She wanted this. This normal life. She actually wanted it, to be able to comfort someone and kiss someone like this.

"Chuck," she whispered, licking her lips distractedly. "You know… you know we can't really…"

"I know," he hushed her. "But that's why you're just humoring me, remember?"

Sarah bit her lip. She didn't want to just humor him. She didn't want to do this anymore. But…

Rather than give an answer, Sarah kissed him again. It was easier that way. Chuck had killed a man tonight. He had killed a man because she had failed to protect him from her past. She couldn't put him at risk like that. Not ever. So she would humor him, just for now.

If even for a little while, she would sit in this cold bath tub and pretend she could get what she wanted with him. In the long run it would hurt more, but in that moment, it was what they both needed.