Disclaimer: Not a dime to be had, as I don't own Chuck.
A/N: I'm starting to post this sooner than I'd like. This is mostly because the history of this timeline is getting corrupted by the show. I'm not sure how frequently this will get updated it's a side project. It's very different for me, so please let me know what you think.
Chuck vs. Real Life Chapter 1: The End of the Fantasy
"We need to talk," Casey said quickly as he approached Chuck. "Castle, fifteen minutes." Casey started to brush past him.
"Casey, I've got these work orders I have to get finished, Big Mike is really riding me…" Chuck stopped as he saw the glare on Casey's face. "I'll…I'll be there." Casey nodded and walked away.
Three years of working with Casey hadn't dulled the scary looks. Chuck was no longer afraid that Casey would really hurt him. Embarrass him, harass him, threaten him, sure, but Casey had never really injured him after three years of threats, he probably wasn't going to start today. Still, Chuck didn't like messing with Casey when he was in this kind of a mood.
Chuck pawned the work order job off on, Bucky, the Nerd Herd desk's newest resident and made his way over to the Orange Orange. "Hi," he greeted Sarah with a smile.
"Hi, Chuck." She quickly returned his smile and then automatically turned off the open sign and pressed the button behind the register that locked the door.
"How are you today," Chuck asked.
"That's great, we have a new mission?" Chuck asked.
"Something like that." Sarah pulled the door to the freezer open and then opened the sub-door that led into the Castle.
"We've got plans with Ellie and Awesome this weekend."
"I know, I remember," Sarah replied defensively.
"I know you never forget these things." Chuck shrugged. "But Ellie asks me to remind you, so…"
Sarah nodded. "I don't mind."
"Thanks, for you know, spending time with her. I…" Chuck didn't really know what to say. The last year since he'd moved out of Casa Bartowski things had been weird between Chuck and Sarah. Without the constant need to reinforce their cover relationship and with Chuck coming to the realization that it was never going to happen, there was a distance between them now. It made things easier, most of the time, but as much as Chuck had hated the agony of maybe, the cold specter of never hurt worse. It didn't help the Ellie to every opportunity to cajole Chuck about popping the question. They didn't even really go on cover dates anymore. They hung out sometimes as friends, but Sarah had become less and less willing to even do that in recent months. She was still a major part of his life, but it wasn't the same as it had been two years ago, when he though it was just a matter of time until he wore her down and they became a real couple.
That's why when his head slumped forward against the desk while they waited for Casey, that Chuck was surprised that Sarah started rubbing his shoulders with her hand. He lifted his head and looked over his shoulder at her. She smiled at him. "Rough week?" she asked.
"The Buy More is getting to me. Having two jobs is awful; I don't know how you and Casey do it."
"It's challenging some days," Sarah replied. "But it's really been worth it."
"Been?" Chuck asked. Sarah blushed slightly, but before Chuck could question her further the door slammed open and Casey came tromping down the stairs. "Hope I'm not interrupting?"
"What exactly would you be interrupting?" Chuck asked. In three years he and Sarah had never shared more than a few inappropriate moments and those amounted to a few kisses and some emotional comforting after particularly rough missions.
Casey smiled. "Who knows what you two love birds get up to when I'm not around."
Chuck glanced at Sarah when she didn't immediately retort. She was smirking. It wasn't like her to let that pass. "Are we ready?" she asked instead.
"Sure," Chuck replied.
Sarah clicked a button on the monitor and a few moments later General Beckman appeared before them. "Good morning, Team Bartowski."
"Good morning, General," they replied.
"I have good news," the General said. Then she did something Chuck had ever only seen her do once before, it had been when they'd don a mission with Roan Montgomery, she smiled. The three of them waited a moment while the General let that statement float out there. "We have completed testing on the replacement for the Intersect. It has a new name which I cannot share with you, but it should increase our nation's security by a factor of ten.
Chuck's eyebrows shot up. "Wow, that's impressive."
"Yes and I'm sure quite a relief for you, Mr. Bartowski."
"I had kind of been wondering if I would be the Intersect for the rest of my life. Not that I haven't enjoyed working with you guys." Chuck nodded to Sarah and Casey. "But sometimes I wondered if I'd have to work at the Buy More until I hit the mandatory retirement age."
"You've done some excellent work for us Intersect. I do have one final mission for you, however. We need you to fly to Washington and undergo an evaluation. To help us better understand how you were able to process this information and to better understand what the risks are to you in the future."
"Risks?" Chuck asked.
"There is still and abundance of secret information contained within the Intersect. We need to find out what kind of threat that presents going forward." The statement was ominous and Chuck didn't miss the danger in the General's tone.
Sarah's hand came to rest on his shoulder. "Don't worry, Chuck. Agent Casey and I will be coming with you." Chuck immediately felt better about the situation.
"Okay, well I'll have to get some time off from the Buy More, when do we leave?"
"You fly out on Sunday and should be returning late on Friday."
"Wow, short notice, I'll talk to Big Mike immediately."
"See that you do," General Beckman nodded. "Unless there is anything else?" Neither of the agents responded. So General Beckman bid them a good day.
Casey immediately bolted for the door and Chuck watched his retreating back curiously. He turned to Sarah. "So you're finally going to be free of me, eh?"
Sarah looked decidedly melancholy as she responded. "Pretty exciting news, huh?"
"Yeah, I guess." Chuck shrugged.
"Why aren't you more excited?" Sarah asked.
"Do you remember when you first told me I was the Intersect?"
"Well it was pretty unbelievable that suddenly I had all these secrets and I didn't adjust to that all that well."
"I think you adjusted amazing well."
"It's just a lot to process you know."
Sarah's smile turned into a small frown. "I know."
"Look I have to get back to the Buy More and ask Big Mike for some time off, but we'll talk later, yeah?"
"Tonight?" Sarah asked.
"Sure, are you up for a cover date?" Chuck asked.
Sarah's face fell and Chuck wondered what he'd said wrong. "Yeah, what time?"
"I'll pick you up at seven?" Chuck asked.
Sarah nodded. "I'll see you then."
Chuck walked calmly up to Sarah's door and knocked. He was dressed in his standard cover date attire. Blue jeans a button down shirt and a sport coat. Sarah opened the door a moment later and Chuck's jaw almost hit the floor. Sarah was wearing a very short red silk dress and matching heels. The dress was so short Chuck was sure that if Sarah had to reach for anything tonight, he'd definitely be able to see her gun.
"Wow…" he stammered.
Sarah smiled widely. "I didn't know I still had that effect on you."
"I…I… you look so amazing. You always look great, so I'll never understand how you can make yourself so stunning. You're right though, you think I'd be used to it by now."
If anything Sarah's smile got larger. "Should we go?" she asked.
"I feel kind of underdressed."
"So what did I do to deserve all this?" Chuck offered his arm to Sarah and she took it.
"This could be our last official cover date, I just wanted it to be special."
"Ah, pity," Chuck nodded. "It's all becoming clear."
Sarah whacked him with her clutch. The elevator arrived and as they stepped on Sarah asked. "We've been together a really long time. Is it wrong for me to want it to be special?"
"No," Chuck shook his head. "I just wish I'd known. I'd have made bigger plans for tonight."
"Really? What are we doing tonight?"
"I thought we go to dinner and just talk for a while. This mission is going to be over soon and I'm really going to miss you."
"That sounds perfect."
Chuck and Sarah got a quiet table at the back of an Indian restaurant in Burbank.
"Morgan swears by this place," Chuck said.
"I see, another fancy evening with Chuck Bartowski," Sarah joked.
"Well I do work at the Buy More."
"I bet your looking forward to moving on from that at least," Sarah said as she looked over the menu.
"Chuck?" Sarah gazed at him over his menu. "Come on, what's wrong, why aren't you happy?"
"I don't know. It just doesn't feel right. I'm worried about this thing in Washington next week. What if they decide I'm a threat to national security?"
Sarah gazed at him. "You know I'd never let anyone hurt you. That includes the government." She went back to looking at her menu.
"You know I can't ever thank you enough for all you've done for me, right?"
"You don't have to. This is the best assignment I've ever had."
"Babysitting me is the best assignment you've ever had?"
Sarah's eyes flashed dangerously as she looked up from the menu. "Maybe Casey feels like that's all this mission was. My time here has meant a lot to me."
"Do you ever wonder what your life would be like if you'd gone with Bryce?" Chuck asked.
"No." Sarah replied flatly.
"Honestly? You don't even think about it?"
"Bryce was a mistake, Chuck."
"Look, I don't want to talk about Bryce tonight okay? He's been gone a long time and I know you guys were friends, but that's a chapter of my life that's over. I'm glad of it." Sarah looked at him slightly apologetically and Chuck felt guilty for bringing it up. Throughout their time together Bryce had been a sore spot for each of them.
"You're right," Chuck agreed. "So where do you go from here, Agent Walker?"
"Please, Chuck, call me Sarah, I think the days of asset and handler are over."
Chuck gazed at her. She was watching him as if waiting for a reaction to her words. Chuck didn't know what to say. "Okay, Sarah, what does the future hold for you?"
"We're off to Washington in a couple of days and then I guess we'll see?"
"Are you coming back from Washington with me?" Chuck asked, his suspicions raised from her answer. She wouldn't just escort him to Washington and then abandon him. She couldn't, whatever they were, they were more than that.
"I don't know," Sarah replied. "There are a lot of questions in Washington."
"What does that mean?" Chuck pressed.
Sarah sighed and released the wine glass she'd been playing with. "It means a lot of things are still up in the air. Who knows what's going to happen."
Chuck studied Sarah's posture, her words, the way her fingers were fidgeting. "You don't think they're going to shove me in a bunker do you?" Chuck asked.
Sarah's back was suddenly ramrod straight. She looked him in the eye, the way she always did when she wanted him to really believe something. "We've talked about this, I wouldn't let them. I meant it. That is not an option."
Chuck gave her a grateful smile. "I don't know how I got so lucky as to have you as my handler."
Sarah grimaced. "I don't know that lucky is quite the right description."
"I'm serious, I'd have never made it through this without you. You've always looked out for me, taken care of me, protected me. I'd have been in a bunker or worse years ago if it wasn't for you."
"Well…" Sarah gave him a rare shy grin. "Maybe the universe was just paying you back for all the crap it dropped at your feet and expected you to take care of by yourself. You deserved my best and I tried to make sure I gave it to you, even if sometimes that didn't make you happy."
"I was an idiot," Chuck grinned. "You can hardly blame me. I had you pretending to be my girlfriend, who wouldn't want that to be real?"
"You weren't an idiot, you were sweet and caring and romantic and extremely convincing."
"Well I'm sorry I took so long to catch on and made you uncomfortable."
"Don't be sorry." Sarah shook her head. "You've given me so much, helped me so much. If things had been different…" Sarah shrugged.
"Would you have really wanted that though? I mean I'm still a guy that works at the Buy More."
Sarah nodded. "I definitely wanted to. The toughest part about being a spy is keeping your emotions from getting involved. But you know the drill, to protect you I had to be objective."
"I know." Chuck agreed. "And hey, you were really nice about letting me down easy. I mean the repeated rejections stung a little, but for the most part I never felt like you were repulsed or anything."
Sarah frowned. "Chuck, my rejections were never about you, you know that."
They finished their dinner and took a walk out the Santa Monica pier. Chuck gave Sarah his sport coat as she really wasn't wearing much and it was cool with the evening breeze. Chuck put his arm around her as they strolled and Sarah put her head on his shoulder. They stopped not far from where Sarah had first asked Chuck to trust her. It was fitting. "Thank you, Sarah," Chuck said quietly his throat scratchy. "For everything."
"It was my pleasure."
They stood together and watched as the sun went down on their very last cover date.