In the Valley of the Shadow, Chapter 13: "Wake Up"
Author's note: This chapter is based around the lyrics from the Arcade Fire song "Wake Up", which if you remember from Chapters 4-5, was the song that allowed Chuck to find Sarah.
CAST (in order of appearance):
Laurence Dominic – Reed Diamond
Dr. Jill Roberts – Jordana Brewster
Don McKay – Brian Austin Green
Boyd Langdon – Harry Lennix
Chuck Bartowski – Zachary Levi
Major John Casey – Adam Baldwin
Echo/"Sarah Walker" – Eliza Dushku
Victor – Enver Gjokaj
Sierra – Dichen Lachman
November – Miracle Laurie
Mike – Ryan Hurst
Charlie – Olivia Munn
Juliet/Sarah Walker – Yvonne Strahovski
Topher Brink – Fran Kranz
Adelle DeWitt – Olivia Williams
General Diane Beckman – Bonita Fredericy
Ellie Bartowski – Sarah Lancaster
Devon Woodcomb – Ryan McPartlin
Morgan Grimes – Joshua Gomez
Anna Wu – Julia Ling
Carina Hansen – Mini Anden
Carrie Rozelle – Summer Glau
Paul Ballard – Tahmoh Penikett
Sunday, April 12th, 2009
12:45 PM, Pacific Daylight Time
555 W. 5th St., Los Angeles
Laurence Dominic slouched in the front seat of the Fulcrum car, trying to ignore the whimpering young woman in the back seat. Why in heaven's name would Fulcrum have had him bring her in if not to execute her? She was a traitor, after all. Working with that limp-wristed Bartowski and his pathetic old father.
But NO. He had been told that she was worth far more as a hostage, that she would get Bartowski to come to them.
So where the hell was he?
Twenty minutes. That's how long it had been since Roberts had called Bartowski. Sure, it would normally take twice times that long to get from Westwood to downtown Los Angeles on a Sunday afternoon, but Rossum always had a helicopter ready to spool up on the roof. He should've been here by now, if Dominic had read him correctly.
WHERE THE HELL WAS HE?!
"I've got eyes on the target."
"Roger that, bio-signature matches."
"Where the hell is Bartowski, Dr. Roberts?"
Laurence turned around to glare at his hostage – and to his astonishment, she smiled at him. "Chuck's not coming," she said with a proud grin.
His eyes widened, and Laurence lifted his gun into Jill's view. "What the hell do you mean he's NOT COMING?!"
Jill's smile faltered slightly at the sight of the gun, but she nonetheless stared directly at Laurence Dominic. "He's not coming," she repeated. "I gave him a code phrase that told him that I'd be fine." At the shocked look on Dominic's face, she shook her head. "You don't get it, do you?" she asked. "I still love him. I'm not going to walk him directly into Fulcrum's hands!"
"Alright, I've got visual confirmation. It's Dominic!"
"GO GO GO GO GO!"
Without warning, an LAPD SWAT truck whipped around the corner, lights and siren on, and came screeching to a halt just in front of Dominic's car. The door flew open, and a SWAT team poured out – with Major Don McKay right behind them, his gun up and aimed directly at Dominic's head. "FREEZE!"
Laurence Dominic's jaw dropped in disbelief. "Motherfucker," he muttered as his door was wrenched open. A large hand wrapped itself around Dominic's left arm and dragged him out of the car. He looked up to see Boyd Langdon staring down at him.
"I've been wanting to do this for a LONG time," Langdon snarled with a nasty grin.
Something filled up
My heart with nothing
Someone told me not to cry
The words filtered through to his brain as if they were coming through a very thick and dusty piece of cloth. He tried to respond, but felt like he was wrapped in that cloth.
"BARTOWSKI, OPEN YOUR GODDAMN EYES!"
Hmmm. Maybe he could try that. Eyes, open! he thought, trying to force his eyes open – and it worked. Well, partially. Light was coming in, and there was a blurry figure crouching in front of him.
That's Casey, isn't it? Chuck thought to himself. He'll probably be pissed if I don't make a better effort. So, with a grunt, Chuck forced his eyes the rest of the way open – and was shocked at the carnage.
He was still seated in the booth of the dining car – or, at any rate, what was left of the dining car from the Amtrak Coast Starlight train. It had been torn asunder, and there was what looked distinctly like blood spattered on the bulkhead that he could see. "Oh my God…" he whispered.
Then he remembered. Sarah. She had been sitting right next to him. Chuck turned his head…
"Where is she?" he asked, looking back at Casey. The older man just shook his head. Forcing his arms upward, Chuck reached up and grabbed Casey's collar. "Casey, where the hell is she?!"
Casey sighed. "She was thrown from her seat in the crash," he said quietly. "The final impact threw her out of the car. She's still alive, but she's in really bad shape. Charlie and Mike got her onto the helicopter and they're already headed back to Rossum."
Chuck's eyes widened. "No," he whispered. "No, she can't go back to Rossum! They'll just put her back in their system!" He tried to stand up, but fell back down immediately. "Casey, we HAVE to get her out of there!"
"Bartowski!" Casey snapped. "She has to go there. You have to understand – Walker's only gonna survive with a top-rate neurosurgery unit, and she won't survive the trip to the Barrow Institute in Phoenix. Rossum's the next best thing, and that's where she's going." He paused, and put a hand on Chuck's shoulder. "And don't worry. We're not going to leave her there."
Echo brushed a bloodied hand across her forehead, sweeping her hair out of her eyes. "Alright," she asked wearily. "November, Victor, Sierra, situation report?"
"Train was empty when it crashed," Victor replied. "We bailed just before the front cars derailed."
"Thank God for that," Echo sighed. "November, are you alright?"
"I'm fine," November said. "A little worse for the wear, but I'll be okay. However…" The Active looked at the ground with a grimace. "Alpha got away," she said. "I have no idea which way he went."
Echo sighed, and then turned to Sierra. "Anything else?"
Sierra nodded uncertainly. "Yeah," she said. "Uh, Juliet… you… were pretty badly hurt. Like, I'm not sure she was even still breathing when Charlie and Mike loaded her onto the helicopter."
Echo looked at Sierra – and the enormity of what the other woman had just said hit Echo's imprinted Sarah Walker personality like a ton of bricks.
I might be dead?
But now that I'm older,
My heart's colder,
And I can see that it's a lie.
Rossum Building, Westwood
Chuck stood looking through the observation window into the operating theatre – the same place he had stood for nearly six hours. He just couldn't make himself leave.
Upon arrival back at the Dollhouse, Mike and Charlie had both been imprinted as world-class neurosurgeons, and they were now working on saving the brain of the woman Chuck knew as Sarah Walker, with Topher Brink overseeing their progress. Despite the prowess of the two imprints, Chuck couldn't help but feel sick to his stomach. What if Sarah didn't make it?
Finally, it appeared that they were wrapping up. As the two Actives finished suturing Sarah's skull, Topher exited the operating theatre and turned Chuck's direction.
"She's not going to die tonight," he said tentatively as he approached Chuck. "But she's going to have difficulty."
Chuck frowned. "What kind of difficulty?"
Topher sighed. "There was brain damage, but I'm pretty sure I was able to bypass it," he replied. "The downside is, she'll have to have the Active architecture left in her brain for the rest of her life. That, and she's going to have to do a certain amount of physical therapy and speech therapy." Then his face brightened, and he grinned. "Nonetheless, she should make a full recovery, because I am just that good!"
In spite of himself, Chuck snorted with laughter and shook his head as the Dollhouse programmer turned and walked away. He turned back toward the operating theatre, where Mike and Charlie were getting ready to wheel Sarah out and take her to a recovery room.
"You really love her, don't you?"
Chuck turned to see that Don McKay had snuck up behind him. He smiled and nodded. "I do," he said. "I honestly don't know what I'd do without her."
McKay nodded. "I'll be sorry to see her go," he replied. "She's been a great asset to this house."
"And she will continue to be so," came the steely voice of Adelle DeWitt from behind Chuck. He whirled to see the head of the Dollhouse approaching, a resolve on her face that had not been there eight hours earlier. John Casey and Boyd Langdon flanked her, Casey looking like a scolded little boy.
Chuck frowned. "What exactly do you mean, 'She will continue to do so'?"
DeWitt shrugged. "Exactly what I say," she replied. "I plan to erase this whole event from history. Laurence Dominic goes to the Attic, Juliet stays here as an Active for the duration of her contract, Charlie, Echo, Mike, and Sierra all get wiped, November gets imprinted as Mellie and goes to comfort Agent Ballard as he recuperates, and all of you never say a word about these events lest you suffer the consequences."
A cold knot formed in Chuck's stomach and began spreading outward. "No," he said softly. "No, you can't do this to me! Not after everything I've gone through…" He shook his head. "You can't keep her – Casey, she can't keep her!"
Casey just shook his head. "There's nothing I can do about it, Bartowski," he muttered. "General Beckman isn't answering my calls, and nobody I know would even consider expending the political capital to take on Rossum."
Chuck looked from Casey to DeWitt to Boyd Langdon and back to Casey. This couldn't be happening. There was no way in hell – he had to figure out a plan –
Boyd Langdon's holster was unsnapped. His gun was just sitting there for the taking. Before he even realized what his body was doing, Chuck was moving toward Langdon. His right hand darted out and grabbed the gun from Langdon's holster as his left hand grabbed Adelle DeWitt by the throat. Wrenching his arm around, Chuck slammed the older woman against the window of the operating theatre and pressed his left arm against her throat, as his right hand came up to press the gun against her temple.
Adelle DeWitt spoke quietly. "What do you think you're doing, Mr. Bartowski?"
"I'm taking Sarah and I'm leaving," Chuck growled.
"No, you very damn well aren't," Adelle shot back. "If you'd like, you're more than welcome to schedule a long-term engagement with Sarah Walker imprinted onto Juliet, but I don't think you have that kind of money."
Even as she spoke, Chuck's mind had gone cold. Think like a spy, he thought. Be like Bryce. Be like Cole. Be the hero, rescue the girl.
"Fine," Chuck replied, his voice emotionless. "Then I'll kill you, and then I'll take her and leave."
With those words, Adelle's face blanched somewhat, but she lost none of her resolve. "If that's what you have to do," she said. "But you should understand, if you kill me, my people will hunt you down and kill both you and Juliet. Is that what you want?"
Chuck's eyes narrowed. "Once Sarah's re-imprinted, she can protect me from anybody, even your people," he replied.
"Very well," Adelle said. "Then pull the trigger, Mr. Bartowski. Do what you have to do."
She's not kidding, Chuck realized as he looked into DeWitt's eyes. Unless he killed her, she would never let Sarah go. He was going to have to shoot her. He didn't have a choice. His finger began to tighten around the trigger –
The piercing voice of General Diane Beckman broke Chuck's concentration. Blinking, he looked at the gun he held in his hand – and then, realizing what he had been about to do, he went light-headed. Dropping the gun to the floor, he stumbled backward and fell over, landing hard on the floor.
Looking up, Chuck saw General Beckman standing next to Don McKay. "It would appear that I arrived just in time," she said, a note of displeasure in her voice. "Not in time to prevent my daughter from getting shot, of course, but in time to keep Mr. Bartowski from justifiably splattering your brains on the window, Adelle."
"Thank you, I suppose," DeWitt replied sarcastically, stepping away from the window and rubbing her throat. "Now would you kindly take your people and get out of my house?"
"Of course," General Beckman answered. "But Sarah Walker will be leaving this house, alive and intact."
DeWitt's eyes widened in disbelief. "Not even you have the power to take me on, Diane. What makes you think you can just take Juliet out of here?"
General Beckman cocked her head and smiled slightly. "Adelle, if you even think of challenging me, then I will make sure that you and every other Rossum executive ends up in MY Attic at Fort Meade." Her voice went ice cold. "Do I make myself VERY clear?"
And with that, DeWitt seemed to shrink before Chuck's eyes. "Crystal," she muttered.
Children, wake up,
Hold your mistake up,
Before they turn the summer into dust.
Sunday, June 14th, 2009
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Beverly Hills, CA
Sixty-eight days had passed since Sarah had disappeared. Sixty-three days since Chuck had nearly lost her to death. Fifty-eight days since she had regained consciousness. Fifty-five days since she had been re-imprinted as Sarah Walker and transferred to Cedars-Sinai for her recovery, under the supervision of Topher Brink.
And today, she was going home. Or, at any rate, to the home of top-tier neurosurgeon Devon Woodcomb, who would be keeping watch over her, under the impression that she had been a passenger on the train that had crashed in mid-April. And that wasn't entirely a lie, was it?
Ellie and Devon had postponed their wedding until Sarah was healthy enough to stand as a bridesmaid. Bryce Larkin had been temporarily assigned to Chuck's team while Sarah recuperated, which had not exactly made Chuck happy – although, it seemed that Casey had had a very brief and pointed chat with Bryce during which he had insinuated that very bad things might happen to Bryce should he do anything to disturb the team's chemistry.
But that didn't matter for the moment. All that mattered was that Chuck was waiting in the lobby of the Cedars-Sinai Neurovascular Center, waiting for Sarah to emerge from the elevator in a wheelchair.
And then, the elevator doors opened, and there she was. Her hair was still fairly short, having been shaved off before her brain surgery two months prior. Her left leg was in a cast, after having been in traction for six weeks, and there was still a slight slur to her speech.
As far as Chuck Bartowski was concerned, he had never seen a more beautiful sight in his life, especially when her face lit up with a smile as she saw him.
"Hello, handsome," she greeted Chuck as he walked up to take her wheelchair from the doctor.
"Hello, beautiful," he responded as a grin that he was almost certain was threatening to become permanent grew on his face. "Are you ready to go home?"
She turned to look at Chuck as he wheeled her out the door. "By home, you mean your apartment?"
"I absolutely do," Chuck replied.
"Then yes, I am," she said. Turning back to face forward, she continued, "It's a nice place to call home."
The drive across Los Angeles was made mostly in silence, as the two didn't want to bother Casey with small talk, after he had made the effort to drive them through the center of town. Nonetheless, even the laconic NSA agent seemed genuinely happy to see Sarah intact once again.
Darkness was beginning to creep across the Los Angeles sky when Casey pulled into the Echo Park apartment complex. Chuck helped Sarah out of the car as Casey retrieved her as yet unused crutches from the trunk of the Crown Vic. Both men stayed by her side as she hobbled slowly across the courtyard to the apartment.
The interior of the apartment was dark as Chuck unlocked the door and pushed it open. Sarah turned to look at him, a puzzled look on her face. "I thought Ellie and Devon were going to be ho-"
Chuck flipped on the light switch to reveal Ellie, Devon, Morgan, Anna, Carrie Rozelle, and, of all people, Carina Hansen in the living room. "SURPRISE!"
Sarah's jaw dropped in shock, and then she turned back to Chuck, a look of delight on her face. "I could kill you," she whispered.
"I'm sure you could," he replied, laughter in his voice. "Welcome home… and happy birthday."
Five hours later
Sarah snuggled up next to Chuck in his bed. The cast on her leg had complicated things, but they had managed.
"Chuck... how'd you know it was my birthday?" she asked softly.
Chuck shrugged. "A little birdie told me," he replied.
Sarah pushed herself up on one elbow and looked down at Chuck, a grin on her face. "A birdie who you managed to spring from Fulcrum captivity completely without me?"
Chuck laughed. "What can I say. Dad thought I should know when my girlfriend's birthday was."
Sarah shook her head, as she laid back down, her short hair brushing against Chuck's back. "I loved it," she whispered.
"And I love you," Chuck replied.
There was silence for a moment, and then Sarah spoke. "I love you, too."
With my lightning bolts a-glowin',
I can see where I am goin'…
With my lightning bolts a-glowin',
I can see where I am… Go, go where I am!
Somewhere in Long Beach
Paul Ballard still had moments of disorientation. From what he had been told, he had been shot while attempting to prevent Mellie's apartment from being burgled – but he didn't remember anything. In fact, he felt like he was missing a large chunk of memories, and being shot in the torso just didn't explain it at all.
Nonetheless, he was getting closer to the Dollhouse. He had found the man who apparently had designed the Dollhouse's ability to completely internalize all its environmental controls – an agoraphobe by the name of Stephen Kepler.
And now, Paul was at Kepler's apartment, knocking on the door. Kepler was going to help him get inside the Dollhouse.
The door cracked open, and the smell of weed drifted out. "Who is it?" a disembodied voice asked.
"Mr. Kepler, my name's Paul Ballard," Paul announced. "I need your help with something… it has to do with the Dollhouse."
Paul heard a security chain click off, and then the door swung open – to reveal a blonde-haired, blue-eyed man wearing jeans and a Cal State – Long Beach sweatshirt. "Mr. Ballard," the man said. "Uh, okay. Uh, come in, and I'll help you with what I can."
And as the unknowing Paul Ballard walked past the man he thought was Stephen Kepler and into the apartment beyond, a grin grew on Alpha's face. This was just too easy.
You'd better look out below!
with Alan Tudyk as Alpha