Disclaimer: I don't own "Chuck!"
The song lyrics are from "Crack the Shutters," by Snow Patrol.
A/N: This is kind of my version of what should happen after the season finale. I was going to wait to write it until after the finale aired, but then I realized that the episode might completely throw this all out of whack. So I hope this doesn't end up being too AU, lol.
Big thanks to BillatWork for the beta.
Crack the shutters open wide, I wanna bathe you in the light of day
And just watch you as the rays tangle up around your face and body
I could sit for hours finding new ways to be awed each minute
'Cause the daylight seems to want you just as much as I want you
Sarah sighs contentedly.
She loves mornings like this – the day after a mission, when she and Chuck can just lie in bed, half-clothed, through the lazy afternoon, no obligations, no cares. They can eat breakfast at two in the afternoon, watch some TV or go for a walk, meet Ellie and Awesome for dinner.
She loves their new apartment, not that far away from his old one. It's her first real home since she was eight, but by far the biggest reason she loves it is that she gets to share it with him.
She leans against the headboard, clad only in boy shorts and one of Chuck's white button-down shirts, cradling his head against her abdomen and languidly stroking his hair. He grasps her free hand, lying against his bare chest, and entwines their fingers. She smiles, places a kiss on the top of his head.
Looking down at the shirt she's in, she notices the missing buttons and says with a chuckle, "We should probably stop ruining your shirts. You aren't going to have any fit to wear soon."
Chuck cranes his neck in time to catch her fiddling with the flyaway thread where a button used to be. "Maybe if you weren't so rough with me . . ." he teases, laughing.
"Hey," she answers, trusting that he can hear the smile in her voice, "I'm only following your lead."
He scoffs playfully. "You and I both know you never follow anyone's lead but your own."
"And how about you, Mr. I-Never-Stay-in-the-Car-When-I'm-Told?"
He tilts his head up to stick his tongue out at her. "Technically, I don't have to stay in the car anymore. So there."
Amused in spite of the residual fear that eats at her every time he puts himself in danger by leaving the car, Sarah takes his face in her palms and leans down to press an upside-down kiss to each of his eyebrows before kissing him on the lips. Laughing throatily, he latches his arms around her neck to deepen the kiss, awkward though the position is.
She pulls away, still gazing into his smiling eyes and twirling a forefinger around a messy curl near his temple. He sighs happily as her thumb traces the contour of his cheek, down to his jaw, and Sarah swallows the lump in her throat.
These quiet moments, moments when he's entirely exposed, moments when there's nothing separating them except the secrets from her past she chooses to let remain, scare her more than any life-or-death situation she's faced in her ten years as an agent.
"What is it?" he asks, reaching up to brush his thumb against her lips.
Sarah takes a deep breath, feeling strangely vulnerable, before asking softly, "Are you happy here? With me?"
Abruptly, Chuck flips onto his stomach and slides his hands up to her sides, his thumbs brushing against her ribcage. "Hey, how can you even ask me that?" he asks gently.
"Will you just answer me?" Her voice is desperate, barely above a whisper.
Smiling, Chuck cradles her cheek and presses a soft, sweet kiss to her lips. "Of course I am," he says sweetly. "Hey, hey," he smiles, "Sarah, listen to me. I don't care what kind of life I lead, as long as you're in it. You're all I need. Okay? You got that?"
She smiles tentatively, nodding, and he leans in for another kiss.
"Good," he murmurs. Peppering kisses along her neck, he adds, "Because I wouldn't want to have to find another way to . . . convince you."
She laughs as he waggles his eyebrows seductively, running her fingers through his hair and pulling his head towards her for a kiss. She smiles against his mouth, changes their momentum, and rolls him onto his back.
"No," she says huskily, grinning down at him, "we wouldn't want that now, would we?"
Finally fully dressed at three o'clock in the afternoon, Sarah makes her way through the apartment, straightening up before Ellie and Awesome's visit that evening. She smiles as she picks one of Chuck's socks up off the floor near the entrance to their bedroom. Their clothes from last night are strewn all over, and she cleans them up as she goes, throwing them over her arm.
In the living room, she adds Chuck's belt and tie and her black mission jacket to the pile. She pauses in her steps when she notices Chuck's brown corduroy jacket slung over the back of the couch. He didn't wear it on the mission yesterday, so it must have been there for a few days. Crossing the room, she grabs the clothing article and slings it over her arm, her attention caught when a small velvet box falls from the pocket of the coat, tumbles across the carpet, and rolls to a stop next to the leg of the coffee table.
Sarah freezes, her eyes trained on the box. There's no question what it is. How could there be? But it's only been three months. As much as she loves him, as deeply as she cares for him, she hadn't anticipated this, not this quickly.
But even as she stares at the ring box, she knows what her answer will be. There's no doubt in her heart about her commitment to him.
Abruptly, Sarah picks up the box and returns to the bedroom, dumping the clothes onto the chair in the corner. Chuck's still in the shower; the bed's still unmade. She climbs onto the mattress, sits cross-legged, and stares at the ring box in her hand, almost afraid of opening it.
She runs her thumb over the top of the box, the velvet smooth against her skin. She shouldn't be doing this, should she? He's her boyfriend, her partner, her everything, and she needs to respect his privacy now more than ever.
Shaking her head to clear her thoughts, she clambers back off the bed with every intention of returning the box to his jacket pocket. But Chuck comes out of the bathroom at that moment, clad only in jeans, his hair still wet from the shower. Startled, Sarah stops in the middle of the room. Chuck, already rummaging around in a dresser drawer, doesn't detect her discomfort, doesn't even notice the evidence in her fist.
"Honey, have you seen my Save the Princess t-shirt? Is it still in the laundry?" He looks up at her from where he's kneeling in front of the dresser, finally noticing the look on her face. "Hey, everything okay?"
Sarah holds out her hand and opens her fist slowly. "I'm sorry, Chuck. I was cleaning up all our clothes. When I picked up your jacket, this fell out of the pocket. I haven't opened it. I just . . . I'm sorry."
Chuck stands up and takes the ring box from her, looking down at it sheepishly. To her surprise, he chuckles. "I figured I wouldn't be able to hide it from you for long." Shrugging, he scratches his eyebrow and says, "I guess I should have actually figured out how to ask you before I brought it into the house."
She stares at him, openmouthed. "That's all you can say?"
"What do you want me to say?" he smiles. "It's not your fault I stupidly left it in my pocket."
Sarah falls onto the foot of the bed with a sigh, refusing to meet his eye as Chuck kneels in front of her and takes her hands in his, the ring box still palmed in his right fist.
"Come on, Sarah," he says gently, and just his patient tone is enough to get her to look at him. When she does, she comes face to face with that brilliant, goofy smile of his, the one that somehow always makes her believe in the impossible. "I know this is really soon," he says, "and I know you probably think I'm crazy, but I also know that this is right. My life began when you walked into it, and I'd be an idiot not to jump at my chance for happiness."
She places a hand on his chest, feeling his heart beat vibrantly beneath it, the light dusting of hair soft against her palm.
Chuck takes a soothing breath before saying, "I've thought of about a million ways to ask this, Sarah. I thought about taking you up in a hot air balloon, or making reservations at the fanciest restaurant in the city, or writing it on the jumbotron at the Lakers game, or even getting a personal fortune cookie fortune made." He offers her a half-smile and shakes his head. "But none of that could ever show you how I really feel." Leaning into her, he lets go of her hands, drops the box onto the bedspread beside her, and slides his arms around her torso. He breathes deeply, his smile growing, and says, "What I love the most, Sarah, is waking up next to you, feeling the sunlight on my face, and knowing that that's my future, knowing that I've got something to live for. That's kind of how I wanted to do it, just wake up and ask, but . . ."
He swallows nervously, his smile suddenly gone as he waits for her to speak. Sarah takes his face between her hands and pulls him closer for a soft kiss.
Her eyes still closed as they break apart, she asks quietly, "Chuck, are you asking me?"
Chuck threads his fingers into her hair and answers, "Yes."
As if suddenly remembering the proper protocol, he pulls away from her and picks up the ring box. He shifts to one knee and opens it, allowing her to see the sparkling diamond ring, undoubtedly purchased with the help of Ellie. Sarah holds a hand to her mouth in an effort to keep her happiness from spilling over.
"Sarah Walker," he begins, his confidence returned, "I loved you before I even realized it, and every time I think about my future, you're the one constant." He glances down at the ring with a light, almost incredulous laugh. Looking back up at her, he continues, "So, Sarah, how about it? Want to marry me?"
She wraps her arms around his neck and smashes her lips into his. "Yes," she breathes, her mouth brushing against his. "A million times yes."
Their dinner that night turns into a small engagement party when they break the news to Ellie and Awesome. The doctors insist on taking them out to celebrate, and Chuck and Sarah are more than thrilled to accept. They share stories and advice, get a little bit drunk, and even make a long-distance speakerphone call to Morgan and Anna, living it up in Hawaii. Ellie gets tears in her eyes when she realizes how far her little brother has come, and Devon has to restrain her when she tries to hug Sarah for the seventh time in less than an hour.
But Sarah gets it. She understands Ellie's ecstatic reaction and has a hard time containing her own excitement at the prospect of spending the rest of her life with Chuck. But he snakes his arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer to him in the already tight booth, and, as she looks into his warm, affectionate eyes, a sense of calm suffuses her.
The noise of the restaurant suddenly dies away, the world shrinks until all that's left is their tiny booth, until all that matters is her family, the people who care for her.
Smiling, Sarah puts a hand on his face and leans in for a short kiss.
"Aww," Ellie gushes from across the table, "you two are adorable. This is going to be the best wedding."
Blushing, Sarah leans into Chuck's shoulder.
"Have you guys started thinking about the big day yet?" Devon asks.
"Come on, Devon," Chuck laughs, "we just got engaged this afternoon."
Ellie's eyes twinkle. Addressing mostly Sarah, she asks, "Surely you've thought about it, though?"
Sarah gives Chuck's torso a squeeze and answers, "A little. Something small would be nice. And soon. I don't want to wait too long for this guy."
Chuck places a kiss on the top of her head. "How long is too long?" he asks quietly.
She grins. "Next month?"
He laughs and nuzzles her ear. "You really know how to go from zero to sixty, don't you?" he teases in a whisper.
Sarah looks back at Ellie and Devon, both beaming. "You think we can pull off a wedding in five weeks?"
"Of course we can!" Ellie responds delightedly. Turning to Devon, she says, "Babe, we've got a wedding to plan."
"Awesome," he intones. "Hope it's as much fun as the last one."
"Yeah, well, no bachelor party this time, okay?" she tells him, slapping his chest lightly.
"Got it, babe."
"We did talk about one thing, though," Chuck begins. "We know we wouldn't have made it this far without the two of you. So, Devon, how do you feel about being my best man?"
"And I hope you'll be my matron of honor, Ellie," Sarah adds.
Ellie squeals in delight, which Sarah takes as a 'yes', and Devon says, "Of course, bro. I'm honored. Hey, I've got your back."
Chuck grins, and the two men bump fists.
"We have so much to do!" says Ellie cheerfully.
"But first," Devon says, holding up his glass, "a toast! To the newly-engaged couple, Chuck and Sarah. May the good times outweigh the bad, and may you never want for anything now that you've found each other."
"And to you guys, Ellie and Devon," Chuck says with a wide smile, raising his beer to join in the toast. "May the rest of your marriage be as awesome as the first three months."
"You got that right," Devon chuckles.
Sarah smiles, lifting her glass. "And to Morgan and Anna, following their dreams."
"To family," Ellie toasts.
The words echo as their glasses clink together, a reminder of what she has, of what she's gained.
She wakes the next morning, a smile gracing her lips, and feels the sunlight on her face. Chuck – her fiancé, she thinks giddily - is still sleeping, his lips scant inches from her own. Lifting her hand, she brushes her thumb lightly against his bottom lip, gently sweeps a curl off his forehead.
He stirs sleepily but doesn't wake, and she takes the opportunity to drink him in. She's had him memorized long ago, long before it was something she would admit to herself. But waking up beside him, in this life, in this house, finally gives her the opportunity to just slow down.
She's been running all her life, and Chuck's finally given her a direction.
Softly, she places a kiss on each of his closed lids before kissing his lips. Chuck groans groggily.
"Mmm, good morning," he murmurs.
"Morning, sleepyhead," she smiles.
He sighs as she cups his face with her palm, her thumb caressing his cheek. He opens his eyes, stares at her like he can survive on just the sight of her.
"Chuck," she breathes.
Smiling shyly, Sarah whispers, "I love you."
He tries to respond, but she quiets him with a kiss. He doesn't have to say anything. She already knows how much he loves her, but she wants him to see how quickly her walls are crumbling, how soon it will be before he completely erases her doubts, until she can enjoy those quiet moments with him, no ominous misgivings in her heart.
Right now, her head burrowed comfortably against his chest, Sarah's never felt closer to happiness.