I'm tired. I've been having oodles of trouble with Parlor Tricks. Yes, oodles. Give it a few more days, I've been doing so much schoolwork lately my hands are about to fall off. But here are my thoughts on immediately after the season finale of Chuck. Spoilers incoming.

Disclaimer: I do not own Chuck

Sarah Walker had never felt like this in her life.

She didn't even know how to describe it.

She was confused. She was exhausted. She was thrown. She was shocked. She was horrified. She was crushed. She was angry. She was a million things at once and she barely had time to sort it all out.

After all, she and Chuck were expected back at the wedding reception.

The ride back to Castle was silent. The CIA had sent a cleanup crew to the scene to study the freshly destroyed Intersect and collect the body of one Bryce Larkin. Casey had spoken to the General on the phone. Chuck hadn't said a word since informing them that he knew kung fu.

Sarah… well… Sarah was on another plane of existence.

Bryce was dead. That had shocked her enough. Even though she never loved him the way he wanted her to, he had been a close friend and a loyal partner. It was like losing a family member. She was completely out of sorts, she didn't think anything could surprise her more than this. But then Chuck flashed.

Chuck flashed.

He wasn't supposed to flash. He was supposed to be free of this. She was going to stay with him here in California, she was going to leave the Intersect Project and hell, she would leave the CIA if she had to. She was going to stay with him and give him that normal life he wanted so badly and she wanted it too, as long as it was with him.

But Sarah Walker couldn't have a normal life, apparently.

Because Chuck flashed.

And all of a sudden, the life that she could have had with him, the crazy wedding and the ridiculous suburban house and the goofy golden retriever and the oddball neighbors and the smell of him on her clothes and the smile he saved just for her and waking up beside him every damn day and the children, God, the children… Just like that, all of it was gone.

Only when it was gone did she realize how badly she wanted it. So she didn't say anything. She stared straight ahead on the ride to Castle. She could feel Chuck's eyes on her. Even Casey cast a glance in her direction every so often. Maybe he could tell. Maybe it was obvious to another agent that she was prepared to give it all away for him. Hell, if Casey didn't know what lengths she would go to for Chuck by now, he was a terrible spy.

Chuck waited in the Orange Orange while she changed back into her bridesmaid's dress down below. Casey told her he would handle everything. She nodded, but she couldn't bring herself to say a word. Chuck offered her his arm at the top of the stairs. She took it without looking at him. She felt like she was walking through water. Like she was moving slower than everything around her.

Bryce Larkin had died that night, and he had taken Sarah Bartowski with him.

When they arrived back at the reception, Chuck's father was immediately upon them. Chuck spoke to him quietly, informing him of what had happened. Sarah wasn't paying attention. Her focus was glued to Ellie and Devon. They were dancing, just like she and Chuck had been barely an hour before. She was going to tell him. She was going to tell him everything. She was going to stay with him and go on that vacation with him, she was going to see his face light up when she told him she had fallen in love with him. She was going to kiss him and he was going to scoop her up in his arms and they were going to laugh together until they had made a huge spectacle of themselves and she didn't care.

But not anymore.


Sarah blinked in surprise and looked over. Chuck was beside her, hands deep in his pockets. He looked about as lost as she felt.

"Are you okay, Chuck?" she asked gently, the first words she said spoken with enough genuine concern to make Chuck blush.

He sighed heavily. "No," he whispered. "Are you?"

She shook her head and felt her gaze dropping to her feet. But all of a sudden his hand was in hers, warm and strong. She looked up at him in surprise.

"Come on," he murmured. "We have a dance to finish."

He led her out to an empty spot near the fountain, surrounded by other slow dancing couples, and pulled her close. She sighed, numb to his proximity. But then he squeezed her hand and leaned in close.

"Please, Sarah," he whispered. She closed her eyes, trying to focus on nothing but his voice and his touch. "We need to do this for Ellie."

She nodded. That was enough to bring her back. She had grown much closer to Ellie than she should have in the professional sense, but now she didn't care. This was Ellie's day, and Sarah knew how happy it made her to see the two of them together. So Sarah smiled at him and leaned her head on his shoulder.

"You lead," she said quietly.

They didn't speak again for a long time. She just closed her eyes and let him guide her around the dance floor, a soft smile on her face. She could feel him smiling down at her, and it made her heart flutter in a way it hadn't since she was a little girl. The way he held her, so gently, like he was afraid she would break, was something she wasn't used to. Nobody had ever touched her this way. She would have told him that, too, if only he hadn't flashed.


She sighed. She didn't want to pull away from him. As long as they were dancing like this, she could pretend it would always be this way.

"Sarah, you okay?"

"No," she murmured against his shoulder. "I don't think I know how to be okay anymore."

The words surprised her. She hadn't meant to say them. Chuck had stopped moving. Sarah sighed. Guess the dance was over.

"Sarah, I'm sorry."

She finally took a step back from him, looking up into his eyes to find he looked rather shaken.

"For what?" she whispered, genuinely surprised. But then she saw Ellie out of the corner of her eye, standing next to her father and looking straight at Chuck and Sarah. She looked worried. No, this was Ellie's day. Sarah couldn't let her be worried.

So Sarah Walker smiled and reached up, taking Chuck's face in her hands and drawing him down to her level to kiss his cheek. "Smile, Chuck," she whispered. "Ellie."

She didn't need to say anything else. Chuck laughed like she had just said something funny and pulled her back into his arms, moving them effortlessly back into their slow dance. Sarah caught a glimpse of Ellie moments later. She was speaking quietly with two of her bridesmaids, smiling. Sarah exhaled in relief. Good.

"What are you sorry for, Chuck?" she whispered, trying to keep a relaxed expression on her face though she could feel Chuck's hand sweating in hers.


It took every ounce of control she had not to stop right there and pull away from him again. The way his voice broke… it sounded like he was trying not to cry. Her grip tightened on his shoulder, imperceptible to passersby unless they looked close enough to see her knuckles turning white.

"I'm sorry Sarah, I couldn't save him…" Chuck whispered, stopping in his tracks and looking away from her. She bit her lip, trying to worry about the attention they were probably attracting, but she couldn't get Sarah the Super Spy to do anything about it. Sarah the Girl was too busy trying to comfort the man she was so ridiculously in love with.

"Chuck, shh, it's not your fault," she whispered, and she said it with such quiet conviction that he lifted his head to look her in the eye. "There was nothing you could do. Nobody blames you."

"I believe you," he murmured in her ear. She sighed, relieved, and they were back to blending in with the normal people dancing around the fountain. "But then why are you upset with me?"

"What?" she asked, confused. "I'm not upset with you." She was upset, sure, but not with him. Why would she be upset with him?

"I know you are," he replied quietly. "Just tell me why."

She wasn't. He was wrong. He was so wrong. About everything.

"Tell me you didn't do it for me," she said suddenly. The words had come so quickly, she barely had time to lower her voice before they got away from her. "Tell me you didn't upload that… thing into your head just to keep me here."

Chuck's gaze dropped to his shoes and her worst fears were confirmed. "I can't tell you that," he said quietly.

"No," she whispered, stepping away from him again. "No."

"I'm sorry," he sighed, appearing to deflate before her. "It was selfish and stupid and right now I kind of feel like an idiot…" He took an exhausted breath and glanced skyward. "I have no right to keep you from your job, I shouldn't have… I shouldn't have…" He trailed off. "But I had to." He looked at her, frowning defiantly, and she just stared miserably back. "I had to, for Bryce, and I couldn't just let you go. I need you." He closed the small distance between them and took her firmly by the arms. "I'm in love with you, Sarah. I'd take this crazy life with you over a normal life without you any day."

He watched her, waiting for a response. But she couldn't. All she could think was no. No no no, this wasn't fair. If she'd just had a chance to tell him, if his father had waited one more minute before interrupting them, he would know she wasn't going to leave him and he wouldn't have uploaded the Intersect and everything would be different now. She couldn't tell him, it would crush him. She knew that all too well, as it was already crushing her.

"Chuck, you have to realize," she whispered, and he finally let go of her arms. She took his hands and pulled him back to her, pretending to dance again. "As long as you have that in your head, we can't have anything real. They'll reassign me."

"I know," he sighed.

She stared at him. "We're going to get it out of your head, Chuck," she said firmly.

He looked up at her, confused. "What?"

"I want it out of your head," she said quietly. Want. I want. That wasn't something she said very often.

"But then… as soon as it's gone, you'll be gone," he said slowly. She shook her head. She couldn't tell him that she was going to stay with him before, but she could tell him that she would stay with him next time. One last secret.

"I'm not going anywhere," she whispered. He stared at her, eyes wide, as though he'd never seen her before.

The next moment, Chuck was kissing her. She didn't stop him. In fact, she let herself go. She indulged. This was probably the one time they could get away with it. Not even General Beckman could argue that romance was sort of expected at weddings.

Sarah knew it would be ten times harder for them now that he knew how she felt about him, but she couldn't risk him doing anything stupid, like uploading another supercomputer into his brain once they got rid of this one.

Because they would get rid of this one.

Chuck's mouth left hers for a moment, allowing them both to breathe, and Sarah glanced over his shoulder. She was gratified to see Ellie beaming at her. She offered a somewhat embarrassed smile in return before her focus was drawn back to Chuck.

For the first time in days, maybe longer, Sarah Walker knew exactly what she was feeling.