Beams of sunlight slowly crept across the floor of the hotel room. Tiny motes of dust hung suspended in the air, illuminated by the sunlight.

Gently, ever so gently, the sunbeams reached out to touch the king size bed situated in the center of the room. In spite of the early hour, the sunlight did not disturb either of the occupants of the bed – her because she had never fallen asleep, him because he was sleeping like a dead man.

It was understandable that he should sleep like a dead man. The night before, he had performed feats of a physical nature that his body was not attuned for. In no way should he have been able to do those things, but his brain had told his muscles exactly what to do. Now, he was paying the price for it.

Fortunately, the government had long since realized the need to provide painkillers to their field agents that would actually do some good. And so, she had made him take two of the pills, promising him that they would help alleviate the soreness he had begun to feel everywhere, and promising that he would get at least eight hours' sleep as a result.

That had been seven hours ago. As they both lay in the bed in the darkened room, she heard him – ever so softly, but audibly nonetheless – as his tears came. It was completely understandable – the man who had died the night before might have been her lover at one time, but he had been HIS best friend long, long before that. She heard him, and had reached out for his hand as he wept. He had surprised her by squeezing back in a way she hadn't thought he had the strength for at that moment, but she nonetheless held on. She stayed strong for him, right up until he fell asleep.

Then she, too, had let her grief pour out. Not just grief at watching her ex die that night, but the grief at knowing that this man, this wonderful, amazing man who lay in the bed beside her, had voluntarily sacrificed his innocence, the normalcy that he had JUST regained, to honor the memory of his late friend and to prevent the United States' most important intelligence asset from falling into the hands of the enemy.

It was a sacrifice that she didn't know if she herself would ever be able to make, and given that she had served the intelligence community for eleven years now, that was quite a statement. But that he would be willing to make that sacrifice only further cemented in her mind and her heart the love she felt for him. She could not imagine another man who might ever be able to capture her the way he had – not even Bryce Larkin, and certainly not Cole Barker. Bryce had been a good man, but he certainly didn't measure up, and Cole Barker had been nothing more than a shallow flash in the pan.

A pain-filled groan startled Sarah Walker from her reverie. Her gaze cleared and returned to Chuck Bartowski's face, which had developed something of a permanent grimace. He breathed in deeply, then let it out again.

Concerned at the grimace on Chuck's face, Sarah reached out a hand and gently stroked it down the side of his face – and, somewhat to her amusement, watched as the grimace softened and changed into a small smile.

"I like waking up that way," he said, without opening his eyes. "I mean, I could do without the pain… but it's worth it."

Sarah didn't say anything, but rather just smiled. Leaning over, she gently brushed her lips across Chuck's. "Mmmm," he softly hummed. "I like that, too. I could get used to this."

"Well, good morning to you, too," Sarah replied, unable to keep the smile appearing on her face out of her voice. "You shouldn't get used to it, though."

Oops. That was the wrong thing to say, as Chuck's smile faded, and his eyes cracked open. "Whaddya mean?" he mumbled sleepily.

Sarah's eyes widened as she realized her mistake. "Wait," she said. "That's not what I meant. I don't mean you shouldn't get used to it because I'm not going to be here or something. I meant you shouldn't get used to it because there will never be two mornings that it will be the same."

And with that, sleepy delight filled Chuck Bartowski's face. "Hey, I like the sound of that."

The look on Chuck's face changed from one of delight to a look of thoughtfulness as he looked up at Sarah. "Listen," he started. "Last night, Bryce, before, well, before he left… he, uh, said that you weren't going to go with him."

His eyes bored into Sarah's, the unspoken question written all over his face. Sarah looked back at him for a moment, and then simply nodded. "Why?" Chuck asked. "Why would you give up an opportunity to be part of something so huge?"

Sarah didn't speak for a moment, trying to make sure the right words came out in the right order this time. "I… as I was standing on the beach…" She sighed in frustration. "I guess I realized, when I looked at Ellie and Devon standing there, that there are bigger things than being a spy. Better things. Things that are more important to me. And I want to be part of that instead."

She laughed softly and shook her head. "You know, I had an earpiece in when we were on the beach – just in case. Bryce was on the frequency, and he was hiding out behind a sand dune, watching with a pair of binoculars. He already knew, before I did. He said so, too. He said, 'You're not coming with me, are you?', and as Ellie and Devon took their vows, that's when I decided. I shook my head. I told him no."

Amazement wrote itself on Chuck's face as he listened to Sarah. "That… so that's – that's what you were trying to tell me at the reception last night!" he exclaimed, trying to prop himself up on his elbows. He winced in pain as he realized the error of his ways, and lowered himself back down onto the bed. "That's what you were going to tell me, right before my dad came up…"

"Who, by the way, has a HORRIBLE sense of timing," Sarah interrupted.

Chuck cocked his head to the side. "What do you mean? I mean, yeah, there was that, but was there anything else?"

"His trailer," Sarah replied, smiling. "Right before he opened the door. The way you looked at me – you were going to kiss me, weren't you?"

Chuck raised an eyebrow and thought about it for a moment – "Yeah, yeah, I guess I was," Chuck admitted. "Wow, you're right – my dad's a total cock block, isn't he?"

Sarah frowned at the phrase. "I'm sorry, a what?"

"Aw, crap," Chuck uttered, realizing what he had said. "Sorry, it's just a turn of phrase that I picked up in college. It doesn't mean anything in particular except somebody who regularly gets between somebody and the object of their affection."

"Well… in that case," Sarah replied, "I guess you're right."

She lay back down on the bed next to Chuck, and gently drifted her fingertips across his chest. The bare contact and movement made him shiver as she did so. "Of course, I suppose you could also say that that applies to Morgan…"

Chuck frowned. "What? Explain."

Sarah smiled and gently kissed Chuck's cheek. "You left the note on the bathroom floor in Barstow," she whispered. "I saw it when I went out the window to hide from Casey."

Chuck grimaced, his memories of all of about five minutes of that morning pleasant, with the rest of it having been a goddamn disaster. "You have no idea what the rest of that day was like for me," Chuck grumbled.

"I believe there's a technical term for it," Sarah replied. "Something involving the color blue, perhaps?"

"Yeah…" Chuck shook his head. "That just about nails it."

"Well," Sarah said, now whispering again, "it seems to me that you've been carrying around that pent-up tension for three days now… maybe we should do something about that."

Chuck's eyes widened, and his head jerked upward. "OW," he groaned, his head immediately falling back down to the pillow. "Can't. Too sore."

Sarah smiled. "Oh, like that's ever stopped a guy before," she teased him.

"Nobody has ever been as sore as I am right now," Chuck complained. "Nobody. Well, maybe the prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But that's about it."

"That's enough," Sarah replied, silencing Chuck with a kiss. She kissed him again, then kissed him on the chin… and then moved downward… to his neck… to his chest… to his stomach…

"OHHH God," Chuck groaned, his body jerking reflexively. "Oh, good Lord almighty… uh, Sarah… oh my God. You should maybe… maybe… uh, maybe stop… no, okay, you keep doing that… yeah, that's… uh-oh… uh, Sarah… uh… just so you know… oh, uh, uh-oh… OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH crap."

A snort of laughter emanated from the other end of the bed, followed by an immediate fit of coughing. A moment later, there was a THUD as Sarah fell off the end of the bed, her body racked by a combination of laughing and coughing.

His arms still sore – but magically more relaxed than they had been a moment before – Chuck pushed himself up onto his elbows. "Sarah?" he asked. "Are you alright?"

Sarah's head popped up over the end of the bed. She wiped a hand across her mouth, still alternating laughter and coughs as she did so. "Jesus, Chuck," she gasped. "Do you always say, 'Oh crap', or am I just special?"

Chuck shrugged. "What can I say… Jill was the only girlfriend I've ever had who tried that before, and she wasn't as… um… voracious as you."

Sarah shook her head, a smile still on her face. "I see," she replied. "A word of advice, though, Chuck?"

"What's that?" Chuck looked on with interest as Sarah crawled back onto the bed, pulling her t-shirt – or, more accurately, HIS Donkey Kong t-shirt – up and over her head, leaving her dressed only in a rather skimpy pair of panties.

"It's rude to make a person laugh when their mouth is full."

Chuck's mouth fell open, and he just stared at Sarah, as the look on her face grew more mischievous by the second. "I… I don't even know how to begin to respond to that," he replied.

"Oh, I think you figured it out just fine," Sarah said, a naughty undertone to her voice as she reached downward. "Your brain just wasn't involved."

And that was the point at which Chuck's brain fully caught up with what was going on. "Oh my God," he said. "You're… practically naked. And sitting on top of me. And you've got… oh my God. Have I told you lately that you're beautiful?"

"Did the Intersect tell you that?" Sarah replied, a sparkle in her blue eyes. "Or do you tell all the girls that?"

"No, I-I'm being serious," Chuck stammered, a dumbfounded note to his voice. "I mean, I thought I knew what I was getting into when I went to get the condom in the motel room in Barstow, but dear God, I didn't have a clue… you're… you're… okay, if you don't stop that right now, you're gonna have a mess to clean up."

"Stop what?" Sarah asked, her face the picture of innocence.

"That… that… whatever it is you're doing with your hand…"

"What, you mean THIS?!"

Chuck's eyes rolled back in his head. "OGHGGHHHHHHHH…"

When he regained control of his senses, Chuck looked up at Sarah to see her looking down at him, a look of sheer amusement on her face. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you just had a flash," she teased him.

"Aaa… a… and how exactly would you know better?" Chuck forced out.

"Because you were exactly right," Sarah replied. "You DID make a mess."

Chuck's eyes widened, and his head jerked up – only to fall directly back down on the pillow. "God DAMMIT," he moaned, the sore muscles in his neck feeling like they were on fire. Very gently, he lifted his head back up – and, sure enough. "Yes, I certainly did make a mess."

"Well, I guess it IS my fault," Sarah admitted. "So I should probably clean it up."

Sarah stood up from the bed, being very careful to not brush her right hand against the bed linens. She was going to have to have them cleaned anyway, but there was no point in exacerbating the situation. "Follow me, Chuck."

Chuck lifted his head and sighed. "Have you forgotten that I'm a cripple?"

"So that's how it is," Sarah said, sticking her lower lip out in a pout. "Well, in that case…"

She turned her back to Chuck, and very deftly removed her panties with her left hand. Kicking them off her right foot, she looked over her shoulder at Chuck. "I guess I'll just have to shower on my own."

And that was all the impetus Chuck needed. Sarah listened in amusement as the bed linens rustled and the bed creaked behind her. "Coming, coming," Chuck muttered.

"Very shortly, in fact," Sarah replied – and that statement was met with a thud. Concerned, Sarah turned around –

To see Chuck lying on the floor, boxers around his knees, right where Sarah had left them. "This is not as funny as it looks," Chuck grumbled into the carpet.

"Oh, it's funnier," Sarah replied with a giggle. "Just thank God you're not Casey – I'd be taking a picture of you with my phone."

Chuck lifted his head off the floor and looked at Sarah. "If I were John Casey, I wouldn't be here right now."

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "Touché," she replied. "Now, please get up. I'd hate to have to take advantage of you on the floor – it's so dirty."

"Which part?" Chuck asked, as he slowly picked himself up. "The floor, or the taking advantage?"

"Well, the floor, mostly," Sarah said with a shrug. "But the dirtiness of the advantage-taking is negotiable."

And with that, Chuck kicked his boxers the rest of the way off. "Okay, let's go," he said to Sarah, leading the way into the bathroom. Sarah smiled as she followed.

"Brush your teeth," she ordered Chuck as she turned the water in the shower on. "I hate morning breath."

"Fair enough," Chuck replied, pulling open the medicine cabinet. He was silent for a moment, and then said, "I must say, it's a little bit weird that either my toothbrush or my tube of toothpaste are in your medicine cabinet, or you have an exact copy of each, right down to the amount of toothpaste I've used."

Sarah suppressed a laugh. "It's yours," she replied. "I had Casey bring it by last night after you fell asleep."

"Ah," Chuck said. "Just for the record… you might want to consider brushing your teeth as well."

Sarah turned around and gave Chuck a mock-hurt look. "Chuck Bartowski," she said, "are you accusing me of having bad breath?"

"Nooooo," Chuck said slowly. "It's just that… um… there are other considerations. Involving… uh… ohhhhhhh crap."

Sarah bit her lip to keep herself from breaking down in laughter. "I see," she forced out. "Alright, then, Chuck, I will brush my teeth as well. But you have to promise to kiss me afterwards."

Chuck nodded vigorously – and the sight of him doing so, his toothbrush sticking out of his mouth, and toothpaste foam covering his teeth, was enough to finally cause Sarah to collapse to the floor in laughter. "I can mosht shertainly promishe dat," he replied around his toothbrush, grinning at the sight of Sarah laughing on the floor.

By the time both Chuck and Sarah had finished brushing their teeth, quite a cloud of steam had built up in the bathroom from the shower. True to his word, after both had rinsed their mouths out, Chuck kissed Sarah very slowly, and VERY passionately. "Wow," she gasped when he pulled away. "Clearly you are NOT done yet."

Chuck just grinned. "Lead the way," he said, gesturing toward the shower.

Sarah slid the shower door open. "Holy crap!" Chuck exclaimed. "That's… that's like… it's the Taj Mahal of showers!"

"Not quite," Sarah replied with a laugh. "That would be in Ellie and Awesome's bathroom."

"RIGHT," Chuck agreed. "Very true. Okay, so, this is like the White House of showers, then."

Sarah frowned. "How about the Chateau Marmont?"

"Okay," Chuck replied with a nod. "That'll do."

"Good," Sarah said. "Now get in, and sit down."

Chuck stepped into the shower, and did as Sarah instructed, slowly lowering his aching body to a sitting position on the marble bench that ringed the back half of the shower. "Oh, that's COLD," he complained as his bare skin met the marble. "Although… it does feel kinda good."

"Cold surfaces usually do feel good on sore muscles," Sarah replied, stepping into the shower and closing the door. "But there are a whole bunch of other techniques to relieve muscular soreness, and I know a few."

Chuck could feel his body responding as he looked at Sarah. The cloud of steam surrounding her naked form made her look almost ethereal – and that only served to make his body take even more notice. "My God," he whispered.

"Close," Sarah replied, stepping toward him. Kneeling on the bench, she straddled his legs. Ever so slowly, she unbent her knees, and wrapped her legs around his back. "Now," she whispered in his ear, "just let me do all the work."

Slowly, she began to lower herself onto Chuck – but just before she made contact –

"Wait!" Chuck exclaimed. "No condom!"

Sarah dropped her forehead to Chuck's shoulder, a grin on her face. "We don't need one, Chuck," she laughed. "I've been on the pill since the day I joined the CIA, and I know for a fact that we're both clean."

"Wait – what – how do you know that?!"

"I'm a spy, Chuck, remember?"

Chuck frowned. "So… in Barstow… you let me run around looking for a condom…" His voice trailed off.

"Sorry," Sarah muttered, trying not to laugh, as she pulled back to look Chuck in the eyes. "You were just too cute."

Chuck's eyes narrowed, although Sarah could see the mirth written all over his face. "I'll give you cute," he growled, grabbing Sarah's waist and unexpectedly thrusting upward against her.

Sarah gasped as he entered her – not slowly, not gently, but all at once. "Oh my God," she whispered, biting her lip.

"Oh, my GOD," Chuck echoed – but that was not pleasure behind that groan. That was pain. Sarah looked at his face again.

"That was stupid," he gritted out between his teeth.

Sarah smiled. "I did tell you to let me do all the work," she replied. "Now, relax, and let me lead, okay?"

"Yeah," Chuck gasped, returning himself to the seated position he had been in before. "I prefer to follow on the tango anyway."

Sarah didn't reply, allowing Chuck to relax for a moment before restarting. He had never pulled out, so it was much easier for her to begin again after a moment.

Neither of them said a word. The only sounds in the shower beside the rushing water were the sounds of two bodies moving against each other, and the occasional whimper or groan from one of the two – neither was quite sure who was making the noise.

After the two episodes in the bed, Chuck was able to hold out for longer this time, and Sarah felt herself reaching the end before too long. She felt the unmistakable nervous overload begin to overtake her body, and as it did, she looked into Chuck's eyes.

"I love you, Chuck," she whispered raggedly, and then kissed him. The combination of stimulus was just enough to push Chuck past the point of no return, and he suddenly found his first time with Sarah ending just as he had always fantasized it would – with the two of them reaching the peak at exactly the same time.

Finally, Chuck collapsed backward, leaning against the wall behind him. Sarah wrapped her arms against him and leaned into his chest, afraid to move – she seemed to have lost all control over her muscles, leaving her momentarily like a rag doll.

After a moment, Chuck's ragged breathing slowed and normalized. Sarah had regained control of her breathing long before Chuck did, but preferred to remain where she was, her head pressed against his chest, listening to his racing heart.

Chuck took a deep breath, and slowly blew it back out. "Wow," he said, and Sarah looked up at him. He looked back down at her, the trademark Bartowski smile plastered on his face for the first time since before Sarah had told him she was being reassigned the morning before.

"I think I might love you too," he said, a teasing note to his voice.

"Just 'think', Chuck?" Sarah replied, dangerous humor coloring her voice.

Chuck looked thoughtful for a moment. "Nah," he said. "I definitely love you."