A/N – I'm just getting over a wicked sinus infection, and I've spent most of the past month coughing, blowing my nose so much that it resembles hamburger, and ingesting all sorts of medication. Taking that many drugs will eventually pickle your brain, and stories like this one are the result. I guess I just wanted someone to share my pain, even if that someone is fictional. My apologies for the starring role of mucous in this story; hopefully you won't get any on your shoes.
This is mostly Sarah's POV, but there's a little Ellie and Devon at the end. It switches from first to third person, and my excellent beta BillAtWork pointed out that an English Lit professor might object, but we figured, what the hell.
Chuck is really congested here, so his Ms and Ns are sounding like Bs and Ds, respectively. If it still doesn't make sense, pinch your nose shut and read it aloud. It's interactive fanfic!
This is set sometime in Season 2 after Chuck vs. Santa Claus, but before the last few episodes. BTW, I still don't own Chuck, Casey, Ellie (bummer!), or Sarah (huge bummer!). Fortunately, my wife and daughter still seem willing to put up with me, and that's more than I need or deserve.
(12/31/11 – Reformatted and fixed some grammar/syntax issues.)
X X X X X X X X X X
Sarah vs. Fulcrum's Transdimensional Killer Cold
It's nine o'clock in the morning, and I'm just about to unlock the front door of the Orange Orange when my phone rings. When I glance at the display, it scowls back at me.
"Good morning, Casey."
As usual, Casey skips the pleasantries and dives right in. "Easy day for you today, Walker. The nerd won't be here."
Those words, when spoken by Major John Casey of the NSA, send an involuntary shiver down my spine.
"What's going on, Casey?"
My reply is just a little too quick, and of course Casey picks up on that fact.
"Calm down, Walker. I wouldn't want all that yogurt melting because you got hot under the collar for no reason. Dorkus Maximus has a cold, that's all. When I went over to his place this morning, his sister asked me to tell Big Mike that Chuck is staying home today."
I'm not surprised that Chuck is sick. Last night was movie night with Ellie and Devon, and he kept sniffling and blowing his nose. He tried to blame it on allergies, but when he fell asleep on my shoulder halfway through The Dark Knight, I knew that something was wrong. There's nothing fun about a cold and I feel bad for Chuck, but Ellie is off today, and knowing that he has a doctor at home to care for him makes me feel a little better.
My concern for Chuck abating, a practical question comes to mind. I've already been exposed to Chuck, so I ask Casey if he has been as well. Someone on the team needs to stay well.
"Your concern is touching, Walker, but unnecessary. I don't get sick. Never have. There's no way I'd catch anything from Chuck, even if you dipped him in liquid plague and rubbed him all over me. Whoops – I shouldn't be giving you any ideas, should I? You might run over there in a skimpy little nurse's outfit, wanting to play Florence Nightie-gown with the sick nerd."
I used to get mad about cracks like that, but I let this one roll off my back. I honestly don't think that the man can stop himself any more. Plus, his idea is more than a little tempting.
"Funny, Casey. Don't you have a TV or a refrigerator to sell?"
"Now that you mention it, there does happen to be a suburban mower jockey checking out a Beastmaster. Grilled flesh – now there's something I can get behind. You have yourself a sunshine day, Walker." He disconnects without waiting for me to say goodbye.
So, I'm faced with a day at the Orange Orange without Chuck. The question now becomes, how do I fill the hours? During a normal shift, I'll see Chuck three or four times, if not more. He visits me on his breaks, and I'll take him some yogurt in the afternoon. If there's mission stuff going on, I'll see him even more. But today there is no mission and no Chuck, and the morning creeps by.
X X X X X X X X X X
The noon hour is even worse. Chuck's lunch break is usually the best part of my day at the O2, since he almost always spends it with me. It both worries and excites me that so much of my day revolves around him.
I call to check on him, but I get his voicemail. He needs rest more than he needs to talk on the phone anyway, and I figure that Ellie will have everything under control.
After lunch I amuse myself for a while by stapling gummi bears to the memo board and flinging a paring knife at them from ten paces, but there are only so many of the squishy little buggers you can decapitate before the game loses its charm. There are still two hours to go in my shift, and I'm bored to the point of working on some mission paperwork when my phone rings. Picking it up off of the counter, I'm pleasantly surprised to see a very pretty brunette smiling at me, and I can't help but smile back.
"Hi, Ellie. How's Chuck?"
I have no idea that I'm asking such a loaded question. Ellie's voice is crackling with anger.
"Well, Sarah, that depends on how much longer I'm left alone with him."
"Ellie, what does that mean?" Whatever it is, it can't be good.
"My brother has been a bit...difficult today. I'm sorry to call you, but I didn't know what else to do. Is there any way you can come over for a bit after work?"
"I suppose so, Ellie. Is something wrong? Has Chuck gotten worse?"
"Physically, no. It's just a bad cold, nothing scarier than that. But Chuck is not the most agreeable patient in the world, and I could use just a little break. You were here last night so you've already been exposed, and a short visit shouldn't do you any more harm. Please? You'd be doing me a huge favor." She's almost pleading.
"Okay, Ellie. I'll swing by as soon as I can get out of here."
I could feel her relief through the phone. "Thank you so much, Sarah. You've saved my life. And quite possibly my brother's."
X X X X X X X X X X
I'm not a very nurturing person by nature. It's possible that I possess the ability, but if I do, it's buried under quite a few layers of paternal indifference and CIA training, and it does not constitute part of my primary skill set. Now, if you need a double agent eliminated or some French assassins poisoned, then I'm your girl. But if you're sick, I'll probably tell you to take two of whatever makes you happy and don't call me again. I don't mean to sound callous; it's just that ten years as an agent hardens a person. When you've been trained to keep functioning despite having been stabbed or shot, it's hard to conjure up a lot of sympathy for someone with the sniffles.
Yet here I am at the door of Casa Bartowski, about to try my hand at playing nursemaid. Why is that? Because the person with the sniffles is Chuck, and it's my job to protect him. Granted, most CIA agents wouldn't consider a common rhinovirus worthy of direct intervention, but then I seem to be defining my role as Chuck's protector more and more broadly all the time.
Which is a problem. But even if I didn't find myself "protecting" Chuck as often as possible in order to spend time with him, I'd still be here today because Ellie called. She sounded frazzled and desperate, and I couldn't say no to her. I like her too much not to help her out.
Which is another problem. This little apartment is just chock full of problems for me, even without communicable diseases. I take a moment to banish these troubling thoughts and, fixing my "Sarah the sweet girlfriend" smile on my face, I knock on the door. Ellie answers after a few moments, and looking at her I can tell that things were worse than I'd imagined. There's a frayed look to the normally pretty brunette, and she seems as though she might benefit from prescribing herself a Paxil or two.
"Sarah!" Ellie sweeps me into a hug and nearly squeezes the life out of me. "Thank God you're here. I don't know how much more I could have handled without hurting someone. And by someone, I mean my ass of a brother."
Hoooo, boy. This is not awesome.
My smile can't have faltered for more than an instant, but Ellie catches the flicker. She grabs my wrist and literally yanks me inside, seemingly (and rightly) afraid that I'm considering making a break for it. She slams the door behind us, and as it closes I feel a sense of impending doom overtake me, because I have no idea what to do in this situation. I'd give anything right now to be trapped in this apartment with a dozen heavily armed Fulcrum agents instead of the Bartowskis. Fulcrum agents I can handle, but I have no idea what to do with Frazzled Ellie and Sick Chuck the Ass.
While I ponder my unfortunate circumstance, Ellie starts doing what Bartowskis do when they're out of sorts. She talks, and quickly. "I'm sorry to drag you over here, Sarah, but I didn't know what else to do. You see, Bartowskis have great constitutions, so Chuck doesn't get sick very often. But when he does, he has no idea how to handle it. He gets bored and frustrated and turns meaner than a starving grizzly bear, and there's only so much of his foul mood that I can take. Devon is much more patient with him, but he's pulling a double today, so I have Chuck all to myself and he's driving me up a tree." She says all of this in one breath.
I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the idea of Chuck acting like a jerk, so I ask for clarification.
"We're talking about your brother here, right? Tall, sorta gangly? Sweet guy with warm brown eyes and soft curly hair?"
Ellie catches the doubt in my voice, because her eyebrows shoot up, and she gives me a look that could set concrete on fire. "Oh, that's him. But tell me something, Sarah. Has Chuck ever been sick since you met him?"
Properly chastised, I apologize and admit that he hasn't. Ellie seems mollified, and I feel like I've just dodged a bullet. The brunette continues in a slightly softer tone.
"Trust me, he's like a completely different person. My normally sweet brother just disappears; it's like some Incredible Hulk kind of thing happens. I keep waiting for him to start busting up his room, bellowing 'CHUCK SMASH PUNY COLD!' I've been dealing with it all day, and I'm done. He's yours. Or if you don't want to deal with him either, we can just have him killed."
Yikes. Good thing Casey's at work instead of listening in. "I'll see what I can do, Ellie. After all, I wanted to check on him anyway. Maybe just seeing a different face will cheer him up some. I still can't believe he's that much of a pain, though."
Ellie actually snorted. "Well, he is. He and Devon both swear that I'm just as bad, but I can't see how that's possible." I have to force down a chuckle at that, because I know the stubborn brunette well enough by now to see exactly how that's possible. I don't know what Devon is doing at the moment, but I'm sure that somehow he just rolled his eyes in disbelief at Ellie's last statement.
I head towards Chuck's room, glad for the chance to see him but still wondering what good I can really do here. Ellie is a doctor, for heaven's sake, trained to deal with sick people, and Chuck has her at the end of her rope. And although the CIA taught me many and varied things at the Farm, Bedside Manner 101 hadn't been on the syllabus. They did teach me how to knock people out, though. Maybe that'll come in handy.
Just as I'm about to knock on Chuck's door, my musings are disrupted by a shockingly loud noise.
Startled, I look back at Chuck's sister, who's still standing at the opposite end of the hallway. "Ellie? There seems to be a dying moose in Chuck's room."
The doctor rolls her eyes. "I wish. A dying moose would probably be a better patient. And if not, I could just shoot him." Ellie spins on her heel and heads into the kitchen, making it very clear that she is washing her hands of her brother's care and leaving him to my tender mercies. I turn back to face the door to Chuck's room, mentally preparing myself for my encounter with the beast that waits on the other side.
Hopefully, he hasn't turned big and green.
X X X X X X X X X X
Chuck answers my knock in a rather surly tone. "Cobe id, Ellie. You've been id ad out of by roob all day; I don't dow why you're docking dow."
Wow. Cranky much?
"It's not Ellie, Chuck. It's Sarah. Can I come in?"
"Sarah? Well, yeah, you cad cobe id. If you wadt."
Okay, that might have been the least enthusiastic welcome I've ever gotten from Chuck. I guess he really does feel lousy. "Well, I did come over just to see you, so it's pretty much a wasted trip if I don't do exactly that." I push the door open and go in, and I can immediately see at least part of the reason why Ellie is freaking out.
Chuck's room is a complete disaster.
Serenity is playing in forty-two inch HD glory, but its only audience is the two half-eaten bowls of chicken noodle soup sitting on the TV stand. Comic books are strewn across the bed and falling onto the floor, where Spider Man, Wolverine, and at least half of the Justice League are slowly being suffocated by a pile of dirty tissues the size of Mount Kilimanjaro. For all I know, Morgan might be under there as well.
The nightstand is covered with Ellie's various attempts at a miracle cure. Formula 44D, Tylenol Cold and Flu, Vicks Vap-O-Rub, and yet another bowl of soup crowd its surface, vying for space with still more used tissues. In her desperation, it appears that Ellie has tried everything short of hitting her brother over the head with a brick.
Maybe she was saving that in case I hadn't been able to come over.
In the middle of the carnage sits Chuck. He's at his computer, mindlessly surfing the web, and he doesn't even spare me a glance as I walk up behind him. Still more dirty tissues cover the computer desk, and I can't help but wish that I owned stock in the Puffs Company right about now.
After a few moments Chuck finally decides to acknowledge my presence, and he spins in his chair to look at me.
"Why are you here, Sarah?"
That's all I get. No smile. No nervous babbling. No fidgeting. He's red-nosed and bleary-eyed and it's obvious that he feels miserable, but I'm still stung. I've learned to revel in the little things since they're all I'm allowed to have, and his near total lack of reaction to my presence hurts more than a little.
"Nice to see you too, Chuck. In answer to your question, I came over to see how you're feeling. That's what girlfriends do."
"Even the fake ones?"
Oh. So this is the guy Ellie told me about.
I feel like I've been punched in the gut. I know that our relationship status – or non-status – is a sore spot with Chuck, and I know how frustrated he is. And he really does try to be a good sport most of the time. Every once in a while he can't help mumbling a comment or two under his breath, but his frustration has to come out somehow, and those little asides are like the valve on a pressure cooker, letting off just enough steam to keep things from exploding. I get that, and even though each one of them hurts, I try to play them off as best I can. But this one?
This one was outright hostile, and completely unfair.
The silence is thick, and Chuck seems to realize that he's crossed the line. He looks slightly sheepish, but even so I get nothing more than a mumbled 'sorry' as he turns to reach for yet another tissue. Rationally, I know that this is still the same sweet, caring, completely wonderful Chuck that I...like, and that he's just in a bad mood because he feels like death warmed over. I decide to take the high road and let his nasty comment fade away unanswered.
Chuck looks disgustedly at the ex-tissue in his hand. "Jeez! I blow by dose, ad the secod I'b dode, I deed to blow it agaid! Whad the hell? It's like the liddle batceria id by head have tuddled through the walls of space and tibe idto some alterdate dibedsion of bucous, ad the hordes of sdot bodsters that live there are pouring through the rift and cobig straight oudda by dose!"
Two years of watching Chuck's favorite shows has affected my brain. I know this because I'm now picturing row upon row of tiny translucent green blobs, each with a tiny green helmet on its blobby little head and a tiny green rifle over its blobby little shoulder. They're jumping like Army Rangers into a gaping dimensional rift, where they open their little green parachutes to make a soft landing behind enemy lines in the Kleenex Mountains.
There's absolutely no way on Earth that I can stifle a laugh. Which is not good, because Chuck sees it. His scowl deepens, and his retort is none too quiet.
"Thaks for the sybathy, Sarah. Really, you did't have to bake a trip all the way over here just to laugh at be, dot whed Casey lives right dext door."
Well done, Agent Walker.
I'm here to cheer him up, thereby preventing his sister from murdering him, and all I've managed to do so far is piss him off even more. Ellie is probably wondering if it would be much more trouble to dispose of my body in addition to her brother's.
"I'm sorry, Chuck. Don't be mad at me. I just got this picture in my head of these little green monsters..."
Not working. Still scowling. I need to switch gears.
"You know what might help? A clean room. Let me clear away all of this stuff for you, and I bet you'll feel better. I know that I always feel better when everything is neat and tidy." I grab the unused trash can from the corner and reach for the dirty tissues, silently wishing for a HazMat suit. I can face torture in a Serbian dungeon, but mucous still icks me out. Go figure.
"There's no poidt id pickig ady of theb up, Sarah. They'll just grow back." As if to prove his point, he tosses the tissue he's just filled onto the pile that I'd started excavating. He completely ignores my stunned look as he reaches for yet another one.
I toss away the trash can and sigh in frustration, but Chuck can't hear me over his own diatribe.
"It's eighdy degrees outside, Sarah. Eighdy! How in the world can adyone get a cold whed it's eighdy degrees?" Chuck is in full out rant mode now, pacing and sniffling the entire time. "I bed id was a custober. How fuddy is that? A custober giving the copuder guy a virus!" Chuck stopped in mid-stride to unleash another Kleenex-shredding honk. He must have knocked something loose in his head, because the now destroyed tissue comes away from his face to reveal red eyes as wide as saucers. He looks like he just stumbled upon the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
"Oh, WAID a bidute! You know who id could be? I cad't believe I never thought of this, bud id bakes too buch sedse! It HAS to be!"
After my earlier giggling fit, I decide that it's safer to play along this time. "What makes too much sense, Chuck? What has to be?"
It takes a split second for the mispronunciation to register, and when it does, I'm once again struggling to contain my laughter. Laughing would not be good right now. Still, this idea is so crazy that I can't resist just a little shot.
"You mean Fulcrum? You think that Fulcrum has hatched an evil plot to give you a cold?"
Chuck looks at me as he might look at a slow child. "Dat's whad I said! Fulcrub! Dey've beed after be sidce Christbas, dey know where I work! Dey had to habe sdeaked idto the Buy Bore and codtabidated by workstatiod! The edtire Derd Herd could be sick! Where's by phode, I godda call Big Bike!" Chuck races around his room, apparently convinced that he can head off the epidemic sweeping the Buy More if only he can find his iPhone.
I should tell him that the iTunes Store doesn't have an app for plague fighting, but somehow I can't find the right words. That might be because of the giggling.
I'd started again. Couldn't help it. Chuck was not happy.
"I cad't believe you're laughig at this! You're supposed to protect be!"
Now I'm almost doubled over, and the sheer outrage on his face is making it even funnier. "I'm...I'm *hoo, hee hee* I'm sorry, Chuck. I just *hah* I don't have the right *hee* equipment for this *heh* mission! I brought my Colt *hah*, but I should be packing Day-Quil!"
I collapse onto the bed, clutching my sides and gasping for air. Chuck rushes over and snatches comic books out from under me, saving Iron Man from the hideous fate that befell his friends under the Kleenex. His entire face is now red, and I have never seen him this mad. But there's something more, something in his eyes, and I stop laughing as suddenly as if I'd been slapped.
He looks forlornly at Iron Man, and drops him onto the floor to join his fallen comrades. Without even glancing my way, he crosses the room and collapses into his chair.
My coming here has been like throwing gasoline on a fire. I have to fix this, but I don't know how, and I feel like screaming at myself.
My self-pity only lasts for a moment, though. I am a CIA agent, and we do not fail. When things don't go according to plan, we improvise. We are trained to think on our feet and adapt to any circumstance. We're the best in the world, and I'm the best of the best.
I suddenly know exactly what I have to do.
It's not a pretty solution. Agents are taught that they are valuable resources, and that the best plans are usually the ones that involve as little risk as possible. But sometimes, it just can't be helped. Sometimes, you have to put yourself at risk to get the job done. We try to stay safe, but at at the end of the day, the mission must come before personal safety.
And my mission is Chuck.
So for the sake of my mission, I step into the line of fire.
I cross the room, pull him from his chair, and turn him towards me. And then I kiss him.
Nasty cold notwithstanding, I cup his face in my hands and kiss him square on the lips. He's motionless for a moment, too stunned to react, and it's like I'm kissing a statue. But then something clicks and he's moving, his arms winding around my waist and pulling me closer, crushing me to him. My hands find their way into his hair and I deepen the kiss, and I don't let up until his mouth pulls away from mine, gasping for air.
He pulls back just far enough to look into my eyes, searching them for reasons. I think he's about to ask me why when he suddenly melts into me, head lowered onto my shoulder, the momentary burst of adrenaline fading fast. I pull him closer to me, and I can feel his entire body relax.
"I feel really horrible."
He mumbles this into my shoulder, his voice so small and pitiful that I almost kiss him again. "I know, Chuck. That's why I'm here."
"I'b sorry I was beig such a jerk. I just really, really hate beig sick."
"I know that too, Chuck. I've never known anyone who was less of a jerk than you. I can forgive you this one time."
After a long minute he finally pulls away, asking me the question I want to avoid. This is yet more proof that he feels rotten, because a full-strength Chuck would have asked instantly.
"Why did you do that?"
I do what I do best; I deflect. "Well, you were getting a little crazy, so it was either kiss you or shoot you. But since Ellie's right down the hall and I don't have my silencer..."
Chuck rolled his eyes. "Oh, ha ha ha ha. Very fuddy."
"I thought so. Guess it depends on your perspective."
"Doesd't everythig? Seriously, though, why did you kiss be?"
I can't answer him, because the truth is that I just couldn't think of anything else to do. Not that kissing him is a bad thing in general , but in this instance I was desperate and frustrated. But saying that would hurt Chuck, and after our little meltdown a moment ago, that's the last thing I want to do. And when I realize that, I know that I have an honest answer for him.
"Because I want you to feel better. And maybe that kiss will help."
He lets that sink in for a moment, then gives me a small, shy little smile. "Yeah, I guess it will. That's a really good reasod. Bedder thad the reasod that I cabe up with, adyway."
"Oh, really? What was your reason?"
"I thought it was because you could't thik of ady other way to get be to shuddup."
Damn, he knows me frighteningly well. I look down, but I'm smiling as I do. "Well, maybe that was in there somewhere, too. What can I say? My nursing skills leave something to be desired."
"You would't say that if you dew how buch bedder I feel after that kiss. I recobbend that techdique very highly."
He smiles at me, a real full-tilt Chuck smile, and I can feel myself blush right down to my shoes. This used to set warning bells to ringing in my head, yet another sign that I've become too attached, but it doesn't bother me so much any more. It makes me feel like I'm just a girl who has a great guy, and I like that feeling. I'm not really comfortable with it yet, but I'm trying to get there. Maybe once it sinks in, I'll finally find the nerve to tell Chuck all about it. Or better yet, show him.
Chuck's breathing has gotten quieter. The manic energy is gone and he's different now, deflated, like the drooping balloons from a week-ago party. He blows his nose yet again, but this time he actually tosses the used tissue into the trash can before looking back at me with very red, very tired eyes. I can see that he's finally crashing.
"Well, I should go. You need to get some sleep."
"Yeah, probably. If dothing else, a dap will keep be safe. I doubt Ellie would kill be whed I'b sleepig."
"You know you need to apologize to her too, right?"
Chuck takes my hands again. He looks innocent and yet guilty at the same time, like a six year old who's just broken his mother's favorite vase. "I dow. I was preddy rodden to her today. I'll bake it up to her."
I look down at our hands, fingers still laced together. I know that I have to let go in order to leave the room, but I can't quite seem to make myself do it. Chuck follows my gaze and, realizing that he hasn't let go, he pulls his hands from mine as if burned. The awkwardness has somehow crept back in, and Chuck gives me a crooked smile as he shoves his hands in his pockets.
As I turn to leave, I take a last look back. Chuck seems like he's about to ask me something, but he catches my glance and quickly looks away instead, his face troubled. I know what he wants, and I know what my answer will be if he asks, but it's better this way. He really does need his rest, and I really do need some separation.
I almost make it to the door before he finally summons the nerve to ask. His voice is so timid and small that I might have missed it, had I not been listening for it so intently.
"Sarah? Stay with be?"
There's no hesitation in my answer, but I do have conditions. "Okay, Chuck. I'll stay. But you really do need some rest."
"I dow. Sobehow, I thik I'll rest bedder if you're here with be."
X X X X X X X X X X
The front door of Casa Bartowski opened, and Devon somehow managed to drag himself through it. His double shift had been an absolute killer, filled with procedures, complications, emergencies, and general pandemonium, and it had worn his usual awesomeness down to a 'pretty decent'. He badly needed a quick shower, a bite to eat, and a whole bunch of Ellie. He focused on that last bit for a moment, willing the awesomeness to return.
Until he remembered that he was coming home to yet another patient. Not awesome. Not awesome at all.
There was the possibility that Ellie had murdered her brother by now, but that thought only provided a fleeting moment of evil glee. He doubted that hiding Chuck's body would be any more fun than dealing with his cold. Figuring that there wasn't much point in putting off either one, he headed toward the sounds coming from the kitchen.
Ellie was on tiptoes, reaching to put a bowl away, and Devon slid his arms around her from behind. The brunette practically purred when Devon nibbled her earlobe and whispered, "Hi, babe." She turned in Devon's arms, wound her arms around his neck, and drew him in for a leisurely kiss. Devon was out of breath and slightly stunned when they finally parted.
"Wow, babe. I'd work double shifts more often if it meant I could come home to that. Gotta say, though, I didn't expect to find you in this good of a mood." He looked around suspiciously. "Is Chuck okay?"
Ellie's smile grew even wider. "You know what, Devon? I have absolutely no idea."
Devon's raised eyebrows indicated that an explanation was required, so Ellie provided one.
"Most of the day was pretty bad. I tried everything I could think of and Chuck still felt awful, and he got more and more hateful. Eventually, I got to a point where I'd rather walk into a pit of rabid wolves with pork chops strapped to my legs than go into his room again, so that's when I called for reinforcements."
Devon was not happy. "Babe, did you rope Sarah into coming over?"
"Well, she is his girlfriend! Besides, she's already been exposed. Bad things were going to happen if I hadn't gotten a break, and you might have noticed that I'm already pretty thin on family."
"I guess we should go check on them, huh?" Devon sighed heavily, shoulders sagging. Ellie finally seemed to realize how tired her fiancé was, and she pulled him back in for another hug.
"Okay, we'll peek in. Sarah's been here for a couple of hours now, and other than the first ten minutes or so, it's been quiet. I've been content to let sleeping Chucks lie."
"That, or you didn't want to clean up after a grisly murder/suicide." Ellie punched Devon in the arm, but she smiled just a little. He grabbed her hand, lacing his fingers through hers, and pulled her down the hall towards Chuck's room.
Just as Devon's hand reached for the doorknob, another big sneeze split the air. This one, however, was different than the ones Ellie had been hearing all day. It was more...ladylike. Ellie and Devon instantly shot each other a knowing look.
"Well, babe, it looks like we're gonna have two patients tomorrow instead of one."
Ellie looked chagrined. "It's no surprise. They were snuggled together pretty closely on the couch last night." Ellie took a deep breath, as if to steady herself for the trials to come. "Let's go see what's up."
Devon opened the door for her, but Ellie only made it two steps into the room before coming to a complete stop. She was staring at the bed. Devon followed her eyes, and when he saw what she saw, the ill effects of his long day vanished.
Chuck and Sarah were asleep.
Chuck still had a tissue in his hand, but the arm attached to that hand was wrapped around Sarah. They were snuggled more closely together than two spoons in a drawer. Chuck's face was buried in Sarah's hair, but even so he seemed to be breathing more easily, and on Sarah's face was the smile of an angel, perfectly content.
Ellie's joy was so intense that Devon could almost feel her vibrate. He tugged gently at her elbow, trying to pull her out of the room before the delighted squeal building inside of her could spill over the dam. Reluctantly she tore her eyes away from her sleeping brother, and she gave Devon a small kiss and a blinding smile as she left the room. She practically floated down the hall towards the kitchen, saying something about making chicken soup for two. Grinning after her, Devon started to pull the door closed, but his hand froze on the knob as he looked again at Chuck and Sarah.
He's such a good guy, Devon thought. He's taken so many hits, and he needs something like this. Sarah is beautiful and smart and completely in love with him, and he deserves every single bit of her. Devon didn't know why they fought so hard against their feelings, because if they could see what he saw as he looked down at them, they'd give in. Oh, well, he thought. Sooner or later, they'll figure it out.
Devon heard Ellie whistling happily in the kitchen, and he smiled. Pulling the door closed, he took one last look towards the bed, and when he saw Chuck's arm pull Sarah even closer, he felt like whistling a happy little tune himself.
Yep. It's just a matter of time.
He headed down the hall towards the kitchen and Ellie, and he felt his heart grow lighter with every step.
True love just can't be denied.
X X X X X X X X X X
So there you go. I did warn you that I have an OTC drug-addled brain, right?
"The Farm" is the nickname for the CIA's uber-secret agent training facility. I believe it's in rural Virginia, but I won't test that theory for fear of getting shot.
Those of you who have read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series will already know that the Ultimate Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything is 42. Tragically, Douglas Adams passed away before he could let us in on the question. I miss him a lot.
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