Chuck vs Taking One For the Team
This is not new content. My custom was to separate my scenes with a line of broken dashes. The site decided to retroactively delete any line that starts with a dash. That made 100 of my chapters instantly unreadable. To fix them all would be a huge effort. So I decided to add a chapter at the end of each story that was the whole story.
It's funny. Of all my stories, this is probably my personal favorite. But it is among my least popular in terms of hits and reviews. Shows what I know.
This is a sequel to Chuck vs The Negotiation. In the interest of fair warning, this story is going to be a little darker and steamier than my norm (if I have a norm, lol). There is some stuff that might even get close to the T line. This might be good news to the shippers… except a fair amount of the steaminess is not going to be between Chuck and Sarah. But don't worry; it also contains the most icky sweet Charah chapter I have ever written.
I can't ever say thank you enough to my wonderful support team. Happydayz was the main force in the beginning of the story. But Poa joined the team just in time for the steaminess. And, as always, what would I do without Brickroad?
Chapter 1: Columbia
Chuck and Sarah were in their hotel room looking for an excuse to stay in bed. After the extreme tension of the past week, it felt great just to be able to relax and hold each other. So they took full advantage. They took so much advantage that before they knew it, it was almost noon. So they reluctantly decided to get up. After all, they were scheduled to leave for Vegas to get legally married in a few hours. They had just gotten dressed after sleeping in.
"I forgot to tell you," Chuck said as he sat on the sofa next to Sarah. "Janice was really down on the plane ride over here. She felt like she let us down."
"I know," Sarah said with a sigh. "She really is a good agent. She just lost her confidence in Columbia and could never get it back. I'll talk to her."
"Janice told me to get you to tell me the story about you and her in Columbia," Chuck said. "I know that she was your first partner. What happened anyway?"
"I don't know, sweetie," Sarah said hesitantly. "I'm not sure that telling you that story is really a good idea."
"Why not?" Chuck said in surprise with the hurt obvious in his voice. "We're going to get married in a few hours. You still don't trust me with your secrets?"
"Come on Chuck," Sarah said a little more harshly than she really intended as she grabbed Chuck's hand. "You know that's not the reason. And I've been married for almost three months now. I'm not sure about you. We're not getting married today. We're just making it legal."
"Umm, Sarah," Chuck said meekly. "You're kind of hurting my hand."
"I know," Sarah said flatly. "That was just mean. Why would you say something like that to me?"
"I'll tell you what," Chuck said with a look on his face that was half smile and half grimace. "If you'll let go of my hand, I'll tell you how sorry I am."
"How about this," Sarah said with mock sweetness as she turned to look at him. "You tell me how sorry you are and then I'll let go of your hand."
"Ok," Chuck said with the pain obvious in his voice. "Let's do it together."
Sarah didn't respond but the slight nod and smile told Chuck to continue.
"On the count of three."
"1 – 2 – 3"
"I'm sorry," Chuck said as he rubbed his hand.
"That's what you call an apology?" Sarah said with a fake pout. "It was pretty weak."
"I was just trying to get you to let go of my hand," Chuck said with his classic grin. "I wasn't really going for make up sex."
"Well," replied Sarah in a huff. "That's good, because you're no where near that."
"If I tell you how much I love you will you tell me the story?" Chuck asked as he flashed his puppy dog look.
"No," said Sarah with a laugh. "But it would go a long ways toward make up sex."
"Why won't you tell me the story?" Chuck finally said after a long pause with a frustrated edge to his voice.
Sarah just looked at Chuck sadly for a long moment. "Because I don't think you can handle it," she finally said.
"Just how many Columbians did you sleep with?" Chuck asked in mock seriousness.
From the look that came over Sarah's face, Chuck immediately knew that he had gone too far.
"I'm so sorry," Chuck said quickly as he put his arm around Sarah. "You know that I didn't mean that the way it sounded."
"I know," Sarah finally whispered after a long moment as she buried her face in Chuck's shoulder.
"Sarah," Chuck whispered. "I'm really sorry,"
Sarah didn't respond for a long moment. In fact, it was so long that Chuck was beginning to think that she had fallen asleep.
"It's the part of the job that I always hated," Sarah finally said so softly that Chuck could barely hear her as she left her face buried in Chuck's shoulder. "And it hardly ever happened. I always did every thing I could to avoid it. I swear I did."
Chuck just softly rubbed her arm.
"But some times there is just no other way," Sarah continued slowly. "These guys are evil beyond belief. It was my duty to stop them however I could."
"Sarah," Chuck said. "It's ok. You don't have to tell me."
"I never thought that I would ever be in this situation," Sarah said as she lifted her head to look at Chuck. "I know that it's silly but I'm so afraid."
"Why are you afraid?" Chuck asked in surprise.
"I never thought I could ever love anybody this much," Sarah whispered. "I don't want to keep any secrets from you. So I want to tell you everything. But I couldn't stand it if you stopped loving me because of what I've done."
"That's never going to happen," Chuck said flatly. "Never."
"But," Sarah said softly. "Are you sure?"
Remembering Sarah's response to that same exact question yesterday, Chuck pressed his lips to Sarah's. At first her eyes widened in surprise but she quickly responded. However the kiss didn't last for very long at all before they both starting laughing.
"Very funny," Sarah said as she playfully slapped Chuck on the chest. "Ok, point well taken. But are you sure that you want to hear this?"
"I'll tell you what," Chuck said playfully. "Why don't you sit on my lap and put your head on my shoulder? I can't imagine feeling bad when you're whispering in my ear. But if I do, I'll just kiss you."
"Ok," Sarah said with a coy smile as she shifted to sit on Chuck's lap. "And if you start to feel really bad, we'll take a break. Just let me know."
Chuck didn't say anything but his smile told Sarah to continue.
"Well," Sarah began. "Janice and I had just graduated from the academy about six months previously. We had a few smaller assignments but nothing major. Then one day the director called us into his office. He told us about two brothers, Juan and Raul Lopez. They were big time drug runners. Normally the CIA wouldn't be that interested in foreign drug kingpins but these two were funneling the profits to anti government gorillas. The director told us that it was very unusual to send such rookie agents on such an important mission but that he had faith in us. Our assignment was to get close to the brothers using any means necessary, find out how they were funding the rebels, and kill them. After they were dead, we would have to escape any way we could. There was a safe house in Bogotá. Our job was to get there after the mission. So the next thing I knew, we were on a plane on the way to Columbia."
"So," Chuck asked. "Which one did you get? Juan or Raul?"
"Both," Sarah said with a smile. "But not in the way you're thinking. Chuck, Columbian drug lords don't go walking around in public. There are way too many people trying to kill them. We had to work our way up."
"I understand," Chuck sighed.
"Care to tell me," Sarah asked with a grin as she picked her head off Chuck's shoulder to look at him. "Why you already have your hand in my shirt? I just started the story."
"Well," Chuck said sheepishly. "You were flying to Columbia. You know how I hate to fly."
"I can see that this story is going to take a long time to tell," Sarah said with a laugh as she leaned in to kiss Chuck gently.
"Take your time," Chuck said with a sigh as he returned her kiss. "I'm actually good."
Sarah sat in her hotel room trying to cool off. One thing that she hadn't anticipated was the change in climate from Washington to Bogotá. The temperature was in the nineties as was the humidity. It made picking your wardrobe fairly challenging. If you wore anything tight fitting, you were in an impromptu wet t-shirt contest no matter if you wanted to be or not.
Sarah and Janice had decided to separate and work different angles. That way, if one got in trouble, the other wouldn't be implicated. So they stayed at different hotels and had totally different cover stories. Janice's cover was that as a buyer for a coffee company. Sarah was posing as an insurance auditor. The plan was to wander into the same club that evening and try to get close to someone from the inner circle.
One thing was for sure, anybody with enough money to be in that club either worked for the coffee company or the cocaine cartel. And since they had memorized all of the inner circle drug men, anybody they didn't recognize must be a coffee worker.
As soon as Sarah walked into the club she instantly realized two things. First, it was obvious who the drug and coffee people were. They split the room in half, rarely even looking over to the other side. And second, that every eye in the place, on both sides, was on her as she walked to the bar. Sarah walked over to the coffee side of the bar and picked an empty seat, intending to order a drink. While she was waiting to order she glanced over the room. That's when she recognized him. Jose Morales. Jose was in charge of security for the cartel compound. Jackpot. And he was staring directly at her.
Knowing that she couldn't make it seem to easy, she flashed Jose a soft smile and turned back to the bar. She knew that it would only be a matter of time before Jose would come over to the coffee side for her. She just needed to give him a reason. And that reason came very quickly in the form of a man; she thought his name was Robert, offering to buy her a drink.
"So," Chuck said sadly. "Did you sleep with Jose or Robert?"
"Are you going to let me tell this story or not?" Sarah said with a laugh. "I didn't sleep with either of them. What kind of girl would sleep with someone in a strange city that they just picked up that night? They would suspect something was wrong right away. Did I sleep with you on the first night?"
"Sarah," Chuck said with his own grin. "You didn't sleep with me in the first year. Maybe I should have been a drug runner."
"Maybe," Sarah said softly. "You may have had to wait longer. No question about that. But you have one big advantage over Jose."
"What's that?" asked Chuck. "Besides the obvious thing of being married to the most beautiful girl in the world."
"You're still alive."
Chapter 2: The Elder
Fred Jones stood in the front of the large conference room filled with agents, all in dark business suits. It wasn't that often that a Fulcrum Elder took this sort of personal charge of an operation. But this was far from a normal operation. He was becoming desperate. Fulcrum had lost far too many men and resources trying to track down the Intersect. And it was becoming painfully clear that the Buy More was a key factor in some way. It was rather obvious that the store was a CIA front. They had already identified long ago that the CIA's top agent, Sarah Walker, was keeping her eye on the store from across the courtyard. And from the number of agents they had already lost there, Jones knew that an assault on the store itself was futile.
Jones had all but given up hope on ever finding out what was going on there. But then fate stepped in. An agent that had just transferred to the Denver office had recognized Sarah Walker's picture in a story in the Denver newspaper. It was clearly a CIA plant trying to catch a rogue agent. It was a page directly out of the CIA playbook. And by itself wouldn't have generated much interest. Except for the pictures that were next to her. Chuck Bartowski was a Buy More employee. And his sister, Ellie Bartowski was an ER doctor. Or were they?
And now the main question was… why were they looking so hard for Sarah Walker? Could she really have possibly gone rogue? If so, she would be an ideal recruit. Having Sarah Walker on his team made Fred Jones buzz with excitement on several levels. Not only would she be automatically the top Fulcrum agent he had, there was an additional consideration. She was stunning. And that was an area where Fulcrum could really use help. Being a male dominated organization really had its drawbacks. Seduction wasn't currently a weapon in his holster. Especially since they lost Lizzie last year. And there were many, many times when that would have come in handy. But Sarah Walker would change all that. It would immediately go from a weakness to a strength.
So, all in all, Fred Jones was very anxious to have a chat with Sarah Walker. Perhaps she knew something about the Intersect. And maybe, just maybe, she could be talked into going rogue again.
Hopefully, Chuck and Ellie Bartowski would be just the ticket to arrange for that little talk with Agent Walker.
Back in the hotel room, Sarah was trying to continue the story.
"So where was Janice?" Chuck asked with a grin. "While you were playing hard to get with Jose?"
"Janice was in the club." Sarah said quickly. "I saw her the instant I got there. She took the opposite approach. Where I was playing slow and easy, she was playing fast and easy, emphasis on easy. She was sitting at a table with some drug cartel guys and their dates."
"It sounds like she made faster progress than you did," Chuck said. "I thought you two were competitive."
"We are competitive," Sarah said with a sparkle in her eye. "Janice was faster. No question. She got into the compound that night. But it also got her in a lot of trouble."
"Trouble," Chuck whispered. "How much trouble?"
"Lots," Sarah said softly. "But sweetie, you're getting ahead of the story. Jose finally worked up enough courage to come over to the coffee side of the room and ask me to dance. And you know how much I love to dance."
"Wow, Sarah," Jose said as the music mercifully ended, shouting to be heard over the roar of the club. "Do you think we could take a break?"
Sarah didn't even try to be heard. She simply smiled and nodded. Jose put his hand on the small of Sarah's back and guided her to their table. Sarah noted with amusement that Jose's hand got lower and lower each time. He was obviously trying to see what her boundaries would be.
"So, Sarah," Jose said as soon as they got back to the relative quiet of their table. "Are you having a good time?"
"I really am," Sarah said as she flashed her famous smile. "It's a shame that I have to get going. I have an early appointment tomorrow."
"That's too bad," Jose said in a disappointed voice. "At least let me walk you back to your hotel."
"That would be sweet," Sarah said as she stood up to leave.
Neither said much on the short walk back to Sarah's hotel. The evening had just begun to cool off from the hot day and the soft breeze felt wonderful after the stuffiness of the club.
"Do you think I could come up?" Jose asked expectantly as they arrived in the lobby of the hotel.
"That would be great," Sarah said softly. "Too bad my roommate is up there. She is probably already sleeping. She gets really grumpy when she doesn't get ten hours of sleep."
"Okay," Jose said disappointedly. "But I have to see you again. Can I take you to dinner tomorrow?"
"I'd like that," Sarah said with her classic smile. "I'm pretty sure my roommate is leaving tomorrow. She is going back to Miami. So I'll be free for the whole night."
Sarah was very careful not to make the first move but made sure that her stance invited Jose to kiss her. So it was absolutely no surprise when he stepped up and placed his lips against hers. Sarah put her hand behind Jose's head and when she felt his tongue she opened her mouth just a little to give him access. Sarah didn't let the kiss go very long at all before she pulled away.
"I'll pick you up here at 6:00," Jose said as he turned to leave.
"If I ask you a question," Chuck asked sadly. "Do you promise not to be offended?"
"Okay," Sarah said with a perky grin.
"Did you enjoy it?" Chuck asked. "I mean, I'm seriously trying not to be jealous. But I'm just curious. How could you kiss someone like that and not enjoy it on some level?"
"Well, I didn't," Sarah said quickly. "It was actually kind of gross. But really, I wasn't even thinking about it in that way. I was measuring his response. I had to know exactly how long to let it go to drive him crazy wanting more. But not enough to encourage him to get aggressive. I was aware of every detail in that room. Where the other people were, where the closest exit was, and what was lying around handy to use as a weapon if it was needed. In my mind I was planning contingencies for anything that he could come up with. I was working. He may have thought that I was kissing him. But I really wasn't. I was controlling him."
All Chuck could do was sigh. "Do you ever control me?"
"Sweetie," Sarah continued. "Please listen to me very carefully. I hope you know that when I kiss you, I sometimes forget where I even am. My mind goes totally blank. All I can think about is wanting to get closer to you. And it may look similar to what I did with Jose from the outside, but trust me Chuck; I've never shared with anyone in my whole life what I've shared with you. It's like a drug. And I'll admit, I'm hooked. I'm in love with you, Chuck. I don't control you. If anything, you control me."
"Thanks," Chuck whispered. "That is important to me. But I assume that you slept with Jose that next night. You basically invited him to your hotel room. You told him that it would be available. That you would be available."
"Not so fast," Sarah said with a sly smile. "Do me a big favor. Listen to the whole story before you jump to any conclusions. Will you do that for me? I think you'll feel a lot better about it. But having said that, you are right about one thing."
"Jose assumed it too."
Fred Jones addressed his second in command in the conference room.
"How many agents do we have available for this mission?" Jones asked.
"Fifteen, sir," the man replied quickly.
"Not nearly enough," Jones said tersely. "I want five men each at the Buy More, The Orange Orange, the hospital where Dr. Bartowski works, and the Bartowski residence. Let's see if we can include five men from the street gang. They are always anxious to help with any violence."
"Yes, sir," the man said.
"Nobody is to enter the Buy More," Jones said. "That would be suicide. We'll just keep it under surveillance. If we can capture Walker alone in the Orange Orange, you can proceed with that. But don't take any chances. That compound is obviously well protected. We have a much better chance grabbing one of the Bartowskis at the hospital or at the residence. I'm hoping that once we have them, Agent Walker will see the wisdom of accepting our invitation to come to talk us on her own."
"Yes, sir," replied the man.
"Remember. I want Walker and the Bartowskis alive," Jones said with emphasis as he opened the door to leave. "Anybody else is expendable. Take them to the gang headquarters. I'm afraid to take them to any Fulcrum facility because I'm not sure they haven't been compromised. I want this to happen, Smith. I won't accept any excuses."
"Yes, sir. Consider it done."
One thing was for sure. Jose was sparing no expense in trying to impress Sarah. Where last night had been at a loud boisterous club, tonight he was obviously going for something a little more romantic.
From the moment that he picked her up at the hotel, the fresh strawberries and chilled champagne in the stretch limo told her that he was putting on the full court press. Dinner was at the finest restaurant that Bogotá could offer. After a candlelight meal of cracked crab and the finest champagne, Jose took her to a club playing soft music. As the night progressed, Sarah could feel Jose's hands becoming bolder with each song. Sarah could sense in his smug smile the growing confidence that he knew with absolute certainty how the night was going to end. It wasn't very long at all before Jose suggested that they return to Sarah's room for a nightcap. It was a suggestion that Sarah quickly agreed with.
As soon as they were in Sarah's hotel room, even before the door had fully closed, Jose grabbed her and began to kiss her passionately. Much like last night, Sarah put her hand behind Jose's head and opened her mouth to him. However, unlike last night, Jose's hands were running wild. In almost no time, Sarah could feel Jose reach under the back of her shirt. She quickly felt her bra loosen as he unfastened the clasp. She could see the desire in his eyes and feel it in his breath. Just as he was about to lift her shirt over her head, Sarah grabbed his hand.
"Before we get too far," she whispered lustfully in his ear. "Do you have a condom?"
"Of course," Jose whispered back with a confident smile as he stepped out of the embrace.
"So," said Chuck sadly. "You slept with him?"
"Of course not," Sarah said with a laugh.
"But I'm confused," Chuck said slowly. "How did you get out of it at that point?"
"I lifted his wallet at the restaurant," Sarah replied with a sly grin. "I took out his condoms in the ladies room and I threw them away. Then I replaced his wallet. He didn't have a clue."
"Very resourceful," Chuck said as a smile broke out on his face.
"He had like ten," Sarah said as she broke out laughing. "I'm thinking he had a long night planned."
"Wow," Chuck said as he joined Sarah's laugh. "I almost feel sorry for him. Was he upset?"
"I would call it more like depressed," Sarah said while still laughing. "He didn't like it. He even begged a little. But there wasn't anything he could do, except exactly what I wanted. I was very clear. He could either leave quietly or give up hope for tomorrow. And that's exactly what he did. He made a date for the next night and ran home for a cold shower. I was always in total control of that situation. Always."
"Poor guy," Chuck said sarcastically.
"This story is really turning you on," Sarah said with a grin. "Isn't it?"
"What do you mean?" Chuck asked as the flush started to creep up his neck and into his face. "I'm not turned on."
"Come on, sweetie," Sarah whispered. "Do you really think I can't tell? It's okay. There's nothing to be embarrassed about."
"This isn't because I'm hearing about you with another man," Chuck said in an embarrassed whisper after a long pause. "I want to make sure that you understand that. I'm really trying so hard not to be jealous. But I just can't help it. I feel terrible about that. I'm so sorry. I understand what you were doing. And please don't feel badly. But you'll never know how hard it is for me to listen to you being with another man. That part sucks."
"I know, sweetie," Sarah said in a soft soothing voice. "Don't worry. I totally understand. You're not excited because of hearing about me with another man. You're excited in spite of it. I think that it's sweet."
"Well," Chuck said with a grin. "Standing on second base for the last hour hasn't hurt either."
With that Sarah put her arms around his neck and pressed her lips to his. Quickly the kiss turned passionate.
"I don't think I'm the only one," Chuck said as soon as he could come up for air.
"Guilty," Sarah breathed. "You being turned on turns me on."
"Well then, I hope that you're prepared to be turned on," Chuck whispered. "A lot."
"I am," Sarah said while softly biting Chuck's earlobe. "Bring it as often as you want. It's been fantastic."
"Ok," Chuck said with his sly smile as he reached for the hem of Sarah's shirt and began to lift it. "Now that we've established our mood, what do you think we should do about it?"
"Maybe it's time for a break from the story for a few minutes," Sarah whispered as she lifted her arms to allow Chuck to take off the shirt. "Do you have a condom?"
"You know I'm just teasing," Sarah quickly said in response to Chuck's look of horror as she pressed her lips to Chuck's again.
"It's going to be hard for me to ever hide my feelings from you," Chuck whispered between kisses. "Isn't it?"
"It's not going to be hard," Sarah whispered back as she kissed his neck. "It's going to be impossible. I'm a trained expert in how to know when men are aroused. But I didn't even need any training today…"
"I'm sitting on your lap."
Chapter 3: The Fall of a Spy
Chuck and Sarah had just finished their 'break' and were cuddled on the couch trying to catch their breath.
"Remind me to tell you erotic stories more often," Sarah purred as she rested her head on Chuck's shoulder.
"Especially when they have a happy…" Chuck said as his voice suddenly trailed off.
Sarah could tell by the tenseness in Chuck's neck that he was thinking of something. When she lifted her head to look into his eyes, she could confirm that they were narrowed in thought.
"Sweetie, what's wrong?" Sarah said.
"Oh, Sarah," Chuck said slowly. "You didn't. Please tell me that you didn't."
"Didn't what?" Sarah questioned with a confused smile.
The hurt look that Chuck gave Sarah in response caused her to have a feeling very close to panic. She quickly racked her brain trying to figure out what he could possibly mean.
"Sarah," Chuck whispered with his puppy dog eyes. "Did you take the condom out of my wallet that morning at the motel?"
Sarah let out the breath that she had been unconsciously holding as relief flooded over her.
"Sweetie," she said as she again buried her face in Chuck's neck. "I would never play games like that with you. I hope you know that."
Sarah could feel the tenseness leave Chuck's body as he sighed in relief.
"Trust me," Sarah said with the smile evident in her voice. "I wanted it to happen that morning way more than you did."
"I really don't see how that's possible," Chuck said with his own smile.
"Oh," Sarah replied quickly. "It's possible. It's very possible. I really wanted to kill Morgan for a long time. Why do you think I have been avoiding being around him?"
"I just thought that avoiding Morgan was your standard policy," Chuck said, now openly grinning. "Sort of a statement of good taste."
But just as quickly Sarah turned serious.
"But now that I think about it," Sarah said. "Morgan really did us a favor."
"Care to explain that to me," Chuck replied, confused by her sudden change of mood. "I thought that you wanted it?"
Sarah paused in thought for so long that Chuck was beginning to think that she wasn't going to respond.
"You'll never know," Sarah finally whispered. "How many times over the past year that I've had to stop myself. And how many times I had to tell myself that I owed it to you to stay professional. If I had started sleeping with you, I never could have kept you safe."
"But wait," Chuck gently protested. "You're sleeping with me now. And I seem to be pretty safe."
"But that's only because you promised me," Sarah said as she pulled back to look into Chuck's eyes. "If I had started sleeping with you then, you never would have made that promise."
"Promise?" Chuck questioned in obvious confusion.
Chuck could immediately tell by the alarm in Sarah's eyes that she was troubled.
"Chuck," Sarah said a little more harshly than she really intended. "You promised me that you would make the safety of the Intersect your top priority. Don't you remember? That's why I agreed to let us go forward. I still expect you to keep that promise."
"But," Chuck said. "We're married. We're going to have a baby."
"Sure," Sarah said. "But Fulcrum would still do anything to capture you. You're still in danger, Chuck. And it's still my primary function to protect you. I've allowed us to act on our feelings because you convinced me that you would help me protect you. I need to know that's still true."
"Or?" asked Chuck.
"We'd have to go back to being handler and asset," Sarah said with a sigh.
"You're kidding," Chuck whispered. The disbelief was evident in his voice. "I thought you were in love with me? We're married."
Now Chuck could plainly see the anger in Sarah's face.
"Don't you ever," Sarah said sharply as she poked her finger sharply into Chuck's chest. "Don't ever question my love for you again."
But when Sarah saw the hurt look on Chuck's face, her anger dissipated as quickly as it came.
"I'm really sorry, sweetie," Sarah whispered quickly as she rubbed the spot on Chuck's chest that she had just poked. "I overreacted. But please tell me that you understand. We have to be way, way past the part where you question how I feel about you. I'm going to be in love with you until I take my last breath. I hope that you know that you and I are going to be married for the rest of our lives. I need you, Chuck. I need to be sitting here on your lap fifty years from now. So I'm going to be willing to do anything it takes to make sure that happens. I'll kill anyone who tries to hurt you. I'll lie, cheat, seduce, or do anything else I have to in order to protect you. Even if that means treating you like an asset for a few weeks. Do you understand?"
"I understand," Chuck said quickly. "I'm sorry that it came out like that. But please don't go back to acting like my handler. That would be horrible. It would hurt too much. I would miss this too much."
"Not half as much as it would hurt me," Sarah said. "You realize that you are in total control of that? If you keep your promise, it will never happen."
"Can we talk about something happier," Chuck asked with a sigh.
"Right," Sarah said as her face broke into a soft smile. "We'd better get back to the story."
"Sure," Chuck said with a sarcastic grin. "I almost forgot. The story of you sleeping with Jose? I'm not sure that is all that much happier."
"You're totally sure that I slept with Jose," Sarah said with a laugh. "Aren't you?"
"I'm not saying," Sarah said with a sly smile. "You're going to have to wait until you hear the whole story. Chuck, The deal with Jose isn't even the important part of this story. The important part is what happened to Janice. She got really messed up. She is still messed up today."
"Okay," Chuck said. "What happened to Janice?"
"Will you sit there and listen to me while I tell this story," Sarah said as she burst out laughing. "You should know me well enough by now to understand that I'm not going to be rushed into this. Janice blew her cover. That's never a good thing. She was being held in the compound and I had to rescue her. I know that you're way more interested in hearing about Jose, so I'll give you a little spoiler."
"I promised him killer sex."
As Sarah took a bite of her sandwich, she took note of the look on Jose's face. She also noted, with a fair amount of amusement, the change in Jose's demeanor in the past twenty four hours. Last night had been all about romance. Jose had been the perfect gentleman all last night. A little aggressive perhaps. But definitely gentlemanly. The entire night was carefully planned to impress Sarah. To put her at ease. And, ultimately, to charm her into bed. It was totally different tonight.
Tonight was all about control.
Last night's dinner had been at a posh restaurant in the heart of the city. Tonight, they were at a place well off the beaten track in a neighborhood that Sarah would never have ventured in on her own. That by itself was obviously an attempt at intimidation. To make Sarah feel dependant on Jose for her safety. Last night offered a stretch limo complete with fresh strawberries and chilled champagne. Tonight they rode in Jose's Buick.
Not that Sarah was ever remotely fooled by the attempt at romance. She knew Jose's background. You didn't get as high as he was in the cartel without being willing to be vicious. And Sarah had no illusions about Jose's character. He was not above taking what he wanted. And right now it was obvious. He wanted her.
Sarah's spy senses were on high alert as they sat in, what could only be loosely called, the restaurant. Up until now her plan was working perfectly. But why would he take her to such a remote place? If he had some sexual encounter planned here, Sarah was in trouble. And she knew it. She would have been fairly defenseless, after all. To have to fight him off now, she would have to abort the mission. And that would leave Janice alone. That would never do. So Sarah had decided that if that happened she would have no choice but to actually submit herself to whatever he had planned. And that was something that she really, really didn't want to have to do.
So there was really nothing to do but smile sweetly and hope that Jose was going to do what she had planned for. Jose was making absolutely no attempt to hide the fact that Sarah owed him something. The only question was where was she going to pay off.
Finally, as soon as dinner was over, the question was answered.
"We'll go to my place for drinks," Jose said as soon as he paid the check. It was much more statement than invitation.
"That would be wonderful," Sarah said with a smile. Her training kept the sigh of relief from visibly showing. But Sarah was indeed very relieved. Her plan had worked. He was going to take her to the place where he thought he would be in total control.
They were going to the compound.
"My goodness," said Chuck with a sigh as he wrapped his arms around Sarah. "You were going to walk weaponless into this brutal criminal's compound on a night when he thought that you owed him a night of passion? Are you crazy?"
"That was my mission," Sarah said as she tried to calm down Chuck with her eyes. "That's what we're trained to do. And I wasn't exactly weaponless."
"What weapons did you have?" Chuck asked.
"The same ones I always have," Sarah replied with a smile. "For one thing, I thought that Janice was already in there to watch my back. But I had my training. I had my fighting skills. And I had a huge advantage. I had sight. He was blinded by lust."
"It sounds like you were on the fast path to being raped," Chuck said as his anger showed in his voice.
"I know sweetie," Sarah said. "It's true. Jose was tired of waiting. But I needed a little time in that compound before he was going to jump on me. I needed to find out where the Lopez brothers were. I needed to find Janice. And most of all, I needed him to relax."
"I had to let him know that if he was patient, he was going to get what he wanted."
As soon as they arrived at the compound, Jose took her directly to his suite. In the car on the ride over, Sarah knew that she had better make some conversation to soften the mood. Maybe that would keep him from jumping on her the first second he could. And she did that by apologizing for last night. Sarah was well aware that Jose would interpret that as her admission that she owed him. And although Jose seemed to relax a little, he made no attempt to hide the gloating in his voice.
Security had been very strict. But they had anticipated that. In their pre mission preparations, Sarah and Janice had a long conversation about if and how they could smuggle in any weapons. Sarah was very glad that they had decided that it would be too risky. There was no way. Although the guards were more than a little nervous with their boss, Jose watching them, they checked every inch of Sarah's body. Even the inches that most searches would normally let slide.
Once they were inside Jose's suite, Sarah knew that she had to quickly set the agenda or be prepared to get naked. It was a good thing that she had the perfect weapon to set the agenda with Jose. Well, with any man really. Flattery.
"This is really fabulous," Sarah said as she stood in the living room part of the suite looking around. In actuality it was far short of fabulous. It looked more like the lobby of a hotel than a living room. It was comfortable but looked like it had been decorated by a matador. Everything was either red or gold. "You must be a very important man. Can I ask what you do here?"
"I'm in charge of security," Jose answered, obviously pleased with himself.
"Really," Sarah said. "That is so exciting. Perhaps we could have a drink and you could show me around?"
"Actually," Jose replied with a leer as he stood directly in front of Sarah. "I have other plans."
Sarah put her most seductive pout on her face as she grabbed his hands. "Please, Jose," she pleaded. "It would mean a lot to me that such an important man would take the time to show me his work. It would make me feel a lot closer to you. We have all night, after all."
Sarah knew that no man could resist her when she turned on the pouting sexpot look. So Jose gave Sarah what the CIA had been after for several years. A through briefing of a major drug cartel's security. Jose was obviously enjoying showing Sarah off to the rest of the staff. And Sarah, for her part, played the devoted star stuck girlfriend perfectly as she locked her arm through Jose's and planted her head on his shoulder whenever anyone was around. Jose was so relaxed that he actually took Sarah to the control room. There, Sarah learned where all the cameras were, where the guards were stationed, and where the weaknesses were. She made a mental note to include those details in her mission report. She also learned another very important fact. Almost all of the security was designed to protect the perimeter of the compound from an outside attack. Once you were inside, as Sarah was, you had pretty much free reign of the entire place.
Of course Jose also gave her several drinks. Where last night they drank champagne, tonight it was something a little stronger. Jose had grabbed a bottle of tequila and two glasses. He was pouring them shots in an obvious attempt to get Sarah drunk. It really didn't matter to Sarah what he was serving since she had no intention of drinking it anyway. She always ditched her drink in one of the large potted plants that adorned every room when he wasn't looking. Finally Jose led her to what looked to be a main hallway and stopped. There obviously was something very important at the end of the hallway because two armed guards stood watch in front of the door. It was the only security that Sarah had seen inside the compound proper.
"Sarah," Jose said, his words starting to stir a bit from the multiple shots of tequila. "I would like to introduce you to my bosses. I just want to warn you. They are very powerful men. They are very used to getting what they want. And they love beautiful women."
"Thank you," Sarah said with a soft smile as she forced a blush on her face. "I just want to make sure I understand what you're telling me. How do you want me to act? Do you want me to flirt with them?"
"If you don't mind," Jose said. "It would impress them that I was with the most beautiful woman that they had ever seen."
"You're so nice," Sarah said. "In that case, could you show me to a ladies room so I can freshen up a bit? I want to do whatever I can to make sure your bosses are impressed."
Sarah had to laugh to herself as she saw Jose's jaw drop when she walked out of the bathroom.
Sarah had brushed her hair and touched up her makeup. But that's not what had caught Jose's eye.
"Come on," Chuck said with a laugh. "That's not even fair."
"What," Sarah asked. "I haven't told you yet."
"Like you have to tell me," Chuck said. "You took off your bra, didn't you?"
Now it was Sarah's turn to blush. "It was the perfect situation," she said softly. "Jose led me right to my targets and was asking me to flirt with them. I had to take advantage of it."
"So," Chuck said while still laughing. "How did you kill them anyway? Something violent? Or did you just let them look down your shirt and have a heart attack?"
"I definitely got their attention," Sarah said as she joined Chuck's laugh. "They were watching a baseball game. I told them how much I loved baseball and asked if I could check in later and see how the game was going. And you're right, they weren't shy about looking down my shirt."
"Jose couldn't have liked that," Chuck said. "Didn't he want you for himself?"
"He didn't hear," Sarah said. "I whispered it to Raul as we were leaving. I just wanted an excuse to get by their guards later."
"You didn't sleep with anybody on this mission," Chuck said as he finally realized the truth. "Did you?"
"Of course not," Sarah said with a grin. "I told you I could count on one hand the times where I've had to actually sleep with somebody."
"Your spoiler was deceptive," Chuck said with a grin. "You really had me worried."
"All spoilers are deceptive," Sarah said with her own grin. "You should know that. It serves you right for assuming the worst."
Chuck turned his head and kissed Sarah gently.
"I'm sorry, sweetie," Sarah said. "We just don't have time to take another break. We have to pick up Janice and Ellie and head for Vegas. And I still have a bit of story to tell."
"Okay," Chuck said with a sign. "I can wait for a while. Tonight is our wedding night after all. But how did you get out of there?"
"I'll tell you in a minute," Sarah said. "I want to warn you, there still is a part coming that you're not going to particularly like. But first, you need to hear about Janice. I was really starting to freak out that I had not seen her. She was obviously in a lot of trouble."
"What happened to Janice?" Chuck asked.
"She blew her cover," Sarah said. "The first thing that bad guys try to do to a new person they don't know is to get them drunk, or stoned. And then they put them in a situation where they are very tired or under stress. If you are going to slip up that's when it always happens. That's why Jose was trying to pour so much tequila down me. And Janice slipped up."
"What did she say that blew her cover," Chuck whispered.
It was one of the few times that Chuck had ever seen Sarah visibly shaken. He could feel her tremble.
"It's a female spy's worst nightmare," Sarah finally whispered. "I don't know what she said. I'm not even sure that she knows. But it was horrible. With a man, they would just torture him to find out what he knows and then kill him. With a woman, it's entirely different. The bastards enjoy breaking you. The little tiny bit that I endured in training when I knew that they weren't really going to rape or hurt me was the worst experience I've ever had in my life."
"How can they train you for something like that," Chuck asked.
"They try and train us for everything," Sarah said as her eyes got a distant look. "I've been water boarded. I've been questioned for days without sleep. But when six men start slapping you around, it gets pretty intense. And I knew that they weren't really going to hurt me. But, sweetie, when six men hold you down and start ripping your clothes off, I don't care how trained you are. You panic a little."
Chuck knew that there was nothing he could say to help. Right now Sarah didn't need to see how angry he was. That would have just made it about him. So while he made a mental note to ask her more about the training later, for now he just rubbed her back.
"Janice went through that for real," Sarah whispered so softly that Chuck had to strain to hear her. "Even if the agent does survive, she's messed up for the rest of her life. And they had Janice for two full days. I can't begin to imagine what she went through. She would never talk about it. I still have nightmares about it myself."
Chuck put his arms around Sarah and squeezed her tight in an attempt to comfort her. "Maybe we should finish the story some other time," Chuck said. "I don't want to mess you up on a day when we're going to celebrate."
"You're so sweet," Sarah said. "But it's okay. The story is almost over. It's important that you hear it. And most of all, it's helping me to be able to share it with you."
"I hope that at least you made them pay," Chuck said with a smile.
Chuck was relieved when he saw the slight smile return to Sarah's face.
"Don't worry, sweetie. I made them pay."
Chapter 4: San Jose
Chuck and Sarah sat on the love seat in their hotel room. Okay, it was really the couch. They technically didn't have a love seat. But Chuck had renamed it the love seat on their last break… for rather obvious reasons. Sarah laughed out loud when he told her. And that was honestly one of the best feelings in his life. When he was able to make Sarah forget her troubles for a second and have a good old fashioned belly laugh. It was better than sex. Well, almost anyway.
They had been sitting in pretty much the same position for the past several hours. Not that Chuck was complaining. Having Sarah sitting on his lap with her head gently resting on his shoulder was one of the nicest things he could imagine. He felt the urge to pinch himself rather regularly. But he never did. If this was a dream, he didn't want to wake.
As Chuck waited for Sarah to resume telling the story, he studied her face. He thought that he was getting pretty good at knowing all of her looks and what they meant. But he had to admit; he had never quite seen the expression that she was showing him now. You really couldn't call it fear but she was definitely looking uneasy.
"Sarah," Chuck said. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," Sarah said with a sigh.
"Come on, Sarah," Chuck said as soothingly as he could. "Something is wrong. Tell me."
"It's just that this is the part of the story that I dread telling you."
Even though she was clearly trying to put him at ease, there was something in her voice that caught Chuck's attention. A sadness… even a vulnerability that hadn't been there before.
"Its okay, Sarah," Chuck said. "I know that you didn't sleep with Jose. But you probably came close. I understand."
"Thanks," Sarah said with the beginning of a smile. "But I'm not really worried about Jose. I know that you can handle that part. Eventually anyway. You're too nice of a guy to let that bother you for very long. And I really never came that close. He saw me without my shirt for like ten seconds."
"Then what is it?" Chuck asked. "Sarah, you know that you can tell me anything, right?"
Chuck finally realized what her expression meant. She was struggling with how to tell him something. She was quiet for a long moment.
"I know," Sarah finally blurted out. "I just remember how much it bothered you when I shot Mauser…"
"And you killed Jose in Colombia," Chuck said as he finished her thought. "And you're afraid that is going to bother me."
"I killed more than just Jose," Sarah said. "I'm not a monster, Chuck. I can't stand for you to think that I'm a monster."
Now the fear and vulnerability was obvious. It broke Chuck's heart to see Sarah like this.
"Hey," Chuck said as he held her tight. "I need you to listen to me. When we first met, I was ridiculously naïve about how the spy world works. Hell, I still am. And a lot of what happens still bothers me. You know that. We talk about it all the time. But that has never affected the way that I feel about you. I'll admit that it bothered me when I saw you shoot Mauser. I know that I should have talked to you about it. I'm really sorry. But it doesn't bother me now. I don't think you're a monster, Sarah. I think you've done your duty. I suppose I'll never get used to the killing. But I understand it. That was your mission, wasn't it? I understand that it's necessary. It breaks my heart that you have to do it. But I never think badly of you. And do you know why?"
"Because you love me?"
"I love you," Chuck agreed. "No question about that. But there's more to it. I know you. I know how you think. I know that you're a good person. You're my best friend, Sarah. And you're always going to do the right thing. I've never questioned that. Even when making the right decision is difficult. And I knew that long before I knew that I was in love with you."
The tears welling up in Sarah's eyes and the soft smile on her face told Chuck that she was going to be okay.
"So let me think this through," Chuck said in his best mock detective voice. "Jose saw you without your shirt. I already know that your bra is sitting inside your purse. So that means…Oh my God…"
"Why don't you grow up?" Sarah said as she slapped his chest playfully and they both burst out laughing. But suddenly, after a moment, Sarah's face became serious as she leaned over and gently touched her lips to his. The look in her eyes spoke much louder and more clearly than her words did. But her words weren't half bad either.
"I love you."
The words surprised Chuck. After all, she was always uncomfortable talking about her feelings. And she almost never took the lead in that area. Of course, it wasn't the first time she had told him that. And it wouldn't be anywhere near the last. As the years passed, Sarah actually became more comfortable saying it. But of all the thousands of times during their life together that she would say those words to Chuck, this time felt different... stronger somehow. For a second, Chuck thought about teasing Sarah about talking about her feelings to lighten the mood. But he quickly realized that it wasn't the time for levity. So he simply pulled her close to him and held her for a long moment.
"I know, Sarah," he said. "Me too. And I always will."
So in the last thirty minutes, Chuck had experienced one very hot lovemaking session, two belly laughs, and now, the tenderest moment of his whole life.
It really was the love seat.
Jose had shown Sarah the entire compound with the exception of one section. Knowing that it was the only place where Janice could possibly be, Sarah tried to get Jose to show it to her. Because he had been drinking, she tried simply taking his hand and leading him to the section. But as soon as he realized where she was leading them, he stopped.
"We can't go down there," Jose said.
"Why?" Sarah asked. "It's the only part of the place that you haven't shown me."
"We can't go down there," Jose simply repeated. "We have enemies, Sarah. And that's where we deal with them. That's not something you want to see."
Jose's words confirmed her suspicions. Janice was in there. But that wasn't her only problem. It was now clear that what little patience Jose ever had was long gone. One look at his angry eyes told Sarah that he wasn't going to be put off any longer. Knowing that any resistance would only cause suspicion, she allowed Jose to take her hand and pull her towards the living quarters. As they walked up the stairs Sarah knew they were going directly to his suite. And she also knew why.
The very instant they were inside the suite Jose grabbed Sarah's wrist roughly and pulled her to him. Even though she was expecting something like this to happen, she was still a little surprised by his strength, especially knowing that he had been drinking. She began to see stars for a second as she was slammed roughly into the wall hitting her head. Sarah knew that this was Jose's way of intimidating her into submission so she was able to anticipate when Jose pulled her away from the wall and slammed her into it again. That allowed her to protect her head a little. But her shoulders took the full force. Jose leaned into her and pinned her against the wall with his weight.
As Jose pressed against Sarah, she was virtually helpless. She instinctively tried to push him away. But Jose quickly grabbed both of her wrists in his hands and roughly forced them firmly to her sides. As soon as Sarah moved her hands, Jose grabbed her wrists again and forced her arms back to her side. This time his look and a grunt clearly warned her to keep them there. Jose took a step back. He kept one hand on Sarah's throat to keep her against the wall while the other hand slowly slid up the front of her blouse, pausing for a moment when he reached her left breast, until he finally reached the top button and unbuttoned it. There was no hurry. His smug expression revealed that he was in total control. Either Sarah was going to do whatever he wanted or she was going to get hurt.
The sneer on Jose's face made her blood boil. Sarah's first instinct was to fight back. She knew that no amount of talking was going to stop him now. And she had a clear shot to kick at his groin. But her training kicked in and stopped her. If it came down to a fight, she was going to have her hands full. And even though Jose's suite was more private than most, she wouldn't be able to keep him from sounding the alarm. There was no way out of there if the other men in the living quarters were alerted. So she did the only thing that she could do. She turned the tables on him. She took the initiative. If he wanted submission, that's what she would give him.
"Jose, I want you," Sarah whispered. "I'll do anything that you want. Please let me show you."
Jose relaxed his grip on her throat a little and smiled in victory.
Sarah leaned forward as much as the hand on her throat would allow and placed her lips against his. As soon as she realized that Jose wasn't going to react violently, she quickly put both of her hands behind Jose's head and intensified the kiss. After a short moment, Sarah opened her mouth and invited Jose in. Although it took a moment for Jose to get over his surprise at Sarah's sudden and unexpected surrender, it was an invitation that he quickly accepted. After a long moment, Sarah broke the kiss.
"I've waited for this long enough," Sarah said with a smile. She softly took his hand and pulled him to the overstuffed chair and stood in front of him. "Come sit down. I have something I want to show you."
Jose was surprised enough that he was content to sit there and let Sarah take the lead. For the moment anyway. His eyes widened as she slowly unbuttoned her satin blouse and let it slip off her shoulders to the floor.
When Sarah leaned in to kiss Jose again, she could feel both of his hands pawing her breasts.
"Would you like to see more?" she whispered as soon as the kiss broke.
Taking whatever groan that Jose uttered as an affirmative, Sarah took a step back, undid her belt and seductively pulled it out of her slacks. As she walked around to the back of the chair, she kissed Jose's neck. "Would you like to see more?" she whispered in his ear.
Unfortunately for Jose, Sarah's belt was much more than what it seemed. At first glance it just looked like a stylish, if a little understated, half inch light brown belt made up of straps of leather held together with ringlets of slightly darker leather and small brass buckles. What Jose didn't know was it was CIA issue. With two easy clicks it converted into a lethal strangling device complete with handles. Sarah looped the belt around Jose's neck and pulled tightly. With the leverage she had from behind him, he had no chance. All Sarah had to do was put her knee in the back of the chair and hold on. Sarah waited for a couple of minutes after Jose stopped struggling before she released her grip. While she was able to fight the overwhelming temptation to kick his lifeless body, she couldn't resist mocking him.
"I think you've seen enough."
"Now, see," Chuck said. "I'm very proud of you. I wonder how many other women you saved from being raped by that animal."
"Thanks," Sarah said. "But I really didn't have time to think about it. I was desperate to find a weapon. I searched Jose's apartment and I found a lot of guns. But none of them had a silencer. I knew that I couldn't shoot the Lopez brothers without alarming the entire compound. If I did that I was either going to be killed or I was going to join Janice. I was about to give up on the mission and just go find Janice and get us out of there when I finally found what I could use."
"Something tells me you found a knife," Chuck said.
"A whole set," Sarah said. "It was a professional throwing set complete with a leg holster."
"Uh oh," Chuck said. "Something tells me that some bad guys are in big trouble."
Sarah made no effort to hide the grin on her face.
"Yup," she replied. "For the first time that day, I finally felt in control."
"Please tell me that you put your shirt back on first."
"Chuck Bartowski!" Sarah exclaimed in mock horror as she playfully slapped his chest.
"Just what kind of girl do you think that I am?"
Getting into the Lopez brothers' suite was easy. The guards seemed to be expecting her. As did the brothers, for that matter. They barely bothered to ask about Jose. And they quickly accepted Sarah's story that he was passed out from drinking too much tequila. But then again, they probably would have quickly accepted Sarah's story that he had been abducted by space aliens. All they were interested in was getting as good a look down Sarah's shirt as possible. Of course, the extra button that Sarah left unbuttoned helped them in that regard quite a bit.
Sarah had them so relaxed fawning over her that this was going to be almost too easy. Her biggest challenges were to wait for a long enough time as to not arouse the guard's suspicions and to avoid getting blood on her clothes. So she sat on a chair between the two brothers and pretended to watch the game. Sarah was thirsty from all of the physical activity with Jose so she gratefully sipped the beer that they offered. Sarah noted with some amusement that Raul and Juan were only pretending to watch the game as well. Baseball wasn't Sarah's favorite sport but she knew enough about it to know which were the exciting parts. It was actually quite a boring game so she had to make some up to have an excuse to lean forward and give them a good view. Sometimes she had to settle for a routine ground ball. Juan and Raul didn't seem to mind as they never passed up an opportunity to take full advantage of the view.
Maybe they weren't such devoted baseball fans after all.
They had obviously already discussed this possible scenario since Raul took the first shot at getting Sarah into his bedroom.
"So," Chuck said with a grin. "How do you think Raul got first crack? Rock, paper, scissors?"
"I don't know," Sarah said. "Maybe he beat Juan earlier at Call of Duty."
"Hey," Chuck said in mock anger. "Don't even kid about being a prize for Call of Duty. You do know that Morgan beats me pretty regularly?"
"If it's any consolation," Sarah said. "Raul didn't win much. I took him into his bedroom and threw a knife in his throat while he was taking off his pants. Then I waited about five minutes and did the same thing to Juan."
"This sounds like a pretty easy mission," Chuck said. "All you had to do was seduce a high ranking official of a major drug cartel, kill him after avoiding being raped, and then get the two drug lords into their separate bedrooms and quietly kill them."
"Maybe it was easy so far," Sarah said with a smile. "But now comes the hard part."
"I had to rescue Janice."
Chapter 5: The Almost Wedding
Sarah continued to sit on Chuck's lap, taking a moment to gather her thoughts before she continued with the story. The morning sun had just risen above the upper edge of the window and the room was no longer bathed in bright light. That seemed appropriate for the story that Sarah was telling. Chuck sensed that this had been a very traumatic experience for her. And, given her chosen occupation, that was saying something. With all the things that she had seen in her life, for this to be one of the most horrible made quite a statement. He sensed that he needed to do something to help her. He even thought for a moment about asking her to stop. But by that same sense he realized that it was helping her to share it with him. So he tried to help her by gently guiding her through the rest of the story.
"So," Chuck asked. "How did you get past the guards that were outside of the brother's quarters?"
Sarah flashed Chuck a soft smile. He realized that she understood what he was doing and was grateful. So he returned the smile to acknowledge her gesture.
"That part was easy," Sarah said. "I'm guessing that having a half naked girl trying to get close to the brothers wasn't all that unusual. After all, they were rich and dealt in cocaine. I imagine they had a steady line of woman to choose from. So all I had to do was muss up my hair a little and unbutton most of the buttons on my blouse. Then I walked out with a vacant, contented look on my face. The guards just smiled and closed the door behind me."
"What next?" Chuck asked. "You didn't even know where Janice was. How did you find her?"
"I had a general idea of where she was," Sarah said. "So I just went to that part of the compound and I was going to snoop around. I figured I could always flirt my way out of any trouble by claiming that I was lost. But first I went back to Jose's suite and hid a couple of his guns in my purse. Just in case. I also got the keys to his car. But once I entered the section where she was being held, I discovered that Janice would be easy to find."
"Why is that?" Chuck asked.
The tears that Sarah had been successful at hiding earlier now filled her eyes.
"Because," she said, after taking a long moment to get control of her voice.
"I could hear her screaming."
Fred Jones had just finished the longest conference call of his life. Not that the weekly conference calls with the Fulcrum Elders were ever pleasant. They weren't. They were much too intense for that. It was not a group that made time for any social interaction under the best of circumstances. But this call was particularly tough. He had just spent three whole hours getting his ass handed to him. It felt more like ten hours. The point of the call was nothing if not crystal clear. They wanted the Intersect. They wanted it now. They had been frustrated at every turn. And they were tired of waiting.
Ted Roark's best technicians had made a fair amount of progress on their Intersect cube. They were excited. Or at least they sounded excited. With that group of geeks it was hard to tell. But they really weren't that close. At least, no one was willing to hazard a guess on any date. Without Orion, they could spend years conducting tests with trial and error before they got it right. And there was no guarantee that they would ever get it right. It went without saying that Orion had proved to be even more elusive than Bryce Larkin. They had all but given up hope of finding him years ago.
That left finding the human Intersect. And their luck wasn't any better in that pursuit. Bryce Larkin had simply disappeared off the face of the earth. Jones had lost track of how many men went missing during the search for Larkin. But he knew that the number was unacceptably large… and growing almost daily.
There was no question. Their patience was running out. Not that they ever had much to begin with. But he had to come up with something quickly. And that's why it was so important that he have a face to face chat with Sarah Walker. He needed a success. Any success. And delivering the top agent in the whole CIA would be exactly that. And if she could be recruited, it would be huge. Perhaps not as big a win as Larkin, but pretty damn close. That would definitely buy him some breathing room to continue looking for Larkin.
Being a Fulcrum Elder had a lot of perks that came with the job. And Jones fully intended to continue in that position. But he knew that his men had better deliver either Walker or one of the Bartowski siblings to use as leverage soon or that position would be in jeopardy. And Jones knew full well, Fulcrum Elders didn't retire, they were buried.
Time was running out.
Chuck rubbed her back to help keep the tears from flowing and after a moment, Sarah was able to compose herself enough to continue.
"She was screaming," Chuck said. "That must have been very hard to listen to."
"You have no idea," Sarah whispered. "And that wasn't even the worst part."
Sarah crouched behind a stack of wooden crates and watched warily from her vantage point. Around the corner were two armed men guarding the door to where Janice's screams had come from. Her screams had stopped but now were replaced by sounds that were even more horrible. The sounds coming from the room now left little doubt as to what was happening inside.
Sarah had to rely heavily on her training to stay focused. What she was hearing was starting to make her more than a little crazy. But she instinctively knew that the worst thing she could do was to go charging in there. That wouldn't help Janice. Sure, she might be able to kill a few of them. But once the compound was alerted, she would be far too outnumbered to have a chance. If she was lucky, she would quickly be killed. Worst case, she would eventually be lying next to Janice.
One thing in Sarah's favor was that the guards were not all that alert. They apparently weren't expecting any trouble. And why would they? They were in the middle of a secure compound. As they sat and conversed in Spanish, Sarah tried to think of her options. Even though she spoke fluent Spanish, their speech was so slurred and full of obscenities that Sarah was having a hard time following it. But the gist of the conversation was easy. You didn't really need to speak Spanish to know that they were anxious to get in that room and have their turn at Janice.
Still crouching, Sarah leaned back against the wall planning her attack. She was quite a distance away but she was confident that she could kill one of the guards with a knife throw. She wasn't very confident that she could kill them both before one was able to sound the alarm. That would be fatal. Sarah had just made up her mind to risk it, but then she got a break. One of the men announced that he was going to get some coffee.
Chuck thought about trying to lighten the mood by making a joke about it probably being the last coffee he would ever get. But one look at Sarah's face quickly told him that this was not the time for that. So he decided to help her get through the rest of the story as quickly as possible.
"So," Chuck said. "What happened then?"
"I waited for him to come around the corner," Sarah said. "I was able to surprise him and break his neck before he could make a sound. Then I was able to throw a knife into the other guy's throat."
"That must mean that you got into the room with Janice," Chuck said.
Sarah simply nodded numbly. "When I opened the door, there were two men," Sarah said. "One was just pulling up his pants. He quickly went down with my last knife. But the other one was too fast. He was able to knock me down from the side. By the time I had recovered, he was pointing his rifle at me."
"How did you get out of that?" Chuck asked.
"I decided that I would rather be killed than captured," Sarah said. "And he was pretty distracted looking at my chest. So I kicked his gun and luckily the shot missed me. Fortunately we were in a soundproof section. The brothers apparently didn't want to be kept awake at night by the screaming so they had taken a lot of care to make sure it was soundproof. He lunged at me and we traded blows. He got a couple of good punches in. But then he stumbled back against the wall and knocked his head. While he was dazed, I pulled a gun from my purse and shot him. I made sure he was dead, and then I got my first look at Janice."
"It must have been bad," Chuck said.
"I've never seen anything so horrible in my life," Sarah whispered. "There wasn't a single spot on her body without a mark. They had shaved her head. One of her eyes was swollen shut. She was… She was…"
"Its okay, Sarah," Chuck said as gently as he could. "You don't have to describe it any more. I get the idea."
"I really had to fight to keep from throwing up at the sight," Sarah said. "After I cut her loose I had to find some clothes for her. So I took the jacket off the dead guy and put it on her as best I could. Janice wasn't really conscious. So I had to half drag her to the car."
"How did you fight your way out of there?" Chuck asked. "Having to basically carry Janice must have taken most of your attention."
"We were lucky that we didn't run into anybody because we would have stuck out like sore thumbs," Sarah replied. "I had already made up my mind that I was going to shoot first and ask questions later. After seeing the shape that Janice was in, there was no way they were going to take me alive."
"How did you get out of the compound?" Chuck asked.
"That was the easy part," Sarah said. "Once I was able to get Janice into Jose's car, we just drove out. There wasn't any security to get out. The guards just waved us on. They didn't even check to see who was in the car. They were just concentrating on the cars coming in."
"I drove directly to the safe house as fast as I could," Sarah continued. "I knew that Janice needed help soon or she wasn't going to make it. Once we got there, they were trying to decide what to do with her. They wanted to put her in a hospital in Bogotá because they didn't think she would survive the flight back to Miami. But I wouldn't let them."
"Why?" asked Chuck.
"Because," replied Sarah. "I didn't trust the hospitals there. And I knew that Janice would rather die than fall back into their hands. So we flew back to Miami that night. I'll never forget that flight as long as I live. She just lay there moaning. 'No more… No more.' I hear that in my sleep sometimes."
"How long was she in the hospital?" Chuck asked.
"Six weeks," Sarah said. "She was in intensive care for the first ten days. On the first night the doctor gave her a ten percent chance to survive. She was in a wheelchair for three months."
"At least she had you to take care of her," Chuck said.
Sarah's look betrayed her sadness.
"Sorry, sweetie," Sarah said. "It doesn't work that way. I got to spend the first four weeks with her and then I was headed to Rome for my next assignment."
"Four weeks?" Chuck questioned. "How did you get a new partner so quickly?"
"I didn't," Sarah said. "I worked the next five years on my own. I never had another partner until Bryce."
"That is an awful story," Chuck said. "I just keep thinking that it might have been you. It still might be someday. Every mission that we go on that could happen. Sarah, it might have been you that those bastards… I couldn't take that."
"I know," Sarah said. "I'm sorry you had to hear it. But I think that it's important that you understand Janice. If you are going to be friends with her, you need to understand where she is coming from. You can imagine how messed up she was. She could never go back into the field again. She tried a desk job for a while but it wasn't for her. One good thing that came out of it was that the CIA was able to break the cartel for a while. So at least her sacrifice wasn't in vain. But another one eventually popped up and replaced it."
"Thanks for telling me," Chuck said. "It means a lot to me that you trust me enough…"
"No, Chuck," Sarah interrupted. "Thank you. I've never been able to tell that story to anyone. Even the CIA shrinks have never heard the whole story. I don't think that even Janice has ever heard the part about Jose."
"Not even Bryce?"
"Especially not Bryce."
For the first time in quite a while, Chuck saw the twinkle back in Sarah's eyes.
"Wow," Chuck whispered. "I don't know what to say."
"I'm your wife," Sarah said. "I don't keep secrets from you. I'll tell you anything you want to know."
Chuck's face broke into a grin that was so wide that it was infectious. Sarah couldn't help but respond in kind.
"You already know what I want to know about," Chuck said.
Sarah snuggled her face into Chuck's neck and laughed.
"I know, sweetie," Sarah said. "And I promise that I will tell you every detail. Just like I didn't hide anything about what happened with Jose. But not today, okay? We have to go pick up Janice and Ellie and head to Vegas in a couple of minutes. I want to have the time to make sure that you are okay before I tell those stories."
"Why do you think that I wouldn't be okay?" Chuck asked. "How bad is it?"
"See," Sarah said as she pulled back a little to look at him. "This is exactly what I mean. You haven't even heard a word yet and you're already assuming the worst. Please wait until we have the time for me to tell you the real story. There is nothing I'm going to tell you that you won't be able to deal with. I'm sure of that. I've already told you that it only happed a few times."
"Are you ready to go get married?" Chuck asked with his trademark grin.
"Chuck," Sarah said. "We're already married. Today, we're just making it legal and celebrating with our friends and family."
As she met his eyes a sly smile came to her lips.
"But, yes. I'm very ready."
In the car on the drive to Castle, Sarah turned to Chuck with an anxious glance.
"Chuck," she said. "Why do you look so nervous? You look almost as bad as the first time we got married. Are you always like this around weddings?"
"I was just thinking," Chuck said. "If we're going to be on the road for three hours, we might have to separate Ellie and Janice."
"Why?" Sarah asked as her brow furrowed.
"Ellie is almost surely going to tell you this anyway," Chuck said. "So I might as well. Ellie thinks that Janice was coming on to me on the plane."
This definitely piqued Sarah's interest.
"Why would she think that?"
"On the plane over here," Chuck started. "I noticed that Janice was down. So I sat down next to her to find out what was wrong. And she sort of put her head on my shoulder. Ellie saw that and got the wrong idea."
"Really?" Sarah asked. "Are you sure that she got the wrong idea? I never did ask you what happened when I left you two alone that night. I'm sure she tried something to get you into bed. How hard did she try?"
"Come on, Sarah," Chuck said. "You can't be jealous. I'm the one that gets jealous, remember? She tried a little but not as much as I feared. We actually had quite a good talk after she gave up on the seduction thing. I think that she was genuinely touched at how close we are."
As they pulled into the parking lot, Sarah turned to Chuck with a grin.
"Why don't you wait in the car?" Sarah asked. "I'll go get Janice and be right back."
In response to the look on Chuck's face, Sarah continued. "I have ten bucks that says that Janice is semi naked, hoping that you'll get a glance at her. And, just for the record, I'm not jealous."
"You're not?" Chuck asked as he leaned in to kiss Sarah.
The sparkle in her eye made both of them burst out laughing.
"Well," Sarah said. "Maybe a little. I'll be right back."
Sarah got out of the car and headed into the Orange Orange. After about five minutes, Chuck noticed a black sedan pull into a spot a few spaces away. As soon as the driver got out of the car and he saw his face, the all too familar feeling of a flash hit. One by one Chuck eventually flashed on four of the five men. Chuck quickly pulled out his phone and called Sarah's number.
"Hi sweetie," Sarah answered on the first ring. "Sorry it's taking so long. But you owe me ten bucks. She's getting dressed and we'll be right out."
Chuck tried to keep his voice as calm as possible. But who was he kidding? He was beyond freaked out.
"Sarah," Chuck said. "We have a problem."
"There are five Fulcrum agents walking towards the Orange Orange."
Chapter 6: Liquid Assets
Most people wouldn't have been able to notice that change in Sarah's voice. After all, she still sounded like the woman who was on her way to be married that evening. But Chuck could most definitely tell the difference. The instant that he told her about the five Fulcrum agents heading for the Orange Orange, she immediately switched into agent mode.
"Are you sure?" Sarah asked. "What are they doing?"
"I'm sure," Chuck said. "At least the Intersect thinks so. They aren't doing anything at the moment. It looks like they are waiting for the shop to open."
"Okay, Chuck," Sarah said. "I need you to call Casey and let him know the situation. Stay in the car until he arrives. Do you understand?"
Chuck understood how serious the situation was and, truth be told, he was more than a little freaked out. Chuck tried to let Sarah know that he was okay. "Yes, dear," he said.
"Chuck," she said. "Under no circumstance are you to leave that car. I'll be fine. Do you understand?" The change in Sarah's voice was now more obvious. The forcefulness with which she delivered her instructions left little doubt as to her seriousness.
Chuck knew that this was no longer the time for levity. "Yes, Sarah," he said. "I understand."
As soon as Sarah ended their call, Chuck called Casey's cell. Casey answered on the second ring.
"What's the matter, Bartowski," Casey answered the phone. "Getting nervous about your wedding night? I'd say it's a little late for that."
"I'm getting nervous about there being a wedding night," Chuck replied. "Sarah just told me to call you and let you know that there are five Fulcrum agents waiting outside the Orange Orange."
That snapped Casey directly into 'looking forward to shooting somebody' mode.
"I'm bringing up the video feed right now," Casey said. "Where are you and where is Sarah?"
"I'm in the car," Chuck said. "Sarah went in to get Janice. They are both in Castle."
"Don't move," Casey said. "I'll be right there."
"Janice," Sarah called as soon as she ended the call with Chuck. "We have a situation."
"What's up?" asked Janice.
Sarah didn't answer her directly. "Do you know who Fulcrum is?" she asked.
"Come on, Sarah," Janice replied. "I may have been inactive for the past few years but I haven't been dead. Of course I know who they are. The bastards even tried to recruit me once. I reported it. Why?"
"Because," Sarah said as she pulled out her gun and checked the clip. "There are five of them outside waiting to get in here. And I don't think that they suddenly developed a taste for frozen yogurt."
"I don't know," Janice said. "That Pina Colada special is pretty tasty. How do you know that they are Fulcrum?"
"Chuck recognized them."
"What are they after?" Janice asked.
Sarah threw Janice a uniform. "Here," she said. "Put this on. They are after Chuck."
"Why would Fulcrum want Chuck?" Janice asked.
"Chuck is very valuable," Sarah said. "That's all I can say."
Janice began to take off the blouse that she had on to be able to put on the uniform. "To the government or to you?" she asked.
"Both," Sarah said. "Janice, if Fulcrum captures Chuck, the war is over."
"What about you?"
"Yes," Sarah admitted. "I'd be over too."
Casey was ready to run out the door when he decided to check the surveillance cameras one last time. After all, Casey was nothing if not thorough. He could plainly see the men standing in a group outside the Orange Orange. They were obviously junior agents. They stood out like a halter top in church. But as he ran through the other cameras, he noticed something.
Outside his complex, standing at the fountain, were a very similar group of five men. This couldn't be coincidence. They also turned out to not be the finest collection of agents that he had ever seen. As soon as Casey turned on the audio feed, he could hear them talking. They were plainly talking about Ellie. Casey could see them indicating Ellie's apartment. He knew that neither Chuck nor Ellie was there. Chuck and Sarah had already arranged to pick up Ellie at the hospital. That left Devon.
Casey knew that Devon was home because Ellie tried to get Casey to pick him up for the ride to Vegas. Devon had refused. In no uncertain terms. He was clearly still upset over the time that Casey and Ellie had been forced to spend together looking for Chuck. Hopefully he wasn't aware of the mutual misunderstanding that caused each of them to believe that the other was flirting with them. Or the rather odd but genuine friendship that had developed between them. Things were tense enough as it was. Not that he could really blame Devon. Casey knew that if he ever was lucky enough to have a woman like Ellie, he would be possessive of her too.
Casey quickly called Chuck who answered on the first ring.
"Okay, Chuck," Casey said. "I don't have much time so just listen. Call Sarah and tell her that Fulcrum is here too. They are talking about Ellie. I'm going to go try and get Devon out of there. We'll meet you at the hospital. Do you understand?"
Chuck was too shocked to say anything other than yes. That's all he had time for before Casey ended the call.
"Chuck," Sarah answered her phone. "I'm kind of busy right now. What do you want?"
"Umm," said Chuck. "I just got off the phone with Casey. Fulcrum is at the apartment."
"Shit!" Sarah exclaimed. "Did he say anything else?"
"They were talking about Ellie," Chuck said. "Casey is going to try and get Devon out of there. He says that he will meet us at the hospital."
Sarah sighed heavily, thinking for a moment.
"Okay, Chuck," she finally said. "Stay in the car. I'll be out to get you in a few minutes. If I'm not out in twenty minutes, drive to the hospital and wait for Casey. Do you understand?"
"Sarah," Chuck said. "I can't leave you. There are five of them. Casey isn't coming."
"Chuck," Sarah said firmly. "You have your orders. It's you they're after. Remember our conversation? I'll see you in a few minutes."
Sarah decided that she had better find out what the Fulcrum agents were up to before they had any more reinforcements arrive. The news from Casey had her very concerned. As a matter of fact, if not for the training, she would have been in a near panic.
"How could they know about Ellie?" Sarah said out loud, more to herself than Janice. "I know they know about me and Casey. But why Ellie?
"It's pretty obvious," Janice said. "They saw her picture along with yours in the Denver paper when Beckman planted the story to try and catch you and Chuck. What was Beckman thinking? She just blew their cover."
Even with the benefit of thousands of hours of training, the color left Sarah's face.
"Oh my God," she said. "That means…"
"Yup," Janice finished her sentence. "That means they know about Chuck."
Sarah opened the shop by unlocking the door and turning the sign to the open position. Sarah then walked quickly, taking up a position behind the counter. Janice, hiding just inside the freezer, hoped that the element of surprise would give them an advantage over being outnumbered by the Fulcrum agents.
They didn't have long to wait. After a couple of minutes the five men entered the store.
Sarah flashed her brightest smile at them. "Welcome gentlemen," she said. "It is gorgeous weather isn't it? What can I get you?"
"What's good?" the lead agent said with a flirtatious smile of his own.
Sarah tried to keep their attention away from where Janice was hiding so she kept up the flirtatious act for as long as possible.
"What are you in the mood for?"
Sarah was expecting that they would make their move while her back was turned getting the yogurt. So she wasn't the least bit surprised to hear a handgun being racked.
"I think that you need to come with us," one of the men said.
"And why would I do that?" Sarah asked as she turned back towards him keeping her smile. "Is that some sort of pickup line?"
The man raised his gun. Sarah stepped back, hands raised. "The money's in the register!" she cried. Janice slipped out of the freezer and fired a shot into his chest, killing him instantly. That's when all hell broke loose. The four remaining agents launched into motion, scattering about the store and firing their guns. Sarah ducked low, using the counter for cover as she fired back. One of the agents caught a bullet in his gut and he collapsed. Janice lunged from behind the freezer door out into the store, flipping a table over on it side to use for cover. She shot another agent down with three bullets to the chest.
As Janice was firing, one of the remaining agents rushed her position from the opposite direction, grabbing the table and tossing it aside. Janice turned and they faced each other with gun in hand.
Sarah stood up and leaned over the counter, preparing to fire her gun at him. The last agent made a desperate move: he stepped up to Sarah and grabbed her hair with both hands. He slammed her head against the countertop before she could fire her weapon. Then he dragged her over the counter, allowing her body to collapse onto the floor. He aimed his gun at her.
"Drop your weapon," the agent said to Janice. "Or she dies."
Janice really didn't have a choice. There was no way for her to kill the two agents before either she or Sarah was killed.
"Now!" the agent shouted.
Reluctantly, Janice slowly lowered her gun and dropped it to the floor.
"Get your hands on your head," he ordered.
As soon as she complied, the agent took Janice and roughly placed her face first against the wall. He made her place her hands high on the wall as he frisked her. Actually frisked might have been a little liberal. It was somewhere between a frisk and a grope. The other agent kept his weapon pointed at Sarah who was still lying dazed on the floor. The agent pulled Janice's left arm behind her back and fastened a set of handcuffs to her wrist. He had just pulled her right arm behind her back when the door opened.
The agents both glanced at the door to see who was entering. And that's the only opening Janice needed. She was able to spin and kick the agent who was cuffing her directly in the groin. He quickly fell to the ground in agony. Janice's second kick rendered him unconscious.
The agent covering Sarah wasn't quite so lucky. Sarah was dazed but still managed to pull one of her knives and stab him in the leg. He quickly dropped his gun to grasp at the gash in his leg. When he fell, he landed directly on Sarah's head causing it to hit the hard floor. Fortunately Janice was finally able to retrieve her gun from the floor. She quickly killed the agent with a single shot.
Sarah never completely lost consciousness but she was definitely dazed. When her vision cleared and she could think rationally again she discovered herself with her head in Chuck's lap. He was franticly asking her if she was okay.
Finally Sarah was able to speak. "I'm okay," she said. "Give me a minute."
As Sarah tried to shake the cobwebs out of her head, she saw that Janice had already confirmed that four of the agents were dead. And she had secured the one remaining survivor. Chuck gently helped her to her feet.
"Damn it, Chuck," Sarah said as soon as she realized that the situation was under control. "Why didn't you stay in the car?"
"I'm sorry," Chuck said. "It looked like you really needed some help."
"I know, Chuck," Sarah said. "But this is why I need you to follow my instructions. These guys are after you."
Janice and Chuck dragged the bodies into the freezer. When Sarah tried to help, Chuck insisted that she rest. Sarah reluctantly agreed since she really wasn't in any shape to argue. As soon as the surviving agent regained consciousness, they secured him in one of the Castle holding cells.
Sarah decided against contacting Beckman for a couple of reasons. First, she really didn't know what to tell her. But, more importantly, she wasn't sure how compromised the team was. The news that Fulcrum was at the apartment after Ellie was disturbing. Sarah knew that they needed to get to the hospital and get Ellie off the grid as soon as possible.
When Sarah walked up the stairs, Chuck and Janice were just finishing dragging the last body out of sight. That is when Sarah saw the flash hit Chuck. Not wanting to alert Janice, Sarah waited until she could drag Chuck off to the side.
"What did you see?" she asked.
"That last guy is not Fulcrum," Chuck said. "I flashed on the tattoo on his neck. He is a member of a drug gang here in Los Angeles. They operate a crack house on the East side."
"Drug gang," Sarah whispered, more to herself than anybody. "What's he doing here?"
"Sarah," Chuck said. "I'm really sorry that I didn't stay in the car. I just had to make sure you were okay."
When she looked into Chuck's eyes, there was no way she could stay mad at him for very long. The huge sigh and beginnings of a smile at the corners of her mouth gave away her mood.
"Sweetie," Sarah said. "Please. You are the one they are after. You promised me, remember? Janice and I could have handled this. You could have been killed."
"I know," Chuck said. "I'm sorry. Are you sure that you're okay? You got hit pretty hard."
Sarah gave Chuck a quick kiss, more to calm them both down than anything.
"Yes, sweetie," she said. "I'm fine. We need to get to the hospital and get Ellie. Then we need to find Casey and Devon."
The drive to the hospital only took a few minutes. Ellie worked in the Emergency Room which was on the main floor. Sarah quickly pulled the car into the parking lot.
"Now, damn it, Chuck," Sarah said as she turned to face him. "This time, stay in the car with Janice. Okay sweetie? I'll go get Ellie and be right back."
But just as Sarah went to open the car door, she felt Chuck's hand grab her shoulder. When she turned to face him she saw the very tail end of his flash. Sarah's heart caught in her throat. This couldn't be good news.
"Umm, Sarah," Chuck said. "We have a problem. See those three men standing to the right of the main entrance?"
"Blue suits?" Sarah asked. "Yes, I see them."
Chapter 7: Broken Promises
Sarah sat in the car trying to think through what to do next. She really hadn't anticipated Fulcrum being here at the hospital. And that fact alone unnerved her. After all, she was taught to anticipate. It's the singular skill that made her the best agent in the CIA. It's why she was alive today.
One look at Chuck's face told her that he was on the edge of freaking out. His voice took on that certain high pitch whenever he was under stress.
"What are they doing here?" Chuck said. "What is going on?"
"They are obviously after Ellie," Janice said.
Sarah winced at Janice's words. Not that she didn't agree. It was obvious. It's just that it was possibly the worst thing to say in front of Chuck. Ellie was his Achilles' heel. There was no way for him to think rationally knowing that she was in danger. She could already see the panic on his face. And truth be told, she was starting to panic a little too. She felt the same knot in her stomach that she always felt whenever Chuck was in danger. With a start, she realized that she was just as concerned as Chuck; she loved Ellie just as much as Chuck did. But there was only one way out of this. She wasn't sure what that was yet, but she knew that Agent Walker would find it. She always did.
Sarah fought the overwhelming urge to reach over and comfort Chuck. There would be plenty of time to be his wife later. Right now, he needed Agent Walker. And the worst thing that Agent Walker could do was to let her feelings get in the way.
"Chuck," Sarah said. "I want you to listen to me. I am going to make sure that nobody hurts Ellie. You know that, right?"
Chuck just nodded nervously but his eyes were not on Sarah. Rather, they were fixed on the agents standing there. So she did what she always did when she wanted his attention. She grabbed his finger and twisted it.
"Chuck!" Sarah said. "Listen to me. They are really not after Ellie. They are after you. They are not going to kill her. They can't. They need her. They want her to use as leverage against you. But, Chuck, once they have you, that all changes. Ellie, Devon, me, everybody you love becomes worthless to them. And that's when they would kill her. So, you need to make sure that doesn't happen. That is what you promised. Do you understand me?"
Sarah knew that she was lying to Chuck. Well, maybe not technically. Fulcrum wouldn't kill Ellie right away. They would torture her and make sure that Chuck saw the video. They would do unspeakable things to her and force Chuck to give himself up to save her. And Sarah knew that he would never be able to take that. Who was she kidding? She wouldn't be able to take that either.
"Chuck," Sarah said. "Take Janice in through the back entrance, find her some scrubs and go find Ellie. Bring her back here."
"What are you going to do?" Chuck asked.
Sarah understood the unasked question.
"Don't worry, Chuck," Sarah said. "I'm just going to sit here and keep an eye on these guys. As soon as you get back, Janice and I will take care of them. I would come with you but they don't know Janice. They might recognize me. Now hurry. But not so fast that you draw attention to yourself. Do whatever Janice tells you."
Sarah tried to keep her voice from revealing the tension that she felt. The last thing that Chuck needed right now was to see any doubt in her eyes. But Sarah could see the recognition in Janice's eyes that she understood the situation. The almost imperceptible nod from Janice told Sarah that Janice would protect him. It made her feel a little better. Not much, but a little.
"Let's go, Chuck," Janice said as she opened the door.
It was a good thing that Chuck knew his way around the hospital. Janice was quickly lost in the maze of hallways and different departments. Chuck pulled Janice into a supply room and found her a set of scrubs.
"I always wondered," Janice said as she began to unbutton her blouse. "If they were naked under these things. Didn't you?"
"No," Chuck said as he quickly turned away with the flush evident in his neck. "I didn't and they aren't."
Janice was a master at hiding the smirk on her face. Why let a crisis keep her from the chance to mess with someone?
As soon as Janice was dressed, Chuck led her to Ellie's office. When they approached the office, Chuck caught the eyes of a man in a business suit standing outside the office. As soon as the flash was over, he leaned in close to Janice.
"Bad news," Chuck whispered. "There is a Fulcrum agent right outside her door."
"Damn it," Janice whispered back. "I have two questions. How do you know all of these Fulcrum agents?"
Chuck simply shrugged his shoulders.
"And," Janice continued. "Are these bastards everywhere?"
Casey snuck around the back of his apartment until he got to the Morgan door. He wasn't sure how long the agents would wait before they stormed the house. And he wanted to have Devon out of there before he found out. He quickly let himself into Chuck's old room. When he walked into the living room, Casey saw Devon sitting on the couch watching television. Devon's shoulders noticeably sagged when he saw Casey come out of the bedroom.
"Come on, dude," Devon said with a sigh. "How many times do we need to have this conversation about breaking into my house?"
Casey was too intent on getting Devon out of there while there was still time. He could deal with the lady feelings later.
"Come on, Devon," Casey said trying to sound forceful without raising his voice.
"Where are we going?" Devon asked with a slight smirk while making absolutely no effort to move from the couch.
"We need to get out of here, Devon," Casey said. "Now!"
The smirk that had been slight now became more obvious. "I don't think so, John," he said. "I'm tired."
Casey quickly stepped to the window trying to make sure that the agents were still in sight. At first he became anxious when he couldn't see them. Then, thankfully, he spotted them still standing on the other side of the fountain. He really needed to get Devon out of there before they attacked.
Janice leaned into Chuck as much as she could without drawing attention. "Don't say anything," she said. "I'm going to distract him. You go in, get your sister and wait for me in the closet where we got my scrubs. Do you understand?"
Chuck remembered her instructions not to say anything so he just smiled.
"This would be so much easier," Janice whispered under her breath as she turned away from Chuck. "If you had let me take off my shirt."
The situation was tense. No question about it. But Chuck had to admit that he enjoyed his role as not so innocent bystander. He was amazed at how easily Janice was able to lead the Fulcrum agent away. Even with her shirt on. Someday Sarah was going to have to tell him about that training. And it was doubly sweet that it wasn't Sarah, for once, that was dishing out the… well, the dish.
As soon as Janice had the guy around the corner, he walked across the hall and opened the door to Ellie's office. He breathed a big sigh of relief to see Ellie sitting at her computer.
"Hi sis," Chuck said.
When Ellie turned towards the sound of Chuck's voice, he could see the fear in her eyes. "Chuck," she said. "Don't come in here!"
But it was too late. Chuck could feel what he instinctively knew was the cold barrel of a handgun poking into the back of his head.
"Dude," Devon said. "I know that we've had this talk before, but I think it's time you got some serious psychiatric help."
"Didn't you hear me?" Casey said. "There are five men outside looking for Chuck."
"Well," Devon said without looking up. "So what? Chuck's not here."
"You are in danger," Casey said. "They will use you to get to Chuck."
"Come on, John," Devon said. "Ellie might be impressed with the drama queen stuff. But I'm not."
That's when the front door was kicked in. The Fulcrum agents quickly rushed inside. Casey didn't have much time to react but was able to get four wild shots off before a stray bullet clipped his arm. The force of the shot knocked Casey to the floor. When he looked up, the three living agents had Devon and Casey totally covered.
There was nothing to do except surrender.
Keeping his gun out of sight, the Fulcrum agent kept it pointed at Ellie's back as he marched Chuck and Ellie to the ER department and out of the hospital.
"Where is Joe?" one of the agents asked.
"I don't know," replied the gunman. "I thought he would be out here with you."
Chuck looked at Ellie, trying to silently communicate that everything would be okay. And then; suddenly, he noticed Janice approaching them. Long gone was the set of scrubs that she had just worn. She was obviously crying. In spite of the tenseness of the situation, Chuck couldn't help but notice that her blouse was unbuttoned a little further than normal. Which, for Janice, meant several buttons past what would be considered respectable.
"Excuse me doctor," Janice said with a sob. "Can you tell me where the Intensive Care Unit is located?"
"Sorry," the agent replied as he looked down her shirt. "I'm not from this hospital."
Janice didn't reply. She simply kicked the agent directly in the groin. He immediately went down like a ton of bricks. The agent with the gun turned to face Janice. But before he was able to point the gun at her he fell to the ground with a knife sticking out of his throat - compliments of Sarah.
Bystanders scattered in all directions as a third agent fired his gun at Janice and missed. The last agent turned his back to them, aiming his gun at Sarah, who had drawn her gun. Chuck shoved the man hard from behind, grabbed Ellie's hand, and ran for the car.
Sarah shot the gunman twice in the chest and then joined Janice, who was exchanging blows with the last agent still on his feet. Together, Sarah and Janice made short work of him. They zip-tied the two surviving agents and left them lying on the grass.
"Do you have your ID?" Sarah asked Janice as they attempted to catch their breath.
At Janice's nod, Sarah continued. "Go inside and tell a security guard the situation. Tell them to secure these men and hold them until the cleanup crew arrives. We'll meet you in the car."
As soon as Sarah got into the driver's seat, she started the car. Then she turned to check on Chuck and Ellie in the back seat. Ellie was visibly shaken.
"What's going on here?" Ellie asked. It was a testament to her medical training that she was herself not reduced to tears.
"I'll explain later," Sarah said as calmly as she could. "We have to get out of here. They are after Chuck."
As soon as Janice arrived she got into the passenger's seat next to Sarah. The instant that she closed the door, Sarah pulled the car out of the parking lot.
"What's the plan?" Janice asked.
"We have to get off the grid," Sarah said quickly. "I don't know how compromised we are. They seem to be everywhere."
"Did you notice the tattoo on that last guy?" Janice asked.
"Yes," Sarah sighed. "It was the same as the one on the guy in Castle. Fulcrum must be using the drug gang to supplement their manpower."
"Chuck," Ellie finally was able to say. "Why did you tell that man with the gun that you were the Intersect? What is the Intersect?"
Sarah pulled off onto the shoulder of the road and slammed on the brakes. All of the occupants went flying at the abruptness of Sarah's move. When they were able to regain their bearings, the car was surrounded by a thick cloud of dust. Sarah silenced the question on Janice's lips with a single look.
"What did you say?" growled Sarah as she turned and looked directly at Chuck. Her eyes looked to be able to bore holes right through him.
Chuck tried to settle Sarah down by reaching up and putting his hand on her arm.
Sarah," Chuck said softly without meeting her eyes. "He had a gun. He was threatening to shoot her."
Sarah's glare turned toward the hand that was resting on her arm. "You have two seconds to move that hand," Sarah said through gritted teeth. "Or you're going to lose it."
"Sarah, please…" Chuck stammered. He had never seen her look so angry.
"I can't even talk to you right now," Sarah said. "You never had any intention of keeping your promise."
Sarah was interrupted by her cell phone ringing. She saw that it was Casey.
"Where the hell are you?" Sarah snapped as she answered the phone.
Sarah's shoulders visibly slumped as she listened to the phone without speaking. When she ended the call, she sat staring straight ahead without expression.
"Well," Janice said after a moment. "Are you going to tell us?"
"That was Fulcrum," Sarah said after a long moment. Sarah slowly took a deep breath and turned to face the back.
"They have Casey and Devon."
Chapter 8: Fair Trade
Agent Walker sat in the car trying to figure out what to do. The situation was totally messed up. Every time she turned around today, there was a group of Fulcrum agents waiting for them. They obviously knew about Chuck. And they, just as obviously, were looking to capture Ellie to use as leverage. Sarah was definitely spooked. She quickly decided that all of their familiar places were now off limits.
Her first reaction was to notify Beckman that Casey and Devon were captured and let her deal with it. Then grab Chuck and Ellie and hide out off the grid for a long while. And if it was just Casey that had been captured, she might have strongly considered that. As hard as it would have been on her to leave her partner behind, Chuck's safety came first. But she knew that it would never fly with Chuck and Ellie to run knowing that Devon was in danger.
Since Castle was definitely compromised, Sarah had no way of getting any weapons from there. So she decided to get their ops van. After all, it was designed for hi-tech surveillance. They had used it on missions many times. It didn't offer anywhere near the weaponry that Castle could, but hopefully it would be enough.
The problem was how to get it. It was stored in the FBI secured vehicle lot. And Sarah didn't want to go there because it might be under surveillance by Fulcrum. After all, the bastards were everywhere today. Fortunately, Sarah had a secret weapon. Fulcrum didn't know about Janice. So Sarah decided to risk parking several blocks away from the office and let Janice go get the van. That would have the added benefit of allowing Janice to brief Beckman in person. It was lucky that Beckman was still in Los Angeles. She was going to drive to Vegas to witness the wedding and fly back to Washington from there.
Sarah had no question that Janice would be able to get the van, even though the guards had never seen her before. Janice could charm the pants off almost any man… quite literally. If Sarah could be honest with herself, she would admit that Janice was actually better at the seduction thing than even she was. One thing that Sarah would admit was that Janice was doing great so far. Hopefully, any of the ill effects from Colombia would stay away for a few days.
When Janice showed up with the van, she offered the driver's seat to Sarah. But when Sarah climbed in, she realized that she didn't have a clue where to go. So they just stayed parked where they were. Now they really had nothing to do but wait.
Sarah had been able to keep Ellie's panicked questions at bay for a while by claiming that she needed to think. She had left Chuck to comfort her. Actually Ellie was comforting him as much as he was her. Fortunately, Chuck knew how angry Sarah was and could tell that he needed to give her some space. But Sarah knew that they both were hurting. It broke her heart to see them back there holding each other. She desperately wanted to go back there and wrap her arms around them. But she knew that she couldn't. Agent Walker had to keep her head in the game. One mistake could cost them their lives… or much worse.
Sarah was so deep in thought that she didn't notice that Janice was staring at her. Finally, Janice broke the silence.
"What are you thinking?" Janice asked.
"I don't know," Sarah replied with a deep sigh. "They said that they would contact me later with instructions to follow. I guess there is nothing to do but wait."
"What do you think they want?"
"They want Chuck," Sarah said without looking at Janice. "There is no question about that. They will want to trade Devon and Casey for Chuck. That just can't happen."
"I know," Janice said. "Beckman briefed me. At least now I know how Chuck knew all of those agents. How much is in that head of his anyway?"
"Everything is in there," Sarah said. "It's just figuring out how to get it out of him."
"I bet he knows where they are holding them," Janice said.
"Probably," Sarah admitted. "But he needs something to trigger the information."
"Like a tattoo?" Janice asked.
Janice didn't have to see Sarah's face to know that she had just struck gold.
"There is obviously a connection between this gang and Fulcrum," Janice said. "Maybe we can get some intel there. Someone there might know where Casey and Devon are being held. Anything is better than just sitting here by the side of the road."
Without another word, Sarah walked back to where Chuck and Ellie were sitting and grabbed his hand. She led him to a quiet spot.
"Sarah," Chuck said. "I'm really sorry."
Sarah had to resist the overwhelming temptation to throw her arms around him…and squeeze him really, really hard. So hard that his eyes would bug out. But there would be time for that later.
"Not now, Chuck," Sarah said. "Let's get something straight. I'm not Sarah right now. I'm Agent Walker. Sarah is incredibly pissed and hurt that you would lie to her about something so important. So you aren't going to be seeing her for a while. Since I can't trust you to do the right thing, until you are out of danger, you're my asset. And you should be thankful. Because if your wife was here right now, she would be kicking your ass. Do you understand?"
She had seen the hurt look on his face so many times that you would think she would be used to it by now… but she wasn't. Chuck just nodded and looked at the floor.
"I need the address of that drug house you flashed on."
They easily found the gang's hideout. To the outside it just looked like any other house in an inner city residential neighborhood. The main tip that it was a crack house was the steady stream of people going in and out. They configured the van to look like a cable company van and parked it a few doors down the street. Sarah picked a spot that was far enough away to not be conspicuous but close enough to have a good view.
With the electronics of the van, they were able to hear a lot of the audio from the house. Sarah had it playing over the speakers in the van so they all could hear. Actually, they heard way too much for their liking since most of the conversations were drug transactions. But as sensitive as the equipment was, there were some voices coming from the basement that were just too muffled to make out.
Fortunately, the van was supplied for this contingency. Janice was easily able to put on one of the overalls that looked like a cable company uniform and walk right up to the back of the house. After she attached the bug to the basement window frame, the audio became crystal clear. They could plainly hear a gang member talking on a cell phone.
"Yes, sir, we were able to capture the NSA agent and the sister's fiancé."
"Yes, sir, I'm getting ready to contact Agent Walker right now. I'll offer to trade the fiancé for Agent Walker. Hopefully, she'll agree. If she resists, I'll let her hear him screaming to soften her up a little."
"If she agrees, you should be able to pick them up in a couple of hours."
"Yes, sir, I understand how important Agent Walker is."
"We lost two men at the apartment. I haven't heard from the teams at the Orange Orange or the hospital. I'd have to assume that means that we have lost them."
"The agent has a gunshot wound to the arm. The fiancé is a doctor so we let him take a look. I think he is going to live."
"Yes, sir, I'll contact you as soon as we have her."
As soon as the call ended, Janice turned toward Sarah and stared intently.
"What?" Sarah asked.
"They're not after Chuck at all," Janice said. "They're after you."
"I know," Sarah said in a surprised tone. "Maybe they think that they can use me to get to Chuck. But even that doesn't make any sense. Chuck would trade himself for anybody he loves in a heartbeat if we would let him. They wouldn't need me. Devon, or even Casey, would work just as well."
Janice smiled at Sarah in spite of the tenseness of the situation.
"Maybe they just don't know Chuck."
Sarah quickly turned away from Janice. But not quite quickly enough to keep Janice from taking note of the look of sadness on Sarah's face. Janice could barely hear her whispered response.
"No… they don't."
Devon and Casey were both handcuffed and blindfolded. They were placed in a car and driven to the gang hideout. As soon as they were inside of the house, the blindfolds were removed and they were instructed to walk down the stairs.
"This man is injured," Devon said as he got a look at Casey's wound for the first time. "He needs some medical attention."
A savage kick to the side of Devon's knee quickly told him that they were not impressed.
"Devon," Casey whispered as they were walking down the steps. "Don't talk. Say nothing. No bullshit right now. These guys will make you wish you were dead."
As soon as Sarah's phone rang, she knew it was Fulcrum.
"Agent Walker," the agent said. "We have no use for the fiancé. We would much rather have a chance to chat with you."
"I'm listening," Sarah said.
"Here is the deal," the agent replied. "Meet us at the convenience store at the corner of Fifth and Baltimore in twenty minutes. We trade you for the good doctor. For every minute past twenty he loses a finger."
"What about the other man?" Sarah asked. "I'll come if you will release both of them."
"Sorry, Agent Walker," the agent said. "We're doing you a favor. We're trading a civilian for a pro, one for one."
"How do I know that you will keep your end of the bargain?" Sarah asked.
"You don't. Twenty minutes," came the quick reply as the phone went dead.
As Chuck listened to the conversation, he walked up to the front of the van to stand next to Sarah.
"No, Sarah," Chuck said as soon as the call ended. "Please…"
"Not now, Chuck," Sarah interrupted. "I'm working right now."
Damn it!" Chuck said in a frustrated tone. "Okay. You're pissed at me. I messed up. I have that coming. I'm not your husband right now. I get all that. But I'm still a member of this team. And this is too risky. We have no idea if they are going to let Devon go. All you would be doing is sacrificing yourself."
"Don't you dare lecture me about sacrificing myself," Sarah shouted back. "This is a chance we have to take. We have an advantage."
"What advantage?" Chuck shouted, matching Sarah's tone.
Janice stepped in between them to settle them down.
"We have surprise, Chuck," Janice said. "We know when they are going to transfer them. I will be waiting to ambush them. There will probably only be three or four agents moving them. They wouldn't be expecting any trouble. I should be able to quickly take them out. They will never see it coming."
"Sarah," Chuck pleaded. "Please…"
Sarah had never in her life wanted more to throw her arms around him. "Sorry, Chuck," she said. "This is the right thing to do. We can get Devon out of there. And Janice is right. We have an advantage."
For the first time in a while, Sarah allowed herself to look into Chuck's eyes.
"Don't worry. I'll be fine."
Sarah sat silently in the Fulcrum van. They were already there when she arrived at the agreed location. They had quickly cuffed her hands behind her back and did an electronics' sweep. Then one of the men performed the usual Fulcrum search technique. One thing was for sure. She made a mental note to never try and smuggle anything inside of her bra with this crowd. Finally, they put a hood over her head.
During the search / grope, she was finally able to get a good look at Devon. He looked to be okay. A little scared, maybe. But that was to be expected. When she saw the tightness in his jaw as the Fulcrum agent had his hand in her shirt, Sarah flashed Devon a quick smile. She knew better than to try and speak. But hopefully the smile would be enough to tell him that she was okay. And it felt good when it was returned so quickly.
For a horrible moment Sarah thought that they weren't going to let him go as they promised. But just before they left, she could hear them push him out of the van door.
Janice drove the van to a spot where she could see the convenience store. But she knew that there was not going to be much she could do if things didn't go well. Sarah had made it abundantly clear that Chuck was the top priority. There was a look of vulnerability in Sarah's eyes that Janice had never seen before. So for Janice to intervene now would mean leaving Chuck. It would also mean giving up their advantage of surprise. It would also probably get Devon and Sarah killed. And definitely Casey.
So Janice breathed a big sigh of relief when she saw Devon get pushed out of the van and it speed away. At least they had accomplished rescuing the innocent civilian.
"Sit tight," Janice called to Chuck and Ellie. "I'll go get him."
Janice was very careful to look for any sign of a trap before she approached Devon. Finally she was comfortable that the scene was clear. So she waved at Devon to follow her and led him to the van.
Naturally, the first thing that Devon did when he entered the van was to go in the back and throw his arms around Ellie. Chuck, wanting to give them a little privacy, came up and sat next to Janice as she drove the van back to the gang's hideout. Although, it was less than a mile, the gang's vehicle with Sarah had not arrived yet. They apparently had taken an indirect route to make sure they weren't being tailed.
Janice saw the worry on Chuck's face. He was never very good at hiding his emotions. And right now, he was worried, approaching panic.
"Janice," Chuck said. "I just want you to know how much I admire you."
"Admire me?" Janice asked in shock.
"Sarah told me what happened in Colombia," Chuck said. "I'm so sorry. I can't imagine anybody getting over that."
"I'm not really over it," Janice said with a sad smile. "But I'm trying. I just want you to know that I'm going to do whatever it takes to keep you safe."
"I know," Chuck said with his own smile. "I want you to know that there is no one in the world that I would feel safer with."
Even though she was herself totally in agent mode, Janice couldn't help the genuine smile from coming to her face. Chuck was having a horrible day. People were trying to capture and torture him and his loved ones. His pregnant wife was captured and facing, who knows what. And she was so pissed at him that she wouldn't even talk to him. And yet all he could do was try and cheer her up. Janice couldn't help but throw her arms around his neck.
"Thanks," Janice whispered as she held Chuck close. "Everything is going to be okay."
Umm, Janice," Chuck said as he rubbed her back. "Could we not do this in front of Ellie? Because…"
Janice looked up to see that, indeed, Ellie was staring straight at them. She did not look happy.
"I'm in enough trouble as it is."
As soon as Sarah was led into the house, the hood was removed from her head. Much like Casey and Devon before her, she was ordered down the stairs. Sarah could see Casey handcuffed to a chair. When their eyes met, Sarah could see the questioning look. It was as if he was wondering what in the hell she was doing. She simply flashed him a soft smile as they secured her in the same way in a chair next to Casey.
One of the gang members walked up to stand directly in front of Sarah. The gloating in his eyes was unmistakable, as was the smugness in his voice.
"Hello, Sarah," he said. "I always knew that I would see you again."
One of the first things that a spy was trained to do was to never show surprise. After all, letting your enemy know what you were thinking by the look on your face could be the difference between life and death. She knew that the best tactic would be to keep silent. There was always the possibility that your voice would betray your fear. But she also knew that she had to let Janice know what was going on. Their plans had just dramatically changed. So Sarah took a deep breath and looked into his eyes.
Chapter 9: Crack Ho
Sarah didn't see Jose's hand until just before it impacted the side of her face. So there was nothing she could do to minimize the impact of it. The blow landed high on her cheekbone. The force almost knocked her over. Even though she was seeing stars she was able to see the backhanded return blow coming and she turned her face a little to lesson the force.
"Next time you kill someone, Sarah," Jose hissed. "You'd better make sure that they are really dead."
Sarah knew better than to speak.
"Hey asshole," Casey growled in an obvious attempt to deflect Jose's anger away from Sarah. "What kind of man hits a woman when her hands are tied behind her back?"
"Better watch it, tough guy," Jose said, never moving his gaze off of Sarah. "I can't kill her. The big boss wants her alive. But he didn't say anything about you."
"One thing I'd like to watch," Casey said with a sneer. "Is for you to untie her so that she could kick your ass around this room."
"I'll be right back," Jose said as he moved his head close to Sarah's. "Maybe we can get reacquainted."
Chuck and Janice stared at each other in horror as they listened to what was going on.
"Who in the hell is that?" Janice said to no one in particular.
When Chuck finally looked up from the floor he could see that Ellie and Devon were now gathered around the speaker listening intently.
"I know who it is," Chuck said, trying to force out the words. "Sarah told me the story just this morning. Jose was the head of security for the cartel when you were in Bogotá. Sarah seduced him to get into the compound. Then she strangled him with her belt just before he was about to rape her."
"Shit!" Janice exclaimed. "We have to get her out of there."
Just then they got the notification that someone inside the house was making a cell call. Fortunately, Janice had been able to trace the earlier call from the same phone so they were able to hear both sides of the conversation.
"Good news, sir," said Jose. "We have Agent Walker."
"Excellent! I'll send some men over for her right away."
"Not so fast," said Jose. "I'm afraid there has been a change in plans."
"Change in plans? I don't understand."
"It turns out that Sarah and I are old friends," said Jose. "She owes me a debt that has been collecting interest for many years. She's going to be spending tonight paying me back."
"Wait a minute. We just lost twelve men for the chance to talk to Agent Walker, and now you don't want to hand her over? I want her now!"
"This is non negotiable!" Jose said as he raised his voice. "I don't care if you kill me. I'll give you the man now. But I'm keeping Sarah until the morning. She is going to pay."
"She can't be harmed. We need her in one piece."
"Don't worry," Jose said. "I won't do anything to her that a little makeup won't hide."
There was a long pause. So long that Janice was starting to worry that they had dropped the call.
"Fine. I'll send someone over for the NSA agent. I'm holding you personally responsible for Agent Walker. If I don't get what I want you'll be begging me to kill you. Do you understand?"
"Yes," Jose said. "She'll be alive. You can pick her up at nine."
"Damn," Janice sighed. "There goes our plan. I was counting on them moving Casey and Sarah together. There is no way to ambush them now. That would just tip them off and Sarah would be a goner. I'll have to go in there and get her."
"Janice," Chuck said. "There must be ten men in there. Can't we call Beckman and get some more manpower down here?"
Janice considered Chuck's statement for a moment. Then she shook her head.
"We have to assume that our communication with Beckman is compromised," Janice said. "And there is no time to go and talk to her in person. Surprise is the only thing that we have in our favor. I'll have to go."
"But, Janice," Chuck said. "Sarah is in the basement. How could you possibly fight your way through ten men and get down in the basement before they would kill her?"
"It's going to be tough," Janice admitted, more to herself than to Chuck. "I could really use another set of eyes. Maybe a distraction. But I'll have to risk it."
The voice came so softly that Chuck had to do a double take to make sure that he heard her right. It took a long moment before he even realized that it was Ellie.
"I'll go with you."
"No way," Janice, Chuck, and Devon all said at basically the same time.
"Why not?" Ellie asked. "Janice needs a distraction. I can be a distraction. Maybe I can pass out or something."
"Why you?" Chuck asked.
"Look around, genius," Ellie said. "Devon was just being held hostage in there an hour ago. They would recognize him before he got in the house. No way can it be you. You're the one they're after. I'm the only one they wouldn't recognize."
"Ellie," Janice said. "This is not a game. If they discover you, killing you would be the best thing that happens."
"My sister is in there," Ellie said firmly. "I love her. She is carrying my unborn niece. We need to get her out of there before that animal can do God knows what to her. I'm going to do whatever it takes. And if you're not going to help, you can go to hell. I'll go alone if I have to."
Janice stood and observed Ellie for a long moment. Finally she was satisfied that Ellie was determined.
"Okay, Ellie," Janice said. "What are you wearing under those scrubs?"
"Tank top," Ellie said. "Why?"
"Show me," Janice said.
As soon as Ellie took off her scrubs, Janice appraised her. Indeed, she was wearing a dark blue tank top.
"Lose the bra."
At Ellie's look, Janice responded harshly.
"Ellie," Janice said. "There is only one way to do this. If you're going to go into that house, you have to completely convince them that you are the raunchiest crack ho in Los Angeles. You'd screw every guy in there for a dime bag. You have to be so raunchy that none of the men are going to want to touch you. If you go in there as Dr. Bartowski, you'll be on your back getting plowed by one or more of them so fast you won't know what hit you. If you can't do that, then stay here. Do you understand?"
After a long pause, Ellie nodded her head. As she went to pull the top over her head she paused. "Chuck," she said. "Would you turn your back?"
Chuck looked at Ellie carefully. He was worried sick about Sarah. No question about that. But Sarah could always take care of herself. Ellie was a fish out of water in these kind of situations. If anything happened to either of them, he didn't know what he would do.
"Ellie," Chuck said. "Be careful."
"Damn it, Chuck!" Ellie snapped. "We're wasting time. Are you going to turn your back or not?"
"Like I'd want to see this," Chuck replied sarcastically as he quickly turned away.
Two men came and led Casey up the stairs. As Casey climbed the steps, he turned and looked at Sarah; his jaw was set tightly. Sarah could tell that he was stalling, trying to find an opening to attack and save her.
"Don't worry about me," Sarah said with a smile. "I'll see you soon."
Since one of the men left with Casey, that left two guards and Jose.
"Well Jose," Sarah said with exaggerated enthusiasm knowing that Janice was listening. "It looks like it's just you and me. Oh, and your two guards. And the seven more upstairs. What do you want to do now? Would you like to show me around again? I must say, this place is not nearly as impressive as the one in Bogotá. Have times been bad? I know that the economy is down right now."
Jose just smiled at her confidently.
"Go ahead," Jose replied. "Make fun all you want. You know what is going to happen in a few minutes. Let's face it. We both know."
"I know," Sarah said as the smile left her face.
"Okay, Ellie," Janice said as they got ready to leave. "This is your last chance. Are you absolutely sure you want to do this?"
"Of course not," Ellie snapped. "I'm sure that I don't want to do this. But I'm going to."
"Okay," Janice continued as she handed Ellie her ear piece. "Chuck is going to be talking to us all the time. Sarah just told us that there are seven men upstairs. I'll go in first. You wait about five minutes and knock on the door. Tell them that you are a friend of Jose's and want to buy. They will tell you that Jose is busy. Tell them that you will wait. When I say the word 'party', you pretend to throw up. Nobody can tear their head away from someone throwing up. That should let me get the drop on them. Any questions?"
Ellie just shook her head.
"Do you know how to act?"
"I've been an ER attending physician for the past five years," Ellie said with an indignant look. "I've treated those girls every night. I've seen the blank looks on their faces. Yes, I know what to do."
"When the fighting starts," Janice said. "Stay as low as you can. Just stay passed out until it's over. If anything happens to me, you've never seen me before in your life. Got it? I put a tranq gun and some darts in your purse. Just in case."
Ellie smiled nervously.
"Just please," Janice said. "Whatever you do, don't shoot me with it."
Jose loosened the binds that had Sarah secured to the chair. As soon as she was free, he pulled her roughly to her feet and pushed her into a side room. It would be a stretch to call it a bedroom. But there was a bed. Of course the sheets looked like they had last been changed during the Clinton Administration. Since Sarah's hands were still cuffed behind her back there was no way for her to protect herself as she went crashing into the bed. Jose walked into the room after Sarah. As soon as he slammed the door, he grabbed Sarah by the hair and pulled her to her feet.
"Jose, please," Sarah said. She couldn't finish her sentence because Jose slammed her into the wall, taking her breath away. Finally Sarah was able to choke out.
"Do you think we could make a deal?"
"What kind of deal?" Jose growled as he stopped his battering for a moment. "You don't have anything to trade with."
Sarah looked at the floor for a long moment. When she finally looked back at Jose, he could see the tears filling her eyes.
"Sure I do," Sarah said. "We both know what you want. I can make it a lot better for you if I… cooperate. A lot better."
Jose looked at her skeptically.
"Like you cooperated in Bogotá?"
"That was a different situation," Sarah said. "Here you have two armed guards waiting for me. What am I going to do?"
"And what do you get?"
Sarah could tell by the look in Jose's eyes that he was excited by her offer.
"A couple of things," Sarah said as she took a deep breath. "First off, it's just you. And we stay in the bedroom. I'm not putting on a peep show and your amigos have to find their own dates."
Jose simply grinned at her.
"And you have to use a condom," Sarah continued. "I assume that you have some this time?"
"Finally," Sarah said. "No more violence. I have a man, Jose. And I don't want to explain any marks on my body in places that only he should be seeing. This is a story that I will never have to tell him."
"You keep your cuffs on," Jose said.
"Fine," Sarah said. "It would be a lot better for you if I could use my hands. How about you take off my cuffs so I can take my shirt off? Then I'll put them back on."
"Sarah," Jose said as he reached behind her to unlock her handcuffs. "I believe we have a deal."
While Devon and Chuck listened to Sarah and Jose negotiate, Devon put his hand gently on Chuck's shoulder.
"I'm sorry, bro," Devon said as tears threatened his eyes. "I know how hard it must be to have to listen to your wife sleep with another man. But it looks like she has no choice."
To Devon's utter surprise, Chuck just grinned at him.
"She's not going to sleep with him," Chuck said with a laugh. "She just played him like a car radio. That last bit about never having to tell me the story was code. She was telling me that there isn't going to be anything to tell."
Laughing at Devon's surprised look, Chuck keyed his mike. "Sarah is securing Jose in the downstairs bedroom," he said to Janice, who was just walking up to the door. "Two bogies remain downstairs. I would assume that Jose is neutralized and probably at least one of the guards."
"Rodger that," Janice said as she knocked on the door. After a second, Chuck heard Ellie's softer voice, who had obviously forgotten that she was being listened to.
"Way to go, Sarah,"
Sarah and Jose were still in the bedroom. Sarah, per their deal, had taken her shirt off and reapplied the handcuffs. One compromise that Jose allowed was that she could keep her hands cuffed in front of her.
Sarah, taking the initiative, stepped up to Jose and kissed him. She quickly opened her mouth to give Jose access. After a moment she broke the kiss.
"Jose," Sarah whispered. "As long as this is going to happen anyway, I might as well enjoy it too. You don't mind do you?"
Jose shook his head just as Sarah kissed him again. This time the kiss had a lot more energy as she invaded his mouth. Just as Sarah could feel Jose's hand slide under the edge of her bra, Sarah broke the kiss.
"I've always had this fantasy," she whispered with a smile as she held up her wrists and shook her cuffs suggestively.
As she stepped behind Jose, she put her hands on his face.
Suddenly, she pulled the chain of her handcuffs around Jose's neck. And using the cuffs as handles pulled with all her might. To Jose's credit, he struggled for quite a while before finally succumbing. When she was finally sure that he was dead, Sarah slowly released her grip.
"Thanks, Jose," Sarah said as she unlocked her cuffs. "I did enjoy that."
"Was it good for you?"
Janice had to admit. Ellie was a natural as a stoned crack ho. Of the seven men that were upstairs, four of them surrounded Ellie. Not to flirt with her. Quite the opposite. They were trying to keep her from stumbling into and breaking their stuff. The three men that remained with Janice were obviously trying to negotiate a payment plan that didn't involve actual money." Finally Janice felt it was time to make her move. So she turned to the nearest gang member.
"Are you ready to party?" Janice asked.
Hearing her cue, Ellie slowly fell to her knees and began retching in a performance that was worthy of an academy award. Sure enough, every eye in the room turned to her in horror. Taking advantage of the distraction, Janice pulled out her gun and began shooting. She was easily able to kill the three men closest to her before they even turned around. Three of the four remaining men rushed towards Janice. Ellie was able to jam a tranq dart into the forth man by grasping him and pretending to faint. He fell like a sack of potatoes.
Janice was able to kill the first man before he reached her. But the second was able to grab her arm and knock the gun out of her hand. He then drove his other hand into Janice's stomach. Even though the wind was knocked out of her, Janice as able to throw her shoulder into his waist and they tumbled to the ground, wrestling violently for control. Finally, Janice was able to land a head butt to the man, knocking him unconscious.
The final man spotted Janice's gun on the floor and he picked it up, aiming it at Janice. Janice looked up for a moment and her eyes widened; there was no time to take cover. She closed her eyes as the shot rang out. When she opened them again, Sarah was standing over her and the man Janice had been fighting.
"Jose and the two men downstairs are dead," Sarah said as she fought exhaustion.
While Janice and Sarah leaned on each other and tried to catch their breath, Ellie stood up from the floor and approached them. The anger was clearly visible on Sarah's face.
"Ellie!" Sarah said as she raised her voice. "What are you doing here? You could have been killed. Have you lost your freaking mind?"
Instead of answering, Ellie simply threw her arms around Sarah's neck and sobbed.
"I love you," Ellie cried.
Even though Sarah was genuinely livid, she couldn't help but be moved by Ellie's emotion. Finally Sarah gave in. She put her arms around Ellie and hugged her affectionately. After a long moment of pure embrace, Sarah whispered into Ellie's ear.
"What kind of crazy family have I married into?"
Chapter 10: Perfect and Not So Much
"Son of a bitch!" Fred Jones yelled. The coffee cup that he had been holding shattered into a million pieces as he sent it flying into the wall of his office. "Are you sure? How could this happen?"
"I'm afraid it's true, sir," the Fulcrum agent replied. "When I returned to the gang headquarters, all ten men were dead. And Agent Walker was gone."
"So let me get this straight," Jones said. His mood went from anger to dejection as his shoulders visibly slumped. "Agent Walker escaped from ten men and killed them all… All on her own? How is that possible?"
"We don't know, sir," the agent said. "When I left she was secured in the basement. Her hands were cuffed behind her back and she was bound to a chair. When I returned after transferring the NSA agent, I found the bodies."
"Son of a bitch," Jones muttered. "How many men of ours did she kill yesterday? Twenty two?"
"Well, sir," the agent replied. "In all fairness, the NSA agent got two." As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he realized how stupid he sounded.
"And we're sure that she didn't have help?" Jones said. "She wasn't tailed on the way to the house? They didn't trace the NSA agent's cell?"
"I'm very sure of that, sir," the agent replied. "We swept her as soon as we captured her. I also searched her very thoroughly. We went well out of our way back to the house. We had a trailer car to make doubly sure that we weren't being tailed. And they couldn't have traced his cell. We didn't even call her from the house. His phone was never on there."
"Who is this Agent Walker anyway?" Jones said, more to himself than anybody. "Why is it that she seems to know everything that we do before we even do it?"
"Yes, sir," the agent said. "We actually have another problem. None of our agents are eager to go after Agent Walker again. Everybody that has tried so far is now wearing a toe tag. It's considered a suicide mission."
There was nothing for Jones to do except shake his head and dream about having someone like that working for him.
"I'd love to have a chat with this superwoman."
As soon as Sarah, Ellie, and Janice were back in the van, Sarah had Chuck drive them away from the scene. There was no sense in risking possibly being identified. Sarah sat uncomfortably in the passenger's seat. She didn't speak except to give Chuck driving directions. She could sense that Chuck was very upset. But that would have to wait until they were safe. Janice sat at the center control panel, trying to find clues in the audio recording from the mission. Devon and Ellie sat in the very back, holding each other.
After driving for a while, Sarah decided that they needed to find someplace to stop for the night. And the last thing that Sarah wanted to do was to use a credit card. So that meant finding a hotel that would accept cash. Since Janice and Ellie were already dressed like hookers, the decision on where to go was easy. Sarah directed Chuck to drive to the red light district. They quickly picked a hotel that had parking that couldn't be seen from the road. Sarah sent Janice and Ellie in to get two rooms. She would have preferred adjoining rooms but it wasn't that sort of place. So she settled for two rooms next to each other.
Janice and Sarah remained in the van listening to the tape from the gang hideout while the others went into the closest motel room.
"They weren't using a secure cell," Janice said. "So we were able to trace the phone. It belongs to a Fred Jones."
"I'll mention it to Chuck," Sarah said as she began playing the tape. "Maybe he'll flash on something."
"They are not after Chuck, at all," Janice said as they finished listening to Jose's call to Jones. "There is no mention of Chuck or the Intersect. They are after you."
Sarah couldn't help but agree.
"I know," she said. "I have no idea what they are up to. Maybe they think that I know about the Intersect. They think that Bryce is the Intersect. Maybe they know about my history with Bryce. Maybe they just want to get information about him. Nothing else makes any sense."
"History?" Janice asked with a sly smile. Her implication was obvious.
Sarah was so surprised by Janice's question that she snapped her head up to look her in the eye.
"Can I ask you a question?" Janice asked. "We're friends, right? What is the real deal between you and Chuck? Don't give me the 'I'm in love' line. Come on, Sarah. Agents don't fall in love. You two are like oil and vinegar. Are you playing him?"
"I'm not playing him," Sarah quickly bristled. "Right now I'm pissed at him. That's true. I could picture me twisting his head until it came off in my hand. But he is my life. If anything happened to him, I would die."
"But how could you possibly give up on Bryce?" Janice asked. "He is the perfect man for you. Did he dump you?"
"He didn't dump me," Sarah said. "Look, Janice. I don't expect you to understand. I don't totally understand myself."
"You're right. I don't."
"You've never felt what it feels like to be truly loved," Sarah said with a smile. "If you ever had, you'd understand. Bryce may have been the perfect man for Agent Walker. But Sarah wanted more."
"Come on, Sarah," Janice said. "You've been treating him like crap. Is this how you act when you're in love? He's not a puppy that needs to stay in the car. I treat him better than you do."
Sarah looked at the floor sadly. "I know," she whispered. "I need to protect him. He's depending on me. And right now, I need to stay an agent. If I smiled at him once, he would have me in bed five minutes later. And then, goodbye Agent Walker. I have to stay professional. I'll make it up to him."
Janice glared at Sarah skeptically. "So," she said. "You wouldn't mind if I took a shot at Bryce? He is the hottest thing on two legs."
"I wouldn't mind at all," Sarah said. "I think that's a great idea. Do you want me to set something up? I know how to get a hold of him."
"Maybe," Janice said with a smile. "You really wouldn't mind?"
"I know that you've always had a thing for Bryce," Sarah said. "He's always noticed you too. I think that you two would make a great couple. But the truth is that Chuck is so much better… in almost every way you can imagine."
"Even in bed?"
"Especially in bed."
"Really?" Janice asked. "Then how about this? Since you're pissed at Chuck, maybe I could cheer him up?"
"If you even touch him," Sarah growled. "I'll leave your body buried in a shallow grave. I'm not kidding, Janice. Normally I wouldn't mind you being you with him. You wouldn't get very far anyway. But he's hurting right now and he doesn't need anyone messing with his head. Do we understand each other?"
Janice turned away so Sarah wouldn't see the smirk on her face. She loved Sarah like a sister. But it was so much fun getting under her skin.
Janice and Sarah had moved to one of the rooms when Chuck came in. He was visibly upset.
"Do you think I could speak to Sarah for two minutes?" he asked Janice.
"Sure," Janice replied. "I'll be next door seeing what trouble I can cause over there. It looks like you already have enough of your own over here."
As soon as Janice left, Chuck turned to Sarah. "I'd like to speak with my wife for two minutes. I assume that you don't feel that we're in imminent danger since you left Devon, Ellie, and me alone for the past hour. Maybe Agent Walker can take a break."
"Chuck," Sarah said. "I'm still incredibly pissed. I really don't have anything to say to you right now."
"That's fine," Chuck snapped. "Because I intend on doing all the talking."
Chuck noticed the look on Sarah's face but didn't wait for her to say anything.
"First," Chuck began. "I'm sorry that you're pissed at me. I know that you think that I lied. But I didn't. I just got in a situation where I didn't know what to do. And I made a bad decision. I admit that. And I'm sorry if that hurt you. But I'm the one that would never intentionally lie to you."
Sarah's jaw tightened at Chuck's last barb but, again, he didn't give her a chance to speak.
"You made some promises to me as well," Chuck continued. "You promised me that you would keep our baby safe. Remember that? I don't think that getting slammed into walls by some sex crazed drug dealer and having a gunfight with ten of his buddies qualifies. Do you?"
Sarah looked at the floor. Her voice was so soft that Chuck had to strain to hear her.
"Chuck," Sarah said. "I'm sorry. I wasn't expecting Jose to be there. I'm doing my best to protect the baby. She's as important to me as she is to you."
"I'm sending Ellie in to check you over," Chuck said. "I didn't like the sound of him throwing you around."
"Chuck, I'm fine. I …"
"It wasn't a request," Chuck interrupted. "I love you, Sarah. I love the baby. Just because I'm pissed at you doesn't change that fact."
Sarah had to turn away to keep from throwing herself into his arms.
"Okay," Sarah said. "I'm pissed. I will be for a while. But it didn't change for me either. You know that, right?"
"Who am I getting tonight?" Chuck asked. "Sarah or Agent Walker?"
Sarah's heart broke as she looked at the fear in Chuck's eyes. Her instincts screamed at her to tell Chuck that she loved him. That this was just as hard on her. That, after all, she was doing it for him. That it was only for a little while and that she looked forward to making it up to him… again and again. That it wouldn't take too much convincing to get her into bed right now. But she knew that she couldn't say any of those things without breaking down. And he needed her to be strong.
"I'm sorry, Chuck," Sarah said. "Until we're safe, I'm Agent Walker. I have to be. Please help me."
"If you want me to help," Chuck said. "Then we need to stay away from each other as much as possible. I'll sleep with Janice tonight."
Even though the situation was very tense, Chuck couldn't help but smile at Sarah's reaction.
"You know what I mean."
Chuck brought Ellie right over to check on Sarah.
"Chuck, I forgot to tell you," Sarah said. "We traced Jose's call to a Fred Jones. Do you know anything about him?"
Sarah waited patiently for the flash to finish. She knew that the length of the flash was unusual. It must mean that the Intersect had a lot of information.
"Crap!" Chuck exclaimed when the flash finally ended. "He's a Fulcrum Elder. He is based here in L.A. and is in charge of the entire West coast. I have his address."
"Good," Sarah said.
"Are you hurting anywhere?" Ellie asked Sarah.
"My left shoulder is a little sore," Sarah said. "I hit it when Jose slammed me into the wall. It's just a little bruised. I'll be fine."
"Let me look at it," Ellie said. "Please take off your shirt."
"Chuck," Sarah said. "Could you go get Janice?"
"What," Chuck said. "I can't see you take off your shirt?"
"I'm sorry, Chuck," Sarah said. "I don't think that's a good idea right now. Please just go get Janice."
"I guess that view is reserved for Jose," Chuck said as he stormed out of the room and slammed the door.
"Wow," Ellie said. "You must really be upset with him."
"I was," Sarah said as she took off her shirt. "I'm pretty much over that now."
"Doesn't sound like it," Ellie said as she felt around Sarah's shoulder.
"I feel horrible," Sarah said. "I need to concentrate on keeping him safe. He's taking this the wrong way. Can you talk to him for me?"
"That needs to come from you," Ellie said. "For one thing, he wouldn't believe me."
"I can't," Sarah said. "I would just break down. Please. Just let him know that I love him. That this is just for a little while."
"I'll make you a deal," Ellie said with a smile. "I'll talk to Chuck for you if you talk to Devon for me."
"Devon?" Sarah asked. "What's wrong with Devon?"
"He thinks that I am attracted to John," Ellie said with a laugh.
"Really?" Sarah said with a laugh of her own. "Casey? Please tell me he's wrong."
"He thinks I'm attracted to the excitement," Ellie said. "He is definitely wrong. I like John. We get along. But there is nothing sexual there."
"I'll talk to him," Sarah said.
"I'm not sure how much good either of us will do," Ellie said. "But at least you didn't suffer any physical damage in your fight today."
"Is the baby okay?" Sarah asked.
"Yes," Ellie replied. "Your shoulder has a moderate bruise. Some ice would help. But if you've managed up till now, I'd say you'll be fine. It would take a lot to hurt the baby at this stage. I would mention it to your obstetrician that you took a blunt force trauma. Who is your obstetrician?"
"I haven't seen one," Sarah said. "We've been on the run ever since I found out that I was pregnant."
"Sarah!" Ellie said in alarm. "You need to get in right away. I have a friend who is great. I'll see if she can sneak you in. You can't wait on this."
Just then Janice entered the room. "What's wrong with Chuck?" she asked. "He is really upset. He is throwing stuff around the room."
Sarah had to blink away the tears that were quickly forming.
"I know," she said. "We have to end this. I'm hurting him too much."
"What are you going to do?" Janice asked.
"Chuck flashed," Sarah said. "It turns out that Fred Jones is a Fulcrum elder. Chuck has his address."
"Okay," Janice said with a smile. "So, what's the plan?"
"This guy wants to talk to me so fucking bad," Sarah said.
Janice's smile turned into a grin. She was actually starting to feel a little sorry for this guy. Sarah must really be livid to use that language.
"Let's give him his wish."
Fred Jones unlocked the door to his house and walked in. He threw his keys on the counter and walked into the living room. He plopped down in the overstuffed chair and sat in the dark. He didn't even have the energy to fix himself a drink. This had been a lousy day. It had been a lousy week. And it was shaking up to be a lousy year.
Suddenly a voice came out of the darkness.
"Are you Fred Jones?"
Startled, Jones turned towards the voice. "Who is there?" he asked.
A light switched on. The first thing that Jones would normally have noticed would be the stunning blonde sitting across from him. At this time, however, he was consumed by looking down the barrel of the Glock that she held pointing directly at him. She waited a long moment before speaking.
"My name is Sarah Walker."
Chapter 11: For Services Rendered
Chuck sat in the motel room staring at the television that wasn't even turned on. His anger had burned itself out. He had used so much energy being angry that after it was gone, there was very little left. Chuck was so mentally exhausted that he couldn't even think clearly. Devon tried for a few minutes to start a conversation but quickly realized that it wasn't going to happen. So he went back to whatever notes he was writing.
When Ellie returned to the room, she walked up to Chuck and handed him a piece of paper. "Sarah wants you to read this," she said.
As soon as Chuck unfolded the paper, he recognized Sarah's flowing handwriting.
I know that things are tense between us right now. I know that you didn't lie to me. And I know that you're sorry. I'm sorry too, about a lot of things. I'm especially sorry that I can't talk about this with you. But one thing that I know for sure is that you're smart enough to understand why.
Sweetie, I need your help. Janice and I are going on a mission tonight. I'm sorry that I didn't get to talk to you about it first. It's not that I don't think of you as a partner. I do. I would have liked your input. It's just that neither one of us are up for that right now. Please don't worry about me. I'll be safe.
We need to end this as soon as possible so that you and I can get back to where we need to be. We need our life back. I need to know that you, Devon, and Ellie will stay here in the room until we return. Please know that the baby and you are my top priorities. This is only for a little while. When all of this is over, I promise that we'll talk.
I miss you,
"Where did they go?" Chuck asked Ellie.
"I'm not sure," Ellie said. "Sarah said something about giving Fred Jones his wish."
"Crap!" Chuck exclaimed. "She is going to go confront a Fulcrum elder? Just her and Janice? Is she crazy? And all I get is a note?"
"Come on, Chuck," Ellie said. "She wrote you that note to tell you that she loves you. She knows that you're upset."
Chuck flung the note to Ellie. "Just where does she say that she loves me?" he said.
Ellie's eyes widened as she read the note. When she reached the end, she patted Chuck on the arm. "She loves you, Chuck. She's worried about you. That's why she wanted me to give you the note. She wanted me to make sure that you knew."
But as soon as Ellie turned away from Chuck she rolled her eyes.
"Oh, Sarah," Ellie whispered to herself in disgust.
Despite his initial shock at finding Sarah in his living room, Jones managed to keep his expression impassive. He wasn't quite sure which was more impressive, keeping the surprise from his face, or the agent standing before him. But he quickly concluded that it was definitely the latter. She was stunning, standing there in her black fatigues, feet apart, and gun at the ready. Her blue eyes were ablaze as she stared at him coolly. Her blond hair was tied neatly behind her head in a manner straight out of the spy mission textbook. Jones had never seen anything so incredibly sexy in his whole life. He waited for her to speak, but her resolve was unmovable. After a long awkward moment, he blinked, and then spoke, breaking the tense silence.
"Agent Walker," Jones said. "You don't know how much I've wanted to talk to you. How did you get in here? There is supposed to be security."
"Do you mean Robert and Eduardo?" Sarah asked with a derisive laugh. "The bar on the corner has better security than you do."
"Did you kill them?"
"Not yet," Sarah said. "They are currently taking a break. You really should tell them that looking down a girl's shirt is an unprofessional distraction. It really lets an opponent get the jump on them."
"Perhaps," Jones said. "But now that I see the shirt, I can forgive them. It would be hard not to look. I'm glad that you're here. I lost twenty two men today for the chance to talk to you."
"I would hope that a Fulcrum Elder can come up with something more interesting to say than you enjoy the view down my shirt," Sarah said. "The corner bar has better security and better pick up lines."
Jones cursed himself for being unable to keep the shocked look off his face when she revealed that she knew he was an Elder. And he knew that she noticed his expression. She was obviously looking for it. There was no sense in denying it now. It would give her the upper hand. However, Jones recovered quickly. Finding out how she knew would have to wait for another time. Right now, he needed to get his head back in the game. He tried to unnerve her with some knowledge of his own.
"Let's get right down to it," Jones said. "I understand that you are no longer with the CIA. By all accounts, you ran off the grid with a civilian."
Sarah quietly continued to glare at him.
"One Mr. Bartowski," Jones continued. "Lucky guy. We always thought that you were protecting someone at the Buy More. Imagine our surprise to find out that you were just in love."
"I'm not in love," Sarah protested.
"I didn't think so," Jones said. "That would be against the rules."
"With all due respect," Sarah said. "This conversation is starting to bore me. Is there a point?"
"Have you ever considered joining Fulcrum?" Jones said.
The question stunned her. It was the very last thing that she expected him to say. All she had to know about Fulcrum was that they wanted her Chuck. Even so, her training helped to keep the surprise from showing on her face.
"You're kidding," Sarah said with a derisive laugh. "You send a hundred agents to capture me and my friends, you turn me over to a serial rapist, and you shoot my ex-partner. Now you want me to join Fulcrum? Whatever you're drinking, pour me a glass of it."
"Join may be a bit strong," Jones said with a short laugh of his own. "I understand that you'll never join Fulcrum ideologically. But, now that you're no longer a CIA agent, perhaps there are some things that we could do together that would be mutually beneficial. I think I might be able to make this worth your while. And, for the record, I didn't know anything about the serial rapist. Sounds like you may have made your own bed there."
"I'm listening," Sarah said. "But this had better be good."
Ellie, always thinking like a doctor, recognized that they could all use a drink. There was one good thing about staying at a sleazy motel. There were lots of places nearby to buy booze. Ellie sent Devon across the street to buy a bottle of tequila. Normally, Chuck wasn't much of a drinker. But tonight, it didn't sound half bad. After Chuck had consumed a few shots, Ellie shot Devon a glance. Devon knew that meant for him to go into the bathroom so Ellie could talk to Chuck. She walked up to where he was sitting and put her hand on his shoulder.
"Sarah asked me to talk to you," Ellie said. "She's worried about you."
"I'm worried about her," Chuck said as he took a pull from the glass that was now only about a third full. "These Fulcrum guys are brutal. And she is off talking to an Elder."
"What is an Elder?" Ellie asked.
"There are six of them," Chuck said as he let out a deep sigh. "They are each in charge of a region. This guy controls the west coast. Sort of like a general in the army."
"So what is Sarah going to do with him?" Ellie asked.
Chuck looked at the floor for a long moment. His voice was so pitiful that it concerned Ellie.
"I have no idea," Chuck said. "Normally she would have talked to me before she went on a mission this dangerous. Maybe she is going to try and kill him. Maybe arrest him. I don't know; she might try to trade him for Casey. Whatever it is, I'm worried sick."
"I thought you said that Sarah was good at what she did," Ellie said as she took the glass out of Chuck's hand and placed it on the end table after taking a sip herself.
For the first time, the barest beginning of a smile came to Chuck's face. "She's the very best," he whispered. The pride in his voice was unmistakable.
"Then," Ellie said. "You need to trust her. She loves you, Chuck. She is trying to protect you."
"I know," Chuck said with a more evident smile. "I just wish she would get over being mad."
"I think that I might understand a little about what Sarah is going through," Ellie said. "A doctor never wants to treat someone that they love. Because you need an emotional detachment to be able to be effective. If I had to decide to amputate your leg to save your life, I'm not sure that I could. Do you understand?"
"And right now, that's how it is with Sarah," Ellie said. "She needs to maintain an emotional detachment to be able to protect you. I'm not sure what it is exactly. But she has her game face on. And she needs you to understand. She asked me to make sure that you know how much she loves you."
Chuck's face, although not in a full fledged grin, had softened.
"Ok, sis," Chuck said. "I get it. Thanks for the pep talk."
"You're welcome," Ellie said. "Now go next door and go to bed."
Ellie was still dressed in the same way as when she went into the drug house. Chuck had never seen her look so provocative. He really didn't know what to do with his eyes. Every place he looked, all he could see was Ellie's… umm... assets threatening to spill out of her tank top. Even though it felt a bit creepy, he couldn't resist the temptation of teasing her.
"I trust that you're going to be dressed more like a doctor in the morning," Chuck said with his classic grin. "Really, El. I've never seen you with the hooker look before. I don't like it."
"I know," Ellie said with her own grin. "I'm driving Devon crazy. Why do you think I want you to go to bed… next door?"
"Maybe I can help you," Jones said. "How would you like it if I put Mr. Bartowski and his sister off limits? Wouldn't it be nice to not have to worry about this guy that you're not in love with?"
"It would be nice," Sarah admitted. "But what do you get?"
Jones looked at Sarah very calmly for a long moment. Finally he spoke.
"It only seems fair that if I help you, you should help me," Jones said. "There is a mission that is very important to us. It requires someone with your special skills."
"I'm not going to betray my country," Sarah said quickly.
"Relax," Jones said. "It's not that kind of mission."
"I've protected him pretty well, so far," Sarah said. "Why should I make a deal with you?"
"You've done a good job," Jones admitted. "So far. But think about it. How could you possibly protect him against a concerted effort for very long? You'd have to go off the grid again. That's not a very good life for someone that you have obviously fallen head over heels for. Not only that, you would have to take his sister with you. It would be a shame to waste such a promising medical career. I'm offering you the chance to truly protect him. For one little mission. It seems like a small price. If you really love him, that is."
For the first time, Sarah averted her gaze. Jones took that as a sign of her acceptance.
"How could I trust you?" Sarah finally asked with a sigh.
"That's a good question," Jones said. "You don't trust me and I don't trust you either. How about this? We'll meet tomorrow and I'll give you the mission details. I'll need you to wear a wire until the mission is complete so we're sure that you're not going to double cross us."
"Again," Sarah said. "How can I trust that you'll keep your end of the bargain?"
"Because, Agent Walker," Jones said. "Once you complete the mission, you'll be an asset. Maybe there will be some things we can do in the future."
"I have some conditions," Sarah said.
"Shoot," Jones said. Then realizing that she was still pointing her gun at him, he quickly corrected himself. "Let me rephrase that," he said with a dry smile. "State your conditions."
"The Bartowski family is off limits," Sarah said. "I want John Casey released. And I will only deal with you. Just you alone."
"I'll want to talk to Casey to make sure that he is okay," Sarah said. "And if I don't like the mission, I'm walking."
"You really are in love," Jones said with a grin. For the first time, he felt in control.
Sarah refused to respond directly. "If you screw me," she said. "War will be declared."
"I know you meant that figuratively," Jones said with a sly smile as he arched his eyebrows suggestively. "I'm hoping we can talk more literally. Maybe start our new relationship off with a bang. Is there any way we can accomplish that and avoid the war part?"
Sarah was wrong earlier. That was actually the very last thing that she expected him to say. Fortunately, slapping down bad come-ons was somewhat of an expertise of hers.
"You're kidding," Sarah said with a sly smile of her own. "I wouldn't think that an Elder has many problems getting women in bed."
"Maybe not," Jones said. "But I'll admit you're the sexiest woman I've ever seen. Tell me what I have to do."
Sarah had to admit one thing. The guy had balls. You didn't get to be an Elder by being passive. She looked shyly at the floor as the blush crept up her neck.
"You really want to know what to do to get me in bed?" Sarah asked in her most sexy pout. "Since we might be working together, I'll tell you. It's really pretty easy."
Jones just nodded as he grinned broadly. He was completely enthralled.
"Get over it, asshole," Sarah said through a clenched jaw as she backed carefully towards the door. "Because it's never going to happen. Never."
Jones could only watch as Sarah walked away. "I'll talk to you tomorrow," she said over her shoulder.
Jones smiled. Even though he had just been shot down as hard as he possibly could, he knew that it would be a long time before he would be able to sleep tonight.
He had never wanted a woman so much before in his life.
Chuck went back over to his room to give Ellie and Devon some privacy. With really nothing to do except wait for Sarah, Chuck got into bed and turned on the television. The crappy motel didn't have much of a selection. Chuck finally settled on Sports Center.
He must have dozed off because the next thing he knew, Sarah was climbing into bed beside him. The room was dark. Sarah put her arm around Chuck's waist and spooned into his back. When Chuck tried to turn around to look at her, she tightened her grip to keep him in his position.
"Please don't talk," Sarah whispered. "Don't turn around. If you turn around, then I have to be Agent Walker. I promise we'll talk soon. But for right now, just lie here and let your wife hold you. Will you please do that for me? I need you. I've really missed you."
Chuck could feel the tenseness in her grip. Her voice actually bordered on desperation. He could tell that she was really struggling to keep her composure.
"Ok," Chuck said as he relaxed. "Just one question. This is Sarah, right?"
Chuck could feel her laughing more than he could hear her. The tenseness instantly disappeared from her body. It felt so great. Chuck grabbed her hand and rubbed his thumb gently along the back of it. Sarah quickly but softly intertwined their fingers.
"Thank you, sweetie," Sarah whispered. "You won't believe how much I'm going to make this up to you."
Ten minutes later they were both fast asleep.
Chapter 12: Bad Ass Agent Walker
Chuck woke up to find Sarah sitting on the chair next to the bed staring at him. Even in the dark, he could tell that her face was troubled. She looked as if she had been crying.
"Hey," Chuck said. "Are you okay? Why are you up?"
"I can't sleep," Sarah said. "I've been doing some thinking."
"What about?" Chuck asked.
"About us," Sarah said.
Chuck held his breath as he looked at her. A sense of doom overwhelmed him. "What about us?" he asked, even though he already knew.
"I'm sorry, Chuck," Sarah said as she looked at the floor. "The last thing I would want is to hurt you. I just don't think this can work. I'm a spy. I'll always think like a spy. I can't be a wife. I've tried my best. I really have. I just can't do it."
As hard as it was for him to hear, somewhere in his heart, Chuck knew that Sarah was right.
"What are you going to do?" Chuck asked, fighting to hold back the tears. "Is there any way I can talk you out of this?"
"I'm so sorry," Sarah said. "But my mind is made up. I'm going to do what I should have done a year ago. I'm going to join Bryce deep undercover. Please don't feel bad. This is not you, it's me. I need to do my duty."
"I thought that you loved me," Chuck said as he lost his battle to keep the tears from falling.
"I thought so too," Sarah said without looking up.
"But," Chuck asked. "What about the baby?"
The look on Sarah's face drove a stake into Chuck's heart.
"I'm sorry, Chuck," Sarah said. "There is no room in my life for a baby. I'll have to take care of it."
Sarah was awakened by Chuck's moaning. It was obvious that he was having a bad dream.
"No… Sarah," Chuck pleaded haltingly in his sleep. "Please don't leave me. I need you. I need the baby. We can make it work. I'll try harder."
As Sarah realized what Chuck was dreaming about it broke her heart. This was because of her. And suddenly all she could feel was rage. She hated them. She hated them all for hurting him like this. She hated Fulcrum. She hated Beckman. She hated the CIA. But most of all, she hated herself.
The love of her life was desperately hurting right in front of her and she couldn't even comfort him. Every fiber of her body screamed at her to wake him up, turn him around, and make sure that he knew how she really felt, over and over again until the sun came up. But she knew that she couldn't. That might feel good tonight, but it would make her completely ineffective tomorrow. And she just couldn't be ineffective tomorrow. He was depending on her. Ellie was depending on her. Beckman… hell, it felt like the whole damn world was depending on her.
So she did all that she could. Sarah grabbed Chuck's shoulder and shook him awake.
"Sweetie," Sarah said. "Wake up. You're having a bad dream."
Even though Chuck didn't speak, his breathing smoothed out and he stopped jerking, and Sarah knew that he was awake. She tightened the grip of her arm that was wrapped around Chuck and pulled him closer to her. She could feel him shaking a little.
"Do you want to talk about it?" she said as calmly as she could.
"Not really," Chuck said. "It was just a stupid dream. I'm sorry that I woke you. Go back to sleep."
But Sarah knew. She didn't have to see to know that the tears were running down his face. She could hear the pain in his voice. She knew all too well that he was just saying that for her benefit. He knew that she needed to stay in agent mode and was trying to help her. Knowing that broke her heart even more. Sarah had to whisper to keep her own voice from breaking.
"Okay," she whispered. "But, Chuck, I want you to know something. I know this is hard right now. It's hard for me too. But I will never, never, never, ever leave you. Please stop worrying about it. It was just a dream."
She really wished that she could go farther. But she knew that she couldn't.
"I know," Chuck said as he pulled her arm closer to his stomach.
Eventually, Chuck's breathing became soft and regular. Sarah finally allowed herself to drift back into sleep with a single thought.
"Someday they're going to pay. They're all going to pay."
It was actually Janice that woke Chuck and Sarah up. She must have felt awkward staying with Devon and Ellie. Chuck and Sarah were still in the same spoon position that they had fallen asleep in. And both of them could have stayed in that same position forever. But that wasn't going to be possible, especially today. So they reluctantly got out of bed. The coffee that Janice brought with her helped. So, for a while, they sat silently and sipped their coffee. Finally Janice could take the silence no longer.
"Sarah," she said. "We really need to decide what to do about last night."
"I know," Sarah said with a sigh. "We should have talked about this last night. But I wanted to wait and include Chuck. And when we got back, we were just too tired."
"What happened last night?" Chuck asked. "Did you talk to him?"
Even though Chuck was looking directly at Sarah, it was Janice that finally responded.
"He tried to recruit her into Fulcrum," Janice said with a laugh. "He thinks that she is Bad Ass Agent Walker."
"That's not totally true," Sarah interrupted. "Chuck, he knew that he could never recruit me. He just wanted me to perform a mission for him."
"What is the mission?" Chuck asked.
"He wouldn't tell me," Sarah said. "He didn't want me to have time to plan a way around it. He wants to meet me today. He'll tell me about the mission. If I accept, I'll have to wear a wire so they can listen to me at all times until it's complete."
"Why would you ever consider going on a mission for Fulcrum?" Chuck asked. "That doesn't sound like you at all."
"He offered to stop going after you and Ellie," Sarah said. "He said that he would make you off limits to them. He also offered to release Casey."
"He would stop going after the Intersect?" Chuck asked. "That sure doesn't sound very believable to me."
"He doesn't know that you are the Intersect," Sarah said. "And he can't ever find out. If he did, we'd be in a whole lot of trouble. He did know that we went off the grid. He knows that we are… umm… together. He is just using you to leverage me."
"That doesn't make any sense," Chuck said. "Sarah, he must have lost over a dozen men yesterday. He wasn't looking for the Intersect?"
"Twenty two men," Janice said, laughing. "I'm telling you, he thinks that she is Bad Ass Agent Walker. He thinks that she off'ed twenty of his men, and escaped from the drug house all by herself. He is wetting his pants wanting her to work for him. He is not trying to use her to leverage you, Chuck. He is using you to try and leverage her. It's exactly the opposite of what we were thinking."
"Do you have any idea what he wants you to do?" Chuck asked. "It must be something that he can't or won't do himself."
"I have a pretty general idea," Janice said quickly, before Sarah could respond as she arched her eyebrows suggestively. "Whoever the mark is, it's a pretty good bet that Sarah will be on her back with him. Jones would like her on her back himself. But really, what difference does it make? She is never going to do it anyway."
"Good," Chuck said with a sigh of relief. "If she's not going to do it, then what are we talking about?"
"Not so fast," Sarah said. "I think we should at least listen to him."
"Sarah!" Janice responded. "What could you possibly be thinking? You have a golden chance to capture a Fulcrum Elder. If you pass this up, Beckman will have your ass."
"We could rescue Casey," Sarah said. "And we could take the heat off Chuck and Ellie…"
"Stop thinking with your emotions," Janice spat out. "You know that Casey would trade himself for a Fulcrum Elder in a heartbeat."
Sarah's eyes sparkled with anger.
"I wasn't thinking with my emotions," Sarah shot back. "You didn't let me finish. Arresting an Elder would be huge. No question. But the reality is that he would be replaced before we had him in the holding cell. If I could gain his confidence, I might be able to compromise his entire organization. That could be game changing. Not to mention that Casey knows that Chuck is the Intersect. He is bound to talk eventually."
"And how do you know that you can trust him?" Janice responded. "Today might very well be a trap."
"It's possible," Sarah said. "We can mitigate that by making sure that we choose the spot for the meeting. But we need to be careful. Chuck, you've been quiet. What do you think?"
"Well," Chuck began. "I'm not crazy about you being on your back."
"Come on, Chuck," Sarah interrupted. "That can't be a consideration. You know better than anyone how I work in that area."
"I know," Chuck said quickly. "I'm sorry. I think we need to try and save Casey if we possibly can. But what if this is a trap? How dangerous is this?"
"It'll be okay," Sarah said.
"I'm not asking for reassurance," Chuck snapped. "You want professional. I'll give it to you. I'm asking my partner about her professional opinion. What is the risk? I know that you're Bad Ass Agent Walker. And you think you can get out of pretty much anything. But what is the real risk? What if it was me going to meet with him?"
"First off, stop calling me that," Sarah said with a smile. "Both of you. And, Chuck, you're right. I'm sorry. In my professional opinion, the risk is low enough to be acceptable. We can pick the meeting location. And Janice can scout the perimeter. I'll wear a wire and earpiece. If anything goes wrong, I'll shoot him and get out of Dodge."
"And you would think the same if it were me?" Chuck asked.
"Of course not," Sarah said with a gleam in her eye. "I wouldn't let you anywhere near a Fulcrum Elder. We're not equals."
"I'm going with you," Chuck said.
"Chuck," Sarah said as she shook her head.
"Damn it, Sarah," Chuck said. "I'm going. This is not emotional. This is purely professional. You need the Intersect. Maybe I can flash on something that will give you an advantage. I'll stay in the van with Janice."
Sarah turned to Janice. "What do you think?"
"He is a weapon," Janice replied. "Why wouldn't we want all of our available resources on this?"
Finally Sarah gave in. "Okay, Chuck," she said with a sigh. "You're right. Thank you."
Sarah sat at a table and patiently waited for Jones in the restaurant. She was dressed much differently than last night. Since this was a public restaurant, she had traded her dark mission outfit for a more traditional button up shirt and slacks. She also wore her hair down so that it would help cover the earpiece. They had picked a rather large restaurant where Janice could easily scout the parking lot for anything unusual. They picked a time outside of rush hour. Any approaching agents would be easily noticeable.
Sarah actually expected Jones to object to the meeting location. But he seemed eager to agree. He even let Sarah talk to Casey. He sounded okay. A little tired. But overall, grumpy as ever. He even warned Sarah to not do anything stupid.
Janice had parked the van in a strategic spot, just outside of the parking lot. Chuck and she kept their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary. Janice was armed to the teeth. She had several assault rifles and her Glock ready and cocked. Finally, Janice keyed her mic.
"He's here," Janice said. "He looks to be alone."
"Sarah," Jones said as he approached the table. "How nice to see you again. You're as lovely as ever. Would you like something to drink?"
"Let's just get down to business," Sarah said as she forced a polite smile. "Shall we?"
"Of course," Jones said in a friendly tone as he set a manila envelope in the table. "Here is our mission."
When Sarah picked up the envelope she saw another envelope and several papers. There was also something that looked like a bug. Sarah took out all the contents and put them on the table.
"This man," Jones said as he held up a picture of a man looking to be about fifty. "Is Wilhelm Schultz. He is an attaché to the German government assigned here to their L.A. office. He is your objective."
"So this is a seduction," Sarah said. "How original."
"That is entirely up to you, my dear," Jones said as he handed Sarah the smaller envelope from the table. "I wouldn't dream of micro managing such an impressive professional as you. We just want you to get an envelope that looks exactly like this one for us and replace it with this. Of course, he can't know that it happened. You can use any means necessary."
"What's in the envelope?" Sarah asked. "I told you that I would not betray my country, right?"
"Relax," Jones said. It's just some information. You see, there are a lot of governments who will not cooperate with the U.S. But they will, sometimes, give information to other countries. Germany is one of those countries. This is a list of intelligence gathered by several Latin and South American countries about locations supporting drug activity. The U.S. has negotiated with Germany to turn over this information secretly. They need to do it secretly because they don't want it getting back that they shared the intel. Schultz was assigned as the courier. He is planning on turning over the packet to the American consulate in two days."
"And you don't want that to happen," Sarah said.
"Oh, on the contrary," Jones said. "We want it to happen very much. We just want to replace the information with some of our own. You see, as soon as the information is turned over, the State Department is going to fund some internal guerilla groups to attack and destroy these locations."
"And you profit from that drug activity," Sarah said.
"Yes, Sarah," Jones said. "Almost all of the revenue that supports our operation comes from this enterprise. We would like it very much if the attacks came against dummy camps and organizations. That way, everybody will think that they acted upon the real intelligence. And the matter will be called a success."
"Aren't you afraid that I'll tip the State Department off?" Sarah asked.
"Not really," Jones said calmly. "The Germans would just deny it. No way would they admit that their courier was compromised. And you wouldn't have the real intel anyway. I'll have it. The worst that could happen is that they cancel the whole project. And besides that, my dear, you may be the hottest thing on two legs, but you don't have much in the way of credibility in the intelligence community. You went off the grid with a civilian."
"Why do you need me?" Sarah asked. "Why don't you just go into his hotel room when he is not there and make the switch?"
"That wouldn't work," Jones said as he shook his head. "Unfortunately, the documents are in a safe in his room. It has a biometric control. Which means that only Schultz can open it. And there is no way to break in without him knowing. If he finds out that the list is compromised before they hand it over, they will just replace it. They have to think that they are transferring the legitimate list."
"How would I get him to open his safe?" Sarah asked.
"That's up to you," Jones said with a grin. "I would think that you are somewhat of an expert it getting men to do things for you. There is a ball at his hotel tomorrow in his honor. Your invitation is in the packet. He has somewhat of a reputation for loving beautiful women."
"And if I succeed?" Sarah asked.
"You will be wearing this wire from now until the mission is over," Jones said. "Once you have exchanged the documents, come directly to the parking lot. I'll be waiting. Once you hand me the documents, I'll verify that they are genuine and give you the keys to a car in the parking lot where Major Casey will be secured in the back seat. You simply drive away."
In the van, Chuck keyed his mic.
"Sarah," he said. "Take the mission. Trust me."
After he was finished talking to Sarah he turned excitedly to Janice.
"I know exactly what to do," Chuck said.
Janice turned her head to face Chuck. "Care to share that information?" she asked.
Janice had never seen Chuck grin so broadly.
"It'll be a classic mission for Bad Ass Agent Walker."
Chapter 13: The Cone of Silence
Janice's eyes sparkled with excitement as Chuck related the main gist of his plan. She immediately keyed her mic.
"Sarah," Janice said. "Take the mission. Chuck has a good idea."
Inside the restaurant, Sarah hesitated. She didn't like the mission. Not at all. There were some obvious advantages in not taking it. Not only could she arrest an Elder, shutting down those drug camps would cripple Fulcrum for a long while. Oh, she had no illusions that they would recover. The battle to keep drugs out of the country had been fought unsuccessfully for the past seventy-five years. And once she had the list, there would be no way to keep it out of Fulcrum's hands. They would be listening to her. They would know the second that she had it. There would be no time to do anything but hand it to them.
And that was only part of it. Not to mention what she would have to do to be successful. There was no way was she going to be able to simply flirt this guy into opening his safe and then letting her poke around in it. She would have to gain his confidence quickly. And there was only one way to really do that. It's possible that she would be able to get out of actually sleeping with him. And she would try her best, but it was a long shot. At best, she would almost assuredly have to come so close that it wouldn't matter. She wondered if Chuck had thought that through when he told her to go for it.
But both Chuck and Janice had sounded so sure. And Casey's life was at stake. Not to mention Chuck being safe from Fulcrum. So Sarah took a deep breath and looked at Jones.
"The Bartowski family will be off limits," she said.
"Of course," Jones replied. "That was our deal."
"And Major Casey…" Sarah began.
"Will be alive and well and waiting for you," Jones interrupted. "Sarah, I have no reason to go back on any of my commitments. If you complete this mission for me, you'll get everything that you were promised. Perhaps we can work again in the future. Who knows, maybe we'll end up being friends."
"Fine," Sarah finally sighed. "If there is any deception…"
"I know," Jones cut her off. "You'll declare war."
"I'll declare war on your replacement," Sarah growled. "You'll be dead."
"You'll need to wear this at all times until the mission is complete," Jones said, ignoring her threat as he handed her the bug. "It is a wire and will also monitor your heart rate. So we'll know immediately if you take it off. It has to go inside of your bra."
Sarah took the device without comment.
"I understand that you might have to take it off for a while when you get to Schultz's room," Jones said with a smirk. "If you need to take it off to shower, you'll need to talk to us so we know that you're still there."
Sarah nodded to signal that she understood.
"Do you need any help putting it on?"
Inside the van, Janice turned to Chuck.
"Okay, Chuck," Janice said. "We can't say a word once Sarah is in the van. All of our communication will have to be with notes."
"I understand," Chuck said. "We're doing the right thing, aren't we?"
"Yes, Chuck," Janice said as she grabbed his hand. "We're doing the right thing."
It was clear that Sarah was not happy when she entered the van. She immediately went to the computer.
"Are you crazy?" Sarah typed. "There is no way we can turn over that information to Fulcrum."
Janice simply shook her head.
Sarah grabbed Chuck's hand and pulled him over to the monitor as she quickly typed.
"You do realize that I'm probably going to have to sleep with him? There is no other way. Are you going to be okay with that?"
Chuck slid next to Sarah and typed his reply.
"It's just being professional, right?"
Sarah was lying on the bed watching television. Well, the television was turned on. She really couldn't claim to be watching it. She was in the second room all by herself. They had quickly decided that Sarah should stay by herself so that no one would slip up and talk to her. The others were all in the other room. Sarah had already gone shopping for tomorrow's outfit, a dark blue evening grown. But that was a long time ago.
Now Sarah had been in the room for the past six hours all by herself. And she was suffering. It really was silly. After all, Sarah had been in many more horrible situations than this. She had been tortured. She had been beaten. She had been bound for days. But it was very possible that these six hours were the most awful of her life. She didn't anticipate how much she would miss Chuck. And knowing that he was just next door did nothing but rub salt in the wound. It was driving her crazy. Hopefully Janice was taking charge.
She was also worried about the mission. Chuck's plan could work. But there was no question that it was risky. And Janice was another issue all together. Janice hadn't worked a mission this critical since Bogotá. And everybody remembered how that turned out.
So when Sarah saw Chuck silently enter the room, she couldn't keep the silly grin off her face. She had to grab the bed to keep from running over and jumping into his arms. Chuck just sat the tray of food that he was carrying on the table. Sarah could tell that he was really struggling as well. The smile on his face was obviously forced. As if he was putting on a brave face for her.
So when Chuck waved and walked to the door, she waved back with as much of a smile as she could muster. But then, Chuck surprised her. He didn't leave. He just stood there at the door for a long moment clearly wrestling with his emotions. With his decision made he quickly walked to where Sarah was now sitting on the side of her bed. He sat wordlessly and put his arm around her. Sarah knew that they shouldn't be doing this. The risk that Chuck would make some noise and compromise them was just too great. But she simply couldn't help it. She missed him too much. So Sarah buried her head into Chuck's neck and for the first time in a couple of days allowed her husband to hold her. Chuck, to his credit, only allowed the embrace to last for a short moment before he walked back to the door and left.
Sarah was sad to see him leave. No question. But she now felt much better. He could see that she was hurting and fixed it. Like he always did.
Her husband, not her asset, had just come through for her.
Ellie was not a happy camper. She had learned of the sleeping arrangements. Since Sarah needed one room to herself, that left the four of them to share two beds. And her relationship with Janice wasn't all that great to begin with. Oh, the bonding in the preparation for the crack ho mission helped some. But Janice walking around the room last night in her Victoria Secret undies in front of Devon undid all of that good will… and then some. So when she heard that Janice and Chuck would be sharing a bed, she made no effort to hide her displeasure.
Fortunately, Janice saved the relationship from completely crumbling by deciding that she would sleep in the van. When Chuck went out to say goodnight Janice grabbed his hand.
"I'm going to do my best tomorrow," Janice said. "I just want you to know that. Please don't be nervous."
"I know," Chuck said with a smile as he grabbed her in a hug. "You need to know how much I appreciate this. How much I appreciate you. You are completely ready for this. There is not another person in the whole world that I would rather have with me. You know that right? I'm not nervous about you at all. You're going to be great."
Janice was a little surprised by the embrace but recovered quickly and returned it warmly. "Then what is the problem?" Janice asked. "If it's not me."
"I don't know," Chuck lied with a sigh.
"You're such a bad liar," Janice said with a grin. "You're worried about Sarah." It was more statement than question.
Chuck paused a moment before answering. "She's just been so distant." Chuck voice was so soft that Janice had to strain to hear him. "I've never seen her this pissed at me."
"She's not pissed at you, Chuck," Janice said with a smile. "Well, not any more anyway. This is just how Sarah gets when she puts herself in agent mode. I'll get like that tomorrow too. It just won't bother you when it happens to me. Don't worry, she's just panicked that she will mess up and you'll get hurt. It's driving her a little crazy."
"A little?" Chuck asked.
"Okay," Janice said with a soft laugh. "It's driving her a lot crazy."
Sarah walked over to the table to see what Chuck had brought her for dinner. She smiled as she saw the Chicken Salad sandwich and bottle of milk. Chuck was always thinking about the baby. Her smile broadened when she saw her favorite candy bar as a dessert. But the piece de resistance was the note that was folded beside the candy bar. Sarah recognized her name written in Chuck's hand writing. She immediately unfolded the note.
I know that you're upset with me. I'm sorry that I hurt you. It's the very last thing I would ever want to do. I'm also sorry that you have to go through this. I know it is because of me. I can't begin to tell you how horrible that makes me feel. I would cut off my arm if it would get you to forgive me. I just want you to know that I'll understand whatever you decide.
Enjoy your dinner.
I love you,
"Forgive him?" Sarah asked herself. "Decide? What is he talking about?"
Then it hit her. He was blaming himself for the situation they were in. He was spooked about the nightmare last night. Didn't he hear her say that she would never leave him? Didn't he believe it?
Sarah was close to panic. Was this really worth it? But she already knew the answer. For the very first time in her life, it wasn't. Not anymore. Her decision was made. After this current crisis was over, Sarah Walker was no longer a spy. She was now a full time wife.
Sarah knew that she couldn't let Fulcrum hear her cry. The last thing she should be doing right now is crying. But imagining the hurt in his eyes as he wrote that note made that moot. So she threw herself on the bed and buried her head in the pillow as she sobbed silently.
Chuck watched from his vantage point in the bar as Sarah sat with Schultz. She was laughing at something that he had just said. She had only been talking to him for a little over an hour but they were obviously really hitting it off. Schultz obviously thought so as well. The hand that had once been resting on her knee had now drifted much higher. And Sarah made no move to stop its progress. If anything, her smile encouraged him to go even farther.
Chuck could see the sparkle in her eyes as she worked him. And then it hit him. This was more than just a mission to Sarah. That was the sparkle that used to be reserved for him. And Chuck knew. It broke his heart but he knew. She was in her element. This is what she was supposed to be. The ease that she had this complete stranger hanging on her every breath told him. It wasn't fair to ask her to give that up for something that she was not. She wasn't a wife. She was a spy.
Chuck couldn't hear what they were saying over the noise of the room. But he could read his lips as he invited Sarah up to his room for a drink. For a drink. They were sitting at a bar. They both knew what the invitation was really for. Sarah's smile said everything as she quickly nodded.
As Schultz and Sarah walked hand in hand out of sight, Chuck felt something unusual in his pocket. Taking it out, it was a note. Sarah must have slipped it in his pocket at the motel. Chuck's hand shook as he read.
I'm so sorry. This just isn't working. I thought that it could. But it can't. After tonight's mission, I'm going to go meet Cole in Fiji. My flight takes off in the morning. I'll be in England for the next few months. Maybe I'll call you when I get back.
Chuck knew that he was making a spectacle of himself. But he couldn't help it and he sat at the table with tears streaming down his face.
"Chuck," Ellie said. "Wake up. You're having a bad dream."
Ellie sat softly on the bed next to Chuck. Even though it was dark, he could see the concern in her face.
"What's wrong?" Ellie asked. Chuck had heard that tone in Ellie's voice many times before. He knew that she was not messing around. She was concerned and wanted the truth. Trying to lie to her when she was like this was pointless.
Chuck paused for a long moment trying to keep his voice from shaking.
"I've been having some nightmares," Chuck finally said. "It's not a big deal, El. Go back to bed."
"What about?" Ellie asked.
Chuck just stared at her.
"Damn it, Chuck," Ellie said. "What about?"
"Sarah," Chuck finally blurted out. "She is going to leave me."
"She is not going to leave you."
"El," Chuck asked. "Did you ever have a dream that felt so real that you would swear it really happened?"
"Chuck," Ellie said as she rubbed his arm. "You listen to me. You're being silly. Trust me on one thing. Sarah is not going to leave you. She is panicked that you are hurting. She was crying yesterday after you left the room. She wants this to be over more than you do. Now stop worrying and go back to sleep."
"Thanks, El," Chuck whispered. But he knew.
There would be no more sleep tonight.
Chapter 14: The Redemption of Janice Beckman
Janice walked into the hotel room just to see how things were going. She wouldn't have to start getting ready for tonight's mission for a few hours yet. They had agreed that Chuck and Janice would go early and be in position already when Sarah arrived. Janice walked up to the table that Ellie and Chuck were sitting at. Devon appeared to be still sleeping.
"Thank goodness," Ellie said as Janice sat down. "Will you please back me up here?"
"It depends," Janice said with a smile. "What am I backing you up on?"
"Tell Chuck that Sarah is crazy about him," Ellie said. "That he doesn't have to worry about her leaving him."
Janice's sad smile spoke volumes. "I really wish I could," she said.
Janice smiled at Ellie's stunned look. "Sarah is a spy, Ellie," Janice continued. "She just doesn't think about love in the same way that you do. Who knows what she'll do? Frankly, I'm surprised that she has hung on this long."
Even though Janice was speaking to Ellie, it was Chuck that responded.
"She loves me," he said.
"She may think that she does," Janice replied in a matter of fact tone as she shook her head. "Maybe she even does. But sooner or later the spy training is going to kick in."
"You don't know what in the hell you're talking about!" Chuck all but shouted. "Don't talk about her like that. She loves me. I know it."
The grin on Janice's face turned devious. "You're right, Chuck" she said. "She does. So much that it scares her. And if you know that, does it really matter what Ellie or I think?"
Then Janice turned to Ellie with her 'cat ate the canary' grin. "Is that what you wanted?"
"Yes," Ellie said, suddenly very relieved as she figured out what Janice had just done. "Thanks."
When Janice Beckman walked into the bathroom that afternoon, she was an extremely beautiful woman. There was no question about that. But when she walked out, a little short of two hours later, she was an absolute goddess. The spaghetti straps of her dark red gown accentuated a neckline that was not only provocative, it hinted of sophistication. Her golden hair hung over her bare shoulders in perfect waves.
"Oh my God," Ellie whispered as she caught sight of her. "You're absolutely gorgeous."
"Thanks," Janice said. "That's just what I was going for."
"Damn," Chuck whispered involuntarily under his breath as he walked up.
Unfortunately both Janice and Ellie heard him. Janice turned a grateful smile towards him. Ellie's look was not nearly so warm. Fortunately for Chuck, Ellie was a little preoccupied by Devon's reaction, which in a cartoon would have had steam coming out of his ears, to be able to chastise him fully.
"You're not looking that bad yourself," Janice said maintaining her smile. "You fill out that tux pretty well."
Ellie's expression went from neutral to somewhere south of neutral.
"Make sure you tell Sarah that I talked to Dr. Aster," Ellie said in an obvious attempt to change the subject. "She said that she would look at Sarah no matter what time of the day or night."
"Dr. Aster," Janice said in surprise.
"Joan Aster," Ellie said. "She is a sorority sister of mine. She is also one of the top obstetricians around. She agreed to take a look at Sarah off the record for us. Maybe we can go after you guys get back from the mission."
"She will come to the office after midnight to examine a patient?" Chuck asked. "Why would she do that?"
"We're very close," Ellie said. "And she is doing this as a favor… and there is this little story that she doesn't want her husband to know about when she lost a bet to the captain of the debate team."
"Bet?" Janice asked.
"Yes," Ellie said. "Let's just say they had quite an interesting debate."
"So," Chuck said with his classic grin. "You're blackmailing her?"
"Blackmail is such an ugly word," Ellie said with her own grin. "I prefer, I agree not to tell the story and she does me favors."
Janice's eyes narrowed. "How did you talk to her?"
Ellie held up her Blackberry. "I didn't talk to her," she said. "I emailed her."
"Damn it, Ellie," Janice hissed. "Turn that off right now. Don't you realize you can be tracked using that thing? It's just like a cell phone."
"Sorry," Ellie said as her face turned red. "I didn't know."
At that point Janice sent Chuck out to check on the equipment in the van.
"I want to show you something," Janice said to Ellie in an attempt to repair the damage her yelling had just caused. "Don't say anything to Chuck or Sarah." She pulled out what looked like a small portable radio and handed it to Ellie.
"What is this for?" Ellie asked.
"This will monitor the wire that Sarah is wearing," Janice said. "Ellie, I need you to promise me that you won't leave this room. I set this up so that you can follow Sarah. If she finds out about this, she is going to be very pissed. But it's not fair to expect you to sit here in the dark and wonder what's going on. I assume that you already know what is generally going to happen tonight. You'll be hearing the same thing that Fulcrum will be hearing. Maybe it will keep you from going crazy."
"Thanks," Ellie said as she grabbed Janice's hand to show her gratitude. "Or maybe it will drive me crazy."
Chuck wordlessly drove the van to the hotel and parked in the parking lot. He quickly joined Janice in the back to check their comm. links and go over the mission details one last time.
"Be careful," Janice said. "I think you'll be okay. But who knows what they have in mind here. This could be a trap. At the first sign that anything is not as it should be, haul your ass back here and wait for me."
"I understand," Chuck said. "You be careful too. We're counting on you."
"I'm a little nervous," Janice said with a shaky smile. "It's funny. I can't believe that I just admitted that to you. I would never let anyone else know."
"Not even Sarah?'
"Especially not Sarah."
"Don't be afraid," Chuck said. "I've seen you in action. You're going to be great."
"I didn't say that I was afraid, silly," Janice said as her face lit up into a grin. "I said I was a little nervous. It's not a bad thing. It's an exciting thing. It's been a while since I felt this. Frankly, I've missed it."
Chuck stepped up to Janice and embraced her. "I know," he said. "You're back. You fought against incredible odds. You didn't give up when almost everyone else would've. And now you're back. I'm so proud of you I could shout."
Janice pulled back a little, looking into Chuck's eyes. Then she did something completely unexpected.
She kissed him.
The kiss didn't last long at all. Chuck immediately stiffened. He would have broken it off even sooner if Janice's hand hadn't been holding the back of his head. As soon as Janice opened her mouth, Chuck turned his head.
"I'm sorry," Chuck said. "I can't."
Janice knew right away that she shouldn't have kissed him. But she couldn't help but smile at Chuck's awkwardness. "You're so cute," she said. "I'm sorry. The last thing I would want is to make it tense between us. I know that you're with Sarah. It won't happen again."
"You know," Chuck said with a sad smile. "Two years ago, the idea of someone as fantastic as you wanting to kiss me was something I could only dream about."
"Trust me," Janice said. "Two years ago, if someone would have told me that I would want to kiss you, I would have laughed at them. But now…"
"But now?" Chuck asked.
"I don't know," Janice said. "I've never met anybody like you. But you did it. You did what nobody else could do. You brought me back from my own hell. I know that you're with Sarah. And I think that's great. And I'm not saying I'm in love with you or anything. I'm not. I never will be. But I want you to know if there is ever anything, and I mean anything, that I can do for you, I want you to let me know."
"Thanks," Chuck said. "I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. You fought your way back. You climbed out of hell. You. Just you. I was just standing there when it happened. And I understand that you have a completely different view of sex and love then I do. I get that. But we have to stay friends. Sarah is a lot different than the old days when you knew her before. She would mind now. And even if she said it was okay… I'd mind."
"I know," Janice agreed. "And that's probably the main reason that I want it so much. But you are right about Sarah. She's crazy about you."
Sarah's cab pulled up to the hotel entrance. She took a deep breath as she stood just outside the doors. I'm looking forward to this, she thought, a little surprised. Of course it felt good to get out of that motel room. But it was more than that. A dangerous mission always got the adrenalin flowing, it was a natural high. And this might be her last mission; she decided that she was going to enjoy it.
As soon as she walked into the hotel, her spy instincts took command of her thoughts and actions. She saw her mark sitting at the bar. And she was in luck. The seat next to him was empty. This night might go easier than originally feared. She checked the room for possible threats and for the nearest exits and took a deep breath.
Sarah walked up to the bar and sat next to him. With a wave of her hand she quickly got the bartender's attention and ordered a drink. It didn't take very long at all for him to notice her. Not when she was wearing that dress. And especially not when she flashed that smile. No man could resist that. And he was certainly no exception.
"Hello," he said, although his German accent made him a little hard to understand. "I don't believe we've met. My name is Wilhelm Schultz."
"Sarah Anderson," Sarah replied as she directed her smile at him and extended her hand. "I'm so excited to meet you. You're the guest of honor."
"If you don't mind me asking," Schultz said. "Why are you here? I certainly would remember a guest so stunning."
"Thank you," Sarah said as the blush rose from her neck. "My boyfriend works for the U.S. consulate. Actually, he is my ex boyfriend. He just broke up with me in the parking lot."
"What a foolish man," Schultz said. "I can't imagine a man in his right mind breaking up with you."
Devon turned on the monitor as soon as Sarah left. They had gotten some Chinese take out food and he and Ellie were sharing some Mongolian Beef as they listened to Sarah work her mark.
"I can't imagine," Ellie said as she took a bite of her egg roll. "How Sarah can flirt with such a slime ball."
"I don't know, babe," Devon said as he looked at the piece of Mongolian Beef on his chopsticks. "I wonder if Chuck can hear this."
"I hope not," Ellie said. "This guy is being way to obvious. If it was me, I'd throw my drink in his face."
"He definitely thinks that he is getting lucky," Devon said. "But don't worry. Chuck told me all about it when you were in the drug house. She flirts… but she never goes farther. She just makes the guy think he is getting lucky."
"Well, she's doing a very good job," Ellie said. "Because he definitely thinks that he is getting lucky."
Sarah put her hand on his arm as she laughed at his latest double entendre. It really wasn't all that funny. Over the past hour, his hand that had started out on her knee had crept steadily north. It was now about mid thigh.
"Tell me Sarah," Schultz said. "You said that you're glad that your boyfriend broke up with you. May I ask why?"
"Sure," Sarah said. Her eyes sparkled as she leaned in to speak directly into his ear. "It was getting a little too predictable. Same man, same restaurants, same sex. Sometimes a girl wants something a little different. I don't know maybe something a little new and exciting… maybe even a little dangerous."
"Really," Schultz said. "You want something a little dangerous?"
"I do," Sarah breathed seductively.
"Is your boyfriend watching us?"
"Well then," Schultz said as he moved his hand to a point that went just beyond respectable. "Would you like to come up to my room for a drink? We can kill two birds with one stone. It will drive your ex crazy and I'll give you dangerous. Would you like that?"
"I already have a drink," Sarah said with a shy smile. "I'm looking for something different. Something I've never done before."
"What haven't you done before?" he asked with a grin.
"Not been in control," Sarah whispered in his ear. "I'm always in control. It would be exciting to know that I'm not in control; that someone else is."
"Are you sure that you're ready for that?" he said as he stood and offered his hand. "It may get a bit… intense."
Sarah's eyes sparkled as she quickly nodded. She took the hand the he offered and stood on her feet. "I'm ready to be dangerous. Tonight anything you say goes."
At the Fulcrum headquarters, several men were gathered around a monitor very similar to the one that Ellie and Devon were listening to. The banter was much like you would hear in a locker room. As soon as Sarah agreed to go to his room, several of the men exchanged high fives.
Fred Jones was sitting at his desk when he heard a knock at his door.
"Yes," he called.
"Excuse me, sir," an agent said as he popped his head into the room. "She's inside his room."
"Excellent!" Jones said as he rubbed his hands together. "This might actually work out well for everybody."
The agent just smiled.
"Move Agent Casey to the car," Jones said. "I'll be right down."
"Yes, sir," the agent said.
"Would you like a drink?" Schultz asked Sarah as soon as they were in the room.
"Whatever you say," Sarah said with a smile. "You're in charge tonight. Remember?"
"I do remember," Schultz said. "I think we'll skip the drink. Let's get right down to it, shall we?"
"I do have one request," Sarah said. "I bought these diamond earrings to impress my boyfriend. And, well, the truth is I can't afford them. I was planning on returning them tomorrow. I can't lose them doing whatever it is that we're going to be doing. Can I put them in your safe until we're done?"
"Of course," he said. "But first I would like to see you wearing them."
"I don't understand," Sarah said. "I'm already wearing them."
"You're right, my dear" he said with a leer. "You don't understand. I would like to see you wearing nothing but them."
Inside the hotel room, Ellie looked at Devon with her mouth hanging open.
"Devon," Ellie whispered. "She can't do this."
"Don't worry, babe," Devon insisted. "Chuck told me all about it. She is just fooling him. She is not going to sleep with him."
"Slowly," came Schultz's voice over the speakers. "That's right. Keep going."
Ellie realized that she had been holding her breath.
"Beautiful," came Schultz's voice. It was a bit muffled. The bug that was in Sarah's bra was now apparently lying on the floor. Devon had to turn up the volume in order for them to still hear. "Sarah, you're an amazing woman. Keep going, my dear. Slowly."
"Okay," came his voice over the speakers. "Now turn around. Let me see the entire package. Slowly."
"That pig," Ellie sighed through gritted teeth as the tears of frustration filled her eyes and threatened to flow down her cheeks.
"Let's put your earrings in the safe," came his voice. "Then we can begin."
The Fulcrum agents were going wild.
"Way to go Schultz," one of them yelled.
The agents grew silent as they strained to hear the sounds coming from the speaker.
"Good," came his voice. "Let's make the first time traditional. As the night goes on we can get a little wilder. Come here."
For a long while all they could hear was the sounds of heavy kissing. Then the grunts and groans gave little doubt about what was happening in that room.
After a while there was complete silence. Finally the voice came through. "That was incredible, my dear. Are you ready to go again?"
"Whatever you wish," Sarah said. "You're in charge. But you're ready so soon? That is most impressive."
"Actually, my dear," he replied. "I'm going to need a little... encouragement."
In the motel room, Ellie was angry. Devon was crestfallen.
"I don't understand," Devon said numbly. "She wasn't supposed to sleep with him. She was supposed to get out of it at the last minute. Last time she choked the guy with her handcuffs."
"Poor Chuck," Ellie said through clenched teeth. "How could she do this to him? What are they going to do?"
Finally he collapsed in exhaustion. "No more," he sighed. "That was the most intense experience of my life."
"I had fun too," Sarah said. "It was… different. Do you want me to spend the night?"
"You can if you want too," he said. "But I don't expect you too. I have to go back down to the party and make an appearance."
"If you don't mind," Sarah said as she put her bra inside her purse. "I think that I'll leave. I want my ex to see the difference in my… appearance as I walk out. Can I get my earrings?"
"Go ahead," he said, still struggling to catch his breath. "The safe is still open. They are just lying inside."
Sarah crawled up to kiss him. "Thanks for the dangerous night," she said with a smile. "I had a good time. I'll never forget it."
Jones was waiting just outside the hotel door.
"Here is your list," Sarah said. "I assume we still have a deal."
Jones opened the envelope and looked at the first few pages. "Well done, my dear," he said. "We have a deal. Agent Casey is in that blue Toyota over there. The Bartowski family is now officially off limits."
"Forever?" Sarah asked.
"As long as nothing happens to me," Jones said with a smile. "That's my insurance policy since you now know my identity. As long as I'm safe, they're safe."
"Here's your bug back," Sarah said as she handed him her bra. "Keep it as a souvenir."
"Would you consider working with us again?" Jones said. "We might find some way to make it worth your while. I know that it would make me happy. On several levels."
"Perhaps," Sarah said over her shoulder as she turned away. "I think that you know my criteria. You have my number."
Sarah immediately walked to the car where Casey was indicated to be. Indeed he was in the back seat. His hands were cuffed behind his back. But he looked none the worse for wear.
"Are you okay?" Sarah asked as she got into the driver's seat. "Any indications that this may be a trap?"
"I'm okay," Casey said. "I've seen nothing to indicate a trap. They seemed pretty happy. Whatever you did for them, they appreciated it."
"Let's get out of here," Sarah said as she started the car. She quickly drove to a spot several blocks away from the motel. She helped Casey out of the car and unlocked his cuffs. "We'll have to walk a few blocks," Sarah said. "In case they are tracking the car. Are you up for that?"
As soon as Sarah and Casey entered the motel room, Ellie rushed up to her. Realizing that Ellie still thought she was bugged, Sarah smiled.
"Its okay, Ellie," Sarah said. "The mission is over. Chuck's plan worked perfectly."
Suddenly Ellie slapped Sarah across the face. The blow wasn't that hard. It more surprised Sarah than it hurt her. "You bitch," Ellie said. "How could you do this to him? How could you betray him like this? It you weren't pregnant, I'd slap that whore red lipstick off your face."
Sarah rubbed her face trying to figure out what Ellie meant when she saw the monitor. Sarah's face turned white when she realized that Ellie had heard everything. After replaying in her mind what Ellie had heard, her face started to turn deep red.
"Oh my God," Sarah whispered in shock. "You heard it, didn't you?'
"I heard it," Ellie confirmed Sarah's fears. "I heard you in bed groaning with a complete stranger on the same day my brother is over here crying about how to keep you from leaving him."
"Ellie," Sarah said. "You don't understand. The man that you heard me with tonight."
"Yes," Ellie hissed.
"That wasn't Schultz. It was Chuck."
Chapter 15: Father Casey
Ellie just stood staring at Sarah. The rage she felt didn't let Sarah's words sink in right away. So she just stood with her nostrils flaring in anger as she tried to process what she had just heard. Both Devon and Casey were too stunned to move between them.
"Sarah," Ellie said. "I heard you. It was sick. And I've been sticking up for you all week."
"Ellie," Sarah said. "That was Chuck's plan. Chuck and I were putting on a show for Fulcrum. It was Chuck. He was just speaking with a fake accent."
Ellie took a step backwards as she tried to get her head around what she was hearing. "And you planned on that sick show all along?" Ellie said.
"Well," Sarah said as the blush returned to her face. "Not exactly. Chuck got a little carried away and went off the script a little. I'll be having a little chat with him about that when he gets here. Part of what you heard actually happened. We might have exaggerated the sex part a little. But yes. We had to make Fulcrum believe that I was seducing Schultz and getting the list for them."
"So," Ellie said. "Are you saying that you didn't give them the list? I thought I heard you."
"Yes," Sarah said. "I gave it to them."
Ellie's eyes betrayed the frustration that was boiling within her.
"If you promise not to hit me again," Sarah said with the beginnings of a smile. "I'll tell you the whole story."
"No promises," Ellie said as she cooled off a little. "I may have to hit someone."
"Fair enough," Sarah said. "Here is the deal. We knew that I couldn't get the list. Fulcrum was listening to me. As soon as I got the list, I would have to hand it over to them. And that wouldn't fly. It would have been treason. The information was far too valuable. Besides, I wasn't willing to seduce him anyway. That would hurt Chuck. No way am I willing to do that. Are you with me so far?"
Ellie nodded numbly.
"But," Sarah continued. "We wanted to make it look to Fulcrum as if we were cooperating. Casey's life was at stake. And they agreed to stop targeting you and Chuck. So we had Janice get the list from Schultz."
"How did she do that?" Ellie asked. "Did she sleep with him?"
"I'm not sure," Sarah said. "It's very possible. We'll find out when she and Chuck get back in a few minutes. But Chuck had an earpiece. He was listening to Janice the whole time. So Chuck and I were putting on a show, keeping Fulcrum occupied, while Janice was getting the list."
"But what good did that do?" Ellie asked. "Fulcrum still has the list. What difference did it make who got it for them?"
"Because," Sarah said with a grin. "One reason that Fulcrum wasn't worried about me double crossing them was that they were listening to me. I would never have had time to do anything but hand it to them. But Fulcrum wasn't listening to Janice. Once she got the list, she had time to make a copy. So once Chuck knew that Janice was ready, he signaled me by saying that he had enough debauchery for one night. When I walked down to the lobby. Janice handed me the list, which she had already copied. And I walked outside and handed it to Fulcrum."
"Brilliant," whispered Ellie, more to herself than to anyone.
"It was," Sarah said. "Fulcrum thinks that I did the job for them. And Chuck and Janice are delivering a copy of the real list to General Beckman as we speak. We got everything from them and gave up nothing. That was Chuck's plan. And it worked perfectly."
"So this is over?" Ellie asked as her voice began to shake with emotion. "We can go back to normal?"
"Almost," Sarah said. "I want to give it a little time to be sure that Fulcrum isn't going to double cross us. But there is no sign of that. They seem pretty happy."
Ellie's head dropped as her lip began to quiver. "Sarah," she said. "I'm so sorry that I hit you."
Sarah wrapped Ellie in her arms and squeezed as hard as she could. "You know what?" Sarah asked. "You were protecting someone that I love very much. If I ever thought that you were hurting him as much as you thought I was, I'd hit you too. I'm sorry that you bad to listen to that without knowing what was really going on. That must have hurt. I would never want that."
"I love you," Ellie sobbed.
"And I love you," Sarah said with a grin as she withdrew far enough to look into Ellie's eyes. "Don't ever forget that."
The instant that Chuck saw Janice's eyes when she entered the hotel room, he was struck by the change in her demeanor. Long gone was the flirty, blonde sex goddess. Instead she was replaced by a totally professional agent who was on edge. Chuck quickly found that out when he tried to hug her.
"Not now, Chuck," Janice said. Her tone left no room for interpretation. "The mission isn't over. No matter what, we have to deliver this information to General Beckman."
When Chuck and Janice walked down to the lobby, Janice buried her face in Chuck's shoulder. To anyone looking, they appeared like a couple who had just picked each other up and was ditching the party. Janice very cautiously scouted the parking lot for any sign of Fulcrum or any other threats. Once she was confident that it was clear, she led Chuck to the van by smiling and holding his hand. Once they were in the van, Janice immediately reverted to agent mode.
Janice had Chuck drive the van directly to the FBI office where General Beckman was working. Her eyes widened as Chuck briefed her. Chuck calmly told her about the mission. Sometimes Janice would fill in a detail or two. But Chuck did most of the talking. Finally, he was finished.
Beckman tried to hold in her smile. Military decorum demanded it. She just couldn't. The news was too good.
"So," Beckman said. "Let me get this straight. A Fulcrum Elder believes that Agent Walker is now a trusted asset, Major Casey has been released, and you are no longer being targeted."
"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said.
"And you have a copy of the original intelligence list."
"Yes, ma'am," said Janice as she handed it to Beckman.
"Not to mention that you killed or captured twenty two Fulcrum agents in the past three days," Beckman said.
"Yes, ma'am," Janice said.
"Chuck," Beckman said. "Agent Beckman, all I can say is… wow. This is fantastic."
"Thank you, ma'am," Chuck said with a broad smile.
While Ellie and Sarah were hugging, Ellie happened to glance over at Casey who was sitting on the couch. She immediately noticed that his shoulder was bleeding.
"Oh my God," Ellie exclaimed as she quickly broke the embrace. "John, you're hurt. Take off your shirt and let me look at it."
"That's okay," Devon said. "I'll look at it."
"Babe," Ellie said with a noticeable annoyance in her voice. "I've got this."
Ellie could tell by the look in Devon's face that he was not happy. So she grabbed him by the hand. "Take your shirt off, John," Ellie called over her shoulder as she dragged Devon towards the door. "We'll be right back."
As soon as Ellie had Devon in the other room, she turned to face him. He expected a tongue lashing. So he really wasn't all that surprised when he got one. But, then again, it wasn't anything like he expected.
She kissed him.
She not only kissed him, she attacked him. Her mouth fully open. Devon was surprised at first but quickly rose to the occasion. It was as intimate a moment as they had shared in some time. It was only when Devon began to lift her tank top that Ellie broke the kiss.
"I love you," she whispered.
"I love you," Devon said.
"I know," said Ellie. "And when I say I love you, be sure you know what I mean. You're the love of my life. I'm going to have your babies. We're going to grow old together."
"I know," Devon said.
"Do you?" Ellie asked as she held her thumb and forefinger about an inch apart. "Because your jealousy of John was cute… for a little while. Now it's just getting annoying. I like John. I consider him a friend. But I've never had a single romantic thought about him. And if you can't see that, something is wrong. Come on, Devon. You're better than that."
"I'm sorry," Devon said. "You're right."
"Now," Ellie said with a sly smile. "Jealousy aside, let me ask you a question. Who is more qualified to treat a topical gunshot wound? An E.R. attending physician or a heart surgeon?"
Devon tried very hard to figure out a way out of that particular question. But finally his shoulders slumped in defeat. "The attending," Devon said reluctantly.
"I'm sorry," Ellie said with a grin. "I didn't quite hear you."
"I'm sorry," Devon said with a sigh. "You're much more qualified. I'm being silly."
"Totally silly," Ellie said with an evil sparkle in her eye. "But also totally sexy. I'll make a deal with you."
"Deal?" Devon asked.
"Yes," Ellie said. "We don't have time to get naked right now. But if you'll stop this silly, childish jealousy stuff and go make up with John…"
Devon didn't respond except for a small sigh.
"Tonight," Ellie continued. "I'll put on my diamond earrings, find an evening dress, and we can pretend that you're Schultz."
"All four times?" Devon asked, not even trying to hide the grin.
"As many as you're up for," Ellie replied with her own grin. "I can be as dangerous as anybody. And one more thing."
"If John needs a heart valve replaced, we'll come and find you."
General Beckman sat looking at Chuck and Janice. The smile had faded somewhat but the twinkle was still evident in her eye.
"Chuck," she said. "I want to apologize to you. I've completely underestimated you. This work is nothing short of phenomenal."
"Thank you, ma'am," Chuck said. "But it was a team effort. If it wasn't for Agent Beckman here, we wouldn't have succeeded."
"I agree," she said. "Agent Beckman, well done. But it's the Intersect that is really the wild card here. I'd like to make you an offer."
Chuck just nodded to let her know that he was listening.
"Chuck," Beckman said. "Your team is too valuable to break up. I would like you to consider staying on as the Intersect. We would make you an agent and keep your team intact."
"I'd have to talk to Sarah," Chuck said. "And it might be a good idea for us to stay unofficial."
"Unofficial?" Beckman questioned.
"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said. "Fulcrum thinks that Sarah is rogue. If they get word that either she or I were CIA agents, it would raise their suspicions. They seem to trust Sarah now. It would be a shame to waste that."
Beckman sat deep in thought for a long moment. "Chuck," she said. "That is a good idea. Let's see if we can work out something undercover."
"I'll talk to Sarah," Chuck said. "There is just one more thing."
The General's eyes narrowed. "Yes," she said.
"We would have to add a new team member. Sarah is going to need to take some maternity leave."
"Let me guess," Beckman said with a smile.
"Yes, ma'am," Chuck said. "Agent Beckman here would be perfect. She is already up to speed on the Intersect and she already works well with Sarah and Casey."
Chuck looked over at Janice and noticed that her eyes were glistening.
"Not only that," Chuck continued. "There is nobody that I would rather have at my back. Nobody."
"Agent Beckman," the general said. "Are you interested in returning to active duty and joining Chuck's team?"
Janice sat for a moment trying to maintain her composure enough to answer. "Yes, ma'am," she finally was able to get out. "Very much."
"Have Agent Walker contact me with your decision," Beckman said. "Until then, congratulations on a fine job. You're dismissed."
Ellie had just finished stitching up Casey's shoulder. "There you go, John," Ellie said. "Good as new. I put in seven stitches. It's a good thing that I took the medical supplies out of the van yesterday. I want to get you on some antibiotics as soon as we can. But it looks like you're going to be fine."
Ellie then turned to Sarah. "Are you ready?" she asked.
"Ready?" Sarah asked in confusion.
"Janice didn't tell you?" Ellie asked.
"I haven't talked to Janice," Sarah said. "What's going on?"
"I'm taking you to see an obstetrician," Ellie said.
"Ellie," Sarah said. "It's almost nine."
"It's okay," Ellie said. "This is a friend of mine. She is going to meet us at the hospital."
"I don't know, Ellie," Sarah said. "This is not a good time. We still have some stuff to do."
"Now," Ellie said firmly. "You can't wait on this, Sarah. It's important that you see Dr. Aster right away. We need for you and the baby to be healthy."
"Okay," Sarah said after a minute. "Casey, wait for Chuck and take him and Janice to Castle. Tell him I'll meet him there. Devon, do you and Ellie have somewhere you can stay tonight? I think that it might be a good idea to stay away from the apartment for at least one more night."
"Yes," Devon answered. "We can camp out at the hospital. We're good."
"Okay," Sarah said. "Devon, you can come with us. Casey, I'll take the Fulcrum car. You wait and take the van. After my doctor visit, I'll meet them at Castle. You can stay or go home. It's up to you."
Janice was able to hold her composure until they were safely in the van.
"Did you mean it?" she asked as soon as the doors closed.
"Did I mean what?"
"Did you mean it when you told her that there was nobody you'd rather have at your back?"
"Of course I meant it," Chuck said. "Come on, Janice. You kicked ass tonight. You are back. An active agent again. I think I need to see a smile. You were nothing short of brilliant. I just hope you'll agree to stay. You can probably have your choice of assignments."
Chuck was surprised by Janice's reaction. He figured that she would be giddy. Instead her face turned serious… sad even.
"Our relationship is about to change," Janice said. "After tonight, you may not be my asset, but you are going to be the most important member of my team. My top priority is going to be to keep you safe."
"I know," Chuck said.
"So that means that we have to be professional," Janice said.
"We can be professional and still be friends," Chuck said.
"Maybe," Janice said. "To an extent. But now the mission has to take top priority. And we can't have any sexual tension or wanting more than we can have messing up our team dynamics. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Chuck knew that he had to be careful in his response. One of the last things that he wanted to do was hurt her. But the very last thing that he wanted to do was to let her think there was any chance of him betraying Sarah. "I think I'll be okay," Chuck said. "Janice, you're one of the most beautiful woman I've ever seen. And way more than that, one of the most fun to be around. But I think I'll be fine with being friends. Hopefully, Sarah is going to be keeping me busy."
Janice turned to face Chuck and looked him directly in the eye.
"I was talking about me."
Chuck and Casey were in the van. They had dropped Janice off at Castle. And Chuck was supposed to be there as well.
"This is a bad idea," Casey said. "Sarah told you to wait for her in Castle. You know how protective she is of you."
"But you're with me," Chuck said. "You're my handler. It's the same as her being with me."
"It's a bad idea," Casey simply repeated. "You've seen her pissed."
"Please," Chuck pleaded. "This is her first prenatal exam. I should be there, don't you think?"
"Bad idea," Casey said to himself under his breath as he shook his head. "Okay, but just remember our deal. You don't leave my sight."
Sarah was lying on the examination table. Dr. Aster had agreed to meet them at the hospital but she wasn't there yet. One of the on call technicians showed them to an examination room and asked Sarah to change into a gown. Ellie had offered to leave but Sarah almost pleaded with her to stay. Ellie could tell that Sarah was nervous so she decided to talk.
"Sarah," Ellie said. "We're friends, right?"
"Of course," Sarah said. "You're my sister, Ellie. What kind of question is that?"
"If this is none of my business," Ellie said without looking from the floor. "Please tell me. And I hope you can talk to me as a girlfriend and not your sister in law."
"My goodness, Ellie," Sarah said. "What is it?"
Ellie paused, not knowing how to begin. "Tonight," she said. "With Schultz. I'm assuming that you've done that for real?"
"Ellie," Sarah said. "Are you sure that you want to hear about this? I wouldn't want things to be awkward between us."
Ellie just nodded with a smile.
"I have," Sarah said. "But not since I've known Chuck. And Chuck knows. It's part of a spy's job. I'm sorry but I really can't talk about any details."
"I don't want any state secrets," Ellie said. "What I want to know is how does it feel? How does it feel to have that kind of power over a man?"
"You know what," Sarah said. "I'm really not trying to be evasive, but I'm the wrong one to ask that question. If you really want to know, you should talk to Janice. She enjoys it sometimes. I never did. It was the part of my job that I hated."
"I'm sorry," Ellie said. "I didn't mean to pry."
"It's not that," Sarah said. "Ellie, other than Chuck you're the best friend I've ever had. If there is anything that you want to know, besides the classified stuff, I'll gladly tell you. You deserve that. It's just that, in this case, there is not much to tell. I don't even remember much about the actual acts. I was always thinking about where the closest exit was or how I was going to plant the bug or planning my exit strategy. And Janice could tell you more about the excitement. A lot of agents enjoy that part of it. It's even a big reason why some women become agents. I just never did. When I'm working, I'm all business. That's why Chuck was upset with me tonight. He wanted to make love for real and I wouldn't let him."
"You wouldn't let him?" Ellie said. "He's your husband."
"Not in that situation," Sarah said. "He wasn't my husband. He was a mark. I was working. Chuck, who I love and have vowed to protect, was in a dangerous situation. If something happened to him, I'd never forgive myself. Chuck understands."
Ellie's eyes widened in skepticism. "He does?" she asked. "You do know that Chuck is pretty insecure then it comes to you? I know that he was hoping to make up with you. Are you sure that he understands?"
"Well," Sarah said sadly. "He might not now. But he will."
Chuck walked up to the nurse's station. As soon as one of the nurses asked if they could help, he asked about Sarah Bartowski.
"I'm sorry," the nurse replied. "There is no Sarah Bartowski here. Dr. Bartowski is waiting with a Sarah Walker."
Chuck noticeably winced when he learned that Sarah was going as Walker. It hurt him that wouldn't use Sarah Bartowski. "I'd like to see her," he said.
"I'm sorry," she said. "She is being examined. Only the father is allowed."
"I am the father," Chuck said. But then he remembered. He couldn't leave Casey's sight. "Umm, actually we're not sure."
"Not sure," the nurse asked.
"It could be either one of us," Chuck said as he gestured towards Casey. "We'd both like to go in."
Sarah and Ellie were sitting and talking waiting for the doctor. It felt good to be able to just talk about nothing for a change.
"Excuse me," the nurse said as she poked her head in the room. "Dr. Aster is here. She is on her way up. And the fathers are here to see you."
"Fathers?" Sarah asked. Her face was shrouded in confusion.
"Hello, Miss Walker," Chuck said as he entered the room. Casey walked in immediately behind him.
Chapter 16: The Spy Who Came In From the Cold
All Sarah could do was lie on the examining table in stunned silence. How could things have gotten so out of hand? The last thing that she wanted was to fight with Chuck. But he was so angry. Didn't he get that she was just trying to protect him? Couldn't he understand that the thought of losing him to Fulcrum was her worst fear? And that she would do anything to keep that from happening? Why couldn't he follow the most simple of instructions? If he had just waited at Castle, she could have gone there and they could have worked it out. They could have worked it out again and again.
But instead he surprises her. And comes in the room and starts screaming. He had to know that she would not react to that well. There was just something in her nature that didn't allow her to be yelled at without responding. He knew that. Especially now, with her hormones so out of whack. And telling the nurse that Casey might be the father? What was he thinking?
But quickly, as quickly as it had come, Sarah's anger faded away. And was replaced by guilt. Why did she sign in as Sarah Walker? Oh, she knew why. She was still in agent mode and didn't want to tip off anybody that she was married. But that was silly. If she had thought it through, she would never have done it. For one thing, that's not how she viewed herself. Being part of the Bartowski family was the best thing that had ever happened to her. She was proud to call herself Sarah Bartowski.
Chuck had just had a very bad week. Why couldn't she cut him some slack? When he yelled some things that she knew he didn't mean, she should have made him understand. Instead, she yelled back… some things that she didn't mean.
What she wouldn't give for him to walk back through that door. She would make it up to him. But then she sighed.
How long could she keep telling herself that without actually doing it?
Janice had just resigned herself to the fact that there was nothing to do except go to bed. And for Janice to go to bed, alone, at ten o'clock would be a first since she was in elementary school. She was not the least bit tired. She was bored. Bored wasn't the right word. But after experiencing the high of the one thing that she had been dreaming about for years, the return to active duty, being stuck here alone was a… well a letdown. After all, the castle was not exactly a five star hotel. Oh, it was comfortable enough. And it had a communication system that would rival Air Force One. But the fact was it was sterile. And all that cement and glass simply emphasized her solitude. And she was in the mood to celebrate. The problem was there was no one to celebrate with.
It wasn't that Janice wasn't used to being alone. She was. She had lived alone for the past several years. And she knew full well that if she wanted company, one trip to the closest local bar would quickly give her several choices of a male companion for the evening. But that just seemed wrong tonight. Spending the night in a strange man's bed would be even more lonely somehow than actually spending the night alone. Just thinking about it was depressing enough.
So, she was more than a little grateful when she heard Chuck walk down the stairs. But almost immediately that happy feeling was replaced with guilt. She quickly realized that Chuck being there couldn't be good news. It must not have gone well with Sarah. And one look at his face confirmed her suspicions. There were no tears. Not yet anyway. But it looked as if they could come at any moment. He was obviously in shock. His eyes were glassy and didn't seem to focus.
Janice was actually quite surprised at her emotions as she looked at Chuck. She felt herself getting very pissed off. Why would Sarah get involved with a civilian? She had to know that it would end up like this. Why would she do this to someone? And especially to a guy like Chuck. For even the little while she had known him, Janice knew that Chuck was special. He was the nicest man she had ever met. And he was a genuine hero. He was so much fun to be around that, on some level, Janice felt the pangs of jealousy when she saw them together. And although he was absolutely not her type, she really liked him. A lot. For a second, she actually wondered what it would be like to have a real relationship with someone like Chuck. But she quickly flushed that smile from her face and thought from her mind. She knew that if she ever got involved with Chuck, even with the best intentions, it would eventually end up the same way. He would want more than she could give, something would happen to force her to move on, and he would be crushed.
"Damn it, Sarah," Janice sighed to herself. "You know better."
No, Janice knew that she couldn't fix things tonight. That would take time. And it was entirely possible that he would never get over her. It wouldn't be the first time she had seen a man so love sick that he didn't want to go on. But maybe she could make him forget about the pain for a little while. And now she could actually tell herself that it would be good for the mission. After all, having the Intersect crushed and heartbroken wasn't good… for anybody. Not to mention that it would improve her outlook on life too. She had to admit, a big part of her wanted to see what he was like in bed. Sarah always raved about him in that area. And she knew from their years of living together that Sarah was not easily impressed in bed. So deciding to play tonight by ear, she took a deep breath and forced a smile on her face. She turned to face him.
"Hi, Chuck," Janice said. "I didn't expect to see you here tonight."
Chuck looked towards her but didn't actually meet her eye. His two word response was so pitiful that she had to call on her training to keep the tears out of her own eyes.
Ellie stood out of the way during the fight, partly because this was really between Chuck and Sarah, but mostly because she didn't know what to say. Ellie was simply stunned at the change that had come over Sarah in the past week. Totally gone was the love sick aura that had surrounded her for the past couple of months. Instead, she was reminded of the Sarah of a year ago. She had the right look on her face. She said the right things. But somehow, it just didn't feel right. Ellie made up her mind to try and understand what was going on, if not for Chuck, then for her own peace of mind.
"Sarah," Ellie said as the technician started to play the sounds from the examination over the sound system. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Sure," Sarah replied, trying to speak loudly to be heard over the noise coming from the speakers. "How much longer is this going to take?"
"It's almost over," Ellie said. "I hope this isn't too personal. But I just need to know. Are you still planning on having the baby?"
At first, Sarah thought that Ellie was joking. "I think it's a little late for that," she said.
"Good," Ellie said. "Then can I ask you for a huge favor?"
Sarah began to get the uneasy feeling that Ellie was being serious. Not knowing what else to say, she simply nodded for Ellie to continue.
"Please promise me that you won't move away," Ellie said. "That you'll let Chuck be a part of the baby's life. It's important for a baby to have a father. And I know that it would kill Chuck to know that he had a baby that he could never be there for."
Sarah was so shocked that she couldn't respond. She just lay on the examining table staring at Ellie with wide eyes.
"And, I'll admit, this next part is a little selfish," Ellie said as the tears forming in her eyes threatened to overflow at any moment. "I'd also like to be a part of the baby's life. I was really looking forward to being Aunt Ellie. I know that Chuck isn't exactly in the most secure financial state right now. But he's not a loser, Sarah. He's not. I know that he will do whatever it takes to provide for the baby. Who knows? Maybe this is the kick in the pants that he needs to start using his degree."
"Ellie," Sarah was finally able to choke out. "Of course Chuck's not a loser. Why do you think that he wouldn't be a part of the baby's life? He's the father. We're married."
"Sweetie," Ellie said. "Let me tell you something. I'm your sister because you're married to Chuck. But I'm your best friend because I want to be. You believe that, don't you?"
Sarah just nodded.
"Well," Ellie continued. "As your best friend, as someone who loves you, it would be wrong to stay with Chuck just because of the baby. You'll just wind up hating each other. You know that I'm right."
Now Sarah's mood escalated from alarm to near panic.
"Ellie," she said. "Did Chuck do something? What are you talking about?"
"Come on, sweetie," Ellie said. "Do you think I can't tell? I watched your eyes for a year while you were pretending. And I didn't even know that you were pretending. But I knew that something was wrong between you two. Then I saw your eyes when you were in love and I could tell. But now, you're back to pretending. Please don't try and deny that there is something wrong with you guys. It's okay. It happens. People fall out of love, I guess."
"Ellie," Sarah said. "You don't understand. You know how I feel about Chuck… more than ever. I can't believe that you have any doubt about that."
Ellie's eyes narrowed as she looked at Sarah. "Bullshit," she said simply.
The surprised look on Sarah's face told Ellie that she had her attention.
"That's right," Ellie continued. "Stop with the bullshit. There is no way in hell that you love him. Oh, you might feel something. You're protective of him. Maybe you have some sort of mothering instinct going on. But stop saying that you love him. It's dishonest. And it's pissing me off."
Sarah's eyes widened even further in shock. She had never heard Ellie speak in that tone before. How could she make her understand? "I was sent here as a CIA agent," Sarah said. "My job has always been to protect Chuck. And if I fail in that job, Chuck dies, or even worse. So a long time ago I decided that I would do whatever it took to ensure that didn't happen. And being all lovey-dovey is a distraction. One that we can't afford right now. So, as long as he is in danger, I'm going to have to keep him at arms length. Chuck understands that. So, yes, I've been intentionally cool to him for the past week. But it has nothing to do with how I feel about him."
"No way," Ellie said. "You don't love him. If you did, you couldn't possibly treat him like this. Did you know that he has been having nightmares about your leaving him? I've seen the way that you've been treating him. Are you really this stupid? How could you not see what you are doing to him? And you want to claim that you love him?"
"Chuck understands," Sarah said as her face fell. "I have to protect him."
"Come off it!" Ellie said as she raised her voice. "How do you protect someone by killing him? How do you keep someone from being tortured by torturing him? Do you realize that, right now, he is off crying somewhere because you don't love him anymore? Is that what you really want? Just please do me a favor. End it. Break it off now. Don't let him hope. Don't worry. I got him over Jill and I'll get him over you. It's just cruel to let him hope."
"Don't you say that!" Sarah screamed. Then her anger quickly turned into frustrated tears. "Please, Ellie," Sarah sobbed. "Don't say that. I love him. He is my life. I can't live without him."
Sarah fully expected Ellie's angry response. She braced for it. But instead she got a reaction that she wasn't expecting at all.
"Was that really so hard to say?" Ellie asked gently as she walked over to Sarah and reached out her hand to her. "Really, sweetie. You were starting to scare me. I thought I might have to hit you with a stick."
Sarah just buried her head into Ellie's shoulder.
"Will you do me a favor?" Ellie said. "Will you go and tell him that exact same thing, just like you just told me? Because, if you do, I promise that all of our troubles will be over."
Sarah's voice was so pitiful that it broke Ellie's heart. "Is he really somewhere crying now?"
"Don't worry, sweetie," Ellie said as she rubbed Sarah's back. "You can easily fix this. Chuck will always have an insecurity about you that is going to be an inch below the surface. He thinks that you are out of his league. Almost everybody who ever meets you two for the first time tells him that. He doesn't think he deserves you. He'll always be looking for a sign that you've come to the conclusion that he's right. He needs you to reassure him. Probably more than another man would. I can't believe you don't see that."
"I'm not good at relationships," Sarah said as her own eyes filled with tears. "I never have been. Spies are taught not to let feelings interfere with the mission. We're trained that feelings are a weakness that your enemy will exploit."
"I know, sweetie," Ellie said. "But Sarah, trust me on this. I am good at relationships. And you just have to make up your mind. What is first to you? Right now Chuck doesn't know. Is that really what you want?"
Sarah's face now registered a full fledged panic. She set her jaw firmly as she made her decision.
"Give me my clothes," Sarah said as she quickly sat up. "Please help me. I need to go fix this. I need to make sure that he knows."
Ellie just squeezed her hand tighter.
"Sweetie, please lie back down," Ellie said as softly as she could and still be heard over the noise that continued to come over the speakers. "Let Dr. Aster finish the examination. I want my niece to be healthy. Then you can go and talk to Chuck. Ten more minutes aren't going to make that big of a difference."
Sarah allowed Ellie to gently guide her back down on the examining table.
"That was a pretty dangerous game you were just playing," Sarah said as she squeezed Ellie's hand. "Please don't let me hurt him. If I have then I'll hate myself."
"Not really," Ellie said with a smile as she gently rubbed Sarah's arm. "There was never any question, was there? I always knew how you feel. You just needed some help saying it. Sweetie, I know you said that you are bad at relationships. But let's face it, you're not bad, you are horrible at relationships."
"I know," Sarah whispered. "He deserves more. A lot more."
"So promise me," Ellie said. "Next time, please let me help you before we get into another one of these messes. That's what sisters / best friends are for. You know that I'm always just a phone call away?"
"Ellie, is there any hope for me?" Sarah asked. Her voice sounded so pitiful that Ellie had to hug her.
"Absolutely none," Ellie said with a laugh. "You're hopelessly in love. My professional prognosis is terminal."
"What is that annoying sound?" Sarah finally asked with her own laugh as she continued to hold Ellie.
Ellie gently broke the embrace and grinned at Sarah.
"Sweetie, that's my niece's heartbeat," she said. "I should let Dr. Aster tell you the details, but it sounds great. Nice and strong, no irregularities, and the pulse is right in the middle of the normal range. The news couldn't be better."
"There's only one thing that could be better," Sarah said.
"Chuck should be here to hear it."
Chuck sat on the chair in the living quarters, with his head in his hands, feeling sorry for himself in the dark. He had never been so exhausted in his life. And even though he appreciated Janice trying to talk to him, he was glad that she had left to get them a beer from the pantry. He just wasn't up to hearing about how spies were different and how they could never have a true relationship. And he knew that she was just trying to cheer him up by telling him how great he was. It's just that, right now, he didn't feel very great. Who was he ever fooling anyway? How could someone like Sarah ever fall for him? It was just a matter of time. And now his time was up.
So when Chuck saw her set his beer on the table, his heart sank. He couldn't see very well through his hands and he was far too tired to look up, but he was pretty sure that she had changed her clothes. Or more accurately, she was wearing fewer clothes. This was the very last thing that he wanted to happen. He knew that she was just trying to help in the only way she knew how, but a pity screw was the last thing on his mind right now. For one thing, it just sounded pathetic. But even more importantly, he wasn't going to do anything to betray Sarah until he heard from her lips that it was over. Could this situation get any worse?
"Janice," Chuck said without looking up. "I think you're amazing. I do. I like you a lot. I could even see myself falling in love with you in the right place and time. And I appreciate what you're trying to do. But if I sleep with you tonight, I would just be using you. And I would be betraying Sarah. I just can't do either."
Chuck could only hear the sound of her labored breathing.
"I'm hopelessly in love with Sarah," Chuck softly continued. "And I know how stupid that sounds to you. Hell, it even sounds a little stupid to me. She has clearly moved on. But I can't help it. I've loved her from almost the minute I met her. I just can't picture my life without her in it. All I can see is my life with her. Raising the baby together. And maybe having a lot more. I know that I'm going to have to get over her sometime but I don't see that happening anytime soon."
Chuck could hear the small, almost silent sobs. And here he thought that he couldn't feel any worse. He knew that whatever happened, Janice shouldn't have to feel bad. She was just trying to help. Even though her state of undress was going to be awkward, he would have to face her and try to comfort her.
"She's not a bad person, Janice," Chuck said. "She's not. I just wish I could talk to her. I mean honestly talk to her and have her truly listen to me. I think I could help her. But I can't get her to talk. I messed up. And even if she doesn't love me anymore I still want her to be a part of my life. Even if it's just as a friend, at least I would still have something. I bet that she is really feeling bad right now. And I want to make sure that she isn't hurting. That she knows that this isn't her fault. That this is all my fault."
"I'd really like to hear that," she replied.
Pure surprise made Chuck forget how tired he was as he snapped his head up.
"Well, sweetie, as wrong as you are about almost everything, you're right about one thing. I'm feeling absolutely horrible right now. The worst I've ever felt in my whole life. Worse than I ever thought possible," Sarah said as she looked into Chuck's surprised eyes in the darkness.
"I'd love to hear you try and explain how you think this is your fault."
Chapter 17: The Spy Who Loved Me
There wasn't much light in the room. But as he stood to face her, he saw plainly the anguish on Sarah's face. She looked just as bad as he felt. Her eyes were glassy and her lower lip was visibly trembling. Chuck fought the overwhelming urge to wrap his arms around her. He knew that was the last thing that she wanted right now. Chuck was consumed by the fact that she was hurting. Whatever happened he had to make her stop hurting.
"Sarah," Chuck said. "I'm so sorry…"
"Chuck, stop," Sarah quickly interrupted. "Sweetie, we're both really hurting right now. I'm trying to hold it together but if I hear you try and apologize for something that is my fault, I'm going to start bawling. Then you're going to start bawling. And we really need to work this out tonight. I need to know how you could have possibly come to the conclusion that any of this is your fault."
"Because," Chuck said. "I'm the one who is supposed to be good at relationships. You're the one good at spy stuff and I'm good at the relationship stuff. Just like you look out for my back on missions, I should have been looking out for your back. I should have insisted that you were ready before I pressured you to get married. I didn't because I wanted it so badly. Then I made you a promise that I couldn't keep to pressure you even more. When you said yes, I just let it happen. I was selfish. I'm sor… um, I shouldn't have done that."
Sarah shook her head with a sad smile. "Why doesn't it surprise me that you are trying to take the blame for this to make me feel better?" she said.
"So, anyway," Chuck continued, ignoring her question. "This is what I think we should do. Since we're not legally married, let's assume that we're not. Let's have the discussion that we should have had before we got married in the first place. Let's figure out what it is that we both really want."
Sarah took a long moment to gather her composure. "Are you saying that you don't want to be married to me anymore?" she asked. Her voice was so shaky that Chuck had to strain to hear her."
"I'm not saying that," Chuck said. "Of course not. But my first priority is seeing you happy. If we can be married, I think you know how much I'd love that. But if not, I don't want to lose my best friend. I can't stand the thought of you hating me."
"Okay, sweetie," Sarah said after a moment. "I came in here to get you in bed and make up with you. That's why I'm in my underwear. But I can see that I have some work to do to fix this. Sex alone isn't going to be enough. So I'll agree with your assumption for the sake of this discussion only. You seem to have thought a lot about this. What is it that you think that I want?"
"I think that maybe you would be happier with someone like Bryce or Cole," Chuck said. "Someone who is a better hero. Someone you could look up to."
"Why on earth would you think that?"
"Come on, Sarah," Chuck said. "I've studied you night and day for the past two years. I know every expression on your face and what it means. And I see your eyes light up whenever Bryce or Cole are around. I saw you kiss Cole. Don't tell me that you're not attracted to him. They would understand what you're going through better than I can. They would accept the things you have to do better. You would be able to depend on them better. You wouldn't have to worry about protecting them. They would be better looking. People could actually believe you might be a couple without thinking that you lost a bet."
Chuck could see just the hint of a glimmer in her eye.
"Wow," Sarah said. "You have obviously thought a lot about this. And you are the smartest man that I've ever met. You, Chuck, are a true genius. Even Beckman admits that. But, sweetie, sometimes…"
Sarah passed to wipe a tear from her eye. "Sometimes," she continued. "I swear. You can be so thick that it's unbelievable. So, I stand here and wonder. How could you be so absolutely 180 degrees wrong about what I want?"
Chuck just looked at her sadly.
"I admire Bryce and Cole for their spy skills," Sarah said. "There's no question about that. You're probably right. My eyes do light up around them. Just like I see your eyes light up when you're solving a technical problem with Lester or solving a video game problem with Morgan. Should I be jealous of them? Are they what you dream about in a mate? And there was a time in my life when I thought I would have to settle for someone like Bryce or Cole. But the truth is that both Bryce and Cole would make horrible husbands. For one thing, they would never marry anybody. For another, if either got the order to shoot me in the head tomorrow, they would do it without thinking twice. And, Chuck, if you don't see my eyes light up when I look at you, then you have a blind spot. For the past two years, I've spent every day afraid that everyone would look at my face and know exactly how hard I had fallen for you."
At this point Sarah had to pause to regain her composure.
"And I'm really sorry that you saw me kiss Cole," Sarah said as her voice broke. "That must have hurt you. I wish that wouldn't have happened. But he kissed me. And I was having a bad day. You had just dumped me and I was hurting. So I kissed him for two seconds. And I really don't think I should have to defend myself about it. I shot him down cold every time he tried anything expect for those two seconds. I don't think that you understand how important our cover relationship was to me. It may have been torture to you but it was the closest thing to what I had always dreamed about having. That cover relationship was the most real thing I've ever experienced. It was more important to me than the real relationship I had with Bryce. I'll admit that I didn't handle it very well."
"I'm sorry," Chuck said. "You shouldn't have to defend yourself. I never meant it like that."
"We agreed that you wouldn't apologize," Sarah said. "But fine. Do you want to hear what I want in a husband? I've thought a lot about it as well. It breaks my heart that you don't know. But I only want to tell you if you can handle it. Are you sure that you want to hear? Because it is completely different than what you just said. Completely."
"I don't want a super spy," Sarah said. "That's the very last thing I would want. I want a super man. I don't want someone who admires my skills or lusts after my body. I don't even want someone who loves me. That's not nearly good enough. I want someone who worships me, someone who sees me as the center of his universe. Someone who spends the time learning what the expressions on my face mean. I want someone who would put my needs above his without question. He would stand in front of a bomb and allow himself to be blown up for no other reason than he couldn't bear the thought of me dying alone. I want someone who will make me laugh when I need it, someone who will cheer me up before I even realize that I'm sad."
Chuck just nodded to let Sarah know that he understood.
"I want someone who gets insanely jealous when I even glance at another man," Sarah continued. "But he is so secure that he doesn't mind when I have to flirt with a mark on a mission. I don't want some hot, smooth guy who can pick up a girl in a bar. I want someone who makes sure that whatever we do in bed, we do it together. I want someone who is going to be the same in fifty years as he is today. I don't want someone who I can depend on doing the things that he has been trained to do. I want someone who would do the things that he had no idea how to do only because I needed him to. Something like, oh I don't know, jumping off a building to save me without having a clue if he was going to survive."
At the reference to jumping off a building, Chuck's face broke into a smile for the first time.
"And just for the record," Sarah continued in a whisper. "I love worrying about protecting you. I love every second that I am with you. I can't imagine my life without you."
Sarah had to pause again to keep her composure. Finally she was able to continue.
"So, Chuck," Sarah said. "We've talked a lot about me. Let's talk about you for a minute. I want you to be happy as well. What do you want?"
Chuck paused to think about the question for a long moment.
"It's funny," Chuck said. "I guess I haven't thought about it that much. I've been too worried about you. Maybe its cliché, but I really want you to be happy. But if I'm honest; I want to be number one. No matter what the mission or the job, I always want to know that I'm the top priority. I don't want to be an asset. Maybe that's a little childish."
"Sweetie, it's not childish at all," Sarah said. "We have a big problem. I love you so much that I can't even describe it, yet I can't get you to believe me. You were over here convinced that I don't love you any more, am I right?"
Chuck refused to meet her eye. Instead he looked at the floor. That was more than enough to tell Sarah that she was right… and forced her to pause again to regain her composure, this time for a long moment.
"Ellie pointed this out to me because I didn't see it," Sarah said. "We both have blind spots. I'm so bad at relationships that I can't tell when I'm hurting you. And you're so insecure that you're fooled by the agent coldness. You can't tell how much I love you."
"You're right," Chuck said. "What should we do about it?"
"First of all, I need you to listen to me very carefully," Sarah said. "I was pissed at you for breaking your promise. I still am a little. And I'll admit that I punished you for it this week. But, Chuck, if I ever, for one second, made you feel like I wasn't completely in love with you then I feel so horrible. I can't begin to say how sorry I am. You never deserve to doubt that. And if you would give me a second chance, I promise that being Sarah Bartowski will be my full time job. You are absolutely number one in my life. And that's why I can't be your handler any more. I promise that I'll never call you an asset again. Sarah Walker is a cover. I'm not really her. Not anymore."
"I love you too," Chuck said. "I'm sorry that I'm so needy. And I'm especially sorry that I made a promise to you that I couldn't keep."
"No, sweetie," Sarah corrected. "You don't love me. You worship me, remember?"
"Sorry," Chuck said. "Of course. I worship you."
"There are some commitments that we need to make to each other tonight," Sarah said. "But first I really need you to do something for me. This may be asking for too much but I would be so grateful to hear that you forgive me. Then I could start to breathe again."
"Only if you'll forgive me," Chuck said. "I've been a jerk. I know that you didn't want me to apologize. But I think it's time. I'm sorry. I'm sorry for doubting you. I'm sorry for being so needy. But most of all, I'm sorry for seeing you hurting. I never want to see that."
Sarah tried hard to keep her voice from breaking but couldn't. The tears that had been holding back now threatened to overflow. Sarah's lip trembled as she tried to get the words out.
"I really, really need you to kiss me."
Recognizing her vulnerability, Chuck first wrapped his arms about Sarah and pulled her into his chest. He just held her tightly for a long moment. Then he pulled back a little and kissed her forehead. Sarah closed her eyes to keep from breaking down and allowed Chuck to take the lead. So Chuck gently kissed both of her eyes. Then he kissed the tip of her nose, then the point of her chin. Finally Chuck touched his lips to Sarah's oh so softly, only for a moment. Sarah tried to follow Chuck to keep the kiss for as long as possible until their lips finally parted.
"Relax. I'm not going anywhere," Chuck whispered as he touched his lips to hers again, this time a little firmer and he left them there a moment longer. He could hear her breath gasp a little as he withdrew. He made her wait for a moment for the next kiss but it was a little firmer. Chuck touched his tongue gently to Sarah's lips but as soon as she opened her mouth he withdrew. The next kiss was much more urgent. Which was good since Sarah was done being teased anyway. She kept her eyes closed but reached her hands behind Chuck's head and, as was her custom, grabbed two handfuls of hair to keep him firmly in place. As their tongues danced, Sarah's moan, which had started off softly, rose in intensity. As their spirits merged, Sarah could feel her bra loosen when Chuck reached behind her back to unclasp it. Soon they were both panting for air, until Chuck finally broke the kiss.
"Is that what you wanted?" Chuck asked with a grin as Sarah finally opened her eyes to look at him.
"I hope that you're not even thinking of stopping now," Sarah whispered.
"Well," Chuck said in a teasing tone. "I heard something about commitments."
"If you don't get busy in the next two seconds," Sarah whispered with a pained grin of her own. "I'll commit to kicking your ass."
Chuck pulled the t-shirt over his head and leaned down to kiss Sarah again. After another long kiss, Chuck moved slowly down her neck, kissing as he went. When he reached the top of her chest, Chuck pulled the bra that was just lying there with him as he continued down Sarah's body. She straightened her arms to allow the straps to fall off. As soon as Chuck reached her stomach, he slid his fingers under the waistband of her briefs. Sarah turned her hips with a moan to allow Chuck to slide them off. The feeling was so intense as she stepped out of them that Sarah thought that she might explode. The weakness in her knees was so strong that she was struggling to stand. Chuck must have sensed that because he scooped her up and carried her to the bed.
Now they were both consumed with pure lust. Both of their hands were wildly exploring each other's bodies. Sarah needed to feel his lips on hers again so she pulled on Chuck's arms hoping he would take the hint.
"I love you," Sarah whispered just before their lips touched. But to her surprise, Chuck calmly pulled back from the brink to look Sarah in the eye as soon as the kiss broke. It wasn't so much his words but the look in his eye. Sure, there was an element of lust there. But there was also a certain calmness. It was the look that told Sarah all she needed to know. The fear that she was so used to seeing in his eyes was gone. He finally, at long last, truly understood how she felt. And he would for the rest of his life.
"I know," Chuck whispered.
And so that night, in the castle of all places, Chuck and Sarah made love with an intensity that they had never before reached. Years later they would sometimes argue about which time was hotter. And there became a lot of candidates for second place. But they would always come back to that night, between their two weddings, and agree. That night was number one.
After about twenty minutes, Chuck and Sarah had finally caught their breath. They had automatically drifted into their natural position with Chuck on his back and Sarah on her side resting her head on Chuck's chest.
"Are you ready?" Sarah asked.
"You're kidding," Chuck said with a gasp. "I'm going to need a couple more minutes."
"No silly," Sarah said. "Are you ready to hear my promises?"
"You don't need to promise me anything," Chuck said. "I have everything that I need."
"Yes, Chuck," Sarah said. "Yes I do."
The look in Sarah's eyes told Chuck that this was something that she needed to do so he just nodded for her to continue.
"Here is what I promise," Sarah said. "I need to get better at expressing my feelings to you. You're my husband. You deserve that. So if I ever go a whole day without telling you that I love you, I'll let you pick how I can make it up to you."
"Wow," Chuck said. "Anything?"
Sarah shrugged her shoulders. "Within reason," she said. "I don't expect to be paying off that often."
"I know what I'm asking for the first time," Chuck said with his trademark grin.
"What?" Sarah asked with her own grin.
"I'll tell you later," Chuck said. "After we're done talking. You're going to see a new level of worship."
"Okay, but I need you to do a couple of things for me too," Sarah said. "First, I need you to talk to me. I know that this past week I didn't let you. That was my fault. But in the future I need to know when you're feeling insecure. I understand that it's unfair to ask you to see some of the things that you have to see without getting some reassurance. It's not that I don't want to give it to you, Chuck. It's that sometimes I don't see it. I need you to help me."
"Okay," Chuck said. "I will. You said that you have a couple of things. What's the other one?"
"I never," Sarah said. "Ever want to hear you say that we're not married again. It hurts me when you say that. I'm meant it when I took those vows. I know that you meant it too. We're as married right now as we are ever going to be. We're only going to go make it legal."
"I know," Chuck said. "I'm sorry."
"Now I want you to hear something," Sarah said as she reached for her phone and held it up to Chuck's ear.
"What am I listening to?" Chuck finally asked.
"That's your daughter's heartbeat," Sarah whispered. "I'm so sorry that you didn't get to listen to it live."
"That's amazing," Chuck whispered as he gently rubbed Sarah's stomach. "It's so loud. Is everything okay?"
"Everything's great," Sarah said. "Ellie said that the news couldn't have been better."
"I think that this calls for round two."
"I think the fact that we haven't done this for a week calls for round two," Sarah said. "I think that the heartbeat calls for rounds three and four, don't you?"
"Could we have rounds two through four at our place?" Chuck asked. "We owe Janice a celebration. Beckman restored her to active duty tonight."
"Really?" Sarah asked as her eyes narrowed. "It sounds like she was planning her own celebration when I walked in."
"Maybe we could treat Janice to a late supper and then go home," Chuck said, ignoring Sarah's unasked question.
"That sounds like fun," Sarah said as her eyes sparkled. "But now I'm curious. What are you going to ask for?"
"I want to pretend to be Schultz again," Chuck said with a grin.
"You want me to tease you and pretend to have sex?" Sarah asked with a laugh. "You didn't enjoy it much the first time if I remember."
"I think that you know what I mean," Chuck said in his German accent as he did the Bartowski eyebrow dance.
"I'll tell you what," Sarah said. "I didn't tell you that I loved you at all yesterday. I think maybe we can make this retroactive. I'm already wearing the earrings. The dress is in the car. I owe you one dangerous night. We can do it any night you want."
"Ok," said Chuck still in his accent.
"Just so you know," Sarah said, suddenly serious. "You never need to be Schultz. He wouldn't have a chance with me. But I'll do anything for Chuck. Anything."
"I know," said Chuck in his normal voice.
"But keep the accent," Sarah said with a smile. "It's sexy. Why do you want to go home anyway? It's pretty comfortable here."
"I feel weird making love here," Chuck said. "I feel like Janice is watching us."
Chuck and Sarah both broke into laughter as they heard the faint voice from down the hall.
"I am not."
Chapter 18: Honest, She Wasn't
General Beckman was just getting ready for bed when her cell phone rang. Her heart sank when she saw who was calling. Ben Adams had just last week been confirmed by the Senate as the new Under Secretary of Defense. That made him her brand new boss.
No big deal, right? Everybody has to get used to a new boss on occasion. The problem was that they had a history. And not a good one. They had never gotten along since Colonel Adams had served under her several years ago. Not that he wasn't a good officer. He was. But she had to reprimand him on several occasions for his inappropriate conduct with female personnel.
The last time, she threatened to take formal action if it ever happened again. She should have. But she was talked out of it by the other officer involved. She had asked Beckman to drop it noting that she didn't want it to be on her record that she had accused a fellow officer of what most would consider a petty offense. And even though Beckman didn't think the offense was so petty she had reluctantly agreed. Against her better judgment, she settled for a major dressing down. And she'd be lying if she didn't admit that she had enjoyed that dressing down. She did… a lot.
Now she regretted having not taken that formal action. If she had, it would have stopped his nomination dead in its tracks. Presidents simply didn't nominate people with things like that on their record. It would have instantly disqualified him. It was just the latest example of how every time you didn't follow the book, it bit you square in the ass. Now she was stuck. Political appointments were made by the President. And his decision, once confirmed by the Senate, was final. She would just have to live with it. He was her new boss.
But why would he be calling her? After all, it was after midnight in Washington. There was only one way to find out.
"General Beckman," she answered smartly.
"General," Adams said. The smugness in his voice was obvious. There seemed little question that he was going to enjoy turning the tables. "I just finished reading your report."
"Yes, sir," Beckman said. The sir almost caught in her throat.
"You have an agent who has identified and established a relationship with a Fulcrum Elder," Adams said. "We have to work on this right away. We can't let this opportunity pass."
"Yes, sir," Beckman said. "But there are some complications."
"So I see," Adams said. "Really, General. Pregnant? What kind of operative gets pregnant?"
"Well, sir," Beckman said. "Agent Walker is not just some operative. She is hands down, the top agent that we have. And actually he is not just some guy she picked up in a bar. He is the human Intersect. They have been working side by side for the past two years. They have become an amazing team. It's understandable that they developed a bond…"
"And I really don't give a damn," Adams interrupted. "She needs to take care of this. We need her to continue working this contact. This could be the breakthrough in the war that we've been waiting for."
"Yes, sir," Beckman said. "Did you have anything specific in mind?"
"Well, I would think it's obvious," Adams said with the arrogance dripping off his words. "She should end this pregnancy, seduce this Elder, and get into his inner circle. From your report, it's pretty plain that she could quickly be living with him. Imagine the information that she would have access to."
"I don't think that's going to happen, sir."
"Oh," Adams said. "It is going to happen. It has to happen. The war might well depend on it. I see that you have requested that we fund this team covertly."
"I would like to meet with them," Adams said. "When can you get them out here?"
"They're getting married this weekend, sir," Beckman said. "I could probably get them to Washington sometime next week."
"Make it early in the week," Adams said. "It is vital that I make her see how important this is. I'm sure that I can get her cooperation." He then ended the call without another word.
Beckman's face lit up into a smile for the first time that day. She was going to enjoy watching this newbie tell Walker that he wanted her to end her pregnancy and betray Chuck by seducing another man. Beckman knew that she wasn't an expert in love. Far from it. But she didn't have to be. When she looked into Sarah's eyes, only three days ago, she saw something that she had never seen before. Oh, she had seen what Sarah could accomplish as an agent. She could be incredibly deadly. Driven even. But now there was something different. A purpose. Beckman couldn't quite put her finger on it exactly. It would be cliché to call it love. It was far more than that. Chuck was her touchstone. Her connection to the world. And it was obvious that she worshiped him. So now Adams wanted to poke that hornet's nest with a short stick? Beckman knew all too well how that was likely to end up. And she couldn't wait to see how many times and places where he would get stung.
"Good luck with that," she smiled into the now dead phone. "Sir."
Sarah lay awake in their hotel room, watching the sun begin to peek through the curtains. The light allowed her to see what a mess the room was. Clothes were strewn in every direction. Sarah smiled as she remembered how eager they were to get… comfortable last night. And she was surprised that she wasn't more tired. Well, that wasn't exactly true. She was a little tired. Not sleepy tired, but physically tired. The workout that she and Chuck had put each other through last night would make anybody tired. But she was far too happy to even think about sleeping.
She knew that someday soon she would have to deal with why Chuck thought it was Janice coming in to seduce him last night. Janice was obviously sending some signals that she was available. They were most definitely going to have a little chat. Janice needed to learn a very important lesson. But even that couldn't negate the warm feeling that engulfed her. Janice was tomorrow's problem.
It had actually only been three days since they had been in their own bed, but it seemed more like three years. And no matter how long it had been, Sarah was grateful to have her head lying on his chest. And his arm wrapped firmly around her felt so good. It made her feel safe. More than that, it made her feel loved. Her head gently rose and fell again with each breath as she watched him sleep. It was the only place she ever wanted to be.
It was funny. They had been fighting like cats and dogs for three days and now, after one night of bliss, she could barely remember why. The tenseness that had been so ominous between them now seemed like nothing. It was almost like a balloon that had popped. Or maybe a bad dream that seemed horrible when you were dreaming it but so silly that you laughed once you woke.
Sarah was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't even notice that his eyes were open.
"Good morning, beautiful," Chuck said.
Certainly Sarah had been called beautiful many, many times before. So many times that she quite honestly tuned it out. It even became something of a turn off. She had been called beautiful by kings, by super agents, and by smooth guys in bars. And they all wanted something from her. So why did it now affect her so much? For crying out loud, she was blushing like a teenager. How great was that?
And even though his words made her jump a little, there was that smile that she had missed so much. She just intended on reaching up and kissing her husband good morning. It was completely innocent. Chuck was probably tired. Sarah knew that she had better ease up on him a little. Four times last night was a little beyond the call of duty. There was no sense in killing the poor guy. It's just that it had been three days. Three very, very long lonely days. And Sarah couldn't believe how much she had missed the… well, the physical aspects of being married. Who was she kidding? She couldn't believe how much she missed…him. Especially now that her hormones were so out of whack.
And the amazing part is that she didn't feel even a little bit guilty. She had been an agent for so long that it was second nature to have part of your senses tuned for threats. But that was totally out the window now. Agent Walker was no where in sight. The only feeling Sarah was aware of was how good it felt to lie there.
After all, it was just a simple good morning kiss. There was nothing wrong with that, right? She wasn't obsessed or anything. Really, couldn't a wife greet her husband with a simple kiss? It was nothing more. She didn't intend on it leading anywhere. Yes, it was true that they were both naked. And she really didn't make any effort to keep her chest from rubbing against Chuck's as she moved up for the kiss. Okay, so it was fairly predictable what effect that was going to have on him. And if she was really being truthful, the hand that was softly rubbing circles on his stomach had drifted a little south. But she really wasn't trying to seduce him.
Honest she wasn't…
But on the other hand, she had been telling herself that she was going to make it up to him for the past three days. And if there was a better way to do that, she sure didn't know what it could be. And what was wrong with making it up to him in a way that she would also enjoy?
If this was what being a wife and mother felt like, what had she been waiting for? Then she quickly answered her own question. She had been waiting… for him. And the wait had been too damn long. And for a long time she feared that she would never find him. But there was absolutely no question. The wait was now over. Agent Walker was an illusion, a quickly fading memory. Sarah was finally home.
And goodness, the electricity she felt as his tongue slipped past her lips… all this talk about waiting… was simply no longer an option. And his hand… yes… that was the exact spot that drove her crazy. Maybe she was obsessed. But she would have to figure that out later… after. Now to just find a way to avoid wearing him out in the first week. As their tongues danced, Sarah was left with one semi coherent thought.
It was time to take one for the team.