Tales from the Sparrow School

Another Valentine

CAST (in order of appearance):
Chuck Bartowski – Zachary Levi
Sarah Walker Bartowski – Yvonne Strahovski
CIA Director Sam Tyler – John Simm


2:30 PM, Pacific Standard Time
Thursday, February 14
th, 2019
4320 St. Clair Avenue, Studio City, CA

All was quiet on the western front.

And that was the way Chuck Bartowski liked it.

The house was silent, with the kids off at school for the day, and Sarah at her guest lecturing gig at USC. Chuck didn't, himself, have a job, per se – sure, he was the CEO of Studio City Consulting Services (a snappy name for an organization that had, in its time, carried out some very disturbing tasks for the US government), and he was the founder and president of Nerd Cave Video Games – but neither of those positions required him to be in an office. Ever, really. John Casey ran the day to day at SCCS, and Morgan Grimes had long since taken the reins at Nerd Cave.

Occasionally, Chuck would humor himself by driving over to Empire Plaza and peeking into the Buy More, but these days, it was more sad than anything else to see Lester still working there. Chuck truly endeavored to not think about that part of his life too much.

Today, Chuck found himself in the backyard, stretched out on a chaise lounge, letting the Southern California sun bake his skin. That was one of the true advantages to living in Los Angeles – you could do just this very thing on Valentine's Day, and be comfortable.

The only sounds disturbing Chuck's peace were the occasional car driving past, the distant jets landing at Bob Hope Airport, and the gurgle of the pool filter. Every so often, his hand would reach out for the Corona on the table beside him, lift it to his mouth, and then return it to the table.

There was a time when Chuck wouldn't have been able to just lay anywhere in silence. He had had a five year period of his life filled with trauma after trauma, and if he wasn't concentrating on something, the images of people who had died for him, people whose deaths he had himself been responsible for, would run through his head with more regularity and alacrity than the images of an Intersect flash.

But that had all ended nearly six years ago. Intensive therapy and the ubiquitous presence of his loving wife – the inimitable Sarah Walker – had helped him get through it, and now he was a perfectly well-adjusted thirty-seven year old Angeleno.

Well, as well-adjusted as one could be when one 1) was married to a spy, 2) had a super-computer in one's head, and 3) was worth approximately 270 million dollars. It was that third one that still occasionally boggled Chuck's mind. Who knew that doing dirty deeds somewhat more than dirt cheap for the government could be so stinking profitable?

He had never let it go to his head, though. Okay, yeah, he had bought that Aston-Martin DB7 a couple years back. And yes, Sarah still drove her Porsche 911. But the family car was a ten year-old Dodge Magnum station wagon. They lived in a five-bedroom house in Studio City. Chuck downright refused to rub elbows with the beautiful people unless 1) they had in some way been directly connected to his very first video game – Mindnode – and the movie and TV show that had been spawned by it, or 2) he and Sarah were sent on a mission by the CIA – something which still happened, every so often.

Sure, there was a rather long list of Hollywood types with whom Chuck was friends – not the least of which was George Clooney – but still. All he had ever wanted to do was fix computers and play video games…

Chuck's solitude was disturbed by the distinct sound of the garage door going up. He sat up on his chaise lounge, reaching out to grab his beer and finish off the last swig. The muffled sound of an air-cooled Porsche 3.6L turbo engine reached Chuck's ears, and then fell silent.

By the time Sarah came walking out the door into the backyard, Chuck had turned around to face the direction she was coming from. "Well, good afternoon, Professor," he said, a cheeky smile on his face.

Sarah smiled back at him. "You know, when I was growing up in Boston, you didn't spend much time outside in February if you could help it."

Chuck stood as she reached his chaise lounge. He reached a hand behind her back and gently drew her to him, kissing her briefly. "Well thank God we don't live in Boston, then," he replied.

"I concur," Sarah sighed, kissing Chuck again.

She pulled back and looked directly at Chuck, amusement sparkling behind her sapphire eyes. "So… what does this year entail?"

Chuck raised an eyebrow. "Beg pardon?"

"Come on, Chuck," Sarah said. "There hasn't been a year yet when you've disappointed me…"

"Huh," Chuck replied, narrowing his eyes. "Are you referring to the fact that it's Valentine's Day?"

"Perhaps…"

"Right," Chuck said. "Well, I figured, maybe we could take the kids out to dinner or something… you know, something low key – oh, shit!"

Chuck ducked to avoid the shoe that was playfully tossed at him. "What, I'm George Bush now?" he asked, standing back up. "You didn't think I was SERIOUS, did you?"

Sarah fixed him with a playful look, her other shoe in hand. "You've pulled some pretty interesting stunts in your life, mister," she replied. "Like the time you came back from a stakeout with Carina and you had lipstick on your –"

"Oh, for God's sake," Chuck interrupted, rolling his eyes. "That was seven years ago, and it wasn't my fault."

Sarah grinned. "I know that. But it's SUCH a handy reminder to get you to do something really nice for me."

"Well, I don't know what to tell you," Chuck replied with a shrug, "other than it backfired on you this year. See, I was ACTUALLY gonna give you something REALLY nice, which I have in my office right now, and then I was going to take you out to dinner at the Water Grill… but I think, now, we'll just go to Denny's or something."

"You twerp!" Sarah shrieked, jumping toward Chuck and beginning to tickle him.

Chuck jumped backwards in shock, and lost his balance. As he began to fall into the pool, he reached out for something to grab onto –

And something just happened to be his wife's arm. Chuck fell backwards into the pool, and Sarah went ass-over-teakettle into the pool right next to him.

Sarah's head shot up and out of the pool. "F-F-F-FUCK!" she half chattered, half shouted. "This thing is FREEZING!"

Chuck hadn't waited long enough in the pool to make that assessment. The moment he had hit the ice cold water, he had rocketed back out onto the deck. "Come on," he said to Sarah, reaching out a hand. "Let's get you out of – AHHH!"

Freezing or not, Sarah's mischievous streak was running wild. As she grabbed Chuck's hand, she gave it a good yank, pulling him right back into the pool. He surfaced a second later, sputtering, a baleful look on his face. "You did that on purpose," he growled.

Sarah shrugged, an innocent look on her face. "Who, me?"

This time, the two both climbed out of the pool together, resisting the urge for any further shenanigans. As soon as they were in the house, the both began shedding soaked clothing, dropping it in the laundry room before passing into the house itself.

By the time they reached Chuck's office, both were clad in nothing but towels, and both had dried off to an extent. "So…" Sarah said. "What was it that you have for me for Valentine's Day?"

"A couple of things," Chuck replied, turning to the closet. Pulling it open, he reached inside and unlocked his gun safe. He withdrew a box, and then turned back to Sarah.

"First of all…" He opened the box, and withdrew a sterling silver charm bracelet. "I've wanted you to have this for years, but Ellie couldn't find it anywhere. It was just recently, when she and Awesome moved down to Palos Verdes, that she found it."

As he fastened the bracelet around Sarah's left wrist, she looked down at it curiously, and then back up at Chuck. "It's for good luck," he continued. "My dad gave it to my mom when Ellie was born… and I wanted you to have it."

Surprise lit up Sarah's eyes, and her right hand came up to her mouth. "Oh, wow," she whispered. "This is… wow."

Chuck grinned. "I take it you like it?"

Sarah just nodded. "All these years," she said softly, "and you still manage to amaze me."

"Likewise," Chuck replied, reaching back into the box. "This is also for you."

This time, Sarah couldn't help but laugh. "You bought me a gun. Because I don't already have enough."

"On the contrary," Chuck replied. "This isn't just ANY gun. This is a first run Colt Model 1911 handgun. It rolled off the assembly line one hundred eight years ago today, and if you look at the stamp on the bottom, it was personally approved by John Browning."

Sarah closely examined the gun – and sure enough, there was the John Browning stamp on the bottom of the grip. "My God, Chuck, this thing is practically in mint condition," she said in amazement. "How did you find this?"

Chuck tried to keep a straight face as he said nothing, merely tapping on the side of his head, but he couldn't keep a tiny smirk from appearing. "I may have cheated."

Sarah's face broke into a huge grin. "You used the Intersect to get me my Valentine's Day gift?"

"I did indeed!"

"Yeah, that's cheating."

"And yet, you like it," Chuck replied, his voice getting softer and slightly dangerous. "I bet you REALLY like it, don't you?"

Sarah didn't say anything. She just smiled and nodded. "That's what I thought," Chuck replied, leaning in to kiss her. This kiss wasn't quite as chaste as the one out by the pool. In fact, with this kiss, Chuck pressed Sarah up against the closet door, pressing himself against her. She moaned slightly as he gently tugged her towel off of her, leaving nothing between the two of them but his towel.

"That's gotta go," she whispered in his ear when he broke off the kiss. Reaching down, she whipped the towel off of Chuck's waist, leaving them both naked.

"Agreed," Chuck replied. He kissed Sarah again, and then began to move his kisses downward. Sarah shivered when he kissed the scar on her abdomen – the scar from that night so many years before, the night that General Beckman had come to their house, had threatened to kidnap John and Lisa, the night that Chuck had shot General Beckman –

And suddenly, Sarah's train of thought derailed and crashed in some dark corner of her mind, as Chuck had reached his destination. "Ohhhh…" Sarah moaned, reaching down to entwine her fingers in Chuck's hair –

But just as her eyes fell closed, they snapped back open again. One of the monitors behind Chuck's desk had just snapped on, the CIA seal in the center of the screen, and the words "Teleconference beginning in :09" at the bottom of the screen.

"SHIT!" Sarah shrieked. "Chuck!"

Chuck jumped up at the sound of Sarah's voice, his head whipping around toward his desk. The countdown was now down to six seconds. "Oh, hell!" he yelped. "Hide!"

Sarah and Chuck both dove behind his desk. A few seconds later, they heard the voice of the CIA Director. "Mr. Bartowski? Agent Walker?"

Like hesitant groundhogs, the two poked their heads up above the desk to face the monitor. Director Sam Tyler looked back at them, a look of amused tolerance on his face. "Dare I ask why you're hiding behind your desk, Mr. Bartowski?"

"Uh… sir… we're both naked," Chuck replied, his face turning bright red.

"Is that so," Tyler replied, the smile on his face betraying the laughter he was holding back. "Well, I suppose you are a married couple on Valentine's Day. The US government won't begrudge you that."

"Thank you, sir," Chuck muttered.

"Anyway, the reason I'm calling is to offer you both a job," Tyler continued.

Chuck frowned. "A job, sir?" he replied. "Uh, neither of us is really involved with operations at SCCS anymore."

Tyler shook his head. "Not SCCS, Mr. Bartowski," he replied. "This would be a straight CIA job."

Chuck's head whipped around to look at Sarah, who looked back at him, a thoughtful look on her face. "What sort of job, Director?" she asked.

Tyler's face broke into a full grin. "Oh, I do think you'll enjoy it greatly," he replied. "Mr. Bartowski, Agent Walker, I would like for the two of you to take over the CIA's Sparrow School in Monterey."

Chuck looked confused. "The Sparrow School?" he asked. "What's the Sparrow School?"

But Sarah knew. A smile slowly crept onto her face. "Let me ask you this, Director – would either of us have to be, uh, intimately involved with the day-to-day?"

Now Sam Tyler did start to laugh. He looked down at his desk to compose himself, and then looked back up. "No, Agent Walker. You're just there to administer and, if you and your husband feel up to it, uh… demonstrate."

Sarah grinned. "Well… we'll need to talk about it, but… can I give you a tentative yes?"

"Absolutely," Director Tyler replied. "I look forward to hearing back from you."

As the teleconference ended, Chuck looked over at Sarah. "Okay… what?"

"Chuck, dear," Sarah replied, "how would you feel about the two of us working someplace that's going to basically put both of us in the mood to have lots and lots of sex every night?"

Chuck's eyes widened – and then he jumped to his feet. "When do we leave?"