A/N: This is just a little one shot made for the 100th thread over at Fan Forum. Cowards and Heroes will be updated soon with the final chapter. Sorry it's taking so long. Enjoy!
The first day had been the strangest. He had woken up with a headache and random flashes of strange images and he went to bed the next day the same way. The headaches went away eventually and the flashes weren't as random, but they were still a nuisance. Now he had a job with the government and a new girlfriend. The job he didn't want, but the girl could stay. Sarah had come into his life suddenly and he had a sinking feeling she would leave that way. She didn't strike him as the type of person who stayed in one place for too long.
But she had asked him to trust her and he did. Behind and the lies and covers, he could tell she was a good person, but that good person was still one of the CIA's top agents who he was sure could kill him with a look. That's why he had to be careful. He may trust her, but he didn't completely trust Casey or the government to look out for his best interests.
He didn't get much sleep that night. Trying to wrap your head around the fact that you had a computer in your brain wasn't exactly like counting sheep. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't figure out why Bryce had done this. Why send him, of all people, the e-mail? He didn't focus too long on Bryce, it was just too confusing and now that Bryce was dead he'd never have his answers. Instead, he tried to figure out who the real Sarah was. Was she the girl with the broken phone at the Buy More? The one who danced with him at the club? The one who pointed a gun at him on the roof? Or was she the girl that sat next to him on the beach and tried to comfort him, even though she seemed lost herself?
The tenth day was the most grueling. They had been on a stakeout all night and didn't spot any activity until the early hours of the morning. He was exhausted and fought to keep his eyes open. Sarah and Casey had left to go catch the mob boss, and he hadn't stayed in the car like instructed, which led to him being captured. He had been able to convince the captors that he knew nothing, but they had just decided to kill him so it didn't matter anyway. Sarah and Casey had come charging through the doors to save him. Sarah shot the lackey holding the gun to his head then raced over to free him. She wasn't pleased. They had both yelled at him during the entire car ride home. Sure, they were probably right that he should have stayed in the car, but he wanted to help beyond just giving them information. The yelling isn't what made him mad, though, it was the fact that Sarah and Casey seemed to care more about protecting the secrets in his head than himself as a person. He understood that being the intersect meant he was the government's most important asset, but being Chuck Bartowski didn't mean anything to them. It was the first time he realized that the bad guys weren't his only threat. He had no doubts that if Casey, and even Sarah, were ordered to kill him, they would probably do it without hesitation.
He'd never forget the conversation he had with Sarah later that night. She had followed him into his room, closed the door, and just stared at him for awhile. After he prodded her she told him, in a calm voice, that he was being a selfish dumbass and needed to start taking better care of himself. He got the feeling that she wasn't only talking about what happened that night. She told him that she was sorry this happened to him, but he needed to step up and get over it because life wasn't fair. He got the feeling that this was also something that might not only be about that night. She had said her piece then left. They had never talked about it again, but that didn't mean he forgot about it.
They had a double date with Awesome and Ellie on the twenty-second day. He thought it would be a disaster. He wasn't worried about Sarah. She'd pull it off with no problems. He was the one he was worried about. What if Ellie figured out they were faking? It would kill her. She was so excited that he had finally found a girlfriend. The holding hands and smiling at each other he could handle, but the other relationship stuff would ruin them. He never knew what to say and still felt nervous around her, so that didn't help. His plan was to just sit there and listen and only respond when he was spoken to. The other part he was worried about was the non-hand holding touching. Awesome and Ellie were always touching each other. Awesome would put an arm around her or Ellie would put a hand on his knee. He'd follow Sarah's lead on that one too.
It turned out that the double date wasn't a disaster at all. He actually enjoyed himself and could tell that Sarah did too. The movie was a piece of cake. They chose to see the latest action adventure flick. The girls lost the battle for the romantic comedy. Somehow he didn't think Sarah minded too much. She sat next to Ellie and they would comment on the movie to each other. He and Awesome were mostly silent until a major car chase or fight scene where they would reach over the girls and high five each other.
Ellie noticed he had been quiet at dinner and he fumbled for an explanation, but Sarah just put her hand on top of his and explained that he wanted to get home to play the new video game she had bought him. Ellie had beamed at their interaction and he was grateful Sarah had been able to help him out.
The forty ninth day had been the most boring, that is until Sarah showed up at his door with a six pack of beer and a box of pizza. It was the first night in two weeks they hadn't been working on a mission. She said she had been bored at home by herself and figured she'd treat him to dinner for all the hard work he was putting in. He had been ready to pass out early for the night, but her presence energized him and they spent hours eating and catching up on his recorded episodes of Lost.
He treated her to lunch on the fifty third day. They had been spending a lot of down time together recently and he loved it. It had been hard when they first met because he didn't know what to talk to her about and she wouldn't tell him anything about herself so he learned to just go with it. He'd talk about his adventures with Morgan or about the new video games he was excited about. She would chime in once and awhile, but mostly she just listened. He worried that he talked too much and was boring her, but she always seemed to be enjoying herself. That day he happened to be talking about some of his favorite bands and she hadn't known any of them. He had been amazed. It told him something real about her, something he didn't get to learn often. If she didn't know a lot of great bands then he was going to introduce her. After lunch, he went back to the Buy More, bought her an iPod, and spent the rest of the afternoon filling it up with a bunch of music he thought she would like. She was surprised when he presented her with the gift later that night. Now she carried it around with her everywhere. He even caught her humming a Bon Iver song on their way to work the next morning.
He didn't see her at all on the sixty third or sixty fourth day. It bothered him more than he would have imagined. He called her a few times, but she never picked up. Casey said she had taken a couple personal days. He didn't know they got personal days. He was worried about her. Not that she couldn't take care of herself, but she had always been in control. What was so bad that she had to take personal time? When she came to pick him up for lunch on the sixty fifth day, she acted like nothing was different. He almost asked her what had happened, but a look in her eye stopped him. If she wanted to tell him then he'd listen, but he wasn't going to prod her. She looked more broken than she had the last time he saw her. To the untrained eye Sarah Walker was the picture of happiness, but he knew her. There were blink and you missed it moments when her defenses would fall and he would see the real her. As she walked out of the Buy More after dropping him off, he saw it. The look of utter dejection mixed with a fleeting smile. It had left the same way it came, just like he expected her to. Suddenly.
On the seventy eighth day he realized that his thing for Sarah was more than a crush. He had let his feelings get in the way of the mission and she was livid. She pulled up to his apartment, but didn't put the car in park. He wanted to talk about it and she obviously didn't. The muscle in her jaw was tight and he knew she was biting back all the words she wanted to say. Fearing a full blown attack, he slammed her car door and walked away. She was gone by the time he turned back.
She was calm enough on the seventy ninth day to sit down and talk to him. She explained why it was dangerous for spies to get too emotionally involved. He needed to hear what she had to say, but it seemed she was giving this talk for her benefit as well. She told him she would work harder to help him separate cover from real. He used to be better at it. Lately, the lines had been so blurry that he would wake up thinking they were in a real relationship. Once again, he was wrong.
It took him until the ninety second day to realize that he'd probably never come to terms with his relationship with Sarah. As much as she tried to deny it, he knew there was something under the undercover. Even if she did admit it, their relationship could only go so far. For all he knew this time next year she could be halfway around the world on a new mission with a new partner. He hadn't known her that long, but already he couldn't imagine not having her in his life. Being the intersect threw his life into so many directions, but she anchored him to reality. He wasn't ready for her not to be there. He didn't think he'd ever be ready.
They finished the mission on the one hundredth day at three in the morning. Sarah surprised him by climbing through the Morgan Door after him. She said she was too tired to drive home and curled up on his bed. By the time he was done brushing his teeth she was already sound asleep. He draped a blanket over her and slid into the other side of the bed, too exhausted to process that he was sleeping next to Sarah Walker.
She was still there when he woke up the next morning. While he had relatively stayed in the same position all night, she had managed to scoot closer to him in her sleep. He wanted nothing more than to stay next to her, but fearing the awkwardness when she awoke, he carefully got out of bed and walked into the kitchen. They had been in a good place lately and he didn't want to screw it up. When he reached the kitchen he grabbed a couple boxes of cereal and some bowls. She was awake and sitting up in the bed when he walked back in. She had smiled as he handed her a bowl and some cereal while explaining that he wasn't the best cook, but he could make a mean bowl of Captain Crunch. The giggle she gave him made his heart do somersaults. Sure, their relationship wasn't completely real and maybe it never would be, but moments like this made all the hard stuff worth it. Whatever the next one hundred days held, he would be looking forward to them.