A/N: So, yeah, this has been sitting around, waiting to be posted for some time now. Sorry about that. Why post now, you ask? Well because it's catrogue's birthday, of course. This is the first of (hopefully) three updates you'll see from me today. Hope you enjoy, and happy birthday, Cat!

Chapter 25: Sarah's Lament

Chuck and Sarah's Apartment

March 30, 2003

2:45 PM PST

Sarah sat slumped on Chuck's couch with a lone suitcase at her feet. Packing all of her stuff had been startlingly easy, and had taken far less time than she'd imagined. The apartment had been her home for months—a home unlike she'd had since she left her Grandma's house when she was ten—so it was a little disappointing to realize that all of her things still fit into one bag.

She heard the apartment door open, and she turned her head to see who it was. She hoped it was Chuck. She'd been planning a dramatic exit for hours in hopes that he would ask her to stay, but as more time went on, she started to lose her nerve.

But it wasn't Chuck.

"What's wrong with you?" Casey asked as he walked in, shutting the door behind him. "You look like someone ran over your dog."

"Go to hell, Casey," Sarah said.

"And what's with the bag?" he asked. "You going somewhere?"

"If you must know, Chuck and I had a fight, and I told him I was moving out."

Casey grunted. "So that's all your stuff?"

Sarah felt her cheeks redden with embarrassment. "No," she said. "There's also this." She held up a loaf of rye bread she'd bought the last time she went for groceries that sat beside her on the couch.

Casey grumbled something Sarah couldn't quite understand as he walked over to the refrigerator and helped himself to a bottle over water. He twisted off the cap and took a long pull before wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"You do realize you can't actually move out, right?"

"Yeah, I know," Sarah said. After all, she had orders, and her orders were to stay with Chuck, which meant she couldn't leave the apartment. That didn't mean she couldn't make a scene like she was going to.

"And do you really think the best way to make sure the idiot stays in your bed every night, and doesn't go wandering to an old flame is to act like you're leaving him? Did you even read his file, with all the shit with his parents? A first year psyche student would identify the abandonment issues in under a second," Casey said.

"Relationship advice?" Sarah asked, quirking an eyebrow. "Really?"

Casey shrugged. "So you think I'm wrong?"

Sarah fell silent for a moment. Then shook her head. "No, you're right," she said—an admission that hurt more than the truth itself.

"So go put your sad little loaf of bread back in the kitchen, and unpack your suitcase before the geek comes back here and I have to hear three hours of lady feelings."

Sarah groaned. She knew he was right, but it didn't make facing that reality any easier. Still, she walked over to the kitchen and put her rye loaf back on the counter.

"When's the last time you talked to the moron, anyway?"

Ordinarily, she would've defended Chuck from Casey's insults, even when Chuck wasn't around. But at that moment, she wasn't in the mood to say anything positive about her stupid boyfriend.

Sarah shrugged. "I don't know. A few hours ago?"

"Hmm," Casey said. "He tell you why he was skipping his 1:15 class?"

"No," Sarah said as she walked back over to get her suitcase. Bile rose in her throat as she considered the likely reason he'd skip a class. "He's probably with the skank."

"Who, Roberts?"

"Do you know any other skanks?" Sarah asked.

"I think that's how you referred to that Jenny girl, too," Casey said.

Sarah nodded, knowingly. "That's true. Jenny is a skank. But Chuck doesn't hang out with her anymore."

"Why?" Casey asked.

"Umm, I asked him not to," Sarah said, pulling her rolling suitcase toward the bedroom she shared with Chuck. "I told him I wasn't comfortable with him spending time with her."

"Ya don't say," Casey said gruffly. "You were honest, and the geek listened?"

"You have a point, Casey?" Sarah asked, dropping the handle of her bag and whipping around to give her partner a pointed glare.

"Just an observation," Casey said, holding his hands up in mock surrender.

Sarah walked into the bedroom to put her things away. She didn't have much. Most of her clothes were provided by the CIA, and to prevent clutter—and because she just enjoyed having new clothes whenever she wanted—she would only have two or three day's worth at any given time. In fact, three of the six shirts she had in her bag were actually Chuck's that he'd lent her to sleep in.

"Huh, that's weird," Sarah heard Casey say from the living room.

"What's that?" she asked, poking her head out the door.

"Bartowski's been in the same spot for a couple hours now. Right near the quad."

"And Jill?" Sarah asked.

"According to her tracker, she's just down the hall with Larkin," Casey said.

"That is weird," Sarah said, abandoning her unpacking to rejoin Casey, and to look at the trackers—which showed on the screen of a specially made PDA Casey carried with him—for herself.

"Maybe we should go ask Bryce and Jill if they've heard from Chuck," Sarah said.

Bryce and Jill's Apartment

March 30, 2003

3:00 PM PST

Sarah knocked for a fifth time, but still, there was no answer.

"Bryce?" she called. "Jill? I know you two are in there!"

Still nothing.

"Okay Casey, kick the door down," Sarah said.

"What? Why don't you kick it down?" her partner asked.

"You're much bigger than me."

"And I've seen you kick a man hard enough to crush his ribs," Casey said.

"Doesn't mean I should be the one to kick it down," Sarah said.

"Means you could be," Casey replied.

"Fine," Sarah said. "I don't want to scuff my boots on the door. Now would you just kick the door down? They could be in trouble," Sarah said.

"Or they could be doing what you and Bartowski are doing when you don't answer the door."

Initially, Sarah was disgusted by that idea. She didn't want to think about Bryce and Jill all naked and sweaty and rolling around with one another. But then she realized what that would mean, and she smiled.

"Well, that would make me a prophet instead of a liar, so I'm okay with that," she said. "So would you please just kick the door down so we can get inside?"

"Fine," Casey grumbled.

He took a step back and swung his leg forward, impacting the door just below the handle. The wood splintered under his kick, and the door swung open to an apartment that was just as quiet on the inside as it had been on the outside.

"Bryce?" Sarah called again.

There didn't seem to be any sign of foul play. Or at least there didn't seem as if there'd been a struggle, as the apartment seemed to be in perfect order. The only sign that anyone had even been there were two mugs sitting out on the kitchen table.

Drawing her sidearm, she slowly made her way through the apartment. It wasn't until she was just outside the bedroom that she finally heard a noise. It was muffled, but she could clearly make out the sound of someone tossing about, and a low moan.

With a look of disgust on her face, Sarah steeled herself against what she was afraid she'd see and used her shoulder to push the door ajar.

She stepped into the open doorframe, her pistol at the ready.

But there were no enemy agents inside. Nor was she subjected to a live sex show from Bryce and Jill. Unless they were both far kinkier than she'd imagined.

Bryce was on the floor, fully clothed. His arms were tied behind his back, and his feet were bound together. A rubber ball-gag was in his mouth and he was writhing about.

Sarah cursed technology—or the lack thereof—for not providing her an adequate and reliable camera on her cell phone. She would've paid good money to have the image in front of her saved for all eternity. Plus Chuck would probably love to see it.

Right, Chuck.

"Bryce, where's Chuck?" Sarah asked, lowering her gun.

Bryce thrashed around some more, and mumbled something that was impossible to make out—but that sounded quite indignant— over the gag in his mouth.

Sarah sighed and bent down to remove the implement blocking Bryce's words.

He took in a deep breath when the gag was removed.

"Jill," Bryce gasped out. "She drugged me, and tied me up, and then—"

"Wait, she drugged you?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah," Bryce answered. "She made us both tea and—"

Casey snorted. "You were having tea?"

"Yes, Agent Casey, I enjoy a nice cup of tea," Bryce said. Casey grunted another laugh. "Anyway, so I took a few sips, and I started to feel dizzy. I thought maybe it was just too hot or something at first. But then I noticed Jill was watching me in a weird way, and I started to get suspicious."

"You drank something you didn't make yourself that was given to you by a known accomplice of Fulcrum and you got light in the head. And after that, you only started getting suspicious?" Casey asked.

"Is he always this much of a dick?" Bryce asked, turning to Sarah.

Sarah shrugged. "More or less. But he's also not wrong."

"But wait," Sarah said. The pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together for her, and she didn't like the picture. "Jill drugged Bryce, her tracker still shows her in the apartment, which she obviously isn't. And Chuck's—"

She didn't finish her thought before she was sprinting out of the apartment. She thought she heard Casey and Bryce following her, but she wasn't sure. She didn't care. Chuck was in trouble. She knew it in her heart.

She made the 1.2 mile trek to the quad in what she was sure had to be record time. She saw lots of faces milling about, but one very important face was missing.

"Chuck!" she called out. "Chuck, where are you?"

Her heart pounded heavy in her chest as all the people around her started to take on one uniformly non-Chuck shape.


"Not now!" she snapped. "Chuck!" she called again, panic and desperation clear in her voice.

Her head was spinning, and she could say—though she would never actually say it to anyone—that she had never been more scared in her life than she was in that moment. Her mind and her heart were at war—her rational side already realizing he was gone, while her emotions wouldn't let her accept that.

"Walker!" Casey repeated.

She turned an icy glare on him, and saw just what she'd feared. Casey was holding Chuck's watch, and Chuck wasn't attached. He was gone. Not even Sarah's heart could deny that evidence.

A/N: So that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed it, and once again, happy birthday, Cat! You guys are awesome. Peace.