A/N: One shot unless there's an incredible 'popular demand' then I'll expand it. Site was down and I couldn't load the new chapters for Green Eyed Girl or Pandora's Box so I wasted my WiFi on this tripe. So, this is a one-shot unless you want more. Not so angsty as resigned, a lot of 2nd hand Charah.
Chuck and Sarah sat on his couch watching the late news. Another cover date with cover cuddling and cover handholding and cover conversation to satisfy the cover and the ubiquitous Major Casey and his listening devices.
The talking head on the news broadcast was talking about the guerilla war in Colombia. A FARC force of guerillas had been ambushed and destroyed by counter-insurgency forces of the government. A detailed description of the ambush and photo coverage of the results flashed on the screen.
"That's Bryce's handiwork. I'd know it anywhere. Short, violent but efficient. Government forces, ha! Bryce Larkin, without doubt."
"Do you miss it, Sarah? Do you miss the excitement of those missions?" Chuck was curious from her comments. She seemed more alive and boisterous than in recent memory.
"Yeah, sometimes, some parts. Yeah, it's what I was trained for and it's what I am good at." 'But I wouldn't trade a second of what I have here with you, Chuck, for all the excitement in Colombia for a year. I am so happy and so, so satisfied with my life. I'm finally home, Chuck, thanks to you,' thought Sara Walker, snuggling closer to her cover boyfriend.
"Would you go back if you could? Work with Bryce, make the evening news?" he tried for a lightness in his voice he didn't feel. Her tone of voice had carried a degree of longing that unsettled him. 'I know what it is like to settle for less than you are capable of,' he thought. The BuyMore vs. a career he'd been trained and prepared for until Fate stirred the pot with that Fickle damned Finger of hers. 'And I know how "settling" is like surrendering. Sarah Walker doesn't surrender, but she does follow orders.'
"Chuck, I'm where I'm supposed to be, where I have to be. It's not a matter of choice for me." 'I'm supposed to protect the asset, the intersect. That's why I'm supposed to be here. But I have to be here because here's where my love is. He's the curly haired nerd who makes my life so much better than ever before just by being in it. I know he loves me, is in love with me. I just wish I could tell him that I also love him. But I can't. I'd be gone before the words echoed in Beckman's ear courtesy of Casey's bugs. This sucks big-time. But who better to protect him that someone who loves him enough to take a bullet for him?'
He heard Sarah's sigh of disappointment or perhaps resignation. It tore a little bit at the fragile covering of his heart. He wanted her to be happy, to be fulfilled and living up to her potential and she sure as hell couldn't do it if she was here, babysitting the loser geek friend of Bryce Larkin.
'I'm going to do it. I'm going to get Sarah back in the big Show where she belongs. I love her and I want her to be as happy as she can possibly be. I want her to have what I can't have: fulfillment. I want her to have the real life she used to have and not some unmoving and unsatisfying existence as a cover girlfriend to someone she wouldn't even notice if it wasn't for her orders. I love her and I'm going to get her what she wants and needs. Her freedom.'
Sarah glanced at her watch and sighed. "Chuck, I have to go. Remember to get a haircut and I'll see you around 7pm. It's date night. What do you want to do?"
"I don't know. We've done the cover movie, the cover walking-in-the-rain, we've done the cover museum tour. The Angels are in town, how about a cover baseball game?"
She giggled. "Yeah, Chuck, that sounds good. I'll get the tickets. Let the CIA pick up the tab and we'll get some good seats, not like last time. I'll call you when I have the tickets and I'll pick you up an hour before the game. Get that haircut, Chuck. The curls have curls." She tousled his hair, kissed his cheek and was gone, all in 30 seconds.
'…we'll get some good seats, not like last time.' The 'last time' was a disaster. Chuck hadn't been to a game since his Dad took him and he'd had no idea how expensive tickets were. Their seats had been…less than stellar. That was another thing that bothered him. He could never afford to take her places he knew she deserved to go. A decent restaurant, not Taco Bell, someplace where she could dress up and get all the attention she deserved. Hell, dinner at some of those places cost more than he made in a week.
He was now more determined than ever to get her back into the life she loved, no matter what the cost. If she was happy then he was happy. It's what you did for people you loved – sacrificed.
He looked at the ceiling of the living room and spoke to where he assumed a microphone would have been planted. "Casey, put clothes on. We have to talk and I'm coming over. Don't give me any shit tonight, Casey, I'm not in the mood for your version of NSA Laugh-In. I want to talk to Beckman and I don't give a damn what time it is in D.C. Make it happen, Major."
Sarah drove her Porsche back to her residence hotel feeling very happy and satisfied with the evening. She loved the time she spent with Chuck doing anything at all. It didn't have to be fancy or exotic or new but it did have to let them be together. She was in love and was loving every minute of it. This was the best possible assignment she could ever have dreamed about. And there was no end in sight. It just got better and better.
'Someday, Chuck Bartowski, I'll be able to tell and show you how I feel about you. Until then, we'll just have to fake it. But one of these days, Chuck, I'm going to rock your world. To hell with the CIA.'
Casey's Apartment/Armory/Bonsai Slaughterhouse
"OK, Bartowski, this had better be good. Beckman's not going to be pleased with a wakeup conference at 3am her time. What's got your panties in a wad?"
"I'm going to ask Beckman to reassign Agent Walker. She's wasting her time here babysitting me, the resident 'spoiled brat' I think is your current handle for me, right?
And she can be more effective and happier back in the field where she belongs.
"Wait a minute, Bartowski. What the hell do you think you're doing asking for a new handler? She's my partner, damn it. If something was wrong you should have discussed it with me and her or at least with me. Do you know what you're doing here? She'll be gone tonight. You won't see her again. Is that what you want, Chuck?"
He was genuinely angry. He had no idea this was coming and he'd bet a year's pay that neither did Sarah Walker. He'd have to listen to the tapes and see if he'd missed something. He knew the kid had it bad for Walker, all you had to do was look at him when she walked in, or smiled at him, or did the cover kiss thing. This made no sense at all.
In a gentler tone he asked, "Chuck, talk to me. What happened tonight? This is so sudden and it's going to hit her like a ton of bricks, Chuck. I know how you feel about her and sending her away is not going to make those feelings go away. You're not accomplishing a damned thing with this."
"I won't have to listen to the sighs of disappointment every time I fuck up, or she sees something on the news and knows it's Larkin who did it, or hears about some exciting mission someone else pulled off. I love her, OK, Major NSA, and it makes me feel like shit, Casey, and my life's got too much shit in it already. Just do it, please? I love her and I want her to be happy, and that's not going to happen in Burbank, California."
Diane Beckman said exactly the same thing to Chuck that Casey had said when he showed up at his door after his announcement to the listening devices.
"This had better be good, Bartowski."
"I just got the baby back to sleep after her feeding and you woke her up. Speak, Mr. Bartowski." Her image walked into and out of the camera's pickup range as she walked the screaming baby and patted it's back trying to calm it.
"Aw, crap, General, I'm sorry. I had no idea you had a baby at your place. I would never have asked to speak with you at this hour had I known. But, General, this can't wait. I want a new handler, immediately. Tomorrow is like, too late, but I'll wait on your reassignment process. Send Walker back where she'll be most effective. I got enough problems in life without an unhappy handler, OK? Now, I'll let you get back to taking care of… what's her name, anyway?"
Beckman's frowning countenance morphed into a loving grandmother. "Allison Marie, my first grandchild. Three weeks old and already breaking hearts. Yes, grannie wuvs her liddle Ali." She seemed to realize what she'd said. "Mr. Bartowski, it shall be done as you wish. I felt you were becoming too attached to Agent Walker but I was wrong. You're displaying judgment uncharacteristically mature. Why the change of heart?"
"She can do more, be more and help bring down Fulcrum and our other enemies more effectively in the field doing what she loves than wasted babysitting a 'spoiled brat' I believe is your current term. So, thank you, and again, I apologize for waking you and your granddaughter. Night night, Ali, General." He disconnected the link.
"Thanks, Casey. I appreciated that. See you in the morning." He got up and went back to his apartment leaving a confused but determined Casey to figure out what the hell just happened.
"Beckman, secure. Agent Walker, report to Langley in the morning for immediate reassignment to an area much more needful of your abilities and talents than babysitting an asset. You've done excellent work with the intersect, surprisingly good work, Sarah. You're to be commended for bringing about a change in his maturity level."
"Now, there is a plane leaving LAX for Reagan International in a little under two hours. Be on it. That is all, Agent Walker. Your country needs you elsewhere and this is not a request."
"Casey, secure. I've been expecting your call, Sarah."
"Casey, what the hell is going on? I've been reassigned? And you knew? Why didn't you tell me, you son of a bitch? I have no time to appeal, no time to do more than pack a bag and catch a damned plane. Why couldn't you have just left us alone for one lousy night, Casey. Just one night."
"Sarah, after you left Chuck yelled into the mike that he wanted a face-to-face with Beckman immediately. He got it. He told Beckman he couldn't handle an unhappy handler and asked her to reassign you to duties you'd be much happier and effective performing."
"Ch-Chu-Chuck asked for my reassignment? My God, Casey, why? Things are going so well with the missions and the cover and…" Casey interrupted her.
"You didn't really listen to yourself tonight when he asked you those questions, did you, Walker? Chuck's a very perceptive guy. Give him his due. I listened to those questions he asked and your responses. He's right. I heard it in your voice. You are wasted here; you would be happier elsewhere."
"He really loves you, Sarah, and he's doing this for you. Don't waste this gift, Walker. Trust me, it's killing him to do this but he told me that your happiness was far more important to him than anything else. So honor his love and his sacrifice for you and go. I'll keep in touch and I'll look out for him. Take care, Sarah Walker. You were the best partner I ever had."
Sarah Walker packed her bags and was on the plane to D.C. trying not to cry and failing miserably. If only she had taken the chance. If only she'd given him some hope. If only...