Author's Note: Okay, initially I was going to wait until a little closer to Halloween before I posted this fic, as it's basically the closest I will probably come to writing a Halloween inspired fic. But all this angst lately has been depressing the hell out of me and I'm sure some others have been getting depressed too. So here is this story and hopefully it will cheer some people up. I know, what a weird idea, a Halloween fic that makes people happy? Well, just read until the end and you'll see.
I must thank Wepdiggy for coming up with most of this idea and letting me steal it to write as my own. And I owe a huge, monumental, serious debt to daydreamer2578 for her betaing, her inspiring, and her writing (yeah, she helped me out with writing one section of this fic). This story would not be what it is without her help. Thanks a lot, DD!
Langley, Virginia 2007
"Thank you for arriving so promptly, Agent Walker," Director Graham said from behind his desk.
Sarah merely nodded her head and stood stiffly in front of the man. She was still smarting over her breakup with Bryce the night before. She couldn't believe that he had ended it via text message: met hotti named Carina lol cya.
If she ever ran into him again, she'd cut his balls off and stuff them down his throat. At least she thought she would. She might just take him back. She was sure that they had had a good thing going. Why would he break up with her!?
She had cried herself to sleep the night before. She woke up with her face partially glued to her pillow, the snot, tears, and makeup mixing together to create a powerful adhesive. Separating her face from her pillow had been like trying to pull stucco off a wall. She had shellacked herself pretty good.
Graham had called at an ungodly hour demanding she come into see him immediately. Apparently there was a particular assignment that needed her special skills. She figured at least it would help keep her mind off of Bryce.
She had only cried twice since waking up, a personal best, and was now as composed as she possibly could be. Unfortunately, it's hard to see what you're doing when tears are clouding your vision, so she hadn't realized she was wearing mismatched clothes until she was already at CIA headquarters. When she stepped out of her car and looked down to see her pastel floral skirt paired with a dark green striped top and black and gray heels, she knew that she was going to have a very bad day. She didn't even know she owned some of the clothes she was wearing.
Her only saving grace so far was that it appeared as if Director Graham didn't notice or simply didn't care about her state of dress, as he had been the only person she had run into that hadn't snickered or made a comment.
Graham picked up a tiny remote control and pressed a button. The large television screen to his right activated and on the display was a slightly balding, overweight, slack-jawed, man with terrible posture and possibly even worse hygiene. The man was dressed in what looked like a Buy More Nerd Herd uniform. Bryce had constantly been talking about what technical wizards those Nerd Herders were. He always mentioned the same name, but for the life of her, she couldn't remember what it was.
She was confused. While she was sure those in the Nerd Herd were certainly capable technical specialists, the CIA had its own computer techs. What could Graham possibly want with that…thing?
"Uh…sir, I'm not sure I understand. Why are we interested in the Buy More?"
Graham's deep voice rumbled, "I assume you are familiar with the Intersect Project, Agent Walker?"
"Yes, sir, I was debriefed last week. Agent Larkin and I," she barely held back a sniffle, "were supposed to join the project together."
Graham nodded. "That will no longer be possible as Larkin is dead."
"I said, Agent Larkin is dead."
"Are you deaf, Agent Walker? I said he's dead, as in kaput, finito, a coffin stuffer, taking a long dirt nap, pushing up daisies, a stiff, worm food, ant fodder." Graham paused and looked at her in confusion. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
Sarah suddenly felt lightheaded and weak-kneed. She had to scramble to lean against a chair in front of Graham's big oak desk. "Sorry, sir," she croaked out. "I'm just surprised, that's all. I thought…well, I thought that Agent Larkin was currently involved in operations of a more personal nature."
Inside her head, she was cheering and doing cartwheels in celebration. Bryce hadn't broken up with her! He'd just been trying to save her the pain of his impending death. It made complete sense. Thank God.
"Oh he was. Apparently, after breaking into a secure NSA facility and destroying the Intersect, he was found dead in a…" Graham paused to open a folder on his desk, "ah, I see, a Carina Hansen's apartment. I guess it was a late night booty call."
He had broken up with her! And then he had died! That bastard!
"Sir, what…I don't…what is going on?" She was so lost. She sat down on the chair. Even leaning against the chair was too much at this point. What was wrong with her? She never let herself show this much emotion normally.
"We believe, before he died, that Larkin sent an e-mail containing a copy of the Intersect to this man." Graham pressed another button and a picture of a tall man, with wild, animal shaped hair, and beautiful brown eyes appeared. "His name is Charles Bartowski and he was Agent Larkin's roommate at Stanford."
Okay…so why had Graham showed her a picture of the other man? Clearly this Charles Bartowski was in possession of valuable government information. She was starting to get an idea of why she was here. "You want me to figure out if he is in possession of the Intersect as well as what he knows, sir?"
It'd been a while since she'd had a good old fashioned seduction mission. And she didn't think she would have any problem whatsoever getting close to Bartowski. He was certainly cute.
Already she felt a little better, the pain of Bryce dumping her lessening, and she almost smiled. Charles Bartowski. She liked it, it was a good name. She found herself staring at the man's picture, anticipation growing inside of her.
"Uh…no," Graham said and her dreams of a pleasurable seduction mission crashed and burned. They were now deader than Bryce. "I said we believe he sent Bartowski the e-mail, but we don't think he ever received it. We believe that this man, Jeff Barnes," Graham switched back to the picture of the balding man in the Nerd Herd uniform, "opened the e-mail before Bartowski did. He is the one we want you to get close to and find out what he knows."
"WHAT!?" she bellowed then winced at the action. Whoops! Not smart to yell at the boss. "You want me to seduce him?"
"Seduce is such an ugly term," Graham said dismissively. "We at the CIA prefer the term 'aggressively friendly'." Graham leaned forward and said conspiratorially, "That means yes."
"But sir, Director, please, I'm all for taking one for the team, but this is too much!"
"It would only be a temporary assignment. Get in, get close to Mr. Barnes, see how much he knows, and if necessary, eliminate him."
Sarah instantly brightened at those words. Maybe this mission wouldn't be a complete and total traumatizing experience after all. "When do I leave?"
# # # # #
Los Angeles, California 2007
Sarah was dressed in the most revealing and provocative outfit she could wear while in polite company. She had on a skirt that was several inches too short, a top that bared her midriff and showed off more cleavage than some of her lingerie, four-inch stiletto heels, and hair so big she'd make Peg Bundy proud.
She had no idea whose brilliant idea it was to make her cover for this mission a gold digging, ex-stripper from San Diego, but when she found that person, she was going to take one of her stilettos and jam it into their eye.
She walked right up to the Nerd Herd counter, hips swaying and chest jutting out, already on the lookout for her mark. To her delight, it was Charles Bartowski and not Jeff Barnes currently ensconced behind the Nerd Herd desk. Maybe after she completed her mission, she could come back and see if he was interested in going back to her hotel room for some fun.
"Hi," she said brightly, like a dumb blonde should.
Charles looked up from the binder in front of him and gave her a heart stopping, blinding, open smile. She nearly swooned at the sight of it. "Hi," he said. "How can I help you?"
"Um…uh…huh?" she floundered slightly, her Valley girl affectation temporarily slipping. "I mean, I'm looking for Jeff Barnes."
Charles frowned slightly and looked her up and down, but his eyes were not appreciative, just surprised. What? Did she look bad? Why was he not a puddle of drool right now? She was hot, damn it! He should barely be able to keep his eyes off her.
After he was finished with his perusal of her body, he went back to flipping through the pages of his binder. "What did Jeff do now? I swear, whatever he did, suing the Buy More will only hurt you more than us."
"What? No! I like, just met him in like this bar and we really hit it off, you know? It was like we just connected, so amazingly well, and I wanted to like, see him again, but all I had as a way to get into contact with him was like this card from the Nerd Herd. See?" She held the card out proudly, displaying Jeff's name and place of employment.
"Wow, okay," Charles said in clear amazement. "I believe he's in his office. If you wait a minute, I'll go get him."
She reached across and latched onto one of his hands and pumped it up and down enthusiastically. "Oh thank you!" She beamed him one of her biggest smiles and he smiled hesitantly back.
If she wanted to set something up with him later, she had to do it now before Jeff showed up. "Hey, you know, if this thing with Jeff doesn't work out, I'm free later tonight if you want to go for a drink," she said.
"Huh?" he said, distracted. He hadn't even been paying attention to her! "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm married," Charles said and held up his hand, pointing out the gold band on his finger.
"I'm not asking your wife, I'm asking you," she said in her most seductive tone, the tone that usually made men quiver with want.
"Sorry, I love my wife Jill and I'm just not interested."
He walked away then, muttering something about Jeff and the bathroom under his breath as he went.
# # # # #
"Jesus, Jeff, are you drunk again!?"
Sarah was on the verge of pulling all her hair out. They were supposed to go out on a mission in less than 10 minutes and Jeff was already three sheets to the wind.
For two months she'd been stuck in the worst assignment of her entire career. It wouldn't be so bad if she only had to play babysitter, although that was barely tolerable, but being forced to be Jeff Barnes cover girlfriend was enough to almost drive her to suicide.
She still found it hard to believe that people actually bought the cover story that Jeff had recently come into a large sum of money and that was why they were dating. It was easily the stupidest cover story ever.
"What? I'm not drunk. This is just my evening snack," Jeff slurred. He was swaying in place, his eyes half-lidded and a beer in his hand. He had on his special drinking pants, which he always wore during a mission, and a cooler full of beer that he always carted with him everywhere.
Sarah turned towards Casey and said, "I can't take this anymore. Please just kill him."
"Can't," Casey said with a growl. "He's the Intersect."
"Fine," Sarah snapped. "Then kill me instead."
"Can't," Casey repeated. "Orders."
"What do you mean? You have orders not to kill me?"
Casey smirked then with satisfied smile on his face. "Graham ordered me personally to make sure you stay alive so you complete this assignment."
Sarah was really starting to get desperate now. "Please! I'll sleep with you if you do it."
Casey snorted and started to climb out of the van. "So not interested."
God, how pathetic was she? Not even John Casey wanted to sleep with her.
# # # # #
"I don't really believe you're a couple," the guard said.
"What?" Jeff exclaimed. "How dare you! My Sarah and I are very much in love," he stated emphatically. He glared up at the towering guard while Sarah dug her fingers into Jeff's arm in an effort to get him to shut up.
"Prove it," the guard said with a smug smile.
She'd rather die. Seriously, she would rather die. In fact, she was just about to ask the guard to simply kill her when Jeff spun her into his arms—a surprisingly graceful move for his currently inebriated state—and kissed her.
On the lips.
With his tongue leading the way.
She nearly vomited. If it hadn't been for her gag reflex kicking in—hadn't she gotten rid of that years ago?—she might have been able to keep her mouth closed. Unfortunately, her lips parted for the briefest of seconds and that was all Jeff needed to shove his tongue into her mouth.
# # # # #
She woke up with a start, clutching the sheet to her chest. She was hyperventilating and searching her environment with a desperateness she could not remember ever feeling before. When she saw that she was lying in Chuck's bed in Chuck's bedroom, she felt such a sense of relief that she burst into tears.
Oh thank God. It had all been a nightmare.
"Honey, is everything okay?"
Wait a second. That was not Chuck's voice. Why the hell was that not Chuck's voice!?
She frantically looked to her left, hoping, praying, wishing that it was Chuck lying beside her and she was still suffering from the effects of her nightmare.
When her eyes landed on the bearded face of Morgan Grimes, she knew that she was officially in hell. She didn't deserve this. She had served her country with honor! She had sacrificed for the greater good! Why was God punishing her?
"Are you okay?" Morgan asked again.
"Morgan, what the hell are you doing here?" she demanded. She was sitting up now, holding the thin sheet to her naked chest for dear life. If she had slept with Morgan, she was going to get up and find the nearest bus and jump in front of it.
Morgan blinked up at her in confusion. "Don't you remember, honey? We had a lot to drink tonight and my best buddy Chuck decided to let us crash in his room."
"But what are we doing in bed…together?" She could barely grit the words out. It was more painful than any torture she had ever experienced just to say them.
"What do you mean? How could you forget the amazing night of passion we just shared?" Morgan asked with wide, disbelieving eyes.
"P-p-passion?" She felt like she was about to vomit again, just like she had in her dream.
Suddenly a head of long, greasy dark hair popped up over Moran's shoulder. "Would you two shut up? I'm trying to sleep," Lester grumbled. He stared at the two of them in disgust and then lowered his head back to his pillow. "Wasn't twice in one night enough for her?" he mumbled into his pillow.
Sarah threw the sheets off of her, not caring that she was apparently completely naked, and dove through the open Morgan Door.
She ran through the courtyard in search of that bus.
# # # # #
She awoke again, sweating profusely. She was breathing fast, and held her eyes tightly closed. She couldn't do it again. She just couldn't. If she opened her eyes and Chuck was not in bed beside her like he was when she had first gone to sleep, then she was just going to end it all. She was serious this time.
Carefully, she opened her eyes to slits, and felt her stomach drop when all she saw in the darkened room was Jeff's face.
Oh holy God no… Jeff...he was everywhere. She started to shake with barely repressed despair and fear.
"Oh no," she moaned in distress.
This wasn't happening. This was not happening!
And then she realized that it wasn't really Jeff in front of her, thank God, but instead a poster of Jeffster hanging on the wall.
Then she started to panic about why there was a Jeffster poster on Chuck's wall until it clicked in her sleep-fogged mind that Chuck had agreed to promote their musical efforts if they agreed to maintain a 50-foot Jeffster-free zone around Casa Bartowski.
She felt the bed shift beside her and a long arm latched onto her middle. The arm felt pleasantly warm and instantly brought her a sense of comfort and familiarity that she desperately needed right now.
Did she dare to hope that the arm belonged to Chuck?
She closed her eyes and turned onto her side. The arm tightened around her and pulled her to her left. His scent hit her immediately and she felt hope flare inside of her like a supernova. Was it really him?
Excitedly, she opened her eyes and found Chuck Bartowski lying beside her, eyes closed and breathing evenly.
"Oh thank God," she said.
Chuck mumbled something in his sleep and she was so happy to see him that she thought it was the most adorable thing she'd ever seen or heard.
She reached out for Chuck's arm and started to shake him awake. "Chuck!" she hissed. "Chuck, wake up!"
Slowly, gradually, Chuck's eyes opened and he looked at her through a haze of sleep. "What's going on?"
"Chuck! I am so happy to see you!" She almost started crying in relief again, but she managed to stop herself.
"Um…I'm happy to see you too," he said and shut his eyes.
"Chuck, no! Wait! Tell me you're still the Intersect. You are still the Intersect, right?"
"Of course I am," he mumbled.
"Thank you!" she yelled into the room. She grabbed Chuck's shoulders and pulled him into a sitting position, facing her. Before she even really realized what she was doing, she had glued her lips to his. Chuck's jaw dropped in surprise, and that was all the invitation she needed to slip her tongue deep into his mouth and wrap it around his, thanking God that he didn't taste of stale beer and Funyuns. It took him a few seconds to respond, but when he did, his hands slid up her arms to rest in her hair and he pressed her closer, kissing her as desperately as she kissed him.
She moved her hands frantically over his back and chest, grabbing onto his biceps and sinking her fingers into his hair, needing to assure herself that he was real and solid and that she wasn't going to wake up…again. Chuck took full advantage of the license she was giving him, using one firm hand on her neck to lock her mouth onto his and letting the other one roam down her back, until he slid it underneath her and pulled her up onto his lap.
Sarah broke away as suddenly as she had started and met Chuck's confused look with possibly the biggest smile she had ever smiled. "Thank you," she said quietly again.
"Let me get this straight," Chuck asked, "you're kissing me now because I'm still the Intersect and you're still my handler?" He appeared to be truly mystified at the implication.
Sarah had to laugh at the irony of the situation. "Yes," she nodded fervently and leaned in to kiss him again.
"Okay," Chuck shrugged and smiled against her lips, "I think I can live with that."
This time the kiss was less urgent, but far more sweet and intense. Sarah ran her lips and tongue slowly over Chuck's until she knew the taste and the feel of them almost as well as her own. They drew back frequently to gaze into each other's eyes before she crashed back into him again as if being parted only long enough to catch their breaths was too much separation for her to endure. And after the flood of images her sleeping brain had bombarded her with tonight, it almost was.
After who knows how long, Sarah finally fell happily back into her pillow, her lips pleasantly swollen and her head spinning woozily. She smiled up at Chuck and said, "I'm so happy I'm here."
"Wow," was all Chuck said.
Sarah blushed and turned her head away. Part of her couldn't believe what she had just done. She had just been so unbelievably relieved to see him she couldn't help herself.
"Bad dream, huh?"
"You have no idea," Sarah said with a shudder.
Chuck put his arms around her and pulled her in close, until her back was resting against his chest. He whispered into her ear, "I'm glad you're here too."
Sarah sighed happily and burrowed herself deeper into Chuck, falling back to sleep again with a contented smile on her face.