Well, we're nine reviews short of my ransom demand of 150, but if you give Doc in Oz's excellent "Chuck Gets His Old Life Back" a look, you'll see why I decided to give in and write the epilogue to this one. John, if your theory proves correct, I'm coming to your neck of the woods to buy you dinner and some sort of a vehicle.
This takes place directly after the events in Chapter Five.
Chuck vs The Jackpot
Chuck pointed to a particular booth. "Can we have that one?" he asked the hostess, who smiled congenially and led him and Sarah towards the booth in question.
"Well, aren't you just adorable."
Chuck shrugged. "We opened one chapter here, seems only fitting we start the next one at the same place."
"Assuming I'm in."
Chuck nodded. "Right. Of course. Assuming you're in."
The two of them sat down and took a moment to drink in their surroundings. Little if anything had changed about the restaurant where they'd had their first "date," with the possible exception of Chuck and Sarah themselves.
"A lot's happened in two years," Chuck said.
"A lot more than usual," Sarah replied.
Chuck nodded, thoughtful. "I had a hard time with it at first," he finally said. "I'd been in this… I don't know, this self-imposed exile after Stanford and Bryce and Jill-"
"Jill," Sarah said, scowling.
"She who shall not be named?"
Chuck tipped an imaginary hat in response. "Anyway, I'd been doing the same thing, over and over again, for years by the time you came into my life. You know the saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result?"
"Except with slot machines."
Chuck blinked. Twice. "Um…"
Sarah shrugged. "I like gambling. Sue me."
"Seriously? I wouldn't have guessed."
"Says the guy who just won twenty million dollars in the lottery."
"Point. Anyway, what I'm getting at is that we've got a pretty unique opportunity here. My money, your… experience…"
Sarah leaned closer. "I'm listening."
Chuck gestured wildly with his arms, almost knocking over one of their several empty frozen margarita glasses.
"—and it'll be JUST like Knight Rider!"
Sarah squinted at Chuck through her tequila haze. And her lack of pop-culture knowledge. "Who?"
Chuck visibly deflated. "Are you kidding me? Talking Trans-Am? David Hasselhoff?"
"I recognize those individual words, but not the combination in which you've placed them."
"I'll explain later. But you get the gist of it, right? We help people who've been conned! We get them their money back!"
"I get the gist of it."
"And man, we'd be so good at it! You, for instance, know so much about—" Chuck lowered his voice and glanced around before continuing in a whisper- "the not-so-legal part of it, and I have all this ridiculous money now, and some not-too-shabby computer skills, if I may say so myself." Chuck huffed a breath onto his nails and polished them on his shirt. Sarah laughed.
"You may say so, yes."
"So, what do you think?"
Sarah took a deep breath. "I love the idea, Chuck."
Chuck beamed, then noticed the hesitant look on Sarah's face. "But," he said, sobering.
"But," Sarah repeated, "I'm a little concerned about why you're doing it."
Chuck gestured wildly again. "Ha!"
"Okay, that's not the reaction I was expecting."
"I knew you'd say that! I did! I seriously did!" Chuck leaned back into the cushions of the booth. "I. Knew it."
Sarah raised an eyebrow. "Congratulations?"
Chuck leaned in as close as he could, and lowered his voice. "You think I'm doing this just to make you happy."
Sarah's mouth dropped open. Chuck continued.
"You think that I'd do anything to make you happy, including risking my entire new fortune on what basically amounts to a charity organization with no profit margin."
"Uh… something like that, yeah."
"Well," Chuck said, leaning back again. "You're absolutely right."
Sarah shook her head. "Chuck—"
"I would do anything to make you happy, Sarah. I really would. So about the first part, you're right. But, listen – slot machines notwithstanding, the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I've done that for years with the BuyMore, with my relationships, even with the way I've approached…"
Chuck looked around and then leaned in again. "…what we do. So, now I have this money. I could do just about anything with it, but this way, we don't have to worry about a civilian cover anymore. Most of the stuff we'll be doing will deal with a certain criminal element anyway, so there's nothing to explain away. I'll get to use my fortune for good, my computer skills for something other than coffee spills, and…" He paused.
"What?" Sarah asked, entranced.
"If I get to make you happy along the way," Chuck smiled, miming a vague cylindrical object in front of him. "Icing. Cake."
Sarah smiled back. "Assuming I'm in."
Chuck nodded. Yes. Of course. Assuming you're in."
"Okay, I'm gonna say something here, just bear with me. Tee shirts. Corporate logo on the front."
"I can get behind that," Sarah said, nodding as she searched for the remnants of her fourth margarita using her straw.
"And then something related to the A-Team on the back."
"And now I'm back in front of that."
"You know who the A-Team are but you don't know who Knight Rider is?"
"You've met Casey, right?"
The waitress suddenly appeared at their table. "Folks, we closed fifteen minutes ago."
Sarah, surprised by the woman's sudden appearance, grabbed the straw out of her glass and brandished it like a dagger. "Holy crap! Where did you come from?"
The waitress took a half step back. "Um… the kitchen?"
"A likely story," Sarah sneered.
"Sarah, honey, I think she's okay."
"Siding with the brunette, Chuck? Figures."
"Miss, you're aware that's a straw, right?" The waitress smirked.
"Great idea, lady. Beg my girlfriend to kill you with a half-gram piece of plastic. Can we have the check, please?"
Max's Up All Nite
"I still think you should have let me shank her."
"Shank? Seriously? Are we in a prison movie?"
"I do, kinda."
"Can we focus back on the matter at hand? If we're going to do this – I mean, assuming I'm in…"
"Right. Of course. Assuming you're in."
"Then we've got to figure a lot of important things out, as soon as possible. We can't afford any distractions."
An attractive, dark-haired hostess approached Chuck and Sarah. She eyed Chuck up and down. "Well, hello handsome." She looked at Sarah. "And hi to you too, I guess. Table or booth?"
"Give me a straw," Sarah growled.
"Nothing!" Chuck blurted out. "We were actually just leaving."
"If we're going to do this, you're also going to have to start controlling your anger."
"Yeah, well, if we're going to do this, you're going to need to let me shank people every now and then."
The blonde behind the counter apparently hadn't heard that last bit of conversation. "Hi, can I take your order?"
Sarah narrowed her eyes at the girl. "Bottle or natural?"
The girl, oddly, didn't miss a beat. "Natural."
Sarah nodded sagely. "You're okay, sister."
Chuck shook his head. "Clearly, I'm not drunk enough."
"We'll need someone very organized, good people skills, a good multitasker who stays calm in a crisis."
Chuck thought back to his and Morgan's designated driver from a few nights ago. "I may know someone like that. And Casey can handle recon and the occasional intimidation."
"I'm pretty intimidating."
"No one's arguing that. But I think you'll be a lot more valuable running the place."
Sarah looked up from her coffee. "Running it? I thought you'd—"
Chuck shook his head. "Me? No way. I mean, sure, put me in charge of a bunch of slacker computer geeks; sure, I'll keep the wheels turning. But for something like this?" He stirred another sugar into his cup. "You're the obvious choice to run it."
Sarah's brow furrowed. "Assuming I'm in."
"Yeah. Of course. Assuming you're in."
The two were silent for a moment, both thinking furiously. Finally Chuck spoke up.
"And Morgan can—"
"Stop right there," Sarah interrupted. "Morgan can most certainly not."
"You don't even know what I was going to suggest."
"Did it contain even the slightest amount of importance?"
"Well, yeah, but—"
"Then Morgan can not."
"He's going to worm his way in one way or another," Chuck sighed. I thought maybe he could handle investments."
"Investments," Sarah deadpanned. "The guy who blew loaned rent money on a DeLorean is going to invest your fortune."
"I don't know," Chuck shrugged. "At this point I'm just spitballing."
Sarah shook her head and smiled. "That's not spitballing, Chuck." She grabbed a straw, ripped off the paper sheath, and chewed on a bit of the paper.
A moment later, Chuck had the saliva-soaked paper remnant stuck in the dead center of his forehead. He smiled a crooked smile. "First and foremost, you have impeccable aim."
"I thank you."
"More importantly, you've challenged the master of the paper projectile." He picked up a straw, ripped off an end of the paper, and blew through the straw to shoot the wrapping at Sarah, who laughed and swatted it out of the air.
"Okay, I'm going to need to ask you two to leave," the girl behind the counter said.
"Kicked out of a donut shop by a teenager in a paper hat," Sarah mused.
Chuck turned to face Sarah when they reached the apartment door. "You've come a long way, baby."
"Hm." Sarah looked up at Chuck. "I had fun tonight."
Chuck smiled and took a step closer to Sarah. "Could be like this a lot, you know. No more cover stuff."
Sarah breathed deep, shifting a little closer to Chuck. "No more secrets, no more lies."
"Doing good deeds in between saving the world on a regular basis."
"Never scooping another gummy bear again."
Chuck laughed, and took another step. He and Sarah were face to face. "Assuming you're in," he whispered.
Sarah's expression grew serious. She took hold of Chuck's collar, leaned up and kissed him. Chuck returned the kiss, and wrapped his arms around her waist. Finally, they broke apart and touched their foreheads together.
"Please. I'm in. You know I'm in. I was in when you said 'Listen to an idea I have.'"
Chuck beamed. "Then I suppose we should get started."
"Tomorrow," Sarah said, trailing kisses down Chuck's neck. "Tonight, I have some other ideas."
"I like other ideas," Chuck said, shivering at the contact. "I'm always open to different points of view."
"Of course you realize," Sarah said, guiding Chuck back up against the door, "that you just made me your new boss."
Chuck reached behind him and fumbled the door open. "I didn't think it was possible, but you just got hotter."
The two stumbled into the apartment. Sarah kicked the door shut.
Aaand that's that. As always, thanks to everyone who read and reviewed. I know I went off the rails a bunch of times with this one (I couldn't resist having the Adorable Psycho rear her head a few times), but it was a lot of fun to write. Hope you like it.