Chapter 16

To bring you back up to speed: Chuck (Kappa) is a burned out CIA operative who went off the grid after a mission where he rescued Sarah in Ecuador. She was Bryce's partner but he'd left her behind to die or worse, a habit of his. Sarah 'fell for' her rescuer but after being returned to the US Embassy Bryce told her he was killed completing his mission. Later they meet as Handler/Asset but Sarah doesn't recognize Chuck who does something and Casey's on him like white on rice. He runs off the grid with Sarah and they end up in the mountains at Unit 4. Bryce shows up with some friends and tries to kill Chuck in order to prove his love for Sarah. Sarah kills Bryce and then Casey and Wu show up. Wu is an intelligence agent from Taiwan sent to guard Bartowski in gratitude for an assassination warning. Oh, yeah, and Chuck (as Kappa) has been tasked with assassinating Chuck and Casey by Beckman. Beckman expands the contract to include both his handlers.

This is the conclusion of the story. There are no epilogues. Don't post a story alert and waste the server space. I know it's long and wordy with lots of gushy dialogue but this is the one and only posting so either go watch Glee or read it. Either way, it's been interesting writing it. You can't see me but I'm shooting you the bird...LOL APR

"Chuck, I'm sorry about before, in the kitchen. I…" He cut her off.

"That's not important right now. What's important is getting you and Casey out of Kappa's crosshairs and back where you both belong. We have six hours to figure out what to do and after that I either kill all of you or we go back to square one, handler/asset, until Graham can fix things in DC.


"Not now, Agent Walker. Our thing is relatively unimportant compared to being dead. It will wait until we have time to focus on it, not just run over it in our haste to do something you're not sure you really want to do. We need to talk to Casey and Wu."

He left her in the bedroom and went out and sat down and updated Casey and Wu on the situation. Sarah came out and stood behind Chuck with her hands lightly on his shoulders and her fingertips rubbing his neck gently. She was trying very hard not to grab him by the neck and throttle him.

All four of them sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee and just generally bs'ing to pass the time. It had been almost six hours since Chuck had communicated with Beckman and his mind was going at breakneck speed and he was getting nowhere. If Beckman pulled the sanction then life would go on except he would have to deal with the CIA and with Beckman's wrath when she learned of his secret past. He had no worries about Graham. He'd even take care of the crispy critters left in Larkin's rental in exchange for his return.

If she didn't pull the sanction or worse, expanded it, he had the germ of an idea but didn't think any of the three other agents would agree with it.

He looked at his watch and Sarah saw his eyes narrow and she slipped her hand under the table and rested it lightly on his thigh, and gave him a reassuring squeeze that let him know he wasn't alone. She rubbed his thigh unconsciously. She was thinking about the Marriott and how this had all begun.

She remembered Quito and how he'd gone 'lone wolf' and taken out the remainder of the terrorist organization and then how he'd shut her out and dumped her off on the embassy steps and disappeared from her life. She could see him formulating a similar scenario. She wanted to be with him this time, not dumped on some figurative embassy steps.

"Well, it's time, boys and girls. I'll be right back." He stood and walked into the bedroom to reestablish his link with the General.

"What do you think he's going to do, Sarah? I'm betting she's lifted the sanction and is trying to wheedle her way out of paying the fee."

"I don't have any idea, John. The last time this situation arose was in Quito and he wrapped me up and dumped me on the embassy steps but in such a way that the news agencies carried it and gave me a cover. I don't see it happening this time."

"Kappa, execute your commission. We've been unable to independently confirm our source's information and so we must err on the side of caution. Kill Bartowski and his handlers."

"You initiated this contract before getting independent confirmation of your original source? Sloppy work, Diane."

"Just do your job. I'll need visual confirmation and you will dispose of the remains so that they're not easily found. Contact me when it's complete with proof and I'll transfer the balance of your commission to your account."

"So be it. Goodbye, General."

He packed up his computer and then opened his duffel and removed a trank pistol and one complete magazine of long-duration dosages. Chuck was about to do something he found personally disgusting but necessary.

He left the bedroom and made his way to the kitchen. Sarah looked up at him and smiled and he shot her in the chest. Casey went for his weapon and he shot him and then Wu, who hadn't moved a muscle.

He left the cabin and walked back up to the shed. It had nearly stopped snowing and he only had a few hours of daylight remaining. He searched the shed until he found something that would meet his purposes and took his find back to the cabin and then left again.

Chuck checked the 9mm pistol magazine and seated a round. He wouldn't have time to fool with it when the time came. He started his search and quickly found traces of his prey.

Sarah Walker woke up with a pounding headache. She was lying on her back and felt something lying across her throat and brushed it off and let out a startled gasp. Her hand was sticky with drying blood. She sat up and found she was covered in it but she almost lost it when she saw Casey sprawled across her legs. He was obviously dead since his throat had been cut and he was lying in a pool of blood that had saturated her jeans. There was no sign of Wu.

She pulled herself together and crawled out of the bed and staggered to the bathroom and vomited and then stripped off her clothes and turned on the shower. She caught sight of herself in the mirror and gasped and clutched her throat. Her reflection had had its throat cut and the gaping wound had drained blood down the front of her saturating her white bra. She touched her throat as did her reflection and she let out a sob of relief. It was makeup! It had been carefully created using makeup!

Sarah showered quickly and dressed in clean clothes. Casey's 'gaping wound' was also makeup but he'd been hit by two trank darts and would be unconscious considerably longer than she had been.

Trank darts! Chuck had shot them with trank darts! She ran to the kitchen and saw Bryce's laptop set up on the table with a note stuck to the screen that read 'Play Me'.

'Hey, Sarah. I meant what I said but it's not safe for you and Casey until I tie up a loose end. Tell Casey that Hu Li will meet up with him again in Burbank after her part in the mission is finished. You and Casey need to go back to Burbank and resume your normal activities and keep your covers intact until Kappa pulls one last mission and Chuck can come back to you and keep his promise. Graham is in the loop and will let the situation in Burbank continue as long as possible. Don't worry. Keep the faith.'

The video ended and she held back a sob. He was going out with Anna Wu to finish off Beckman and then he'd be back. He never broke his word so why was it that she didn't believe a word he said about coming back to Burbank?

It was too much like Quito for her liking.

Anna Wu returned to Burbank 5 days after Casey and Sarah picked up their cover lives. She arrived late one evening at Casey's apartment wearing jeans and a t-shirt and carrying a backpack.

Casey answered the door and just stood there staring, not sure what to do. He'd missed her but figured she and Bartowski were off tying up loose ends and securing all their futures.

"Where's Bartowski, Wu? Why isn't he with you?" He had a responsibility to the mission and it came first.

"Chuck's dead. Beckman's dead. It was always Beckman's plan to eliminate the Burbank team and then take Kappa out to eliminate any future problems. He walked into a trap in Bermuda. You and Sarah are safe. I failed to keep Kappa alive and now I have to return home to face my bosses. I just came to tell you the news and to say 'goodbye'."

The news shocked him but didn't surprise him. He knew how the intel game worked. He surprised himself when he picked her up and carried her into his apartment.

"John! Put me down! I can't stay. I can't…" Whatever else she might have said in the way of protest was lost.

Hu Li toyed with the hair on Casey's chest and listened to the rumble of his laughter. She'd just told him exactly what had happened in the mountains and in Bermuda. Casey appreciated the panache Bartowski displayed in his ruse to protect himself and Walker. The kid had definitely had style.

[This is a flashback]

Chuck injected Anna Wu with a stimulant to counteract the trank dart and quickly explained what he had to do and how she could help. Rather than be tranked again, she agreed and started to work on those garish wounds that Beckman would be delighted with.

Chuck had seen the deer almost every day since they'd been at Unit 4 and hated doing what he had to do but he had no choice. He needed something that only the deer could provide.

He hung the deer and bled it out into a bucket he'd found in the shed and then carried it into the cabin and liberally applied it to the two bodies laid out in the tableau created by Anna Wu. Each agent had had their throats cut and Casey had two gunshot wounds to the chest. The pair poured blood over them in keeping with their wounds and then Wu went to work on Chuck.

Chuck's body was displayed like the others. His throat had been cut and the blood had pooled in the depression in the mattress. His eyes were open and staring at nothing. There was a look of pain and sadness on his face.

"OK, Chuck, I got the shots. Let's set up the presentation and email and then get cleaned up and on the road."

Chuck used the voice-altering device and narrated the scene for Beckman. Walker was the first to die followed by Casey. Bartowski had made a 'last stand' but he never stood a chance. She cut his throat and dumped him with the others in the bedroom.

"So, Diane, here is your proof and now you must wire my funds to my account as agreed. Make reservations in Bermuda and email me with the information. Only one room, of course"

The piece de resistance was the fast shot of a panty-clad Wu bending over to disconnect the transmission. Hook, line, and sinker. Beckman made reservations within an hour of receiving confirmation of death.

Charles Hester and his wife Anna arrived in Bermuda 2 days later and took rooms in the same hotel as Beckman would and began their honeymoon. The couple were seen taking moonlight walks on the beach and had become a common sight in the hotel's Caribbean Club. They were obviously very much in love and the difference in heights between the slight Asian woman and her tall American husband set tongues wagging with sexual difficulties and opportunities.

During the day the couple would take a bus or hotel tram into Hamilton and shop for presents for family and friends but would end up in the Club.

"Anna, hand me the basting bulb, sweetie. Can you hold the tube while I trim it to the right length? OK, now wrap the wire around the screen, threading it through the slots I cut. Good. You got the mix ready?"

"Yeah, Chuck. Just fill the bulb and then screw it onto the base of the basting tube, shake it up good and remember to hold your breath. I think buying flowers to surprise her is a good idea. She'll never see the squeeze gun until it's too late."

"Yep, and surprise will take care of the rest. I want you out of this, Hu Li, so go catch a plane. If anything goes wrong, you know what to do."

Anna Wu left the hotel using her cover name explaining to the airline clerk that her father had passed away suddenly and that her husband would be following the next day after finishing up some business he'd developed.

What really happened

The next morning after ensuring that Wu had caught the morning flight to Savannah and confirming that Diane Beckman had checked in the previous night, Chuck took a bouquet of flowers and the 'turkey baster gun' and knocked on her room door.

"Who's there?" Chuck answered "Kappa" using the voice altering device. Beckman opened the door and got a face full of flowers and involuntarily inhaled sharply and Chuck squeezed the poison-filled bulb and the contents of the bulb shot out through the screen, creating an aerosol of deadly poison. Even though her heart was seizing in a massive coronary, she still managed to get off one shot with a derringer, hitting Chuck low in the ribs.

Chuck stepped into the room and took the derringer and hid it in the base of a potted fern and then dissembled and rinsed out the bulb gun, took the General's laptop and left the room, putting a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door. He walked back up to his room and called Graham and gave him the confirmation code for 'mission accomplished' and the secondary code of 'agent injury, severe' and then disconnected.

He cleaned up the wound, disposed of any evidence of an injury and then quickly reviewed the contents of the General's laptop. He sent another message to Graham with instructions to have the laptop picked up at the front desk of the hotel for 'repair' and to make sure he read the emails. She was a mole for Fulcrum. He also asked him to contact Anna Wu and report his 'death' after explaining her role in the events and providing her cell number.

Chuck took a bus into Hamilton where he walked around aimlessly, putting parts of the bulb gun in various dumpsters and then finding a quiet bar and drinking the pain away until a group of vacationers came and quietly swept the drunk at the bar away with them.

The medical team stabilized him, removed the bullet and stitched him up and stayed with him in a rented beach house until he was well enough to transfer to an American hospital on the mainland.

He was flown to Savannah where he met with Director Arthur Graham and was offered several options. He accepted the least unpleasant and left for an unknown destination after surgery and a brief period of rest & rehabilitation.

It had all been for nothing. Beckman's plot to wipe out Team Intersect was still in motion with Fulcrum running the operation now. If 'Chuck Bartowski' ever surfaced, everyone he loved would forfeit their lives.

When the remnants of Team Bartowski met the next morning at the Castle, Casey told Sarah what Wu had told him. She nodded and then walked into the conference room and dialed up a call to Graham and requested immediate reassignment. Chuck wasn't coming back. He was dead.

Casey spent the remainder of his two weeks in Burbank closing the Castle preparing the site for demolition. Anna Wu returned to Taiwan after promising to keep in touch with John Casey by any means available. Casey knew it was a hollow promise just like Bartowski's had been to Sarah - well-intentioned but impossible to keep.

Sarah Walker disappeared into the bowels of CIA Headquarters and was never heard from again. John Casey was appointed commander of a reaction team for the NSA's 'Special Projects Division', promoted to Lt. Colonel and based out of Seattle, WA.

Eight months later
A small town outside of Quito, Ecuador

He finished washing up the few dishes he had and pulled a couple of beers out of the noisy Frigidaire and walked wearily down to the patio to listen to the sounds of the city die as night fell. He was content. He'd pulled three Guardian missions for Olympus without casualties and he felt at peace with himself. He hadn't checked his board for the past 3 months since he couldn't handle an op or an engagement contract any longer.

He glanced at his watch and sighed. He had needs and she would be here in another half hour or so and then he'd feel much better for a few days until he felt the ache and then she'd come again.

It started to rain, a gentle and warm rain and he didn't care one bit that he was getting soaked. He finished off the first beer and then opened the second and leaned his face back letting the rain bathe it.

As usual, Rosario rang the bell before using her key and entering the compound. She'd simply entered without alerting him the first time she 'visited' and had found herself staring down the muzzle of a 9mm. She rang the bell every time since then.

She saw he was sitting in the rain drinking one of the two beers he drank each day. She'd chided him the first time she visited but his look quieted her. She'd seen the look before when a man in black had rescued her and her sister from a small clinic where they were being held to force her father, the local police commander, to release drug traffickers that he'd arrested. It was her first meeting but not her last with the man known to the locals only as 'Carlos'.

Nether of them noticed the thin black cable snake under the locked metal doors that opened up into the compound and courtyard. It moved like a snake until it spotted something and then remained fixed.

"Carlos, let me help you up and get you a little more comfortable. Dios mio, but you're soaked. Well, we'll get these clothes off you soon enough and get you dried. Come, don't be difficult. You need help."

"Quit nagging. I'm not dead yet. I can still…OK, a little help would be appreciated. I was afraid you wouldn't make it in the rain. The roads…"

She quieted him with a kiss to his wet forehead and laughed. "Let's go. I have an agenda, Carlos, and you have needs." She helped him up and put an arm around his waist holding on to his belt while he put his around her shoulders. "Sorry. I just don't want you hurt in an accident. How are your sister and father? It's been a while since I've seen either of them."

The couple walked into the villa and soon a light came on in the second floor and then another. The cable had disappeared.

The assault team leader had watched the scene unfold through the minicam emplaced in the LED filament cable. The sound was spotty due to the rain and distance from the couple but a few scenes and comments were unmistakable – the kiss, the way they held each other when they walked into the villa, the '…you have needs' comment.

The team spotter had had the compound under observation for two weeks and the routine was always the same: the woman came twice a week and spent the night. The man rarely left the compound. Sometimes a man or woman would visit to deliver groceries and unmarked supplies but those were random occurrences.

"You know the drill. We ingress over the wall, establish a perimeter and then clear the ground floor. You all have the floor plans memorized. Simba and Panther secure the ground floor while Tiger, Leopard and I hit the second floor. Tranks only. Our mission is a live extraction. Deadly force…deadly force is not authorized."

"You OK, Omega?" The 2IC had heard the hesitation and hitch in the leader's voice and was concerned. He knew about the reputation and history of their mark.

The team leader hissed back at him in a voice laced with fury. "I've got it together. Just do your job and don't fuck it up. Graham wants this guy in Langley ASAP."

"What's so damned special about this guy? He's a fucking hermit who hits on one of the local whores a couple of times a week. He seems harmless enough."

Simba snorted. "You have no idea who you're dealing with here, moron. We're after the last surviving Guardian. He's been off the grid and not answering quieries and Graham wants to know why. Just listen to the boss and hold your questions for later – assuming you survive."

There were no more subvocal whispered conversations. The team leader ordered silence and then only used hand signals afterwards.

They reached the 2nd floor landing and could hear the woman's laughter but not the actual words. The bedroom door was closed and the noisy old refrigerator compressor kicked on and made hearing difficult.

The woman laughed and said something else and then opened the bedroom door and stepped out into the hallway and walked towards the bathroom. She was wearing only her underwear and carrying her wet clothing. Tiger tranked her and caught her before she hit the floor. Silence was the rule. Their mark was unaware that he had company.

Chuck lay back and waited for the sedative to kick in. He hated this process but it was necessary until…he didn't want it any more. He'd talked about it with Rosario and her sister for hours and he knew there were few alternatives if he wanted…

The door to the bedroom was kicked open and Chuck reached for his pistol lying on the mattress but he was slow to react. The sedative kicked in just as he raised the pistol and sighted in on the intruder. His first thought was for Rosario. They'd probably killed her. That was his last conscious thought.

Omega stopped her forward progress into the…hospital room. Their mark had reacted slowly, too slowly and it was apparent that the young woman had given him a sedative. He fought it but lost and his eyes rolled up into his head and he dropped the pistol.

Omega turned around and told Tiger to revive the woman. What the hell was going on? Since the mark was unconscious, the team reassembled in the kitchen area.

"Bring her around. I have questions. We weren't briefed fully. There's something wrong here and I want answers before we proceed with the extraction."

It took a few minutes for the antidote to work and Simba began to question the frightened woman in Spanish since she didn't speak any English.

"Omega, she's a nurse. Local druggers took over a small clinic where she worked to force the local police commander to release drugs and traffickers he had in his jail awaiting transport. She and her sister worked there. The target took out the druggers and freed the hostages. He was injured."

"Injured how? How badly?" The woman hissed something at the team leader, the venom in her voice unmistakable.

"She wants to know how much the cartel is paying us to kill a dying man? How much blood money are we getting?"

"Tell her we're here to take him home. What is all that equipment up there in that room? Why is he sedated and what does she have him on?"

"She says it's a dialysis machine. His remaining kidney is failing. She comes twice a week to help him. She says he's only got a few months until full failure. That's an estimate. She says that killing him now would be a blessing."

"Calm her down. You two secure the perimeter. I have to contact home base." He can't be dying. Not now.

She walked up to the bedroom and looked at the bearded man resting peacefully while a machine cleaned his blood. She wiped away tears and called her boss.

"Olympus, this is Omega. We have him but there are complications."

She told him what she knew and then was given instructions for extraction back to the US and a medical facility. She was to keep him calm and sedated if required.

Chuck awoke to noise of a jet aircraft. He was in a comfortable airline seat that was set at full recline. He was handcuffed and blindfolded and his seatbelt was loosely belted around his arms and waist. He could feel someone next to him. A head was leaning against his shoulder and he assumed his captor was using this opportunity to catch up on his sleep.

That seemed like a good idea. He was tired and his back ached, a sure sign that it had been a while since his last dialysis treatment. He frowned when remembered Rosario. She had been there. She was probably dead. Great, another innocent on his conscience. He fell asleep and dreamed of better times.

He woke up. He was no longer on a plane and his back was aching badly and he had a killer headache. He was in a bed of some kind and in restraints. Someone was in the room. He could hear breathing and the occasional rustle of clothing. He cracked one eye open just a hair but it was dark. He could hear a soft beeping in the background but couldn't identify the source. He heard the whirring of a dialysis machine and wondered 'why bother?'

He fell back to sleep.

He was jolted awake by a sudden painful light. He tried to turn his head but was too damned tired and couldn't anyway since a hand on his forehead held his head firmly in place.

Fingers forced his other eye open and the light and pain were repeated. He must be on the good stuff because the ache in the small of his back had been reduced to a dull throbbing. He wondered just how much he'd blabbed if they were using drugs to loosen his tongue. Everyone talked eventually. Even those with Guardian training.

He fell asleep again but not before he heard the 'hand and light' speak.

"He's finally coming out of it. Give him water if he asks for it but not too much at one time. Later he'll need to drink as much water as possible. I'll have someone come in and check on him every 15 minutes or so for the next couple of hours. He can eat as soon as he feels like it but he'll probably sleep a lot for the next few days. That's normal. You should take every opportunity to get something to eat yourself and sleep."

"How's the donor doing?"

"Fine. She's sitting up and eating breakfast and hassling her husband. He's still upset that she did this but says a debt of honor must be repaid. That's what he said, anyhow. It's been four days since the surgery and she's ready to be discharged."

She nodded and got up from the chair she'd been in since he'd come from recovery, stretched, nodded to the doctor and left. The room temperature seemed to increase with her departure.

'That's one cold fish of a woman' thought the doctor. She never smiled and the look on her face was one of perpetual anger. It had been four days since the transplant and she'd hardly said a word and she'd rarely let go of his hand unless someone walked in. She seemed to be ashamed of her feelings.

She glanced into the donor's room. Anna Wu Casey was in bed fiddling with her IV while her husband tried to brush her hair and avoid her flailing arms.

"Ouch! You big lummox! I asked you to brush my hair not rip it out by the roots. Give me the damned brush, you big ox, before I'm bald."

"Hu Li, be quiet. You're recovering from surgery and I want to do this. You're the one with the rat's nest for hair." Neither of them was really angry. She'd seen it before when they were first together.

"Anna, how are you feeling?" She ventured into the room figuring it was safe.

"Sarah! How is he? Is he awake yet?" Anna would never call her Lisa.

"No, not really. He's still in and out. So far so good. There's no sign of infection or rejection. The doctor said he'd mostly sleep for the next few days but things were looking good. I don't know how I can ever thank you for…"

"He'd have done it for me and more so don't worry about it. The Ox here is burden enough for me to bear. I'm just glad I was a type match. Besides, Sarah, we owe him, John and I." The 'and you owe him, too, you dumb bitch' was unspoken but resonated throughout the room anyway.

Kappa had called in his marker with the director of intelligence of the 'good China' and Anna Wu had been discharged from service and 'ordered' to return to the US since she was a US citizen. She'd found John the day before he left Burbank and they'd gotten married in an almost indecent haste a few days later.

"So, the moron's doing OK, Agent Harris?" Casey still hadn't forgiven her for her for writing Bartowski off even in the face of Hu Li's story. She should have had more faith in him.

The only time Chuck had broken cover was to contact Casey to confirm that Anna Wu had found him. He hung up when Casey told him Sarah had asked for immediate reassignment and that 'Sarah Walker' was no more but Chuck's last words were engraved on his conscience.

That made sense. 'Sarah' was just an alias for the job named 'Bartowski'. The 'Bartowski job' was over and there was no further need for 'Sarah Walker'.

That was seven months ago and he hadn't heard a thing from Bartowski until Walker had contacted them saying that Bartowski was in serious trouble.

"Yeah, things look good, Casey. His color is good and his vitals are strong. We got to him in enough time to forestall any of the significant effects of renal collapse. No one would have known he was sick, dying, until it was too late. Him and his damned pride." She still loved him but hated him for betraying her and lying to her to gain her compliance back at Unit 4.

"Graham didn't share any of the information found on the laptop Chuck 'liberated' when he killed Beckman, did he? Ask him about the General's 'friends' and their intentions for Team Bartowski if Kappa hadn't taken us all out or if any of us showed up again. They're still out there waiting for him to contact his sister. That's why she wasn't contacted as a potential donor. Are you too blinded by hate and wounded pride to recognize the facts? He condemned himself to Kappa's life to give each of us one of our own choosing."

"Well, he wears the martyr's robes well, don't you think?"

She was bitter and angry at what she perceived was his use of her to accomplish his mission as Kappa and make a small fortune in the process. It was the embassy steps all over again.

"Considering your feelings towards him, I'm surprised he didn't arrive here DOA. Agent Harris, my wife is tired and your presence is tiresome. Please go rain on someone else's parade. We'd rather celebrate the lives saved."

His rebuke stung and she flinched and turned and left the room. She should have known he'd have a reason for abandoning her without a word or a means of contact. His sister must be beside herself with worry – unless it was all BS to give him plausible deniability. She decided to put it to the test and call Ellie.

She pulled out her cell phone and dialed a number she never figured to use again when her mind dredged up a comment Chuck had made to her that last day in the mountains.

'Don't fault me for wanting to protect my lady, Sarah. It's what I'll always do. It's why I was selected for the Guardian program in the first place…'


"Hi, Ellie, it's Sarah Walker. I've been trying to reach Chuck but can't get him on…"

"Sarah, Chuck's dead. The police found his burned out car and figured it was a car jacking gone bad. There wasn't a body found but the police said it had probably been dumped in a landfill somewhere near where his Herder was found. I'm sorry but I had no way to reach you. Is this your new telephone number?"

She didn't sound particularly broken up and Sarah figured she'd been tipped by Chuck to expect the call.

"I – I'm so sorry. I've been out of touch lately and – I'm sorry, Ellie, I just can't…" She hung up. Even though she knew it was all a lie she still started to cry. He had done it to protect them all and had willingly sacrificed everything for everyone he loved.

She walked back down the hall towards Chuck's room and collided with Director Graham who was backing out of Chuck's room, laughing as he dodged a pillow.

"Agent Wa – er – Harris! Good job on the extraction. If you'll follow me to the lobby I'll buy you a cup of coffee and we can discuss your team's next assignment."

"You bastard! You knew he was still alive and you didn't tell me until the extraction briefing. You knew it from the first, from Bermuda. What's on that damned laptop of Beckman's that's reason enough to ruin his life and mine? You knew about us and yet you let him leave me on the damned 'embassy steps' again. Why?"

"He was in no shape to make any kind of decisions when we got him home from Bermuda. It was a week before he could even talk and you'd already requested reassignment and I honored it. As for what's on the laptop? It's your death warrant and his, and the Caseys and his sister and her husband."

"I quit! I won't do this any more. I won't work for someone who doesn't give a shit about the people who work for him. Stuff your job up your ass, Mr. Director. Now out of my way. I have some apologies to make and then, as soon as he's able, we will disappear together and woe to the ones who try and find us!"

Graham hid a smirk behind his hand and just nodded as if cowed by her anger. Kappa had basically told him to shove it, too, although he was too doped up to do more than toss a pillow at him. He had accepted the inevitable and acquiesced to accepting a team for security and training. He just didn't want Sarah Walker's team. The hostility she felt towards him was apparent even to someone in his condition.

He walked down the hall and stopped briefly at Anna Casey's room and said his hellos and then gave Casey a 'thumbs up' and left to get back to work. If Harris would just listen to reason, it would be her team that was assigned. Kappa had a lot to teach and they had a lot to learn.

Sarah walked into Chuck's room and closed the door and then kicked off her shoes and hiked up her skirt and carefully climbed onto his bed and sat on the edge.

"I'm sorry I doubted you. I thought you were using me to complete your mission at Unit 4 and when Casey and I woke up and saw all the blood and then your message…I got mad. It was Quito and the embassy steps all over again and I just freaked out when Wu said you were dead and I asked for reassignment."

He just looked at her. He was too doped up to understand much of what she said but he got the important parts. She was sorry, mad and freaked out. OK, he could probably deal with that in the future but not right now.

"OK." He had no idea where this conversation was headed so he just gave a noncommittal answer and figured she'd go on.

She didn't. She just sat there worming a hole in his sheet with her thumbnail. She did that when she was making a personal decision and afraid she was going to screw it up.

Graham walked into the administrative offices of the facility and asked the supervisor for the 'hottest brunette in the place'. The supervisor dialed a number and spoke briefly and in a few minutes a young brunette wearing a dress well above the knees and leather boots with a killer body and green eyes walked in, wondering what she'd done wrong to be summoned to the…shit! It was the Director!

"Miss Simmons, the Director is in need of your services for a brief and highly confidential operation he's running in this very facility. Valerie, you're not in any trouble. The Director will brief you. I have no 'need to know'."

Ten minutes later, Graham and 'Agent Simmons', code name Theta, walked into Chuck's room. Sarah was still sitting on the side of the bed and glared at the Director and moved to the guest chair. She hadn't said a word to Chuck, just sat and tore a hole in his sheet.

"Agent Bartowski, er, Kappa, this is Valerie Simmons, leader of Team Theta. She will be assigned to your operation in Ecuador for training, evaluation and security."

"Oh, Kappa, it will such an honor and opportunity to serve under you…oh, I mean, to be your subordinate…although serving 'under' you would certainly be a pleasure also. I look forward to as much private instruction as possible and oh, I can cook!"

She rushed over to Chuck's bedside and leaned over giving him a view of her most obvious assets. She'd unbuttoned several buttons and her black lace bra barely held her assets. "How are you feeling, Kappa? Are you in pain?" She grabbed his hand and held it firmly between her breasts.

"Chuck, Valerie is the youngest and brightest team leader in the new program. She brings many additional assets to the table as I'm sure you'll soon realize. In addition to being an excellent leader, she's quite adept with her hands – in hand to hand combat, obviously – and she's single, Chuck."

Chuck noticed Sarah's fists clenching and her nostrils flaring and knew he had to say something but nothing he could think of could defuse the situation before the beautiful brunette lost most of her looks.

"Um, well, I'm sure the Director has the utmost confidence in your team's abilities, pero hablas el espanol?"

"What? Spaniels? Huh?"

"I need someone fluent in Spanish at the very least. Director, she's just not up to the task. We interface with the locals a great deal and Spanish is a requirement."

"Um, well, yes, but several members of her team are fluent speakers so this hardly constitutes a deal breaker. You don't speak Spanish, Kappa. It's in your file."

"I lied on my application. I didn't want to spend time in Mexico working with the DEA so I said I couldn't speak Spanish."

Graham choked and glared at Chuck but pushed on with his sales pitch.

"Language abilities aside, and she can certainly learn, she has many other excellent qualities. She's your new security team leader. No arguments. Agent Harris has terminated her contract with the Agency and so the job defaults to the next qualified team – Team Theta."

Lisa had had enough. "Director, take your brunette agent with benefits out of here. I'm the leader of Team Omega and if anyone works under Kappa, it'll be me! I mean, Team Omega. Oh, hell, Art, you know what I mean."

"Kappa, is that acceptable to you?"

"No. I can't have nepotism on my team. Sorry, Agent Harris."

"Ne – nepotism? I'm not your damned sister or cousin, Chuck! It would not be nepotism."

"Yes, Bartowski, indeed. Do tell us." Graham had a suspicion where this was going and he wished he could have recorded it for future analysis.

"I guess all that crap you were spouting off about getting married back at Unit 4 was just so much… crap? You sure worked the hell out of the Honey Trap Manual of Arts."

He'd trapped her and Graham led Valerie out of the room before she said something really dumb and Harris became suspicious. Nepotism! Classic Bartowski. He'd already agreed to Bartowski's only condition. It was a no-brainer.

She started to feel the burning of tears forming and her chin started to quiver and she was gnawing at her lower lip.

"Sarah, come here, baby." She didn't move. She was still trying to understand his position.

"Agent Harris, get your ass over here. It hurts to talk and talking loudly really hurts. I don't want to yell, OK?"

She heard 'hurts' and moved closer, finally sitting on the edge of the bed.

"Better. Here's the deal. You get Art to waive the rules about agents marrying and being assigned together and we'll marry and you and your team can be my houseguests. If he says no – then we get married and you find something to do until I either retire or get so fucked up I get a medical."

"I won't marry you and stay behind. I'm either beside you or…or there's no point in being married."

"Then I guess you'd better catch Graham before he leaves." He laughed quietly to himself. Graham was 'holding position' at the elevator waiting for her. He'd already agreed to Chuck's only condition – a married team.

Chuck pushed the self-medicating device and slipped back to sleep, a disgustingly smug smile on his face.

Two years later
Guardian Training Compound

"You need more sunscreen, baby. Remember the UV sensitivity. Just because they've cut back on your anti-rejection drugs is no reason to risk skin cancer."

"Jesus, Anna, will you quit nagging. I'm wearing the hat and long sleeves and it's a zillion degrees out here so cut me some slack." He loved Anna to death but sometimes he wanted to wring her neck like a chicken.

"Hey, moron, I got an investment in you – literally. Now, they got off the ground OK and the casualty report is light – just a few bruises – and they got the two agents out. Fulcrum never knew what hit them. Quit worrying, Kappa, you trained them well."

"I'll quit worrying when they're back in their quarters drinking beer and telling each other lies. This was the team's first op and you know how they tend to overdo just about everything first time out."

"Well, your delightful spouse tagged along to evaluate their performance. She's changed, Chuck, and you're to blame. She's a lot more cautious and she actually thinks about things instead of reacting. That skanky brunette you married is turning out to be quite the trainer."

"Hey! There's nothing wrong with brunettes. I happen to love mine. Now, Senior Training Agent Casey, move your ass. My wife and your husband make an awesome team. I was just ragging on you. I can always tell when you're nervous – and you are, admit it – because of your tell."

"Tell? I do not have a tell, Mr. Fat Cat Assistant Director!"

"Oh, yeah? Look at the hem of your t-shirt, WuWu…Sarah Walker did the same thing when she was nervous but wouldn't talk about it. She internalized the crap out of everything."

She sighed when she realized she'd shredded the hem with a nail. "OK, but he's no spring chicken, Chuckles, and I worry about him. He's pushing the big 4-0 and he's slowing down. I worry about him. And quit calling me WuWu. It's disrespectful and demeaning and embarrassing."

"Yep. It sure is."

Chuck's comm unit buzzed and he answered. "Director, they're on final approach and should be on the ground in 10 minutes. They'll deplane in hangar 3. I've sent a car for you and WuWu." The tower controller was on the ball.

"See! WuWu… you've got the grunts calling me that! I want my frikkin' kidney back, Kappa!"

"Anna, shut up and get in the car."

It was a short drive to the camouflaged hangar and the plane's large tail was just disappearing into it when they pulled up. There were 2 ambulances waiting for the rescued agents and the team's casualties. Chuck's stomach dropped when he saw the medics hustling out three stretchers.

He broke into a run and was through the closing doors with a few feet to spare and slowed to a walk when he saw the team deplaning. Casey walked down the ramp with his Mossberg over one shoulder and a big grin on his face.

"Hey, Kappa. Slick as snot off a shiny shovel. Not a single misstep. Good training, execution and planning. Too bad you're such a wimp and can't make missions." He saw Chuck looking past Casey, ignoring his barbs.

"She's coming. She's just chewing out a trainee for a little slip of the tongue on the comms, that's all. You shouldn't worry so much, Chuck. She's not Sarah Walker. She actually thinks."

It had taken him almost a year to mostly get over Sarah Walker. Sometimes, late at night when his wife was asleep and he wasn't, he'd sneak out to the kitchen and drink coffee until the wee hours thinking about the blonde agent who'd been his handler, friend and short-time lover.

"Tell that to your wife, Colonel. Now, debriefing in 20 minutes then the BBQ at my quarters."

He turned back to face the ramp and was face-to-face with his wife. The stare-down lasted 30 seconds but they said a lot to each other without saying a word.

It's OK to worry but I'm back, safe and sound.

I missed you, baby, and yeah, I worried but I'm fine now.

Aren't you going to kiss me, Chuck?


The team watched in envy and Casey coughed loudly and was ignored. They were alone in the world and he was reacquainting himself with her mouth while his hands buried themselves in her dark hair. God, how he loved this woman.

When they finally ran out of oxygen and separated a few millimeters, he whispered her name and she smiled.


"At least you got it right this time." It was a quiet joke between them. In public they were Chuck and Lisa Bartowski but in private, they were still Chuck and Sarah. Some things would never change.

End Hope you liked it - APR