Hello. If you haven't read my other stories, they provide some background on the characters and events of this "series finale" of Chuck. It took me a while to come up with a general path for the story, and there are still a lot of things I'm leaving up in the air. The good news is, that approach helped me a lot with my other stories, so I thought I would keep it that way with this one.
These stories follow the original pathway in "Chuck vs. the Alpha Version," where Chuck and Sarah became a couple following "Chuck vs. the Ring," Anna and Morgan never split up, Alex Forrest made a return to the Chuckverse, and an original character was created, himself an Intersect from 20 years ago. The events in this story take place at the end of Season 4, but they mix in some of the events that happened in Season 3.
Please feel free to review. Every author wants to know if people are reading their stories, and reviews, whether good or bad, are they way to know. Let me know what you think. Thanks!
previously, in "Forrest and Slade: The Zack and Paula Mission"...
He drove up to the house. Jimmy heard that he moved here about 8 months ago. The house looked like any other one in the area, but Jimmy suspected he was dealing with a high-tech security system, and there were cameras monitoring his every move.
To say nothing about the man who walked up behind him with the very large gun.
"What are you doing here?" The man was not used to having visitors, especially ones who just dropped in.
"I'm sorry to bother you, sir. But I need your help. You promised you would try to help me once. Perhaps I should have taken you up on it back then, but…"
The man cocked his gun. "I have no idea who you are."
Jimmy smiled. "Actually, you do. You told me I was that angry kid who was full of piss and fire, and that there wasn't anything that I couldn't do. You told me to trust Chuck, Sarah, and Casey."
Jimmy turned towards the man. "And you were right about all of it."
The man staggered back in shock. He immediately lowered his gun.
"Hi, Mr. Bartowski."
Los Angeles, CA
February 19, 2011
"We are gathered here today in the site of God and in the presence of these witnesses…"
Chuck stared across the aisle, but his mind was in a fog. He never thought he would see this day. Truthfully, there were many days he never thought he would see since receiving the Intersect almost four years ago. He glanced down at the very expensive suit he was wearing. Sarah always liked him in navy, but he was still getting used to being dressed up without a mission involved.
He did it for her, of course. He did everything for her…the missions, taking Casey's endless digs at his manhood, keeping secrets from his family…all of it was for her. And he'd do it all again, because he felt like the luckiest man in the world to be here today.
"Do you take this woman to be your wife? To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, and forsaking all others, honor and love her, so long as you both shall live?"
In the pantheon of questions, Chuck considered this the dumbest one of all. OF COURSE he would take her. To have her and hold her in sickness and in health. And the bad times they had were blips of complete insignificance when compared to the wonderful times they had together.
Sarah quietly held a small bouquet of flowers in her hands. The ceremony was simple, but she thought it would be a nice touch. She couldn't get over looking at Chuck and gazing into those puppy-dog brown eyes that she no doubt had loved since the day she walked into the Buy More. How she was fortunate enough to be the one Chuck wanted to be with was still beyond her grasp. He always had this look in his eyes like everything was right in the world when he saw her. But her world was far from right for so long. She had felt betrayal by so many people, she had been used as an instrument by the government to kill, steal, seduce, and so many other acts that she considered so distasteful now, no matter how much good they may have brought. Or perhaps she thought so much more of herself these days. She wasn't that meek girl with the braces and the jailbird father anymore. She was a woman who was beautiful, smart, and she was in love with one of the sweetest, most handsome men she ever encountered in her life.
"Do you take this man to be your husband? To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, and forsaking all others, honor and love him, so long as you both shall live?"
She had heard these words before, but they held so much significance now. She could continue to be a spy, but what she wanted in life had become far more important. What she wanted was standing across the aisle from her. Now it was a matter of the next step in her life; a step she never thought she would have. But then, she never thought she would meet and fall in love with someone like Chuck. It was the easiest question in the world to answer.
Sarah saw Chuck's smile light up his face. Even in the beginning, it always managed to get to a special place in her heart. Now it was something she couldn't live without.
"By the power vested in me by the state of California and in the presence of these witnesses, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride."
The moment Chuck never thought would arrive was upon him. The kiss was as magical as he thought it would be, even if it still felt like it was just a dream.
The minister stepped back with a grand smile on his face.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating Mr. and Mrs. Morgan Grimes and Anna Wu!"
Most of the crowd of forty people gave polite applause. A few catcalls and wolf whistles went up from the section Chuck expected. Fortunately, he anticipated this and placed Casey right near Jeff and Lester. One well-timed growl later, they acquiesced and merely applauded the happy couple.
Morgan turned to the crowd with a huge smile on his face. He glanced over at Chuck and gave him a knowing wink. Chuck wasn't sure how Morgan intended to keep everything from Anna about his Intersect and being part of the team now. Sarah and Casey were still not 100% happy about the whole situation, even though Casey was the one to bring Morgan into the fold. Chuck knew he had to let Morgan in on the big secret eventually. Certainly General Beckman didn't like being blackmailed into giving Morgan a job, but there would be no Castle without Morgan's help, and they wouldn't have discovered the truth about Daniel Shaw. Just like Chuck, Morgan backed into helping his country, but he came though with flying colors. He deserved this day.
Morgan and Anna proceeded down the aisle, hand-in-hand, as the crowd turned to them and adored the newly-married couple. They decided to have the reception in the courtyard of the apartment complex in Echo Park. Morgan thought it would be a bit of kismet to have his reception where Ellie and Devon had theirs, although that was the emergency reception they staged following Fulcrum's attack on their original wedding and reception. But then, good fortune is good fortune. It may have also had to do with the fact that neither Morgan nor Anna had a lot of money saved up. However, Chuck, Sarah, and Casey were able to talk General Beckman into giving Morgan a little "honorarium" for his work in protecting Castle and exposing Daniel Shaw. It wasn't much, but it was enough for a DJ and hors d'oeuvres, and an open bar for Casey. After all of the work Casey had done, even when pulled off the team, he deserved a lot more than a cash bar. Chuck even made sure a small section in the courtyard was cordoned off for him to enjoy his cigars.
Chuck and Sarah walked out of the church to see Morgan and Anna climb into the limousine, which Big Mike provided by calling in a few favors. They looked at each other for a moment, their hands unconsciously finding each other.
"I think it's safe to say I have seen it all," Chuck said with a bit of mirth in his voice.
Sarah turned to him a bit wide-eyed. "NOW you've seen it all? This from the man who actually got to have his Die Hard moment?"
"My Die Hard moment?"
"That's how Morgan described what happened on the bridge in Paris."
"Oh." Chuck looked down. Sarah could actually feel a chill go through him.
"What's wrong, Chuck?"
"I…I was never so scared in my whole life. I thought I was going to lose you. I felt so helpless after he took you from the restaurant. I froze. I…"
Sarah gently placed her fingers over his lips to quiet him. She tilted his head up and held on to him.
"What you did was save my life. You did what I always thought you could do. You were amazing."
Chuck gave a little laugh. "I'm pretty sure you still have the lead in the 'life saving' department, Sarah."
She slid her arms around his neck. "I never kept count, Chuck."
He held her tightly as they kissed, and the sensation sent a completely different chill through him. The kind that only came by being close to the person you love. The noise behind them gathered in volume as the rest of the congregation filed out of the church. They headed for their car and the reception.
February 19, 2011
Erin Bailey watched the crowd slowly gather for the evening at the restaurant. The only good thing about working Saturday nights was the money. The families would be in early, attempting to have a night out with the kids to change up the routine. They would file out by 10 PM or so, and then the rowdier crowd would start filing in, mainly to start or continue their various levels of inebriation. A lot of students from Arizona State would find their way to this bar. Some of them were decent tippers, but most weren't. But college kids are that way everywhere, aren't they? Erin was one of the few people who could handle themselves around that crowd, so the management always had her work Friday and Saturday nights. Although the occasional leer from some of the frat boys was semi-complimentary, given that she was almost ten years older than them, it certainly wasn't worth the aggravation.
But this was infinitely better than spending the rest of her life in a government holding facility. And she had the person she betrayed to thank for that.
Her life was full of regrets now. She let Fulcrum get their hooks into her. She betrayed every good thing that ever happened to her. She betrayed her family, her friends, her country, and she betrayed Chuck. He did nothing to earn her disdain, and yet he still forgave her when he let her slip out of the Fulcrum training facility with the engagement ring. After forging papers to vouch for its authenticity, she was able to sell it for $50,000, although she later found out it was worth $100,000. She was able to live on that for a while, but the money eventually ran out. Fortunately, she found a job where the bosses didn't ask too many questions if you were a hard worker. A fake Social Security Card and birth certificate were all she needed. She felt she had to make up for the horrible things she did in the past. This was her penance.
As she saw a young child vomit at a table she was waiting on, she got the feeling God wanted her to do a little extra penance tonight. She sighed and grabbed several towels.
February 19, 2011
Chuck took a look around the reception. There were twice as many people here as were in the church for the wedding. He also noticed the amount of wedding gifts at the table didn't match the crowd. It didn't take a degree in Electrical Engineering to realize that more than a few of the employees from the Buy More were freeloading on Morgan's party. Ordinarily he might be upset about it, and he had to admit giving some thought to having Casey turn the garden hose on them. But this was something that had to be seen. If there was a sign on the side of the road that said "three-headed lizard," you stop and look. Morgan Grimes growing up and getting married? You stop and look.
"What sign of the apocalypse would you say this is? The fourth or the fifth?"
Casey was standing behind Chuck, clearly dulling what he considered to be the pain of watching the reception with his fourth scotch of the evening.
"Correct me if I'm wrong, Case, but weren't you the one to bring Morgan onto our little team?"
"I did that because he earned it. Doesn't mean I have to enjoy the little troll being the center of attention. It's like watching a wedding at a nerds' convention."
"Awww, we know you have a little soft spot right there for the Bearded One," Chuck replied, giving a gentle poke to Casey's chest.
"But I won't have a soft spot for your finger if you ever touch me like that again," Casey snarled.
Chuck let out an exhale of frustration. Casey's walls were as well-guarded as ever, even after encountering his former C.O. and ex-fiancé and daughter. He knew Casey did what he did for the greater good and didn't care what happened to himself, but he never considered how much that hurt the people who did care about him. The harder Casey worked, the longer that list grew.
"Hi Chuck. You do throw good last-minute wedding receptions on a tight budget."
Chuck turned to see Ellie standing there. Devon and she missed the ceremony earlier in the day because of a last-minute switch at the hospital that couldn't be avoided. They had been back from Africa for 6 months, having done an exhausting but exhilarating stint for Doctors Without Borders. As rewarding as it was helping those who needed it the most, Devon and Ellie felt it was time to establish their lives and put down strong roots. That meant returning to Los Angeles. Certainly they could find enough charity work to do here as well.
"I'm starting to think I should make a career of this," Chuck replied with a smile to his sister, who wore an elegant navy blue dress for the evening, while Devon wore a four-button suit. "Everybody seems to be having fun."
Ellie eyed Casey warily. "Uh, just make sure some of us don't have more fun than others, do you know what I'm saying?" She went over to Casey and took his drink. "John, they've got some really nice hors d'oeuvres at the table. You should try some."
"Babe, no problem. I'll take him over," Devon quickly replied. He then took the drink from Ellie. "And I'll take this back to the bartender. I'm sure they could use the glasses."
Casey and Devon walked away. Devon snuck Casey's drink back to him.
"Thanks, Devon," Casey said as he emptied the glass of its contents. "That was a big help."
"It's my fault you're in that situation, Big John," Devon replied. "I'm sorry you've had to play that role in front of her for over a year now. I'm just…I'm just a horrible liar. I freeze up in front of her."
"No problem. It takes years to get used to lying to the people you love." Casey's expression turned more sour than it usually was. "I had to start from Day 1."
Devon hesitated, knowing exactly what Casey was talking about. "John, how long have you been doing this?"
Casey shrugged. "I don't know. 22, maybe 23 years?"
"You could retire if you wanted. Couldn't you? Don't you get a full pension at 20 years?"
"Yeah, but what else is there? I made a choice. I decided to do something more important than me."
"You've done that, bro. Nobody would dare question how much you've done for this country. But what good is doing all of that if you never find out what it is you did it for? Don't you think you deserve to have that good life that you defended all those years more than anybody?"
Casey was silent for a moment. "I never worried about such things. Hell, you save lives every day, and I don't see you demanding a big reward."
Devon smiled and gestured across the courtyard at his wife. "I already got mine, bro. Nothing will ever top Ellie."
Casey gave a quick tilt of his head. "OK, I'll give you that. But I've had to live with a lot of the decisions I made. Some were right, some were wrong. This is the life I have. I have to be comfortable with that."
"People can change. What about that big guy who was here a year and a half ago? Remember him? Saved Ellie in the hospital? He wanted to change. I just wish he would have lived to see it."
Casey had to smile, at least as much as he smiled. Jimmy Slade had changed. He made a complete turnaround, in fact. Casey hadn't heard from him since Las Vegas, but he knew that Chuck and Sarah talked to him a month ago. He was probably in some part of the world on yet another case. The CIA was supposedly running him ragged with assignments. From what he had found out through rumors and hearsay, Slade was becoming quite the spy. Certainly he proved Devon's point.
"Maybe you're right," Casey replied quietly. "I guess I'm not sure what I'd do if I didn't have this job."
"For you, there's no limit, John. There are a ton of things you can do. And I'd imagine finding someone to spend that time with wouldn't be too hard. You're in awesome shape for a guy your age."
Casey gave him a glare. "Exactly how old do you think I am?"
"No offense intended, bro. But unless you've been doing this job since you were in diapers, you're not exactly going to be hanging out with the college kids. That's not a bad thing. You're still young enough to enjoy yourself."
Casey was silent as he looked out over the crowd of people having fun at Morgan and Anna's reception. He felt a twinge of jealousy that he was never like they were. People who worried more about having fun and worried less about what tomorrow would bring. He was starting to think Devon had a point. He spent the last four years protecting that little nerd with all of the secrets of the government in his head. He tolerated Morgan's man-child attitude, the deviousness of Jeff and Lester, the lovelorn looks Sarah always gave Chuck, and the over-protectiveness of Ellie and Devon. But through all of that, it was one of the few times in his life where he felt like he belonged. He felt like these people cared about him almost as much as he cared about them. And as infuriating as they could be sometimes, Chuck and Sarah were two of the best people…no, THE two best people…he ever worked with. He was starting to long for some of those things Devon said he deserved. Certainly Chuck didn't need him anymore. As much as Casey couldn't believe it sometimes, Chuck had blossomed into as good of a spy as anybody he had seen. He was ready to go out into the world. He didn't need the John Casey safety net anymore.
Chuck found Morgan and Anna near the gift table, talking to a couple of Anna's friends.
"Chuck, you are the man." Morgan hugged him tightly. "Thank you for doing this."
"No problem, Morgan. I'm so glad to be a part of it. I always knew this day would come."
Chuck shifted back and forth for a moment. "Well, no. But I've seen stranger things happen."
"OK, this is true," Morgan replied with a knowing glance. Anna looked at the two of them oddly.
"Morgan, what are you talking about?"
"Oh nothing, sweetheart. It's just that Chuck and I have been through…so much. You know how that is. But now I get to start my life with you, and I couldn't be happier."
Anna gave Morgan one of those glances only wives can give that Chuck was certain Morgan would see many times during his marriage. "And I'm happy to be with you, honey." The two of them kissed.
Chuck glanced to his right where the DJ was. "Uh, Morgan? Did you tell Jeff and Lester they could play at your wedding?"
Morgan looked a little meek. "Dude, I know. But their video totally bombed last year and they were humiliated into hiding for two months. They begged and pleaded to play a set. Jeff said he'd even let me borrow his van for a year if they could play tonight."
Chuck rolled his eyes. So much for a perfect wedding on a tight budget.
Lester stood in front of the DJ table, while Jeff readied his portable synth player.
"Echo Park, are you ready to rock this wedding!" Lester shouted to the crowd. The shout back to him was lukewarm at best.
"1-2-3-4!" Jeff started playing his synth while Lester strutted around, pretending he was on stage.
We had broken up for good just an hour before, ah ah ah ah ah ah ah.
And now I'm starin' at the bodies as they dance across the floor, ah ah ah ah ah ah ah.
And the band slowed the tempo, and the music gets you down, ah ah ah ah ah ah ah.
It was the same old song with a melancholic sound, ah ah ah ah ah ah ah.
They don't write 'em like that anymore!
They just don't write 'em like that anymore!!
Chuck and Anna both turned to Morgan.
"Morgan, what's wrong with this picture?"
Morgan held his forehead in his hands as if he had a migraine. "I'll go talk to them."
Morgan went to stop Jeffster! in its tracks…or at least make them pick a slightly more-appropriate song for a wedding reception…while Sarah joined Chuck and Anna.
"Congratulations, Anna," Sarah told her. "The wedding was beautiful."
"Thanks, Sarah. You always thought Morgan and I belonged together."
Sarah had to smile at that. Sarah giving advice on relationships would be akin to Casey giving advice on a good romantic comedy.
"Oh, I just pointed out what I saw. Morgan is…one of a kind."
Anna smiled. "I think he's finally changed. He seems so much more responsible these days. It's almost like he does everything with a purpose. He's so much more driven now."
Chuck and Sarah shared a glance out of Anna's sight. Who would have thought letting Morgan in on the big secret would have this effect?
"People will surprise you sometimes, Anna," Sarah replied.
"Oh, I agree," Chuck said. "I think the two of you will have a wonderful marriage."
Morgan returned to the trio a little crestfallen. "I hated to do that, but it had to be done."
"I'm sure they had other songs that would have worked," Chuck replied.
Morgan shook his head. "The next two songs on their list were Angie by The Rolling Stones and If You Leave by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark."
Chuck shook his head. "On the other hand…"
The DJ played a slow song far more appropriate for the evening. Several couples moved into the open area of the courtyard to dance. Anna took Morgan's hand and led him to the dance floor. Chuck and Sarah looked at each other.
"Care to dance?" Chuck asked her.
They took each other's hands and stepped onto the dance floor. Sarah put her arms around Chuck's neck while he wrapped his arms around her waist. They danced close to each other.
"Are you having a good time?" Chuck asked her quietly as his cheek brushed against her hair. "I know it's a bit of torture to have to attend Morgan's wedding, but…"
Sarah squeezed him tightly. "This isn't torture at all, Chuck. I'm having a great time. Especially now." She could feel Chuck's smile.
"I'm having a wonderful time, too. My life finally feels like how I wanted it to feel for so long."
Sarah gave him a kiss on his cheek as they moved in time to the music. "Mine, too. I certainly never expected things to turn out like this. But I wouldn't change it."
"I'm glad. You deserve to have the life you want. What you've done for me and my family for the last four years has been…I can't even describe it."
"I was always glad to do it, Chuck. I never really knew what kind of life I wanted. Honestly, I'm still not completely sure. All I know is I want you to be a part of it."
Chuck pulled back slightly to look into those azure eyes that always made him feel safe. "I'm here, Sarah. I don't want to go anywhere else."
He gently took her face in his hands and placed his lips on hers. She held him tightly as she responded with a passionate kiss of her own; the two of them professing their love for each other as they moved in the courtyard of their apartment building while the music played in the background.
February 23, 2011
Alex Forrest watched the technician finish attaching the wires to the heart monitor and test the bed she bought for her father. Michael Forrest II had spent the last six weeks in the hospital recovering from his stroke. He would be transferred from the hospital tomorrow to this bed, and a doctor would be there to insure everything was set up properly. His condition hadn't improved in that time, but it hadn't gotten worse, either. But Alex could tell the strain of being in the hospital was starting to wear on him. After a talk with her brother, Michael Forrest III and his wife Danielle, they decided to bring him back to his house and set up a bedroom so he could rest at home rather than worrying about lousy hospital food and a $2,000-per-day room. They found a nurse who would make visits twice a day and a caretaker who would assist him in any way he needed. At least the idea of a nursing home was not brought up by anyone. There was no way in hell she'd let someone who spent 34 years as one of Philadelphia's Finest live out whatever time he had left in some rundown home where nobody cared about you.
If there was a bright side to all of this, at least her brother and she were talking to each other again. Her father's stroke had driven a wedge between them even deeper than anything had before. However, Mikey saw that Alex lived up to her promise to take time off from work to help with their father. She spent most of the last six weeks in her father's hospital room talking to him, reading from the sports pages, and she even snuck in a portable satellite dish a technician at Langley helped her rig so her father could watch Flyers hockey games on a computer monitor, since the hospital didn't spring for the sports package on their TV system. Although her father was in bad shape, he still managed to have a smile for his daughter.
She signed the paperwork for the bed and monitors and showed the technician out of Mikey's house. She took a long look down the driveway as the technician's van pulled away. Mikey was at work, and Danielle was on her way to pick up the girls from school. She looked down at her mobile phone. It still showed a dozen voicemail messages from Jimmy Slade. She hadn't responded to a single one of them. He placed the first of them two weeks after they parted ways in San Diego. Presumably, he waited the two weeks to give her a chance to call him first. But she never did. She wanted to so many times. More than once, she dialed his phone number, but she could never bring herself to hit the Send button. She felt guilty because all she could think about right now was her father. She spent the last ten years shutting off her feelings. Usually, this served her well. She became one of the best agents by doing so. But the day of reckoning arrived last September when she had to be bailed out in Las Vegas by Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Jimmy. She thought she could deal with her feelings after working with Jimmy in New York to stop that terrorist attack. But everything started crashing down on her at Christmas, and she has had a difficult time reconciling her emotions ever since. She didn't think it would be fair to put all of that on him, regardless of how forgiving he was that night in the hotel. Dealing with her father was difficult enough. Trying to tell Jimmy how she felt about him was something she couldn't handle right now.
She hoped he would understand.
Los Angeles, CA
February 26, 2011
Chuck liked the blouse-and-slacks combination Sarah wore for the evening. It wasn't the same outfit that she wore the last time they were at this restaurant, but he didn't mind a bit. Certainly he didn't mind that her hair wasn't up tonight, held in place by those two long needles. He found out two years later why she had done that, and he hoped she wouldn't repeat that part of this date. That was a night he'll never forget.
He did manage to find a similar shirt to the one he wore on that date, but his hair was a bit shorter and less disheveled these days. For what he was going to do tonight, a suit would have been more apropos. However, that would have tipped Sarah off.
"I think the food has gotten better at this place," Sarah said as they were finishing their meals. "You never took me back here since that night."
Chuck fidgeted in his chair. "I know. It's just that every time I thought of taking you here, my mind kept going to how that night went. Let's face it: most first dates don't involve high-speed car chases and bricks of C-4."
Sarah smiled and nodded. "That's true, even in my case. I have to admit those first weeks with you were trying. I was way out of my comfort zone when it came to being an agent. But then, who could have expected everything that has happened to us?"
"I know. It's like watching some goofy TV show that someone thought up."
Sarah laughed. "Then I guess this is one of those quiet, tender moments before the next action scene starts."
Chuck took her hands. "Believe me, I enjoy these the most." He started leaning towards her.
"So do I," she replied as she leaned towards him and their lips met in a gentle kiss.
They were interrupted by the server bringing the check before their kiss went beyond acceptable decorum in a restaurant. Chuck quickly put some money in the book.
"Are you in a hurry?" Sarah asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Actually, yes. We have lots to do tonight." He got up from the table and offered his hand to her. She smiled and placed her hand in his. They walked to the exit, but Chuck was trying to calm himself inside. He didn't want to seem too eager, but certainly it was understandable that he was nervous.
After a pleasant walk on a starry night, they arrived at their second destination. Chuck was probably as eager to come here as he was for what he planned for the end of the evening. The last time they came to this club, he felt so out of control and didn't even realize what Sarah was actually doing on the dance floor. This time, however, it would just be the two of them. No risk of capture by any government agency.
The band was already at full volume as Chuck and Sarah made their way onto the dance floor. The crowd was already in a heated frenzy and enjoying themselves. Chuck stood there for a minute while Sarah started to sway and grind to the music. After hearing the music for a minute, what Chuck hoped would happen did happen…he flashed on an appropriate dance style for the club. Truthfully, he didn't expect the CIA to be so with it on the latest club music, but he wasn't going to complain.
Suddenly he grabbed Sarah and held her close as he placed his hands on her hips. He started grinding and dancing in perfect rhythm to the music. Sarah was taken by surprise at first, but a smile drew across her face as she increased the intensity in which she danced. She walked a sensuous circle around Chuck, her hands gliding along his body. She then pressed her body against his, her ass wiggling seductively against him, while she threw her neck back and forth, her hair whipping around in the process. Not to be outdone, Chuck grabbed her hands and held them away from both of them. He then planted hot, sensuous kisses along the exposed part of her neck. Sarah moaned in pleasure and ran her hands along his face, trying to press as much of her body against him as she could. They danced in this intense and heated manner for six consecutive songs. It was exactly what Chuck planned. The first time they danced in this club, he was overwhelmed by how amazing the date was going. This time, he was a full participant. And the night was infinitely better as a result.
They left the dance floor, completely out of breath and sweating profusely from their dance. Unfortunately, getting a drink such with a large crowd would be problematic, to say the least.
"Do you want to get some air?" Chuck asked her.
"Oh, I definitely need it," Sarah shouted over the din.
Chuck took her hand and led her outside. He opened the passenger door to his Prius and gestured for her to get inside. He got in the driver's side. As he put the key in the ignition, his hand was visibly shaking.
"Are you OK, sweetie?" Sarah asked. "I didn't keep you out on the dance floor too long, did I?"
"Oh, not at all. Maybe it's just a chill from the wind and all of that sweating." Chuck was worried sick now. He thought Sarah could see right through him. It was part of her job to be able to read what people were thinking, and he was probably giving away too many clues. But there was no backing out now.
He pulled the car into a parking spot. There were no other cars there. Truthfully, he wasn't even sure if this beach was open at this hour, but he didn't care. He had this planned for some time, and a little violation of beach hours wasn't going to stop him. He pulled a large blanket out of the trunk and went over to Sarah, who had just emerged from the car.
"You are determined to re-create our first date tonight," Sarah said with a gentle smile.
"You're right. But in my defense, I figured you didn't want me to take you on a car chase or defuse a bomb. Unless you really want to, but I think I'll have to get Casey to help me with that."
Sarah laughed. "I'll survive without the car chase and the bomb."
Chuck took her hand, and they walked down to the water. Chuck spread out the blanket a few feet short of the water line. Both of them sat down on the blanket and held each other.
"How did you like the repeat of our first date?" Chuck asked.
Sarah slid her hand along the back of Chuck's head and pulled him in for a kiss. "I loved it. It was wonderful."
He looked into her eyes. "I can still remember every word we said while sitting out here. Do you remember the last thing you said?"
Sarah nodded. "I asked you to trust me."
Chuck nodded in agreement. "I wanted to ask something of you. I wanted to ask if there was something you could do for me."
He took her hands in his. "Trust me. Trust me when I say that the last four years have been the most wonderful of my life. Trust me when I say that you are the most amazing and beautiful woman I have ever known. Trust me when I tell you that I've been in love with you since the day we met and trust me when I promise that I will make you the happiest woman in the world if you'll give me that chance."
He reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small box. He moved on the blanket so he was on one knee. He opened the box towards Sarah. He was shaking uncontrollably as the moment he had waited all of his life for was upon him.
"Sarah Walker, will you marry me?"
Sarah knew this moment was coming. She found the receipt for the crystal champagne flutes that were likely in the small cooler that accompanied them to the shore, along with a bottle of bubbly. She knew from the moment they pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant what his plan was for the evening. She knew they were so in love, this moment was only a matter of time.
But in the end, all of that preparation and knowledge didn't mean a thing. She was overwhelmed with emotion. Her eyes welled up in joy.
"Yes, Chuck," she breathlessly replied.
His smile that lit up so many of her lonely nights was brighter than it ever had been before. Her left hand shook as she offered it to him. He slid the beautiful engagement ring on it. She looked into his eyes as the tears streamed down her cheeks. She took his hands and stood up. He moved his other foot back to plant it and push himself up.
His foot hit the edge of the blanket and slipped off. He fell backwards and pulled her down on top of him as a result.
He grabbed her out of instinct to make sure she wasn't hurt. "Oh, God! I'm so sorry, Sarah! Are you OK? God, I feel like an idiot!"
She started laughing. She laughed like she never had in her life. Her entire body was shaking in his arms from laughing so hard.
She grabbed his face in her hands. "Of course I'm all right! I've never been better."
In spite of feeling completely embarrassed, Chuck smiled. "I was trying to make that perfect."
She gently brushed the hair out of his eyes. "You did even better. You made it you. I couldn't have asked for anything more."
She gripped his face and kissed him with a fire she never felt before. Neither of them knew how long they were on that blanket kissing each other. Neither of them knew if anybody saw them. And neither of them cared.
March 2, 2011
"Honestly, I don't know what your problem is. It's a win for everybody."
"The problem is that I don't appreciate this being done behind my back. Or have you forgotten who is in charge?"
"I meant no disrespect, General. But we have to face facts. Would he have done this for anyone else but me? He didn't want to have anything to do with the government anymore. But he felt obligated to me. He wanted to fix the mistakes he made in the past. And this is something I want to do."
The man paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. "You told me the story. The Intersect was meant for Bryce Larkin, not Chuck."
"We didn't ask him to upload the new Intersect. That was his choice. And he has done excellent work with it."
"I don't question that for one second, General. Chuck and Sarah have done more than anybody could ask for. Hell, the evidence is right in front of you. But he's at the point now where he has so much to lose by continuing to be the Intersect. Both of them do. You lose one of them, you lose both of them. Chuck is an excellent spy, but that doesn't mean he has to be one. He deserves to have the life he wants. Both of them do."
"What about you?"
The man shrugged. "I could spend a lifetime trying to figure out what I truly want and not come up with an answer. But I do know I want to stay an agent. And I know that there's only one thing I can fix about my past. And this is it."
The General regarded the man for a moment. "How do you even know what Chuck will say?"
"Honestly, I don't. Maybe he wants to continue being the Intersect. If he does, all of us should respect that. But he's served this country honorably when he shouldn't have had to in the first place. Don't we at least owe him a chance to walk away from it and live the life we both know he really wants now?"
The man stared out into space for a moment. "It's not as if you're losing him forever. You saw the proposal I made. He'd be safe here in D.C. And you need a person on your team like what I described. And he'd have the same 24 hour-a-day protection he's always had. Like I said, if everything goes right, this is a win for everybody. You, me, and especially Chuck and Sarah. They deserve it."
The General looked at the man for a long moment. "Very well. Talk to Chuck and Sarah and see if this is what they want. But if he wants to continue being the Intersect, then that's how it will be. And you'll just have to get by on your own talents."
The man raised an eyebrow. "Oh, God. Am I screwed."
The General watched the man leave her office.
"He better be kidding," she muttered to herself.
Dulles International Airport
March 3, 2011
The man glanced through a piece of paper from his briefcase as he waited in line to board the plane. He had a considerable amount of disdain for his new employers, but certainly the had the resources, if not the ability, to do what they're paying him for. However, their organization was not as fast-thinking as they believed themselves to be. So far, they have been unsuccessful in finding out what made the CIA installation in Burbank so valuable. Most of the agents they sent to find out ended up either captured or dead. Even turning one of their agents by showing him the CIA ordered a hit on his wife proved fruitless.
He was good at his job because he was methodical and relentless. It took him a month to research through all of the files The Ring had on the facility in Burbank. From that research, he came up with a list of six candidates. Five candidates, he reminded himself. The sixth name on the list was someone who was dead. However, he was certain The Ring would have loved to exact revenge on him for what he did to them a year and a half ago. A 400-pound fat-assed civilian, no less. But the remaining names on the list were people who had more than a passing contact with the CIA site in Burbank. Attacking the site had been unsuccessful over and over again. He decided he would try a different tact: find the people that knew about it and apply pressure. Applying pressure is why The Ring paid him $10 million to complete this assignment. And he was one who did not fail at his job.
He moved to the front of the line. "When will we land?"
"We'll arrive at Heathrow at 7 AM local time, Mr. Diaz," was the pleasant reply from the gate attendant.
"Thank you." The first name on his list was an MI-6 agent. The Ring always made the mistake of underestimating individuals and paying more respect to the organization in general. It was a mistake Mr. Diaz never made. That would certainly be the case with Cole Barker.