A/N 1 Here is the final chapter of Heritage. Sending this out into the world is a relief, but also a bit sad. I want to thank every single one of you for reading and reviewing any part of this story. Being part of this community is one of the greatest experiences of my life.
Before you read the following this chapter deals with faith. Just wanted you to know before started.
I want to thank PJMurphy for not only betaing this, but also for being a friend. He helped me so much, and the fight scene in the beginning would not have been possible without his knowledge. In fact, he added a couple of sentences here that added so much depth.
To the guys at ChuckThis… Thank you! You are responsible for getting me addicted to ff. Dave Bill thanks also for leaving your comfort zone and getting me started on this journey.
Thank you so much Supesfan. From day one we have worked well together, and its n honor to see inside that idea filled brain of his.
Even though she will probably never see this, thank you Frea. I am so glad that I was able to go through the castle inanity school of writing. Plus she does tend to treat her minions well.
Without any further ado…
Evidently Patel wasn't as dumb as they thought. Having two henchmen holding your arms was bad enough, but with Carina and Zondra out of commission, two other henchman in front of General Beckman, and Ellie having no defense training at all, things looked bleak.
Easy mission, my butt, Sarah thought with an acidic taste rising in her mouth.
It kind of reminded her of a certain room years ago where Chuck got the 2.0 upgrade.
Her trip down memory lane was interrupted by Patel. "What are you waiting for? Grab the old woman and we can finish this."
Sarah looked back to Beckman as one meathead pointed a pistol at her and the other right behind him. Her mouth dropped open when Beckman blinked at her. The General looked frail and old. In fact, she had barely moved since they entered the office. Suddenly, the unflappable Sarah Bartowski was left to stare in shock.
General Beckman smiled and winked at her.
The two men nearest the General had even less time to react as her hand shot up to grab the barrel of the gun and her other hand twisted the wrist of the man holding it, who chose to let go of the gun rather than have his hand break. Beckman jumped and did a 360, her outstretched elbow nailing a key pressure point in the man's neck. He fell, which prompted the second man to attack. However, he chose the wrong direction, and Beckman used the falling henchman as cover. Leaping around him, she swung out hard, nailing the man in the back of the head with the barrel of the gun. The two men holding Sarah looked in shock, and she took advantage, slipping her arms out from under their grip and pushing off of them to hop away. That left the two easy targets for Beckman, who quick-drew a tranq gun from behind her back and put them down with a shot apiece.
Sarah stared in shock. Had Chuck been there, no doubt images of Yoda going ballistic in Star Wars would have come to his mind. "I heard stories, but it's amazing to see it live."
Beckman turned to her with a raised eyebrow. "Do you really think I would endanger Eleanor?"
"I guess not."
Ellie timidly raised her hand. "Um, as the non-spy here, I'd like to know what are we going to do with him." Ellie pointed towards Patel, who looked like he was trying to merge with the chair he was sitting in.
Beckman's answer was simple. "It would best if we just killed him."
Sarah responded even before Ellie could. Of course, since Ellie's eyes looked like saucers at the moment, Sarah jumped in. "There is no way we're going to do that. The violence has to stop now. I don't want us having to deal with a revenge crazed maniac when Charles Jr. is born."
A clinical psychiatrist might have wondered if Ellie was having mood swings. The size of her eyes never changed, yet her horror changed to joy immediately. "Oh my, is that what you decided?" Ellie could have been surrounded by a thousand killers right now and it still wouldn't have registered. "When did you decide? Does Chuck know?"
Sarah shrugged and smiled. "He wasn't a fan at first, but he came around. But Ellie, don't you think you should check on Carina and Zondra?"
Once Ellie looked at the two ladies she immediately rushed to them. "You're right."
Sarah took the brief moment to glance at Beckman. "Not that long ago, he would have been dead already. But now? I'm OK, as I'm sure you will guarantee he won't be able to hurt this family again." After a quick nod, Sarah turned toward her sister-in-law. "Besides I hear the view from Guantanamo is gorgeous right now."
With the decision made, Sarah rushed over to her friends. Beckman tranqued the non-friendlies again. When Ellie heard the noise she looked straight at Beckman and opened her mouth to say something. Sarah stopped her with a whisper and a raised eyebrow. "Do you want them to wake up any time soon?"
With a shake of her head Ellie returned her focus to Carina and Zondra. Sarah turned to go and help the General when she heard Ellie's voice. "Don't think this will get you out of an examination after this."
Sarah rolled her eyes as her hand went to her cell phone as she felt the vibration from it. As her eyes settled on the text from the screen the first real smile that appeared on her face in a while came on her face. She looked at Zondra and Carina as they were slowly getting up.
"Shake it ladies," she said with a grin. "I've got a date with a nerd."
As the sun was setting, the air was already cooling off for the night. With the top down in the jeep it was almost chilly. The conversation in the car was equally chilly. They had knocked out ten minutes of the forty minute drive, and nothing had been said.
"So why haven't you asked me a question" Chuck asked.
The Padre kept facing the road, but his eyes turned toward Chuck. "Why do you think?"
Chuck rolled his eyes. "Why do you always answer my questions with a question?"
"Why do you always ask questions that you know the answer too?"
This time Chuck just exhaled. After a brief silence, he looked back at him. "Are you surprised I didn't freak out when all this stuff was going down at the Patel's?"
"Not at all. I knew you could handle combat stress when there was a gun to Sarah's head."
Chuck just nodded with a bit of sadness. Maybe I still have work to do.
"What did surprise me is how you dealt with the stress, and then didn't internalize it."
Chuck's forehead furrowed and had a confused look in his eyes.
"It surprised me that you didn't think I was an enemy agent."
With Chuck's eyes opening to the sizes of saucers, and the "oh" forming on his lips, it was easy to see that he now understood. "So Padre, does this mean I can see my Sarah fair?"
For the first time on the trip Wilkerson smiled. "Charles Irving Bartowski…aka Charles Carmichael aka Charles Talley…your stay at the monastery will end tomorrow after mass."
A laugh emanated from the driver side of the car. "So that's the smile that Sarah would not stop talking about."
"So, please tell me what's bothering you."
Sarah stared at her sister-in-law for several moments. The ride in the van had definitely been odd. It became very obvious that Sarah and Ellie were going to ride back to the safe house together. Beckman, Zondra and Carina practically ran to the second van. Even though the threat had been neutralized, the General decided that she would use part of the team that had arrived as back up.
The end result was Sarah was sitting with her sister-in-law. They were more than that, however the last few days had put a severe strain on their relationship.
"Do you know why we're alone in here except for the driver?" Ellie asked.
Sarah turned to Ellie for just a moment before returning to look forward. "Please tell me it was because you really wanted to make sure that I stay happy until we go to the monastery." She looked at sister-in-law again, but this time she could see the legitimate worry in Ellie's eyes. "Ellie, this is finally over. We are done. No more field work. I just want to collect my husband and get on with our lives."
"That's a wonderful sentiment, but are you really ready for it?"
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"You may think no one else noticed, but I saw your face. I saw the look in your eyes. And let me tell you something. You are wrong. There is no way that you are a monster."
Sarah turned to Ellie in horror. "How can you say that? You saw what I did at the truck stop. That is just a small portion of what I've done. The people I've had to kill? The lives I destroyed?"
Ellie shook her head slightly and brushed her hair out of the way. Sarah almost smiled internally. From the way her jaw was set, her sister-in-law was going to dispense some advice.
"Driver please pull over to the side of the road." Ellie looked straight ahead and didn't see any reaction from the driver.
"Ellie, I don't want to waste any more time before seeing Chuck. I ordered him to not stop for anything aside from red lights."
Ellie's gaze caught the driver's in the rear view mirror. "Driver, I know this very pregnant woman beside me has ordered you not to stop. However, if you do pull this van over this instant you will regret it. Am…I…Clear?"
With only a moment's hesitation the driver looked between both women and pulled the van out of traffic and over to the side of the road, deciding on the lesser of two evils. Sarah began to speak, but Ellie cut her off and jabbed her thumb to the outside of the van. Ellie threw open the door and darted out. Sarah took a moment to get out because of her condition, and she saw Ellie pacing back and forth along the road as she shut the door.
Ellie whirled around. "Sarah do not speak, do you hear me? Not a single word! I mean, have you listened to yourself these last few minutes? As much as I love everything you've done for our family, you are being a complete idiot! And I know you are not an idiot. Yet here we are…"
Sarah was too stunned to move. "Ellie, please. Let's just get back into the van and go see Chuck."
"My brother had a mental breakdown protecting his family! He is going to need all of our help, and he isn't going to be able to ask you for help unless you can forgive yourself."
"Sarah! You just said and I quote 'You saw what I did at the truck stop. That is just a small portion of what I've done. The people I've had to kill? The lives I destroyed?' Sarah, my unborn nephew needs two stable parents and right now they don't even have one. I know that you are strong. I've seen it since I first met you and you have proven it time and time again. But the time to be strong for yourself is over. Now you need to be strong for your FAMILY! Can you do that?"
Inevitable tears began to stream out of Sarah's red, puffy eyes. She slumped against the side of the van and collapsed to her knees. She tried to open her mouth to speak but the only word that would come out was "How?"
Ellie knelt next to Sarah and put her arms around her. She brushed Sarah's hair from her face and gently dabbed her tears with a tissue. "Sarah, all of those people you killed. They were the bad guys, right?"
Sarah sniffed. "I can't know for sure. But yes, the majority of them were very bad guys."
"How many people did you save in the process of killing them? It doesn't matter how you killed them. The big question is, how many did you save?"
"I don't really know. A lot. Chuck and I have saved millions, maybe," Sarah whispered.
"A monster kills people for no reason at all. But for every life you took, countless people were able to continue living. You are not a monster, Sarah. You never were, and you never can be. I've lost patients before. But I had to learn from those tragedies to make myself a better doctor. If I thought myself a monster for not saving one patient, I could have ended up losing so many more. Do you understand?"
Ellie waited for Sarah to nod in agreement before she continued. "Sarah, you've saved more people than anyone could ever hope. And the most important life you saved was my brother's. You saved him from himself and from the life of despair that he was leading himself to until he met you.
"You are on your way to meet the man of your dreams, but you have to remember that he is still fragile. And while he is ready to meet you again, he needs to know that he can talk to you and not feel guilty about the way he is making you feel. Can you do that? Are you ready to do that? Are you ready to forgive yourself?"
Sarah rose and stood tall, her eyes were as clear as spring water. "Yes. I'm ready."
Ellie turned and opened up the door to the van and was about to get in when a hand grabbed her arm. Sarah took her into her embrace
"Thank you for being my sister," Sarah said as she gripped Ellie.
Chuck sat down in the chair of Padre's office for what he hoped was the last time. He knew Sarah was coming, but in some ways he would miss this place. The memories here were intense from their newness, and not at all bad, but it was time to see his family.
The Padre entered in after him and approached to give him a hug. "Morning, my brother."
After an intense hug, he took a step back. "One thing is for certain, when Chuck gives you a hug, you know you've been hugged."
Chuck had a slight blush on his face. "So today is the day."
"Yes it is. After yesterday I think you know that you can handle the world."
Chuck looked confused. "I'm cured?"
A chuckle filled the room. "Not yet. But I do think with some more counseling you can do well."
"Oh." Chuck looked down for a moment. "So I'll see you soon?"
"Sorry, but I have other obligations. Nope, I'll recommend someone for you."
"How? There can't be too many people who know my secrets."
The Padre looked at him for a moment. "I know, my brother. I'll say this; you and Sarah mean so much to me. But I have a calling, just like you do. I don't have to be trained to help people who are struggling with this. Chuck, you have PTSD. Heck I knew that before you said a word, you just needed to figure it out for yourself."
The smile left Chuck for just a moment. "How am I supposed to do this? Sarah is amazing, but I'll end up making her feel guilty if I talk to her about my issues. She thinks that compared to me she is a monster. I…I just don't have someone to help me through it. "
Chuck looked up when he heard a deep short chuckle. "You are seriously going to say that to a child of God? Chuck, there has always been someone with you."
"Come on, Padre. After all that's happened, you can't believe that God is still interested in me."
The Padre gave Chuck a bizarre look. "Seriously? You are one of maybe five on the planet who could handle the Intersect, you're one of the most intelligent people I've ever met, and yet He is not interested in you? Don't you think it's a blessing for Morgan that you're in his life? What would Sarah be without you? He is interested in you, in fact He has been using you to help so many. Not because of what you can do, but because of who you are. It wouldn't matter if you were still living at your sister's house eating cheeseballs. God loves you, Chuck. He just wants you to get to know Him."
The silence that overtook the room seemed to suspend time. No interrogation technique being used. In fact it looked like both men were at peace, just waiting for Chuck to think things through.
"So now I should start going to church all the time? Although I just don't think I'm cut out to be even close to those monks out there. Besides, I think I have done pretty well by myself without going to church every weekend. I'm just struggling right now."
The padre rubbed his head closed an eye, and just stared at him with the other. "How can such a brilliant mind come up with such idiotic…" He took a deep breath before continuing. "Don't you think it's time you stop trying to do this alone? I'm not saying that you need to go to church this Sunday and start leading Sunday school! It doesn't matter how many times you go to church. Attending a Sunday service is about fellowship with other Christians, not about how much you believe. All you need is a true relationship with Him. When that happens, you will be amazed how it will change you."
The Padre took a deep breath and grabbed is water bottle to take a sip. "Chuck, I'm amazed by you. Ever since you got in the car and flashed it's been tough. Staging the accident was brilliant. Then having to wait to let your wife know you were OK."
Chuck had his head down, it seemed like the smile he had on his face was from so long ago.
"Shoot Chuck, most people would have folded long ago. And yet, not only did you survive, you excelled. You took care of a threat against your family."
When Chuck's brown eyes met the Padre's, the pain was evident. "Look what I did to those guys. I did a lot more than that."
The former sniper turned priest looked at Chuck. "Chuck, long ago I had a family, and they died in a violent manner. How I acted changed me forever. I made a vow to myself to turn the other cheek every time."
He then leaned in close and his intense gaze was challenging Chuck to stare back. "We both know how horrible you feel about that. You will need a lot help to forgive yourself, but the good news is Jesus already did. While that doesn't mean much now, it will. I am sure of it."
The phone in front of the Padre buzzed. He looked at the caller ID and a smile formed on his face. "Looks like your ride is here."
Chuck opened the door to the courtyard, and his hand went to his eyes to block the glare from the sun. After just a brief moment he acclimated to it and looked around. This was the best part of the campus. The grass seemed greener next to the old tile marking pathways through it. A few trees were well placed to give the area shade, no matter what time of the day. All of that was nice, but near the front was the best thing about the courtyard. The fountain always reminded him of the one back in Burbank.
With a smile Chuck continued toward the entrance. After only a few moments she turned around the corner and their eyes met. Husband and wife moved toward each other.
He noticed she was wearing this pretty light blue sundress that was showing a baby bump from their child.
He could see her eyes moving up and down his frame. He saw the look in her eyes, and any doubts of whether or not he repulsed her vanished immediately.
He could hear the soft sound her shoes made on the stone.
He licked his lips, they seemed so dry suddenly. It looked like her lips were, too.
The sun was somewhat blocked by a tree filtering the sunlight that shone onto her face and shoulders. My God, she is so…GORGEOUS.
Finally, they were just inches apart staring at each other. Just the faint smell of her perfume almost made his knees give out. Their lips crashed together in an unstoppable force. Hair being tossed, bodies held together to avoid the slimmest of daylight between them. Slowly their mouths separated and Sarah's shoulder found its way to his shoulder.
The intensity of their kiss led the way to a firm hug. They both whispered "I missed you" at the same time. After what could have been a minute or an hour, they slowly separated. Chuck began to open his mouth as Sarah's hand rose to his mouth to stop him.
After a moment, she removed them to place a slow gentle kiss on his lips. As they separated again, Sarah whispered, "There is nothing to apologize for, my love. I'm just glad you're where you belong."
AN2 I may post an epilogue. I want to, but there are a lot of things going on in my life.