3. The Fallout
"What the hell were you thinking?"
Chuck had come home to find both Sarah and Ellie there, and one look at him had immediately set his girlfriend into interrogation mode. And his answers hadn't exactly pleased her.
"Getting into barfights? You know you could have killed somebody! And for what? So Morgan could get a date?"
"I couldn't kill anyone," Chuck cut off Morgan's protest. "I made sure I was too drunk for the Intersect to work properly."
"And that's supposed to make me feel better? Intersect or no, getting into fights while drunk is a dumb idea."
"Seriously Chuck, how stupid can you be?" Ellie chimed in, while she was wiping off a cut on Chuck's face. The damp cloth felt good to him, though he wished she would be a bit gentler with it.
Ellie turned to Sarah. "Sarah, could you hand me that antiseptic?" She smiled when the other woman handed it to her. "Thank you."
Chuck watched this in puzzlement. "You two are awfully chummy."
"We found some common ground," Ellie replied, as she dabbed the antiseptic on Chuck's cuts.
"Yeah, beating up on me," Chuck thought to himself. He was sure that when the harsh light of morning came, he'd probably realize things at the bar could have been handled better. But right now, he just wished the two women in his life would quit bugging him.
"Quit trying to change the subject," Sarah interrupted Chuck's thoughts. "I just want you to understand that you can't take chances like that. You still have the Intersect, we still don't know everything it can do, and there are still going to be people that want to take it from you. Now I'm sure I could get Casey over here to tell you this more eloquently, but you really can't be foolish…"
"Morgan slept with Carina!" Chuck blurted out.
"…when it comes to your safety. I know you know how much I…" The words came to a crashing halt. "Carina slept with Morgan?"
"Sorry buddy," Chuck turned to Morgan, who was looking around the room aimlessly. He didn't seem too concerned by the revelation, and Chuck felt like he had to do something to get Sarah to stop berating him.
"Who's Carina?" Ellie asked.
"She's a…friend of mine. Why the hell would she sleep with Morgan?"
"Sarah, you have some strange people in your past," Ellie commented. "Well, I can promise you I will never do something as stupid as sleep with Morgan. Ever."
"Hey!" Morgan moved toward the others to protest, but tripped on something lying partially underneath the couch. He leaned over and grabbed it. "Is this…tequila?"
"You two have been drinking tequila, and you're lecturing me?" The irony of the situation penetrated Chuck's addled brain.
"Doesn't look like they drank much of it." Morgan removed the cap and took a quick whiff. "Ugh! How much did you pay for this stuff?"
"Twenty." Sarah answered at the same time Ellie said "Five."
"Twenty…five dollars," Sarah said a moment later.
"Yeah, I think you got conned on that one. I wouldn't drink this."
Chuck gave Sarah a penetrating gaze. "What's been going on here tonight?"
"Nothing!" Sarah and Ellie said at the same time.
Chuck was too tired to press the point.
"Look, maybe we can discuss this tomorrow," Sarah said, more gently than before. "I can see that you're tired, and need to go to bed."
"Well, I guess it's time for me to go," Ellie said. She stood up and gave Sarah a warm embrace. "Happy three-month anniversary," Chuck heard Ellie say to Sarah as she released her.
Chuck turned to Morgan. "You sure this is still what you want?" he asked quietly.
"Absolutely! Look how worried she is about you. Total love, man."
Ellie came over and gave him a pat on the head. "You should really hurry up and marry that girl," she whispered to him
As Chuck considered this, Ellie headed to the front door, soon followed by Morgan. "You know, you shouldn't be so definite Ellie," Morgan said. "You never know what might happen, current marital status or not. We could have a nuclear holocaust, leaving us as the only two people left. Or we could be kidnapped by aliens, who force us to…"
"Just let it go, Morgan." Ellie grudgingly held the door open for him as she walked outside.
"What did Ellie mean by three-month anniversary?" Chuck asked Sarah after Ellie and Morgan had left. "She knows we've been dating for more than that now."
"Different anniversary," Sarah replied.
"So you guys are really like friends again?" Chuck asked. "I'm really glad."
"Yeah, I guess we are. And I'm happy about it too." Sarah smiled briefly, then her face turned serious again. "It's nice to have one person in my life I can count on."
"Sarah, I really am sorry. It's just that things escalated quickly and I didn't see anything else to do."
Sarah still looked cross for a moment, then her face softened. "I know, Chuck. You were doing what you can to help your friend in his time of need." She frowned again. "Although, apparently he doesn't need as much help as you thought. I'm going to have to have a talk with Carina next time I see her."
"Yeah, I'm still trying to piece together that one too." Chuck looked up at the ceiling, before turning back to Sarah. "But he really was hurting. He said he wants what we have, and the whole anniversary thing just reminded him of how long he hadn't had that. The calendar can be pretty mean sometimes."
Sarah nodded. "Yeah, anniversaries can make people do strange things." Chuck saw her eyes turn to the bottle of tequila. She held out her hand. "C'mon Chuck, let's go to bed. We can talk tomorrow."
"Ok. I want to hear all about your night with my sister."
Chuck had to admit it might have been the remnants of the alcohol, but he could have sworn that Sarah's face turned white.
Well there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the story. Oh, and Happy Anniversary! In lieu of store-bought gifts, how about giving the greatest gift of all, and review (positive, negative, all are welcomed). I promise I won't ask for a receipt…