A/N: Since we are on hiatus, I thought I'd post a little story this Monday. Hope you enjoy! This is only my second fic, so I'd appreciate any comments, thanks!
Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck.
Sarah focused on the bundle in her arms, the pink flush of skin, tiny fingernails on tiny fingers, blue eyes staring brightly up at her own. Ever so gently she pressed her lips to the top of the child's head, taking a moment to breathe in the warm, sweet baby smell of her hair. She let out a little sigh at the nearly painful force of love she felt for this tiny being that was hers and Chuck's. The urge to protect consumed her, as well as the urge to...nurture? Sarah puzzled over the feeling, stumbling over the emotion that existed outside her usual repertoire. She'd faced down terrorists, been held at gunpoint, jumped off buildings, all while laughing in the face of fear, but holding her daughter in her arms left her feeling truly terrified and woefully unprepared. Sarah Walker didn't know how to nurture! Who the hell thought it was good idea to give her a child? Her breath started coming faster, her heart beating erratic patterns in her chest.
When she turned her eyes to Chuck they were welling with tears, full of awe and fear. "Chuck..." she whispered, her voice trembling. Chuck smiled softly at her, his hand cupping her cheek as he leaned in to whisper in her ear.
"Don't freak out."
Sarah choked out a little laugh, a tear slipping down her cheek. How did he know her so well that he always knew what she needed, even when she didn't know herself? She looked back down at the little face, the tiny pink lips pinching together to suck. Sarah's face sobered, her emotions warring. The presence of the child drew her in, muddling her thoughts until she felt simultaneously dizzy with the force of love and scared out of her mind, wanting to run away. She couldn't decide if she wanted to clutch the child and never let her go or flee until she was far enough away to never cause her any harm. "What if I break her Chuck?" she pleaded, her eyes glassy with tears.
"Sarah...," he admonished gently. "Your job is to protect people and you are the best in the world. I would know." He flashed her a full-out Bartowski grin. "You might be scared that you don't know how to be a mother, but you know how to keep her safe from harm. Past that, you just have to love her." He paused to gaze at Sarah and their daughter, running a hand through his hair. "I mean, sure, we're going to make mistakes—a lot probably! That's a given." He laughed. "But as long as this little girl knows how much we love her, that's going to be more than enough." He smiled at Sarah and the bundle in her arms as he caressed her cheek, his words a balm to her aching heart.
Sarah shakily let out the breath she didn't know she'd been holding, and then smiled at Chuck and brought her face towards his, their lips meeting in a soft, reassuring kiss. Pulling away from her, Chuck began, "And if we are truly terrible, then we'll just pawn her off on Ellie for her formative years." His eyes sparkled in jest. "She'll probably be over there all the time anyway to get away from our cooking!"
Sarah snorted and reached out a hand to whack Chuck on the shoulder, Chuck dancing just out of her reach, laughing. She narrowed her eyes playfully, a smirk on her face. "Get your butt over here so I can hit you without disturbing the baby!"
"No no!" Chuck laughed, waving his finger in her face. "Don't set a violent example for her! She's going to be a peaceful child!"
"The chances of that are slim," Sarah grinned, her eyes baiting Chuck.
"And why ever not?"
"Other than having spies for parents you mean?"
"I hold firm that she can overcome that," Chuck said in mock seriousness.
Sarah titled her head to the side defiantly. "She's cutting off the circulation in my finger with her grip," she deadpanned, raising an eyebrow at Chuck, but her expression soon broke into a smile. "I think in this moment I actually believe that she's my kid." Her smile grew wider as she looked down proudly at the squirmy figure.
"Yeah, well, I guess we won't know for sure she's mine until she starts spouting off nerd references," Chuck said with fake exasperation. Sarah groaned.
"Hey hey hey! If you're going to turn her into a badass—" Sarah opened her mouth to protest, but shut it again at the warning look Chuck gave her, and damn him, he was probably right. "—then I get control of the TV, movie, and video game education."
"Speaking of, let me say right now that Morgan will not be babysitting!" Sarah said, jumping at the chance to distract Chuck from worrying over the ninja skills she would inevitably pass on to their daughter.
"Ouch, that's harsh! He's much more responsible now..." Sarah raised an eyebrow at him, her arm tightening around the child, but Chuck rambled on without noticing, ticking attributes off on his fingers. "...starting to go on spy missions, managing the buy more, dating Alex…"
"Fine," Sarah cut him off, rolling her eyes. "He can babysit—but only if Alex is there too."
"That seems fair." Chuck smiled. "But no Carina. Ever."
As she tried to picture Carina even holding a baby, Sarah couldn't contain her laughter from escaping, taking with it the worst of the tension and fear that had consumed her moments ago. "She'd punch me for asking anyway," she managed to say between laughs, Chuck joining in with her.
"And Casey...," Chuck trailed off, weighing the options.
"He'll be fine," Sarah said resolutely.
"Oh really?" Chuck said, surprise showing on his face.
"Well you wore him down and you're not nearly as adorable as she is," she joked. "Really Chuck, this is our kid we are talking about—Casey has our back, and there's no way he's not going to watch out for our kid too. Plus Alex has brought out his father instincts. This one's going to have him wrapped around her little finger in no time." Sarah smiled at their daughter, causing Chuck to smile as well.
"Nonetheless, Ellie and Awesome are probably the safest choice," Chuck reasoned.
"We still may pawn her off on them entirely, don't forget!" Sarah's eyes sparkled as she joked, Chuck laughing along with her.
Sarah looked around at the smiling faces of family and friends as she slowly handed their child over to Chuck, smiling herself at the sight of the little girl in her father's arms. She looked so tiny and Chuck held her so reverently, like she was the most important thing in the entire world. And, of course, she was. Sarah sighed, letting her eyes close for a moment as exhaustion overtook her. With her eyes shut, she listened to Ellie coo and Devon enthusiastically assert that the baby was awesome. Morgan rambled to Chuck, Alex laughing at the pair. Sarah absently toyed with the sheets, her new maternal emotions weighing on her. It had been just a few minutes since she'd held her daughter but her hands itched for the child the way they longed to hold her gun, felt empty the way they missed the comforting weight of her throwing knives.
Chuck's hand snaked its way into hers and his thumb drew lazy circles on her skin, calming her. She opened her eyes to see Casey was now gently cradling the child. Looking over at Chuck, she wiggled her pinky finger, cocking an eyebrow. "What did I tell you," she whispered to him. Big angry Casey, his hands nearly the size of the child's whole tiny body, tenderly held her daughter. She almost wanted to laugh at the irony, but she knew better. His expression was consumed with the child, and Sarah suddenly realized that he was probably thinking of Alex, and how he never got the chance to hold her as an infant. She knew full well the cost of feeling, let alone expressing, that kind of vulnerability and attachment, and she kept her mouth shut. Chuck, on the other hand, was never one to tread lightly.
"Casey, did you just smile?" Chuck teased. Casey grunted and glared at Chuck, the moment broken. Sarah reached out her arms as Casey passed the child back to her, snuggling the tiny body into her own and adjusting the pink blanket around her face, the urge to nurture winning the battle over terror for the moment. Chuck watched them interact, his eyes filled with love and adoration.
As their friends and family filed out of the room, Sarah scooted as far as she could towards the edge of the bed, allowing Chuck just enough room to slide in next to her, lying on his side. He gently eased his arm under Sarah's head and wrapped his other arm around her and their child as Sarah snuggled into his embrace. She looked into his eyes and then kissed him softly, resting her forehead against his. Taking a deep breath, she relished in the comfort of his scent, gazing back down into the eyes of their daughter. The child yawned, her face scrunching and mouth parting while her tiny hand gripped Sarah's finger, and it was so achingly adorable it made Sarah want to cry and oh god this was all real and she just didn't want to screw it up. "This is the best thing we've ever done, isn't it?" she whispered to Chuck in awe, but she couldn't help the tinge of fear that slipped into her tone.
She felt his nose in her hair, his breath in her ear. "I know." And Sarah knew he understood not just what she'd said, but all the conflict she felt beneath the surface as well. That this was the best thing they'd ever done. That she was simultaneously exceedingly happy about the future and insidiously terrified. That this was so good she wasn't sure she deserved it. That she was incredibly grateful they were in this together, her and Chuck. He pressed his lips to her forehead, the pads of his fingers ghosting over the soft skin of the child's cheek.
His arms were strong around her, his warmth filling the empty places in her heart. She still felt the fear, the worry that she wouldn't be good enough, that her sordid past would prevent her from being the mother this child deserved, but those inner voices quieted to a whisper as she lay enveloped in Chuck's arms. And again, Chuck knew her better than she would ever be able to comprehend, his reassuring words pushing out the fearful thoughts that remained. "We can do this, Sarah. Together."
Sarah took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Okay," she whispered.
"Okay? Just like that?"
She closed her eyes and snuggled into him. "I trust you, Chuck." The corners of his mouth pulled upwards, and he kissed her nose.
"Okay then." Chuck gently ran his finger down the bridge of their daughter's nose, her eyelids drifting closed as his caress soothed her to sleep. The clock ticked softly in the silence, a comforting heaviness slowly beginning to settle over Chuck and Sarah.
"I hope she has your curls," Sarah drawled quietly into Chuck's chest, her voice slow and drowsy. Chuck just tightened his arm around his girls as they all drifted to sleep.
Several hours passed before a young nurse quietly opened the door to check on her patients, mother and child. She found the family cuddled together, sleeping peacefully. Her heart melted a bit at the sight, at the obvious love and caring present between this couple and their new child. She was hesitant to disturb the scene and decided checking their vitals could be postponed for just a little while longer. Turning to leave, she spotted the camera resting on the windowsill that she'd used to take a smiling family photo for them earlier in the day. As quietly as she could, she snapped a photo of the sleeping family, capturing the tender moment as a gift for them to discover. She gently replaced the camera and slipped silently out of the door, her heart full of hope for her own future.
Sarah's eyes lingered on the framed picture hanging over the crib, capturing the moment their family had fallen asleep in each other's embrace the day her daughter was born. Whenever she started to feel the persistent pull of fear and worry creep back in, she would look at the photo, remembering Chuck's words that day—that the only important thing was to love their child. And love came so naturally whenever she looked at her daughter that she truly believed that she and Chuck could do this, together.
She picked her daughter up out of the crib, ruffling her blonde curls and kissing her on her chubby cheek before carrying her out into the living room to join Chuck. She passed the master bedroom on her way, where her suitcase lay open on the bed; the packing for their first family trip to the beach already under way. Chuck's shorts were tossed next to her swimsuits, lying amid little sundresses and tiny shoes. Tucked in the pocket of the suitcase was a copy of the photo that hung over the crib, nestled next to the worn photo of her and Chuck taken years before. Her symbols of home. The best things.