A/N: For all my loyal readers and reviewers who have stuck with me through 2010 (and for anyone else who reads this as well!), here is some Team Bartowksi family-type Christmas fluff to make you smile!
Disclaimer: All recognisable characters from 'Chuck' belong to Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak, and other important people who are not me!
Chuck vs the Christmas Miracle
With a sigh of relief, Special Agent Chuck Bartowski completed his descent of the building, his feet back on terra-firma at last. Anything at height was still not his favourite task and he had never been completely comfortable with it, not even now, several years since he earned his title as Special Agent and left his normal life far behind him.
Checking nobody was watching, he finished unhooking himself from the rappelling gear and signalled to his fellow agent on top of the roof that he was clear. Ducking into the side alley, he pulled a cell phone type device from his pocket, flipping it open to reveal a feed straight to Beckman.
"Mission complete, General" said Chuck plainly.
"Good job, Agent Bartowksi" she replied with a hint of a smile that was unusual for the often stern-faced woman, "We'll be arranging a flight back to the states for you in a couple of days" she explained, "In the meantime, I suggest you enjoy the Holidays London-style" she advised, "Merry Christmas, Chuck" she smiled genuinely just as the link was severed.
"Merry Christmas, ma'am" he replied with a similar grin, even though she was already gone.
It would have been easy to forget that it was Christmas Eve, given his job and all, but Chuck made a point of never letting such important events slide by unnoticed. Family Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries, Thanksgiving, on all these days he ensured that if he couldn't get back to Burbank he did at least call Ellie, Devon, and the Awesomettes (the name he used for his twin nieces who were now age three). Today was no different, though given the time difference he had a few hours before he really needed to make his call.
Peeling out of the dark jump-suit he'd been wearing, Chuck was soon striding on down the London streets in regular pants and sweater, like any other guy there. He blended, it was his job, and everything was about the job these days. Honestly, as awesome as it was to get to take a day off, to really see a little of the country or city he'd been sent to on his latest mission, it was hard to know what to do.
Alone was better for his spy work, he and Sarah had agreed a long time ago. It was just too complicated to try to be together, too painful, too dangerous. His sister's family meant the world to Chuck, but a part of him still yearned for one of his own. His face never showed signs of it, emotions bottled up inside where they had to be for him to do his job. Behind closed doors, things were different, but no-one needed to know about that.
The sparkling colourful lights of London town shined brightly from every building, and there in the centre of Covent Garden, the biggest Christmas tree Chuck had seen in a good long while, lavishly decorated, and causing much awe to many a passer by. Off to one side, children formed an excitable bouncy line to meet Santa, and in the other direction, families laughed and smiled as they boarded many a fairground ride. Laughter rang out louder than any Christmas bells, and a smile came to Chuck's face, albeit momentarily.
The wind was cold and reminded him that he was no longer connected to the world he was seeing. Things were different now, very different to those days back in the BuyMore when friends and family were all round him, when he saw such a different future for himself. Shaking such thoughts from his head, Chuck wandered across the square to a cafe that was blaring Slade's Christmas classic loud enough to be heard way before the door was opened.
Chuck took a seat at the table tucked in the corner, force of habit so he had a good view of the whole place in case any trouble started. Why he was expecting any was beyond even Chuck himself but he couldn't change the processes that were as in-built in his brain these days as the Intersect itself.
Picking up a menu, his eyes shot right down the list. Nothing appealed in particular, and it was Christmas after all, so he figured he'd take a gamble. His eyes still down, he noticed a pair of flat shoes come into his field of vision, shapely legs rising up to the skirt hem of a waitress' uniform.
"I'll have the Christmas Special" he said, as he closed up the menu and glanced up to actually look at the woman taking his order, "and a... Sarah?" he gasped in genuine shock at the sight of Agent Walker, his one-time protector, past partner, and most importantly ex-girlfriend, "I can't believe... What are you doing here?" he asked.
From super spy to rambling mess in a second, Sarah couldn't help but smile at the sight of the one man she had truly fallen in love with years ago. She thought he'd changed, she thought they both had, but just a moment in each others company and she could actually kid herself everything was just as it had been before as she slid into the seat opposite him.
"I can't really tell you why I'm here" she admitted, "but it's good to see you Chuck" she smiled genuinely, "It's been too long"
"It really has" he returned the expression, though she could see the sadness behind his eyes.
He'd taken the break up as hard as she had, maybe harder, though she doubted it. Sarah wondered if he realised how tough it had been on her when they made their mutual decision to walk away, to give their lives to the cause and care more for their work than each other. It was the hardest thing either of them had ever had to do in their lives, and given the state of their jobs, that was saying something.
"Look, I can't really talk here" admitted Sarah as she glanced towards the counter and realised her boss was giving her the evil eye, "I'm kind of working" she said with a pointed look that told Chuck she was in no way just a waitress - like he hadn't figured that out.
"Well, maybe we could meet later?" he suggested, "Catch up on old times?"
"I'd like that" she smiled and nodded her agreement, "In the meantime I should really get your order" she tapped the notepad on which she had scribbled down what he wanted and walked away... again.
It was late and it was cold, though Chuck wasn't really feeling it as he waited outside a bar across from the cafe where he'd met Sarah a couple of hours before. Just as soon as her shift ended she was coming to meet him and they would talk, though what about neither had a clue. Work was too sensitive to mention in any kind of detail and there really wasn't much in their private lives worth talking about since they didn't have each other. Chuck knew Sarah would like to hear about Eliie and Awesome and the kids she'd never met, but beyond that things were likely to get awkward. He didn't care, he was just too happy to see her.
"Merry Christmas, mate" said a man on his way out of the bar, clapping Chuck on the shoulder, apparently a little merrier than he was thanks to more than a few drinks.
"Merry Christmas" the agent replied anyway with a smile he found was just about as genuine as anything about him these days.
It was strange to think that it was this time of year again, a time for families and fun. Instead of enjoying himself in the warmth of a picture-perfect scene, he was stood out in the cold on a London street, waiting on a woman he hadn't seen in years and probably wouldn't see again for several more after tonight. The strangest part was that when Sarah came into view, her smile illuminated by the coloured lights hung above and footsteps accompanied by the singing of a nearby choir, Chuck knew he wouldn't change this Christmas for the world.
"Hey" she smiled as she got to his side.
"Hey" he replied in kind, still marvelling at how beautiful she was and how wonderful it was to see her tonight, "Let's get inside, it's freezing!" he declared, ushering her in through the door and immediately following.
They took up a pair of stools at the bar and started off slow and awkward with the talking. He did tell her about his sister and her family, and then they swapped spy tales albeit with vague details to keep things safe. Before long they were six drinks in and talking about old times, past Christmases, as well as past spy adventures. It felt familiar and comfortable, which was quite strange given the way they had parted years ago, with tears and recriminations that neither was supposed to know the other had.
"Another drink" declared Chuck through a fit of laughter at one of Sarah's spy adventures that involved the slippery character that was Carina, "Bartender?" he called, just as a different man appeared behind the bar.
As soon as he glanced at him, Chuck knew the Intersect recognised the new barman. Sarah knew it too as she watched her ex-boyfriend sit too straight in his chair, an all too familiar flicker in his eyes though he was staring at nothing.
"Was that... a flash?" she checked in a low voice, already sure she was right.
"Yeah" he let out a breath he hadn't known he as holding, rocking just a little on the barstool but not toppling - he was getting more and more used to the force of the flash these days, "Sarah, that guy is Matthew Coburn" he explained quietly in her ear, "His cousin is..."
"How the hell did you two find me here?" said an all too familiar voice and Sarah turned with wide eyes from Chuck to find Casey stood behind her.
"Oh my God" she gasped with genuine surprise, making her ex-partner realise this was no set up or plan.
"Casey, we had no idea!" Chuck assured him, "But, y'know, it's awesome to see you" he smiled genuinely, knowing that even though the NSA Agent was still scowling at him as if angry, he was probably as happy about this little reunion as the rest of them.
A non-committal growl escaped Casey's throat as he pulled off his gloves and coat and pulled himself up onto the stool beside Sarah - no handshakes, hugs, or pleasantries either offered nor required.
"How's things, Walker?" he asked her, just like old times.
"Better today than they have been in a while" she admitted with a half a smile, wary of his not taking her sentimentality well.
Surprisingly, he smiled back, before ordering them all a drink from the guy Chuck had identified as his cousin. It seemed Matthew knew better than to ask questions about who 'Alex' was sat with or why, and just busied himself with getting them all their order.
"This is amazing!" declared Chuck, "Like a crazy reunion! A Christmas dream come true" he smiled with enthusiasm that soon had Casey rolling his eyes.
"Some things don't change" he shook his head, "Bartowski is still a girl about everything"
Sarah tried to give her ex-partner a severe look but failed miserably. She was honestly just too happy to be here right now. The holidays spent alone were never fun, and she did miss her days in Burbank terribly. She still believed that she and Chuck had made the right decision is parting ways romantically and dedicating themselves to their jobs, but this felt so good. These guys were perhaps the best friends she'd ever had and she trusted both with her life.
"Aren't you even a little pleased to see us, John?" she challenged him, as their drinks were placed in front of them.
All she got in response was a grunt that could have been anything to anyone else. Sarah knew it meant he agreed with her, he just wasn't particularly comfortable saying so.
"Okay then" she said, picking up her glass and waiting for the others to do the same, "To a Christmas spent with friends" she toasted, clinking glasses with Casey and waiting to do the same with Chuck, but he pulled away.
"No" he shook his head, a smile playing at his lips as he looked from Sarah to Casey and back, "To a Christmas spent with family" he declared, something all members of the original Team Bartowski were happy to toast it seemed, as they clinked their glasses together and drank.
After tonight, there was every possibility that all three of them could end up on opposite sides of the globe. The potential existed for them all to be assigned to dangerous missions that they just wouldn't be fast enough or smart enough to survive. Still, for tonight, they were reasonably safe and they were together to share Christmas, whether it be their last for a few years or forever. It was bittersweet in all kinds of ways, but none amongst Team Bartowski spoke of it. They laughed and they drank, all vaguely wondering if somehow this was a set up by General Beckman or similar to get them all together like this, or maybe it was just a Christmas miracle. Either way, it was special to all three of these spies, whether they said it or not.
A/N2: This is one of four Christmas fics I will be posting in the next week or so - check out my Profile Page for more info! Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Seasons Greetings to you, as is befitting :-)