Chuck vs. the End and the Beginning
Song: "Fake Empire", by The National

It was all over.

But it was all just beginning.

We're half awake in a fake empire... we're half awake in a fake empire.

And yet, it still felt like it was all over.

The Buy More had closed its doors, just a year after being rebuilt by the CIA. It turned out that the CIA's presence was the only thing keeping it afloat, and with the CIA shutting down its Burbank operations, they couldn't compete with LargeMart any longer.

Morgan was out of a job – no store to manage, and he had never been particularly popular with Buy More management anyway. Big Mike had been transferred to the Northridge store. Jeff and Lester... well, who knew what had happened to them.

John Casey had received a new assignment. Sure, it wasn't THAT far away, but as far as seeing his daughter regularly, Las Vegas might as well have been on the other side of the country.

Chuck had been offered what essentially would've been an "honorary" position – director of the Intersect Evaluation and Training Project. He had passed – although he nearly had a coronary when he found out that Ellie had accepted an offer to be the chief medical officer for the project.

It turned out, though, that their mom had struck a deal with General Beckman – Ellie NEVER went in the field, she ONLY worked 9 to 5, and she did NOT leave Los Angeles. So that made Chuck feel a little better – but it was still kind of ironic that Ellie was now working for the CIA, and Chuck was out.

That was the weird part. He still had the Intersect in his head. There was no way, at this point, to really remove it – not without Stephen Bartowski, and, well, he wasn't around anymore.

But he was outdated. The two GRETA agents had been far too close for comfort when they had said that – and Chuck knew that, as smart as his sister was, it was but a matter of time until they had really well-trained agents who could use both the Intersect and their human intuition in concert with one another.

Stay out super late tonight, pickin' apples, makin' pies...
Put a little something in our lemonade, and take it with us...

And then there was Sarah. She had been essentially given an ultimatum by the CIA – reassignment or quit. She had been very quiet after General Beckman had said that to her – clearly, there was still a large part of her that wanted to be a CIA agent.

But in the end, she held up her left hand, and simply said, "This ring says I stay."

There had been no small amount of subdued humor between Chuck and Sarah about that – after everything they had been through with The Ring, now it was just "the ring" that kept them together.

"Well, and a great deal of love," Sarah had offered with a sad smile.

Chuck and Sarah oversaw the dismantling of Castle. Watching the equipment be boxed up and then carted out through the now-defunct Orange Orange shouldn't have really made them as nostalgic as it did, but it was surprisingly with heavy hearts that they watched the underground CIA base be "struck", in Hollywood parlance.

Chuck did receive a somewhat pleasant surprise – after some of the CIA-installed ballistic shielding had been removed, he went exploring, and discovered that there were actually rather old corridors and rooms down there that the CIA had simply re-purposed. And in one room, he found an engraving in the wall -

Lockheed Aircraft Corporation Advanced Development Programs, the engraving read, Burbank, California, 1943.

"No way," Chuck said quietly, a smile on his face. "We've been in the original Skunk Works all this time."

But the more he considered it, the less amusing it was – the Skunk Works had only ever existed to create secretive, initially deniable, classified aircraft. And it seemed sadly appropriate that four years of his life had been spent in the Skunk Works.

We're half awake in a fake empire... we're half awake in a fake empire.

Morgan had finally found himself a job, as the manager of a Radio Shack in Glendale. Alex, as unhappy as she was to be so far away from her father after having grown used to being near him, was nonetheless growing happier and more comfortable with Morgan with each passing day.

Chuck and Sarah, however, were bored. Make no mistake, they were very much in love with one another. But so much of their relationship up until that point had centered around their jobs with the CIA, and now they had no missions, no intelligence to analyze, nothing.

Sure, they had the opportunity to do so many things that they had always wanted to do together. They went to the Grand Canyon. They went to Comic-Con. Chuck finally took Sarah on the date he had tried to take her on that very first night – and as fun as it was, it seemed strangely incomplete without the mayhem they had experienced.

"I sort of half want to have to go defuse a bomb in the ballroom of the Plaza Hotel to end the night, just for kicks," Chuck mused as they strolled, hand-in-hand, through downtown Los Angeles that night.

"Gonna do it with porn again?" Sarah teased him.

Tiptoe through our shiny city with our diamond slippers on...
Do our gay ballet on ice, bluebirds on our shoulders...

Chuck and Sarah had both considered finding jobs to occupy their time. Chuck actually went to interviews with Lockheed-Martin and Cisco. But in the end, they were really unmotivated to really work – the CIA would take care of them quite handsomely for the rest of their lives.

Then, one day, Devon and Ellie had a joint idea that they decided would at least occupy some of the bored couple's time – "You could watch Clara for us during the day!" Ellie had cheerfully declared.

Of course, they, too, had ulterior motives. Clara had been banished from the daycare center at Devon's hospital for biting – even though, with a whopping one tooth, she couldn't really do much damage. And of course, Ellie couldn't very well take her to work – not when she was working with the very same project her brother used to be part of.

Oddly enough, taking care of Clara was helpful – at least, for Sarah. It turned out that somewhere, beneath the layers of training and coldness that the CIA had instilled in her, there was a dormant, but very strong, maternal instinct. Of course, Chuck wasn't sure that Devon and Ellie would necessarily approve of Sarah providing their daughter with a wide array of (mostly chewable) toy versions of lethal weapons, but what they didn't know - "Well, I guess it can't hurt," Chuck had allowed.

We're half awake in a fake empire... we're half awake in a fake empire.

And then one morning, something happened. Chuck, bored out of his mind, and really not wanting to stay around the apartment while Sarah taught Clara how to properly handle a Colt M1991A1 (even if Clara's version was made of plastic and spoke with the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants), had gone downtown and gotten on board the Ventura County MetroLink Train.

And he just sat, and rode, watching people get on and off. At one point, an individual got on the train, and Chuck flashed on him as being a particularly dangerous individual. A text was sent to General Beckman, and at the next stop, three men in dark suits boarded the train, and the individual on whom Chuck had flashed was very quietly escorted off.

Even that was boring, now.

But then, as they were passing through Reseda, something strange happened. There was a delay, of some sort. Chuck, annoyed, pulled out his iPhone and pulled up a satellite view of the track layout -

And the Intersect went to work. Not telling him anything, per se, but helping his brain figure out a way to completely revamp the MetroLink system to make it more efficient.

Chuck's eyes went wide, and after garnering a few sheets of paper and a pen from the gentleman across the aisle from him, he spent the rest of the trip to Ventura and back to downtown L.A. sketching out a new model for the entire system.

He was practically bouncing when he came through the front door of the apartment – and he was met by Sarah, who looked equally excited. "Well, you're in a good mood today!" she exclaimed. "What's the occasion?"

Chuck just grinned. "I think I've finally figured out something to do with my time," he replied. "And if I can get somebody to listen – well, it means that I get to play with trains!"

Sarah couldn't help it. She started laughing. "Oh, Chuck," she giggled. "Thirty-one years old, and you're this excited about playing with trains?"

"Are you kidding?" he replied. "Trains are awesome!"

Sarah nodded, and then took a moment to calm herself. "Well," she said, "how would you feel about it if... well... if you and I started working on things so that..."

She found her mouth had gone dry, and she had gone from just being happy to being happy, nervous, and excited all at once. "Um," she tried again, swallowing, "so that you could, well, maybe in a couple years, participate in take-your-kid-to-work day?"

Chuck's eyes went wide. "Wait... are you saying... you want..."

Sarah smiled. "I think I'm finally ready to be a mom in my own right," she said quietly.

The grin that appeared on Chuck's face threatened to split his head in two, and he tossed his handful of train system diagrams over his shoulder. "Maybe we should get to work on that."

Turn the light out, say goodnight, no thinking for a little while...
Let's not try to figure out everything at once...
It's hard to keep track of you falling through the sky...

Chuck took his proposal to MetroLink, and within the week, found himself with a job. And it was a job he enjoyed, too – one in which his brain was challenged, and in which he actually got to be a nerd on a regular basis.

Oh, and he got to play with trains.

Ellie Woodcomb nearly had a paroxysm of joy when Sarah told her that she and Chuck were going to start trying to get pregnant. Of course, over a few (too many) glasses of wine later, she admitted that that was no small part of why she and Devon had turned to the two decommissioned spies to be babysitters when they were in need.

And of course, neither Chuck nor Sarah minded the efforts they had to put into it. Well, perhaps "had to" was an unnecessary modifier. The fact of the matter was that they got to a point where they were having a remarkable amount of sex. And sometimes, Sarah got a little grumpy when she didn't get – as she so crudely put it one day – her "morning plowing."

"You're a little psycho sometimes," Chuck laughed.

"Aw, but I'm an adorable psycho!" she had replied.

And so it was that, nearly a year after they had both left the Intersect project, Chuck and Sarah were really, truly happy once more – Chuck with his job at MetroLink, Sarah with her daily duties taking care of Clara. Not exactly what either of them had ever imagined for themselves, but then, life rarely turns out the way people expect.

Then, one afternoon, Chuck got home from work, to find Sarah, standing in the middle of the living room, openly weeping. "Sarah, what's wrong?" he asked, shocked to see his wife this way.

She lifted her face to look at him – and much to his surprise, a huge smile accompanied the tears. "Nothing at all," she whispered, holding out her hand – and the small pink stick she held in it.

Chuck didn't even have to look, but he did – and sure enough, the little circle held in it a small "+" sign.

We're half awake in a fake empire... we're half awake in a fake empire.

It was all over.

But it was all just beginning.