Author's Note: AU. A sort of 'what if' scenario. It's a one-shot I wrote a few months ago but just now gotten around to completing. I intended to post this in a couple of weeks, but it was practically done already. Hope you like it.
Disclaimer: As the norm, I own nothing.
We first met in Paris. Since completing Protection Detail for the Secret Service, I was assigned various foreign missions as an international spy. But somewhere between developing assets, retrieving vital information for our Nation's security and thwarting terrorist attacks, I managed to find something I wasn't even looking for until it happened.
I met a man.
A normal man.
A good man.
It was by random bad-luck that I happened to be wounded on the arm that fateful night one evening in Paris. It was 2004, it was a cold night and I was bleeding. Trained in scenarios were survival knowledge were routinely needed, I knew finding safety took precedence over blood loss.
Happenstance is what I called it, and our first meeting hadn't exactly been a meeting at all. I had run into him.
That night had been vague. What little I could remember of that first contact was a fairly stable wall of mass that knocked me nearly unconscious. The seconds before closing my eyes, I knew he was tall, a bit lanky maybe. The one true memory I could recall with perfect clarity was his eyes.
They were the kindest eyes in swirling brown I had ever seen.
Of course any vulnerability I displayed in those moments I blamed on the blood loss.
Imagine my surprise to discover that he took care of me that night. It was late and my arm was suffering from a bullet that shot way too close to an artery for my liking, and without concern for his own well being—and that's not even including how my superiors would frown at the thought of a random civilian getting involved—he basically saved my life.
The following morning I remembered clearly.
I felt numb but conscious. Slow as molasses, I opened my eyes and caught the faint aroma of food filtering from the next room. My surroundings were unfamiliar and experience caused me to tense up, mind clambering alert, and ignoring the sharp stab of pain from my wounded arm.
Last night I got shot.
With urgency, I worked through the pain and searched for my sidearm. The neat room was sparsely decorated beyond what was necessary. And when I found nothing of my possessions, including my favorite set of throwing knives, I grew nervous.
Lacking the grace I normally exhibited, I surveyed the room once more.
The light outside was dimming to a close from my visage, but I could see the Eiffel Tower, so I knew I was still in Paris.
Footsteps near the door caused me to stiffen and move to the side, waiting for… I wasn't quite sure exactly what has happened beyond the mission that was accomplished. Or at least almost accomplished if I could only figure out what happened to the disk I acquired.
As the door opened, I went immediately on the offensive and slammed a rather tall body against the opposite wall with a fair amount of force. The pain in my arm subsiding momentarily to provide room for the adrenaline coursing through my system. No way I was going down from a measly shot on the arm.
Locking his arm securely behind him, he let out a very non-masculine yelp.
"Ow... ouch... Uh… could you… uh take it easy…?" He wasn't very coherent but he sounded like no enemy operative she ever came across. It didn't help that I was hurting him either, and I'm not even armed.
"Who are you?" I asked, twisting his arm just in case.
The man breathed heavily, almost like he was about to hyperventilate. What is going on?
"Um… my name's… Chuck."
I was in no mood to play games and yanked harder on his arm.
"Try. Again." I say impatiently.
"Okay. Okay. It's Chuck. Chuck Bartowski." He complied and began to babble even more. "Well, actually, it's Charles. But I prefer Chuck. Everyone calls me Chuck, I swear. My wallet's in my back pocket if you want proof."
Shaking my head, trying desperately to clear the drums pounding like a damn marching band on speed, I tentatively used my bad arm to reach for his wallet and flipped it open to look at his ID. Just as he proclaimed, the face and name of Charles Bartowski appeared on his Driver's License. All curly haired and with a wide smile.
Upon further inspection, I noted it's State of Origin.
"How did I get here?" I demanded.
"Can you let go?" He asked politely.
Slowly and with trepidation, I released him, giving us a decent distance where he couldn't pull a trick on me while unawares or he couldn't run off without me being able to catch up to him.
Turing around, Charles… or Chuck faced me curiously, which surprisingly turned compassionate.
"I'm glad you're feeling better." He said right off the bat, squatting down to pick up items he'd dropped when I attacked him. "You didn't look too good last night."
I looked down on my arm and finally noticed the work done to stop the bleeding, the white gauze wrapped securely around my bicep. My fingers touched the bandage and I could feel several stitches underneath.
"You did this?"
Chuck nodded. "Ah, yeah. My sister… who's a surgeon by the way… she taught me how to do that. I wasn't sure what to do with you, and I didn't find any form of identification or even a phone. I really didn't want to be detained in foreign soil, so I hope you don't mind that I took you here."
If I weren't so frazzled, I'd kiss the man right then and there. He unknowingly protected my cover, averting a potentially complicated international incident.
"How long have I been out?"
Chuck took a swift look at his wristwatch. "Just above twelve hours and fourteen minutes to be exact. Give or take a few seconds. You lost a bit of blood." He squirmed a little but made no move to escape. "I put your um… weapons in the bathroom closet right outside the room. There's some fresh clothes for you too." His brows furrowed, as if thinking. "I'm fairly sure I got the right sizes."
I was a bit speechless. People like him just don't exist. They can't. Human nature is destructive in any form. What made this stranger standout?
"Do you know who I am?"
Chuck shook his head 'no' rather adorably. Then I snapped myself out of it realizing that the mere thought that I could even say the word 'adorable' in any kind of context felt out-of-character.
Brushing the mishap away, I moved around him to reach into the closet, and just like before, he was telling the truth. Her gun and throwing knives were carefully laid out on the third shelf from the top.
Immediately, I grabbed the sidearm, checked the clip and slid the chamber to see if it was loaded before turning to whom was apparently my savior, "I shouldn't be here."
Chuck nodded. "I figured as much, which is why I went against my flight response and took you here and not the local hospital. I saw the disk you were carrying. Very high tech, and the sidearm was a dead giveaway that you work for our government so I uh… took a gamble." He eyed me with a look of sudden worry. "Please tell me I'm right?"
After everything he just said, I could only blink my surprise. "You know what a government issued sidearm looks like?"
His face turned red but I couldn't tell if he was messing with me or was just embarrassed.
"Just so you know, I don't know anything."
"And you expect me to believe you?"
"Look, if you want to kill me or whatever, do it quick," he said, but his face looked ashen. Terrified. "But if not, I would really like to look at your arm before you go out saving the world again or whatever it is you guys do."
I did what no operative with his or her head on straight should ever do. I let my guard down.
"I'm sorry. I don't mean to scare you." With a softer tone, "Just tell me how you know about my gun."
"I toured DC a couple of months ago, and did the whole tourist thing all over the capital. Even the White House, but I think I was shortchanged on that tour because I didn't feel like I saw all that much. Although I did see a few personnel carry the same uh… firearm."
His openness was disconcerting as well as his explanation. He could have been referring to the Secret Service or even the Marines that were stationed there.
"That was very reckless of you, Mr. Bartowski."
"Chuck," he corrected me. "And you're right. I normally have a very healthy does of self-preservation but you were bleeding and unconscious. I mean, I'm not licensed or anything, but hypothetically, I'd be violating my hypothetical Hippocratic oath if I'd let you die."
He was cute, but I was serious.
"And what do you do regularly?"
"Oh, I like computers. I'm sort of a consultant slash technician." His hand mimicked the slash in the air. "That's why I'm in Paris. I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't mind moonlighting as Florence Nightingale every once in a blue moon, but it'd be a waste to throw away my engineering degree if I didn't do anything with it."
I nodded and felt the adrenaline from minutes before winding down. I could feel the pain returning and it was excruciating.
"Here, why don't you sit down," he said moving towards her.
My automatic reaction was to tense up and glare, causing Chuck to stop midway, sighing.
"Look, if I wanted to hurt you," he started, "I would have done it already when you weren't so dangerous. I even took that bullet out of you, which for the record, the entire process nearly made me faint. And that's not even including the amount of trouble I'd get into if the authorities find out." Without further ado, he reached into his pocket and took out a bottle of Tylenol and tentatively holds it out to me, his arm just hanging mid-air. "It's not much."
I gaped at him, hardly believing what I was hearing and seeing, but all evidence pointed to the fact that Char… Chuck Bartowski had been nothing more than a Good Samaritan towards me this entire time.
Trying not to over think the situation, I take the bottle of painkillers from his hand while carefully avoiding making contact with his fingers.
"So let's try this again, okay?" Chuck said, his voice softer now. He gestured to my arm. "I'll be careful, I promise. My sister's a doctor, or she's almost one. She's doing her residency right now. She made me attend a lot of her surgeries in the observation deck to help me get over my squeamishness over blood."
I realized that when Chuck was nervous and uncertain, he tended to babble.
Uncharacteristically though, I smiled. "Squeamish?"
His reaction had been to roll his eyes. "Not so much anymore, thank God. I got over it and ended up learning a thing or two. I even repaid them by helping out their IT department so I didn't feel like I was getting a free medical education."
I couldn't help it and chuckled. He had a comfortable air about him. I frowned at the realization that not only was my guard down voluntarily, but Chuck unknowingly bulldozed through the ones I didn't. There was more to him than his disarming smile and selfless attitude and if I wasn't careful, I'd be in more trouble than is worth.
"I have to go."
He frowned. "Are you sure? You're not even remotely healed yet."
"I'm expected, and I can't stay here."
"Oh, okay," Chuck said, sounding resigned. "Just… uh… try not to get shot again."
"I'll do my best."
With my wounded arm, it took a little longer than usual to get ready, but I managed.
Chuck stood nearby and assisted when he could, braving my resistance in the process. Mostly though, he kept to himself, giving me the space that I needed and I was silently grateful to him.
Having no experience in this particular field of normal human behavior, I didn't know how to thank him for it.
"I'll be going now."
Chuck nodded, his smile a little sad. It tugged something inside of me but I couldn't pinpoint what it was.
I opened the door that led back to my life and looked at him one more time before leaving.
He waved to her. "Goodbye… um… ma'am?"
This time, I had a genuine smile on my lips.
"Sarah," I said. "My name's Sarah."
After I left, I reported to my commanding officer and relayed the events that happened. I was given temporary leave to recover from the wound in my arm but I was cleared medically after a couple of weeks. It was a clean shot and Chuck serviced it well.
During my convalescence and against better judgment, I kept Chuck's involvement out of the reports.
For some reason that was against everything I was taught, I didn't want him further involved than he already was. He stuck his neck out their for me and saved my life. I told myself it was the least I could do to return his kindness. Getting a civilian mixed up in espionage is the last thing a normal guy like Chuck needed.
After a month, I caved and called in a favor from an FBI contact about doing a little research on my Good Samaritan.
I discovered with no surprise that he was true to his word. Chuck was a graduate from Stanford University in Computer Engineering back in '03. He just started a small computer-related business called Vanguard Consultants. His sister, one Eleanor Faye Bartowski really is a doctor. And he does live in Burbank.
I lived in a dark world, where the good people aren't really so good and the bad guys really are bad. There are the liars and the manipulators. We were a destructive race but then there are those few rare moments where I could see the light in humanity, and I saw it that day with Chuck.
He didn't lie and didn't manipulate.
I didn't know much about Chuck beyond what I discovered, and I found myself thinking about him every so often.
Fate intervened again in the most unexpected way.
I had run into him eight months later in Venice of all places. I was following up on Intel about a major international arms dealer mingling with upper-crust society members in town when I spotted him at the Piazza San Marco.
He was playing chess with what I presumed was a local.
Furthermore, I realized upon further observation that there were three additional tables set up with single players and that Chuck was actually playing against them all.
Amazed, I was pulled forward, watching him change to each table and eventually taking the win against all players. I watched as he enthusiastically shook hands and spoke to his beaten opponents with all the grace and politeness of a man that carried great humility.
At one point, a local kid followed him, wanting his attention.
When Chuck finally turned to the young impressionable teen boy pointing to the chess set, "Can you teach me to play like that?" The boy asked in Italian.
Chuck shook his head, smiling. "No," he said firmly, yet clearly understanding the language. "But I can teach you how to play."
The boy beamed. "Deal!"
Chuck laughed. "How about this time Friday? Same place?"
"You got it."
They settled the exchange with a handshake.
As the crowed cleared, I made my move before I could even register what I was doing.
Chuck spun around, and when our eyes connected, his smile reminded me of the sun. Light and warm.
He remembered my name and I had an unnatural urge to do cartwheels because of it. This was quickly descending into unknown territory for me, but I found myself falling, like gravity towards him.
It wasn't premeditated. I didn't expect this to happen, but after a staking out my intended target earlier today and gathering enough information to proceed with the mission that was happening the next day, I found myself in front of Chuck's hotel room at 2am in the morning.
And I was fairly sure interrupting his sleep this early did not constitute good etiquette behavior.
But I couldn't walk away just yet.
Knocking lightly on his door, I waited anxiously for a response.
My confidence deflated when he didn't answer.
Not wanting to make an even bigger fool of myself I turned to leave walking briskly to the elevators just as one of them opened, revealing...
"Sarah?" "Chuck?" We spoke at the same time.
"Yeah, I guess I am."
"Are you leaving?"
"I was... I thought you were asleep or something."
"No, I was... downstairs at the bar. Shamelessly trying to get drunk."
It occurred to me that I wasn't the only one affected by our meetings. "I'm sorry about leaving so abruptly, it's just that, my job is pretty demanding."
He looked like he wanted to ask questions but refrained from doing so and I was grateful. I didn't want to have to lie to him all the time if I could help it.
"Um... would it be presumptuous to ask you to come to my room?"
"No," I reply without reserve. "It's why I'm even here."
He and I stood in front of one another for a brief moment when I threw caution to the wind and closed the distance between us. What happened next was a blur of heightened emotions and needy hands. We were clumsy at lift off but the landing more than made up for it.
Clothes were shed and thrown about haphazardly all over the room but neither of us cared.
My lips rarely left his or any part of his skin and I'd never felt more alive.
He was kind. And sweet. And thoughtful. And he made me laugh. He became a whirlwind of colors in my otherwise black and white world and I craved it even though in the back of my mind I had no business ingratiating myself into his life.
None of that matter at this moment though.
A couple of hours later I lay comfortably in his arms, pleasantly exhausted from the countless times I shared my body with his tonight. My head was pressed against his chest, letting the rhythmic beating of his heart lull me to sleep.
It was late in the morning but not quite noon when I finally awoken, half my body still nestled against his. I can feel his fingers lightly brush up and down the small of my back. The movement felt absolutely divine and I fought like hell not to fall back asleep.
"Your scar, I can barely see it," he points out, his voice low.
"I had a very good doctor."
I can sense his smile even without looking at him.
Then the magic disappeared with his next words.
"You can't stay, can you?" he asks softly.
"No," I reply regrettably. "Work... keeps me busy."
I gather the strength to look up, our eyes never wavering from another as I trace the outline of his face with a single finger. He watches me but says nothing as I train my memory to remember each feature. Even the way the light hits his skin left me mesmerized.
"But we have today?"
I nod feeling happy but sad at the same time. Two emotions that should never share the same space but it was useless.
He cups my face and places a gentle kiss on my lips, but no more than a few seconds later it quickly became something more.
We spent the rest of the afternoon together in his room, not encouraged at all to view the highlights that Venice had to offer beyond the four walls we were encased in.
He told me about his life in Burbank, and the small business he started up a few months after Stanford.
In turn, I spoke briefly about my time in Harvard and that I majored in Political Science. I even spoke to him sometimes in different languages, which I discovered was a major turn on for him.
He spoke intermittently in metaphors, influenced greatly by pop culture. He found my lack of understanding geek references amusing.
It was all so easy and comfortable until I had to leave.
By the time I left him to complete my mission later in the evening, I felt his absence keenly and I realized that leaving and never seeing him again was no longer an option.
Two and a Half Years Later
"Director," I acknowledged dutifully. As soon as my plane landed at LAX, I received an impromptu call between herself and CIA Director Langston Graham.
"We have a priority one. The NSA is preparing to go to the following location to apprehend a suspect that may have received sensitive and highly top-secret government information. Now I understand you and Agent Larkin were partners, but you two had something in common that makes apprehending the suspect… difficult."
I listened to him intently but felt more than a little confused. Bryce and I did not part in good terms and though we did have our fair share of disagreements, I didn't understand what the Director was getting at. Beyond a dedication to the job and a drive for perfection in the field, I can't imagine having anything in common with my former partner other than what we do for a living.
"I don't quite understand what you mean, sir." I replied through my phone.
"I'm sending you the information now. Be safe."
Abruptly, the line went dead and the information the Director promised was received almost instantly.
Opening it, my eyes widened.
On instinct, my hands shifted the gears on my Porsche and accelerated way past the expected speed limit on the highway. The photo of the last person I expected to see from my government was on my screen.
I tried to call, but they all went to voice mail.
I gripped the steering wheel tighter, my nerves on edge in my attempt to race home.
Pulling into the neighborhood, I finally passed the gate that led to the driveway.
The moment I pulled over, I shot out of my car and ran inside.
"Chuck! Chuck, where are you?"
Sweat beaded down my forehead and I prayed that I wasn't too late.
"Chuck!" I yelled out again.
When I reached his office, my heart stopped.
Sprawled on the floor was Chuck, unconscious.
"Oh God, Chuck. Baby, wake up." I knelt by his side and checked his body for any signs of trauma. To my utmost relief, he was whole and a not a single sight of blood anywhere on his person.
A seemingly long moment later, he started to come to.
"Ugh. What happened?" Chuck's deep brown eyes bore into hers with confusion. "Why am I on the floor?" he asked further, realizing where he was. "And your home?" He tried to focus. He even tried to smile for my benefit. "Good trip?"
I shook my head, not knowing exactly what to say other than what was obvious to me.
"I just got home and you were on the floor. Do you remember what happened?"
Chuck rubbed the back of his head and blinked once.
"I got an e-mail from someone I used to know back in college… I think."
Chuck's eyes shot past her and suddenly focused wide-eyed at his computer screen. He carefully stood up with a little help from me. Looking and acting more than a bit disoriented, he wobbly made his way toward his work desk.
Uncertain about what he was looking at, I too, stared at his desk with confusion while still trying to control the terrified feeling I felt when I saw him lying on the floor minutes earlier. I had been afraid he was dead. Then I remembered what the Director sent me and I stiffened when I made the connection.
My God, what has Bryce done?
Upset that I had to feign ignorance, I lay a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"Who was it from, Chuck?"
He was short on words. Her Chuck was never one to be short on words. My concern for him skyrocketed to a Def Con One.
"It was just a game. At least I think it was." Chuck looked between me and his desktop looking thoroughly bewildered. He rubbed his eyes. "We made it together, but something was different."
A sinking feeling settled into the pit of my stomach.
"There were these pictures."
My heart felt like it stopped right then and there. My worst fear since receiving the intelligence materialized into concrete evidence as he continued.
"Lots and lots of pictures."
"Do you remember what they were?" I ask with forced calm.
I watched him concentrate. His intelligence always came as a strange yet endless fascination to me. To be honest, his knowledge far outweighs my own, particularly when it involves things that goes beyond her chosen profession.
Silence soon fell between us and it was almost as worse as the answer I expected.
"Just pictures," Chuck finally answered. "They all seemed so random though." He took a deep breath. "But they were thousands of them."
Closing my eyes, I forced myself to become the person I protected him from since after the first time we met.
"Chuck. I need you to trust me and don't ask any questions. Can you do that?"
Chuck looked afraid now, and when he tried to speak, I cut him off.
"Please. No questions yet, but you need to come with me now."
I can see all the possible questions swirling in his eyes, and the lack of immediate protest tells me that he was reluctantly agreeing to my requests. With a slow nod, his words "Okay, Sarah," put me momentarily at ease.
When they made it out into the driveway, my plan to get him into a secured CIA facility was shot to hell when the last person I never wanted to see appeared from behind us.
"It's late. I'm tired. Why don't you just hand him over to us so we can call it a night."
My hand automatically shot up with my gun ready to fire.
"CIA gets him first." I glanced apologetically toward Chuck and mouthed 'Don't panic' and aimed my gun steadily toward the NSA Agent. "I'm not handing him over."
Chuck raised both his hands. "Sarah," he yelped, aghast. He was looking between me and the NSA Agent, guns drawn and pointing right at each other. "Look, I don't know what's going on but please don't shoot each other. I think there's a mistake."
NSA Agent John Casey was having none of it. "We both know what happened here today, Walker, but I can save you the trouble and shoot you both. Frankly, I'd prefer it. Just hand him over so I can go get dinner. I'm thinking pancakes."
My eyes steeled against his. "He's not going anywhere with you. Bryce sent him that message, he had nothing to do with it."
Chuck's mouth gaped. "How did you... Wait a minute. Bryce. You know Bryce Larkin from Connecticut?"
I quickly give him an abbreviated explanation. "Bryce worked for the government, Chuck."
"Until he betrayed his country," Casey added with distaste.
"Bryce Larkin is a... spy?"
"Doesn't matter now, since I killed him."
Chuck's face paled.
My eyes narrowed at his words. "Stay out of this, Casey. I'll bring him to Langley if I have too. But I'm not handing him over to you."
Knowing this man by reputation, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had to protect Chuck from him.
Casey kept his gun aimed at her. "Aw, isn't that sweet. You've actually got feelings for this kid."
Chuck suddenly put himself between Casey and me. He wasn't smooth, and he was still recovering from the effects of whatever information Bryce sent him, but he was confident enough. "I don't know who you are and I don't care. But you are not going to shoot my wife."
"Oh, so the rumors are true. Walker here got herself leg-shackled."
"If you're going to shoot me, then shoot me. But you're not harming my wife," he said once more.
His defense of me in front of a man who had no quarrel over the morality of taking a life astounded me. I found all aspects of him attractive, but when Chuck brings out his backbone, it seriously turns me on.
Thoughts of having my way with him was totally inappropriate in light of our current circumstances.
Curbing the licentious thought aside, even I had to admit, it was worth the look of utter surprise in Casey's face when Chuck continued to stand up for himself in spite of the odds.
But Casey recovered quickly and sent me a smirk. "The boy has spine, I give him that." There was a momentary pause before Casey lowered his weapon and secured it back in its holster. "All right, Walker. We'll do it your way."
The CIA Director that gave me a second chance in life and whom helped shape who I am today could not give me what I wanted. The regret in his eyes showed, and he was rarely that expressive toward anyone let alone in front of a subordinate.
It gave me shivers.
"It doesn't matter. I understand he's an innocent civilian, Walker but he holds all of our secrets. As long as the Intersect remains in his head, he's a liability, and even our best scientist doesn't have enough of an understanding of the Intersect to extract it."
I could not in all conscience give up on Chuck.
"He's my husband."
Director Langston crossed his arms. "Larkin was one of us. He crossed the line and unfortunately, your husband will pay the price. Unless we figure out a way to remove the Intersect, the only course we have-"
"No one is going to terminate him." My tone was angry but firm. I didn't much care that I was just the employee and this man in front of me is my boss.
The Director hadn't been happy about my decision to marry a civilian but I was adamant that I could make it work. And more importantly, it was something I wanted for myself. Eventually, my boss left it alone as long as I followed the rules and kept work off-limits when I came home to him.
"As I was saying. The only alternate solution is a lock-down," continued Director Langston.
I held my emotions in check at the thought. "A bunker? That's your solution."
Chuck did not deserve that anymore than a termination order.
"We're getting a lot of heat from the higher ups. It's the only way to guarantee his safety. Witness protection is out of the question. I'm sorry Sarah, this is the best we can offer him."
It took all my training not to do something incredibly stupid. I knew what these emotions meant. The consequences it brings. I made myself vulnerable not just getting to know Chuck, but marrying him. Except Chuck was also a good man and he did not deserve the penalty for our failings.
"Sir, there has to be another way. I'm a good operative. One of the best." The best, I thought quietly. "If I have to, I'll protect him."
The Director looked at me disapprovingly. "I can't have one of my most experienced field agent acting as a full time bodyguard, and it surprises me you'd even consider it."
"He's my husband," I reminded him yet again.
Is the CIA that heartless that they would disregard the emotional and psychological ramifications it would cause to their own agent if they callously took Chuck away like he was a piece of garbage. Like the last three years didn't exist.
The Director sighed. "Sarah..." but he was cut off by his assistant.
"Director, there's something you got to see."
"What is it Mackenzie?"
"Charles Bartowski, sir."
"So what your saying Doctor is that Mr. Bartowski is able to recall all Intel?" asked the Director.
Dr. Clark nodded, unable to hide his enthusiasm while I prepared myself for more news. "Is Chuck okay?"
"Yes. Absolutely. He's more than okay. He's... special."
I didn't need a doctor to tell me how special my husband was. I knew long before any of them did.
Dr. Clark flicked a switch and the window behind them cleared, revealing Chuck dressed in a standard issue medical shirt and bottoms. He sat strapped on a medical chair with several wires attached to him. Just seeing him like that... I slammed the onslaught of emotions away to keep a level head as Dr. Clark began to talk again.
"We may not yet know how to remove the Intersect but he is perfectly capable of retrieving information with the right triggers. It's remarkable. I've never seen anything like it. In fact, I didn't even think it was possible for one man to hold… well… everything."
"This could be of use to us in the field?"
Dr. Clark nodded affirmatively to the Director. "Absolutely. He's faster and more thorough than the computer itself. What took up a lot of time for us to make connections, he's doing it almost instantly."
The Director looked thoughtful and I was beginning to lose patience.
"What does this mean for Chuck?"
Director Graham set his eyes on mine. "It means you get your wish, Agent Walker. I'll speak with General Beckman about what's happened. From this point on, he's no longer just your husband. Charles Bartowski has now become a major intelligence asset and is classified top secret. In the meantime, you and your husband will remain here until we sort out the details."
He cut me off. "You're dismissed, Agent Walker." But then he added, "Go to your husband. He's going to need you now."
"Chuck," I say to him upon entering the room.
Chuck looked up at me, his eyes glistening yet bravely trying to remain strong.
"Sarah, did I do something wrong?"
I rush toward him immediately, wrapping my arms around his neck. "No, baby. You didn't do anything wrong," I say in a whisper. Then my hands quickly moved to undo his restraints. "None of this is your fault."
Once he was loose, he stood up looking about the room with uncertainty.
"I'm sorry about this." What else could I say?
His head shot up and I saw the fear in his eyes.
"Sarah, they were doing tests. I saw things... know things I shouldn't. Tell me I'm not going crazy or something."
"Everything's going to be okay, Chuck."
"I don't know why he would do this. Why he keeps messing with my life. Why does Bryce hate me so much?"
There was clearly more to my husband than I first realized but I didn't want to push him for answers, especially when he's in such a fragile state of mind right now after everything that's happened. I've kept so much from him myself. The truth should never have come out like this. He deserved better.
"Are they going to keep me locked up?"
"No," I assured him.
He looked unconvinced. "I can hear a 'but' in there somewhere."
"The information in your head, it's called the Intersect."
"Intersect?" he repeats. "So that's what its called. They've been testing me for the last hour on images." Chuck massaged his temple. "It was a bit of a rush."
"Chuck. Please understand..." I take his hands with my own. "If any one of our enemies find out what you can do... what you have in your head... it makes you a target. Right now you and I will be awaiting our orders about what to do next."
"Orders?" He looked positively terrified, and so was I. "Sarah, I'm no spy."
I knew that, and that was reason to be terrified enough. This part of my life was never suppose to touch him, but outside forces had other plans. I would never wish harm on a fellow agent, but what Bryce did... I too, didn't understand why he did this.
"We'll figure this out. Together."
Chuck has been mostly quiet ever since he flashed on the Intel about the assassination attempt on General Stanfield. I could only imagine what kind of thoughts is going on in his head right now.
I think for the first time, Chuck is afraid of me. I killed a Serbian terrorist and my husband had witnessed it. Any further questions about what I did for a living was answered after that moment.
"I can't believe you disabled a bomb using porn," I say, wanting to break the ice.
Chuck, having no clue what to say to me-to anyone really-simply shrugged.
"It's okay to-"
"What exactly do you want me to say?" He asks, clearly upset.
"Chuck-" I gave myself a moments' pause to take a deep breath before continuing. "I'm a government operative and I'm assigned to highly sensitive missions. I couldn't tell you even if I wanted to."
Chuck stayed eerily quiet again. An aspect of my husband I rarely saw, and when I did, it normally occurred after a particularly difficult mission and I was feeling the affects of my actions. Somehow Chuck always knew not to invade my space when I was feeling-for lack of a better word-depressed.
After our first year together as a couple, it grew harder to lie and keep secrets from him. It was made even more difficult after we got married. A small but loud part of me was thrilled that it was all out in the open. No more secrets.
Although I cringe at the circumstances in which it was brought out.
"Considering how we met, you must have suspected," I prodded carefully, reminding him of the very first time we met. He, a first time traveler in a foreign land and myself, staunchly evading getting killed in the streets of Paris.
I never provided details, especially the Agency's name and though he tried asking once, I neither confirmed or denied it. After that, he knew not to ask certain questions even if it bothered him, and in the end, it made our life a little easier.
"Well I didn't think you were an international terrorist or some closet homicidal serial killer if that's what you mean." He looked away. "Was it all even real?"
"How could you even ask me that?" I said indignantly. "It's insulting to even suggest it."
"I'm sorry." He says earnestly. "It just feels all so coincidental."
And there was the crux of the matter, and I finally understood.
Chuck nodded. "Bryce."
"If it's any consolation, I didn't know you two knew each other."
Beyond learning about the Intersect and what my husband can do with it, I was genuinely surprised that my former field partner and husband had a history together. It was one aspect of Chuck's life that he didn't talk about very often, only alluded to.
"Next to Morgan, he was one of my closest friends." He reveals softly as my mouth opened in additional surprise.
Unfortunately he didn't elaborate any further on the subject and I would not force him to tell me.
"Look, I need some air."
"Not so fast, Bartowski." Casey appeared between them sporting his signature stoic look. "You're government property now, you can't just be wandering off whenever you feel like it."
"Hey!" Casey snatched his sleeve, holding him back and just as I was about to intercede my husband yanked his arm away from him.
"Look. I didn't ask for this. Any of this. You guys need me, remember. Not the other way around."
He walked away and I could only watch while he did so.
"If he doesn't cooperate-"
"I know Casey," I snapped. "I won't let him out of my sight."
Casey smirked. "I bet."
The beach was always his favorite spot to think. Sometimes, when I'm on a mission, I'd call him from overseas to hear the sound of winds and waves through the receiver after he answers.
"How long have you been watching me?" he asks, not looking back as I approached him.
"We can't just runaway from this can't we?"
I sat beside him. "Not from them." I took his hand and let our fingers intertwine. "Talk to me Chuck."
"I'm just a simple guy living a simple life. And I can't figure out why Bryce did this. Why he chose me? What are you going to do with me? What happens now."
I shook my head at his words. My normally affable and laid back husband was prone to having occasional bouts of low self-esteem. I didn't know where it came from because he's a pretty successful guy. A loyal friend. A devoted brother. And a wonderful husband.
"For now we'll go back home, to our life. We'll protect you and you'll work with us."
"My sister, our friends, are they in danger?"
I thought of my sister-in-law and her boyfriend, even Morgan. These people have become family to me.
"We tell them nothing to keep them safe."
Chuck's jaw clenched but he said nothing.
"I need you to do one thing for me."
He looked to her. "Yeah?"
"Trust me Chuck. If there was but one thing you could believe, it's that I love you. And I love our life together. I may be a spy, Chuck, but you're my home."
"So you'll be there with me, no matter what happens?"
I never could turn away when he puts the entire force of his deep brown eyes her way.
"I'll always be here with you."
Author's Note: The idea for the scene between Chuck and the chess players in Venice was taken from the TV Show, The Listener Season 2 Episode 1 with the dialogue between Chuck and the boy identical to the lead Character's. I loved it so much I had to use it here.