Title: One Table
Rating: PG ish.
Characters/Pairings: Chuck/Sarah, Ellie/Devon, Stephen/Mary, Clara and a tiny OC
Disclaimer: Still not mine. Don't sue
Spoilers: Nothing too damaging. seasons 1-4 so far.
Summary: After the events of "No More Running," Mary, Stephen, Chuck and Ellie sit down to have a talk. Sometimes you have to clear the air before you can really move forward.
They sit around the dining room table eating quietly. Chuck and Sarah's home is an odd but charming mix of her clean, classic design tastes and his nerd paraphernalia, and Stephen is still wrapping his head around the idea of them being happily married and parents. Not because he doesn't think they're a good pair, but because he still thinks of Chuck as that awkward, endearing little kid, and not as a grown man with a grown up life.
"How did you survive, Dad?" Ellie asks suddenly out of the silence.
"Chuck and I watched you die," Ellie says. "So?"
Stephen swallows his mouthful of food and looks at his plate. "After they dragged Chuck away, the Ring revived me, like the did to Bryce...They were going to try and make me build them another Intersect, but in all the confusion with the leaders being arrested, I escaped. Went on the run."
It's clear to all of them that Ellie isn't particularly happy with that response; that his admitting to going on the run yet again has pressed a button.
"When Chuck started digging into your mother's disappearance, and Agent X, I decided it'd be safer to stay hidden."
Chuck's chewing slows, and the look on his face clearly says "so this is all my fault?"
"Don't blame Chuck," Mary says quietly. "You're the one who left the clues for both of them."
The table goes quiet again.
"I'd heard you'd lost the Intersect, Charles," Stephen says, glancing at his son. "But you're wearing the Governor so I guess that didn't last long."
Chuck clears his throat. "Well, Morgan got it by accident, but we had to remove it eventually. Even with a Governor, his brain couldn't handle the stress of it."
Stephen grouses. "That's because I tailor-made the Governor for you."
Chuck's brow furrows, defensive. "I know that, Dad. I made Morgan his own based on your designs."
Another silence, Stephen nods, obviously not particularly pleased.
This silence goes on until Mary has had enough.
"This is crazy," she says. "Clearly, we're all angry. Maybe we should just...let loose."
They all look around at each other, unsure, obviously nervous about what might come out.
Ellie takes a deep breath. "Fine," she says awkwardly, putting her fork down and clearing her throat. "I'll start. Dad, I'm unhappy that you decided to let us believe you were dead, when we could have used your help and support."
"I had to."
"No you didn't, and you know it," Chuck says, his voice quiet and just a little bitter.
"I know I can't make you understand, Charles."
"Oh, please," Ellie snaps. "Don't treat him like he's still a little boy."
"I'll treat him like he's a grownup when he acts like one," Stephen mutters.
Chuck's eyes widen. "Wow, really? Seriously? This is where this is going? Are you kidding? Which remaining Bartowski male faces his problems instead of hiding from them, again? Because it sure isn't you."
"And...and which one puts himself in the line of fire? Instead of doing what the people trying to protect him say to keep him safe?" Stephen asks accusingly.
"I can't believe we're back to this," Chuck says. "You know why I took in the 2.0. I thought you had come to accept that."
"You don't think I've tried?" Stephen asks.
"He's a spy, Stephen," Mary counters. "A good one. Maybe instead of trying to control Chuck's life, you and Bryce should have let the CIA recruit him and train him so he would have been better prepared!"
"You know what, Mary?" Stephen asks, turning to his wife. "You left when he was nine. You don't know how sensitive he got, he wasn't spy material!"
"Dad!" Ellie cries. "You left four years later! And you weren't exactly father of the year!"
Mary turns to Stephen again. "You left when they were both still minors?"
"I had to!"
Mary, Chuck and Ellie all groan.
"We agreed you would stay until Ellie was eighteen!" Mary yells. "They could have ended up in foster care!"
"You agreed?" Ellie cries tearfully. "This was a plan to leave us? All along?"
"We're spies, Eleanor," Stephen says quietly, apologetically.
"No! No, you're our parents!" Ellie yells. "That's supposed to come first!"
"Sometimes it can't," Mary says, calming down.
"Like when you shot me, Mom?" Chuck asks, staring at her.
Ellie and Stephen both do a double take.
"You did what?" Stephen cries.
"In the heart," Chuck tells them. "Almost point blank range."
"You were wearing a vest!" Mary snaps at him.
"I was your son, and you shot me!"
"I was under cover! As a spy, you should-"
"Charles Carmichael isn't here right now, Mom," Chuck tells her. His voice is oddly calm and even. "I'm just your son."
"Leave work at the office, Frost," Stephen mutters.
Nobody quite expects the hand that flies out and slaps Stephen across the face, and almost out of his chair.
Time seems to stop and Chuck and Ellie stare, wide-eyed at their parents.
"Don't you ever call me that." Mary's voice is dangerous and hurt. "Not you."
They're silent for the next few minutes. Ellie's hand is at her mouth and Stephen's hand is on his own cheek.
Chuck looks at them all and swallows hard, trying to find his center. "We do the things we have to do. As spies; as people. And we all feel we've done the right thing, either for a greater good or for each other or ourselves...but...but that doesn't mean we can't apologize for the repercussions. We love each other. We owe each other that. And maybe that's what we need."
Mary gazes at him, a little teary-eyed. "How did you get so smart?"
Chuck grins sheepishly. "Good genes, I guess."
"Well," Devon says, shifting Clara on his shoulder. She's dozing peacefully. "The house is still standing."
Sarah gives him a look as she rubs Willow's back. She, too, is tuckered out from the events of the day.
They stare up at the house from the driveway. Neither know what to expect, and both are nervous, mostly for the effect any explosive arguing might have on their daughters, to say nothing of how all this will leave their spouses.
"You're a spy," Devon says. "You open the door."
Sarah huffs. The "you're a spy" argument gets tired after a while, but she walks up the front steps and opens the door (it is her house after all), peaking in.
The scene surprises her. Stephen and Ellie are on the couch in the living room, and Mary is sitting in a chair opposite them. Chuck is lounging on the carpet, leaning against Mary's seat, talking animatedly.
"...And I say 'it's called the Morgan,' where you cover your eyes and sort of hunch over and cover your privates and it's like who knew it was so effective!"
The others laugh and Ellie shakes her head.
"Your father used to do things like that," Mary says, grinning. "He would cover his head with his arms and squeeze his eyes shut and yell 'I'm just a scientist!'"
"Like that matters to some crazed, gun-totting terrorist," Chuck mutters.
"It was always worth a shot," Stephen grins. "You never knew who would take pity on you."
Ellie sips her orange juice. "Nobody ever did, did they?"
"Not once," Stephen replies. He turns to his daughter quizzically. "You know, in all that yelling from earlier, you didn't yell at your brother at all. I have to say I'm a little surprised."
"Oh, please, Chuck and I had it out years ago over his four years of lies," Ellie tells him. "I've got nothing left to throw at him that he hasn't heard and apologized for before."
"It's true," Chuck nods. When he looks over and spots Sarah, his face lights up and he hops to his feet. "Hey, Baby."
She grins, still feeling a little nervous. "Hi." She steps into the house fully, and Chuck gently lifts Willow from her arms. "We're back. All of us."
"Devon's too afraid to come in?" Ellie asks, knowing that the answer is yes.
Sarah nods. "For somebody nicknamed Captain Awesome, he sure is a wuss."
"Hey," Devon snaps, stepping inside and pouting.
"You missed all the fighting," Ellie tells him with a smile, getting to her feet. She walks over to her husband and daughter and brushes Clara's hair from her eyes. "We should put her down somewhere for her nap."
Chuck cuddles Willow a little. "We can fold out the futon in Will's room and they can both sleep on it."
"Good plan," Ellie grins, following her brother up the stairs, leaving their parents and spouses alone together for the first time.
Devon looks to Sarah and then to his in-laws, before grinning widely. "This is really weird."
Stephen nods and pats his arm. "Yes, Devon. Yes it is."
Chuck pulls the quilt over the girls and then steps back, standing next to his sister. "Three generations of Bartowski under one roof."
"And the house is still standing."
"Just wait til the girls are fully charged up, I'm sure it'll all come crashing down around our ears," Chuck says.
"Y'know?" Ellie says thoughtfully, taking Chuck's arm and leading him out of Willow's brightly decorated room. "I don't think so this time. I think things are finally gonna be okay."
Chuck smiles at her, but freezes when he hears voices from downstairs.
"Helloooooo Bartowskis and Woodcombs! We saw your car over here, and so we came right over!"
Devon's voice cracks. "Mom! Dad!"
Ellie's face pales. "Oh god."
Chuck tries to keep his smile but fails. "Oh god."