A few people have asked me to write more about little Eloise; this chapter is for you.

I also want to thank everyone for all your support in making this the most popular fanfic that I have ever written. Over 100 reviews! I was so stoked when I hit that mark… for that, I will keep this story going until I have no more ideas… who knows when that will be.

ref51907 has asked me to write a couple Chuck songfics, which I am getting to. You'll probably see them as separate to Toes in the Sand. Uni has been a butt lately. I just handed in a 30-page assignment on Friday and finished off another one yesterday; I just haven't had any time to write lately.

Oh and Jeanne, Pete and Myka belong together!


Chapter 15 – Never Grow Up

Your little hands wrapped around my finger

And it's so quiet in the world tonight

Your little eyelids flutter 'cause you're dreaming

So I tuck you in, turn on your favorite night-light

Tyler Bartowski peered through the slats of the crib, staring at his new baby sister.

"She's cute, huh? You think we can keep her?" came a soft baritone voice beside him.

Tyler nodded and looked up to his father. "She looks like mommy." He paused and looked back at the baby. "Pretty."

"Yeah, I think so, too." Chuck knelt down to his son's eye level and laid a hand on his shoulder. "You need to help me and your mom look after her, okay? Make sure she's always safe."

"I can do that." Eloise started to fuss so Tyler slipped his arm through the gap of the crib and held Eloise's tiny hand in his. Whispering quietly in her ear, he said, "Don't be scared Ella, you're safe here. Me and mommy and dad are won't let anything happen to you. Go back to sleep."

Almost instantly, Tyler's soft voice calmed the baby girl. She blinked open her eyes, momentarily focusing on her big brother before sleep once again claimed her tiny body.

"C'mon, Ty, we should let her sleep some more before she wakes up to be fed." Chuck ran his hand over his son's head as he lead the boy out of the nursery, only stopping to flick on the night-light in the corner of the room that faintly illuminated the world and chased away the nightmares.

To you, everything's funny

You got nothing to regret

I'd give all I have, honey

If you could stay like that

A three-year-old Eloise Bartowski sat on the couch glued to the television that was playing Elmo's World. It was only for the hour of the day that this and Sesame Street was on did Sarah get uninterrupted time to do some quick cleaning of the house. On the instances she finished early, Sarah stood quietly leaning against the hallway wall watching her daughter, enthralled with the little red Muppet.

On occasion, Eloise would laugh out loud at the antics Elmo and Zoe got up to. Her laugh was infectious and Sarah couldn't help but grin. Sarah loved her daughter's innocence; she vowed Eloise would never have to see or do the things she ever did. The CIA would never get their hands on her children, especially her little girl.

Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up

Just stay this little

Oh, darling, don't you ever grow up, don't you ever grow up

It could stay this simple

Sarah couldn't believe her little girl was heading off to school; it seemed just like yesterday that Eloise was a tiny baby, sleeping in her arms. Her baby was no longer a baby and it scared her. Sarah sat on her bed, flipping through one of the many photo albums she and Chuck kept of their family. Occasionally a tear slipped down her cheek and dripped onto the plastic pages below. Chuck found her there, wiping the tears she caught from her face.

"She's going to be fine, Sarah," Chuck said softly to his wife as he sat down on the bed beside her, pulling half the photo album onto his own outstretched legs.

Sarah sighed and leaned into her husband's chest. "I know." She pulled out one of the photos from the album and handed it to Chuck. "Remember this one?"

Chuck smiled. "How could I forget? Taking her first steps at nine months old; she's a genius." Wrapping his arm around his wife, Chuck softly kissed her temple. "She takes after her mom."

"I just wish she could stay little; the thought of her growing up scares me. I have a son in junior high already; I'm not ready for her to leave me." Sarah's tears started flowing freely again.

"Honey, Eloise is not leaving you just yet. She'll be home before you know it. And don't forget, she'll always be our baby girl, no matter how old she gets."

I won't let nobody hurt you

Won't let no one break your heart

No, no one will desert you

Just try to never grow up, never grow up

Lying on her bed, face buried in her pillow, Eloise let the tears flow freely. She wasn't sure how long she laid there, but as the sun started to set outside her bedroom window, there was a knock at her door. Slowly, she at up, leaning against the headboard, and wiping the few tears that continued to fall.

"Come in." Looking up at the visitor, Eloise burst into tears again. Tyler took one glance at his little sister and rushed to her side, sweeping her in his arms.

"What happened?" Tyler asked when Eloise stopped crying.

"Tom," she replied.

Tyler struggled to keep calm after hearing her boyfriend's name, but kept his emotions in check to get the whole story.

At seventeen, Eloise was the spitting image of her mother with the exception of having her father's deep brown eyes. As a result, she was one of the most popular girls at her high school. Even so, very few 'suitors' would make it past the first dates; most of the boys were intimidated by her intelligence and beauty. However, Tom managed to get to eight months worth of dates.

"What about Tom?"

"We broke up."

Tyler sighed. Getting information was like pulling teeth. "Why?"

"I caught him cheating on me," Eloise said softly into her hands.

This made Tyler see red. Jumping off the bed, he roared, "He did what? I'm going to kill that little punk!"

Eloise put a hand on her brother's arm. "Ty, no. He's not worth it." She paused and smiled wickedly, "Besides, you couldn't do anymore to him than I already have."

Tyler narrowed his eyes at his little sister. "What did you do?"

"Nothing an icepack to the groin won't cure."

Laughing, Tyler sat back down on the bed and wrapped his arm around his sister. "I'm sorry he hurt you, Ella, and I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you."

"As much as you and dad want to, you can't protect me forever, Ty. But thank you, you're the best big brother I could ever ask for."

You're in the car on the way to the movies

And you're mortified your mom's dropping you off

At 14, there's just so much you can't do

And you can't wait to move out someday and call your own shots

But don't make her drop you off around the block

Remember that she's getting older, too

And don't lose the way that you dance around

In your PJs getting ready for school

"Why couldn't we take your new Porsche, mom? The Nerd Herder is so lame," Eloise complained as Sarah drove to the local cinemas, the fourteen-year-old sinking low in her chair with embarrassment. She couldn't wait to be old enough to have her own car and drive herself places.

"You know that Ty asked to borrow it for his date tonight; this is the only other car we have. Unless you would have preferred to take your bike or even the bus, you're just going to have to live with rocking up in this." Sarah glanced over to her daughter, and smiled at her antics. "It's not like I haven't taken you anywhere in this car before, what changed?"

Eloise sighed. "Brady is going to be there," she mumbled.

Sarah nodded in understanding. "Ah. And you don't want him to think you're lame, right?"

"Yeah."

"Can I tell you a little story about this car?" Sarah asked.

"Whatever," Eloise huffed.

"Have I ever told you about mine and your dad's first date?"

Eloise looked quizzically at her mother. "In Paris?"

Sarah shook her head. "No, I mean the one we had almost four years earlier when I was sent to Burbank to find out if your dad really had stolen government secrets."

"You've never really told me much about when you and dad met."

"Well, despite being ordered to go out with him, I realised I was actually really excited about it. When he came to my hotel room to pick me up, he was this adorable little geek and instead of taking my car, which was also a Porsche, we ended up going in the Nerd Herder."

Eloise laughed. "Dad took you out in the Nerd Herder? And you're still with him? C'mon, mom, this car is ridiculous."

"To you, maybe, but this car means a lot to your dad and I. We used to go on missions together in it as well as dates. You shouldn't try to be someone who you're not, Ella, especially for a boy."

"I suppose," she acquiesced.

"Besides, if Brady thinks you're lame just for arriving in a car other than a sports car, maybe we should let your Uncle John have a few words with him." Sarah pulled up in front of the cinemas where her daughter's friends were waiting.

Grinning, Eloise jumped out of the car, waving goodbye to her mother. "Thanks, mom. For everything."

"Have fun, sweetie. Call me when you're done; maybe Ty will be done with the other car by the time you're finished."

With one final glance back at her mother, Ella hurried over to her friends, chatting wildly as she reached them. Sarah slowly pulled away, wondering to herself when she got old enough to have a daughter liking boys. Wasn't her daughter still only six? Wasn't she still the little girl who preferred to dance around in the living room in her pyjamas instead of getting ready for school?

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room

Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home

Remember the footsteps; remember the words said

And all your big brother's favorite songs

I just realized everything I have

Is someday gonna be gone

Eloise Bartowski sat in the middle of her now Spartan childhood bedroom; everything she now owned was in boxes, preparing for their trip to Boston and her new apartment just off the Harvard campus. She decided to follow in the footsteps of her aunt and uncle and go into the medical profession.

Looking around at the bare walls and empty closet, the soft yellow walls seemed dull, sad that the occupant of the once vibrant room was leaving. Remembering the bedtime stories her parents and brother would read to her and the sleepovers she had with her best friends from elementary school all the way up to just last month, a lone tear fell down her porcelain-like cheek.

Eloise picked up her remaining suitcase and headed downstairs, stopping at the archway that her parents' names were etched, and below and along side it was hers and Tyler's growth chart. She always wanted to be taller than her brother, but alas, she never inherited the Bartowski growth genes and was stuck being a couple inches shorter than her mother, whilst Tyler topped six feet four. Ella knew she had the best big brother a girl could ask for; he was so much like their father, it was almost uncanny. Even though he moved out a few years earlier, she knew she could always count on Ty

She felt the love emanating throughout the house; this was her home. All the memories, good and bad, came from this one place. The kitchen was where her dad would cook Sunday pancakes, the dining room table was where her and her mother would spend hours making arts and crafts and the tree house in the back yard was where she fell and broke her arm when she was ten. Running her hand along the mantle above the fireplace, Ella took in all her father's collectables; remembering that it was from the very tender age of three was she inducted into the Star Wars fan club.

Finally, Eloise headed out the bright red front door to face her future, hoping that it would be as fulfilling as her past.

So here I am in my new apartment

In a big city, they just dropped me off

It's so much colder than I thought it would be

So I tuck myself in and turn my night-light on

Wish I'd never grown up

I wish I'd never grown up

Oh, I don't wanna grow up, wish I'd never grown up

Could still be little

Oh, I don't wanna grow up, wish I'd never grown up

It could still be simple

Moving into Eloise's off-campus apartment had been a family affair. Chuck and Sarah had driven the rental truck to Boston, while Ella, Tyler and his fiancée, Amy, drove in Ella's car.

Two days after the family arrived and unpacked Eloise's belongings, it was time for them to leave.

"Stay safe, okay." Sarah pulled her baby girl in for a hug, kissing her cheek softly. "I love you."

Eloise moved to her dad and did the same. "Remember, you can come home whenever you want. The door is always open for you."

"Thanks, daddy." Eloise wiped away the tears and hugged her brother tightly. "Time to let go Ty, you've got another girl to protect now."

"I've got room for both of you, Elle. Just stay out of trouble."

"I never get into trouble, Ty; that's you." The two siblings laughed as Eloise pulled back to look at her family. "You guys better go soon or I'll want to leave with you."

After waving goodbye to her family, Ella trudged up the stairs to her third floor apartment, tugging her jacket tighter around her body. She was alone now and it seemed as if her flat lacked the warmth of her home in Burbank. She had heard that the weather in the New England area was colder than that on the west coast, but she wasn't sure.

Her home was eerily quiet, and the noises she made while cooking up her spaghetti-ohs seemed to echo in the silence.

Ella moved slowly to her new bedroom, switching off the lights behind her as she went. Finding a note on her bed along with a small box, she unfolded the paper. It was from her dad.

Ella,

I know you're all grown up now, but living alone can be a little bit scary.

I hope this little bit of your past may keep you warm and safe at night.

Love, Dad.

Opening the box, Eloise pulled out her very first night-light from when she was a kid. She couldn't believe her dad kept it, and that it still worked. Plugging it in and flicking it on, Ella climbed into bed, wishing she could have stayed little forever. Growing up sucked sometimes.

It was going to be a long eight years living in Boston; she was glad she had a somewhere to go home to.


A shout out to Sesame Street because Jerry Nelson, the voice of The Count has recently passed. RIP.

I really hope you enjoyed this chapter. It's my 24th birthday in 4 days (Aussie time), so please make me happy and let me know what you all think of it. If this little insight to Eloise's life was popular, I may do a similar style one for Tyler.

And a kid walking at 9 mths… it's possible; my little brother was walking at that age.

Oh yeah, and the song used was 'Never Grow up' by Taylor Swift.