For a less fluffy, flashback story that isn't too complimentary of Bryce, see my other episode addition, Sarah vs the Phantom Retcon.
Disclaimer: Nobody else owns anything here, so why would I?
Disclaimer 2: No beta. Why would I sucker/obligate/subject anyone into reading this when they didn't want to? However, if you send me corrections, I'll fix them.
5 Jan 2012
She was here. Now what?
Emma looked down at her daughter. Molly was still very quietly holding her stuffed dog, Rex, to her face. She hadn't said much since Emma rushed them to the car and drove uncharacteristically fast to this spot. Molly didn't look scared, just apprehensive. Still holding her mom's hand, she set Rex on the fountain ledge and pulled away, reaching towards the water in the fountain.
No one else was here. Emma rechecked her phone. The GPS coordinates were right. This Echo Park apartment complex was the right place. But where was Sarah?
A door opening to the side caught her attention. Molly was still too preoccupied with the water to notice how it startled her mom. Emma hoped the noise was from Sarah, but it wasn't. Too young. Too short. Not blonde. Was Sarah still a blonde?
The young women saw them, and Emma instinctively stepped in front Molly. She could feel Molly pull back on her hand, startled. The young women titled her head in curiosity, adjusted her purse on her shoulder and approached. "Can I help you?" she asked. Her voice seemed pleasant, not threatening.
She knew she shouldn't talk to anyone, but she didn't want to attract too much attention. Standing in the middle of a courtyard was probably the wrong way to accomplish that. Sarah was the spy, not her. She'd probably know exactly how to not attract attention.
"Are you waiting for someone?" the woman continued.
Emma opened her mouth to reply but still hesitated. Suddenly, she heard someone running up from the opposite archway behind her. Judging the running person a more immediate threat, Emma jerked Molly away from the fountain and away from the newcomer. Molly cried out in complaint. Emma saw a dark haired, bearded man in a green sneakers and grey, three-piece suit with a yellow name tag. He stopped short of the fountain.
"Morgan! What are you doing? You're scaring the poor woman and her little girl!"
"Alex!" the man replied in surprise as he smiled at the other woman. He then swung his head and focused on the two people he didn't know. "Good, you're here!" The man, Morgan apparently, leaned over and put his hands on his knees, catching his breath. After a few deep breaths, he righted himself and continued, "I'm not that scary, at least not anymore." Not anymore? That was supposed to be reassuring? He seemed to think what he said was funny. "You're Sarah's mom, I presume. Sarah asked me to meet you here."
Still holding Molly behind her legs, Emma challenged, "How am I supposed to know that?" She looked between Alex and Morgan. Alex looked surprised at Morgan's revelation. Morgan looked to be thinking hard, with a dramatic finger tapping his mouth.
"Hmm. Sarah's pretty private about her past. Let's see. What do I know? She went to high school in San Diego, I think. Oh, I know! I met her dad last year. He was some sort of con man. He helped us throw a wedding reception to pull a sting on some terrorists that had some device or weapon, or something. They don't always tell me the national security details. I just know it helped get Chuck and Sarah off suspension with the CIA. He was going by Jack Burton, but honestly I don't know if that was his real name."
Emma relaxed a little. Her ex-husband was going by the name Jack Burton when he was arrested over a decade ago, but then again a lot of people might have learned that name. And who was this 'Chuck'?
"I know! Chuck told me her real name a while back. It was Sally. No... Sandy... No. Come on... It was an 'S' name but I can't remember. She always looked like a Sarah to me, except when I told Chuck she looked like Vicki Vale. I think this is one of those things the Intersect melted from my brain."
He looked over at Alex, searching for help. She was just glaring at him. "Don't look at me. It said Sarah Lisa Walker on the invitations," Alex told him.
Sarah never really liked her birth name. She liked it when her dad called her Angel. After she joined the CIA, Sarah told her mom that she was going by 'Sarah Walker' now. She wanted a fresh start and insisted on using the new name. If that meant she would see or even talk to her mom more, she wasn't going to argue. Of course it didn't work out that way. While Morgan didn't seem to know the name, he was right about the 'S'. Emma relaxed some more, but Molly was still scared and was holding on tight to her leg. That girl was getting strong!
Another door opened on the other side of the courtyard, revealing a flustered looking, taller brunette.
"Morgan!" she hissed. "Could you keep it down? We're trying to get Clara to... sleep." She paused and looked at Emma and the little girl firmly attached to her side. "Hi, I'm Ellie Bartowski-Woodcomb, and you are..."
Emma felt her guard come back up when she realized she was completely surrounded. She still didn't know if she should say anything.
Morgan spoke up. "Ellie, this is... I'm sorry. Sarah didn't tell me your name. Ellie, this is Sarah's mom."
The woman's eyes opened so wide, they were practically vertical ovals. She raised her hands to cover her mouth and released a sound that could only be described as a squeal.
The door behind her opened again, revealing a tall man that looked like a swimsuit model. "Babe, I thought you came out here to get Morgan to quiet down, not wake every dog in a four block radius."
Ellie ignored the man, like only a wife could ignore a husband. She dropped her hands revealing an enormous smile. "Chuck and Sarah are going to be so excited you're here!"
Emma had enough. These people were scaring Molly. "Who are you people, and where is Sarah?" she demanded.
"Let me," Morgan calmly replied. "My name is Morgan. I'm Sarah's best friend-in-law. This is my g—"
"Morgan!" the young woman interrupted as she refocused her glare at him.
Morgan restarted, "This lovely woman is Alex. She is John Casey's daughter and my dear just friend. Casey is Sarah's long time partner, so that would make her… partner-daughter-in-law… no… let me see.."
"I'm Sarah's friend," Alex finished for him with an eye roll.
The excited woman continued the introductions, "Like I said, I'm Ellie Woodcomb, Sarah's sister-in-law, and this is my husband, Devon."
Realizing it was her turn, Emma said, "My name is Emma, and this is my daughter, Molly."
"Isn't she a little young to be Sarah's sister?" Devon asked, looking confused. "I thought Sarah and her sister were sunburned because of baby oil when Sarah was a kid."
Ellie swatted her husband lightly on the chest. "That was a cover story for date night, silly, back when we didn't know what Sarah really did for a living."
"Oh, right. That makes sense." Devon's expression showed he was still working it out.
Morgan squatted by Molly and gave her a goofy looking grin. "Hi, Molly. There's nothing to be scared of. We're all family here."
Molly looked up at her mom, who tried to return the most reassuring smile she could muster at the moment. It seemed to have worked, as Molly looked back and Morgan with a shy smile of her own.
"Wait. You said sister-in-law?" Emma queried.
"Right. Last spring Sarah married my brother, Chuck. Sarah said you couldn't be there under any circumstances, but you're here now, so I guess everything is better."
"I don't know. Molly's rattle was beeping a warning, so we jumped in the car and hurried to its coordinates, which are right here. I don't know what is going on. Is Sarah ok?"
"Morgan?" Ellie sounded impatient.
Morgan stood and faced Ellie with his palms out defensively. "Ok, I talked to Sarah less than thirty minutes ago. You know that mission last night?" Devon, Ellie and Alex nodded. "Sarah, Chuck and Casey were making sure Emma and Molly's location was secure from some bad guys."
"I thought that mission was a success? I checked Sarah's wounds this morning and gave her a sedative." Emma realized Ellie must be a doctor for the CIA. Devon seemed a little more clueless, so he must have married into the CIA.
Morgan explained, "They thought it was done, but she was bugged or something. When they realized what happened, they sent the coordinates to Emma and called me to come here. That's all I know."
"Maybe I should call, Chuck." Ellie looked concerned.
"Ellie, you know they will call when the coast is clear. We should all go into Chuck and Sarah's place and wait for word." Morgan grabbed the stuffed dog and handed it to Molly. "Hey Molly, have you ever played Mario Kart?" Molly nodded shyly. "Great! Chuck has a fantastic game system. We should go try it out."
Emma was still worried about Sarah, but it would probably be better to go inside then to wait outside in the open, so she let Morgan lead Molly, now holding Rex, and everyone else into a third apartment in the courtyard. Behind her, she heard Devon say he was heading for the baby monitor and he'd be right over.
The inside of the apartment did not look like Sarah at all. It was more of an eclectic nerd cave. There were video game systems, a foosball table, and framed comic books and movies posters on the walls. Mixed in were pictures of Sarah and her husband spread all around the room. Emma could never remember seeing Sarah so happy, not even when her dad took her on one of his "adventures." Any place she could look that happy was definitely a good home.
Ellie came to Emma's side as she was looking at some framed pictures on the mantle.
"She's going to be ok," Ellie said quietly.
"How did you—"
"—know what you're going to say. I worry about my brother when they are on missions. I can't help it. I practically raised him. I worry about Sarah, too. I think Casey is indestructible, but I even worry about him a little. Soon after I learned they were spies, I learned that that there is nothing those three won't do to make sure they all return home, safe and sound. I don't know about all of their missions, but I've witnessed a few, first hand. The two of them helped Devon and I escape that Costa Gravis coup last year. Just a couple weeks ago, Devon and I were mistaken for Chuck and Sarah, but Chuck walked in unarmed and stalled while Sarah and John took out a whole bunch of bad guys to rescue all of us. I know it sounds scary, but those were routine missions for them. I have heard a few stories of missions I wasn't around. Casey shot someone from a half mile away to save Sarah once. Last year Chuck was kidnapped and taken to some jungle in Asia. I don't know how much I should believe from Morgan, but she supposedly fought off an entire army by herself to get him out. Right before their wedding, Sarah was poisoned, so what does my brother do? He flew to Russia, confronted the assassin, and talked her into giving him the antidote along with a return escort from Russian Special Forces. I'm not trying to scare you. I'm just saying they will get back here, no problem. They always do."
Emma probably should have been scared by what Ellie revealed. However, she was well aware Sarah did dangerous things. She knew Sarah could take care of herself. Teaching her those skills was the one thing "Jack Burton" did right, even if it was in his own illegally unorthodox way. The fact she had friends and family looking after her—that she wasn't alone—was somehow comforting. Ellie's gentle bedside manner had found exactly what she needed to hear.
"So are you all spies?"
Ellie laughed. "Oh no. Devon and I are doctors. He's a cardiac surgeon, and I'm a neurologist on leave to take care of our daughter."
"Clara." Devon must not be that dim, Emma realized. Maybe he was just naïve about the spy stuff like she was.
"Right, Sarah's niece. Morgan is kind of tech support and helps with the maintaining the cover part of things. Chuck was—I don't know the exact details—I think he was sort of recruited by Sarah because of something that happened over four years ago. We all had no idea until a couple years ago that Sarah and Chuck were not really dating or that Chuck was working for the CIA."
Emma furrowed her brow. "So Chuck and Sarah are not really—"
"Oh, no. I mean yes, they are. They were completely in love with each other from day one. They just weren't allowed to be together because of some stupid CIA rules that I honestly don't understand. A couple years ago, Chuck's status changed so they were finally allowed to be together. Sarah moved in here right away. They were engaged in less than a year and married a few months later. Morgan officiated. I was Sarah's matron of honor. Devon, Casey, and two of Sarah's spy friends were also in the wedding party. Chuck really wanted you to be there, but Sarah said you couldn't be."
"It wasn't safe," Emma finished the explanation.
"But after today, it hopefully will be."
The other two women moved on to look at other pictures on the counter between the dining room table and the kitchen. Morgan and Molly were settled on the couch playing some video game. Somehow in the last few minutes, Morgan had changed out of his suit into more casual clothes. He must keep clothes here. Looking at the game players, Alex had a curious look on her face from her position behind the couch. On the counter, one of the new pictures had Sarah on Chuck's back, and another had his arms wrapped around her in front of a scenic view. She looked so incredibly happy.
"Is she really this happy?"
"Absolutely," Ellie answered without hesitation. "We all knew they were in love when they first started 'fake dating'. Of course, we just didn't know about the 'fake' part. That's because it wasn't as fake as they intended. At the time, Sarah seemed to be holding back a little, but it never made sense. At my wedding about three years ago…" Ellie held up a wedding picture of Ellie, her husband, Chuck and Sarah. Sarah was one of Ellie's bridesmaids. "…Sarah seemed to be more content. But something happened during our honeymoon. They've never told me the details, but I'm almost certain the CIA is to blame. They had a rough few months, but they made it back together, which is where they belong. Since then, I've never seen anyone so happy, except for maybe my brother because he's with Sarah."
Emma smiled at that.
"Chuck had several hard years before Sarah came along. She helped him get out of his funk and become the man we all knew he could be. Now that they are married and not in the CIA—"
"Wait, Sarah's not in the CIA?"
"There was sort of a falling out. Chuck, Sarah, Casey, and Morgan are a private sector spy and security company now. They still do some work for the government, but now they have control of what missions they do. They were tired of the less reputable people in the government ordering them around."
"That's how I got Molly."
"I was wondering." Ellie gave her a pleasant, closed-mouth smile. She was waiting for Emma to continue.
"Sarah didn't give me the details. I just know the person in the CIA giving her orders was really a bad guy and was going to…" Emma dropped he voice to a whisper, "He was going to kill Molly. She was given to me so I could keep her safe and a secret."
"Sarah's a protector. She saw a baby in need and did what needed to be done to protect her. She gave Molly to you."
"It's nice to hear someone else describe her that way." Emma paused and put her hand on Ellie's crossed arms briefly, in thanks. "Do you know what kind of missions they do? It sounds like they are still in danger a lot."
"They stopped that Omen virus last week." Ellie sounded a little proud.
"That was them?"
"Yes. I even helped on that one. I knocked out the…" Ellie choked up a little.
"What is it?" Emma was concerned.
"Sorry. It was the man who killed our father almost two years ago. This time he was going after Sarah and Chuck, but we stopped him."
"Why did he kill your father?" Emma realized after she said it, she was being too nosey. Ellie had been so nice, she didn't want to upset her.
But Ellie just smiled. "I said earlier I practically raised Chuck. Well, our father was a former government scientist who left us to go into hiding."
"What about your mom?"
Ellie snorted. "She disappeared for twenty years until last year when we find out she was a spy, deep undercover."
Emma covered her mouth in amusement. "Something tells me this place is not as normal as it seems."
"Nope. We don't do normal here. We do awesome. Sarah fits right in."
"Any booby traps I should worry about?" Emma asked in jest.
"This place is safe. Devon and I used to live here with Chuck before we married. Sarah keeps the guns and knives locked up so Morgan can't get them." Emma laughed, peeking at the two 'kids' that were having fun with the game. Molly was giggling at something Morgan said. "However," Ellie continued, "Casey's place has bars that drop from the ceiling to capture intruders."
Emma didn't know if Ellie was kidding, but she guessed not. "It'd bet your mother probably has more in common with Sarah than I do. Growing up, she always wanted to go off on adventures with her father."
The corner of Ellie's mouth turned in sympathy. "I know they were both spies that fell in love with computer nerds, but I think Sarah has a lot of you in her too."
Emma gave a disbelieving look to the doctor.
"Sarah left you because she was protecting you. My mom did the same thing. However my mom left us with an absentminded dad who had to go on the run himself a few years later. Sarah left Molly with someone she knew would never abandon her. She made sure Molly was safe. Also, I know Sarah well enough to know she regrets her choice and would not repeat it. My mom is trying, but she was gone too long and will always hold back. Sarah has learned from her mistakes. She would never leave Chuck behind. That knowledge helps me sleep when they are on missions. And now, with the bad guys out in the open, hopefully she'll be able to see you more."
Emma smiled. That was wishful thinking. But maybe, just maybe, it was possible.
An iPhone rang on the couch armrest next to Morgan. Before Morgan could pause the game, Ellie snatched the phone.
"Hi Chuck, is everyone ok? … Great! … That's good news. … Sarah's mom and the little one are here, safe and sound. … Morgan's losing to her in one of those games you guys play. … You don't have to stay for cleanup? … Really, you're just leaving them there? … You're right. Beckman owes you big time. You stopped another rogue ex-CIA agent. … Good. … Ok, I'll see you soon. Love you, brother. … Bye."
The call sounded good, but everyone looked still looked at Ellie in anticipation.
"They are all safe, and the 'problem' has been eliminated. Permanently," Ellie asserted with authority.
There was a collective sigh of relief.
"John plans on breaking a few more speed records getting here, so they should be home soon."
Emma stepped up to Ellie and gave her a one-armed hug from the side. "Thank you, Ellie."
Emma realized that while Ellie seemed calm before, she really wasn't. Now she was calm. Everyone was she cared about was ok. Emma understood the feeling.
Ellie pulled Emma back to the kitchen and spoke quietly. Emma was beginning to get a little concerned again. "Sarah is perfectly fine, Emma. However, she has had a rough couple of days. Chuck said this doesn't even rank in the top ten. I wouldn't know because Sarah is an expert with the concealer, but I'm assured she is fine by my brother, the worrier. As a doctor, I'm amazed at her constitution. I just wanted to warn you because you haven't seen her in a while, and she might look a little beaten up."
"It doesn't matter. She will be beautiful to me no matter how she looks."
"As a mom, I understand that. Feel free to look around anywhere. I need to check on my own daughter. You can help yourself to anything in the fridge. Morgan knows where everything is if you need anything. I'll probably be making some dinner later."
"Thank you, Ellie."
"Don't mention it. You're family."
The time could not go by fast enough. Emma wandered around the room looking at more pictures of the happy couple, some unusual posters, and a wooden Native American chief that looked completely out of place. She thought about exploring the back, but decided she wanted to stay around Sarah's family. Molly and Morgan were having a lot of fun with their game. He was a natural with her. It looked like Molly found an older brother. Ellie had returned, and Ellie and Alex were also smiling at the two 'kids' on the couch. Ellie was nudging Alex. It looked like Alex was starting to forgive Morgan for whatever he had done wrong. Devon wasn't around, so he must have switched off with Ellie watching over their baby.
Emma noticed another wedding picture on the shelf. She wished she could have been there. Sarah looked like the embodiment of joy as she looked at her husband. The door clicked and Emma did a quick glance before her brain processed what she saw.
There she was.
She was actually here.
The daughter she missed.
The one that gave her another daughter she could love and give the normal life she never had.
The daughter she always loved.