A/N: This is the Final story in a trilogy that encompasses Chuck & Sarah vs Themselves, Chuck & Sarah vs the Bunker, and now Chuck & Sarah vs the Recruits. It was originally all one story idea, but I had the part that became Bunker mostly written before the first bits in what became Themselves.
If you haven't read either of those stories, I'd really suggest that you do so before reading on.
For one thing, I've tried to refrain from hitting anyone with the stupid stick, up to and including the villains. So, we've diverged just a little bit from Season 3 at this point.
This story takes place a few weeks after the end of Chuck & Sarah vs the Bunker, with Chuck and Sarah just returned to Burbank briefly to catch up with everybody before moving to the DC area for their new job working to select and train the next generation of Intersect agents. Like I said, just a little bit of a divergence from canon.
September 7, 2011
"Gung," Morgan said, fumbling for the coffee tin.
Chuck managed a thin smile. "Urg," he said and plopped himself down at the table.
"Glb," Lisa said happily from her position in her father's arms, peering at Morgan in curiosity over Chuck's shoulder.
Morgan shook his head and turned on the faucet to fill the coffee pot. "How is she happy this morning," he complained. "She was crying all night!"
Chuck shrugged. "One of those things, I guess. And it wasn't that bad," he said. "I mean, she went down for two whole uninterrupted hours from three to five."
"Not that bad? Not that bad!" Morgan sputtered.
Lisa tensed in Chuck's arm, which he knew was a precursor to a huge outburst. Her face crinkled and began turning red, and Chuck sighed. He pushed his chair back and stood so he could jiggle the baby on his shoulder, which she seemed to enjoy. "Indoor voice, Morg. Anything over 45.3 decibels sets her off. And it's better than last week isn't it?"
"That never gets old," a gravelly voice said from the doorway to the hall. Chuck turned, arching an eyebrow at his wife, who was leaning against the doorjamb and fussing with her hair where it was sticking up in a huge fan of ridiculous bed-head. "I can't get the pre-emptive cry-stopping thing you do to work, but for you, it's all giggles and smiles all the time. There's no justice in this world." Sarah let out an overly theatrical sigh, then managed a grin, but it was feeble. There were dark circles under her eyes, Chuck noticed at last. "Is there coffee?"
"Five minutes," Morgan said.
Sarah groaned and turned to bong her head softly against the wall. "I could have used those extra five minutes, guys. Unlike you, I have to get up every time she does."
"You know we can work around that," Chuck said. "This is the twenty-first century. They've got this amazing new invention called a bottle."
Sarah scowled at him. "No formula," she insisted.
Morgan flushed. "Oh god, can we change the subject?"
"Sorry," Sarah said, striding into the living room and stretching her arms out. "Here, gimme my girl."
"Your's?" Chuck said, half-turning to keep possession of his little bundle of baby girl.
"Giggly-cuddly is mine," Sarah said. "You agreed."
"Maybe you agreed. I didn't agree to that," he shot back with a good-natured chuckle. "Go back to bed, I'll bring you some coffee when it's done."
"Uh-uh," Sarah said, with a brief, pointed glance downward. "Gimme, the girls are about to explode here, and Lisa hasn't eaten since five."
"Agh, you're gross," Morgan grumbled from the kitchen. "No breast feeding in the living room. Don't make me go find the roommate agreement!" He stormed off in search of the document anyway, pontificating and talking to himself under his breath as he went.
Chuck and Sarah made the hand-off, and he gave her a quick peck on the cheek. "That's it?" Sarah complained.
He smirked and waggled his eyebrows. "Three to five this morning wasn't enough? Look who's insatiable this morning."
Sarah frowned and tapped her chin in thought, as if weighing that information, before she matched the grin and went up on her tiptoes to give him a smooch. "Fair enough, you're forgiven. Still, you've got me accustomed to a higher level of smoochyness."
Chuck shrugged. "No good deed goes unpunished, I guess."
Sarah snorted. "Something like that. Though, I didn't think you were into that particular fetish. Have you been holding out on me?"
Chuck laughed softly and leaned forward to rest his forehead against his wife's. "Nope, all my secrets are laid bare. Well... the big ones."
"And what does that mean?" Sarah demanded.
He shook his head. "Come on, hon, you're always saying a woman must maintain an air of mystery. Double standard much?" She narrowed her eyes and scowled playfully. "Anyway, I'd better get changed out of my pjs, I'm biting the bullet today and going with Morgan to the zoo."
"Speaking of the Buy More," Sarah said. "I still have to interview Jeff and Lester; you want to help me put on my old lady makeup again?"
"Maybe later," Chuck said. "I'll try not to be down there for very long."
Sarah nodded, and let him go, but as Chuck was heading for the bedroom, she darted forward and goosed him. Chuck leapt nearly a foot in the air, but by the time he had spun around to stare in shocked accusation, Sarah was holding Lisa up in front of her face and making googly eyes at her daughter. A more innocent scene never existed in the history of the universe.
Chuck wasn't buying it. "Now you're using our daughter as a prop," he said.
Sarah grinned around Lisa a shrugged one shoulder without the least bit of sheepishness. "Get used to it," she said and stuck her tongue out at him.
"I don't have to put up with this," Chuck said, turning for the bedroom once more. He was a little surprised when she didn't follow him, but when he glanced over his shoulder, Sarah was sitting on the couch, lifting Lisa over her head and then bringing her down to nuzzle against her.
Sarah merely smiled at Chuck's not-so-deftly faked indignation and sat down on the sofa. Lisa was starting to fuss and reach for her breast; Sarah tried a quick lift and nuzzle, which had distracted the two-month old from time to time in the past, without success. With Morgan's 'no-breastfeeding-in-the-living-room' edict fresh in her mind, she thought about joining Chuck in the bedroom. Then again, shirtless Chuck was always hard to resist, and Sarah didn't want to risk the crying jag that would likely become inevitable if she put Lisa back in her portable crib while she indulged herself with Chuck.
Morgan would just have to get over his squeamishness she decided, pulled up the Faux Paws t-shirt she'd stolen, tugged down one of the straps on her maternity bra and let Lisa latch on. After a minute or two, Sarah became restless. She'd never been able to sit still and breast feed, and so she quickly found herself pacing the apartment. Her circuit took her into the kitchen, where she checked the coffee pot: still only half full.
Then, she cocked her head to one side, eyebrow perking up. Her 'spy'dey-sense was tingling, as she'd told Chuck once, to a groan and a comment about puns being the lowest form of comedy. Sitting in the sink were a pair of cereal bowls, still with some brightly colored sugary bits in the bottom, on closer inspection, as well as a couple larger than usual coffee mugs. The math was easy; one of those over-sized mugs was at least three cups, and Morgan's coffee maker made 9 cups. Her husband and his erstwhile best friend could easily have finished a full pot.
Sarah took a couple steps to the trash can and lifted the lid. A used coffee filter lay on top of the older trash. Her eyes narrowed and she turned toward the bedroom. Something hinky was going on.
The doorbell rang, and Sarah froze. "Anybody wanna get that?" she said, loudly enough to carry through the whole apartment. It wasn't quite a shout, but close.
She sighed grumpily and pulled Lisa away from her breakfast gingerly. The little one made a sound of protest, and Sarah cooed down at her soothingly. "Once I get rid of them, I'll finish feeding you, just don't go all fire alarm-ey on me, deal?" Lisa didn't so much agree as she just didn't object more strenuously on the instant, which was better than nothing. Sarah realized that she'd picked up Chuck's habit of talking to Lisa as if she was a grown-up, or at least closer to ten years old than two months. She dismissed the thought as extraneous, tucked herself back into her bra and pulled the shirt back into place, before padding over to the door.
Years of spy experience had left their mark, and Sarah found herself sidling carefully up to the doorway, peering at the peep-hole to make sure whoever was at the door wasn't waiting to blast her through the door when the tiny window darkened as she put her eye to it. The CIA horror stories of the KGB operative back in the sixties who had knocked on his targets' doors and put the tip of his silenced Makarov 9mm to the peep hole, were widely known; so widely known in fact, that the method had made its way into a fair number of movies over the years. Once Sarah was confident that she wasn't going to be shot in the eye, she put her face to the peep-hole.
A tension she hadn't realized she'd been feeling left her in a rush; it was just Ellie, her sister-in-law— which was still a new-feeling title to be throwing around willy-nilly, despite better than a year married to the woman's brother. Much of that year she and Chuck had been on the run or in hiding, and before that, they'd been pretending to have broken up. Thankfully, most of the CIA-related complications in her life were no more, and Sarah yanked the door open to greet Ellie with a smile, despite the early hour.
Ellie's eyes widened and her jaw dropped at the sight of her, causing Sarah a moment's confusion, before her sister-in-law opened her mouth. "Is that what you're wearing?" Ellie asked.
Sarah's confusion deepened. "Apparently," she said.
"No, I mean," Ellie faltered briefly, "Chuck really didn't tell you? I thought you'd have used your feminine wiles on him and got him to spill."
Sarah felt dread beginning to build in her stomach. Chuck had mentioned keeping a secret, briefly, but she'd assumed he'd just been being playful. "Uh-oh," she said, just as a small handful of women popped out from carefully chosen positions to either side of her sister-in-law.
"Surprise, blondie," Carina said with a smirk, and then reached over to wiggle her fingers in Lisa's face. "I mean blondies," she corrected herself.
Zondra shook her head in disbelief. "Carina told us you'd reproduced, but we didn't believe her. Even with the pictures."
"And you never told us you had a sister!" Amy chirped, arm in arm with a second redhead.
"Hi Renee," Sarah managed. "Chuck set this up?"
"Yeah, Sammie," Renee tossed her head to get some hair out of her face, in a manner familiar to all of Sarah Walker's friends. "Your hubby really stepped up this time," she said, then glanced around at Sarah's former spy-buddies, particularly Zondra, given the way her little sister was glaring. "Or maybe stepped in it."
"Oh, yes," Sarah said. "He will pay for this..."
Carina laughed. "I'll bet," she said, with a knowing smirk, that set Sarah off in a blush. "Come on, Walker, change into something less Mommy and Me, we've got a party to hold."
Sarah smiled evilly, and made to hand off Lisa to the devious redhead. "Here, somebody's got to hold her while I change."
Carina's eyes widened and she took a hasty step back. "Oh-ho no! This is a Dolce and Gabbana blouse. No way am I getting puke-stains on it."
Sarah arched an eyebrow and turned smoothly, "I was talking to Ellie."
Lisa's aunt took her and bounced her and the littlest Bartowski reached up to grab her hair. Ellie laughed and pulled her head up, while Sarah disappeared into the apartment. A moment later she poked her head back out. "You can come in, if you want," she said. "I wasn't trying to be a b-word."
Zondra arched an eyebrow. "'B-word'? Why don't you just say it?" she frowned, until Sarah pointed vaguely at Ellie, and who she was holding. The tall brunette spy rolled her eyes, and Renee shrugged.
"You get used to it," she said. "And anyway, she's mellowed a bit on that front. You should have seen her two months ago. That was scary."
Sarah scowled. "Okay, everybody but you can come in, Renee," she said, and darted back inside, slamming the door in her sister's face.
"God, kidding," Sarah said when she opened the door a moment later. "Come on, everybody inside."
Lisa kicked and struggled for a moment, and Ellie had to shift her grip. "Hey now, none of that," Ellie said, and shook her head. "She's growing like a weed, Sarah. I think Lisa's put on like three pounds since you and Chuck have been back."
"How old is she?" Amy asked, and pulled a goofy face for the baby, who mostly just drooled quizzically, if that were possible.
"Today's what, the seventh?" Sarah said, ushering everyone inside, "Two months and three days."
"Your kid was born on the fourth of July?" Zondra asked, after some brief mental arithmetic. "Very patriotic. Did you plan that out or...?"
Sarah laughed and shook her head. "No, of course not. There were... circumstances, and I went into labor a couple weeks early. I think the doctors wanted to induce before much longer anyway. God this place is a mess. You really shouldn't have sprung this on me, Ellie."
"Sorry," Ellie shrugged. "I know you're not a fan of the surprise party, but I've always been of the 'easier to ask for forgiveness than permission' school of thought."
"I guess it just runs in the family," Sarah grumbled under her breath. Chuck's propensity for not staying in the van explained at last. "Anyway, I'm not sure I'm set up for a party. We're mostly just crashing here until the CIA finishes setting up covers for us in DC."
"Relax, sis," Renee said from her post rooting through the kitchen for something. "Just sit down, and let us work our magic."
Sarah sighed and sank into the couch. Ellie joined her and the CAT squad plus Sarah's former FBI Special Agent sister set to with a will. It was almost laughable, but they worked with the coordination of a well oiled team, and before long, 'Congratulations' banners and myriad party decorations festooned the apartment.
"It's very... festive," Sarah said, trying to be diplomatic about it all, despite being severly under dressed to her own baby/wedding shower.
"Well, we try," Carina said. "You never did send me those baby pictures like you promised. I had to get them second hand from Beckman."
"Sorry, Carina," Sarah shrugged and tucked one leg up under her. "I got a little busy."
"So we're led to believe," Zondra laughed.
"God," Sarah said, "How much did Chuck tell you about that?"
"Well, I may have mentioned our little roadtrip to Beckman's house," Renee said, "So, don't blame Chuck for everything. He didnt spill any more beans than he was supposed to."
"See this is why I hate surprise parties," Sarah said. "It's too much like work when I've got to figure out what everybody knows or is allowed to know."
"Well, it was hardly my idea," Zondra said.
Sarah pursed her lips, and avoided the angry retort. No use rehashing all their past issues at the moment; if one of the former CAT squad leaked information about her 'death' being exaggerated... well they would deal with it if it happened. And few enough people knew Sarah Walker was supposed to be dead. If-
"Wow," Ellie said. "Awkward silence. Here, Sarah, handoff time, let me go grab the margaritas."
"Margaritas? It's not even nine o clock in the morning," Sarah protested, but put her arms out to take the baby.
Her former spy team looked at her like she was crazy. "Man, when did you become the old married lady?" Carina said, then scoffed. "Forget I said anything, I remember that story now. Ugh, I still can't believe you got married at a comic book convention."
"What!" Zondra said, startled.
Amy let out a nervous laugh. "Seriously? You so have to tell us that story!"
Sarah grimaced and shot her eyes toward Ellie, who still didn't know the full story about Chuck and the Intersect, and then the rest of her friends, and shook her head. "Fine, okay. But I'm going to need a margarita first," Ellie darted out for the pitcher and Sarah used the brief intermission do figure out how to tell the story without being forced to compromise Chuck's status as the Intersect.
She weaved around and through the truth like a slalom skier, and got through the tale with satisfactory noises from her audience. Oddly enough, it was Ellie who had the objection. "Wait, wait, wait," she said, "I never put this together until just this second. You're telling me... you and Chuck never... you know? Even after the wedding!"
"Well, obviously not never," Sarah said, bouncing Lisa in her arms. Ellie threw up her hands helplessly. "Are you really that curious?" She quirked an eyebrow. "That seems a little weird."
Chuck's sister turned a sort of mottled color as she fought a sudden flush with a swig of her margarita. "I'm not looking for details," she protested. "But you slept over at least half a dozen times, I mean..."
"Yeah, and it was fairly awkward every time," Sarah said. "Come on, the first time you wound up poisoned by a former Olympic gymnast turned spy. Or maybe you don't remember that. You were all loopy from the drugs when you burst into the room."
It was Carina's turn to burst out laughing. "Seriously?" she slapped her thigh in hilarity. Zondra and Amy were snickering behind their hands and Renee was fighting a grin.
"Yeah," Sarah said. "It was a truth agent, we all got hit at some point; long story, and most of its still codeword classified."
"Aw," Carina said. "Sounds like my kind of story." Ellie glared at her, but it only sent the redhead up in another gale of laughter.
Ellie shielded her face with one hand. "Okay, please let's change the subject. Sarah, how about opening some presents?"
Sarah's eyes brightened. "Presents? There's presents?"
"Of course!" Renee said. "Haven't you ever been to one of these before?"
Sarah shrugged sheepishly and nodded toward the CAT squad. "Now having met my circle of friends," she said, "are you really that surprised? Any of you been to a baby shower?"
Zondra and Amy shook their heads.
"On a mission count?" Carina said, but then shook her head as well. "Wait, that was a bachelor party."
"They're a little bit different, Carina," Amy said.
"Enough!" Sarah said, "Presents!"
Ellie rolled her eyes, and went to retrieve her gift from across the courtyard. When everyone had followed suit Sarah considered the pile of gifts. "So, is there a set order I need to go in?"
"No, probably not," Renee said. "I don't think?"
The CAT squad shrugged almost in unison.
"Here, don't open the big one first," Carina said. "Medium first."
"That's from me," Ellie beamed and passed the box over.
Sarah handed Lisa off to her sister and tore into the wrapping paper. "Huh," she frowned at the box, "Its a... bullhorn?"
"No, no! What? No!" Ellie scooted closer to explain, turning the box. "See, it's a breast pump."
"A what?" Sarah said.
Carina laughed. "Ooh, kinky!"
"It is not!" Ellie said defensively. "It's... you can, um... nurse yourself, and store extra breast milk in the fridge. So you don't have to be 'on call' for breast-feeding 24/7. I know you're kind of going crazy."
Sarah's eyes widened. "You mean..." her voice took of an air of wonder. "I can make Chuck get up in the middle of the night to feed her instead?"
Sarah's hug nearly knocked Ellie off the sofa. Ellie gasped for breath and fought her way clear of the hug eventually. "You're welcome."
Carina frowned and glanced at the pile of gifts.
"Mine next," Renee said, shoving a huge box across the carpet.
Sarah ripped into the second gift with abandon.
"What the hell's a diaper-genie?" Zondra demanded.
Renee tossed her head. "It helps keep poopy diapers from stinking up the place," she said, "You just dump them in and flip this thing. There a gasket or something that keeps the stink inside."
"Oh my god, I love it!" Sarah hugged the box for a moment. "Thank you so much, Renee! Okay, who's next?"
Carina looked somewhat uncomfortable. "urm, actually. Why don't you... um..."
"What's wrong?" Ellie asked.
Sarah grinned. "I know that 'nothing',"
"Give me a break, I didn't know what to get for a baby shower... let me just..." Zondra and Amy were also reaching to take back their gifts.
Sarah slapped her hand down on the boxes to stop them from being taken back. She grinned and pointed at Carina's gift-box. "Lingerie?" Carina shrugged sheepishly, and Sarah turned her gaze on the next CAT in line, Zondra. "Lingerie?" The brunette nodded and sighed; Sarah's grin widened and she turned toward Amy, who just rolled her eyes.
"Yes, me too," the much too perky blonde said.
"Well, how were we supposed to know it was supposed to be a practical gift?" Zondra said, "We just found out you were married yesterday!"
"Its fine, really," Sarah said. "Although, now I'm curious."
The three remaining boxes turned up a startling variety of lacy negligees and thigh high stockings in a rainbow of colors. She frowned after a closer inspection. "How did you know my measurements? I went up like two cup sizes during the pregnancy."
"We're spies?" Amy said. "We're paid to find out things we're not supposed to know."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Chuck told you."
"Nope," Renee said, raising one hand from her grip on baby Lisa. "FBI training makes sizing people up pretty easy," then she made a funny face and bent to sniff Lisa's diaper. "Ulp, guess its time to try out the Diaper-Genie."
"Not it!" Carina said quickly, swiftly followed by Zondra and Amy.
"Ditto, sis," Renee stood and tried to divest herself of her two month old burden. Ellie rolled her eyes and took her Niece. Sarah followed with the huge boxed diaper-disposal system cradled in her arms.
"Speaking of," Amy said. "I'd better hit the ladies. Long drive."
"Ew," Carina laughed and sipped her margarita.
Zondra shook her head. "I still can't believe Walker reproduced."
"You met her husband yet? Not gonna help. Nerd with a capital 'N'. I'm talking pocket protectors and everything."
"Yes this is true. He did wear a pocket protector for several years," Sarah poked her head back into the room to admit. "But, dating a nerd has its perks."
"Like what?" Zondra quirked an eyebrow.
Carina and Zondra exchanged confused frowns, before her meaning dawned on them at about the same moment.
Changing Lisa's diapers wasn't usually such a production. Renee stood by theatrically holding her nose while Ellie unpacked the Diaper-genie and Sarah got her out of her onesie. Sarah took her eyes off of Lisa momentarily to glare at her sister, and when she looked back, she gasped. Lisa wasn't finished. "Oh, smurf!"
"What?" Renee laughed.
"I'm trying not to curse around the baby," Sarah said. "Ellie, go grab the baby-bag. I think I left it out in the living room. The spare diapers are in it! Go, go, go! Hurry!"
Mrs. Dr. Woodcomb rushed off in search of the diaper bag, grabbed it to consternation from Zondra and Carina, and headed back at a jog. She skidded to a halt in the hallway when she heard voices. Amy had left the bathroom door ajar, and she didn't mean to eavesdrop. It just sort of happened.
"You heard me," the perky blonde said in a hoarse whisper. "Walker's not dead! She's here in Burbank. No, I didn't see any security. This could be the moment, Gusto. Get the team and head over."
Ellie's brow furrowed as she listened. Sarah hadn't said much, but wasn't the whole 'faked death' thing still a secret? She tried to shake off the sudden chill; it was probably just out of context. She didn't want to be 'nosy Ellie' all her life, but... she tiptoed backward.
"Hey, Ellie! Hurry up with the diapers!" Sarah bellowed.
A blue eye peeked out of the cracked door, suddenly widened. A thrill of fear went through her as her gaze met Amy's. The door slammed. "Oh, crap." Ellie breathed and ran.
TO BE CONTINUED...
A/N: Evil cliffhanger, but I'll have chapter 2 up sometime Monday, so the wait won't be too bad. Why not drop me a review to keep me in the write frame of mind? (Puns! I will try to keep those to a minimum in the future...)