Hi Everyone! :)
To say I suck when it comes to updating could be the understatement of the year. But to be honest, I just lost inspiration, or motivation, or something. But I made a goal for myself to finish this story by the end of 2012, and I'll be damned if I don't! This chapter was half written since pretty much the last chapter being posted, but I am glad to say I finished it last night, edited it today and hope it finishes off the story nicely. :)
Reminder I don't own anything, I just love delving into these characters.
I hope this ending does you all justice. Just take it as a little Christmas/Holiday Present from me. :)
Also, thanks to EVERYONE who comes back to read off this 4000 word ending! :)
Heart vs. Brain, Chapter 6
It started with the little things. The way he whistles sometimes as he brushes his teeth. How when they kiss, sometimes he'd pull away and smile at her, as if he is the luckiest man in the world to be holding her in his arms. Or how when they go walking in the park, he always always needs to get ice cream, and playfully forces her into sharing a sundae every time.
Then it was the bigger things. His utter compassion for everyone around him – he never does anything for himself unless everyone else is taken care of already. If it is a choice between his own inconvenience and that of hers, he is always the one going out of his way. His complete nerdiness – he can get lost in a video game for hours, only to resurface 2AM for nourishment and delve right back in. He is able to start up a working software company in only a few months (no help from the computer in his head, might she add). And while sometimes it is annoying to watch the same movie over and over, it is still really endearing, adorable and just utterly him. Then there is his love – that man could love a pet fish for the three hours that he could keep it alive, and still cry at its flushing funeral an hour later. And to top it all off, absolutely nothing could touch his friends or family without his love getting in the way. Absolutely nothing.
Finally, it ends with the biggest thing: Him. Though she probably could have said it much earlier, in December of 2012 there was no doubt in Sarah Walker's mind that she is in love with Chuck Bartowski. Wiped brain or not. Memories or not. Sarah Walker, no, Sarah Bartowski is in love. And always will be.
"I'm thinking of growing my hair out," Sarah says, a box of decorations in her hand as she walks into the living room.
"Really? I kind of like it all short and cute." Chuck says, dropping his box and moving to Sarah, one hand instantly wrapping itself around her waist and the other playing with a strand that has gotten loose from her ponytail.
"It just… it doesn't feel like me." Sarah says, her eyes dancing with the look Chuck is giving her. "I just… maybe I'll remember more if I had my old hair back?"
Chuck smiles, placing a chaste kiss on his wife's lips. "Whatever you want, sweetie. You could probably rock the bald look and no one would look twice."
Sarah rolls her eyes, but gives him a playful kiss back. The box in her hand drops to the floor when Chuck grabs her, deepening the kiss and dragging his lips from her mouth to her neck. In their short few weeks of venturing into the sexual side of their relationship, Chuck seems to have discovered all of the places that used to make Sarah go wild still work. Sarah, however, is not at all angry that she has to discover them all for herself.
"Chuck," Sarah moans as Chuck hits that spot on her shoulder, just there, that makes her knees weak and the box in her hand drop to the floor. Good thing it was just tinsel.
"Sarah…" Chuck mumbles against her skin, his teeth grazing behind her ear. The two begin backing up, headed towards where the couch normally is, only for Chuck to stumble on the myriad of boxes and the two of them to go crashing down.
Sarah is the first to laugh, starting low in her throat and ending as a large gaffaw as she stares at the toppled tree in what once was their living room but now looks more like the Christmas display from the Buy More. Chuck slowly joins in, their laughter filling the room.
This is another thing Sarah loves. It doesn't feel weird, or forced, or strange that she is in a Chuck/Christmas tree sandwich. It isn't even weird that she has a Christmas tree in her living room, or is decorating only hours before their guests arrive. It just feels right. It feels right, because Chuck is there with her.
"Well that was a fun little foray into being a lumberjack, but let's never do that again, okay?" Chuck asks, groaning as Sarah attempts to stand without completely crushing him.
"Deal," She replies, a hand reaching out to help Chuck up. "But no more sneaking off for a quickie – your sister is coming into town in three hours and we still have a half decorated Christmas tree!" Sarah points to the tree to make her argument, the toppled fir only decorated near the top while most of the tinsel and ornaments now scatter the floor nearby.
"Well, if you didn't want to go to bed so early last night…" Chuck says, leaning down to grab the tree.
"Oh, don't you dare blame that on me! You were the one who was so adamant that Christmas Eve Eve is a special holiday where all husbands must ravish their wives…"
"You weren't complaining last night." Chuck's comment is greeted by a playful punch in the arm and the fir falls once again to the ground.
"Oh, just quiet you and keep building the tree. This is the first real family holiday I'm going to have since…"
Chuck leaves the tree on the ground and moves to Sarah, his arms wrapping around her from behind.
"Sarah, are you nervous? You have absolutely nothing to be afraid of."
Sarah sighs, her body unconsciously leaning back into Chuck's. "I know but… what if they don't like me? What if I don't like them?"
"Sarah!" Chuck says, his voice shocked. "They loved you the first time, what makes you think they won't love you again?"
"The first time I had nothing to live up to." She mutters, almost too quiet for Chuck to hear. He doesn't say anything, just squeezes her tighter and places a kiss in her hair. The two stand in silence, surveying the beautiful Christmas decorations with a fallen tree in the middle. So tragic, yet so much like their life. Everything in order with the one most important part knocked down and unable to be righted on its own.
"Sarah, trust me. You've spent time with each of them one on one and you've been…"
Sarah gives Chuck a glare then rolls her eyes. So, maybe she isn't the best with new people. Maybe it took three days out of Ellie's week in town for Sarah to be able to spend more than five minutes alone with her sister in law. Maybe the only time Sarah isn't facing uncomfortable silence with Casey is when they're at the gun range. Maybe it took even longer for Sarah to be able to handle Morgan the second time around. Maybe the only people Sarah could spend time with instantly were her mom and Molly, if only because she had memories of them from before. But after a few days alone with each of them, she found herself really enjoying spending time with the members of her new family.
Perhaps she could do this. How bad could one large gathering be?
"I've been what?" Sarah asks, wanting to see how Chuck will get out of this one, even if he is right.
"Well… no one got killed or maimed… and Morgan's leg healed up nicely after that laser tag debacle… but I can tell you without a doubt Ellie will hate you if you leave the tree like this." He says, earning another glare and a playful swat.
"So how is work?" "Miss being out in action yet, Walker?" "You grew your hair out!" "Hey Clara, Auntie Sarah sure has some great stories to tell you!" "Do you remember when?" "How many times have I told you?" "What about…?" "And that time…" "How is…?"
Her heart is pounding, a smile plastered on her face, a glass of wine in her hand, Molly sitting on her lap babbling happily to Chuck about how she wishes soccer wasn't over for the year, and hundreds of questions and conversations aiming themselves directly at her. She doesn't know who to answer first, or what to answer, or what they expect her to say. Most of these people Sarah has only seen less than ten times, and the majority of the earlier interactions were a brief hello, a smile, then some sort of an excuse to get the hell out of there.
She turns to Chuck, realizing how completely happy he is. Surrounded by friends and family, a crowded living room full of people and laughter and conversations. Everything about him is smiling, from his face to the animated way his hands move to the shine in his eyes. This is where Chuck belongs, but as she keeps trying to avoid questions Sarah is getting more and more closed off.
From across the room, Sarah's mom gives a reassuring smile. Emma is talking with Mary, probably some sort of mom discussion, but her eyes speak volumes. Reassurance, encouragement, maybe even a little sympathy for how out of water she is. Sarah was never one for groups, even as a kid. And now it is all just adding up, especially with all the personal questions, and the people who think they know her, and how John Casey of the NSA is being all chatty and friendly and has his arm around a woman. And really, why are those guys from the Buy More, lewd comments and all, here anyway?
Sarah thinks back on her spy training: what to do when feeling overwhelmed on a mission. Her choices are to explode and bring out the spy, or to remove herself from the situation.
"Excuse me," Sarah says, wine glass passed smoothly to Chuck's hand and Molly placed softly onto the now vacant spot on the couch. The room goes silent as they all watch Sarah make a beeline towards the bedroom.
No one wants to break the silence, until a small, sad voice is heard. "Where did Sarah go? Does she not like me anymore?"
All eyes turn to Molly, the girl pulling her legs up and hugging them as if holding herself together. Her mother quickly rushes to the side of the room, wrapping her arms around the small girl.
"Oh, Molly. Of course Sarah still loves you. She's probably just a little tired, or needs a minute alone. I'm sure she'll be out here ready to talk again in no time." The girl whimpers, but nods her understanding.
"I should go check on her," Chuck says, smiling down at Molly then moving down the hall. "There's more eggnog in the fridge, so feel free to…" His voice trails off as he approaches the door, placing two soft knocks on it. There isn't a lock on the door, but Chuck doesn't think barging in on Sarah right now is the best option.
He doesn't receive an answer, so he tries again. "Sarah," he says quietly to the door. "It's me, please open the door."
"Leave me alone," is the reply.
Chuck sighs, leaning against the doorframe. "Sarah, I'm sorry. This dinner was asking too much of you. Please, just let me in so we can talk."
A half second passes and the door slowly opens. Sarah motions with her head for Chuck to come in, and slowly closes the door behind him. They sit in silence on the bed, half an inch of space between them, before Sarah leans over and places her head onto Chuck's shoulder.
"Chuck, please don't be sorry." She says, her eyes closing as she breathes in his comforting scent. "It's me who isn't ready. This is your dinner, and your family, and I'm the one who is ruining it all."
"Hey, hey, hey!" Chuck says, a hand moving to lift Sarah's face so he can look in her eyes. "This isn't my anything. This is our family, and it wouldn't be the same without you here. Okay?" He leans in, placing a soft kiss on her lips. "If you need some time alone before coming back out, I'll make sure we wait for you to open presents."
"But I don't-" Sarah starts, only to be cut off by another kiss.
"No. I pushed you too fast again, and I know we talked about this before, so take all the time you need, okay?"
"I won't ruin it for you if I'm not out there?"
Chuck shakes his head, running a hand through Sarah's hair. "It would ruin it for me if you were out there, feeling like you needed to run away, rather than you staying here and coming back out when you're ready. "
Sarah looks down at their tightly clasped hands, a small tear forming in her eyes. "I was so excited for today… I thought I was ready. I thought…"
"It doesn't matter," Chuck replies, his lips placing a reassuring kiss on her forehead. "All that matters is you being happy. We can always do the big family thing again for Easter, or next Christmas, or the Easter after that."
Sarah laughs, knowing that no matter how dorky he sounds, they will be together for the next fifty Easter and Christmases.
"I just thought I could handle it. I thought I was ready. But… I've never dealt with all of them… together. At once." Sarah lets out a moan. "I'm a grown woman for goodness sake! And a spy! I should be able to handle this!"
"I know. They're a lot. And you're doing great. Just take as long as you need. I'm sure everyone understands." Chuck says, trying to be reassuring. The two sit in silence for a few moments, hearing someone yelling and a small crash from outside, followed by Ellie yelling "Everything's fine!" loud enough for the whole complex to hear.
"You should probably get back out there," Sarah says, her body betraying her words as her hands cling to his with a vice grip.
"They can do without me for a little bit longer." Chuck replies, pulling Sarah down with him onto the bed. He removes his hands from hers, wrapping them around her body to pull her close. Sarah smiles, resting her cheek on Chuck's chest, the comforting sound of his heartbeat reassuring her that everything is going to be okay.
"Maybe just a little bit," Sarah replies, her arms moving to wrap around Chuck, her body rearranging itself so their mouths can touch.
They stay wrapped up together, sharing reassuring kisses and small, comforting hand movements. Eventually Chuck agrees, no matter how much he wants to stay with Sarah in their tiny world forever, family is waiting outside and dinner is about ready and he doesn't want the turkey to dry out, knowing Ellie would leave it in the oven as long as she can without Chuck and Sarah outside to eat. He urges Sarah to stay alone until she is ready, reminds her that he will check on her and bring some dinner if she isn't out before they start eating, and that it is okay to feel overwhelmed.
Sarah nods her understanding, watching Chuck fix the small tussle in his hair then walk out the door, leaving her alone with her thoughts in a house full of people she should know.
But she doesn't know them. That's the problem here, isn't it? Chuck knows them, and they all know her, but she doesn't know them. Not well enough, at least. Not as much as she feels she should. Why on earth did Sarah think this was a good idea? Trying to build a life with someone she doesn't know? Someone who's someones she doesn't know?
Well, that isn't exactly true now, is it? Sarah knows Chuck, she loves Chuck. She just doesn't know the rest of the people in his life, because most of them aren't here in Burbank anymore, or haven't been patient with Sarah the way Chuck has. It's just, this new life will never work. Not for Sarah, not now. And what is she even fighting for? A crowded room with loud people all taking over one another? This isn't what spy Sarah is trained for. This isn't something the new Sarah is sure she can handle. Yeah, maybe she did it once, but can it be done again?
Sarah gets up and begins pacing, her hands running through her hair. God, she wishes she had a punching bag right about now. Push all her fears and anger and insecurity away into the mesh, let the feelings out through her fingers never to be seen again. She instead collapses to the floor, knocking her head on the desk as she hits the ground. She closes her eyes and falls to the floor, cradling her head from the pain. When she opens her eyes, something shiny in the crack between the desk and the wall catches her eye. She reaches her hand in, pulling out the brown book, a bright green bow fastened to the top.
She flips the book over once, noticing nothing unusual about it other than the bow and the fact that a picture album was hiding in their bedroom. Opening the book, however, Sarah notices a small inscription on the brown front page; a golden cursive that says "Happy Christmas, Sarah. The first of many (that you'll remember)". She begins flipping through the pages, expecting to find images of events she'll never re-do, missions long past and photos she can't remember taking.
But that's not what is inside this photo album.
Instead, Sarah is greeted with a very different set of images. Laser tag with Chuck. Her smiling with the first group of kids she ever taught at the studio. Chuck and her eating dinner at a fancy restaurant. A candid of Sarah on their beach. Ellie and Sarah baking in the kitchen that time she came in to visit. Sarah teaching Molly how to ride a bike. Sarah and Chuck with a sundae at the park. Simple moments. Moments Sarah treasures. Moments Sarah remembers.
As she continues to flip through the album, Sarah's mind becomes clear.
The life she wants with Chuck, the one pictured in the image of Sarah laughing as Chuck holds up a badly carved pumpkin, the one she can remember in the photo of their board game tournament with Morgan and Alex, the one she can see in the future as they stand outside their "almost-house", that is what matters.
So, Sarah can't deal with all the people at once. "They're still family, right?" Sarah asks herself, pausing as she hits the last page. She smiles to herself, a hand coming to rest over her mouth and a tear forming in her eye. How on earth does Chuck do it? How does he know exactly what Sarah needs at exactly the right time?
Sitting on the last page of the photo album are two photos. One, from however many years ago when they had their first small family Christmas together, and right next to it is the photo they had taken earlier that evening of the whole "family". Though the people look older and there are a few new additions in the photo on the right, the look in Sarah's eyes are the same. They show belonging, happiness and shine with love for the man who, incidentally, is not looking at the camera but is instead looking at the blond beside him.
Sarah lets her head fall back against the desk, and a lone tear falls down from her cheek. Maybe she can do this. Maybe she can be the person they all think she can be. Maybe she's already there. After all, both Sarah's in the photos share the same smile, the same look, the same happiness. And a picture doesn't lie, not when a spy isn't trying to hide anything.
As Sarah closes the book, a soft knock is heard on the door followed by Chuck entering the room. He quietly closes the door and, upon seeing what Sarah is holding in her lap and the tears in her eyes, sits down next to Sarah on the floor.
"I see you've found my gift," he whispers.
"It's amazing." Sarah beams. "Amazing."
Chuck smiles and places a light kiss to Sarah's hair. The two sit in amicable silence for a few moments, a true test of how far they've come since that second night on the beach. After a while, Sarah leans her head onto Chuck's shoulder, breathing in his scent. Chuck notices the change in her, the way she seems so much calmer than a few moments earlier.
"Sarah," Chuck says, "Do you think you're okay to come out? Molly is getting hungry and Ellie says the turkey will burn if we leave it in any longer…"
Sarah nods then adds, "Five more minutes? You're very comfy today."
Chuck nods back and turns his neck to place another kiss on Sarah's head. "I have one more gift for you, if you want. You know, for Christmas and everything. It's a little early, but I kind of want to give you this one in private."
"I would love it." Sarah says, though she somehow thinks she knows what gift Chuck will be giving her. When Chuck pulls out the box, Sarah's eyes light up. She smiles wide, her eyes shining as she opens it and she is quick to pull Chuck in for a thank you kiss.
"Let's go out to everyone," Sarah exclaimed, finally ready to face their family, even if only in small bursts for a while. The two get up and Chuck helps clasp Sarah's gift onto her wrist.
"I'm taking it you like the gift then?" he asks as the two head towards the door.
"I love it." Sarah replies. "An oldie, but a goodie. Just like you."
Chuck pauses for a moment, eying Sarah, but decides not to bring it up. Perhaps she will never get her memory back, but as long as they can continue making new ones together and with their family, Chuck will never want anything more.
The two walk into the kitchen, Ellie apologizing for the Turkey already being on the table because "it would've burnt and been too dry", Devon replying that a dry turkey is "not awesome" as Morgan and Molly fight over who gets the wishbone while Casey starts carving without anyone's consent to which the whole table begins loudly yelling that Chuck should've cut the first piece and Jeff and Lester begin diving for the legs while Clara starts crying, and suddenly the entire room is in chaos. Chuck looks over at Sarah, the pair having quietly sat in their seats as the pandemonium began. Sarah takes a deep breath and looks over at Chuck, a laugh bubbling to the surface. Her right hand moves to cover her mouth, the charm bracelet dangling off her wrist.
She is part of the family now, part of this group of misfits. And it might take her a little longer to be comfortable, it might take her a few more gatherings with alone time interspersed, but she will be damned if she doesn't try to love them as much as they love her.
And finally, at the end of all this madness, her heart and brain agree on one thing. This is going to be the toughest mission Sarah will ever take on, but she is going to love every minute of it.
I hope you all liked it! It seems finding photos for Sarah is a thing she does a lot, but something that helps her maybe remember just what she is fighting for. I kind of changed the ending from what was originally planned because I thought this was way more realistic than Sarah getting all her memories back.
I hope you liked the ending! I am just glad I could finish this off before the year is up! :)
Happy Holidays to everyone, and a happy new year!