A/N: Was going to post this as a MASSIVE one shot, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured that someone else might get this idea and steal my thunder (yep, I'm vain like that, yay!) so anyway, this is sort of the introductory chapter, and the second chapter will count around 10.000 words or so and deal with the rest of the story. Hope you like it. On a side note, I'm good with the ending now, so my motivation to write has increased (as you can tell!)
Disclaimer: Can't own Chuck anymore as it's done. Don't have the syndication rights either :(
He draws away from her and there's a hopeful look on his face. And his face falls as he sees that she can't remember the entire story yet. She's heard the story, she just can't identify with it.
"I'm so sorry, Chuck."
"Don't apologize, Sarah. Please… It's not your fault, okay? Nothing that happened is your fault."
"I just want to… I want to remember Chuck. I want to… I need you to be mine again. I married you once already. I must've had a good reason to do so." She chuckles slightly and Chuck can't help but twist the silver band that's firmly situated around his ring finger, along with swallowing the bitter frustration with not only losing his best friend to a girl—he totally gets how Morgan must've felt when Sarah came along—but his sister and her husband and his niece moving to the Midwest. Casey went after Gertrude and all that's left is him and Sarah. And by God, if it's the last thing he will do, he will make her if not remember, at least understand why she fell for him. He did it once before, he could do it again.
"Chuck," Sarah whispers, her eyes moist with tears that are about to break the dam. "Tell me again. Please."
"No," he says, and her mouth drops into a perfect o-form and he can't help but flash back to Morocco and he has to take a deep breath, because if he doesn't, he's afraid he might break down himself. But he has to be strong. He has to be strong for the woman he's grown to love, completely and utterly. So he stands up. "I've got a better idea."
She follows and stands up as well. "What is it?"
"Sarah… do you want to go on a date with me?"
"I can tell you about it, all you want. I can keep telling you this story, every day for the rest of my life. But it's not just the story. It's the experiences we had. And Ellie told me that emotions are powerful tools. Sarah, I want to take you to..." His voice breaks, but he swallows and trudges on. "I want to take you everywhere we've been. And I want to relive those experiences, those emotions. I want to relive them with you. You don't have to stay in ou… in my apartment if you want. But please let me do this for you… for us."
She ponders his question, and her face takes on a shy look. "Okay," she replies and his name is not Chuck Bartowski if that isn't the same expression from when he asked her out on the first date when the new Intersect was supposed to come online.
"Really?" he asks, the hopeful tinge coloring his voice.
"Uhu," she nods.
"Great," he sighs in relief. "Come with me." He reaches for her hand and without prompting, she links hers with his and they walk away from the beach. They'd return here, he knew. And hopefully, by the time that happened, she would be able to call him her husband again. But even if that wasn't the case, even if what he would only have with her would be a friendship, as hard and impossibly maddening it would be, he would take it. He was not going to relinquish her.
He phones a number he had no intention of ever using ever again, but the truth is, if this plan was to work, he'd need the funds.
"Mr. Bartowski. I didn't figure I'd hear from you so soon."
"Yes, sorry General. I just… I don't know what to do anymore. And I've got a Hail Mary but I don't have the money necessary to pull it off. I want to take her back to all the places we've ever been. I want her to remember…"
"Mr. Bartowski. Give me three minutes."
The phone goes dead and Chuck lays it down, unsure what she meant with that abrupt ending. Still, the General had promised to call back in three minutes and she was nothing if not punctual.
Almost exactly on the dot of one-hundred and eighty seconds later, the phone rings.
"Mr. Bartowski. The United States government would like to offer you a back pay of two years service rendered as the most important Intelligence asset the world has ever seen. Furthermore, we would like to present you with a severance fee after being removed from the CIA due to a conspiracy against you, and a small thank you from me, for saving my life, as well as the lives of innocent civilians at the concert. Furthermore, we have taken the liberty of unfreezing the assets from Carmichael Industries and those funds have also been added to your account."
Chuck's mouth goes dry. "Wait… what?"
"You heard me, Mr. Bartowski. I'm certain that this solves your financial issues?"
Chuck runs to the computer and checks his account. And oh my, those zeroes go on about as long as Sarah's legs. "Gen… General, thank you so… so very much for this." He isn't going to cry when he's talking to a General of the United States damn it.
"You're welcome, Mr Bartowski. And Chuck? Good luck." She closes the connection and Chuck falls to his bed.
Sarah had opted to go back to her hotel room, still clinging to the same issues as she had done five years ago. He can't blame her. He has no idea of how he would possibly react to the revelation of having lost five years of your life and finding you're married to someone who you think at first is just a mark. But this time, there is no CIA or NSA to keep them back. They weren't spies any longer, although Chuck did have the Intersect in his head. Sarah still believed herself to be a spy, but after being told in no uncertain terms by General Beckman that the CIA currently was not employing her, she had taken it hard. Still, that would make it easier in the long run. There were no distractions. Just Chuck and Sarah. A boy and a girl and the shared memories that got them to where they were.
He phones Sarah and tells her to be ready and to dress nice. He hops into the shower and picked out the same blouse and jeans combination he had worn on his first date. The only thing that isn't the same is the hair, but that's okay. It's 2012 after all, not 2007.
He gets into the Nerd Herder and sets off to Maison23. He can't help but remember all the times he's been in front of this door, hoping to catch just a glimpse of the woman behind the masks. Contrary to her belief, he could always read her easier than he could other people. He spent his time carefully cataloguing every look she shot his way, her mannerisms, the way her eyes flicked away briefly when she was forced to lie to him. He had to, considering she'd never tell him anything. But that was all in the past. Well, it was in the present as well, but damn it, he has to believe his wife is somewhere in there. And he'll find her.
He hears Sarah's voice coming through the door and instead of knocking he stops and listens. Her voice was muffled, but he could still hear what was going on.
"Because I love him… I love Chuck Bartowski and I don't know what to do about it." What the…? What is that all about? He knocks on the door and the sounds immediately stop coming from the room. Sarah opens the door, looking almost exactly like she did the first time they went out, although this time she doesn't have her hair in a bun, but loose. But her eyes are red and puffy. Chuck's immediate response is to take away the hurt that has been bestowed on her.
"Sarah, what's wrong ba…?" He catches himself at the last second. Throwing out endearments would not be beneficial to the mission.
"I want it so bad, Chuck. I want to feel like that again… " She points at the TV. "I just can't remember," she sobs and he leads her back inside. He sees the TV on mute and on the screen is Sarah, talking about… something. The Intersect wasn't appearing to be very helpful with regards to lip-reading but he gets the gist of it. This must've been where Sarah vented.
He sooths her while she cries in his arms and the egotistical part of him is happy that she lets him.
Eventually, her sobs die down to occasional sniffles, before disappearing completely. Despite the tear-stained face and the mascara that's run out, she is still the most beautiful person he has ever seen. "Sarah. Listen to me. You will get your memories back, or at the very least, I will remind you of why you fell for me in the first place and we will make new ones. And I know, the story of you falling for me is very illogical, I'm not quite sure how it happened either, but... I promise you, we will get through this. Just… trust me."
She nods and wipes her eyes. "God, I must look like a mess."
"No you don't."
A watery smile breaks through and she retreats to the bathroom to fix her makeup. When she comes outside, any trace of crying is completely gone. The CIA sure knows how to get women to apply it expertly. Still, her voice wavers when she speaks. "Are you ready to go?" She nods and they walk downstairs. Her eyes sparkle as she sees the transportation that Chuck has secured.
"I think we'd be better off with my car, Chuck."
He shakes his head emphatically. "Nope, we're doing this right. This is our story in real life, so we'll try and get as close as possible. You've already done your job by dressing exactly like you did five years ago. Now let's go."
"Huh? How'd you mean? I just thought this combination was cute."
Chuck shrugs. "I'm just saying, you've decided to wear the exact same outfit you did when we had our first date. Although I have no intention of this one ending in vehicular violence."
Sarah's eyes take on a glint of wonder. "So I remembered, then?"
Chuck smiles. "Hopefully. Well, anyway, let's go. First stop? Mexican."
Sarah nods. "I remember that from in Berlin."
They set off towards the restaurant and make casual small talk, but his eyes keep glancing down to her ring finger, expecting to see the ring that he slid on her finger that day to be shining in the moonlight. And every time he's left disappointed.
When they sit down at the table, they pick up on the one common ground they have. Spying. He tells her about the mission they had on the night of their first 'date' and she laughs, giddy about remembering the porn virus. They talk like they used to and Chuck, for just a moment, forgets that Sarah has forgotten. He forgets that they're only married because of a technicality at this point in time and loses himself in her. So when a comfortable silence falls, he slips and tells her he loves her and he can see the shock in her eyes and he wants to hit himself. "I'm sorry, Sarah. I know I shouldn't pressure you. But that doesn't make it any less true. I will always love you, and even if you leave you can be safe in the knowledge that if you ever need to come home, I will always be one for you."
And it looks like she's going to cry again, but she keeps it in, lays her hands on his—her finger rubs over his wedding ring—and smiles. "Thank you."
After the dinner, they go dancing and while it's not as intimate as the first time—Sarah doesn't have to keep him on a leash, nor does she have to take out a crew of NSA agents this time—it still causes her to laugh and that's all that he wants. The night slowly draws to an end and there is one more location he wants to take her on their first date. So they get in the Herder and they drive up to the building, which rooftop has served as such a pivotal point in his first year as a faux-spy.
They walk up the flight of stairs and she keeps bugging him, asking him to tell her where he's taking her and that she hates surprises, but he remains tightlipped. And when they burst through the door, he hears her gasp as she walks over the helipad, slowly exploring the shape of the building and gazing at the lights that L.A. at night offers. She moves with a grace that he's come to expect from her and he walks up to her. "This is where we concluded that first night. And this is also the place where I was almost carted off to a bunker in the middle of nowhere. If it weren't for FULCRUM, of course."
She turns around and smiles. "And I promised you that I would save you later." And a grin erupts on his face.
"Exactly," he says and the knot in his chest alleviates somewhat with the sudden memory by her and he knows that this was a good idea.
"I guess this idea wasn't so bad, Chuck," she says and the smile on her face is a bit more genuine and he can see the excitement on her face as she remembers a part of their life. And in that moment, it hits him.
"It's like the Intersect," he cries out and she pauses.
"What do you mean?"
"The Intersect basically works like a database that needs a trigger to be activated. And it's the same for your memories if tonight was any indication."
"With you so far..." she responds, unsure of what he's going for.
"Sarah... I once told you that I could be your very own personal baggage handler..." She bursts out laughing, but it's not at him, it's with him. "Sarah Walker... this time I'm asking you for something different. I'm asking you to let me be your Intersect."
She laughs and nods. "You're a very smooth talker, Mr. Bartowski."
He shrugs. "I try. So, is that a yes?"
"Definitely," she replies, before yawning. "And I think that's my cue to call it a night." He nods and they leave the roof, with Chuck safe in the knowledge that if everything goes according to plan, he could very well have his wife back in a few months. He's willing to wait. He's willing to wait a lifetime if he has to.
They drive back to her hotel in silence and they say their goodbyes in the foyer. Just as Chuck is about to leave, she asks him to wait and she hands him, her ring. "Chuck... I'm still confused... I know what we're supposed to have, but I don't feel it. I want you to hold on to this so that you can give it back to me when it's time."
The silver catches the light and he tries to hold in his tears but it's tough to go from happily in love to a status reset that's taken him two and a half years the first time around to finally get past. But he nods and turns away, but as his arm reaches for the door, she calls out to him again.
"I'm free tomorrow night."
He nods and goes home. When he drives his Herder in the parking spot in front of the complex, he gets out and without once looking anywhere else, he walks straight to his door. He opens it and the first thing he does is take every picture of him and Sarah and turning it face down. He doesn't want to be confronted with the emptiness of his life, by getting a glimpse of his previous one.
He grabs his pillow and the covers and drags them downstairs back into the living room before settling on the couch. He doesn't want to be reminded of the fact that she's not right next to him. So he snuggles into the covers and closes his eyes where her face fills his thoughts. And in his mind, they're happy and together again. That's what he wants... no that's what he needs. And he'll move heaven and earth to make it happen.
He falls asleep.
A/N2: Dno when next chapter will be online, might be tomorrow (yeah right) but a better estimation would be somewhere around next week. Anyway, please do leave a review to let me know what you thought. Reviews, like candy, are my nourishment and you wouldn't want me dying of starvation, now would you? Yeah, that's what I thought.