Sarah shook her head as she walked out onto her front porch, robe wrapped around herself and cup of coffee in hand. A bright red Lamborghini Diablo slid easily into the driveway, just behind her Porsche, and the door slip as Bryce Larkin stepped out.
His hair had gone completely gray, and his face was a little weathered, but other than that, he still looked like the same old Bryce.
"Really? A Diablo?" Sarah asked critically.
"What?" Bryce asked. "What's wrong with my car?"
"You know, Chuck and Devon are both perfectly comfortable driving minivans," Sarah pointed out.
The passenger door slid up and a young man with dark, spiky hair and amused, almond shaped brown eyes stepped out. He grinned at his father. "I think what Aunt Sarah is trying to say, Dad, is that you seem to have something to prove. Possibly, though I'm not sure, but that something might be a something that resides in your pants."
"What?" Bryce laughed. "I like this car."
"So do your pants," Sarah said as she wandered back into the house.
Many years ago, Bryce had showed up on their doorstep, freshly back from the dead again, and needing a place to stay. And since Chuck was his only friend at the time, he'd had nowhere else to turn.
Chuck being Chuck had offered Bryce their basement, along with the couch, workout room and bathroom that went with it, until he got things straightened out.
Living with both of them had been an adventure for Sarah to be sure. The house renovations had just been completed and she and Chuck had just started to seriously talk about having kids. It had been a strange experience to think about having babies while her ex was milling around.
Chuck and Bryce had fallen into old habits developed during their years of cohabitation in college, and Sarah had watched in fascination. At first, it was comical, but after a month of it, she started to wonder who it was Chuck had actually married, and her uncharacteristically teary outburst concerning that topic had caused Bryce to speed up his timetable for leaving.
Once they realized that Sarah's short fuse had been caused by pregnancy hormones, Bryce had run for the hills.
Not long after, Bryce met his match in a young NSA agent who refused to put up with his crap, and he eventually married her. Together they adopted Hank (Henry William Larkin), who grew into an excitable young man, now training to work as a forensics expert for the FBI.
Bryce himself alternated between teaching at the Farm in Langley and going out on missions, while his wife Jo did the same. One of them usually missed Christmas, sadly, and this year it was her turn.
Sarah looked up as Chuck and Case hopped down the stairs and she wrapped her arms around Case before he could get by her.
"You are so lucky it's Christmas."
"I know I know I wanna see Uncle Bryce's car!"
Sarah laughed and let him.
Chuck grinned at her and shrugged. "He's gonna try and talk Bryce into letting him drive it."
Sarah shook her head and kissed him before heading for the kitchen, looking at the assembled group. "Bryce and Hank are here," she told them.
A squeak emitted from Willow and she and Jaina dashed out of the kitchen and toward the front door.
Casey grumbled into his cup of coffee as Sarah sat down next to him.
"It won't be so bad," Alex said.
"It probably will, actually," Morgan commented. "While putting Willow and Clara in close proximity causes giggles, putting Willow, Jaina and Hank in close proximity usually ends in pyromania."
"That's not true," Alex said.
"I hate to say this, but...it is," Sarah said. "Remember when Bryce, Jo and Hank lived here for three years and they all went to school together?"
"Calls from the principal all the time," Morgan nodded. "Individually? Great kids. So good. Even two at a time is manageable...but all three?" He turned to Sarah looking worried. "Did you fireproof the tree?"
Sarah laughed. Morgan was being overly dramatic to a point, but Willow, Jaina and Hank did have the habit of getting into trouble.
Jim frowned at them. "Should...should I be worried?"
"It'll be fine," Sarah smiled. "You know, you and I haven't had much of a chance to talk."
"Jimbo here was just tellin' us about life in London," Devon interjected, carrying two overly large plates of pancakes over to the table.
"Yeah?" Sarah asked. "I haven't been in ages. Do your parents live there?"
"My mother lives in the country," Jim told her. "My father lives in the city...well, when he's in town. I don't see him much, we're not close."
"What does he do?" Sarah asked.
"He's actually an MI-6 Field Agent...hence not seeing him much," Jim said. "Very busy. In more ways than one, so I'm told."
"We've run into a couple of MI-6'ers in our day," The Colonel said. "Your old man gotta name?"
Jim sighed. "Cole Barker. At least that's what he calls himself. Whether that's his real name or not, I couldn't tell you...I should probably go out and meet this Hank person. Perhaps my being there will calm them down a bit and nothing will explode."
He grinned politely and left, not noticing Sarah and the Colonel's wide-eyed expressions.
"Did he say..."
The Colonel gave a confused grunt. "Maybe it's a different Cole Barker. Maybe that's a common name in Limey-Land."
Sarah turned to him and took a large gulp of coffee. "With our luck? Not likely. God, there's no resemblance at all."
"They probably have the same teeth," the Colonel replied lightly.
"Who is Cole Barker?" Alex asked.
"An MI-6 Agent Walker got comfy with way back in the day before Bartowski uploaded the 2.0 and became a spy," the Colonel said with a grin. "Your typical James Bond wannabe idiot."
"Talkin' about me again, Casey?" Bryce's voice asked from the doorway. "I love that you just can't stop thinking about me."
The Colonel merely grinned at him. "Willow's datin' Cole Barker's kid."
Sarah shot him a look.
Bryce blinked and then laughed. "Oh. Oh that is..that is precious."
Sarah gave Casey a sugary smile. "Just remember. Your baby granddaughter is dating a Larkin."
The Colonel gave a low growl, and Bryce frowned.
"Hey. Hank's a great kid. He and Jaina are really good together."
"I agree," Morgan said. "For once."
"Frankly I hope Willow and Jim get married," the Colonel said, lifting his mug of coffee. "Just so I can watch Walker juggle Barker and Bartowski."
"There's no juggling," Sarah snapped. "I'm happily married, and the only reason I ever kissed Cole was to get him to go away."
"Funny way of makin' somebody go away," Devon commented.
"Tell me about it," Bryce muttered. "Where's the coffee?"
Devon handed him a cup. "Here ya go, Bro. How's the wife?"
Bryce sighed and slugged down half his cup. "In deep cover, sadly. But she should be home by the end of January."
"Well, merry Christmas Eve," Ellie said with a grin.
"And to you, Mrs. Woodcomb," Bryce replied. "So when do we go A'karaokeing?"
Sarah groaned. "No. We're not doing that this year."
"What?" Bryce cried. "It is tradition."
"What is?" Chuck asked, walking back into the kitchen and grabbing a piece of bacon, taking a bite out of it.
"Nothing," Ellie said quickly. "Nothing."
"Karaoke," Bryce said. "Your wife and sister are trying to cancel it this year."
Chuck blinked, looking at his wife with positively wounded eyes. "Oh, baby, you wouldn't."
"Wouldn't what?" Willow asked, pulling Jim into the kitchen, followed by Hank and Jaina.
"Cancel karaoke," Bryce said.
Hank gasped dramatically. "No! You can't! It's karaoke!"
"I'm sorry, what?" Jim asked, confused.
Willow smiled. "Every year, instead of going around and caroling, we go to a karaoke bar."
Jim frowned. "What, really?"
The Colonel chuckled. "There's that resemblance."
Chuck turned to him. "What?"
"Nothing, Sweetie," Sarah said.
He blinked at her. "Sweetie?"
"Karaoke!" Sarah smiled. "Everyone? This evening is karaoke night, just like every year so...be prepared!"
Ellie groaned, as did Alex, but Bryce, Hank and Jaina all cheered.
Chuck quirked an eyebrow at his wife, and was about to ask her what was going on, but was interupted by the growl of a Lamborghini Diablo.
Bryce tensed up. "Who is driving my car?"
"Well, the only two members of our party not present are Clara and Case," Morgan pointed out. "So take a wild guess."
Sarah sighed as she watched Bryce make a mad dash for the door, followed by Devon. She rested her head on Chuck's shoulder. "We shoulda grounded him."
Chuck nodded slowly. "Yes. Yes we should have. Now. About this 'Sweetie' thing..."