Frea's A/N: This is all quistie's fault. That is all. Well, okay, that's not all. Thank you to everybody that voted, talked about, and donated to our Sing for a Smile-a-thon in December. Thanks to you, quistie and I helped raise over $2100 to help children around the world find their smiles. As a way to say thank you for that and for helping save lives, we came up with this crazy little ditty of a story, hoping to make you smile. Thanks to our wonderful beta boys, AgentInWaiting and mxpw. Both of whom are up for the beta award. If you think we're not going to throw some mud and boxing gloves into a ring and let them fight it out for the award, you really don't know how sadistic we are, do you?

quistie64's A/N: I, too, would like to thank all who donated to and helped get the word out about Operation Smile, a wonderful organization who does amazing things for kids in need. (And ditto to everything else Frea said.)

Please note that the incomparable Frank Loesser wrote all original music and lyrics for Guys and Dolls. I just mess with what's already there.

Chapter 01: Fugue for Intersects

The number of graham crackers left in the waxy brown paper continued to fall as the two little girls crunched on the flat, rectangular snacks, one after another. The adult sitting with them knew better than to give them anything to eat at this time of night where the first ingredient listed was sugar. He had judiciously studied the information on the side of the box and to his relief, found that sugar was the third. And if either Ellie or Chuck called him on it, he had the box to prove it.

"You don't have to eat the whole package, you know," he said. It had been awhile since he'd been left caring for small children, but he did remember they had a tendency to overdo things. "If either of you end up with tummy aches, your parents won't let me babysit anymore."

Two sets of blue eyes stared back at him, wide with dismay at the very idea.

The five-year-old with the curly sandy-brown hair slowly raised the snack in her hand and crunched a bite, spraying crumbs all over a Tinkerbell sleeping bag. She offered the rest to the pink and purple stuffed platypus snuggled next to her and pretended to feed it a bite. "Last cracker, I promise. Bun-Bun can eat the rest."

The five-year-old with the blonde hair watched her cousin before looking down at the Barbie doll laying on top of her sleeping bag, emblazoned with Barbie's giant smiling face. After a moment, she offered the rest of her cracker to her grandpa with an outstretched arm. "Barbie doesn't eat snacks late at night. She says they go straight to her hips."

It was all Stephen Bartowski could do not to let out a belly laugh. Instead, he took the cracker from Megan and placed it on the nightstand.

"Grandpa, will you read us a bedtime story, please?" Violet asked, attempting to use the manners her daddy had been working so hard to teach her.

Winking at her, he replied, "That's why I'm here. What kind of story should I read?"

Both voices shouted out at the same time, naturally. At least that much hadn't changed since Chuck and Ellie were little.

Stephen held up his hand and said, "Now, wait a minute. I didn't understand either of you because you were both talking at the same time. Since Vi is a little older, we'll let her answer first."

Megan scowled and crossed her arms in front of her chest in angry protest.

Vi smiled victoriously. "I want a princess story, but not one of those lame princess stories. Like maybe the girl isn't pretty, but then her prince comes along and he teaches her how to speak pretty and stuff. And she becomes a princess, even though she's not pretty."

"You always want princess stories." Megan rolled her eyes.

Violet shot her a glare that would have incinerated anyone else. Megan simply returned her cousin's glower with a laser-like stare of her own.

Stephen cleared his throat, bringing the two out of their stare-down and thus averting Armageddon. He knew from his own children's frequent emails that the girls were best friends—most of the time. The rest of the time… "Megan, what kind of story would you like to hear?"

The little girl sat up straighter against her pillow and said, "I'd like to hear a spy story. I love spies."

Vi snorted. "Everybody knows that. They even know that in outer space."

Megan chose to ignore her cousin. "Maybe a story about some man who works at a yucky store and then all of the sudden, he has to become a spy." Her blue eyes practically glowed at the idea.

"Well, as luck would have it, I have just the right story… for one of you." Stephen leaned over and picked up a hardback book from under his chair.

The room grew silent. Neither girl dared to move, waiting to find out which one would get to hear their chosen story tonight.

He slowly turned it around so that both of his granddaughters could see the cover. One face lit up and the other fell when the front was revealed.

Both girls concentrated on the words on the cover. "I know the first two words," Megan said proudly. "It says 'Spies and'."

Violet sounded the last word out slowly. "Neeerrrds."

"Good reading, girls. Tonight, I'm going to read a story called Spies and Nerds."

Megan clapped her hands and bounced excitedly. "A spy story! Thank you, Grandpa!"

He leaned forward, dropped his voice and looked directly at Violet. "But, here's the deal." He knew she would sulk and have a hard time enjoying the story, so he had a plan ready. A slight smile formed on his lips when he noticed Violet leaning toward him, despite her body language indicating her annoyance with him. "I'll read Spies and Nerds tonight and the next time you two have a sleepover, I'll read a story called My Fair Chuck."

"Daddy!" Violet cried happily. But happiness quickly turned to suspicion. "Does it have princesses?"

Stephen shifted in his chair. "Kind of."

"Promise you'll read it?"

Stephen leaned back and made a show of making an 'X' over his chest with his fingers. "Cross my heart."

He held his breath as she considered his words. A grin erupted and she replied, "Deal!"

Megan started bouncing again. "Read, Grandpa! Read!"

Stephen made a show of putting on his glasses and opening the book. He licked his finger and slowly turned the page. Clearing his throat, he said, "Once upon a time, in a magical land called Burbank—"

"Burbank!" the two girls shouted together. "That's not a magical land!" Megan added.

"Yeah! My daddy says it smells like feet!" Violet's nose scrunched.

With his finger holding his place, Stephen closed the book and gazed at his two beautiful and precocious granddaughters. "Are you going to let me read this or not?"

The little girls clamped their mouths shut and nodded.

Opening the book, he started again. "Once upon a time, in a magical land called Burbank, there lived a beautiful young woman named Ellie Bartowski—"

"That's my mommy!" Megan said, bouncing once again.

"— and her nerdy brother, Chuck."

"That's my daddy!" Violet said happily, clearly pleased.

Stephen grinned at the reaction. They had no idea. "It was a bright, sunny day, when Ellie walked out of the boutique that surprisingly, only sold socks, slipped on her sunglasses and glanced around the square..."


It was a bright, sunny day, when Ellie walked out of the boutique that surprisingly, only sold socks, slipped on her sunglasses and glanced around the square, looking for her partners. They had to be around somewhere. Her eyes scanned the area, taking it in. She had been here many times before, so really there was nothing new to see. It was just one of many nondescript, ubiquitous outdoor malls that littered Southern California. Like every other mall, there was a row of small shops of dubious quality anchored by larger big box stores. This particular mall had a Large Mart, Underpants, Etc. and Buy More.

"Carina, Casey," Ellie said in a low voice into her comm, "where are you?"

Through her earwig, she heard Carina answer, "We're at the Starbucks outdoor seating area at to your two o'clock."

Ellie's eyes darted to where Carina and Casey seemed to be whiling away the afternoon. Carina sat with her face pointed toward the sun, soaking up its rays, her auburn hair ablaze in the light. A few tables over from her position, Casey scowled into a newspaper.

"Stupid liberal rag," he said. "How can people read this crap? I swear, this one writer has a cranial rectal inversion going on so bad he—"

"Casey," Carina said, interrupting him easily. "For the last time: we don't care."

"I hope nothing goes wrong with this op," Ellie said with a hint of worry coloring her voice. "If Chuck hears that there's a spy mission going on just outside the doors of the Buy More, he'll flip." Why had La Grenouille, gun runner and CIA snitch, picked this place for the drop? Sure, he couldn't have known about the spies' issue with the Buy More, but geez, it felt inconvenient on a completely new level.

"Don't worry, El. I'll take care of your nerd-a-licious brother if he gets upset." Carina's voice came out as a purr.

Casey made a gagging noise and snapped his newspaper.

Ellie snorted. "I don't think so, Carina. You scare him more than the bad guys do."

A throaty, satisfied chuckle erupted from the other woman. "I know. That's what makes it so fun."

"Why did we end up with this crappy assignment in the first place?" Casey groused. "It's just a routine document exchange. They should be using some junior team for this."

Ellie moved to the raised flowerbed in the middle of the courtyard and sat down a brick edge. A majestic topiary moose loomed over her from the middle of the bed. Why the landscapers had chosen a moose to display in a mall in Burbank, she had no idea. She sneaked a peek at her watch. It was nearly time.

"La Grenouille told the brass that these docs contain some serious intel."

"So?" Casey asked Carina.

She rolled her eyes back at him so loudly, Ellie could hear it over the comm. "So we play nice until we don't have to play at all. Duh."

Casey began to growl a reply, but stopped mid-noise. Casually, he closed his newspaper and laid it on the table. "Look alive, people."

A hipster wearing a stocking cap and messenger bag slung over his right shoulder, sauntered over to a trash can and lifted off the lid. He removed the envelope Casey had taped to the underside of it earlier and replaced the cover. He flipped through the inside of the envelope, quickly. Satisfied, he shoved it into his back pocket and shifted the messenger bag to his other shoulder.

"There's the signal," Casey said. "Carina, you're up."

Carina stood and approached Messenger Bag Guy.

Ellie scanned the area again, looking for new faces now that the op had begun. Directly opposite her, and on the other side of Carina and Messenger Bag Guy, was a man with a large, round head and a birthmark on his cheek that looked a little like a human kidney. The second her eyes fell on the birthmark, the flash hit.

Images, one after the other, exploded into her vision. When the flash ended, she shook her head a little to help regain her focus. "Guys, problem."

"Bartowski, did you flash?" Casey asked.

"Mm-hmm. See the big guy with the birthmark over there?" She waited until she heard Casey's grunt of acknowledgment. "His name is Gripau. He's a minion for a guy by the name of Granota, the head of a rival syndicate of gun runners. My guess is the documents in that bag have something to do with him."

"Gonna guess Gripau's here to muck up the works," Casey said.

"Yeah." Ellie hesitated.

"Damn. And this was going so well." Casey didn't sound upset at the prospect of a possible firefight at all.

"Also, I feel like maybe it's important to note that Gripau is Fulcrum."

At that bit of news, Carina stumbled just a little. Casey swore under his breath, but Carina recovered quickly and bumped into La Grenouille's contact, who smoothly transferred the bag to Carina's shoulder from his own.

As soon as the swap was made, Gripau climbed to his feet, brushing off his sports coat. He took off after Carina at a languid stroll. Both Casey and Ellie rose and followed him.

"Ellie, you go left. Carina, head toward Ellie. Hand off the bag behind the moose."

Ellie and Carina bumped shoulders, Carina sliding the bag smoothly on Ellie's shoulders and taking Ellie's purse in return. Ellie, bag now on her shoulder, strode quickly toward the Buy More. Gripau, not fooled, followed Ellie.

Out of the corner of her eye, Ellie saw what she could only assume was one of Gripau's associates coming at her from the left. "Guys, we have incoming."

"Ooh, let me," Carina said, sauntering toward the new guy.

Ellie kept her pace up as Carina flashed a huge smile at the man heading toward her. The man stopped in his tracks, obviously stunned stupid that somebody as beautiful as Carina could be talking to him.

Ellie just kept walking. Carina's beauty was her greatest weapon. Sure enough, she heard the thump of body hitting concrete not twenty seconds later.

She imagined he even had a smile on his face.

"It's just too easy," Carina said over the comm, a smirk in her voice.

Unfortunately, she hadn't bothered being discreet. Gripau obviously saw what happened to his associate—it was broad daylight after all—and picked up his pace. Ellie began to run.

Through her comm, Ellie heard Casey grunt and let out a curse. She glanced over her shoulder as she dodged in and out of topiaries; Casey had been tackled to the ground by another man. She sped up. As much as she wanted to help her partner, her first responsibility was to secure the documents. The sooner she got out of the open, the better.

With Gripau closing the gap between them, Casey in combat, and Carina hurrying to help her, Ellie nearly crashed into the automatic doors leading into Buy More. Would she have time to hide the bag before her pursuer caught up with her? Her eyes swept the store. Then she saw him. She guessed he had just returned from an install, as he still had a messenger bag over his shoulder.

Heading right toward him, she smiled and cried, "Chuck! How great to see you!"

"Hey, El! I was just—"

She hugged him, and exchanged her bag with his. Still smiling, she looked him right in the eye and said like a ventriloquist, "Don't ask."

"Ellie, what is—"

Loudly, she said, "Great to see you. Gotta go!"

She took off toward the other set of doors just as Gripau entered from the parking lot. When she glanced over her shoulder, trying to get away, he spotted her and moved to take off—only to stumble and fall face first to the floor.

Ellie skidded to a stop.

"Got him," Carina said, blowing on her tranq gun and holstering it like an old western star. "Take that, Grippy." She looked up. "Oh, hey, Chuckie!"

Ellie sighed inwardly and walked back toward Chuck.

"A mission? You're running a mission?" Chuck gave her a scandalized look as she approached. No, more than that, he looked pained, like the ulcer she was positive he'd started to develop lately had just begun to act up. "I thought you said you were going to give that up! At least in the Buy More. If Big Mike catches you—"

Carina put her arms around Chuck's waist and rested her head on his shoulder before he could recoil—which he did, with very little grace. "Aw, don't be such a wet blanket, Chuckles."

"Wet blanket? Wet blank—do you realize how serious this is? If you scare more customers off—"

Casey chose that moment to show up, bleeding freely from a cut over his eye. The doctor in Ellie noticed he'd at least need to butterfly it closed later. He seemed completely unperturbed. "Bartowski," he growled.

"Is he talking to you or me?" Ellie asked Chuck.

Chuck ignored her, his scowl deepening. "Can't you three find someplace else to run your missions? This is not a mission—"

"Bartowski!'" All four of them winced in unison as Big Mike Brannigan's voice boomed out from the sales floor.

"— safe environment!"

"What the Sam Hill is going on here?" Big Mike boomed as he approached the group. His eyes bulged as they moved from Chuck, to Carina and then Ellie. He pursed his lips in disgust and his eyebrows shot up to his hairline when he saw the blood dripping down the side of Casey's face.

"What'd you do to your head?" Big Mike asked without a hint of sympathy.

"I bumped it on a low shelf in the storage room."

"Uh huh. And your clothes are filthy because—"

Casey shrugged. "I fell down."

It was all Ellie could do to keep from rolling her eyes.

Big Mike turned away from the bleeding man and his eyes fell to the figure lying prone on the floor. "What the—" Crossing his arms in front of his chest, he looked at Chuck and asked in a scarily calm voice, "Why is there a man passed out on the floor?"

Ellie saw a look of panic cross Chuck's face. He was always terrible at coming up with excuses. Stepping forward, she said in her most professional voice, "Narcolepsy. It's the strangest thing."


"He was standing there one minute—"


"—asking about 3-D TVs and the next thing you know, he's on the floor, sound asleep."


Stephen stopped reading. "What? What's wrong? Are you sick?"

Megan frowned and shrugged at Violet, who looked confused. "We're not sick. You're not sick, are you Violet?"

"No, I'm not sick. Are you sick, Megan?"


Stephen sighed. "Okay, good. Neither of you are sick. I'm glad we've got that established. Now, what's the problem?"

"What's narcaplexy?" Megan asked.

"If you would only listen and not interrupt, the story will tell you."

Puddles pooled in Megan's eyes. "I'm sorry, Grandpa. I'll be quiet."

A dagger twisted in his heart. "It's okay, Meg. You can stop me if you need to."

She sniffed. "Really?"


"Okay. But I'll try not to."


"Keep reading, Grandpa!" Violet said.

Crisis averted, Stephen continued.

Big Mike stared at her, unconvinced, so she said, "It really was a narcoleptic fit."

"Yeah, Big Mike," Chuck said, coming to her defense though he didn't look pleased about it. "Narcolepsy, it's that thing—you know, some people think that it's an autoimmune—"

"I don't give a rat's tiny behind about that!" Pointing at Gripau, he scowled and said, "Get that man off the floor! He's scaring away customers!"

Casey grabbed Gripau's ankles and dragged him toward the Home Theater room. "He can sleep in there until he wakes up."

"And why are you here?" Big Mike asked Ellie.

"Ah, well, Chuck and I grabbed each other's bags this morning and I came to swap them. Right, Chuck?" Ellie gave him a pointed look, hoping he'd get the hint. He sighed in defeat, took the bag off his shoulder and handed it to his sister. Relief flooded through her when she handed him his. Now she just needed to get out of there.

Big Mike scowled at Carina. "And why are you here, Stretch?"

She shrugged and replied, "I came here with Ellie." Then she winked at Chuck and said, "And to say hi to her delicious brother."

Ellie bit back a snicker when she saw Chuck visibly spasm.

"Just get out of my store," Big Mike sighed.

Ellie and Carina both nodded. There were still the two unconscious bad guys to deal with and the documents to secure, so Carina headed back out to the courtyard and Ellie headed to Castle. With the bag slung over her shoulder, she high tailed it across the parking lot and headed for the Wienerlicious. Chuck hurried off to check on Casey and his "narcoleptic" friend.

Just as they were all leaving, Morgan, Chuck's bearded best friend, sidled up next to Big Mike.

("Uncle Morgan!")

"Hey, Big Mike. What's the ruckus?"

"They ain't foolin' nobody!" Big Mike said. "We all know they're spies. Why can't they just do their spy business somewhere else? This is a Buy More, not a Spy More. I'm telling you, someday somebody's gonna plug them and they'll be so full of holes they'll look like Swiss cheese."

"Uh, Big Mike?"

"Yeah, son?"

"Why are you talking like a fifties gangster?"

"Shut up and eat a donut."


With Gripau and their friend cooling their heels in Castle's detention area, the other spies gathered around the conference table. Ellie carefully applied a butterfly bandage to Casey's cut. He winced, but otherwise stayed still.

"How's that feel?"

He reached up and gingerly touched the dressing. "Nicely, nicely. Thanks."

"Well, that could have gone better," Carina said.

Ellie shrugged a shoulder as she snapped off her latex gloves. "Well, at least we secured the documents and no one got hurt."

Casey turned and glared at her.

"Except for Casey's head," she amended quickly.

"Yeah, well, your brother's quite the smooth one, isn't he?" Casey said, sarcasm dripping from every word.

"Lay off, Casey," Ellie said, closing the first aid kit. "He gets nervous, is all. And you have to admit we do keep causing problems for him at his job. If we keep messing things up over there, the lack of business might mean they'll have to close the store."

"Well, we don't do it on purpose." The big man stood and picked up a gun. "Stuff happens. We're spies." Holding it lovingly in his hands, he sang:

(to the tune, Fugue for Tinhorns)

I got the gun right here.
The Sig Sauer right here.
And here's a guy who says that the range is clear.
Can shoot, can shoot, I know that this gun can shoot.
Now I say the Sig can shoot, can shoot, can shoot.

"Grandpa!" Violet cried, interrupting him.

He stopped the song and looked over his glasses at her. "What?"

"Why are you singing?"

"It's a musical. There's always singing in musicals."

Megan's frown intensified, thoughtfully. "You mean just all of the sudden like that?"

"Yes, they just start singing."

"Where does the music come from?" Violet asked, her eyes narrowing.

Stephen took off his glasses and dragged a hand over his face. "It's just there. The music is just there and they sing when they want."

"But that doesn't happen in real life," Megan pointed out.

Slipping his glasses back on, Stephen replied, "Well, Burbank isn't really a 'magical land' but that's in this story, too, isn't it?"

He watched as both girls considered this. After a moment, both nodded, settled deeper into their pillows and looked at him, wordlessly giving him permission to continue.

Can shoot - can shoot - I know that the gun can shoot.
Now I say the Sig can shoot, can shoot, can shoot.
For Sig Sauers I'll fight.
I hear the clip's all right.
Course it all depends if it got cleaned last night.
Likes oil, likes oil, this Sig really likes its oil.
I mean to say the gun likes oil, likes oil, likes oil.

I love my Sig Sauer.
It gives me real power.
This is from a guy who makes people cower.
Can shoot, can shoot, I know that this gun can shoot.
If I say the Sig can shoot, can shoot, can shoot.
Sig Sauer. Got the gun right here.

I've got the Intersect, a fact I must inject.
I know it is needed for our next project.
Can flash. Can flash.
The Intersect makes me flash.
Yes the Intersect can flash, can flash, can flash.

Now with the Intersect, just as you might suspect.
Can sometimes be a bit of a sore subject.
Needs case, needs case, the Intersect needs a case.
Intersect needs a case, needs case.

I've got the Intersect, a fact I must inject.
I know it is needed for this big project.
Can flash. Can flash.
The Intersect makes me flash.
Intersect. It's in my brain right here.

Look at my Bowie knife. It cuts a man in half.
I count all my stabbings with a nice big graph.
Sharp knife, sharp knife.
Right here is a big sharp knife.
Yes, I have a big sharp knife,
Sharp knife, sharp knife.

And just a minute, spies.
I got the low down noise.
Says with my knife I'm nothing but stealth and poise
Can stab, can stab.
This big shiny knife can stab.
Yes, this shiny knife can stab,
Can stab, can stab.
So take my Bowie knife, and cut a guy half.
I'll put another marker on my big graph.
Bowie knife. I've got the knife right here.

When the song ended, Violet turned to Megan and said, "I really don't know how I feel about this whole musicals thing."