As of 13 Mar 2012, I don't own Chuck et al.
Spoiler Alert! This is a longer, multi chapter version of one of my songfics – Cold Chisel's "Cheap Wine." If you've read it, well, you kind of know the ending.
As mentioned in that fic, I have liberated certain ideas from coursejester's brilliant The Second First Date. And probably a lot from other fics too many to name or too lazy to recall.
Enjoy the rest of your life, Chuck
The other day,
Upon the stair,
I saw a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I think he's from the CIA.
MAD magazine (circa 1976), variation on the poem by William Hughes Mearns
Director of the CIA, Langston Grahame's face contorted into a bad taste. He tried to smile through the flat screen monitor in Casey's apartment as he leant over beside General Beckman.
"Enjoy the rest of your life, Chuck."
Chuck sat there, stunned into silence for one of the few times in his life. Was he hearing correctly? It was over? Just like that, and it was all over?
It was Casey who gave it away, when he glanced at Sarah for a split second. Sarah, noticed his movement, and after a fractional glance at the big man, turned around to face Chuck. The look she gave him, it wasn't the expression you shared with someone who'd received good news.
But it was only for a moment. Then her normal brilliant smile slipped effortlessly into place as if the horror struck moment had never happened.
But Chuck knew that it had.
Maybe the reason she looked sad was because if he was no longer the Intersect, then super spy Sarah Walker had absolutely no business being around one Chuck Bartowski.
It was a by now an all too familiar day dream, that she cared for him, that Sarah Walker actually cared and had feelings for him. Only now he'd go back to his old life. And she would have no valid reason to be a part of that life...
But of course, that would allow for the concept that a woman like Sarah could have feelings for a nerd like him. She was so far out of his league, he felt like it was high school all over again. Or high school on steroids, since no girl in school was even close to Sarah.
And yet... there were moments...
Her behaviour on the rooftop when Longshore was about to extract him. It made him wonder if, because she was a spy, maybe she could lie while Sodium Pentothal coursed through her veins...
But even more than that, it was little things...
A bit over three weeks ago, the Weinerlicious had closed for refurbishment. Sarah thus had time off during the day. She still came into the Buy More, bringing him lunch. Chuck loved how she pretended to hunt for him at the front of the store, even though he knew that she full well knew where he was the whole time. And that she knew that he knew that she knew. He loved it, because of the way she would smile at him when she 'found' him.
Chuck had mixed feelings about the temporary closure of the deep fried hot dog store. He certainly wouldn't miss the, well, whatever the hell it was that Sarah managed to crispy critter. He might be just a little bit past the halfway point of being totally head over heels in love with her, but his stomach was traitorously relieved at the close of the shop that smelled strongly of carbonised sausage. And smoke. And oil that was about half a degree below the flash point.
But he did miss the uniform. Oh, he could never tell her that, naturally. But that little short pseudo-Bavarian charmer did own a special place in his... lets call it his memory.
It wasn't quite a year ago... one fateful twenty seventh birthday. One he wouldn't wish on anyone, but also one he by now honestly couldn't have done without. It had brought many things into his life. Most unwelcome, except for one.
It had brought him Sarah.
The asshole who had fucked his life over once previously had managed to do it a second and magnificently glorious time. Only this time, the man he had once loathed had exceeded himself, and had died sending him secrets. Official government secrets. The kind of secrets that governments lock you up for, it they even suspect that you know about them. And that same government had sent the man who killed Bryce, to kill him. See? That was the alternative, so 'lock you up' was starting to look pretty good.
But it certainly wasn't what Chuck had voted for in the last election.
And the beautiful bombshell he'd been on a date with only an hour previously also turned out to be a spy. Along with also being the 'partners with benefits' of one Bryce 'I-fucked-Chuck-Bartowski's-girlfriend-and-life,-not-necessarily-in-that-order' Larkin.
Only Sarah hadn't told him that before he managed to fall for her. Which was probably shortly before the phone went 'clunk' on the desk when he first saw her, so, if he was honest with himself, he really didn't give her an awful lot of time for full disclosure.
Chuck did have some luck on that fake date night. He managed to stay out of a prison cell and/or the cold hands of the Grim Reaper, as personified by the NSA's agent, the Marine corp's Major John Casey.
And so, in a convoluted manner, Chuck acquired a fake girlfriend who had pointed a gun at him (sort-of) during the date, and was now also working side by side with that same Green Ripper, John Casey. The John Casey who had also pointed a gun at him (for real) that same night.
As dates go, this one was a doozy. Definitively in his top ten.
How did this happen? It was all going so... boring. He'd been stuck, Chuck knew that. He knew he'd needed a jolt. A nudge, just to get him over... the whole Stanford thing.
So, nudge? Yes. Being whammo'd from the side by the secret world of international espionage's personalised semi-truck trailer (featuring a spiky bull bar that came straight from a Mad Max movie)? Ehhh, not so much.
Much to everyone's surprise, and Chuck included himself at the top of that list, Chuck with help from Casey (muscle. And guns, lots of guns) and Sarah (beauty. And brains. And muscle. And guns. And knives) did pretty well. Somehow, they as a team had worked well, and had an impressive success rate.
And every day he worked alongside her, he fell a little deeper for Sarah Walker.
Casey and Sarah had recently started getting Chuck to review data from the CIA and the NSA. 'Dailies' they called them. It was pretty simple, if time consuming. Look over the files or recordings and flash. Tell someone about the flash so they can write it down.
Simple. Headache inducing, but simple. On Thursday, Chuck found the empty warehouse that they were using this week. Every few days, they moved location to a different creepy abandoned warehouse. Who knew there were so many of them? Sarah was waiting for him with the dailies, ready for him to review and flash. At least when it was Sarah, she didn't make him feel like he was just a cog in a machine, scan the document or photo or recording and flash, verbally spew the relevant data and proceed onto the next one. And then next one. And then the next one. Repeat as often as unnecessary. Hence the headaches.
When it was with Sarah, she made him feel like he was part of a team.
He sat on his low backed office chair, with Sarah to his left and began to review. Twice during the afternoon, she moved to get a folder on Chuck's right hand side. Despite the fact they pretty much had a couple of hundred square feet or so around them, she managed to just brush his back as she leaned over to reach the pile of folders.
Chuck sat very still for a few moments, achingly aware of the fact that her tank top had grazed up against him. He was also achingly aware of the contents of said tank top that had almost been in contact with him for what felt like three seconds, it was probably shorter but it felt like an age, or not long enough.
He blinked a few times and then tried to resume work.
Her, "Chuck, did you just flash?" broke him out of his trance.
"...Um... no... well yes, but it was out of date," he made up quickly as he tried and failed to not turn pink. Studying the monitor furiously, he never saw her on-off grin.
His name, see? That was another thing. When Sarah said his name, she made it sound special, important. Casey, when he said 'Chuck,' he managed to make it sound like it should rhyme with scum. About two months ago, the third time she'd slept over, which was a whole 'nother world of something that desperately needed a name not yet invented, she simply smiled and said "Good morning, Chuck," when she saw he was awake.
Somehow, she'd made his name into a happy thing. That caused him several sleepless nights later on.
The way she would look at him, holding him in her gaze, or the way she would brush up against him, or adjust his shirt or tie when there was no one else around.
He noticed she liked to have her hand held at times when there was no need mission-wise. Practice, she called it. Cover maintenance. It was just a little thing, but the way her fingers curled into his, as if for comfort, or protection...
"Enjoy the rest of your life..."
Taken at face value, it was a nice thought.
Except, now that he thought about it, '...the rest of your life...' kind of implied a time limit. So it wasn't even a threat. It was a good bye. Chuck realised he wasn't even worth a threat from Graham.
They were going to kill him, Chuck realised. It was a death sentence, and Sarah had obviously figured it out, judging by the micro burst of horror on her face.
And Casey would be the one to pull the trigger.
Chuck had a very nasty thought.
If he was right, Sarah would be the one to distract him when the time came. And Chuck was honest enough with himself to acknowledge that she would succeed, she being Sarah, and he being Chuck. She was his blind spot.
After the video conference, it was awkward. Chuck felt trapped, and wanted to flee, but he had to try to be calm. And Casey, for once, Casey looked uncomfortable. Even the normally amazing Sarah looked nervous.
Chuck stayed seated for a little while. He felt unable to move without physically shaking. Casey backed away, and retreated to the kitchen. Sarah was stuck in a zone of attraction and repulsion around Chuck that balanced each other out. For the first time in his life, he saw Sarah fidget and seem unsure of herself, as she orbited his chair.
No-one had said a word since the conference call ended.
Twice Chuck tried to get up, each time, his nerves betraying him as his hands and knees shook uncontrollably. After what felt like ten minutes, he was able to stand without giving his fear away to the cameras he knew were watching him.
Eventually, Chuck was able to leave Casey's apartment without it looking like he was fleeing for his life. Sarah joined him as he headed into the courtyard. For the first time he could recall, Chuck didn't hear Casey make some snarky food based remark.
Outside, Sarah walked him the short stroll back over to Casa Bartowski. Neither of them felt the urge to hurry and he could feel the fear drain from him in her presence. She asked what he was going to do. Chuck still couldn't believe it was all over. He bantered with Sarah lightly about his girlish screams in the face of danger. Chuck thought she was being honest when she said, "Well, you could've fooled me."
They faced each other silently. The real conversation passed between them in their eyes, like the words of a song Chuck couldn't quite recall – 'So much is left unsaid.'
Sarah asked him, "So, what happens now?" breaking the moment, as she almost always did.
He was caught of guard. This was happening so fast, he had nothing really planned. The first thing that came into his mind was, "Well, I've got the Buy More..."
Sarah interrupted him, "Chuck, can I tell you something?"
He looked at her seriously. "Of course."
She smiled heart stoppingly, "You can do anything, I've seen you in action and I'm not just talking about the bomb defusing or the diamond stealing." Again, her smile captured him totally, and her tone changed to something a little more intimate, "I mean, anything you wanted, you could have."
Chuck dipped his gaze. Was it wishful thinking to believe she'd stressed that second 'anything' ever so slightly? Or to think she was looking at him hopefully? Wishful thinking? Part of him wanted it to be so, but then he looked into her eyes. Maybe it hadn't been wishful at all.
All he had to say was her name. She was the 'anything' he wanted. She was the only thing he wanted now. The way she waited for him with her lips slightly parted almost made him ruin everything.
All he had to say was her name.
This was driving him nuts. Sarah had always gone above and beyond to protect him. But would she defy orders?
One word, one name could ruin everything.
When they finally parted, there was no kiss, no touch. She held his eyes with her gaze for longer than an agent should her asset. That had stayed the same, at least. He watched her re-enter Casey's apartment, and pause at the door for a final look at him. They both shared a frowny smile.
He had to run. He wasn't ready, but he had to run. Now. The watch came off as soon as he was in his bedroom. He left though the living room balcony and over the railing into the garden.
He'd never felt more terrified in his life.
All of this was too soon, nothing was fully prepared.
Chuck left his life, his world behind him with his heart in his mouth. Fuck, he was scared.
Sarah slammed the door behind her and whirled on Casey. She didn't scream, but it wasn't at conversation volume either. "Casey, you can't just kill him!" she demanded.
Casey waited silently, allowing her to adjust. This was never going to be easy, but for her, he knew it would be worse. Infinitely worse.
She emphasised, "Chuck never wanted any of this. Of us! He was never asked, and yet he's done everything we've made him do! Everything! You can't just kill..."
"Walker, you're compromised. How many people have you killed..." he reminded her.
"Fuck compromised! This is wrong! You know it! Chuck's a good guy... he deserves better... better..." she struggled to keep her voice level.
Casey just looked at her fight the tears. In civilian terms she barely moved, but to the eyes of an agent, she was practically breaking down in tears.
"I like him too," he said quietly after a moment.
"Casey, please don't... I could..." her eyes darted this way and that as she tried to think frantically.
"Take him off the grid? Run? Make sure he never flashes again? Ever? Hide him, protect him from me? Or an army of men like me? Us?" he gestured to include her in this not-quite-so-theoretical army, "This is the life we chose, Walker."
"Chuck didn't choose..." she whispered. The couch hit her ass unexpectedly when her legs failed her without warning, "... he never chose any of this..."
Casey kept silent for a few minutes.
Eventually he told her, "You know what we'll have to do. It's not... Walk...Sarah. Sarah, it's not going to be easy. But it's the only way."
Her eyes glistened as she nodded woodenly.
"We're going to kill him," Casey said as gently as he could. "You know that the order is going to come."