As of 11 April 2012, I don't own Chuck et al.
Brig. General D. Beckman (USAF), director of the National Security Agency threw the report at her desk, where it slid to and over the edge falling to the floor. Pages fluttered from the cover on their way to the carpet, the ones that landed face up were stamped in red, with the words 'Top Secret' and 'Eyes Only' across them. About half of those visible had coffee mug rings on them.
She was fed up with the whole damned mess. Burbank, the Intersect project, Larkin, Walker, the CIA, even Casey. And Bartowski. Especially Bartowski! She was sick of the whole damned Bartowski family. That bitch of a sister hadn't gone quietly along with the program. That idiot civilian asset had sent her enough ammunition to make this all very embarrassing, and she then had the hide to blackmail the NSA. That was another stupid thing, if you're going to blackmail the government, think big. All she was after was enough to pay off her apartment and student loans, hers and her fiancées.
A new and improved Intersect computer had been built. The host agents now had physical skills included with the download. So far, two of the hosts were locked in agency psychiatric hospitals on serious medication. It would seem there might be a problem with the version two Intersect...
All of that, and only at a cost that gave the International Space Station funding a run for the taxpayer's money.
Money! The damn forensic accountants had dragged things out too. Bartowski had been clever, but seven million is accountable to someone. His handlers had been worse, during the hunt, it had cost over thirty-five million. The damned accountants had it figured out to the penny. One of the accountants had made a foot note, there was roughly three million undisclosed from Walker and Casey's hunt, which was well within the allowable losses for black ops missions. And then the accountant had the hide to point out that when Bartowski had handled the finances for the team previously, the 'acceptable losses' ratio was far lower.
Bartowski. If he wasn't dead, she'd have had him killed.
And just like Bartowski, the program was dead. Both of the handlers were compromised, Walker was so far gone, she needed therapy and Casey had opted for early retirement. Neither would ever be fit for field work again, according to the psychobabble. One shrink had admitted it was a challenge, and then verbally described Walker as, "Broken beyond repair."
'I need a drink,' she thought.
The review panel recommended Walker be retired on full benefits. How the fuck did some half witted geek in a big box store break Langston's wild card enforcer? Now that she had all of Casey's notes and video files, it was obvious that Walker had compromised herself. She'd been gone for the asset, and almost from the very beginning! And Casey had damn well covered for her. If he hadn't retired, Beckman would have fired him.
The shrinks were amazed that Walker had been functional at all during the hunt for Bartowski. And Casey was done too. While he hadn't been in love with his asset, but he'd been compromised in his own way. He might have pulled the trigger that killed Bartowski, but it was unlikely he'd ever pull another one again.
The body had been positively identified by both agents, and Beckman had received a charming little note from one of the head-shrinks looking after Walker regarding that little scene. Independent DNA tests confirmed it was him. Not that there'd been much doubt, neither agent was capable of deceiving anyone ever again. Walker, in particular had made it extremely clear just who it was that was on the slab.
The video of the now gaunt Walker simply falling bonelessly to the floor and sobbing quietly was one of the most heart wrenching things Beckman had ever witnessed.
Sarah Walker ceased to exist almost the moment the psych board released her from the CIA. She became Sarah Irving, almost legally. The documents would stand up under any scrutiny, and that was what mattered.
She moved to the only place that existed for her anymore, Echo Park. While the psychiatrists hadn't been particularly happy about her choice, there was no real medical objection. As the NSA no longer had need for it, the deeds to Casey's old place were signed over to the new Sarah Irving.
Ellie Bartowski spotted her new neighbour almost immediately as she was moving in, and cried out, "Sarah!" in a pleased voice before her whole body language slammed down to neutral, and Ellie turned on her heel and went back inside her place, as if Sarah had been invisible.
Sarah stood, obviously shaken by Ellie's reaction, but there honestly was nowhere else on the face of God's earth she could live. Practically from the moment she'd met him, Chuck had been her home. That night, when she saw both Devon and Ellie were home, she went over and knocked quietly on the door.
Ellie just stared at Sarah, standing in her door way. Neither said anything, but after a moment, Ellie stepped aside and allowed Sarah in. It took three bottles of red, a box of tissues each, and the night ended with Devon carrying Sarah to Chuck's cold bed, for the two to come to an arrangement. The one real question was, "Did you ever really love my brother?" Sarah's response was so obvious there was no need for words.
Chuck might have been dead, but Sarah loved him, and that made up for a lot in Ellie's eyes.
Weeks dragged into months. Sarah found a job. The gym she was using needed a backer, so using some of the left over funds from the hunt for Chuck (she figured the government owed her), she invested, and then found herself the owner of a gym that somehow turned itself into a martial arts studio.
She laughed for the first time in ages at the thought of what Chuck would say at her teaching self defence in her little dojo. Purely by accident, she became popular with the movie studios. Even before The Matrix, movie audiences had loved realistic fight scenes. It began when two guys wandered into the place, she didn't know it, but they worked as stuntmen. Sarah was impressed when she found out what they did, having assumed that all stunt guys were juiced up, muscle bound thugs. They explained to her that no, the actors they replaced in the fight scenes were rarely Sly or Arny type builds, so fight guys like them usually had to look like an average build. They were impressed with her skill and style. Soon, she was teaching famous actors the meaning of pain.
It took a few weeks, but she and Ellie were talking again. That was a good thing, because Sarah had missed Ellie as a friend, even if she was sort of a fake one. Sarah's last official contact with the spy world was to sign that all NSA equipment had been satisfactorily removed from the Echo Park complex. She smothered the giggle when she saw that there was even a 'satisfied with our service' tick box. She left that box blank.
When she came over to Devon and Ellie's one Sunday night, near the end of dinner she said quietly, "El? It's almost time. Two years."
To Devon's amazement, his fiancée squealed and ran to throw her arms around the other woman, and with a huge grin demanded, "When?"
Sarah looked down and smiled slightly, "Soon."
Both women smiled happily. Devon stared in confusion at the pair of them, "What's going on?"
Ellie looked at Sarah, who nodded and then both women smiled at him. "Devon," Ellie began, "it's..." she turned back to Sarah, saying with a smile, "You know? Now I get the 'it's complicated.'"
"Devon, Chuck's alive, and he'll be back home soon," Sarah told a increasingly bamboozled Devon.
"Sweetie, Devon? It's true. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you, but it needed to be done until Sarah told me that the surveillance was removed." Again, Ellie turned to Sarah and asked, "Was this what Chuck went through?"
Sarah nodded, "Something like it."
One word bounced back-and-forth through Devon's mind, "Surveillance?" In here? That was just nonsense, like saying nuclear bomb or something. The word existed, it's just, it had nothing to do with normal life. "What... what's going on? Is this anything to do with why you were mad at Sarah a while back?"
"Sort of, Sarah's a spy."
Ellie nodded acceptance of the correction.
After a lot of facial contortions, most of which looked painful, Devon admitted, "I'm... I'm confused."
"Devon, I was assigned by the CIA to protect Chuck. And then something happened that put Chuck's life in danger from the very people who were supposed to be looking out for him."
"Chuck?" Devon wanted confirmation. Clearly, Sarah had made a mistake.
"Chuck," confirmed Sarah, "Chuck became important to the federal government by accident. And being the amazing man he is, he was really, really good at it."
"Chuck," emphasised Devon again. Something wasn't right here...
"Chuck," smiled Sarah. "And about two years ago, the order came, or it was obvious it was going to come, for us to kill Chuck."
"'Us?' There's more of you?"
"My partner, John Casey."
John Casey, Devon knew that name from somewhere... wait, wasn't he the big silent type from across the way, worked at the Buy More for a bit... "Wha..."
"Devon! Honestly. Sorry Sarah, that's the man I'm going to marry," said Ellie in mock pride.
"Well, at least he's not screaming at me, like you did when I first told you," Sarah smiled sadly up at Ellie.
"Kill Chuck..." Devon tasted the words. It was like fish flavored ice-cream, it just didn't quite work.
"I worked for the CIA, Casey was with the No Such Agency. We were both assigned to Chuck. And then they built, or rather rebuilt the machine that would do what Chuck could do. As soon as the new computer was up and running, we knew they would kill Chuck."
"Because of what he knew..." hazarded Devon.
"Close enough. That's how the agencies think, 'dead men tell no tales.' Well, I'd gotten to know Chuck pretty well by then, and there was no way I could just let that happen."
Ellie picked up the wine and her glass, "Come on, let's get comfortable," she said, leading them to the couch. Sarah took the armchair. Devons sat on the couch, elbows on knees, leaning forward with his brow still scrunched up in concentration, Ellie curled up against him, sipping her wine with a slight smile.
"OK, so about the time you two got engaged, Chuck was nearly sent away, for his own safety. The bad guys were getting close."
"Oh-kaaaay, were they trying to kill him, or keep him safe?" asked Devon.
"At that stage, I'm pretty sure it was a bunker, to keep him safe. But once they have hold of him, and decide... Anyway, we started training Chuck. We didn't tell him why, he is Chuck after all. He'd freak out. But he figured it out for himself. He is Chuck, after all," she said, with a sad, yet proud smile. "We taught him the skills he'd need to keep off the grid, make fake identification, set up a safe house, all the things he'd need. Anyway, we received word that the new Int...new computer was almost ready. And Casey was most likely going to be given his orders that, or the next night."
"To kill my little brother."
"Yes, but that little brother of yours, he's a smart one. He'd already figured it out for himself, and he ran, just after I left him."
"You left Chuck with the man who was going to kill him?" Devon seemed to find that the way spies thought was a little confusing.
"Casey and I had discussed that. He knew how I felt for Chuck..."
"That you love him," Ellie emphasised.
"...And that I wasn't supposed to. So..." said Sarah in a quiet voice. She skipped over threatening Casey. The man knew what she would do to him if he hurt her Chuck. But Casey was a realist, he knew what was happening.
"Wait! You weren't supposed to? But you two slept together! I gave Chuck a special booster shake."
Sarah's lips twitched at the memory, "Yeah... Poor Chuck," she whispered the last part, "He hated that, the lying I mean. See, that was all for cover. To keep him safe, to blend in and to have me nearby, boyfriend girlfriend was our best option."
"Only you fell for my brother."
Sarah nodded slightly. "So, Chuck ran that night. Casey thought he was with me, and I thought he was safe at home. But he'd already run. So a couple of days after Chuck ran, I took Ellie away from here, away from the cameras, and explained the situation. You took it about how I expected you too," she gave Ellie a frowny smile, and continued, "I knew that Chuck, being Chuck, would have left a message for you."
"Did that work? My voice mail?"
"Made me cry."
"Me too," whispered Ellie.
"And it made sure that the pair of you would be safe. Ellie and I staged a meeting in here, since the surveillance was still active, and I left to go find Chuck. He'd left a burner cell for me, the little shit did that without my knowledge, and kept me informed. We'd time our raids to just miss him, but he was pretty damn good. Annnd the annoying little shit was waiting for me in my own place, back in DC," she finished with a proud exasperated smile.
Something filtered through Devon's head, "Wait! The money! We got a settlement on Chuck's insurance from the Buy More, it paid off our loans and here," Devon spread his hands to indicate the apartment.
Ellie broke it to her fiancée as gently as she could, "Honey, I blackmailed a General."
Devon reset his expression to its current default, 'bewilderment.'
Sarah sipped her wine, "While we were together in DC, we finalised the rest of his plan. Chuck had already figured out what we had. Casey and I had to kill him, he had to be seen to be dead, so he'd be free. And the timing would have to be right. Too soon, and they'd smell a rat. Too long, and we'd all be under suspicion. And there would need to be a grieving period. So we set it up where it would be on a security camera, Casey fired a blood capsule, Chuck collapses in my arms and I bawl my eyes out. Very dramatic," she closed her eyes and shook her head as she half smiled, but didn't mention how close to being real those tears had been at the time. "Ellie was able to provide us with a suitable doctor and a shooting victim to fake the autopsy, Chuck gave us his DNA sample, and Casey made the switch of the samples while I distracted the attendant. Used to mean, that meant flashing something. That's another thing Chuck's changed about me," she smiled at the thought of how much he'd changed her.
She skipped over fooling the psych evaluation, because aside from that one aspect of the man she loved still being alive, she wasn't lying to them.
"So, how soon?" Ellie wanted to know. A single expression flickered over Devon's face, and got stuck. He was beginning to wonder if he should go back to bed, and try climbing out the other side, to see if that improved things...
"Wednesday, Casey's looking after him. He's grumbling about Casey dragging him along when he goes running," Sarah smiled.
"Well, I certainly hope you'll introduce us to your new boyfriend."
"Uh... Well, it turns out that Sarah Irving is married... so..."
"Oh, no! You did not marry my little brother without me there!" Had she have been standing, Surah suspected Ellie's fists would have been planted on her hips.
"Don't worry, I'm sure he'll want to renew our vows at some stage. After your wedding, I'm sure."
Sarah wasn't sure, but she thought Ellie muttered, 'Better,' under her breath.
That night, and the next three days and nights dragged interminably. On Wednesday, she'd had no contact with either Chuck or Casey. Two patrons, a pretty-boy actor named Matt Something and his boyfriend, left her dojo with bleeding noses before her assistant decided it would be safer for all concerned if Sarah did some paperwork, or belted the crap out of the heavy bag until closing time.
When she got home that night, her husband was waiting for her.
Her lights were on when she came home. That, and Ellie and Devon grinning blatantly out of their window was enough of a clue.
He was standing in the same room where they'd realised what was about to happen. She called his name, and he turned to face her, with that trademark grin that turned her knees to jelly.
And then he was holding her in his arms, almost crushing her. She decided she liked that feeling. After a few minutes, they surfaced for air, her lips now flushed almost red.
She smiled up at him, "Welcome home, Mister Irving."
"Does Mrs Irving always welcome her husband home like that?" he wanted to know.
"Mmm hmm. And he'd better get used to it."
"Somehow, I don't think that's going to be a problem for him."
"Aren't the pair of you done yet?" groaned from somewhere further inside the apartment.
She rolled her eyes at Chuck and called out, "Thank you John!"
He came into the living room, looking distinctly uncomfortable. Neither Chuck nor Sarah had felt the urge to release each other yet. She glanced up at her new husband, and then asked Casey, "Are you the reason for his haircut? A number two comb is a bit short."
"Live with it, it'll grow back. Good to see you, Walker, you look better than the last time we saw you. Married life seems to agree with you."
She let the old name slide for the moment, and smiled back her former partner, "I'll let you know. Thank you for looking after him for me, while I got set up."
Casey grunted something small while he tried to shift a floor tile with one foot.
"I'm sorry, Casey, what was that?" asked Chuck with an evil grin. He only moved a little bit to use Sarah as a human shield.
There was a flash of the old Casey for an instant, before he gave a slight sheepish smile, "I said, he's not as bad as he used to be."
Chuck grinned hugely to the woman in his arms, "Don't you believe it. I'm still as annoying as ever."
"Ha!" barked Casey. "Yeah, that'll last," he said, miming cracking a whip.
Sarah didn't quite poke her tongue out at him.
Casey cleared his throat, "Well, before Ellie comes over here and bursts my eardrums, I'll get going. Chuck, that... that was some nice spy work. You two have a good life."
"What will you do?" asked Sarah.
"I, ah, I know a guy, owns an airline. I thought I might sit at the pointy end of a passenger jet for a while."
Chuck disengaged himself from Sarah. She went over to kiss him on the cheek, and Chuck held his hand out. As he shook his former handler's hand he said, "Thanks for everything, Casey. Even shooting me."
Casey gave them a small smile, "Anytime."
Shortly after Casey let himself out, his prediction came true. Ellie and Devon joined their new neighbours. Two days later, Chuck's ears still hurt.
A.N. – OK, so I probably waived my hands around too much and most of you seemed to have figured it out. Or even more likely, because I recycled a shorter story. Normally I reply to reviews a little more than I have with this one – I deliberately tried not to with this fic, as I didn't want to give away too much. Except, I told you at the beginning of chapter one... D'oh!