That is the most important thing I have to say. I've been sitting on this one for a while, at least in my head. For various reasons, I hadn't managed to get it onto paper until, what, four months after the show ended? So, this is probably the 3,629th post-finale story to be written (open-ended finales – bad for closure, great for fanfiction!) Still, I think (or at least hope) that this one is a bit different from the other 3,628.
Also, I don't own "Chuck" much like I don't own any other off-the-air show such as, say, "Sanford and Son," "Airwolf," "My Mother the Car," or "Caroline in the City."* If I did, I'd probably be tempted to combine them all, and write a story about Sarah Walker, junkyard resident, who pilots a helicopter that contains the soul of her deceased father, with every flight spent talking about how lame "Caroline in the City" was.
Also, this was a one-shot but I figured it worked better split into three pieces. And despite the title, there isn't any continuity storyline-wise with the "Saturday", "Sunday" "Monday" ones I've previously done. Though I suppose they are a bit similar thematically, if you're into that kind of thing.
So anyway, on to the story.
* I'm not comparing any of these shows to "Chuck."
Remedial History Lessons on a Tuesday
"…So, if the race car over here is Freddie Mac, the iron is Fannie Mae, and the thimble is the banker, and you just used a subprime mortgage to buy your house on St. Charles Place. Oh shoot, where did that house go?"
Sarah Walker watched her tutor whirl around and frantically search for the small green house on the floor, before finally discovering the source of her financial plight below the coffee table. She flashed him a quick smile of encouragement, figuring that was the best way to get the lesson over with as soon as possible.
She knew she should probably be more appreciative. Morgan Grimes, just like everyone else that seemed to be focused on her every move these days, meant well. And she probably needed the help. But she wasn't exactly comfortable with all of these complete strangers working their way into, and trying to fix, her life.
Well, she supposed they weren't complete strangers. She'd picked up the basic facts about Morgan from the mission logs she'd recorded in her past life. Granted, those logs were old enough that the current version didn't entirely resemble the Morgan from the start of the mission. For one thing, based on her original intel, it seemed practically impossible that he wasn't single. But, she wasn't entirely surprised that he had made various efforts to "fix" her, any more than she was surprised by Eleanor Bartowski's advice-heavy phone calls from Chicago, or Devon Woodcomb's frequent up-with-people aphorisms. In fact, everybody seemed anxious to help. Or almost everyone, since her husband's attempts had become rarer and rarer.
Ah, her husband. Out of all of the problems caused by her recent memory loss, the fact that her brain had completely erased the existence of a man that she had fallen in love with was the biggest. There was plenty of tangible evidence of their relationship. She'd watched the logs so often that she'd practically memorized every heartfelt statement that she'd apparently made about Chuck. She'd even talked to people she did remember, and had heard her mother's (happy) and Carina's (bemused but accepting) declarations that she did, in fact, love him.
And, to be honest, she had certainly felt something when he'd kissed her.
But still, no memories had returned, which was why she was now being subjected to the worst imaginable economics lecture.
"Hmm, I think it's cracked," Morgan's return from underneath the table interrupted Sarah's thoughts. He placed the condemned house off to the side, and studied the board intently. "Well, let's say you get a mortgage on…" he reached into the game box, "this little doggie here."
"Uh, Morgan, maybe you should skip the recession for now." Sarah looked up to see Alex, Casey's surprisingly pretty daughter, walk into the room. Even more surprisingly to Sarah, Alex was also Morgan's girlfriend. She was sure that there were some lost memories floating around out there that could make sense of their relationship, and they would be almost as welcome as those involving her own with Chuck. Alex almost certainly must be very patient, and the sympathetic smile she flashed Sarah seemed to bear this out.
"Yeah, that's a good idea, Babe," Morgan replied. "Maybe we should move on to the book."
Sarah glanced over at the tome seated on the table just to her side. It was about the size of a phonebook, which was quite impressive given that Morgan had seemingly prepared it all himself. Deciding it was better to get this lesson over with, she reached over to pick it up, glancing briefly at the handwritten title on the front: "Sarah Walker's Guide to Everything Important that Happened in the Years 2007-2012."
Underneath, in slightly smaller letters, the words, "Volume 1" were ominously scribbled.
"So, have you had a chance to peruse the book yet?" Morgan asked.
"Well, uh, I've been a bit busy." That was a lie. Shortly after Quinn's death, the CIA had informed her in no certain terms that an Agent with no memory of the last five years was not an Agent they wanted in the field. She'd always been devoted to the job, so the sudden appearance of boundless leisure time had been uncomfortable. She'd spent much of her time learning as much as she could about her recent past, but nothing dented the black area in her head where her memories had been.
Eventually, she'd found herself spending more and more time with Chuck. At first, she'd reached out to him out of guilt. Guilt over how she'd hurt him, both emotionally and physically. After that, she stayed because she'd realized that he was her best hope of getting better. Nobody had spent more time with her the last few years than Chuck Bartowski had. And he had been helpful, often painfully so. Eventually, things seemed to change though. They still spent time together, but he no longer seemed to be urgently trying to bring back her memories. Instead, they'd spent their time watching television, visiting the Santa Monica pier, and even playing the occasional game of miniature golf. Chuck was fun to be around, and she had begun to feel something unusual.
And it meant that she hadn't had time to peruse Morgan's literary masterpiece. "You mean you haven't looked at it?" he protested.
"Morgan," Alex interrupted, "Sarah's had a lot on her mind."
"Yeah," Morgan sighed in response to his girlfriend's comment, "but still, how's she going to get better if she doesn't work at it? I mean, just because Chuck's given up, doesn't mean I should."
Sarah felt the strange need to defend her husband, but she decided to stay silent. While she did appreciate the new "no pressure" Chuck Bartowski, she sometimes wondered why the old one had left.
"Morgan, can we talk for a bit?" Alex asked, and motioned for her boyfriend to follow her into the other room. They began speaking in hushed tones, which would be more effective if Sarah hadn't been a trained spy, with excellent hearing.
"Don't you think you should give Sarah a break?" Alex whispered. "Clearly, she's tired of your interference."
"Well, I have to do something! Haven't you seen how hard all of this has been on Chuck?"
Sarah had wondered how much of the brave face Chuck had recently adopted has been an act. She guessed that if she still had had the five years of experience with all things Chuck she'd recently lost, the answer would have been a lot clearer. She fought back the brief pang of guilt she felt, and continued to listen.
"I know, Morgan, I know. It's just that, I don't think it's helping. Not the Monopoly, not the books, not any of the things you've tried before."
"Hey, everything I've done has been carefully thought out and planned."
"Even the smells?" Sarah could practically hear the girl roll her eyes.
"Hey, Operation Olfaction was based on sound science! Out of all of the senses, memory is most closely linked with scent. And look at the evidence. She remembered stuff when she was inside a Weinerlicious, and when she was around Jeff and Lester. In both cases, very pungent smells."
Sarah had to admit there was a strange logic there. But the day spent sniffing at boxes filled with cold sizzling shrimp, bath soap from a hotel in Barstow, and what she'd been told was the cheap vinyl of Nerd Herder upholstery, had been neither productive nor particularly pleasant.
"Look, just let me try this one more time," she heard Morgan hiss. "I have a feeling it might work better. It's not trying to force her memory to come back; this is a way to replace what she lost. Trust me, Alex. I know what she's going through. I lost some memories, too, remember. And having something that helps guide her about what she's missing will be a big help."
"Alright, alright. Just try not to piss her off. I'd rather not have to fight her off to save you." Sarah could hear the affection in the girl's voice, and as strange as it seemed, found it to be touching.
A minute later, Morgan re-appeared, a confident smile on his face. Sarah made a show of perusing the book.
"Ok, let's see. How about we start on page 37."