Title: This Night is Flawless
Fandoms: Chuck and Merlin
Characters: Chuck, Sarah, Ellie, Devon, Merlin, Morgana, Gwen, Arthur
Pairings: Chuck/Sarah, Merlin/Morgana, slight Arthur/Gwen, slight Ellie/Devon
Summary: A pair of friends, two pairs of siblings, a burned-out spy, and a tagalong boyfriend take vacations to the mysterious country of Costa Gravas, where they find friendship, love, danger, and enchantment. AU. Chuck/Merlin crossover.
Disclaimer: Neither Chuck nor Merlin belong to me. I just like playing in the sandbox, and I'm grateful to BBC/Shine and Josh Schwartz/Chris Fedak/NBC for such cool characters. Title from Taylor Swift's "Enchanted."
A/N: You really don't want to know my thought process on this or where it came from. But it's here. I've apparently decided to write it. Feel free to let me know if it's crap. As always, though, it's super helpful if you review when you favorite, or if you review at all. :)
If one were to ask Merlin Ambrose, he'd have to say all his trouble started when he was a mere seven years old, so unassuming and easily led astray. A new family moved into the house across the street, which had been empty for the summer, a family with a girl his age by the name of Gwen. She had dark, curly hair and a funny grin that showed her crooked teeth. She made him laugh, and she liked him, and she made up the best games. But little did he realize, at seven years old, that she would be the death of him. It's been nearly two decades since that fateful day, and still she can get him to go along with her schemes.
"No," he says with an emphatic shake of his head. He would probably stomp his foot, too, if he weren't so certain she would laugh at him.
"Oh, come on," pleads his best friend. Her eyes light up as she smiles and latches on to his hand, and he can feel he's in terrible danger of conceding. "It'll be fun!"
Pursing his lips, he turns his attention back to his marked-up copy of Chaucer and the notebook covered in his scrawl beside it. "Right."
Because a vacation to a tiny, almost unknown country in the middle of writing his dissertation is exactly what he needs. He can imagine it now – drunk coeds on spring break, salty ocean water stinging his eyes, jellyfish dogging his swimming path, loud and annoying parties on the beach playing awful music that doesn't deserve to be danced to, let alone exist.
Besides, he hates sand.
"Why don't you take Elena, or Freya, or someone who'll actually be fun?"
She gives him a poke in the arm. "Because I won a tropical vacation!" she says with a laugh, still delighted at the news. The hotel where she's employed as a maid, Camelot, frequently has drawings for its personnel, and after the company's recent grand opening of a sister resort in Costa Gravas, Gwen had won a drawing for an all-expenses paid trip.
It's not like she hasn't got other friends.
"How can you not be excited about that?" she continues. "And I want to take my very best friend in all the world."
He shouldn't have looked up. He really shouldn't have. Twenty years and he still doesn't know he's got no defense against her pout.
Chuck Bartowski walks into the kitchen, sees his sister and her boyfriend, Devon Woodcomb, chatting together conspiratorially, and pauses. His sister's smiling. A frown springs to his lips, and he fights back a sigh. His first instinct, always, is to run from that smile, so cunning, so evil. But he really wants the leftover pizza and the grape soda he knows are in the fridge.
He bounces on his toes while he decides. Ellie and Devon's whispered conversation breaks off abruptly.
"Oh, hey, Chuck," Ellie greets, too happily. She's up to something.
Damn, he chastises himself. Should've turned around when he had the chance.
"Hey, bro," booms Devon. Chuck would be glad he was being accepted by his undoubtedly future brother-in-law if only Devon didn't call everyone "bro."
Resigned to listening to them now, he heads for the fridge and takes out his snack. He loosens his silver Nerd Herd tie as he slides his plate onto the counter and takes a seat. "What's up, sis?" he finally asks, dreading the answer.
She saunters toward him, a sparkle in her brown eyes. "What's the one thing in the world you need most right now?"
"Uh . . . a shower?"
Captain Awesome sits down beside him and claps him on the back so hard he chokes.
"Good guess, bro, but no," Devon says, his teeth gleaming. "The answer is: some time off. You're working too hard. You need to find your focus. You gotta clear your head."
"So . . ."
Ellie plops into a chair on his other side. Chuck swallows a bite of pizza then sits up, his head turning to look at one and then the other.
"Is this some sort of intervention? Because I've told you before, Ellie, the Buy More's not permanent."
She clears her throat and stares him down, because they've had this argument before. Six months would've been 'not permanent.' Five years? That's pretty darn permanent.
Luckily for him, she chooses not to engage in their tired-out argument and instead asks, "Do you remember that premier whose life Devon saved a little while ago?"
"The one from that weird country? Yeah, I remember him."
"Turns out he's super generous," Awesome chimes in. "He wants us to come for a visit, even offered us a suite in this new resort that's been built there, The Camelot or something like that."
Ellie beams. "So we're going on vacation, and you're coming with us, whether you like it or not."
"Hey, Leon," greets Morgana Pendragon with a tip of her head and a ghost of a smile as she enters her brother's living room. By the way her brother's agent sighs, she can tell he must be having a harder day than usual, and that's saying something for the Pendragon family. "Arthur giving you a tough time?"
"I'm right here!" Arthur whines from the couch, where he's reclined against a huge, plush pillow and his injured leg is stretched out in front of him. "And I am not giving him a tough time. Leon," he spits, "is just being crabby."
Morgana shoots her brother a behave look before silently apologizing to Leon.
"Painkillers talking, I'm sure," he grimaces.
When she looks back at Arthur, he's thrown his head back and closed his eyes. He doesn't stir when she takes a seat on the couch next to his braced leg, although she fights the urge to smack him for being such a jerk. Not that his behavior or her reaction are anything new.
"So, what's the situation?" she asks.
Leon, heaving another sigh, settles into an armchair across from the siblings. "He's out for the season, as we suspected. Unfortunately."
That wasn't good on any level. Arthur would go crazy with nothing to do. Their father would no longer have a reason to brag about his football star son, at least for a while, and, as yet, he hasn't found much reason to boast about his author daughter. Not to mention she'll undoubtedly be left to amuse and take care of her whiny baby brother.
She purses her lips. "Is there any good news?"
"Depends on what you mean by that," Leon shrugs. "Turns out the premier of a country called Costa Gravas is a big fan of the club. He's extended an offer for Arthur to come for a visit. There's a new British resort down there. He'll get the star treatment, personal tours, a suite, whatever he wants, really, and it'll be a little publicity for the country and the football club."
Maybe it would be good. After all, she hasn't had much luck – any, really – working on her new manuscript. Maybe the change of scenery will spark her creativity again, and if Arthur were on a very distracting tropical island, it would mean she wouldn't have to spend all day every day looking after him. She flicks her gaze to her brother, in all likelihood only pretending to sleep.
"What does Arthur say about this?"
"And what do you say?"
Leon chuckles. "He'll need to be kept out of trouble."
"Well," she says with a laugh that doesn't quite reach her eyes, "I'm single for a reason, I suppose, aren't I?"
As soon as Sarah Walker exits the hospital room, Carina's waiting for her. The normally fiery redhead wears a somber expression, her arms crossed against her chest as she leans against the opposite wall.
"How's Zondra?" she asks.
Sarah exhales and leans beside her old friend. "She's going to be okay."
"Well, congratulations, Walker," Carina says dryly, "your streak of getting your partners in mortal danger just keeps going up and up."
Sarah tightens her lips and bites back a nasty reply. Instead, she chuckles mirthlessly and says, "Well, hey, I'm in the market. Are you applying?"
"Please. We'd be unstoppable. The government doesn't want to risk unleashing that force on the world."
That draws a true laugh from her, straight from her heart. She's forgotten what it feels like to be happy, even if for just a moment.
Still smiling, Carina asks, "So, what now?"
"Graham's forcing leave on me. Then it'll be psych evals."
"You should be a pro at those by now."
"But I think I may have something to help you with your leave, though."
"Oh, yeah? What's that?"
Carina saunters off without replying. It's only when she's halfway down the hall that she turns, looks over her shoulder, and says, "I booked you a vacation."