CHUCK VERSUS WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS—PART TWO
Concluding the second episode in an imaginary Season 6 of Chuck.
What happened in Vegas? Chuck and Sarah rebooted their love story the same way it started: by sharing adventures and facing danger together. They thwarted new adversaries with a little help from their faithful family and friends. Sarah found some of her memories and Chuck found a whole new use for the Intersect. Carmichael Industries got back in business by fixing something nobody else could. All that, and even a little sexy time for our favorite power couple in Sin City! …What's next?
Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck. And though it's been fun to write an imaginary Season 6 opener, I would have preferred to watch a real one instead.
Sixth day, evening, in Deep Skillet
Professor Fleming wheels himself into a secret laboratory that's been profoundly changed in just a few hours. Deep Skillet is abuzz with productivity: an analyst working at every terminal and a corps of technicians circulating and fine-tuning the computer systems. The overhead screens variously flash detailed live maps of trouble spots around the globe, high-resolution satellite imagery, and classified video logs of CIA drone attacks and on-the-ground paramilitary missions. In the midst of it all, moving from station to station, iPad under her good arm, looking proud and stressed at the same time, is Special Agent Juanita Saldana.
Saldana catches sight of Fleming, and her face falls. She meekly nods toward her private office and he follows her there. Once inside, she closes the door, pulls her desk chair out, and sits down backwards, leaning forward on the back of her chair, steeling herself for a tongue-lashing from her mentor.
But Fleming gives her a gentle smile instead. "I hear the Agency is giving you an official commendation, my dear," he begins. "¡Felicidades!"
"Gracias," Saldana replies. "My superiors at Langley were pleased to finally have this facility on line."
"Yes, and I know some thought your use of Carmichael Industries was chancy—but you proved them all wrong. Only you and I need concern ourselves with the rest of the story."
Saldana looks down at the floor. "Professor, I—
"Hush." Fleming pats her on the knee. "Juanita, you are one of the two best students I have ever taught at Stanford. But clearly you are much more adept at handling high-tech weaponry than high-value human assets. No matter. This is a setback, but our benefactors are very patient people."
"How should we proceed?" she asks him.
"Wait and watch—watch closely," replies Fleming. "I think Chuck will try to outflank us by reconfiguring the Intersect software as open-source, then disseminating it as widely as possible through the hacker community. He would see that as the most noble course of action."
"But what about the wetware? None of that would work unless the uploads could be rendered safe enough for anyone to—ah!" Saldana snaps her fingers. "His sister!"
"My thought as well. With her collaboration and with enough resources, his little firm just might pull it off. So I think we should give him some rope—and if he shows any signs of imminent success, then we reel him right back in."
"Having already done half of our work for us!"
"Precisely. The first thing you must do is pay your bill."
"Already taken care of," Saldana says, affectionately patting her iPad.
"Then I will be on my way, as I have a flight back to San José in two hours. Keep a good watch on them, Juanita. And do be careful," he adds, pointing to her injured right arm. Then Fleming takes Saldana's left hand, kisses it gallantly, and departs.
"Most assuredly I will," she answers—after Fleming has left. She opens a new window on her iPad: a high-resolution live satellite image of metropolitan Las Vegas. Out in the far northwest suburbs on the edge of the desert, at the location of a popular family restaurant on the corner of two back streets, a single green dot—labeled BARTOWSKI, C—is blinking brightly.
Over the course of a fine evening in that very same friendly family restaurant in northwest Vegas…
(Music: "Together Forever in Love," by Go Sailor)
Sarah, Ellie, and Mary sit at one end of a long table laden with hors d'oeuvre trays, bowls of chips and dip, and platters of fist-sized barbecued chicken wings. Sarah is gently bouncing her little brunette niece Clara Woodcomb on her knee, while Clara fiddles happily with a pair of pink fuzzy dice, and all three ladies laugh heartily at her antics.
Courtesy of Carmichael Industries, they're in a private room at the back of the restaurant, away from the noisy crowd of regular customers out front.
"How long are you staying?" Ellie asks Sarah.
"Two or three more days I think," Sarah replies. "We're going to—oopsie!" Clara has just dropped her fuzzy dice on the floor. Ellie bends down to retrieve them, and meticulously wipes them down with a napkin before presenting them back to her excited little daughter.
"Anyway," continues Sarah, as she tickles Clara with her pinky finger, "Chuck and I already have another project lined up—with the casino—and this'll give us a chance to enjoy the rest of this honeymoon with way fewer interruptions."
"That sounds wonderful," Ellie says, enviously. "And so much better than the seventeen-hundred-mile drive we have waiting for us starting tomorrow! But at least that storm in Utah moved on while we were here."
"It was lucky for us that you came," says Sarah quietly. "We owe you both plenty."
"Feh!" Mary exclaims, waving her hand. "We're all family and this is what we do."
"I'll try not to forget that," Sarah remarks—and they all start laughing again.
In an adjacent quiet hallway leading to the restrooms, Chuck stands with his face toward the wall, staring blankly at a faded National Finals Rodeo poster, and looking just a bit sheepish as his brother-in-law Devon Woodcomb pulls his shirt collar away from his neck and peers down his back.
"Hmm, yes—I see the welt," Devon says in his deep serious-doctor voice. "Is it bothering you?"
"Not so much any more," Chuck replies. "But it doesn't seem to want to go away."
"Looks to me like an allergic reaction," Devon adds, and puts Chuck's shirt back in place. "Like what you might sometimes get from a tetanus shot or a flu shot."
"Or…perhaps a tranq needle?"
"I'm not so familiar with the long-term effects of those—but maybe. Maybe. If it's not itching any more, that's probably a good sign. If it's still there when you get back to Echo Park, you should go see a dermatologist. I'll text you the name of a good one."
"Sounds like a plan," Chuck avers, patting Devon on the back. "And thanks. Hey—buy you another beer?" He points to the lively bar in the front of the place, where Alex and Morgan have just gone to get their own drinks refilled.
"You bet! Sounds awesome, bro!"
A little later, Chuck goes over to join the three Bartowski ladies. Clara is sitting on Mary's lap now, but all three women are fussing equally over her.
"They'll be bringing out dinner in a moment," he tells them. "Just so you know."
"About time," says Sarah eagerly. "I'm starving!"
Chuck, standing directly behind his seated wife, puts his hands on her shoulders and gently massages them. Sarah smiles and brings her right hand up to squeeze his left, while cocking her head to look up at him. They gaze at each other for a moment—and then Chuck abruptly recalls that he's there on a mission.
He reaches into his pocket, takes out the Key—again sealed tightly in a plastic sleeve—and carefully places it in Ellie's hand.
"Here you go," he tells her. "It got a little damp, but it's as good as new. As soon as I get back home, I'll make you a half-dozen more just like it."
"And Saldana believes this was destroyed?" asks Ellie.
"Can't ever be totally sure with her, but we think so," Sarah replies.
"Did you ever contact General Beckman?"
"They can't," interjects Mary. "That attorney was just bluffing Saldana. If Beckman were to find out about Chuck—officially, that is—she'd be compelled to have the Intersect removed from him. Whether she really wanted to or not."
"So it's stalemate with Team Fleming," Chuck says. "And an arms race of sorts. That's why it's so important, Sis, that we get to work on this right away."
Ellie studies the Key in her hand and sighs heavily.
"I…um, needed to talk with you about that, Chuck. Research like this takes money. Serious money. And I don't see any way I could write a grant proposal for this kind of work—at least not without bringing the CIA and NSA right down on us."
At that, Sarah perks up and pats her husband's hand, still resting on her shoulder.
"Chuck and I have already got that figured out," she says excitedly. "Carmichael Industries is going to fund your research, Ellie. Half the profits from every job of ours here on out will go to you."
"Starting with a big chunk of the handsome sum Special Agent Saldana transferred to us this very afternoon!" Chuck adds—as Ellie's mouth opens in surprise and tears appear in the corners of her eyes.
"Hey you guys!" Morgan interrupts from across the room. "Let's eat!"
Some time well after dinner ends, as most of the family lingers around the table sharing favorite old stories and bellowing in laughter, Chuck and Sarah borrow Clara from her mom and dad and bring her over to the quiet side of the room.
(Music: "A Question and an Answer," by Tim Jones)
Clara, still wide awake, sits in Chuck's lap and giggles delightedly at her uncle as he plays peek-a-boo with her. Sarah has her arm around him, and alternates between watching Clara and planting little kisses on Chuck's face.
"I think," Sarah says, softly, after a while, "the way you're so at ease with her, the way that it's making me feel right now—you and I must have already been talking about having a baby of our own…about starting a family. Am I right?" She nuzzles his neck.
"Funny you should ask," replies Chuck. "You just reminded me that I found something in my briefcase this afternoon I wanted to show you. Here—take the package for a moment."
Chuck gingerly passes Clara to Sarah, who cradles her in both arms as her husband removes a tightly folded piece of paper from his pocket. He unfolds it in front of Sarah as she looks on with avid curiosity. It's a simple sketch, hand-drawn on top of an illustration torn out of a magazine—a Japanese magazine, from the looks of the printed characters at the bottom of the page….
"Remember this?" Chuck asks Sarah as he holds it out for her to see.
(Closing credits and Chuck titles theme, by Tim Jones)
This imaginary Season 6 of "Chuck" continues with the next episode: "Chuck Versus the C G I"— also posted on FanFiction!
Author's final words:
I had tremendous fun writing this imaginary episode—and the writing helped me deal with the end of the series and the passage of these wonderful characters into the realm of our imaginations. But the best and most effective motivation for me to keep going on this was the encouragement I got from the reviews posted by readers after each update! So THANK YOU 2old2write, atcDave, atx77, coreymon77, Guest, KryptonitePoison, phnxgrl, Reyes9; and also add291, Aiden, AwesomeChuck, etcmmcpo, Hotski, JaCo, jaytoyz, Milli, resaw, Spaceman, Sudden Radiance, TioPaco, UKChuckster, uplink2, and wassupchuck. You rock, all of you! I also appreciate each of the Follows and Favs this story accrued—THANKS to all you folks too!