As of 31 May 2012, I don't own Chuck, et al.

Summary: What if getting his old life back meant he would lose her. What if he didn't get a choice and he got his old life back anyway. Set second half Season 2.

-o0o-

Chuck Gets His Old Life Back

Chapter One

-o0o-

The thin scary woman, who made Chuck think of someone who could play an evil goblin queen, extremely well, confirmed Chuck's suggestion with more than a hint of amusement.

"Stick, this needle," the light(s) glinted off the pointy bid menacingly, "into your eye."

"Chuck! No!" cried Sarah from the side, still cuffed to the sprinkler system.

That was when Chuck made his move. Or tried to. He was supposed to scare himself so much, that he'd faint.

Except that wasn't happening. He leant back in the wooden chair as far as possible to get away from the scary pointy glinty thing headed straight for his right eye. Further, he needed to lean further…..

The chair tilted back, giving him some six inches more.

Scaring himself wasn't working. The needle kept getting closer. Okay, so scaring was happening, the fainting was the problem.

Chuck leant further still, and then the chair toppled backwards, taking the Intersect host with it.

It seemed unreasonable that fainting would hurt so much.

-o0o-

"Chuck!"

Why was Sarah calling his name from underwater?

When he opened his eyes, it was like a special effects show, just for him. Were special effects supposed to hurt this much?

"Chuck, come on. Wake up!"

Her face was streaked with grime, blood and something wet had stained her cheeks. Her hair was no longer neatly tied back into her mission pony tail, and was looking frazzled.

There was the coolest tunnel vision effect, with Sarah's face in prime position. And there were like two or three of her, each swimming in and out of focus…

Except, the strobe lights really hurt. Maybe she could turn them off….

Someone else spoke from underwater, "He hit his head pretty hard."

There was movement, but no sloshing. Where was the water?

Someone roughly peeled his eyelids back. The light hurt. Didn't they know that was why he'd closed them in the first place?

There was a man looking into his eyes, first one then the other. The British guy, Cole Something. Seriously, who names a kid 'Cole?' At least his last name wasn't Slaw. Was it?

"His eyes are dilated differently. I'd guess concussion. Do you have a secure medical we can use?" Cole Slaw guy warbled from underwater.

"Concussion? Shit!" burbled a familiar male voice. Casey. The cavalry had evidently turned up just in time. Excellent, now get them to stop the horses from stomping around on my head, Chuck thought. Wasn't there supposed to be some joke about playing polo with water horses?

"Chuck? You're gonna be fine, okay?" he felt her fingers move down his face, "We're going to move you, and you'll be fine, you're going to be fine," her voice got higher as she spoke. She sounded worried. Maybe she was worried about Cole Slaw guy, 'cause he looked pretty beat up.

Maybe he should try to remember Cole Slaw guy's real name, 'cause Sarah seemed to like him….. If he was good for Sarah, then that was…..

It was nice and quiet when the darkness returned.

-o0o-

His head was resting on someone's lap, and there was movement, familiar from childhood road trips. Car. He was in the backseat of a car, he realized. Sarah's voice came from overhead, "Casey, can't this thing go any faster?"

She sounded scared. Maybe evil goblin queen was chasing them.

It took a bit of effort and a couple of goes, but he found her hand, holding onto his chest. He held her hand, and she held his back very tightly.

She must be really scared about evil goblin queen chasing them.

By the time he remembered how to speak, it had turned dark again. Chuck rested, knowing that Sarah was there.

-o0o-

There was a lot of noise, and it felt like they'd put him on the shopping trolley with the wonky wheel.

Everyone was talking all at once, over the top of each other. If only they'd be a little quieter, it would be white noise, and he could ignore it.

Crash!

Seriously, couldn't they have opened the door first? That hurt.

OW!

Who let a wasp in? That stings!

Cold. It's getting cold…

-o0o-

The doctors and nurses were confused. The three cops and their prisoner had barged in, and taken over whole departments and wards. The girl cop and the Limey looked like they needed medical attention, but the girl cop was a lot scarier than the third, large scary looking (just standard scary looking after seeing what the girl cop could do) cop, and wouldn't let anyone look after her until the prisoner was looked after first.

And their prisoner looked like he was just a normal guy.

When the prisoner, Carm-Something, was taken for X-rays and MRI, Walker, the female cop, refused medical attention until after the scans were done. She was like a frantic lover rather than a cop.

Cop Face, the big guy, looked after the prisoner while Walker and the James Bond wannabe had their cuts and abrasions looked after.

-o0o-

Barker accompanied Walker as they both limped back to Bartowski's room. Casey was on the phone to Washington.

Cole Barker knew when he was a third wheel, this was definitely one of those rare times.

Walker had been fun, she flirted well, very well, and was diverting enough. And then the dork went and hurt himself, and everything changed. Who'd have thunk it, Cole Barker looses the girl to the dweeb.

"….unknown ma-am. He's in a medically induced coma."

The voice on the phone spoke for a bit, then Casey replied, "Will do, ma-am. I've been told there is a slight swelling, which is why they put him in a coma. We'll know more once he regains consciousness."

As soon as Casey had said 'swelling,' Walker began to move toward the body hooked up to tubes, hoses and various machines that went ping. After a pace or two, she stopped and just looked at the figure of the dorky Bartowski.

The tinny voice continued on the phone. Casey replied, "Yes ma-am. As soon as we can," and hung up, slipping the phone into his back pocket.

Casey looked at the pair of them for a moment, and then said, "Walker, he should be alright. The doctors say it's a mild concussion, nothing to be alarmed about. This is all just procedure."

"Casey, you said swelling. There's swelling in his brain?"

"Walk… Sarah, the doctors say he'll be fine. Yes, there is pressure, but that is normal, considering. They know what they're doing. Go… take the beefcake," Casey gestured to Barker, "here, back to Castle. Clean up, get some rest. I've got him."

Walker opened her mouth, but Casey cut her off, "Sarah, you're just about dead on your feet. Get some rest, you're no good to… anyone, like this.

Walker's shoulders slumped in acceptance, and she turned for the door. Then she turned back, "How long?"

"Hmm?"

"How long will he be in a coma?" she asked, gazing at the man in the bed.

"Forty eight hours, the doc said. Said that was standard, just to be safe."

She whipped around to face Casey, "Forty….? We'll need to come up with a cover for Ellie!"

"Get some sleep. We'll figure this out tomorrow."

"….John, what if…. What if this affects the Inter… you know?"

"He'll probably be fine."

"But…."

Casey guided her gently back towards the door, saying quietly, "Then he'll get his wish, and be free of us. Free of the spy life."

Sarah Walker did not look happy that the man she obviously cared deeply for might get his wish. Barker wanted to ask who this 'Ellie' was, and why it so important she be informed. This didn't feel like the right time to ask.

When Barker and Walker got back into Castle, they found a cot each in the cells, and tried to sleep. Training and survival had made Barker a light sleeper. Darwinian selection tended to weed out the heavy sleepers of the spy world. Walker's restless night kept Barker awake.

At four in the morning, she gave up pretending to sleep as a bad job, and got up to start working on a computer in main ops.

-o0o-

At first blush, Sarah looked fresh as a daisy. Had Chuck have been awake, he would have spotted it immediately. It took her partner, Casey, a little longer to spot she'd barely had any sleep.

"Rough night, huh?"

She bit back her initial reply, and said, "Okay, I've got transfer papers to move Carmichael from General, and into Westside. And then when he gets to Ellie's hospital, Chuck Bartowski has the correct records for admission."

Casey flicked through the paperwork in the folder, "That looks pretty good." He then looked up, and asked her, "Wadaya gonna tell Ellie?"

She sighed, "I thought I could say he fell while we were at the pier…."

"…and the reason you forgot to tell momma bear Bartowski was be-cau-se…?" he asked in a sing-song tone she recognized from one of Chuck's cartoons.

She turned to face him with a painful grimace, "I don't know…"

"It was late, and you didn't want to wake her…." he offered, before considering, "Nah, she'd never buy that. Keep it simple, tell her you lost the phone during the ruckus, and you only got it back when the EMS crew returned it to you?"

She nodded, not really paying attention.

"What'd you do with the hot syrupy stack of man cakes?" Casey asked, testing to see if she was listening.

"I left him back in Cas….. what did you just say?"

Casey grinned, "Just checking. I'll go start the transfer to Westside," he held up Sarah's transfer papers, "You call Ellie."

She nodded again, still distracted.

Casey paused at the door and said quietly, "Sarah, he's going to be alright."

She nodded once more, not saying anything.

Casey left the room to deal with the transfer.

Sarah stood looking at Chuck for a long time before she rang his sister. The phone call went as well as calls of this nature ever go.

-o0o-

Ellie was waiting as the ambulance pulled up. It was unethical for her to medically attend her brother, so Big Sister mode was fully engaged.

Once Chuck was in his new room, plugged in, and pinging, she looked at her brother's girlfriend.

"Oh, God! Sarah, have you had any sleep?"

Sarah shook her head, looking at the floor.

The next thing Sarah knew was Ellie had organized a spare bed to be wheeled into the room, and she was placed on the bed by a very determined Ellie, who commanded her to, "Sleep!"

As Sarah drifted off, Ellie's voice softened by fatigue toxins spoke seemingly from a great distance, "Chuck, you'll be fine. Sarah and I are here. You look after that girl, Chuck…..."

Sarah woke with a start. Chuck was hurt! She shouldn't be sleeping when….

Sarah saw Ellie sitting by Chuck's bed. Ellie looked surprised at Sarah's sitting bolt upright. "Sarah, you startled me," said Ellie.

"How long was I asleep?" asked Sarah.

"Bit over an hour. Feel better?"

"Some," she nodded, "thanks. How's he…. Any change?" she asked as she started getting up.

"Still the same. I peeked at his files, it all looks pretty standard. They'll check the swelling later today, but from what I saw, that shouldn't be a problem. All goes well, they stop the drip tomorrow, and he'll be back, annoying as ever," Ellie smiled reassuringly at Sarah, and then asked gently, "How'd it happen?"

"It was just so silly," Sarah made a grimace of pain at the real memory, "He just…. fell over backwards. Hit his head, and … that was it."

"You must have been terrified, Sarah."

She nodded, "El, I'm sorry I didn't call you sooner, my phone got los….."

"He had you, the whole time, right? I'm pretty sure you're more important to him than I am now a days," Ellie said with a smile for the true woman in her brother's life.

Sarah smiled at her fingers, twisting in her lap, "Oh, I'd say you're still pretty much vital to him too, Ellie."

Ellie glanced at her watch and stood up, "Sorry, I need go be a doctor for a bit, you get some more sleep, okay? Devon and I will check in later on."

She sat on the spare bed, the sounds washing over her – the whir of a pump, an intermittent ping from one of the monitors, the squeak of sensible shoes on linoleum, the conversations and muted bong of the intercom from outside the door.

After a while, she got up and went to the man at the center of it all. She stood up against the railing beside him, her hands wandering of their own accord, but never quite touching him.

"Chuck? Please be okay. Come back, come back to me…."

After standing there for a few minutes, she went back to the bed, and sat, still looking at him. In her mind, she told him everything, how scared she was, how she never wanted him hurt, how she never wanted anything like this to ever happen to him. She sat silent, but part of her told him everything.

She woke up suddenly when the door opened.

"Hey, Sarah!" cried Devon, as he came in with two orderlies and another doctor, "We're just here to take the Chuckster for some more scans. Wanna come?"

She blinked, and then yawned involuntarily, "Yeah, I think I need to stretch my legs."

As Chuck was being unplugged from the wall, Devon asked, "How you going? El said she'd never seen you look so scared."

She nodded, "I'm okay now."

Chuck was wheeled out, and up to organ imaging. As they moved him from the bed to the MRI slab, Devon let her into the control booth.

The huge machine in the next room hummed, clicked and thumped as it produced virtual slices of Chuck's brain. The technician moved a model of the human brain around on the screen. Doctor Vo, the doctor who'd accompanied Devon earlier, hummed and peered at the image. She tapped away at the keyboard, and the model changed, colors and blobs moved around. Dr Vo hummed tunelessly some more.

She leaned back and smiled at Sarah and Devon, "Well, it's looking pretty normal. There is some residual swelling," she pointed at something that made no sense to Sarah at all, "We'll keep him under for the night, just to be safe, and he should be fine to be brought out of it tomorrow."

"Awesome!" announced Devon as he clapped Dr Vo on the shoulder, causing her to lurch forward, and the model on the screen spun like a top.

-o0o-

When Ellie's shift ended, she dragged Sarah home with her, over Sarah's protests. "Sweetie, I know you want to be there, but nothing's going to happen. He'll stay under until we take him off the drip. And I think you could use a good meal and some rest."

Sarah salivated, despite herself, at the thought of Ellie's cooking. "Okay…" she allowed.

"'Sides, this way I don't drink alone," Ellie smiled, "And I think we both need to get away from here."

Normally, on a school night, Ellie never had more than the one glass of wine over dinner.

It was the courage and wisdom that comes only within that third glass that asked Sarah, "I just don't get it. The pair of you are made for each other. He's aces over teacups in love with you…. 'N you! You're just as bad." Ellie waived her hand dismissively, warding off any protests, "I've seen the way you look after him….." she peered at Sarah, "So what's wrong with my brother, Sarah? You're jus' not moving forward! I mean, you still live in that apartment….. thingy of yours." She set the glass down, carefully, "He'd love it if you moved in. Me too. I mean, I could stan' having 'nother woman 'round."

Sarah seriously considered gulping the nearly full glass of red she held down in one go. This was why Sarah didn't want to be alone with Ellie. She was sharp, she could see the hole in the cover story. No-one had thought it would go this long.

She made do with a small sip, "El, Chuck's….. great. It's…. I don't know if he told you, I moved here because my last situation was… bad. He didn't hit me, or anything…"

Ellie snorted aloud at that, "Honey, I'm pretty damn sure you'd kick 'em in the, you know, if they tried that with you."

Sarah smiled for Ellie, and then realized the truth would work. She'd be skating close to the edge, Casey's damned cameras would pick it all up, but she could claim it was to keep the cover up.

She swallowed, let her real feeling rise to the surface a little and looked up at Ellie saying, "Ellie, I'm scared. I….. I never expected anyone like Chuck. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. And it doesn't. He's nothing like the guys I've gone out with, before. And that scares me. And then, I get scared he'll find someone else, 'cause…. 'cause I'm taking too long…."

Ellie stared hard at her, apparently sober, "Honey, that man would wait for you. No. Matter. What."

"Ellie, I'm scared… I'm not a nice person… I've…. I've done stuff…."

"Does he know?"

Sarah kept her face down, and nodded, thinking about Christmas just gone, saying in a raw tone, "He's got a pretty good idea, I think."

Without Sarah quite knowing how, Ellie was at her side, crouching down beside her at the table, her arm around Sarah's shoulder, "Honey?"

Sarah wiped her face, and looked at the sister of the man she wasn't supposed to love. Ellie continued, "Then its okay," Ellie smiled, "He loves you. If he knows and he still loves you, then its okay."

Sarah kept looking at the other woman, her eyes still smarting from tears. She was so royally screwed. She'd practically admitted on camera her love for her asset. She might be able to squeak by on this one by claiming she was maintaining cover. It would be tight, but with Casey's help, she could possibly get away with it.

She should leave. Ask for reassignment. Every time she tried to keep cover, she just dug that hole deeper.

The problem with leaving, was she would leave. Leave Chuck.

And she so desperately didn't want to do that.

She lay in his bed that night, hoping with all her heart he would be okay.

-o0o-

Chuck was taken off medication just after lunch. They kept the drip attached to keep fluids supplied, and disconnected his catheter. Sarah was grateful that the nurse gave her the option to leave at that stage.

When Ellie had dropped her off at Chuck's room shortly after eight that morning, she resisted the drive to rush to his side. She looked around, trying to see if there were any signs of…

"Casey!"

"Morning Walker, you look, well, a bit more human today," came her partner's voice from the man dressed as a janitor.

Sarah had to admit, Casey had picked a good position. Out of the traffic, good view of Chuck's door, and a good bolt hole in the cleaner's storage if Ellie or Devon came by.

"Have you been here the whole time?"

"Nah, me and the Limey have swapped a couple of times."

"Oh, I'd forgotten about…"

"It's okay. Barker's a good spy. But our moron is far more important. And he'll be back across the pond as soon as Bartowski's out of here. Go, get in there." The big man tilted his head at Chuck's door.

As soon as she was in his room, she checked to see if Casey had unloaded some of his cameras. She couldn't see any.

She kissed his forehead, it felt dry and cool. "You'll be fine, Chuck," she whispered, "the drugs will stop today, and you'll wake up. And you can come home," her whisper grew hoarse.

Morgan came by at nine. "Hey Sarah, I should have known, I'll come back lat…"

"Morgan, its fine. Come in. I'll give you some privacy, I need to stretch my legs anyway."

Morgan opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, before asking, "Sarah, you okay?"

"I'll be okay."

Morgan twisted the roll of comics in his hands, "It must have been scary….." he said quietly.

Sarah patted his arm, and nodded.

As she was leaving, she heard Morgan say in that fake cheery voice people use in hospitals, "Hey Chuck, check it out, bro. Latest Dark Knight….." and then in a slightly more normal tone, she heard him say, "Dude, don't scare that woman like this. I've never seen her so….."

She closed the door, blocking the monologue.

After some atrocious coffee and about an hour, she came back, Casey was still on station, but he'd moved to another position. And cover. The world's scariest accountant was evidently taking stock of a linen closet.

"Nice mustache, Casey," she smirked. "Anything?"

"Bobsey twin number two left about ten minutes ago. At least you'll have some Superman comics to read while you wait."

"Batman," she corrected automatically, "Chuck thinks that Superman is a cheat. All that unlimited power….."

Casey didn't actually say anything, but just rolled his eyes.

She felt the need for a little dig of her own, "Okay, so maybe I've heard that discussion a few times. What was Chuck's position regarding mayonnaise based sandwiches on a desert island, again?"

"Maybe Barker can take me with him when he leaves….." Casey suggested to the ceiling tiles.

Okay, when she got to his room, she maybe read a couple of the comics. For comic books, they weren't too bad.

-o0o-

A little shy of two hours after being taken off the coma inducing drugs, Chuck stirred slightly.

Ellie and Devon had joined Sarah about thirty minutes earlier, both saying, "He should still be under for about half an hour."

The room got crowded when the nurse turned up fifteen minutes later.

Sarah took his left side, the nurse his right and Ellie/Devon stood at the foot of the bed.

"Chuck, Chuck, can you hear me?"

Sarah hated the way her voice cracked like that. Everyone else in the room thought it was adorable.

He stirred some more, and made a sound like a sigh. Either that, or he was calling on the ancient Egyptian Sun god, 'Ra.'

A smile tried to cross his face.

"Chuck, Devon and Ellie are here too," she tried to warn him not to spill too many secrets, "You fell over, hit your head, do you remember?"

His eyes cracked a smidge and he smiled again, this time in the direction of the foot of the bed.

The nurse took over, "Mister Bartowski? I just need to run some simple tests, okay? Then I'll leave you to your family." She clicked a pen light on, "follow the light please, that's good. Okay, now squeeze my fingers. Harder. Excellent. Now I need you to touch your nose…"

Chuck fell back to sleep almost the instant the nurse finished with him. She addressed Ellie and Devon, including Sarah at Ellie's sideways glance at her. "Okay, he looks fairly normal for this stage. He'll sleep a lot more than normal, but that is normal. He's still flushing the pentobarbital out of his system. Doctor Vo will want to run another MRI, and some other tests. I'm sure the pair of you know more than I do about this," she said, deferring to the two doctors. Devon gave a tight smile and Ellie continued to look like a worried sister. She addressed Sarah more like a friend than a nurse, "But it looks like he's going to be fine."

After the others left the room, Sarah didn't recall falling asleep on the spare bed.

She woke quietly when she felt someone was watching her.

Of course it was him. She was by his side without conscious thought. As she took his hand in hers, he said, "I sincerely hope we won. I'd hate to have to do that again." His voice was rough from lack of use.

She half sobbed, half laughed and squeezed his hand, "Yeah. We won. And I'd hate for you to do that again too."

The pair shared a smile, and a silent moment, not looking away from each other. He lifted his hand, and with her help, he traced the back of his finger down her face, "You okay?" he wanted to know, "You look….. Sarah, I've seen you look better."

She kept his hand to her cheek, "Just tired."

Twice during the afternoon, he fell asleep mid-sentence. Something she felt sure that Casey would have wanted to have been present for. She went to the toilet during his first impromptu nap. Barker had traded places with Casey.

"How's 'e doing?" Barker wanted to know.

Sarah bit down her instinctive reaction that he was asking this to seem to be a nice guy. The tiredness in his eyes gave away Barker's own lack of sleep, and she felt guilty about her own nap earlier. "He's…. he's out from the drugs now. He's been awake, but he's sleeping right now."

He stared at Sarah for enough time for her to feel uneasy. Then he said, again seemingly honestly, "I'm more of a 'up the guts wiv buckets a smoke*' type. Never had an asset to develop. But I've never seen two agents more dedicated before this. So I guess 'e's pretty important."

Sarah nodded. "Thanks," she said, meaning it.

They shared a quiet afternoon. Ellie came by bearing real coffee, which Sarah fell upon gratefully. Morgan came after work, and stole half of Chuck's jello, while keeping Chuck up to date with Jeff and Lester's antics, along with Emmett's latest idiotic commandments from the mount.

Chuck fell asleep again, and Morgan left, this time in better spirits than before.

She snuck up silently beside his bed, and whispered, "Okay Harry Potter, he's gone now, you can stop faking narcolepsy."

He jerked at her first utterance, and then smiled a genuine Chuck Special for her. "First off, it was Ron, not Harry. Pay attention, we could still have a pop quiz on this, you know," he laughed at her mock horror.

Her phone beeped at that stage. With an apologetic face for him, she checked her messages. Casey had sent a file through.

"Careful what you wish for, Chuck. You said pop quiz? I've got one for you."

She opened the file, and found a sequence of innocuous photos. She held the phone out for him, saying, "Tell me what you see."

"Um, okay…. A puppy," he slid the photo, "looks like a May Day parade from the Fifties, Red square," slide, "a flower arrangement, passenger jet, the lunar rover, Dory the fish…. Sarah, please tell me these are the control images, and you have another set for me to flash on….."

Before she could say anything, he read it in her expression, "….but these are the coded images…. Aren't they? Sarah…"

God, he sounded scared. More scared that that morning on the beach, because at that stage, he couldn't know what was going to happen to him. She shook her head, and wore her agent face, the one you wear when you lie to your asset, "Its okay, Chuck. Maybe it's too soon. Maybe the images are too small…"

"And we both know I've flashed on smaller images than…."

"Chuck!" her voice sounded brittle, she breathed and sounded calmer, "It's just the first time. We'll try again, later when you're recovered, okay?"

He nodded doubtfully.

"Chuck, it's going to be fine. And the important thing is you're okay, okay?"

Again, his nod indicated doubt.

She reached out, and gave his hand a squeeze, "Look, I've got to call Casey, let him know that nothing happened, this time," she emphasized with a squeeze, "and that you're okay."

If Chuck were a suspicious person, he would have noted that Sarah left the room for longer than he felt necessary for a call of that type.

An even more suspicious and observant person might have noticed that she looked worried when she came back into the room, but if she did, it was only for an instant.

-o0o-

*Up the guts with buckets of smoke – An infantry battle tactic devoid of subtlety, and thus, easy for the infantry commander to remember – always an important consideration. Throw smoke to obscure the battlefield, and instead of flanking, charge straight ahead. The section commander's handbook probably has a proper name, but I would be breaking my oath to The Official Secrets Act if I told you.

.

Much as I would love to, I cannot claim ownership of the phrase 'hot syrupy stack of man cakes.' Frea used it, but someone else (either BDaddyDL or MKudron) tweeted it for her first. I am genuinely both highly amused and slightly revolted by those words…

-o0o-