A/N So Chuck and Sarah are married. Ready, or not? Carina's not one to back down from a challenge, like, why didn't she get an invitation?

My great thanks go out to atcDave and Thinkling for their invaluable help, not only in keeping Sarah properly in character, but also for helping me brainstorm a number of other storylines for this universe.

Lub. Dub.

Lub. Dub.

The woman who would be known to the world forevermore as Sarah Lisa Bartowski (if the world knew what was good for it) lay in bed, head on her husband's chest, listening to his heart beat, slow and steady. So calming.

Slower at rest than it had been, sign of improved health and general fitness. Steadily pulsing, powering the little bio-electric tracking chip she'd injected into his shoulder after he'd disappeared one too many times. Now she'd never lose him again.

So calming.

And a little creepy, too, as Chuck had pointed out on various occasions. She got that, she really did, but what with the whole spy thing and him being (at the time) an irreplaceable national resource she didn't see that she had a lot of choice in the matter. Probably most other wives would be bugging their husbands to make sure they really were working late at the office. Now that was creepy.

Her hand, on his chest. His ring, on her hand. A gold circle, deathless and endless. So not calming. The ring terrified her, some days, sometimes. What had she been thinking?

Well, nothing, really. If she'd had a single rational thought in her head after what she'd seen, she couldn't remember it, just an all-consuming urge to run, as she had before. That was her life, running away, leaving all of her messes behind her. Then Operation Bartowski kept her pinned to one place, and Chuck made her face up to the things she did and had done. She wasn't a good person. She was barely a person at all.

She didn't deserve him. Was he blind? Was he clueless? What could he have been thinking when he repeated after the man, "With this ring, I thee wed"? Surely one of them should have been thinking! Surely one of them could have seen that normal and Sarah didn't mix.

Chuck stirred in his sleep, tightened his grip on her, and relaxed. 1-2-3-4, he tapped out on her back. Status?

1-2-1-2, she tapped back. Green.

She trembled. She could do this. She would do this. Failure was not an option.

Thank God for Orion.

Sarah stood in the kitchen, chopping vigorously, humming along to the song currently playing on her phone, occasionally stopping to push the glasses back up on her nose. Whatever reflexes glasses-wearing people used to keep them in place, she didn't have them, and the stupid things kept slipping. It didn't help that these ridiculous commercial-grade knives had an edge that felt like they'd tried to cut butter and lost. Is this the best they could do? Her throwing knives were better, and those were only sharp at the points.

She looked to her left. "Dammit!" She scrambled to grab her phone, pausing the song and shutting down the app.

"Hey hon, what's up?" Chuck swung into the now silent kitchen.

Sarah spun in place, hands (and phone) behind her back. "Good morning, sweetie. You do know that today is Saturday, don't you? I was expecting you to sleep in."

Chuck gave her a suspicious look. "Since when do you wear glasses?"

She sauntered over to him. "Since these were delivered a few days ago. They have a little screen built in, and a micro-cam to send images."

He removed them from her face. "And does this explain the mysterious new bar of organic soap on the top shelf of the medicine chest?" He put them on himself. "Why, yes, yes it does."

"You weren't supposed to notice that."

"You shouldn't have taught me to increase my situational awareness, then." He took the glasses off. "You watch me sleep?"

"I like to watch you sleep." She liked to watch him, period.

"I like to watch you sleep, too. In my arms. While I'm there next to you. Not with high-tech anti-terrorist gear." He folded the earpieces, and hung the lenses from the low neckline of her lingerie. "What's behind your back?"

She pouted, and brought her hands around front, holding plates of sliced vegetables. "I wanted to make you a special surprise breakfast, like that time in Meadow Branch."

His face lit up with joy. "Oo, special." He took a slice of red pepper. "What's the occasion?"

"Nothing," she said, smiling back. "Just the first weekend since you started your new job, I thought it was a good enough reason to celebrate."

"Mmm, good thought ." He stepped forward and kissed her softly above, hands roaming lightly below. "But about that celebration. Can breakfast wait…just a…little while?"

Sarah slid out of bad the second time that day in a much better mood. She really liked sex (at least with Chuck), liked being the center of his world in the most obvious way possible. It sometimes frightened her how much she liked it, it seemed so huge, so much more than she had ever known, could ever have imagined. At those times she would compare it to how much she hated seduction assignments, the next hugest thing she knew, and she felt better. Whatever she, they were doing, at least it wasn't that. So much more than even the simple pleasure-taking she'd long thought even great sex was. Addicting.

"Where you going, Pretty Lady?"

She shivered, and moved faster. "I am going to finish making that super-special, extra-high calorie breakfast. You're going to need it." First she went into the bathroom and moved the micro-cam, before turning the shower on. Then she left, still dressed and glasses on. Chuck got up and looked in the bathroom. The cam was sitting on the hamper, focused on a–gah!–very cold shower. That gave him an idea.

A few minutes later, he dropped a towel over the cam and said loudly, "A shower! Great idea!"

Her voice rose in horror from the kitchen, "No, Chuck, don't—!"

He splashed the water a bit, and yelled, "Ah, now that's refreshing!" He removed the towel.

Sarah's bright laughter rang from the kitchen, when she looked in the glasses and saw the inflatable snowman he'd gotten out of their Christmas supplies, positioned under the spray.

God, she loved him!

The phone rang on the table by the bed. His side, the Bartowski phone. The Carmichael phone was on her side, and only she answered that one. Part of the Carmichael legend. Chuck moved to answer it, since Sarah wasn't going anywhere for a while. "Bartowski. Hey, Dimples." Sarah tightened her grip around his waist. "That bad, huh? I'm sure you are. Yeah, okay, I'll be there in a bit. Bye."

"You have to go?"

"There was a spill in the photo lab, no one on duty is signed off on the Haz-Mat stuff and since it's my duty station and I am signed off, well, that just makes it a no-brainer for them."

She recognized a cover story when she heard one. "Should we be concerned?"

He sniffed, since shrugging wasn't really an option in that position, and put the phone down. "Doubt it. Not every flash I have is about an evil conspiracy right around the corner, you know. It only seemed that way back in LA. Although they do seem to have an awful lot of evil conspiracies there…"

"It's Hollywood, Chuck, what did you expect?"

"Are we talking cause or effect here?"

"We're talking about you leaving your naked wife in bed to go off and save the free world yet again."

He rolled over, throwing off the covers, muttering under his breath.

"What was that, sweetie?"

"I said, James Bond never had to put with this crap."

She whacked him on his broad muscular back. "James Bond is a little boy's fantasy of what a spy's life should be. You, on the other hand, are a grown-up woman's fantasy of what a spy really is. Get it?"

He looked back, brown eyes on blue, smiling that smile he only smiled at her. "I think so. Will this be on the test?"

The sheet shifted as she stretched. "You better believe it, buster."

He took a deep breath and looked away. "Okay, exiting 'sexy banter mode' now. Otherwise I'll never get out of here."

"Don't think of it as going away, think of it as preparing to be welcomed back."

"La-la-la-la, I'm not listening…" He grabbed some clothes at warp speed (early-TNG warp speed, when they could do, like, warp fifteen) and fled.

Chuck stared at the recently tied knot on his sneakers, completely ignoring the (rustling!) rustling sounds coming from (being made by his wife in) the bedroom. There had to be more to being a couple than sex in the bedroom and video games in the den, but God help him, only missions were coming to mind and he knew that was just wrong! Ellie and Devon were no help, they did most of their couple-ing at the hospital and he really didn't mean it the way that sounded!

He was so not ready for this. Whatever could his father have been thinking?

Luke, trust me.

Okay, wrong character, same mentoring, fatherly relationship. But he was gonna run to the Millennium Falcon now and not even think about putting his proton torpedoes down the shaft dammit! He can't even not think about it without thinking about it.

Work! Wallet. Car keys. Out the–

Beautiful red-headed supermodel ready to knock on his door. Definitely not in the program. For a second he just stood there staring, trying to get his brain in gear.

She got there first. "Chuckles?"

Right. That's where he knew her from. "Carina," he shouted, "Oh…ha, uh, Hi! What a surprise!"

She stood there and surveyed his tall, lanky form, once, twice, and a horrible slight smile played across her lips. "Yes. Isn't it?"

A/N2 Uh-oh, guess who didn't get an invitation?

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