A/N: Hey guys. I'm BACK (: Sorry for the extreme delay...school started back up and I've since been bombarded with a constant stream of assignments, test, deadlines and such. Not fun. But I have been constantly thinking about this story. This chapter has been the hardest chapter to write thus far. There were a lot of things I needed to figure out before I could write this chapter so I could avoid any plot holes later on in the story. But, without any further ado, here is chapter 3 of Life As We Know It (: Enjoy.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Chuck, and any mistakes are mine.
Chuck stared at his screen, stunned out of his mind. This is not good. This is really not good. After waiting for the words to finally disappear, he closed his computer and set it to one side. Slipping a pair of shoes on, he grabbed his phone and slipped out of the house.
Stepping out into the backyard, he eased the sliding door close behind him as quietly as he could so as to not wake Sarah or the twins. The moonlight shone brightly, lighting up the yard to a degree in which it wasn't too bright but was bright enough that he didn't need any other source of light. Scanning the vicinity, he made sure that there was no one around before dialing Beckman's number.
After a long wait, Beckman finally picked up. 'Agent Bartowski? Couldn't this have waited 'till the morning?' She said in a sleepy tone. It was only 10 o'clock Washington time, but Beckman had a knack of going to bed early whenever you needed her.
'General Beckman, I know it's really late, but this is very important – '
'This better be good,' she growled.
Chuck took a deep breath. 'General, someone just contacted me. They knew I worked for the agency - '
She immediately perked up. 'No one's supposed to know except Graham and I.'
'He - he or she took control of my computer and sent me an encrypted message.' Chuck began pacing back and forth on the patio.
'Did he reveal anything about his identity?'
'Orion.' He could feel Beckman tensing up over the phone, confirming his suspicions that there was something more sinister behind this whole fiasco. There was a long silence. 'General?'
'Chuck, Graham and I are going to fly out to LA tonight. We can't afford to discuss this over the phone anymore.'
'Yes ma'am.' There was another silence as both parties stopped to think. 'Wait General, just one more thing –' Chuck started.
He was interrupted by a man's voice in the background on Beckman's side calling for her to come back to bed. He stifled a laugh despite the dire situation he was in. Beckman cleared her throat embarrassedly. 'Sorry...that was just...what were you saying?'
'Umm – ' Chuck couldn't bring himself to ask whether Sarah was a spy or not. On the one hand, it could possibly simplify things on a professional level - although the CIA would probably still have him lie about what he was really doing – but on the other hand, it would complicate pretty much everything. After much consideration, he decided to let himself live another day in a happy bliss before he had to deal with the truth. 'Uhh...It's nothing.'
'Very well. That is all.'
The Next Morning
The sun shone brightly through the opened curtains and beat down upon Chuck's face. Opening his eyes, he had to blink a couple of times to adjust to the glare. He quickly realized he'd forgotten to close the curtains and change into his pajamas last night after returning from the call with Beckman. Turning over, he caught a glimpse of the clock. 10:00am. Crap, he thought to himself. I overslept. He heard noises coming from the nursery through the baby monitor on the nightstand beside him.
Rolling out of bed, he pulled on a fresh set of clothes and brushed his teeth before heading down to the nursery. He found Sarah sitting on the floor amongst a mess of toys, playing with Sophie and Tyler. Sophie crawled over to Sarah and handed her a toy. Sarah took it from her, and pulled her into her arms.
'Can you say Sarah?' Sarah asked the little girl.
'Sawah,' Sophie babbled.
'That's right,' Sarah said, placing a soft kiss on her forehead. Tyler, jealous of the attention his sister was getting, dropped the toy train he was playing with and settled himself in Sarah's lap as well. 'Tyler, can you say my name?'
Instead of saying Sarah's name, Tyler said, 'You pwetty.' He reached out for a loose strand of her hair and began playing with it.
'Aww. Thank you, Tyler.' Sarah cooed.
Standing in the doorway, he couldn't help but smile at how cute the scene was. As he gazed at her, he felt his heart beat a little faster at how stunningly beautiful she looked. She was still clad in her pajamas with her blonde trestles pulled up into a messy bun and a face free of make up.
'Hey,' she said, her face lighting up at the sight of him. The sound of her voice broke his trance.
'Hi,' he replied. Tyler released the strand of hair he was playing with began squirming in Sarah's arms. He clearly wanted to be released so he could crawl over to Chuck.
'How did you sleep?' She asked, releasing Tyler from her grasp. Tyler crawled over to where Chuck was standing, and looked up at him longingly, wanting to be picked up.
'Umm...good,' Chuck said, whilst leaning down to scoop Tyler into his arms. 'Hi little man. How are you doing today?'
Tyler giggled. 'You pwetty.'
Chuck ruffled the little boy's hair and let out a chuckle. 'I'm a boy. Boys aren't pretty. They're handsome.'
Tyler shook his head. 'No. You pwetty.'
Sarah loaded the dishwasher whilst Chuck put the twins down for their afternoon nap. They'd had a really fun morning lazing around in the nursery. She never thought she would think this, but she had to admit she quite enjoyed this kind of lifestyle. For once, she felt like she had a family.
The sound of the doorbell ringing disrupted her thoughts. Ding Dong.
'I'll get it!' Sarah shouted to Chuck upstairs. Wiping the sink down, she dropped the cloth down on the counter and made her way towards the front door of the house. Without thinking, she placed her hand on the doorknob and swung the door open. It was only after she'd done so that she realized what she'd done wrong. She mentally gave herself a slap on the head. What kind of spy are you, Sarah?
Coming back to reality, she found Graham and Beckman standing on the porch before her. 'Director Graham, General Beckman,' she addressed politely. Lowering her voice, she whispered, 'What are you doing here?' Turning back to look up the stairs, she hoped Chuck wouldn't come down.
'Can we come in?' Graham asked.
'Sir – ' Sarah started, but it was already too late. Graham and Beckman had already stepped around her and into the house. Sarah sighed as she closed the door. She knew there was no way she could get her superiors to leave. Hearing the pattering of footsteps from the stairs, she braced herself for what was to come. What would she tell him? How would she introduce them?
She felt herself cringing as he rounded down the corner and came down the last flight of stairs. However, he didn't seem surprised to see two strangers in the house at all. 'General Beckman, Director Graham,' he greeted.
'Agent Bartowski,' Beckman replied.
Sarah's eyes widened. Agent Bartowski? Closing the door, she took a step towards him. 'You work for the agency too?' She whispered.
Chuck nodded solemnly. Hurt washed over her face. 'What – you told me you were a tech analyst.'
'I am. I'm a tech analyst for the agency,' he said calmly.
'What, and you managed to omit the fact that you work for the agency?' A hint of anger was present in her voice.
'To be fair, you didn't ask.' Leaning in closer to her, he lowered his raised his voice slightly. 'Wh-what? I'm not the only one that lied. From your reaction, I'm assuming you're an agent as well.'
Sarah was so caught up in her own thoughts she completely tuned out what Chuck had just said. 'I thought I could trust you.' Slipping on her façade, she took another step towards him and looked him straight in the eye. 'Who are you? What do you want from me?'
'I'm here for Sophie and Tyler.'
'Really,' she said with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. She didn't know why she was acting like this. She could hear the element of truthfulness in his voice, and she knew he was telling the truth, but her spy instincts were telling her to push him out. She adverted her glance to the floor just as he grabbed her hand.
'Sarah. Can't you believe that there are people who are genuinely nice in our world, people who do things without any other ulterior motive?' He paused as he observed her face, but all he could see was a mask. Before he could continue, a loud wail echoed through the house. Sarah extracted her hand from Chuck's grasp and ran her fingers through her hair in exasperation. 'I'll get it.' She turned and walked up the stairs briskly and made her way to the nursery.
Chuck turned to look at Beckman and Graham, whom both had slightly amused looks on their faces.
'Sit.' Beckman commanded whilst pulling the curtains of the living room closed.
Chuck and Sarah took a seat on opposite sides of the same couch. Sarah leaned her elbow against the armrest of the couch and rested her head on the palm of her hand, staring at a spot on the wall across the room.
'We have come here today to discuss your new living and occupational arrangements. We have become aware that the two of you are currently residing together in this house as a result of Bryce and Carina Larkin's deaths.'
Chuck snuck a glance at Sarah. 'General, permission to tell Sarah about the project?'
'In a moment,' Beckman replied before promptly proceeding with her own agenda. 'Agent Bartowski, we will relocate your base to this house for your ease. Luckily, Bryce already has a home office installed in this house. You are given permission to take any equipment you see fit for your new office from the current base. Your cover job at the Buymore will no longer be needed.' Pausing for a moment to catch her breath, she turned to address Sarah. 'Agent Walker, your new assignment will be to eliminate any potential threats that come Agent Bartowski's way.'
Sarah had her eyes trained onto the spot on the wall. She clearly wasn't giving Beckman her full attention. 'Agent Walker,' Beckman said sternly.
'I'm sorry,' Sarah said, standing up. 'I need some air.' She rushed out of the living room and started heading towards the front door.
'Agent Walker.' Beckman commanded once more, but Graham held her back. 'Let her be for a while.'
Chuck got up and chased after Sarah. 'Sarah, wait,' he called. She had her hand on the doorknob of the front door when he caught up with her. Taking her hand off the doorknob momentarily, she turned to face him.
'Where are you going?' He asked.
'It's none of your business,' she replied, directing her glance away from him.
'Sarah – ,' he began in a concerned tone whilst taking a step towards her.
'Just leave me alone, okay? I'm used to being alone.' Opening the front door, she stepped out and slammed it shut behind her.
Sarah hailed a cab back to her apartment. Changing into a pair of sweats and a sports bra, she decided to go for a run. Running was her form her release – her way of distressing and relaxation. As she began her normal route in the park behind her apartment's complex, all she could hear the sound of her sneakers beating rhythmically against the pavement. The events of the past few days coursed through her mind.
To be honest, she didn't know what she felt. It was all a mix of emotions all melded together she didn't know where one ended and where the next began.
She felt scared. Scared of vast amount of responsibility that she'd suddenly been thrust with without any prior warning whatsoever. There were two little lives that relied on her now, and she couldn't help but feel incompetent.
She felt sad. Sad that she'd just lost her best friend, and sad for Tyler and Sophie as well, who would never get to know their parents. She knew first hand how growing up parentless felt – her father was arrested when she was 6, and her mom took off shortly afterwards. She was recruited into the CIA at a tender age of 8. She hoped that through her training, she would be able to find her parents, but she learnt early on that it was one meaningless endeavour after another.
She felt disappointed. Disappointed because he lied to her about his job. Well technically, he didn't lie; he merely withheld some information. But nevertheless, he was a spy, and nothing could change that fact. What could she expect? Carina was an agent. Bryce was an agent. She should have known better. But there was a part of her that wished he wasn't in the spy world because the spy world corrupts you and changes you. He seems simple and genuine, but as any spy would tell you, agents aren't simple people.
And most of all, she felt hope. Hopeful of the possibility that the spy world hadn't changed him, and he was truly the guy he seemed to be. She couldn't deny that her heart beat a little faster she was around him and that her smile grew every bit wider whenever she saw that signature grin of his. He made her feel comfortable...safe. In these few short days, he'd changed her. This small glimpse into a 'normal' life left her heart yearning for more. She told him she was used to being alone, but did she really feel that way? Was it just her way of escaping from all her troubles so she could box them all up into a 'never to be dealt with' box? She did it when her dad was arrested and her mom left her and throughout her whole career as a spy thus far...
After Graham and Beckman finished explaining the logistics of his new home office and how he was to continue with his assignment, Chuck saw the to the door before plopping down on the couch. He was exhausted from all the thinking that he'd done recently and from a lack of sleep. Just when he was about to doze off, he heard rustling sounds coming from the baby monitor. Rustling sounds usually indicated that naptime was over and that the twins were all recharged ready for another couple of hours of playtime.
He let out a small inward sigh. Taking care of two kids full time was exhausting, especially since he'd just been thrust with the responsibility without any prior notice. It was scary to think their lives essentially relied on him and Sarah and their actions. It was a good thing he'd had practice as a teenager – babysitting their neighbour's children with Ellie in their free time to earn money after their parents left them to survive on their own. But however exhausting as it was, there was an immense amount of love that came with it also. And that was what he loved about kids.
Hoisting himself off the couch and up the stairs to the nursery, he found Sophie standing in her cot with her two little hands grasping tightly onto the railing. Seeing Chuck walk into the room, Sophie held out her hands.
Chuck smiled as he walked over to her cot and picked her up. 'Hi Ms Sophie.' He threw her up in the air and caught her in his arms, making her giggle. 'Did you have a good nap?'
'Yes,' Sophie said in her cute little baby voice.
Smothering her in kisses before setting her down on the changing table to be changed, he did his usual routine. Pull off the clothes, pull of the diaper, wipe, powder, put on a fresh diaper and pull the clothes back on.
Picking her up, he walked over to Tyler's crib. 'Let's go see if your brother is awake.'
'Bubba.' Sophie babbled.
'Yes, your brother,' Chuck said through smiles, whilst brushing a few baby hairs off her face. He placed her carefully on the ground to play before reaching into Tyler's cot. 'Hey buddy, it's time to wake up,' he said in a soft voice.
As he picked Tyler up, he found that he was extremely warm. Tyler opened his eyes slightly before closing them again and burying his head on Chuck's shoulder. 'Are we not feeling well?'
Sarah took a quick shower and grabbed some stuff from her apartment before heading back to the house in her beloved Porshe. It'd been sitting idly in the carpark the past few days and she missed it. As she let herself into the house, she found it abnormally quiet. 'Chuck? Sophie? Tyler?' She set her bags down in the hallway before searching the house for any signs of them.
Why would Chuck leave the house and not tell me? She thought to herself. Wait...my phone. Pulling out her phone from the depths of her purse, she found that she had 10 voicemails.
'Hey Sarah, it's me, Chuck. Tyler is burning up pretty bad. I'm on my way to the Westside hospital now. Call me.'
Grabbing her purse, she rushed out the door.
'Hey Sarah, it's me again. We've reached the hospital and the doctors are evaluating him now. Call me.'
'Sarah, why aren't you answering my calls? Please don't be mad at me...I was going to explain everything but you rushed off this afternoon...call me.'
As she waited for all the messages to finish playing, she pressed the 'return call' button. However, just as it was about to dial, her phone suddenly shut off. Crap. The battery's out. Throwing her phone onto the passenger seat, she gripped the wheel with both hands and floored the dashboard.
When she reached the hospital, she lucked out and found a parking spot right by the entrance of the ER. Shutting off the ignition, she ran into the ER in search of Chuck.
As she sped walked down the hallway, she saw Chuck sitting in the hallway on a bench with Sophie on his lap. It was at that moment that he turned and looked down the corridor in her direction. Setting Sophie down on the bench, he stood up. However, instead of acknowledging her presence, he wrapped his arms around the brunette woman that had just approached him, and she gave him a kiss on the cheek. She felt her heart drop in disappointment. He saw her, not me.
Coming to a stop a few steps away from them, she could hear the woman whispering words of comfort to him. What, is she his girlfriend? She thought to herself. He never mentioned anything about her.
'Sawah,' Sophie said from her spot on the bench, giving her away. Removing his head from her shoulder, he turned and saw her standing in front of him.
'Sarah,' he breathed, letting go of the brunette and turning to face her completely. He took a step towards her. 'Hey. You got my messages.'
'Yeah,' Sarah said, trying to avoid eye contact with him. She fiddled with her car keys in her hand. 'Sorry I didn't answer your calls. I was running – '
'Sawah,' Sophie repeated again, holding out her arms to be picked up. Stuffing her keys into the pocket of her jeans, she leaned over and picked Sophie up off the bench. She adjusted Sophie in her arms as she continued. 'Yeah...and when I got your messages, I was in a rush to get here and my phone ran out of battery - '
'Sarah,' Chuck said softly.
'I feel like I'm – '
'Sarah.' Chuck repeated, a little louder than last time. Sarah's eyes snapped up from the floor and made eye contact with him. 'Yeah?'
'It's okay.' He gave her a small smile.
'Okay.' She said softly. 'How's Tyler?' She asked as she began fiddling with Sophie's top as an excuse not to have to look at him.
'The doctors say they're going to need an hour to do a thorough evaluation,' he answered. 'They want to make sure it's nothing more than the seasonal flu.'
She nodded in understanding but didn't say any more. The trio stood awkwardly for a minute or so before the brunette broke the silence. 'So...Chuck? Are you going to introduce me?' She asked.
'Uhh...yeah,' he said, stammering. 'Umm...Ellie, this is Sarah, my friend. Sarah, this is my sister, Ellie.'
Sarah could feel her insides loosen up a little. She's just his sister. Ellie stuck out a hand for her to shake, and Sarah took it with her free hand. 'Nice to meet you.' Ellie said warmly.
Sarah smiled. 'Nice to meet you too.'
After Sarah let go of Ellie's hand, there was another awkward silence. Chuck and Sarah snuck glances at each other but refused to say anything aloud. Ellie looked back and forth between the two of them and immediately knew there was something going on between them. 'Here,' She said, breaking the silence once more. 'I'll take Sophie for a little walk. Looks like you two have something to sort out.'
Leaning over, she held out her arms for Sophie. 'You wanna come with me for a while Sophie?' Sophie shook her head and tightened her grip on Sarah. 'I'll get you some ice cream on the way,' Ellie offered.
At the mention of ice cream, Sophie immediately became very willing to follow Ellie and allowed herself to be taken from Sarah's arms. 'Let's go,' Ellie said, turning to walk away. 'Say bye-bye.'
'Bye-bye,' Sophie said, waving.
'Bye Sophie.' Chuck said, waving back. 'Thanks sis,' he called after his sister.
When he turned back, he found that Sarah had slumped down on the bench. Sitting down beside her, he turned his head sideways to face her. 'Look, I'm really sorry about what happened this afternoon.'
'I know.' She said quietly. 'I could have reacted better as well.' She paused and turned to look at him. 'I'm sorry I lied.'
'Me too,' he said, giving her a smile. 'You know, since we both weren't all that truthful with each other, how 'bout we call it a truce?'
'Okay,' she said, the beginnings of a smile forming on her face.
'So friends?' He stuck out his hand for her to shake.
'Yeah. Friends,' she said, taking his hand.
After a rather long shake, neither person wanted to pull away. So instead of letting go, Chuck laced his fingers in with hers. She looked down and fixed her glance on their intertwined hands.
'Sarah – ' He started gently. 'I know that as a field agent, you probably weren't trained this way, but letting someone in and having someone help you doesn't mean you fail. It just means you have someone to fall back on, to help you in times of need.'
'My whole life, I was always taught to get by on my own; to keep everything to myself, and never trust anyone. Then came Carina - she was more of a sister than a best friend to me. Ironically, she was the one that taught me to open up...she became the first and only person I'd call about anything and everything.' She felt her eyes well up. She mentally scolded herself; she hated how unnecessarily emotional she was these days. But then and again, she didn't really care anymore. So much has changed in the past couple of days, she didn't even know who she was. Looking up to meet his warm gaze, she felt compelled to continue. 'With her gone, I feel like I'm back to step one now...this is really, really hard and I don't know what I'm doing.'
He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. 'You're doing great, Sarah. You really are.' He paused. 'I know the past couple of days have been a whirlwind and that there will be many more obstacles to come, but we're in this together. Just know that I'm here for you Sarah. I'll always be here for you.'
'I trust you,' she said simply, but sincerely.
Tyler's condition was more serious than the doctors had expected it to be. He had a mild urinary tract infection, which was believed to be the cause of the spike in his temperature. Although the infection had already subsided, the doctors wanted to keep him for the night just to be safe.
Chuck had just left Tyler's room to check on Sophie - who was still with Ellie - and to get them some dinner. Sarah stayed behind with Tyler. Taking a seat next to his crib, she gently placed a hand on his forehead. 'You gave us quite the scare there,' she whispered. She ran her fingers through his soft blonde hair. She'd always wondered where he and Sophie had gotten their blonde hair from. Carina had ginger coloured hair, whilst Bryce had brown. If ginger and brown makes blonde, then what would blonde and brown make? She could feel a smile growing on her face before she froze. Wait, WHAT? She could feel her cheeks reddening of embarrassment at the forbidden thought.
The sound of footsteps approaching shook her from her thoughts. 'Hey, dinner's here,' Chuck whispered softly, placing a pizza box down on the table in the corner of the room before walking over to where she was. 'Sophie's sleeping in my sister's office...how's he doing?' He asked.
'He just fell asleep,' she replied, removing her hand from Tyler's head and turning to face him, only to be met with a bouquet of flowers. 'These are for you.' He offered.
Slowly taking the bouquet in her hands, she asked,' What are these for?'
He shrugged. 'Nothing. Just 'cause I felt like it.'
'Thanks,' she said sincerely. She gave the flowers a little sniff. 'Gardenias. They're my favourite.'
Chuck smiled. Yes, he thought to himself. 'Come on. Let's eat.' He motioned for her to follow him over to the couch in the corner of the room. Setting the flowers down next to her handbag on one of the bedside tables, she followed him over and took a seat on the couch.
'Meat lover's pizza, sans olives. Is that okay with you?' Chuck said, handing a plate to her.
'Yup.' He must have seen me pick out the olives the other night. 'You know, you don't have to pick the kind without olives.'
'Yeah, but then you would have to go through the trouble of removing all the olives from every slice you eat.'
A/N: Don't forget to drop me a review on the way out (:
I'll try not to leave you guys hanging in suspense for so long this time around...:P My worked load has lessened slightly in recent weeks, so I've been trying to dedicate more time to writing. The next chapter is already in the workings, and as is the next chapter of 'Chuck vs the Dads'.