Chuck vs Lockdown
- AKA -
My Two Weeks Living With Sarah
As the haze of sleep gave way to consciousness, Chuck willed his eyes to remain shut and steeled himself for what he was about to see. Slowly, hesitantly, he opened his eyes and looked at the ceiling. Taking in a deep breath, he finally turned his head and looked next to him.
Sarah wasn't there.
Chuck took a moment to inventory everything he'd eaten the night before, because if he'd dreamt last night's… activities, the only explanation for the detail, frequency, and… variety… would have been some very high quality bleu cheese. Finding no such item in his recollection, Chuck could only chalk up the dreams to the desperate longing he'd been feeling for Sarah since she'd moved in. Chuck reached out with a hand and touched the pillow next to him, wishing once again.
And then Sarah walked in wearing one of his shirts.
"You're up," she said brightly, then looked at his hand just as it stopped caressing the fabric. "And you're fondling my pillow."
Chuck snapped his hand back down to his side. "Um."
"What were you just doing?"
"Yes you were." Sarah stepped closer to the bed and smiled. "In fact, if I had to guess, I'd say you were having one of those dramatic moments where you gaze longingly at the empty space next to you and wish that the girl you loved was there."
Sarah kneeled on the bed, leaning over Chuck, her blonde hair drifting off her shoulders and caressing his face. "You were thinking it was a dream, weren't you?"
Chuck blinked a few times. "How did you—"
"Because," Sarah interrupted, kissing him softly. When she broke the kiss, she lowered her voice to a gentle whisper. "I thought the same thing when I woke up."
Three variations later, Chuck stumbled out of the bedroom to discover the reason for Sarah's earlier absence in the form of an enormous breakfast on the kitchen counter. He smiled crookedly at Sarah, following behind him.
"You could have told me breakfast was getting cold. I would have stopped."
"That's why I didn't tell you."
Chuck wrapped an arm around Sarah's waist and pressed a kiss to her neck. "Thank you."
Sarah hummed approvingly at the contact. "If you keep doing that, the eggs are going to expire."
"So, so many jokes I can make with that."
Sarah laughed and swatted him on the shoulder. "Go eat."
They both helped themselves to a heaping plate of food and sat at the counter. Sarah looked around, puzzled. "So, do Ellie and Devon still live here?" she asked.
Chuck looked around as well. "I know, right?"
"Where have they been? You'd think we'd have run into them more often."
"I remember something about a protein shake from two weeks ago, but since then it's like they've just vanished."
"Yeah, it's kind of weird, isn't it?"
"It's almost as if they were written out of a story but the writers never clarified how."
"You're an unusual man."
"I won't argue that."
Sarah popped a piece of bacon into her mouth. "There's a briefing with Beckman in an hour," she said. "We need to talk about Casey."
An hour later, Chuck and Sarah stood at Casey's door. Sarah turned to Chuck. "Okay. We clear on the plan?"
"Deflect, deny, defuse," Chuck responded.
"Good boy," Sarah said, knocking on the door. A moment later, it opened, and Casey ushered them inside. Once the door was shut, Casey looked back and forth at the two of them.
Chuck and Sarah looked at each other and then back at Casey, both with attempted expressions of confusion on their faces. Sarah was more successful.
"What are you talking about?" she asked casually.
"Really?" Casey asked, cocking his head. "We're gonna do this?"
Sarah shrugged, nonchalant. Casey looked over at Chuck, whose eyes were starting to bug out. "What's with you, Bartowski?"
Chuck shrugged. Casey leaned in closer and squinted at him. "Something on your mind, Chuck?"
Chuck took a deep breath, turned to Sarah, saw her threatening look, and turned back to Casey. He shook his head. Casey leaned in even closer.
"Go ahead and say it, moron."
"SARAH AND I HAD SEX AND NOW WE ARE IN LOVE."
Sarah slapped her palm up to her forehead. Chuck slumped with relief as Casey stood up straight again. "Now, was that so hard?"
"You have no idea," Chuck breathed.
"Casey, you can't tell—" Casey silenced Sarah with a wave of his hand.
"Spare me the drama, Walker; I hit my monthly quota with the geek's outburst."
"Nerd," Chuck muttered under his breath. Casey ignored him and continued.
"I meant it when I said it was about time. One more day of you two mooning over each other like lost puppies and I would have bitten a cyanide capsule."
Chuck opened his mouth to ask Sarah a question, but she answered before he could speak. "Yes, of course he actually has those."
"Just keep it out of the missions and you won't have anything to worry about from me. Deal?"
Chuck and Sarah stared in shock at Casey for a moment. Casey rolled his eyes. "Yeah, I know. Casey has a soul."
"That's exactly what I was going to say," Chuck breathed.
The conference screen flickered to life, and General Beckman appeared before them. Casey stood at attention, Sarah turned to face the screen, and Chuck reached to adjust the necktie he wasn't wearing.
"Ah, good," Chuck said, laughing nervously. "—I thought maybe you were serious about the Corporal thing. That's a relief." Casey glared at him as Beckman leveled a cold look. "Because that's a long way down from Major," Chuck continued, weakly. "Or so I hear. I don't really know much about military rank, at least not from branch to branch—"
"Mr. Bartowski, do be quiet," Beckman sighed.
"Gladly," Chuck replied.
"As I was saying. Major Casey, Agent Walker, Mr. Bartowski, I have good news. Our analysts have determined, based on intel from the field, that the Intersect's identity has not been compromised. Accordingly, you have been returned to full active duty." All three visibly relaxed and failed to hide a smile. "I thought you'd be happy to hear that," Beckman continued. "Agent Walker, you are relieved from your full-time surveillance, and may return to your previous accommodations. Major Casey will resume his surveillance of the Asset."
Casey nodded. "Yes, Ma'am."
Sarah stepped forward. "Actually, General, I have a suggestion." Beckman looked to Sarah. "Considering the length of time I've been posing as the Asset's girlfriend, it would draw suspicion at this point if I were to move back out of the apartment. I believe a more prudent course of action would be for me to remain on full-time surveillance. This would provide a stronger cover story to the civilians involved, free up Major Casey from overnight surveillance, and reduce overhead by removing the need for my hotel room."
Beckman nodded, considering the proposal. "And you're prepared for a permanent increase in responsibility, Agent Walker?"
"Yes, Ma'am," Sarah replied. "I believe it's the most prudent course of action."
Beckman tapped her chin. "Very well. Major Casey's surveillance will fall to backup status, and you will remain on primary. Once you're moved out of your hotel room, you may release it. And one more thing."
Sarah shifted uncomfortably. "Yes, General?"
"It's about time." Beckman terminated the connection. The three stood for a long moment, staring at the blank screen. Sarah's eyes opened wide. Chuck turned to Casey.
"Did she say it was about time?" he asked.
"I'd have to replay the recording to be positive, but I'd swear that's what she said," Casey answered. Sarah started to shift from foot to foot.
"I… I think Beckman just implied that she was okay with it. Is that what she was saying? Because that's what I think she said." Sarah started moving faster, bouncing a bit as she moved her feet.
Casey scratched his head. "Sure as hell sounded like it," he said.
"That's basically the last thing I thought she was going to say. I'd be less surprised if she started singing Journey ballads."
"I like Journey."
"I wasn't saying that would be a bad thing. Just surprising."
Sarah balled her hands into fists and shook them, not exactly in time with her foot movements. Her entire body was shaking.
"It wouldn't kill you to expand your music library past those annoyingly introspective whiner songs, you know."
"Okay, seriously, I never said there was anything wrong with Journey. Just that breaking out into their top ten hits is not predictable behavior for a Brigadier General."
Sarah's vibrations finally hit a sort of resonant frequency, and she let out a ear-splitting squeal. Chuck and Casey both whipped their heads around to gape at her. The noise continued far past normal lung capacity, until finally the room was silent again.
"Did… did Sarah Walker just squee?" Chuck whispered to Casey. Before Casey could respond, Sarah started talking excitedly.
"Oh, my god! Oh, my god! Oh, my god! Did you hear that?" Sarah started jumping up and down, clapping her hands. "Beckman's okay with it! Casey's okay with it! We're going to move in together for real! This is totally the best day ever!"
"Perfectly good CIA agent, and you broke her," Casey growled. "Nice going, Bartowski."
Chuck shrugged. "Thanks?"
Sarah ran over to the door. "I'm going to find Ellie and tell her. We're going to need to go shopping. Oh, my god, I'm gonna go shopping with my boyfriend's sister! I've never done that before! Look, Chuck! I'm a boyfriend's sister shopping trip virgin!" Sarah spun around in a circle.
Chuck looked over at Casey's mortified expression and turned back to Sarah. "Honey, neither one of us really seem to understand what's going on right now."
Sarah huffed and shook her head. "Men." She brightened again. "Oh, look! A 'men are clueless' joke! I'm a real girl now!"
Chuck leaned in closer to Casey. "Should… should we tranq her?" he whispered under his breath.
"I don't think it would stop her," Casey replied.
"Okay, I'm gonna go get Ellie, and we're gonna go shopping. I need apartment stuff. Like an eggbeater. Ellie probably has one but I want to get one of my own. Oh, and drapes! Yours are pretty ugly, Chuck. Drapes and a fluffy comforter. I'll get some paper, and make a list, and when I get back from shopping we're going to have a ton of sex."
Casey winced and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I can't know that."
Chuck's eyebrows shot up and he smiled a crooked grin. "I could stand to hear a little more."
Sarah opened the door, blew Chuck a kiss and skipped outside. The door slammed shut behind her, leaving the two men alone in the apartment. They stood, stunned, for a moment. Finally Chuck broke the silence.
"That was unexpected."
"I didn't see it coming, no."
"Thanks for… you know, being supportive of—"
"Don't mention it. That's actually an order; I do not want you to ever mention me being supportive of you or anyone else ever again."
"Roger that." Chuck walked to the door, opened it a crack and peeked out.
"What are you doing?" Casey asked.
"I'm a little afraid of her at the moment," Chuck said. As if on cue, a high-frequency squeal emitted from the Bartowski apartment. "Looks like my sister just heard the good news," he sighed.
Casey grabbed a pair of glasses and a bottle of scotch. "We'll hide out here for a while," he said.
That night, Chuck looked down at Sarah's sleeping form and tried to identify the unusual sensation he was experiencing. It was something familiar, something he could vaguely remember from a long time ago. Something that had been missing in his life for a very long time.
It was the feeling he remembered from childhood moments, like meeting a new friend at school who liked all the same movies he did and thought putting together a box full of secrets was brilliant. Or finding the perfect spot on the beach to get away from the world and make great plans for the future. Or coming across a girl who thought he was funny and wonderful and having her kiss him on a Ferris wheel.
All of those moments, those bursts of enthusiasm and anticipation, had left him years before. They'd died off when Bryce had him kicked out of Stanford. Since then, life had been a series of obligations and disappointments – working at the Buy More to make ends meet, falling into indentured servitude for the government, and of course trying to tamp down the emotions he had for the girl he loved. Chuck had gone from embracing life to simply waiting to see what was going to happen next and dreading the outcome.
But now, watching Sarah sleep, knowing that she loved him and would do anything to keep him safe, Chuck felt that unusual sensation again. And he knew what it was. After all this time, and with those three simple words, Sarah Walker had brought back Chuck Bartowski's ability to hope.
Chuck rose slowly out of bed, careful not to disturb Sarah. She rolled over gently in her sleep, mumbling something under her breath, the ghost of a smile on her face. Chuck smiled back, and then forced himself to move away. He sat down at his computer and started typing.
Sarah stirred awake and looked over at Chuck's empty spot on the bed. She sat up slowly, placing a hand on the cold mattress.
"Did you think it was a dream?"
Sarah looked over at Chuck, smirking at her from his computer chair, and smirked back. "Touché," she said. "What are you doing? Come back to bed."
"I had some ideas," Chuck replied, turning back to the keyboard and typing a few more words before pausing again. "Some things I wanted to get down before I forgot them."
Chuck took a deep breath, and swiveled his chair to face Sarah. "I want to try and find Orion," he said, determined.
"Okay," Sarah said.
"Because I think he's critical to—wait, what?"
"I said okay," Sarah said, sitting up fully and leaning forward. "If you want to find Orion, then let's find Orion. I'm with you."
Chuck smiled as wide as Sarah had ever seen, so she said it again, smiling back. "I'm with you, Chuck."
At that, the floodgates opened. Chuck leaned forward in his chair, mimicking Sarah's posture. "I've been thinking about the Intersect," he said excitedly. "It's just information, right? Well, that's what all knowledge is, really – information. So, taking that into consideration, why couldn't a new version of it be created – one with, say, languages. You need me to interpret what the Count of Transburbankylvania is saying? Just upload the language pack, and—"
"Wait," Sarah interrupted, furrowing her brow. "You're talking about updating the Intersect? What about removing it? Isn't that why you wanted to find Orion in the first place?"
"It was," Chuck nodded. "At first. But it occurred to me tonight that I've been thinking about it the wrong way. This thing in my head… it's a gift, not a curse. We've done some really amazing things, the three of us. And I like to think that the world is safer because of us."
"You think right."
"Well, that was all done while I had one foot in and one foot out. I've been spending all my time thinking about how to get my old life back instead of thinking about how to make this life work in the best way possible. And now I know. It's with the Intersect. It's with you."
Sarah's mouth dropped open. "So… so you want to stay in the spy life? You want to keep going?"
"I want to keep going," Chuck answered. "I want to be better at it. I want to give it everything I've got."
Sarah paused for a moment, shaking her head in wonder. "Wow," she said, wide-eyed. "I am amazing in bed."
Chuck cocked his head. "Seriously? That's what you're taking away from my revelation?"
"It's the most obvious deduction."
"How do you get 'amazing in bed' from me wanting to create a new version of the Intersect?"
Sarah shrugged. "Well, let's look at the facts, Chuck. Two days ago, you were desperate to get away from the spy life. Today you're going at it full-tilt. What happened in between? Two nights of passion with me. There's really only one logical conclusion."
"You're cheapening what could be an outstanding moment, Sarah."
"That's not a denial."
"I'm coming over there, and I'm going to focus all my finger dexterity on your left big toe."
Sarah's face registered exaggerated shock. "You said you'd never use that knowledge for evil," she said in a mock-serious tone.
"Depends on your definition of evil," Chuck said, smiling.
"Tell me more," she said. "Tell me what you want to do."
Chuck's eyes lit up. Sarah felt a jolt at that; at seeing this version of Chuck, excited and full of plans and ideas. "We'd need to sell Beckman on the idea," he said. "But I don't think that would be too hard. If we can get in touch with Orion, bring him out of the cold, get him to start working on the Intersect again, we could do just about anything with it. And if we do it right, I wouldn't have to stay in the car anymore. We could upload me with weapons training, reconnaissance techniques, and maybe I could even take some martial arts lessons, learn how to defend myself…"
"Couldn't you upload that stuff into the Intersect, too?" Sarah asked.
Chuck's brow furrowed. "I don't know," he said. "That's more than information, isn't it? It's reflexes, movements, muscle memory…"
"But that's just it," Sarah said. "Isn't muscle memory just another form of information? You could do motion capture like from that documentary you showed me about the movie with the little elf guys."
Chuck frowned thoughtfully. "Are you talking about Lord of the Rings?"
"Yeah, the elf movie," Sarah said, waving her hand dismissively. Chuck grimaced but listened as Sarah continued. "They had the actor who played the computer generated character making the movements, and then they had the computer make the character move the same way. Couldn't you do the same thing with martial arts?"
Chuck let that sink in, before finally whispering in awe: "That's brilliant. You're a genius."
Sarah nodded. "And amazing in bed."
"And amazing in bed!" Chuck enthused. "You're like, the best woman ever!"
Sarah laughed, and then just savored the moment. The electric sensation of sharing these ideas with Chuck, feeling like they were really accomplishing something, moving forward instead of sitting in limbo. Sarah was torn between wanting this moment to last forever and wanting to see what came next.
"I want to do this, Sarah," Chuck said, an edge to his voice she'd never heard before. "I mean, really do this. I want to make a difference, and I believe that together – you, and me, and Casey - we can do that. We can change things. We can stop Fulcrum. We can stop anyone out there who wants to hurt people, who wants to profit from that pain."
Sarah stared at Chuck for a long moment. Well, that made the decision. She wanted to see what came next.
Sarah crawled out of bed, moved over to where Chuck was sitting, and straddled his lap. She placed a hand on each side of his head and looked right into his eyes.
If she'd had to be honest with herself, there was a tiny part of her that was disappointed - a little sliver of herself that had, in unguarded moments, imagined a life with Chuck that didn't involve the spy world. A life where he was free of the Intersect, and she was free of the CIA, and they were just a couple in love. A life with a little white house and kids and movie nights.
But in that moment, Sarah felt for the first time the possibility that her life in the Agency was something other than an escape from her past. For all of the successful missions, for all of Bryce's headstrong determination, for every one of Casey's abbreviated speeches about the "greater good," she'd never felt like anything more than an interchangeable cog in a machine. She'd never felt indispensible before now.
Now, she had Chuck. And Chuck had her. And she could feel it; she could feel herself becoming stronger because of him. And she felt daring enough to let herself know that his decision, his energy, his newfound drive was because of her.
Together they were going to stop Fulcrum and anyone else in line behind them. Together they were going to accomplish great things. Together they were going to be unstoppable. Because maybe she didn't really believe in the CIA. Maybe she didn't really believe in the greater good. But she believed in Chuck Bartowski. She leaned down, kissed him passionately, and looked into his eyes again, humming with energy.
"Then let's go get 'em, Chuck," she finally said, smiling.
"Let's get 'em all."
That's – as they say – all there is, folks. Thanks to everyone who read, and extra special triple thanks to everyone who reviewed.
When I asked John if he wanted to write something together, his response was basically "Sure, what would you like to write?" To which I responded "Uhhh…"
John came up with the idea for "Lockdown," and the method we were going to use – we had a general idea of what each chapter was going to be, but didn't know anything specific about the chapter until it hit the site.
So, each chapter is one writer's response to the surprises the previous chapter's writer had up his sleeve. That alone made it a ton of fun to write this. But most of all, for me, the real fun is that Doc in Oz is one of my favorite writers on this site and I got to create something with him. So John, thanks so much for agreeing to do this.
Finally, a challenge to the readers: Doc came up with a theme for the first five chapters that we tried to follow as best we could. I asked if we should be obvious about it, and he said that we should let the readers sort it out on their own.
So, the first person who figures out what the theme of the first five chapters of Lockdown was gets a personal "Chuck" story from me. You pick the characters and the situation, and I'll write it. If you're a guest reviewer, you'll have to put your idea into your review because I'll have no other way to contact you. There you go, folks. Never let it be said that I'm above bribery.
Thanks again for reading.