Sarah Versus the Tie 2/2
Summary: Sarah has fantasies. But she'll never be able to act on them. Or so she thinks.
Disclaimer: I don't own Chuck. No copyright infringement intended.
Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed! Hope you enjoy seeing the flip side to Sarah's dilemma in chapter one. This chapter takes place in early season 4, diverging from the events of Chuck vs. the Anniversary.
Sarah Walker had always accepted that being a spy meant putting her own desires aside when more important things required a higher priority. She had accepted that state of affairs completely, even when it meant she was full of longing and downright miserable. And while the current situation wasn't the worst challenge she'd faced since she had met Chuck Bartowski, it was hard to remember that at this moment in time.
Since they had become a couple, she'd gotten used to sharing her life with Chuck. Actually, that had started happening long before they began dating officially. Either way, she was used to seeing Chuck for hours on end, going over reports together and sleeping next to him. But after months of globe-trotting without him, she was ready to go AWOL if it meant getting some time with him.
As she walked into Castle with Casey, she mused on how ironic it was that her original worries about them had become moot. When she had finally admitted that she had feelings for Chuck, she had thought it meant giving up something. When they had told Beckman about their relationship, discovering she could have Chuck and her job had seemed like something out of a dream. She had never thought she might "have it all", but she really did. Her career was doing well, she had friends like Ellie and Devon, and she had Chuck.
For a while, she had been spoiled. It was a heady combination, working with Chuck and then going home with him. Within hours of meeting him, Sarah had been charmed by Chuck's kindness, his intelligence, his goodness. The more she got to know him, the more she found to like. And when she began noticing just how attractive he was . . . well, it combined into a pretty devastating package.
She had spent months wrestling with her feelings for him-feelings that she knew she shouldn't be having about her asset. The 49B had been a wake-up call: she knew she had utterly failed at concealing her true emotions if General Beckman could see them through a video screen. She knew there was almost no chance of staying in Burbank. So she had mentally prepared herself to say goodbye to Chuck. Had even been considering just how she would spend her last night with him, when Casey's unexpected support and Forrest's foul-up had let her stay.
With that reprieve or curse-she still wasn't sure which-Sarah knew what she should do. She should bury her feelings, act like a true professional, and do her job by putting the CIA's interests first, not Chuck's. That's what a real spy would do. But instead, she kept doing the exact opposite. She helped Chuck find his father even when ordered to move him to a government bunker; she chose to stay in Burbank instead of joining Bryce in Washington as part of the new Intersect team. And she had asked Chuck to run away with her, refusing to believe that the new Intersect could be anything other than the beginning of the end for them.
Instead, it was the beginning of something new for them. Those months after he had left her in Prague made her two years of soul-searching and struggle seem like child's play. Having Chuck reject her and choose the CIA . . . she hadn't expected that to happen. She hadn't realized that Chuck thought he needed to change, to become a better man. That he thought being a spy would make him better. Learning that, she had been scared she would lose Chuck, that he would turn into some strange Bryce clone. She thought becoming a spy would destroy him. But instead, it had helped Chuck become who he wanted to be.
When she grasped that, she had felt so proud of him for taking such a risk. She couldn't find the words to tell him how brave she thought he was. Now she saw that Chuck-her Chuck-was too strong to get wiped away by the CIA. He still loved his video games and all the strange figures that collected dust in his apartment. But he was also a very good spy: crafty, intelligent, and loyal. He was everything she could want in a partner.
But ever since Chuck had quit the CIA to reassure his sister, Sarah had felt the loss. She hadn't realized just how much she would miss working with him. Casey was a great partner; they saw eye-to-eye on many things and worked together well. But Casey wasn't Chuck, who watched her back on missions, then held her afterwards. It was the quiet times after missions, when they were in a hotel room or flying home, that she missed just as much as his presence during the mission.
She understood why Chuck had quit. She had offered him her unconditional support when he told her about his decision, because that was her first instinct. But she couldn't help feeling that things would be so much easier if Chuck was still working with them. When Casey had muttered that he wished Chuck had been with them, she had found herself silently agreeing, even though out loud she had reminded Casey of why Chuck quit. What else could she do? Chuck wasn't a spy anymore and he wasn't going to come back, no matter how much he could help with missions like the hunt for Alexei Volkoff. So while she and Casey chased after the Russian arms dealer, Chuck stayed in Burbank to find a new job.
At least they had were uncovering solid information, and were returning to Burbank with a Volkoff weapon to turn over to General Beckman. That didn't change how much she was worrying about the length of this mission. Although they had been gathering data for months, they seemed no closer to tracking down Volkoff. The longer she spent away, the more she worried that when she got back for good, her relationship with Chuck would have suffered. They had so little contact when she was gone and she was always passing through Burbank. How could they keep their relationship working if they didn't see each other?
Maybe, since Beckman was in Burbank now, she could ask for a meeting with the general. If she was going to request that their missions against Volkoff be spaced out a bit more, or at least ask for some leave, it seemed better to do that in person.
She missed Chuck. Over the past four months, she could count the number of days they had been together on one hand. Just when she had grown to depend on him, he had been taken away.
And she had to admit she wasn't handling being cut off very well.
It was all Chuck's fault, she thought. Just kissing him was enough to make her toes curl, because he never failed to show her how much he loved her. He put her first, in so many ways-including in the bedroom. Even in her wildest dreams, she wouldn't have suspected the physical side of their relationship to be as good as it was. It was beyond good, actually. More like knee-shaking, body-melting amazing.
When she had fantasized about Chuck, it had been more about kissing him. Being held by him. She hadn't really contemplated what sex with him might be like. It had probably been an attempt by her subconscious to keep her sanity intact-it had been bad enough imagining what kissing him for real would be like. Plus, it had been quite a while since she had slept with anyone. Any urges she felt in that area had been overwhelmed by the up-and-down nature of her relationship with Chuck.
Now that she knew what it was like . . . it was a testament to how much she put her country first. Because he really knew what he was doing. And a woman could get addicted to that, especially when the man in question was the boyfriend with whom she was madly in love.
Chuck might not have gone to Roan Montgomery's seduction training, but he had his own skills. And he had qualities that wouldn't have been included in such training, ones that were more important than she realized. He was enthusiastic; so passionate that she found herself getting swept away by him. And he wasn't afraid of showing her just how much he wanted her, even when it might be embarrassing. Best of all, his sense of humor and intelligence made the sex even better. In bed, Chuck could be as cocky and confident as any man she'd ever met.
Then was it any wonder that going without Chuck for four months was enough for her to have a one-track mind? That there were moments when she ached for him and wished that they could be together?
Being in a long-distance relationship was proving harder than she thought it would be. She hoped that before she got sent on another mission, she might have enough time to talk to Chuck about the photo he had sent her. Because it was not fair to have shirtless Chuck on her phone, being able to look but not touch.
Feeling the heat rise in her cheeks, she shot Casey a furtive glance. "Do you think we might get a break after this job?"
"What's wrong, Walker? Missing Bartowski's charms too much?" Casey asked without any real malice in his voice.
"You have to admit, it'd be nice to stay someplace familiar for a while," Sarah replied.
Casey grunted. "Spies don't put down roots." He handed her a folder. "Looks like there's a new lead."
She opened the folder, bracing herself for the worst. It took a second read of the file for the words to sink in. "Los Angeles?"
"Looks like you get your wish, Walker," Casey said with a smirk. "Think you can manage to get through the mission without attacking Bartowski?"
From the look on Casey's face, she must have a big, dopey smile on her face. Because he grunted and turned away, checking on the EMP they had retrieved while she pulled out her cell phone to call Chuck. This was news that she couldn't wait to share with him.
Having Chuck in the debriefing was like old times, Sarah thought as they stood in the manager's office of the Buy More. She knew he was nervous about being here, since he kept glancing out the windows, looking towards the sales floor like he expected Ellie to pop up out of nowhere. In her opinion, it wasn't fair to him that Beckman wouldn't let him quit. But honestly, she had always been surprised that Beckman had gone along with his resignation in the first place.
It made her feel guilty that while he was worrying about breaking his promise to his sister, she had to keep her hands clasped in front of her or she'd attack him. Because he looked very, very nice in his suit.
Beckman, wearing a Buy More manager's uniform, bustled into the office and took a seat at the desk. "Good day, agents. Tonight you will be attending the final concert in Lina Nakraskova's world tour."
"Lina Nakraskova?" Chuck asked, his voice excited.
Sarah glanced at her boyfriend, her eyebrows raised. Chuck seemed almost giddy, a reaction she hadn't expected him to have given the circumstances.
"She's amazing. She came here from the former Soviet Union when she was a teenager, and she became this huge pop star, but now she's gone way beyond pop. She's like, Christina Aguilera but with a better voice, mixed with a less-weird Lady Gaga."
General Beckman arched an eyebrow. "If you're quite done, Agent Bartowski?"
Chuck looked sheepish and mimed zipping his lips shut.
"As Agent Bartowski said, Ms. Nakraskova emigrated to the United States from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Recently, we've received reports that she has aligned herself with radical Georgian terrorists who are planning attacks on targets in Georgia and Russia."
"You think this pop star is that important, ma'am?" Casey asked.
"It's possible. Our concern is that since little happens in that part of the world without Alexei Volkoff's weapons being used, apprehending Ms. Nakraskova might give us some insight into Volkoff's dealings," Beckman replied.
"What's our mission, General?" Sarah said, taking a step forward.
"Thanks to your experience with Tyler Martin, and your time spent tracking Volkoff, you were our first choice. It's good to see Agent Bartowski is familiar with Ms. Nakraskova, since he'll be going in as a music journalist, interviewing her for the L.A. Times."
"General, can I remind you that I'm out of the spy-"
"Agent Bartowski, I can appreciate your reservations, but I'm afraid that at this time, we can't accommodate you," the general said, looking over the top of her glasses at him. "We need you, because while Agent Walker and Major Casey have done sterling work, it's taking too long. With your help, we can speed up our search for Volkoff."
Sarah looked at Chuck and reached out to rest her hand on his arm. As much as she wished there was something that could be done, Beckman had maneuvered Chuck into a corner. He hadn't been able to find a new job thanks to the general's interference. It seemed there was no way Chuck could get out of this.
He must have come to the same conclusion, because he nodded, his jaw tight.
"Thank you, Agent Bartowski," the general said. "Meanwhile, Agent Walker, Major Casey, you will be searching the tour vehicles, looking for this."
She handed them some photographs of a copy of War and Peace. "This first edition is Ms. Nakraskova's favorite book, and it's believed to hold a secret safe-the perfect place for a USB drive from the terrorists, containing technical specifications on the EMP device you recovered in Hong Kong."
"Yes, ma'am," Casey said.
"Very well. Agent Bartowksi, you're dismissed. Agent Walker and Major Casey will debrief and then join you to prepare for tonight's mission."
"May I have a moment alone with Chuck, General?" Sarah asked. At Beckman's nod, Sarah took Chuck's arm and stepped out of the office, walking far enough away that they couldn't be overheard.
"I'm really sorry about this, Chuck," she said softly, gazing at him.
"It's not your fault," he said, his shoulders slightly slumped. "I just hate the thought of not being honest with Ellie."
Sarah took his hand and squeezed it. "We'll figure something out." She cast about for something that might cheer him up a little. "You seem excited about meeting this singer."
Chuck looked at her and managed a small smile. "She's one of my favorites. I used to have a poster of her in my bedroom when I was younger-right next to the Tron poster."
"The intel could be wrong about her," Sarah said, holding firm to his hand. "And at least you'll have the chance to meet her, actually talk to her."
"My sixteen-year-old self would have killed for that," Chuck said, looking more relaxed and less sad. "Even me at twenty-nine is pretty excited."
If he could joke around, he would be okay, she knew. She gave him a smile in return. "And if we don't find anything, we can stay for the concert."
"You're the best girlfriend in the world," he said, quickly kissing her cheek. "You probably need to get back in there."
She nodded and gave his hand a final squeeze. "I'll see you later." She was all set to let him go, but instead, she leaned up and pressed a soft kiss to his lips.
She could feel him smile against her lips, then she pulled back. "Bye," she said, feeling a bit breathless.
Chuck gazed at her and gently tucked some hair behind her ear. "Bye," he replied, giving her that special just-for-her smile before turning and walking towards the exit.
When she turned to go back to the office, her knees shook for a moment. Part of her hoped that Lina Nakraskova turned out to be a terrorist, because otherwise she'd have to sit in a concert with Chuck and not touch him. And she didn't know if she could do that.
The debriefing was very thorough, taking much longer than Sarah had anticipated. She looked at her watch as she walked with Casey towards the Orange Orange. "We have forty-five minutes to get ready for the mission."
"Plenty of time," Casey said. "I'll prep our equipment. You make sure Bartowski is ready." At her look, he shrugged. "He's been out of the game for a while."
"For a few months-that seems hardly enough time to forget everything about being a spy," she said.
"Not that he knew all that much," Casey shot back.
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Fine, get the gear we'll need." She stepped into the freezer, waiting for the scanner to read her retina, then walked into Castle. Casey followed her and went straight towards the armory. Shaking her head, she headed for the wardrobe room.
As she got closer, she heard loud music: thumping bass and a female voice wailing, sounding like she was being tortured.
If this was Lina Nakraskova, Sarah really hoped she was a terrorist, because she wasn't sure she could sit through a whole concert of this.
When she stepped into the wardrobe room, she couldn't help smiling even with the way her ears were being assaulted. Chuck, dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt, was singing along with the music as he went through the clothing racks. He sounded pretty good, she thought-at least he didn't sound like he was getting strangled.
He pulled a white button-down out of the closet and turned around, doing a little dance as he kept singing. She covered her mouth with her hand to hold back her laughter, but Chuck caught sight of her. His ears went red and he rubbed a hand against the back of his neck.
"Having fun?" she asked, turning down the volume on the portable speaker hooked up to his phone.
"I just . . . I was preparing! Yeah," he said, smiling at her shyly.
Sarah couldn't help laughing again as she walked towards him. "You're really excited about this mission, huh?"
Chuck set aside the shirt and rested his hands on her hips. "I kinda am . . . not just because of Lina and getting to interview her. But because-I'm good at this. Being a spy, I mean. And I never thought I would be, so even though I hate lying to Ellie and am annoyed by General Beckman, I'm-I'm glad to be back."
Rubbing her hands against his forearms, enjoying the feel of him being close to her, Sarah smiled at him. "I'm glad, too."
A bright smile lit up his face. "Yeah?"
She nodded. "Yeah. I've really missed you."
"I've missed you, too." He brushed a soft kiss over her lips and Sarah nearly sighed. If they kept this up, they would never leave this room. She shouldn't let herself get distracted.
"Do you feel ready for the mission?" she asked, gazing at him.
"Yeah, I do . . . although you and Casey have the hard job," he said, looking at her with soft eyes. "I guess Beckman wanted to ease me back in."
"Maybe," Sarah said, still rubbing his arms. "But I know you'll do great." She gave him a smile, enjoying how he smiled back, how his shoulders straightened a little like she had given him a shot of confidence.
"Thank you," he said softly.
She felt her cheeks flush. When he looked at her like that, she felt like throwing aside all her duties and kissing him until he was breathless.
"We-we both need to finish getting ready," she said quickly.
Chuck sighed but nodded. "You're right." He kissed her cheek and then pulled back from her. "Do you mind if I turn the music up? I want to be ready to talk about Lina's new album with her."
It was all she could do not to wrinkle her nose, but her distaste must have registered, because Chuck grinned at her. "Not a fan?"
"Not really," she admitted, going towards the section of the wardrobe that held more casual clothing, appropriate for her part of the mission. "But you are, so that will probably help you tonight."
"I am," Chuck said, launching into an explanation of why he liked Lina Nakraskova as he finished getting dressed. He started with her music, then moved into her humanitarian work. She listened to him as she changed into dark clothing: a form-fitting, long-sleeved shirt and a pair of pants with cargo pockets.
As he kept talking, expressing several compliments towards a suspected terrorist, Sarah found herself worrying her lower lip. It was ridiculous to feel this way: to suspect that Chuck had lost interest in her. Just because he was excited about meeting one of his favorite singers didn't mean she had to feel jealous. Clearly, she was overreacting.
Sarah pulled her hair back into a messy bun, wanting the bulk of her hair to be out of her face, then turned to look at Chuck. He gave her a smile, but she barely noticed it.
It was not fair that he looked so good.
To go with the jeans and Chucks he had been wearing when she walked in, Chuck had put on a white dress shirt, a black and white checked tie and a black cardigan. His shirt sleeves were rolled up a little over the cardigan sleeves and the shirt tails peeked out from the bottom of the cardigan. He looked casual yet stylish, and even taller and leaner than he was. And hotter.
She startled, snapping out of her lustful daze. "What?"
"I just asked if you thought I looked like a music journalist," he said, stepping towards her.
Looking at him, Sarah felt a rush of emotions. They had been apart for so long because of work, and here the CIA was once again standing between them. Not only was this mission delaying their reunion and all that entailed, but Chuck would be showing another woman his subtle charm and passion for music. Someone who was bound to appreciate his knowledge and enthusiasm, especially when it was coming from a handsome man, one with big brown eyes and a tall, lanky yet muscular build.
The thought that some terrorist would get to enjoy all this while she would be crawling around on a smelly bus looking for a book . . . she could almost hear her inhibitions breaking into a million pieces.
Sarah took a breath and reached out, touching his tie lightly. "I think you look amazing."
Chuck ducked his head, a small smile on his face. "You think they won't immediately suspect I'm not who I'm supposed to be?"
"Mm, no," she said softly, shaking her head as she took another step towards him. She drew his tie out from under the cardigan and rubbed her thumb over the silky fabric.
He blinked, his eyes widening a little. "G-good, then." He looked down at his chest, watching her play with his tie.
"I like this look," she said softly, looking at him through her eyelashes.
"Oh?" he asked, his voice a bit high-pitched. He swallowed. "Sarah, you-I've missed you so much, and you know that I'd rather be home with you than going on this mission, right?"
His sweet earnestness brought a lump to her throat. She nodded. "I know." She tugged him closer by his tie. There were so many times that she had imagined doing this, but she'd never really done it. At this moment, the desire to fulfill her fantasy was trumping everything else.
"Chuck, I-" She looked up at him, needing to show him how much she loved him. Wanting, in the midst of their hectic lives, to grab on and make him her Chuck again.
She felt his arm wrap around her waist, holding her against him. Chuck brushed his nose against hers and she reflexively gripped his tie. "Sarah," he whispered just before he pressed his lips against hers.
And just like that, things started to fit into place for her.
Closing her eyes, Sarah savored the kiss, how soft and deep it was after months of his kisses brushing lightly over her lips. She rested her free hand against his chest, still holding on to his tie, as she kissed him back.
The kiss came to a slow end and Sarah a knot in her chest loosen at how right this felt. She looked up at Chuck, who looked so adorably dazed that she felt her heart beat faster.
"Sarah-we-I-I think we need someplace-" Chuck stuttered. He cleared his throat. "It's been so long and you're so beautiful-I love you so much . . . "
She felt a wide smile bloom on her face. He wanted this, too. He wanted to make her his Sarah. She took a small step back, sliding her hands down to take his. "Come with me."
He nodded eagerly. "Yes. Yes, I can do that-I want to do that."
How could she want to rip his clothes off and hug him as tight as she could, all at the same time? It was a combination of feelings she had only ever felt for him and she hoped she could keep feeling it for a long, long time.
Tugging on his hands, she pulled him out of the wardrobe room, leading him towards her supply closet, the one she visited on the rare occasions she needed to be alone and out of view of the surveillance cameras.
Chuck looked around. "I had no idea this room existed," he said, shuffling his feet a little.
"No?" she asked, leaning in to kiss his jaw. "I thought you had Castle's blueprints memorized."
"It's not necessary, since I have the Intersect-Sarah . . ." he moaned softly, pulling her in tight against him and kissing her deeply.
She really loved kissing Chuck and being kissed by him, Sarah thought in the one corner of her mind that was still functioning. Sliding a hand into his hair, she held on as she kissed him back, sucking softly on his lower lip. With her free hand, she traced her fingers along his spine, knowing just how sensitive he was.
Her ploy both backfired and worked brilliantly. He gasped against her lips and moved her back against the door of the closet, one of his hands sliding down to lift up her leg.
"Chuck," she panted, wrapping herself around him. Sarah felt like her body was on fire. This wasn't the most romantic setting for their first time back together, but she was past caring. She pulled him in for another kiss as she rocked against him.
Using his wiry strength that still could surprise her, Chuck lifted her up against the door, eliciting a half-gasp, half-moan from her. She tugged on his tie, loosening it enough so she could kiss and lick his throat.
His hips pressed hard against her and Sarah felt herself tremble. He kissed her and started pushing up the bottom of her t-shirt, but a loud pounding on the door penetrated her senses and distracted her. She pulled her lips away from Chuck, trying to figure out what that noise was.
"Walker, Bartowski!" Casey growled. "I don't wanna come in there, but if you blow this mission you'll have to answer to Beckman."
Sarah swallowed, her eyes locked on Chuck's. When she answered, she sounded winded and out-of-breath. "We'll be out in a minute, Casey."
Casey grunted. "If you're not, I'm leavin' without you." She could hear him stomping his feet as he walked away.
"Well, that's something I never wanted-being caught in flagrante by John Casey," Chuck said, panting a little as he leaned his head on her shoulder.
Something about this situation made Sarah giggle softly. "We didn't even get any clothing off. That doesn't sound very flagrante to me."
"Trust me, if Casey had come in thirty seconds later, it would have been." Chuck grinned at her, even as his eyes stayed dark and full of heat.
She gently stroked the side of his face. "I know, baby. Later," she promised, sliding down to her feet.
"Yeah . . . we're not staying for the concert," he said, adjusting his clothes.
"Oh? You figured out a more appealing way to spend your evening?" she teased gently as she straightened her shirt.
"Mm-hmmm," Chuck said, kissing her lightly but keeping his body from coming into contact with hers. "I'm sure you're jumping for joy, since you were only going to make me happy."
Sarah smiled at him, a bit sheepishly. A frenzied make-out session was enough to take the edge off, and knowing that they'd reach the full conclusion later tonight was definitely something she was looking forward to, more than any concert.
"You've got lipstick," she said, gently rubbing the color away from his lips. She tucked his tie back inside his cardigan, then gave his chest a light pat.
"So you like the tie," he said, taking her hand and opening the door to the closet.
She paused for a moment, gazing at the man that she loved madly, more than she could say. The man who excited her, challenged her, made her better and loved her with every fiber of his being. When she spoke, her voice was soft.
"I love the tie."