A/N1: Welcome back to my world of Season 6 and Episode 4. I hope you don't mind my indulgence in continuing this vision of the future for Chuck and Sarah.
One of my wife's and my favorite detective shows was Remington Steele. If you aren't familiar with this show, it was about a strong woman trying to make it as a private investigator, and the handsome conman who turned her life upside down. It ran on NBC for four years (1982-1986) before being cancelled. Then, by popular demand, it was brought back for a truncated, and very unsatisfactory fifth season. (Sound familiar?) Anyway, the writing was witty, there was great chemistry between the characters, and it still remains fresh (despite the disco inspired music) today.
This episode for Chuck and Sarah is a rewrite of the next to last episode of the first season entitled The Sting of Steele. It just seemed to scream at me for a C&S version. My thanks to Michael Gleason and Robert Butler, creators of Remington Steele, and Gary Kott, writer of this particular episode. I ask these gentlemen for their forgiveness for subjecting their show to my amateur musings. I hope it works for you. As it is about 2/3's written, it looks like it will be more like a four act tv show, than Episodes 2 and 3, Chuck v The Missing Spies.
A big thank you to quistie64 for her terrific advice on a writing problem and I hope I did her suggestions justice. Thanks, too, to all those who pointed out errors and/or made suggestions for improvements, in my previous fanfic offerings. All mistakes are mine. I do appreciate your comments, as do all the writers on these pages.
I don't own Warner Bros., MTM Productions, Twentieth Century Fox, nbc, Chuck, Sarah, Laura Holt, Remington Steele, or any of the other wonderful characters from either of these television shows. No disrespect is intended towards any of the above.
Chuck vs The Sting of Steele
Season 6, Episode 4
1. Wheel of Fortune
February 14, 2013
The chimes of Big Ben struck midnight, but fog completely obscured the tower. Traffic was almost non-existent due to the fog, while the footsteps of the few pedestrians still out echoed eerily through the night.
The Ritz Club, on Piccadelly, had once, during the 60's, been one of London's most exclusive. Private clubs had gone through a decline during the 90's, however, and only a few still remained, slowly losing the fight against the giant, corporate-backed casinos. This particular club was showing its age, with threadbare carpeting, and well-worn gaming tables. A good night would see 30-40 patrons; most nights, about half that number.
On this foggy night there had been less than fifteen members and guests. As the chimes struck midnight, only eight remained: three playing blackjack, three at the roulette wheel, and two at a well worn craps table. While the larger casinos saw their players in the casual dress of today's society, the private clubs still required everyone to dress in traditional formal attire. The two gentlemen sitting at the roulette wheel wore their tuxedos well, while the one woman in the club, also at the wheel, wore a red, full length dress that was missing more than a few sequins, too much makeup, and smoked incessantly.
One of the gentlemen coughed incessantly, and glared at the woman each time she lit up another cigarette, but she ether didn't notice or didn't care. His hair was thick and bushy, covering his ears, and a silvery gray. He also continually played with a device that appeared to be an antique hearing aid, which caused him to miss several spins of the wheel. The second gentleman sat ramrod straight, with short cropped hair, and a stoic face; he bore the appearance of a former military man.
Neither the woman, nor the silver-haired gentlemen, was having much luck this damp, foggy evening, but the second man was winning on a regular basis. It even seemed, at times, that the ball mysteriously jumped from one number to another, most often landing on the military man's number and color. As his stack of chips continued to grow the woman gradually moved her chair closer, but the man didn't seem to notice.
However, a man standing at the end of the bar was noticing the luck that seemed to be at work at the wheel tonight. He continued to watch, first, the man who was winning so many spins, and then the ball as is twirled and bounced around the wheel. A frown was beginning to show on his face and he silently signaled to another man to join the table.
Twenty minutes later both older men began to pack in their chips. The man with the hearing aid was coughing more and appeared very frustrated at not being able to hear what was going on. Having lost several hundred pounds, he stood, thanked the casino worker by throwing her the smallest chip in his hand, and began to walk towards the coat check window.
The second man also stood, "Guess I should stop now while lady luck is still with me. Good evening to you all." He tossed the worker a much larger tip than the first man, then bowed slightly to the woman sitting next to him. She started to reach out to him, but he quickly turned, and walked away.
The first man put his coat on before walking to the money cage. The mlitary man cashed in his chips, receiving the cash in a bright blue bag with the club logo in gold. Then the two men exchanged places. After cashing his chips in, and receiving considerably less money than he had entered with, the silver-haired man started towards the door. Just as he came to the coat check he dropped his hat. Putting his bag on the floor next to the other gentlemen's, he retrieved his hat, stood up with the other man's bag in his hand, and, with a sigh of old age, walked out the front door.
Meanwhile, the two men who had been observing the roulette wheel had walked to a door in the back of the room. They knocked twice and then entered. A man in an expensive suit sat behind the desk. He had a crooked, craggy face and his smile was not one of friendship, but of malice. "What do you two want?"
"Boss," the first man, who had watched from the bar spoke up, "I think we've been cheated."
"How can that be? People don't cheat us; we cheat them!"
The military man finished getting his coat and hat on, and walked to the door. But as he reached for it, it opened. In the doorway was the second security man: "Good evening, sir. Mr. Hoskins, the club owner, would like to personally congratulate you on your luck tonight." The other security man had walked up behind him now, and he could feel the barrel of a gun sticking in his back.
"What is this?" The owner, Mr. Hoskins, had dumped the contents of the money bag on his desk. A tall stack of blank note pads now rested there.
The security man blurted out, "That isn't possible. He should have a half million pounds in that bag!"
"Who's your partner, mate?" The club owner stood, towering over the military man, his fists flexing open and closed.
"I-I-I don't h-have a partner." Sweat stood out on his forehead as he stammered out the answer.
As Hoskins pulled out a pistol and screwed on a silencer, he continued, "You can walk out of 'ere with my admiration for a piece of work well done."
"You're going to let him go," one of the security men squealed?
"'e's just the shill; I want the little darling what thought up this gem. Now … on the count of three…." He was now pointing the gun at the man's head. "One" ... he cocked the pistol ... "two ... thr…."
"Franko … Simon Franko. The chap with the silver hair and the hearing aid!" As he begins to stand he grovels, "Thank you, Mr. Hoskins. You won't catch me around here anymore."
PFFT! "Next time, you two catch these buggers before they rip me off. Now get this mess cleaned up."
February 14, 2013
Los Angeles, California
After returning home from Africa the previous Friday, Chuck and Sarah did little more, over the weekend, than sleep and eat ... well, a little more, anyway. Alex and Morgan, knowing they were on the way home, had made sure their fridge and pantry were well stocked, so there was no reason to leave their cozy apartment. They slept, ate, made love, all while completely ignoring the outside world. Monday would bring them back to earth soon enough, when they had to return to Carmichael Industries, to catch up with all they had missed.
The bad news was: it was only five days until Valentine's Day, and Chuck really wanted to make this year their most memorable. So, Sunday afternoon, while Sarah napped on the sofa, he got on the computer and, despite the lateness, made all the necessary reservations.
In all their years together, they had never really had a great Valentine's Day:
Year One: Sarah was in Washington, DC, meeting with her superiors, after the Long Street fiasco, about what to do with him. Things were still awkward between them because of The Kiss, Bryce, and Sarah's refusal to acknowledge her own feelings.
Year Two: they had not planned anything, and then were called for a mission in the suburbs. While they were closer than ever, the awkwardness standing between them was still present.
Year Three found them in the midst of the Prague/Hannah/Shaw debacle … a time they would both like to forget. Well, actually, Sarah had few memories of this time, but it still sent Chuck into spasms of guilt and regret.
Year Four: They were in love, living together, and it appeared they would finally have a wonderful celebration together. That is, until Casey interrupted, and they where whisked off to meet Vivian MacArthur, née Volkoff.
Year Five: the greatest disaster of them all! Months earlier, Chuck had planned an incredible night for them: he booked a suite at the Mondrian Los Angeles Hotel. The hotel had a five star restaurant, where they would dine and dance the early evening away. Then they would go to the Skybar, a rooftop club, for more dancing and partying. But fate once again intervened. By the time Valentine's Day rolled around, Sarah, with no memories of Chuck or their life together, had left him to return to the CIA for retraining.
Chuck and Sarah were now sitting in the Mondrian Los Angeles Hotel's restaurant, the same one he had planned for last year, sharing a glass of champaign, staring into each others' eyes. They had enjoyed an amazing meal, after spending a good part of the early evening in each other's arms, dancing to the great love songs of the twentieth century.
Earlier, Sarah had stood, for several moments, leaning against their suite's bathroom door. She was having trouble breathing as she looked at her man … her Chuck … who was standing at the windows, looking out over the city. He was dressed in a dark blue suit, his strong shoulders and long limbs filling it perfectly, making her heart flutter. Her cute, adorable, curly-haired nerd had turned into an irresistibly handsome man; one that made her long to pull him against her, and hold him tightly, all night long.
Chuck realized he hadn't heard anything from the bathroom for some time so he turned in that direction. He inhaled deeply as his mouth dropped open: Sarah was in a blue, sparkling dress that hugged each and every curve of her incredible body, and stopped several inches above her knees. As beautiful as the dress was, it paled in comparison to her cobalt blue eyes, shining out at him. Her very high heeled, matching blue shoes made her shapely legs appear even longer than usual. It was all topped off by her golden hair, falling gently onto her shoulders and swirling to and fro as she gently moved her head. When his brain finally kickstarted again, he wondering if he had made a mistake with reservations at the restaurant, rather than room service.
Their server approached the table and broke the reverie between them, "Mr. & Mrs. Carmichael, if I might suggest, we will take your champagne up to the Skybar for you now, where we will serve dessert."
Looking at Sarah with his crooked little smile and raised eyebrows, all he could say was, "Isn't this place amazing?"
Chuck quickly moved to Sarah's side of the table and pulled her chair out for her. Standing side by side, she took his arm with her's, and they followed the server to the private elevator, reserved for guests going up to the exclusive Skybar. Even before the doors closed, she moved in front of him, pulling him into a kiss that left no doubt there was more … much more … love to come this night.
It was a little past three a.m. as they walked down the hallway, arm in arm. They had danced, fed each other dessert, and thoroughly enjoyed the party. Sarah was carrying her shoes now, in her right hand, which was draped around Chuck's waist. The height difference making it perfect for her to snuggle into Chuck's left side, his arm around her shoulders. He held her left hand to his chest with his right hand, the simple connection sending warm sensations through each of them. Reaching their room, he pulled out his keycard and unlocked the door. Sweeping her into his arms, he carried her into the suite, causing chuckles from them both, as he worked to maneuver them both into the room without whacking her head on the door or frame. Setting her down, he took her face in both his hands and stared deeply into the blue oceans that were her eyes, "I love you so much … Happy Valentine's Day!"
"And I love you right back." With that, their lips met again, their bodies melting into one another. Sarah began pushing Chuck's suit jacket off his shoulders and down his arms, as their lips and tongues worked their magic on each other.
February 16, 2013
New York City
"Hi Darlin' … this is your Dad."
"Hey Dad, how are you?"
Sarah had gone to the grocery store and was now on the I-5, heading north, winding up the Lotus to the tune of 125 mph, when her phone rang. It was a ritual of her's to take the car out for a high speed romp whenever possible. She said it was to make sure this high performance car was kept in good trim, but it was really more about her own adrenaline rush. She had been pulled over a few times at first, but now most of CHP knew the sleek, black car, with the beautiful blonde behind the wheel, and just let her go. But with the phone ringing, she quickly decelerated to a mere 80 mph before answering.
"Sarah," there was pause before he continued, "you know I'm not one to ask for help, but I'm in serious trouble, and only you can help."
"What is it? What can we do?"
"Not on the phone, darlin'. I'm headed your way and will be there in a few days. I will let you know the details soon. Now listen: I need your help, but … but it's got to be just you and me. We need to keep the schnook out of it … for both your sakes."
Before she could say anything more the connection broke. Tears were beginning to sting her eyes and she continued to slow until is was safe to pull over, onto the shoulder. She stared at the phone as if willing it to reconnect with her dad. What the hell? This must really be serious. But how can I not tell Chuck? So, with her brain now going faster than the Lotus, she got back on the Interstate, took the first exit she came to, and headed home.
February 21, 2013
United Airline flight UA929 from London to Los Angeles, with a plane change in Chicago, was brutal for the man from London. On a mission to LA, Albert Hoskins was exhausted; the sixteen hours of travel had taken it's toll by the time he finally arrived at the Embassy Suite Hotel, about two miles from LAX. The jet lag didn't seem to be bothering him, but all the time cramped into seats too small, and food too poor, made him stiff and completely out of sorts.
The next morning he arose in time to workout, bathe, and eat lunch in the hotel coffee shop. Blech! 'ow can these Americans stand this stuff? Back in his room, he pulled out the information he had received from his solicitor, and asked the hotel operator to place a call to a Carmichael Industries. He talked to an entirely too cheerful young woman, who told him it would take about an hour, by taxi, to arrive at CI. He was given a code number to enter into the elevator keypad … What kind of place is it what needs a code to get a lift? … and left to go down to the lobby.
When he stepped into the main foyer of Carmichael Industries he was struck by how much it resembled a law office in London … except for all the high tech security, display monitors everywhere, and the bright, sunny view out all the windows. A young lady bounced up from her desk and came to greet him; he assumed it was the one he had spoken to earlier.
"Hello, Mr. Hoskins. Mr. Carmichael will be ready to meet with you in about five minutes. May I get you coffee … or maybe tea?"
"No, young lady, you may not! Now just you tell your boss to 'urry it up. I'm a busy man." Yes, it was the same, overly happy young woman. Blasted Americans….
Rita Thompson had only been at CI for a couple of weeks, and this was the first time she had been rebuked; her naturally bubbly personality usually put the clients at ease. Nevertheless, she continued to smile, and directed the gentleman to the leather sofa by the windows. "If you need to check your email or use the internet, you may use the keyboard on the table; press any key and a monitor will slide up from under the coffee table. I will let Mr. Carmichael know you are here." Before he could respond, she turned, and walked back to her desk.
Hoskins softly growled, while admiring her retreating back. Email … internet … bah!
Rita walked down the hallway to Chuck's office and knocked on the door frame softly. "Mr. Carmichael: Mr. Hoskins is here. And if I may say so, sir, he is a most unpleasant man."
"Now, now, Rita. Let's not jump to conclusions. I'm done here, so why don't I come out and greet him."
"Thank you, sir."
"Rita, Rita … how many times do I have to tell you, you don't need to call me 'sir'? Oh, and by the way, do you know where Sarah is this afternoon?"
"No, sir ... sorry, sir … Mrs. Carmichael said she had a couple of errands to run, and it would take the rest of the day. She said to tell you she would see you at home for supper."
Chuck had grabbed a bottle of water, setting it on his desk, while they were talking. He then walked out to the foyer, moving slowly enough to size up the prospective client. Older man ... rather out of style suit … bet he hates technology … what in the world could he need us for? No flash, so he's not a spy. "Mr. Hoskins," Chuck said as he walked up to the sofa, his best smile on his face, and his hand outstretched, ready to shake the man's hand. "Welcome to Carmichael Industries. I'm Charles Carmichael. Please join me in my office."
Once they were seated, Chuck opened the conversation, "So Mr. Hoskins, what brings you to Los Angeles?"
"I'm 'ere from London, seeking your services to find someone."
"I'm not sure you understand what we do here; we are not private investigators. We deal in security and technological services. I would be happy to recommend a couple of fine, local investigators." Chuck was standing and prepared to see the man out of his office.
Mr. Hoskins was not to be denied, however: "You Americans are very gruff. 'ere I am ... a stranger in your country ... and Carmichael Industries is the only name I know. And you just want to turn me away."
This speech hit home with Chuck: he never wanted to hurt anyone, or to disappoint those who were asking him for help. He returned to his chair, and softened his voice slightly, "How DO you know about CI, Mr. Hoskins?"
"You were touted by one of my London solicitors. 'e said you were one's who always get your man."
Chuck did not smile on the outside, but inside he was glowing. Wow! They know about us all the way over in London. How cool is that? "Okay, Mr. Hoskins, I can not guarantee we will take your case, but tell me what you need so I can see if we can help you." In his heart, though, Chuck already knew he couldn't turn down this gentleman from another land.
"Well, I'm looking for someone. You see, I run a private gaming establishment in London, and a few days ago 'e was in my club where 'e won big. But I didn't 'ave the funds on hand to pay 'im. So now 'e's going around telling people I'm a welcher; in my business, you see, I can't 'ave no one calling me a welcher. I just want to find 'im so I can see that 'e gets what's coming to 'im."
"What makes you think he's in LA, Mr. Hoskins?"
"Well, you see now, in my line of business, it pays to 'ave contacts all over. Some of those associates told me 'e's 'eaded 'ere."
"Do you have a description of the man?"
"60's … thick, silver hair … maybe uses a hearing aid … lives 'igh on the 'og, 'e does: fine restaurants, the best 'otels, turf club at the track … that sort of thing."
"Okay, good. And what is the name of this man?"
"He was passing 'imself off as a Simon Franko. But I know his real name now: it's Burton … Jack Burton."
Chuck sat up quickly, "Wha … Who…?" As he tried to get these words out his diaphragm spasmed, effectively closing off his throat. Trying to swallow a sudden influx of saliva, the constriction in his throat caused him to gag. All these contrary muscle movements combined, effectively choking him, and sending him into a body-racking coughing fit. His face reddened, while fighting for air, but his breaths were short and ragged, which just seemed to intensify the problem.
Hoskins looked on in concern, and started to stand: "Are you okay? Should I call your assistant?"
Chuck waved at him to sit back down ... that he was okay ... but he was still coughing and unable to speak. As the coughing began to subside, he was finally able to take in a better breath. He grabbed the water bottle, dropped it, then fumbled it some more, while trying to twist off the cap. Once he was able to get it open he took a drink, letting the liquid slide down his throat, clearing it of the saliva and mucus caught there. Sagging back into his chair, he continued working to clear his throat, while reaching into his desk drawer and pulling out a tissue. First he wiped his eyes, and then blew his nose; he was quite a mess by this time. He breathed deeply and blew out a couple of cleansing breaths. Is this what emphysema is like? If so, I'm sure glad I never took up smoking!
Now that his breathing was coming back to normal, Chuck picked up his desk phone and punched one button: "Ms. Thompkins, get Mrs. Carmichael on the phone … NOW!"
February 21, 2013
Bob Hope Airport
After her dad's call on Saturday, Sarah had driven home in a quandary: What's this all about … how could he be in so much trouble … why did he call me … doesn't he know Chuck and I are married … that honesty, even though we haven't always practiced it in the past, is the most important thing in a relationship … can I really put Chuck on the firing line once again? These thoughts, and more, throbbed through her head.
Finally, as she parked, outside their Echo Park apartment, she decided not to say anything until her Dad called again. Once he gave her more information, then she would tell Chuck everything. It still didn't set well with her, but she didn't want Chuck spiraling out of control, at least until they knew exactly what was going on.
Over the next couple of days Chuck kept asked her what was bothering her; she seemed awfully quiet, and a bit distant. It was disconcerting to him, knowing this behavior all too well. She was able to smile, and assure him all was well; but it was obvious to her, when he returned her smile with his boyish grin, it wasn't reaching his eyes.
Jack called on Wednesday to tell her he would be arriving at Bob Hope Airport on Thursday, around 4:00 pm. He asked her to rent a limousine and meet him at hangar 17-30B, on the north side of the airport.
She had been waiting, inside the limo, for about ten minutes, when her phone rang. It was the CI number. She knew that Morgan was out of the office today so it had to be Chuck calling. But that's weird … if it was Chuck, why isn't he just using his own phone?
"Hello, Mrs. Carmichael, this is Rita. Your husband asked me to get you on the phone."
"I'm sorry, Rita, I can't speak to him right now."
"Uh, Mrs. Carmichael, he is standing right here…" she turned away from him and whispered, "... and I think there is actually steam coming out of his ears."
Uh oh! "Okay Rita, put him on." Sarah jumped out of the car, hoping the noise from the various aircraft in the area would drown her out.
"Sarah, where are you? What are you doing?"
Partially covering the phone, her mouth, and nose, with her hand, she shouted back into the phone, "Chuck, is that you? I'm sorry, honey, I can't hear you."
"What's all that noise, Sarah? It sounds like you're at the airport. Sarah…?"
"I'm stuck in construction traffic, hon. Too much noise … can't really talk right now. They're saying we'll be tied up in this traffic for hours; looks like I won't be home until about 8:00."
"Sarah … Sarah … wa-wa-wait … don't hang up." His final words trailed off as he knew she had already broken the connection. "Now just what is she up to?"
Sarah grimaced: she really hated lying to Chuck like that. Damn, I'm really going to have to make this up to him. She watched as a Learjet 45XR taxied to a stop near the hangar doors. As the steps were lowered, she walked over to meet the two men exiting the plane.
"How was your flight, sir." Looking the part of a corporate personal assistant, dressed in a navy blue jacket and matching knee-length skirt, and a silver, silk blouse, she addressed the very distinguished looking older man, dressed in an expensive suit, and carrying a walking stick.
"We ran into turbulence over the Rockies." The second man, obviously a sales representative for the aircraft company, was quite nervous. He handed off the briefcase and suitcase that he was carrying, to the limo driver. His eyes, however, never left Sarah.
The first man shook his head once again, "Noisy."
Again, the sales rep spoke up, "Sir, that jet takes off at only 71 decibels."
"Mr. Franko is a quiet man; he can't abide a raucous plane." Sarah inserted herself between her 'employer' and the salesman; the proximity of this ravishing beauty completely overwhelming him.
"Miss Applebaum, do you think the Board of Directors would approve my buying a private jet?"
"Mr. Franko, you ARE the board of directors." 'Ms. Applebaum' and 'Mr. Franko' both chuckled, while the salesman continued to look nonplussed.
"True ... I am." Addressing the salesman, he continued, "Give your card to Miss Applebaum here. I will firm up my decision by the first of next week."
The sales rep handed Sarah his card and whispered, in a conspiratorial voice, "You don't think he's kidding do you? We've been flying for five days; the fuel costs alone are astronomical."
"Would Mr. Franko have spent all this time talking to you, if he wasn't serious?"
Intense blue eyes impacted on the man's senses as he replied, "I don't know."
"I do. Good day." And with that, Sarah followed her dad into the limo and closed the door.
As the salesman walked back towards the plane, and the limousine pulled away, they both broke into laughter. After tearing the man's business card in two and dropping the pieces to the floor, Sarah reached into the limousine's bar and pulled out two glasses of wine, saying, "To the Chairman of the Board…."
"...and his faithful aide." They clinked glasses and took a sip.
"So dad … how long will you be here?"
"Just until I'm dead."
The comment hung there as Sarah gulped hard, and looked at her dad with confusion and concern.
A/N2: I hope this had wet your whistle for more. I will not be posting practically every day like it did with the last story. First of all, there aren't going to be that many chapters to this one. Plus, this one is far from done. I haven't tried posting chapters before the whole thing was done so I hope I don't screw this up. Please review as I love to hear from you. It is encouraging and inspiring.