A/N I'm not sure what I can do with the Role Models in this story. Join me as I find out.
"There's lots more hives of scum and villainy more wretched than this one."
"The Oceans of Elvises Chapel of Love?"
"I have no idea."
"I need to tell you about my father."
Sarah Bartowski lied to her husband.
She didn't mean to. At the time, she'd meant every word. She even remembered saying them. "I can't wait to get you home, Mr. Bartowski."
Now they were in her car, on their way home, which waited for them an hour away, at normal surface speeds, and here she was driving at normal surface speeds. The road moved past the windows, slowly, slow enough that her thoughts could keep up. Chuck was confused. Even the Porsche seemed to be confused. Sarah was not confused, not anymore.
She was here. He was here.
The feeling filled her heart, the memory filled her mind. His face, smiling that smile beyond the haze of the veil as the wedding guy said something about marriage. For so long she'd refused to think about those days, that time. Refused to look at the diamond for fear of its setting. A diamond in the rough. Very rough.
But Chuck had taken even that diamond and made it…sparkle. She'd thought her spy life was hard, but nothing was as hard as that diamond, and her spy life, a life of masks and secrets, had given way to it.
It was real.
Chuck was beginning to worry. It wasn't the speed she was driving, not exactly. God knew he'd been wanting her to drive like a sane human being for years, and now here she was doing it. It would be a poor repayment for an answered prayer to regret it, but he could do without the stunned-ox expression on the face of the woman with the steering wheel in her hands.
He decided on a subtle approach. "Wow, I'd totally forgotten that poor CHP guy. I didn't think he was ever going to stop chasing us."
"I don't think he had a choice, Chuck," she said absently. "I spotted some melted rubber tracks in the road on the way back."
Aaand that was it for the subtle approach. "Were you as shocked by Ellie as I was? I think she was pushing faster than you were pulling."
"I didn't notice."
No, of course you didn't. He could think of a lot of reasons for that, none of which had any explanatory power at all for her behavior now. "I guess she had a lot to get back to. In fact, I'm surprised we're going home, what with the Ring–"
She dropped one hand from the wheel, took his hand in hers. He shut up.
They were going home.
He looked up, noticed her noticing everything but him, a slight smile on her face. Facing forward, he joined her watching the world move. It was a beautiful evening for it.
Alex looked down at her hand on Morgan's. "I'm…sorry about what I did this afternoon, closing the door in your face like that."
He hated that she was sad, because of him. "Alex…Miss McHugh, I'm sorry if I did anything to hurt your feelings today-"
"You didn't," she said quickly, but then her brain caught up with her mouth. "Well, you did, but it wasn't a feeling you could ever have known about so I was wrong to shut you out the way I did." She let go of his hand.
He held on. "Please. Tell me what I did, so that I can never do it again."
She pulled, and he let go of her hand. When she sat in the room's only chair, he smiled and removed his suit coat and loosened his tie, moving to sit on the bed across the room.
"My father was a Marine lieutenant, on a mission in Honduras in 1989," she said quietly. "He was engaged to my mother, and they were supposed to get married when he came back, but that didn't happen."
His brows rose. "He never married her?"
Her face fell. "He never came back."
Way to go, Mr. Foot-in-Mouth. "I'm sorry. What happened?"
"I don't know. Every time my mother asked the question, all they would say was 'it's classified.'" She sniffed. "When I got old enough to ask myself, all they ever told me was 'it's classified'." Tears started to fall, but her voice was mostly steady. "I got to hate those words, the very idea that someone out there knew what happened and wouldn't tell me…"
Where are you going, Morgan?
Morgan pulled out his brand new, very expensive, and utterly ornamental handkerchief and offered it to her. He turned away politely to fiddle with stuff, anything to avoid looking at her as her put herself back in order. It also helped hide his frown. How could one man's death be so important? To do that to her?
She sniffed, a signal that it was safe, and he turned around, smile back in place. "I…suppose it's too late to point out that the FBI isn't the best place to work if you hate words like 'classified.'"
She smiled. "I found that out. But…I think…getting to know that there's a reason things are classified, that might be enough."
Why should it have to be? "What's your father's name?"
Sarah redeemed her lie in the garage. No sooner had they gotten out of the car than she plastered herself all over her husband, legs wrapped around his waist and arms around his shoulders. That left it to Chuck to finally get them both into the house, blind and mute, feeling his way along. His legs were weakening, and he knew he had to find someplace soft for them to fall on before they gave out completely. Like a bed, or something.
Devon opened the front door. "Hey, babe, sorry I'm late, we had a procedure that wasn't quite as easy as we hoped it would…" The smell hit him first, the normal miracles his wife regularly produced from their kitchen and—roses? "Ellie?" He looked, but she wasn't in the kitchen, or at the table, laid out with candles and the good china, even a bottle of something chilling.
"Hi, honey," she called softly.
He looked in the living room, and there she was. Lounging. The last word his brain supplied before it shut down at the sight of her in—that gown, and—what had she done with her hair? "Babe?" his mouth ran on without him.
"You caught me," she said with a soft laugh, laying a hand on a large book on the table. "I was just looking at our wedding photos." She rose smoothly. "Chuck's awake and healthy. You promised to help me celebrate," she reminded him as she sauntered over.
He watched the cloth move around her body, or her body move under the cloth, or…um... "I did, didn't I?"
"Mm-hmm." She ran her hands up his muscular arms, kissed him not so gently. "You hungry?"
He wasn't a brain surgeon but he was smart enough for this. "Not…necessarily. You?"
She gripped his tie, pulled him after her as she backed away. "Not for food."
Chuck woke up, dying of thirst. A small dusty groan escaped his lips, fortunately too whispery thin to disturb his wonderfully eager and terribly enthusiastic wife. He groaned again, and rolled sideways so as to disturb neither bed nor blanket as he fled, that is, left the room. He shuffled down the hall, slowly, so slowly, fairly certain that the kitchen was in this general direction.
He turned the corner, and something leapt at him. "Ah!"
"Chuck!" yelled Sarah, brandishing something he couldn't identify in the gloom. "You scared me."
She was scared.
She lowered her weapon, whatever it was. "Did I wake you?"
"About a half a second ago, yeah," he panted. "This, this is why I tell you to leave the lightbulb in the refrigerator!"
"This is why I keep telling you to put everything back in the refrigerator in the proper place!" She shook her weapon, and it gurgled. "I really don't want to have to give any snipers that may be out there a target just so I can tell the difference between milk and orange juice."
"The OJ has that little spout on the side."
"Okay, bad example, but you know what I mean. Getting a mouthful of grapefruit juice when you're expecting lemonade is a bit of a shock, let me tell you."
She wasn't ever going to let that one go, was she? "Sorry."
"Take a step to your left."
He took a step the left. "Why?"
The lights came on, blinding him. "It puts you out of the line of sight from the window." She poured something into a glass.
"Is that the milk or the OJ?"
"Wouldn't you like to know?" she teased.
"Yes, I would," he said, blinking furiously. "I could really use some Vitamin Ds—I mean Cs, C, right about now." He could finally see her clearly. "Oh, my."
Sarah spread her arms and stuck out her barely-covered chest. "I didn't get anything spilled on me, did I?" she asked, looking down.
Gahr. "Not yet."
She looked, an expression of innocence on her face. "What did you say, sweetie?"
He stepped back, putting the refrigerator door safely between them. "Nothing, dear, I'm just clothing—I mean, closing the refrigerator door."
She moved closer, putting the juice container on the counter as she stood very close and drained her glass. "Don't forget your juice," she said, handing it to him. "It's important to stay hydrated."
"Right," he agreed weakly. "Hydrated."
"Don't be too long." She turned and…sashayed away.
How does she do that without high heels?
"Chuck?" she called from around the corner. "Did you hear me?"
"Yes dear," he called slopping a lot of juice in the glass. "Do you know if we have a few dozen oysters lying around?"
She laughed. "Vitamin E and zinc in the medicine cabinet."
He ran across the hall.
She waited a few seconds, but he didn't reappear. "You coming?"
"Yes dear," he replied, frantically shaking the bottles, trying to open them.
Morgan woke alone, his alarm sounding a bit muffled, quieter than usual. He reached out a hand to shut it off and touched cloth. Cloth? Oh yeah, he thought bringing the offending clothlike item into his field of vision. His handkerchief.
"I can get this cleaned and give it back to you," Alex had said the night before.
"Don't worry," he'd replied. "I need it for this presentation tomorrow and—hey, would you like to come?"
She'd looked uncertain. "Come to what?"
"The presentation." He shrugged. "They're giving me another medal."
"You don't sound happy about it."
"I don't feel like I really deserve it." I don't deserve it.
"People who deserve medals usually do, that's what my mother says."
"I'd like to meet your mother."
Morgan winced, remembering her slightly nervous laugh as she'd handed him his handkerchief and fled the room. He looked at the cloth, still folded neatly, but he couldn't see anything to show where her tears had gone. "The first of many," he thought, surprising himself.
What is it with me and Federal Agents?
Chuck woke, not alone. Knowing how much she hated to get up early, he counted it as a win that Sarah didn't impale his phone when it started to ring. He moved as little as he had to to answer it. "Bartowski. …Hi, Morgan… Yes I know I sound terrible, you'd sound terrible too if you just woke up from a coma… No, not the coma per se, but the after-coma, if you know what I mean… Yes, I know it's my fault. What do you want, Morgan?... My government contacts? You think I can just…Fine. Yes, I can ask. What's the name?"
Suddenly Chuck sat bolt upright, and Sarah gave up any pretense of being asleep.
"Yeah, buddy, I got that," he said, working hard to keep the same sleepy tone in his voice as before. "I'll see what I can find out, but no promises, okay?...Yeah. I'll see you at the ceremony." He put the phone down.
Sarah sat up. "Chuck?"
"You heard all that?" Of course she heard all that. She probably heard Morgan's carpal tendons flexing.
"What's all your fault?" She sounded…irate.
"Chuck?" She sounded more irate.
Busted. "It's my fault that I married a leggy Valkyrie with an aversion to clothing," he said in a rush.
"What?" She thought back on what she'd heard. "Oh, the after-coma." She shook her head. "Forget that. What's this name he wants you to dig up intel on?"
"It's…this girl he likes. Her father died in Honduras and they won't tell her why. He wants me get whatever I can for her."
So? "Is it classified?" Chuck would never tell, if it was classified, not even to Morgan.
"Yes, but that's not the worst part."
That didn't sound good. "What's the worst part?"
"Her father's name is Alex Coburn."
A/N2 Thought I'd forgotten him, didn't you? No, of course you didn't.