A/N: There you have it, folks, the final chapter in the story. This one is a collection of snapshots from the life of Chuck and Sarah after leaving the spy world, some of them canon-inspired.
I can't thank you enough for all the support and encouragement you have so generously given me over the past nine months, while I was writing this story. As for me, I'll take a break and be back with another story in about a month or so. So, until next time.
Bryce yawned and scratched his back under his t-shirt as he padded sleepily towards his apartment's door. "Yeah, yeah, I'm coming, hold on," he called out in response to another burst of insistent knocking. He woke up instantly when he saw who was calling through the peephole. "Sarah! Come on in," he said after opening the door.
"Is this a bad time?" Sarah asked cautiously.
He yawned again and moved aside to let her in the apartment. "You roused me out of bed, but it's as good a time as any. Jill's gone to a convention of one sort or another and I'm basically bored out of my mind. I hope to manage to corner Chuck and Morgan for some online gaming tonight."
"Something tells me that at least Chuck is going to be available for a nice long gaming session. He's been meaning to call you about scheduling one. I'll be at my folks', so he won't be otherwise engaged."
"And you came all the way here just to let me know you're letting Chuck off the leash tonight?"
"I'm not that bad," she protested. "Am I?"
"No, I was kidding. He's the problem, so to speak. He's gone through two failed relationships, so he's deathly afraid that he'll do something to drive you away."
She sat down on the couch and covered her face with her hands. "Crap," she muttered.
"You do know I'm not blaming you for anything, right? Neither does Morgan, as a matter of fact." His head suddenly snapped up, eyes wide. "Damn, where are my manners? Can I get you anything? Coffee, water, some juice, a soda?"
"No, I'm good, thanks. And yes, I know you guys don't blame me for anything. I came to see you for an entirely different reason, however."
Bryce gestured for her to explain. "I'm all ears," he added for good measure.
"We've pretty much established you are a whiz at business administration and accounting," she began.
"Are you fattening me up for the kill?" Bryce queried.
"Shut up and listen. I need to ask you a few questions. Chuck is very tight-lipped about his new business for some reason and I want to make sure it's not because of any financial woes or anything."
"And if it is?"
She smiled. "The severance package I got from the CIA, plus the pay for all the vacation days I never took, add up to a rather neat amount. And I've not gone on shopping sprees with it. If push comes to shove, I want to invest it in Chuck's business."
"Before you ask your questions, let me ask you a few of my own. How's Chuck these days? Does he look stressed or just tuckered out?"
"He does seem to be a bit tired lately. Nothing worrying, but it's there."
"OK. Has he been hitting the thinking juice?"
"No… wait, I have no idea. He doesn't drink while we are at home. I mean, he does have the occasional beer with me and the others, but no, there doesn't seem to be any chardonnay involved."
"Interesting," commented Bryce. "Is he ever late coming home from work? Is he being secretive? Does he…?"
"Um, why are you asking me all those questions?" Sarah interrupted him.
He smiled. "You have nothing to worry about. Trust me. Based on what you just told me, he's in the middle of working on something good, something that he believes will be a moneymaker."
She nodded, feeling immensely relieved. "Well, that explains a lot. I'd never seen him act like this before. Thank you."
"Don't mention it. And if there is anything I can do to help, don't hesitate to call and let me know."
"OK," Sarah replied smiling. Nothing was wrong with her Chuck. He was just absorbed in his current project.
"There's something else I need to tell you. I don't know if you've noticed, but Chuck's forte is writing code for computer programs. He's good with hardware, really good, but software is his thing, you know. It's exactly the opposite with his dad. Mr. B is great at designing hardware, and he's also good at software, but tinkering with circuitry and stuff is what he's really into."
"Wow, you really know the family."
"Give it some time and you'll get to know them just as well." He leaned back and regarded his friend contemplatively. "Have you given any thought to what you're going to do from now on? We'll miss you at work of course, but if you think that leaving is the best choice for you…"
"It was the best choice," she agreed. "I have more important things to attend to than spending my life in other countries. Five years of doing exactly that are more than enough. Since right now I'm between jobs, I intend to make up for all the time I missed with my family and of course there is Chuck."
"If I may be so bold, you two worked very well together on the Lichtenstein mission. Have you thought about continuing working together?"
She nodded vigorously. "Sure. His office is the next stop on my schedule. I'll ask if he's hiring. Maybe he'll find something for me to do."
"Not maybe, definitely," Bryce corrected her. "You two are going to work wonders in his new busuiness."
Sarah left Bryce and Jill's place after some more small talk and drove to Chuck's office, but not before stopping at one of their favorite stores to pick up some groceries. The office he'd rented had a small kitchenette adjacent to what he'd turned into a break room, so they could cook if they wanted to. Carrying the grocery bag, she made her way to the elevator and took it to the fourth floor. She tried the door, but it was locked, a sure sign Chuck was holed up in the workshop, according to Bryce. She shook her head and pulled out her phone, speed-dialing the office's number and selecting the workshop extension.
"Chuck, hi, it's me," she said, placing the grocery bag by her feet and pulling her hair out of the ponytail she was wearing it in.
"Oh, hi Sarah, what can I do for you?"
"For starters, you can come to the door and let me in."
"You are here?"
"No, I just want you to open the door. Of course I'm here, silly," she laughed. "I also brought food and some more thinking juice for you."
"Have I told you how much I love you?" Chuck said. Only he didn't say it into the phone. He said it to her after opening the door.
"Only about a million times," she replied. "Conservative estimate."
And then they were in each other's arms, kissing passionately. They pulled apart when the need for oxygen became pressing and went into the office together, arms interlinked. Chuck had also picked up the grocery bag from the hallway floor. They passed by his desk on the way to the break room and Sarah noticed something on the cluttered surface.
"What is this? Is it what I think it is?"
"If you think that it's the paycheck for the first job undertaken by Carmichael Enterprises, then yes, it is what you think it is," he replied.
She regarded him proudly. His hair was adorably mussed from repeatedly running his hands through it, his tie was loosened and the sleeves of his once neatly pressed dress shirt rolled up. He'd been busy all right. "Tell me about the job."
"Well, it was this financier, who wanted to make sure no one could steal customer information. His outside lines were well shielded and he had top of the line security software, but I found a flaw in his setup. The company intranet was not only unencrypted, but wireless as well. Anyone could get inside it if they found out."
"Did you fix it for him?"
"It didn't take long," he confirmed. "All I had to do was install an encryption program and make access from any workstation password-protected, with a different password for each one no less. I think I can safely say his system is as secure as it can be made."
"My Nerd," she laughed. "Take a lunch break. I'll cook for you."
"You are a life saver. I was seconds away from ordering in."
He came to find her in the kitchenette a few minutes later. Her light brown leather jacket was neatly hung on the wall-mounted rack and she was humming something while making their lunch. He paused at the break room door to admire her shapely body, shown off to advantage by the form-fitting jeans and the blouse she was wearing. Her spy senses were still fully functional, however, because she was aware of his approach, even though he wasn't making any noise.
"Take a seat," she said, without turning to face him. "Everything will be ready in a couple of minutes."
"Thanks," he said. "I was doing some thinking. What are you going to do now that you're no longer in the CIA?"
"Whatever I choose to do, I'll make sure the job won't keep me away from you or my family."
"How does working with me sound?"
She laughed. "Bryce suggested the same thing when I saw him earlier today. He thinks we could do great, given how well we've worked together."
"Bryce is a smart guy," Chuck deadpanned, mentally doing a victory dance.
"There's a catch though… I'm not sure how I can help you."
"Don't sell yourself short, Sarah. I know you were a scholarship student in Harvard and you graduated with honors."
"Who told you about Harvard? Bryce?"
"It was your mom, actually. She'd come to drop Molly off at Alex's the other day and we got to talk for a few minutes. You could handle things like contract negotiations and marketing for Carmichael Enterprises."
She mulled it over while bringing the plates to the table. "Yes, you're absolutely right. I think I could take over those tasks, leaving you free to deal with the technical aspects of the jobs. I have a feeling you enjoy these anyway."
"Sure. Computers beat paperwork any time. Your CIA training and experience could come in handy, too."
She looked up sharply and he saw a gleam of interest in her eyes. He knew she was a woman of action and the prospect appealed to her. "How?"
"You could accompany me when visiting customers to review their security arrangements. I can give basic advice on how to improve security systems and make outside lines hack-proof, but you could add your input on how to make it even better. You are good at breaking and entering, so based on your knowledge you can help me advise customers on how and where to install equipment so that it will be difficult for someone to enter and tap into the systems."
Sarah paused to think for a moment. Accepting Chuck's offer meant both office and field work. Spending most, if not all, of the day together was another plus in her book. "I think it's going to work. I accept your offer."
"Excellent. I'll give you the tour of the office and the orientation speech after we're done enjoying the goodies you made."
About eighteen months later…
Sarah leaned back in her sinfully comfortable office chair and planted her feet on the edge of her desk after hanging up the phone. She'd just scheduled another interview with a computer games magazine for Chuck. Ever since he'd created what was universally acclaimed as the best game engine to hit the market, they'd been licensing out its use like crazy. Money had been flowing in and she was happy she'd upgraded her position in the business from employee to investor and partner just before he decided to create his masterpiece. She'd seen how well the first programs he'd written had been selling and she thought she could expect a good return on her investment, so she used part of her savings to advance his – their – business. It worked beyond their wildest expectations. In addition, her father, who had a talent for sniffing out business opportunities, had also invested in the company, giving them more capital to work with and he was also getting hefty returns.
Just then, Chuck walked in, whistling a cheerful tune.
"You look rather upbeat," she commented.
"And I have every reason to be. Awesome wanted to see my parents and me."
"There is only one reason to want to meet all of you. He asked for your blessing to propose to Ellie."
"Nothing escapes you. Yes he did and we are behind him all the way. There's a catch though and we'll need to help him work his way around it."
She planted her feet back on the floor and leaned forward. "Do tell."
"Since everything that happened with the other hospital, Westside Medical has become a madhouse," he said, referring to the fire that had caused another hospital to temporarily close for repairs and refer its patients to the closest alternative – Westside Medical. "Even with reinforcements, they are swamped and although he's planned the proposal down to the last detail, he doesn't have the time to prepare for it. This is where we come in."
"Cool, count me in. I suppose Devon doesn't want Ellie to get wind of it, so we could hide a lot of stuff in our place."
"You took the words right out of my mouth. I also have this." He reached into his pocket and produced a red velvet box. "It's his great-grandmother's ring. He gave it to me for safekeeping lest Ellie find it by accident."
"Ellie's a bloodhound when it comes to these things. Had he kept it somewhere in the apartment she'd have smelled diamond. Devon's exact words," he replied.
"The safe in your work room is more than secure," she said. "Stash it in there."
Devon didn't get the chance to put his plan in action until about a week later, when his shift finally overlapped with Ellie's, meaning he could go home first. Upon receiving his call, Chuck and Sarah dropped everything and rushed to help him put everything together. It took a very short time for the three co-conspirators to pick up Ellie's favorite meal, dessert included, from Emma's restaurant (naturally), find the collector's edition of Casablanca take care of the remaining details, such as a romantic playlist, rose petals to scatter all over the living room and a couple of flower pots to liven up the place even more.
Chuck and Sarah moved methodically about the apartment, following Devon's instructions on where to put everything while he took a quick shower to get rid of the hospital smells. Ellie had informed him that she was going to take a shower in the hospital locker room, since he'd hinted that he wanted to make an evening out of the first free day they'd had together in weeks.
Devon emerged from the bathroom in a casual but nice outfit. It was Sarah's idea as part of the surprise, because if Ellie saw him in a suit and tie she'd put two and two together and the surprise would be ruined.
"You look good, Captain," Chuck commented.
"She's going to get the surprise of her life when you pop the big Q," Sarah added.
"That's what I'm hoping for. Can I have the ring now, please?"
"Sarah's got it," Chuck said.
"Chuck's got it," Sarah said at the exact same instant.
"Who's got it?" Devon asked, looking at each one of them in turn.
"I told you to grab it out of the safe just before we left the office," Chuck said to Sarah.
"I told you not to forget the ring in the safe," she said.
"THE RING IS STILL IN YOUR OFFICE SAFE?" Devon yelled at them, extremely upset and understandably so.
They had the decency to look guilty. Ellie was coming home in less than ten minutes and they didn't have the only thing they couldn't do without. Sarah swung into action. "Chuck, let's go. Devon, stay here and wait for Ellie. Your plan will have to be modified. Put your phone on silent. When we get back here, we'll call you, but don't answer it. It'll just be the signal to come get the ring. We'll leave it on the kitchen window sill."
"And she won't get wind of it?"
"I used to work for the CIA, Devon. Give me a little credit." Without saying any more, she grabbed Chuck by the arm and they ran out to get his Mercedes. They managed to reach the office in a remarkably short time, barely keeping to the posted speed limits. Sarah waited in the car, with the engine running, while he ran upstairs to get the ring. He easily found it and hurried downstairs to the car. Once again, he drove like a maniac, only just managing not to break any traffic laws. When they finally came home, they scurried around to Ellie's kitchen window, which Devon had left open.
"Hey Sarge, look over there," a police officer inside a patrol car said to his partner. "I think we have B&E in progress."
The rotund black sergeant left the bag of Twinkies he was about to open on the dash and followed the officer's pointing finger while simultaneously reaching for the radio, but relaxed once he saw who it was. "Nah, I know the guy, he lives here. Probably forgot his keys and looking for another way to enter." He unbuckled his seatbelt and reached for the door handle. "I'm just gonna go say hi." He made his way to them and greeted the man he'd known for years. "Hey Chuck, got locked out?"
"SHHHH!" Chuck shushed him. "Al, I'll explain everything in a sec, but keep it down. I don't want to blow it, not this close to the happy ending." He quickly dialed Devon's number, let it ring once and ended the call. Meanwhile, Sarah deftly placed the ring box on the window sill and ducked back out of sight.
"Can someone please tell me what's going on?" Al Powell whispered.
"To cut a long story short, Devon gave me something for safekeeping, only there was a miscommunication problem between Sarah here and me, and we had to hurry to get it for him. He's about to propose to my sister right now and he couldn't do it without a ring. Now he can. There you have it," Chuck explained when they were safely away from the window.
Powell laughed. "And my partner thought we were witnessing a B&E in progress. Luckily, I recognized you, Chuck."
Chuck turned to Sarah. "Al here is Big Mike's cousin." He didn't have to explain who Big Mike was. Just then, an earsplitting squeal of joy made the three of them jump.
"Devon popped the question," Sarah stated. "And Ellie's obviously excited about it. Chuck, do you want to come with me and take a look?"
"What, spy? You?"
"It's a great day for your sister. You need to be there."
"And that's my cue to leave," Powell said. "Tell Ellie and Devon congratulations for me, will you?"
"Sure thing, Al. Take care." He then took Sarah's hand and led her into the courtyard. Through the living room window they could see Devon and Ellie kissing passionately. "Let's go in and congratulate them," he said. "Not right now, of course…"
"I'll stay here. It's a family time."
"You are part of the family, Sarah, not a stranger. We'll go in together." His words caused her to kiss him lovingly.
Sarah kicked off her heels and flopped down on the bed, still in her blue maid of honor dress. "What a day," she sighed.
Removing his tie, Chuck nodded. "It was worth it though. My sister is now Mrs. Captain Awesome."
"Mrs. Devon Woodcomb," she corrected him. "And it was totally worth it. Who knew Casey is a romantic at heart?"
"I wasn't surprised. I mean, we both know Kathleen, don't we? She wouldn't have married someone who wasn't at least a closet romantic. He helped a lot with the permits and he volunteered to drive Ellie, you and the bridesmaids to the beach. The disaster in the original venue turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because my sister got the beach wedding she was always dreaming of. Molly liked the beach, too."
"Yes, she loved playing in the sand," Sarah smiled. "It's hard to believe she's almost three now. Kids grow up really fast."
"Speaking of kids, Devon told me that he and Ellie decided to try for a baby soon."
"They are going to be wonderful parents. You know, seeing your mom cry was kind of a shock to me. I was used to knowing her as this legendary agent, but in the end she's a normal woman, happily married with a fantastic family."
Chuck just managed to keep from saying that Sarah was going to be just as good a wife and mother. He didn't want to freak her out.
Devon came out of the delivery room, still in his scrubs and with the happiest smile possible on his face. "She's here," he announced excitedly to the assembled family and friends. "Clara's finally here!" Everyone got up to congratulate him and jostle for a good position in the line to visit Ellie and the newborn Ms. Woodcomb after the baby's grandparents.
Chuck looked around. Most were already in line, except for Morgan and Alex, who were entertaining the four year old Molly in a corner of the waiting room. "Sarah," he said to his girlfriend, "can I talk to you for a second?"
"You can always talk to me about everything. You know that."
"Um, you know I've been meeting with Morgan quite frequently lately."
"Yes, you were preparing for the charity computer games tournament you told me about."
"Actually, practicing for the tournament wasn't the only thing we were doing." He paused and noted the look full of curiosity she was giving him. "He was helping me with something else, too. We made plans upon plans, but in the end he was right. All I need to do is follow my heart." He knelt in front of Sarah, who gasped and put a hand in front of her mouth. "Sarah Lisa Walker, I love you. Devon was right when he siad we were next in line to get married and start a family. I believe the time has come. Your parents, sister and best friend all gave me their blessing. Will you marry me?" He opened a blue velvet box and showed her the ring he'd got for her.
"Yes," she said, tears of joy flowing unashamedly down her cheeks. "Yes, I will marry you, Chuck. I love you."
"YAY!" Molly squealed excitedly and ran to her sister and her future brother-in-law, giving them big hugs.
"Molly, there is something else I need to tell you, and I was keeping it a surprise. I asked your mom if she was okay with it and she said yes. Would you like to be the flower girl at our wedding?"
Molly nodded enthusiastically, and turned to her older sister. "See, Sarah? I knew Mom, Dad, Carina and I did good when we told Chuck he could marry you."
"That you did, my little Munchkin, that you did," Sarah said, pulling the little girl on her lap.
Chuck was leafing through their wedding and honeymoon album while he waited for his lovely wife to get ready for their date night, something they did at least once a week. She emerged from their bedroom still in her underwear, holding a scrap of fabric that passed for a dress in front of her.
"Chuck, am I getting fat?"
"You heard me. I can't fit in the dress."
"Honey, you're not getting fat, not as far as I've noticed, at least. You have the same healthy eating habits as my sister. Maybe it shrunk while you washed it."
She gave him a death glare as she fiddled with her bra a bit. "My bra is small now, too," she complained. "I compared it to the rest and it hasn't shrunk. My boobs have gotten bigger, ergo I'm getting fat. I should work out more."
"Well, in the last couple of weeks you've been hitting the pretzels and the croissants quite heavily. Maybe you should lay off for a while."
"I can't. I really want them and…" She never finished the phrase, because she yawned widely.
"You are tired. Maybe we should cancel our plans to go out tonight."
"No way," she shook her head emphatically. "We agreed to celebrate the latest contract and we are going to do it big time."
He thought for a while. Clothes not fitting, increased appetite, exhaustion, all these could mean… "Sarah, I think you should sit down."
"Because I think I know why your dress doesn't fit."
She sat down next to him on the couch and rested her bare feet on his lap. "Tell me."
"Youmaybepregnant," he got out.
"I'm what? Can you speak clearly?"
"I think you are pregnant. Ellie had similar symptoms."
All color drained from her face when she realized she was late on top of it all. And then she fainted. She woke up in their bed wearing her sleep shorts and an oversized t-shirt of her husband's and noticed Chuck gently stroking her blond tresses, while Ellie was packing up her medical bag. "What happened?"
"You fainted, when you realized you may be pregnant," Chuck said. "I called Ellie over and she got a blood sample. We'll know for sure in the morning, but she did bring a pregnancy test for you to take. This way we'll get a preliminary result.
She silently took it and went to the bathroom. She emerged a few minutes later, holding the white stick. "It's official," she told him. "You knocked me up, Chuck."
The blood test the following morning was merely a formality, and while waiting for the results Ellie took her for an ultrasound, just to see how things were. Chuck went with them. When the OB gave them the news, Sarah glared at her husband. "Did you hear the doctor, Chuck? Not only did you knock me up, but I'm carrying twins!"
"Oh boy," he sighed. "I hope I'll somehow manage to survive this pregnancy."
In the end, he did survive, but in order to do it he'd opted to wait on his wife hand and foot. Holding their newborn daughter, while she was feeding their son, he decided it had all been totally worth it. "I love you so much, Mrs. Bartowski," he said and placed a kiss on the little girl's forehead.
"I love you too, Mr. Bartowski. Just for the record, I'm not going to carry out any of the threats I made in the delivery room. Now go get the others. I hear Molly is very excited about meeting her nephew and her niece."
"Your wish is always my command," he replied, placing little Yvonne in her bassinet as Sarah burped little Jackson. He then went to invite their friends and family into the recovery room.