A/N This is a long one. This episode is a combination of at least three canon episodes, so I have more work to do tying off all the threads, or setting up new ones in the future.
"Is it true, General?"
"That would be just plain rude."
"You seem vexed, my dear."
"They work for my mother."
"Frost is alive?"
"Yes, General," said Chuck. "And apparently very, very rogue." He couldn't look at the screen anymore, couldn't look at them looking at him. The floor was a nice color.
"I don't believe it," said Casey. "Frost is no traitor, she can't be."
"Since when do you know my mother?" snapped Chuck. He didn't even know his mother, it seemed.
"You know a commander by his troops, and a craftsman by his product," said Casey to the top of Chuck's head, the only part of him he could see. "You and Ellie are the product. I've never met your mother but I already know her pretty damn well."
Sarah gave her husband's shoulders a squeeze, while mouthing Thank you to her partner.
The gloom started to lift, but Chuck resolutely pulled it back down. "Well, thank you for that vote of confidence, Casey, but I saw it with my very own Intersect."
Casey made a rude noise. "Give it a rest, Bartowski. How many times in the bad old days did you send us haring off on some wild goose chase because you 'saw something in the Intersect' that you didn't understand and got completely wrong?"
"Not 'completely wrong', Colonel," said Beckman. "Those wild goose chases often turned into your greatest successes." She sighed, looking up. "And my greyest hairs."
"Wrong enough, General, and Chuck can't help but be compromised now." Not his fault. "So if it's his Intersect versus mine, I'll take mine."
"You have an Intersect, Casey?" asked Sarah.
"It's called common sense, Bartowski. It's not as flashy, but it gets the job done."
"For all our sakes I hope you're right, Colonel," said Beckman. "Personal issues to one side, the idea that we might be facing not just Volkoff, but Volkoff with an agent of Frost's caliber on his side, is truly frightening. Manoosh?"
"I imagine there will be no more uploads today?"
Ellie would skin him, and dip him in brine. "No, General. Given Chuck's–the Host's–emotional state…"
"I understand." Damn you, Frost. "The capture of Packard and his men is now more imperative than ever. We must know everything we can about Frost's relationship with Volkoff. Chuck, it's your plan, make it happen." He nodded, still not looking up. Beckman looked at Sarah. "We're counting on you."
The tall blonde entered the office and saluted. "Captain Victoria Dunwoody, reporting."
The tall brunette stood and saluted back. "Director Jane Bentley, NCS. What happened to you, Captain? I heard you were in Inducement training."
Dunwoody touched her cheek, gently. Her blackened eyes were still puffy and her nose swollen where it had broken against the door jamb. "I was assigned…Agent Walker's husband as part of my final test. She was supposed to be in England." As good a story as any, and better than the truth.
Bentley nodded. "Marriage has mellowed her. Walker destroyed a van and half of Langley the last time."
Dunwoody grit her teeth. Walker was the villain in her cover story. She's not that badass. "Just a few doors, ma'am."
"Whatever. The point is, I don't need mellow agents here. Do you understand?"
She smiled. My turn, Walker. "I understand perfectly, ma'am."
"How are you feeling?" said Sarah as they headed for their car. With no uploads in the offing, Chuck pretty much had nothing to do there, and Sarah, well, she had her marching orders already.
"Do you really have to ask?"
"Yes, and I can't say I like it. You look like me." Like a spy. Like nothing could hurt him because nothing could be allowed to hurt him. The open book she'd fallen for was closed.
"Oh, you mean you just found out your mother's a bad guy too?" He clicked the button on his fob and opened his door before he noticed she wasn't on the other side of the car. He looked back. "Sarah?"
His wife wasn't there. Someone else was. "Don't ask about my mother, Chuck."
Did he look like that? Tell me I didn't do that to her, please. He knew he had, though, and he knew how. While flailing about in his own misery he'd stuck his foot right into hers, whatever it was. "I'm sorry." Could any search, any resolution be worth this?
Her frozen face thawed. "Don't be."She walked up and stroked his cheek. "It's not like I've told you everything there is to tell about my family. I can't."
No secrets, no lies. She would tell him, if he asked, but he wouldn't ask. "But I should be sorry, Sarah," he said, catching her trailing fingers in his own. "I've let my search for the person who left me bring pain to all the people who would never leave me."
"It doesn't matter." She tugged on his hand, pulling him in closer, and kissed him. "We're family, Chuck. Your pain is our pain."
"Not anymore," he said, holding her tightly. "When Dad sent us that message, I really hoped to find my mother again. But now I'm not afraid for my mother, I'm afraid of her, and what I'll see if I ever do find her. That's my pain now, and there's a simple way to end it."
Sarah pulled back. "Is my man running away?" As he started to fumble out a reply she overrode him. "Because that's what that sounded like." She started jabbing him with her sharp, sharp nails. "End the search–" Ow! "Close your eyes–" Ow! "Bury your head in the sand, but believe you me, Mr. Bartowski, I've had my fill of ostrich, thanks to Carina." She stopped pushing, her victim, that is, her husband pinned against their car. She grabbed his hair and kissed him again, passionately, violently. He looked dazed when she finished. "I don't want a Chuck that would try to spare me pain, I want the Chuck that I would take all the pain in the world for."
Chuck stared at his wife, panting, smiling.
"We have to finish what we started, sweetie, otherwise it'll just fester. Don't let the past poison our future."
With a sudden move he flipped them around, pinning her against the vehicle. He captured her gaze and leaned in close. "The names Bartowski. Charles Bartowski," he said in a bad Scottish accent.
Sarah smiled in sudden recognition. "There you are!" She held up the car keys she'd lifted from him with consummate skill while he was distracted. "Now, I'll drive. You have work to do, rethinking your devious plot."
Morgan stepped out of the shower, and immediately wondered why he'd bothered taking it in the first place. He'd thought DC in August was bad! Maybe he should just wear the towel.
Someone knocked at the door.
"Hold on," he said, running for his suitcase. With frantic speed he threw on whatever tops and bottoms fell into his hands first. "Coming!"
He pulled the door open and there was Alex…and only Alex. Whoever she'd hired to put that bikini on her had really skimped on the paint. He lowered his eyes. At least the very thin wrap on her hips was cloth. Very…thin…Eyes! Look at her eyes.
"Hey Morgan," she said, drawing out the syllables of his name in the way that drove him wildest. "Oo, I like the shirt." She stepped closer and reached her hands into the loose sleeves. "I can reach under it so easily."
Morgan threw himself backward, and not just because she was tickling him. "Alex, don't. What if Casey finds out?"
Alex…flowed into the room after him. "My father is thousands of miles away, Morgan. But right down that trail there's a private beach." He didn't look where she was pointing, mesmerized. "For private showings." When he didn't move she lowered her hand to the knot in her wrap. "Or perhaps you'd like it here instead."
A private showing in his private room. BeAGentlemanBeAGentlemanCaseyWillKillYouBeAGentleman. He swallowed and nodded. `"Beach is fine."
The miles flew by, Sarah driving while Chuck was on the phone. "That sounds like a plan, buddy." A bad plan. "Just make sure that however you do it, Alex is there and knows what's going on. Yeah, you're welcome. Have fun for me." He ended the call. "He was just so grateful to Carina for warning him to take the proper wardrobe." Also Alex' wardrobe, which was a lot skimpier than usual, but somehow Chuck didn't think Sarah wanted to hear about that. "He wanted to thank her." A double helping of Morgan gratitude and Carina in a sarong…
"That could have gotten awkward."
Still could. This was Morgan, after all, and his obsessive over-planning, a bad habit he'd picked up from somewhere. "Even more awkward than watching Casey try to put on his old Marine uniform." Chuck winced at the memory.
"If it's that tight maybe we can do without the paralyzing drug."
Chuck grunted out a laugh. "Um, no. But…hmmm…paralyzing drugs. That gives me an idea."
Packard couldn't believe it. "You what?"
Mack grinned as he scarfed down another slice of pizza. "I released the funeral arrangements on all the back-channels. We can't be the only ones who want to see the Colonel dead."
Sarah answered her phone. "Yes, General?...Out of breath?...Yes, I guess so, I was outside and didn't have my phone…Chuck's plan? We emailed the revisions to you a while ago…Did you check your spam filter?...Oh, good. Yes we'll be glad to go over it with you. Absolutely. You're welcome." She put the phone down without a goodbye and rolled over in the bed. "Meeting in half an hour."
Chuck smiled. "I can work with that."
"Mr. Bartowski, we've gone over this before. You are not an agent."
"I know, General."
"Yet your revisions make you not only present, but the centerpiece of the operation."
"He has to be, General," said Sarah. "It's always harder to capture than to kill. Only the Intersect can do what needs to be done, if Chuck's plan is to succeed."
"In spite of the danger?"
Possible harm to his body versus guaranteed harm to his heart and soul? "Absolutely."
Chuck took his wife's hand. "We're committed, General. Anything else puts Casey at unacceptable risk."
The Colonel stood a little straighter, but kept his peace.
Beckman nodded. "You've really thought this through. You're willing to put your teammates in harm's way, and you're willing to put yourself at risk to protect them. I'm impressed, Chuck." She flashed a quick glance at all the windows. "The mission is a go."
Chuck was assembling his body armor when the phone rang. Sarah kept going, making note of all the pieces she needed to add, as Chuck answered it. "Morgan! Hi, how's the fiesta?...A statue? Get out!...Really, seven feet tall and solid marble, that's…"
Sarah stopped to listen.
"I knew you had it in you…no, that was just surprise, that's all, marble takes a long time to…Of course I want a picture..Morgan, I can't hear you, is that cheering?"
It didn't sound like cheering, too high and shrill. Another sound, loud and low, cut through the noise like a saw blade, and the screaming returned louder than before.
"Is that gunfire, Morgan? Morgan?"
The day of the funeral dawned cloudy and grey, the skies themselves threatening to weep at the passing of a great man. Which would have mattered if the funeral were being held in the morning, but it wasn't. The early afternoon was both bright and sunny, and the line of mourners moved rapidly, filling up the church.
"Who are all those guys?" said Packard, looking the line over from a few blocks away.
"I only recognize about half of them, but it's a pretty bad half."
"I can't tell the mooks from the agents," said T.I.
"That's good," said Mack. "That means they can't either. We slip in and by the time they know anything's wrong we'll be gone again."
Packard nodded. "The mission is a go, gentlemen. Let's go get our gold."
Chuck held up the hypo. "Here you go, Casey. The back-up hypo is going right here." Into a specially sewn pocket by his hand, where a partially-paralyzed Casey could reach it and re-inject himself if necessary.
A young lady came up to the casket. "Agent Bartowski?"
Chuck looked at her. "Agent Swanson, good afternoon." He held out a hand.
She took it. "You remember me, I'm flattered."
"One of my few pleasant memories of the NSA," said Chuck. Then he whispered, "Actually, more than a few, but I can't really say that in case someone else from the CIA side of the aisle should overhear." Casey kept his eyes closed, but Chuck could see them rolling anyway. "You must be looking for my wife, though. She's the agent, not me."
"You'll do, Mr. Bartowski. General Beckman told me to let you know that the situation in Costa Gravas isn't as desperate as we'd feared. The insurgents hold the palace but the premier and his guests have managed to escape into the jungle. No Americans appear to have been taken hostage yet."
Casey opened his eyes, but Agent Swanson had her back to him and didn't notice.
Chuck noticed. "Yes, uh, thank you, Agent Swanson, that's very good news. Keep me in the loop."
"Sure thing, Mr. Bartowski." She walked away.
Chuck looked into Casey's eyes, the only part of him that could move. "We couldn't tell you, Colonel. I'm sorry. Adrenaline neutralizes the paralytic, and you need to be paralyzed for the plan to work. You have to stay calm." He checked his watch–a few minutes early–and raised it to his mouth. "Let's get started.'
Chuck sat in the front row, his seat the only one left open on that side, while the other pew sat empty. As the service commenced, mourners continued to make their way up to the coffin to pay their last…whatevers. Casey watched through slitted eyes as Mack came into view.
"Ow!" Chuck winced. "Did that guy just stab him with a pin?"
The pain almost made Casey open his eyes, but the toxin did what the toxin was supposed to do. He didn't even grunt.
A few minutes later, Casey heard a familiar voice. "Here you go, Colonel. One last cigar." Casey prepared himself for the worst, and got it, as T.I. pushed the glowing end of a lit cigar against his wrist.
Chuck cringed, and Sarah gripped his hand tightly. Almost done.
As T.I. walked away, he didn't see Casey take a deeper breath, his arms flexing. His fingers were still too numb to be much use, but his larger muscles were responding.
More footsteps, and someone laid something across his chest. Casey recognized the scent. A lily, one of Packard's favorite jokes. The casket started to shake, as the man above him made little wheezing sounds. Little weasel better not be crying.
No, the bastard was laughing.
Packard turned, pulling a gun in one hand and his little surprise in the other. As expected, the room was full of agents, but the thugs in the room would make quick work of–
No one moved. No chaos erupted. A room full of felons and they all just sat there as the agents took aim at him. "Did you really think we'd come to Casey's funeral unprepared?" he shouted.
Mack and T.I. rose, the Feds moving to acquire their new targets, but even that didn't inspire any of the chaos Packard needed for his plan to succeed.
"You're all under arrest," said Sarah.
"You should have stayed with Frost," said Chuck.
"That bitch. Always kept us sidelined." Packard smirked. "I think we'll let Volkoff go down with that ship alone."
"You've got nowhere to go."
"Wanna bet?" said Packard, brandishing his other weapon, a detonator of his own making.
"Aah!" Packard clutched at his arm, the little tranq dart imbedded in the crook of his elbow. His hand numbing, head swimming, he struggled to get his thumb to the trigger.
At the back of the church several flash-bangs detonated, full of sound and fury.
Chuck ignored them, already turning his sights on Mack, and firing again. The agents surrounding T.I weren't as lucky. Given how many surrounded him, it was virtually certain some would be facing the wrong way, and some were. He was surprisingly quick to take advantage of their incapacity, hauling one into Chuck's line of fire as he fired another dart, and using another as a human shield to the altar.
"Hold fire!" said Sarah.
"Yeah," said T.I. mockingly. "You might hit me. You, pick that up." He indicated the detonator with his foot.
"Yes, sir," said Kimberly, exactly as the book said she should do in a hostage situation, and she crouched to pick it up, her captor crouching behind her.
Casey heard her voice, her fear. So young to his ears, just like Alex. He reached through the drugs for his angry center.
When they were upright once again, T.I. hooked his elbow around Agent Swanson's neck, hand open. "Give." She put the device in his hand and he put his thumb on the second trigger."You don't follow me, and this'll all be over."
"We can't let you go back to Frost," said Chuck.
T.I. laughed. "I don't want to, that bitch is poison. I've got other plans for my gold." He raised the detonator.
"Chuck!" yelled Sarah.
Chuck took aim, and so did T.I.
Casey rolled over, second syringe in hand. The needle plunged into the traitor's back. Casey's hand pressed on the plunger as the casket tipped over, delivering a dose of paralyzer, right over his spine. Not much under normal circumstances, but these were far from normal.
T.I. couldn't pull the trigger. When Agent Swanson pushed out of his choke hold, he couldn't even hold on to the detonator.
Beckman was less than pleased with the outcome. "Mr. Bartowski, the CIA doesn't have the money budgeted for repairing church floors."
Chuck's couch was crowded today. Casey was still a bit wobbly and they insisted he stay with them until he fully recovered. "I know where they can get several million in gold bullion, General." He held up his hand. "That should cover it."
Beckman looked somewhat mollified at the idea. "We'll take that under advisement, Colonel. At least none of the 'borrowed ' convicts escaped. In fact, several of them thanked us for the show."
Chuck shrugged. "Prison life can be pretty dull. I figured we'd get some willing to be partially paralyzed in exchange for the privilege of seeing Casey dead, I just didn't expect that many."
"It was a good touch, though," said Sarah. "Really sold the con."
"Moving on," said the General, "The intel on Frost is welcome but inconclusive. More concrete data is needed than the words of three disgruntled traitors, but another team will have to be assigned to that mission."
Casey jumped into that opportunity. "Permission to deploy to Costa Gravas, ma'am?"
"Absolutely not, Colonel. None of you are uncompromised, and none of you are field-ready at this time. The situation in Costa Gravas is also still very fluid. Trained diplomats are en route help contain the situation. We'll keep you apprised." The screen went black.
Casey grunted his displeasure. Or he might have said, "Great." It was hard to tell.
The front door opened and Morgan strolled in as if he owned the place, pulling Alex along behind him. "There they are, I told you they'd be here." He looked at them all, dressed in black. "Hey, who died?"
Ellie and Devon were hand-in-hand, white-knuckled, their smiles a little forced. Carina brought up the rear, shaking her head with a smile.
Chuck launched himself from the couch, swept Ellie into an embrace. "Guys, you're here! What happened to you? How'd you escape?"
Group hug. "Escape?" said Devon. "They gave us an escort, bro."
Sarah was a little bit slower, but she still got her hugs. "We heard you were in the jungle, fighting insurgents."
"I hate insurgents," said Casey, standing. He and Alex did a little hugging thing of their own, while Morgan orbited from a safe distance.
"Carina and Alex were wonderful," said Ellie. Chuck led his pregnant sister over to the couch, and hustled to the kitchen for whatever refreshments he could rustle up. Devon sat with his wife, while Carina threw herself into a chair with her usual abandon. "Soldiers everywhere, but they saved us all, and the General took us out of the palace with him."
Casey almost smiled, but there were people around.
"Not that it helped," said Carina. "Goya's protective detail were all in on it, handed us right over."
Casey hated traitors even more than the usual brand of insurgents. "How'd you get loose?"
Carina waved a hand in front of her, disclaiming all responsibility, and pointed elsewhere.
Alex smiled and tightened her grip on Morgan's arm. "He was so wonderful. He quelled a revolution with a paperback and a breath mint."
"A paperback?" asked Chuck, coming back in with whatever coffee they had ready, with more brewing.
"A breath mint?" said Sarah, bringing a chair over from the dining area.
Alex waved a hand in front of her nose. "Most people are hesitant to speak truth to power." She sat in the last chair, with Morgan perched on the arm.
"That must have been some book, buddy. What was it?"
Morgan blushed. Alex replied, "101 Conversations Before I Do. We were practicing."
Practicing what? "I do?" said Casey.
Morgan paled. "Before 'I do', big guy, before. Long before. Years before."
Casey grunted, giving his daughter an 'I told you so' sort of look. "Truth to power, huh?"
"Truth to power is one thing, Casey," put in Carina. "Truth to girlfriend's father, totally different."
That got a laugh, but Ellie only smiled. Chuck noticed, but at that moment his coffee machine beeped, so he got up again.
Carina followed him into the kitchen. "What's up?" asked Chuck, knowing how much she hated being in such domestic surroundings.
She reached into her bag. "I brought you some souvenirs." She handed him two necklaces.
Chuck flashed. Not necklaces. "Costa Gravas is nuclear?"
Carina made frantic shushing gestures. "Was." She gestured to the living room where they were all recounting their adventure in detail. "They didn't know. Well, maybe Alex but not the others and I didn't want to tell them."
"How'd you get these?"
"Morgan really is quite eloquent, in his own way. Once Goya and Goyette got all kissy-face no one even looked at me."
Chuck grinned at her. "So you single-handedly disarmed a nuclear nation?"
Carina blushed. "If you want to put it that way…"
"Oh, I must, I must." He put the keys in his pocket. "Call Beckman, use the bedroom TV."
Chuck watched her go, then looked at his family. Ellie, laughing again, so effortlessly a couple with Devon. Morgan and Alex, who had to work at it, and the spies who came in from the cold. Sarah looked over at him. She knew something was up, but she'd trust him to handle it.
All of them, his family. Truly he was blessed. What more could any man need? Frost and Volkoff would have to be dealt with, somehow, but Beckman was right, let someone else handle that mission. He had enough to do, gathering cheese and crackers for an unexpected party.
His phone rang. When he pulled it from his pocket the screen said 'Unknown Caller'. "Hello?"
"Hello, Chuck. It's…your mother."
A/N2 What timing she has! No wonder she's such a great spy.