Happy birthday, Peter!!! This is just a short snippet of something I’m working on (I don’t want to give away too much, so that’s all I’ll say). :) Hope your day is as marvelous as you are (which is pretty darn marvelous).
Most of the family was still sleeping when Sarah let herself into the Bartowski house to drop off Sir after her morning run, but she still wasn’t surprised to find Chuck in the kitchen. Sure, he almost had his nose buried in a cup of coffee and there were bags under his eyes, but he was there. It had become a habit of his.
“You don’t actually have to get up just to see me,” she said as she knelt to unclip Sir. The elephantine puppy flopped onto his back and offered his belly up for a rub.
“Nah, I needed to be up. S-stuff to do, codes to…code. Mmph.” He yawned, put his head on his crossed arms, and made snoring noises.
Sarah grinned as she rose from giving Sir his desired belly rub. “Sleep is important, too, you know.”
Chuck’s head popped up. “Just kidding. Want some coffee?”
“I’ve got it.” Sarah waved for him to stay put. She grabbed the purple mug Violet had drawn bumblebees all over when they’d visited the clay firing place the month before and poured herself half a cup, dosing it with milk. Deliberately, she took the seat farthest from Chuck at the island. The longer their relationship-under-the-cover-relationship progressed under the watchful gaze of the government, the more being touched reminded her of how needy she felt—and besides, she didn’t exactly smell like flowers at the moment. “What’s up? Any reason you got up at—and these are your words, not mine—the butt-crack of dawn?”
Chuck’s smile was tinged with sleep at the edges in a way that made Sarah take a sip of coffee and ignore her libido. “Not really. Just wanted to see you.”
“And it’s peaceful. No pitter-patter of gigantic paws.” Chuck twirled a finger at the ceiling, and Sir chose that moment to nudge his head into Sarah’s lap. Clearly, her obligations to him had not ended with the run. She scratched his ears. “Lets me get my thoughts in order.”
“Oh yeah?” Sarah raised an eyebrow. “And what are you thinking about?”
“Oh, stuff. I’m in charge of snacks for play group next week, there’s a pattern I spotted in the Intersect programming yesterday that might produce results, who’d win in a fight between Megatron and Godzilla, you.” Chuck shrugged. “Whether you actually know who Godzilla is.”
“I know who Godzilla is.” Sarah shook her head at him. “Dork.”
“Nerd,” Chuck said, but he grinned. “But, that misnomer aside, I must say, I’m relieved. I don’t think I could date somebody that doesn’t know who Godzilla is.”
“Good thing it’s just a cover, then.”
Chuck’s eyes cut to the camera mounted in the corner. The All-Seeing Eye, as he had referred to it on one of the very, very few times they’d managed to escape surveillance. It was like having a third member in their illicit still-stuck-in-the-beginning-stages-because-holy-hell-was-the-government-good-at-running-surveillance-on-an-asset-nobody-was-aware-it-had relationship. Every action, every word, every gesture and look had to be measured against what an analyst sitting in a cubicle in Washington might see and interpret, when really Sarah honestly just wanted to grab Chuck and engage in a little mutual clothes removal. Judging from the way Chuck sighed and fiddled with his coffee mug now, he agreed.
“Yeah, just a cover,” was all he said.
Sarah spotted the way his mouth quirked to the left, and knew what that preceded. “Don’t you dare make a joke about me being out of your league otherwise,” she said, half-serious.
“I could be for inter-league play,” Chuck said, squinting at her. A challenge made his face light up. “You know, I could be out of your league. After all, I have not only a five-year-old that I’m quasi-single parenting, but I also come with both mommy and daddy issues pre-loaded, and for the low, low price of three payments of twenty-nine ninety-five, you get a model of me equipped with most of our government’s secrets, including the true identity of the subject of Carly Simon’s chart-topping hit, You’re So Vain.”
Sarah blinked. “Did you actually flash on that?”
“It was on the radio.”
“So who is it?”
Chuck tapped his temple. “Twenty-nine ninety-five, remember?”
“Why is that even in the Intersect?”
“Last week I flashed on directions to the nearest IHOP. If I weren’t being paid the big bucks to disassemble the Intersect code, I’d say the person who designed the whole system was on crack—a theory, by the way, that I am not fully counting as off the table yet.”
“Good to know.” Sarah rose to put her mug in the sink. “I’d better get back to the Spy Casa. Casey wants to go over some reports after breakfast.”
Chuck glanced at the camera again, acknowledging what she hadn’t said: fraternizing for too long would flag somebody’s attention on the other end of the All-Seeing Eye. “I’ll walk you to the front door.”
“No, no, it’s okay. I’ll see myself out. You stay put and think about Godzilla or something.” Sarah squeezed his wrist, the only contact she dared make, before she left the kitchen. Sir followed her, nosing at the treat pocket in hopes that another kibble bit would be forthcoming. And if she stopped at the door to give him a long belly-rub and a face-scrunch (and maybe a treat), she figured it was okay. She was allowed to show affection for pets. Just not assets.