Characters: Chuck, Sarah (light Het)
Summary: Some things are always just out of reach.
Author's Notes: For nbc_las and the prompt of "Deja Vu."
When the Intersect got downloaded into his head, Chuck was afraid he'd have trouble telling which thoughts were the Intersect's and which were his own.
After a few trips through the funhouse of random data-dumps that made up a "flash," he stopped worrying. Otter-crossing signs and service records and secret weapon specs didn’t come from daydreams or subconscious impulses. Not unless late-night television was significantly more interesting these days…
But as a result of the Intersect, Chuck had a lot more to fantasize about, or at least one person in particular: Agent Sarah Walker. It figured that the government, which fouled up nearly everything, would deliver the perfect women right to his doorstep and then make it impossible for her to love him back.
Sarah was supposed to pretend to love him, of course. Their fake relationship was part of their cover. But if she ever really did, the government would yank her out of Chuck's life and redeploy her somewhere else.
It was pure torture.
It wasn't just that Sarah was beautiful and smart, or that she was secret-agent super-capable because, well… secret agent. No, if it was just that, Chuck would have given up on her after the first week or two.
What really did him in was the fact that underneath all that perfection (and despite all professional training to the contrary), Sarah was genuinely nice. Chuck had never had any natural defenses whatsoever against "nice."
The more time he spent with her, the harder he fell.
Maybe, he kept thinking, and If, but reality kept punishing him. Every time he thought he saw a spark of something in Sarah's eyes, she reminded him that it was just an act, nothing more. His romantic fantasies had stiletto-heel holes all through them.
He was happiest on their missions, always one dance or false embrace away from his heart's desire until he flashed and the façade was over.
In October, he and Sarah were sent to a black tie gala at the Russian Embassy. It was an opportunity for him to survey the crowd for nuclear scientists, former KGB operatives, or anyone else of interest who might turn up. Chuck was more than ready.
His concentration faltered when he arrived at Sarah's apartment and she answered the door in something black and strapless that made him forget basic nouns and verbs. He pulled himself together somehow, and they rode in the limousine in silence while Casey tailed them in the surveillance van.
The Embassy was larger and more beautiful than Chuck expected. He scanned the crowd repeatedly, struggling not to be dazzled by the staircases or chandeliers, or even just the sheer number of guests.
Casey's voice sounded in Chuck's ear: "Video camera, eleven o'clock." Chuck automatically turned toward it ("Bartowski!" Casey barked), only to find Sarah sliding her arms up his shoulders and drawing him down into a kiss.
Chuck's head swam and his knees grew weak as he lost himself in kissing Sarah back. He knew her silky hair and her light perfume as intimately as the Buy More inventory, because it had always been like this— from their first-date picnic to candlelit dinners and Christmas morning—and it was such a relief to fall back into it again.
"Focus," Casey hissed, jolting Chuck back into the present.
The noise of the crowd and the embassy orchestra rose up like a wave, swirling and buzzing around him. Chuck fought to get his bearings again, shaking the last of those bright, scattered memories out of his head.
The moment was gone. He was still Chuck pretending to be Charles, and this was just another mission, no matter how tantalizing and amazing the packaging.
When it was over, he would go back to being the Asset until the next assignment came along. Even his most vivid and wonderful dreams couldn't change that, despite how real they seemed. Saddest of all, the cold truth was always waiting:
Sarah was still Agent Walker, his government-appointed handler, and that was all she would ever be.
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