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1/1 c16 Dan Anderson
This is my second time reading this story, but I enjoyed it more the second time around. It mixes the deep with the cute, the serious with the funny. It brilliantly covers all of the meaningful elements of Chuck stories: pain, self-loathing, mistrust, redemption, self-forgiveness, growth, trust - without long dragged-out dark sections. Like I mentioned in a previous review and to build off the ideas of Arpad of the musical "She Loves Me," the fact that they've already spent two years being broken down and disassembled apart from one another allowed them to build each other up all the more quickly once they met.

Taking the story at face value, my urge would be to say that this level of dramatic character development is unrealistic for such a short time frame, but that would be ignoring the magic of the cliff scene. That chapter, set in Chuck's "secret spot," has become one of my favorite Chuck fanfiction scenes. It's beautiful: not only what occurs between them, but also how masterfully it's written. Magical things occur between Chuck and Sarah in almost every Chuck story, but it is rarely put into words and described so expertly. You broke down and explained the magic of Chuck moment by moment, line by line.

Another thing you did really well throughout the story was to show Sarah's internal battles. While this version of her is more resolute than the canon character, you captured her thought processes and emotional struggles in a way that felt natural and authentic, not overly processed. Getting to see Sarah's mind working in real-time is fascinating.

The rest of the plot was also executed well. It never distracted from the important character development at the center of the story; the plot served the development without seeming as if it was there *just* to serve the character development. It was intense, and the stakes were real, but it never got too carried away.

I really enjoyed this story. Thanks for writing!
1/1 c15 Dan Anderson
Forrest coming back is a great way to circle back and show how much things have changed for Sarah - to give her a chance to verbalize it all and contrast with the version of Sarah that met with Forrest at the beginning of the story. I also liked all the biblical references; it really elevated the text for me and tied her experiences to bigger things: emphasizing the import of her transformation.
1/1 c14 Dan Anderson
I really like Sarah's internal fight with herself at the stoplight. I had to read it over twice to understand it fully, but it captured many of the elements that make this story great.
1/1 c13 Dan Anderson
I'm glad the Shaw plotline wrapped up so quickly when it could have been needlessly dragged out. Sarah confronts her past, Sarah gets to save Chuck, Chuck gets to save Sarah, they grow closer - all in all a great chapter.
1/1 c12 Dan Anderson
It's nice to see a softer, gentler Carina. Also, it's one thing to trick Jeff and Lester, but tricking Shaw's a whole other thing. I forget if it actually worked, but I'm looking forward to finding out again!
12/30/2020 c10 Dan Anderson
I have no problem seeing Sarah try something like her original plan. It’s completely in line with her character. Even if she’s changed a lot over the course of the last few days, she’s nowhere close to being the Sarah Bartowski of late season 5 (at least before… you know…). The speed at which she and Chuck are able to talk things through and come to a better solution, even if it’s not an exact plan, is an impressive demonstration of her development in-and-of-itself.

While I’m fearful of the threat Shaw poses, it’ll be good to see the real Team Bartowski in action.
12/30/2020 c9 Dan Anderson
After the serious, emotional nature of the last chapter, Sarah’s question of whether she could ask Chuck to crawl through her door just to keep holding his hand put a huge smile on my face. :) That, and their little impromptu game show provided a nice relaxed breath from the deep stuff. Of course, you mixed in the deep stuff with “you’re definitely worth a shot, Chuck,” but it’s great to see humor and seriousness mixed into the same story. Too often, they’re exclusively independent. Speaking of funny, I love how naturally you convey Awesome over text. The way you weaved that into the story was fabulous. The only thing better was the interactions between him and Ellie at breakfast.

Sometimes I make realizations before characters; other times, I understand things long after they explain them. However, to be perfectly in sync with the character is rare, so it was a special experience as a reader to have the same realization about Sarah’s intimate trust in Chuck at the same time as she did. Not that I didn’t trust Chuck before, but I didn’t recognize the significance of her secret-sharing until it was mentioned - and there was no delay in the strike of understanding. I give all the credit to you for timing that so well.

After reading this chapter, I want Chuck as a life coach. I like how you demonstrate how well Chuck and Ellie know each other. I’m glad that Sarah has been finding value in Chuck as a friend first and foremost and hasn’t been consumed with lustful or romantic desires that, in excess, would only cheapen their deep connection. I’m sure they’ll have a wonderful romantic relationship, but it’s good to see that it’s built on a solid foundation of friendship.
12/30/2020 c8 Dan Anderson
I like that you changed Chuck’s “special place” to make this universe a bit more your own. It really sets this scene, this story, apart from the others and makes it memorable. There wasn’t much plot development to comment or speculate on, but that doesn’t make this chapter any less amazing. In the original series, the plot was fun, it was funny, it was entertaining, sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it, but what really makes the show so special to me was the meaningful character development. I would not love the show as much as I do if not for Chuck and Sarah’s long, difficult, and often heartbreaking journey to learn to love themselves and each other.

In this chapter, you capture a piece of that. In the show, it’s eventually clear that Chuck helps Sarah find the good in herself, but you do a fantastic job describing exactly *how* he guides her towards feeling worthy of redemption - something that’s never as explicit or concise on the show. Beyond how incredible Chuck’s methods are in general, two things stuck out to me. First, I appreciate that while Chuck, and his words, and his actions are transformative for Sarah, he recognizes that she’s the one that needs to realize and accept her innate goodness. Second, while this scene is a pivotal moment in Sarah’s development, I’m glad you acknowledge she needs lots of time to fully change how she sees herself - her growth is only beginning.

I guess there is one thing relating to the plot that I noticed. In canon, Sarah interacts with many men (Bryce, Shaw, Cole, etc.) that, in different ways, contrast with Chuck and reinforce how special he is. Chuck nor we as viewers get to see such blatant contrasts to Sarah in other women. All of the women either appear for too short a time to make a serious comparison (Carina, Forrest, Zondra, Amy) or live outside the spy world and so can’t be compared (Lou & Hannah). I really like how your version of Forrest gives Chuck a very clear (read polar) contrast to Sarah. He now has experience in the spy world and with a different female spy, adding validity to what he claims to see in Sarah.
12/30/2020 c6 Dan Anderson
Pretty textbook Ellie. Not much different than I would have imagined it myself. I’m again impressed at Chuck’s self-assuredness and Sarah’s openness, demonstrated in both word and emotion, but Casey’s level of contrition surprised me most. Two years playing “good cop” on Team Bartowski has served him well.
12/30/2020 c5 Dan Anderson
I feel bad for Sarah for Chuck’s tirade, but I think he was well within his rights to go off like that. Not only has he been forced to sacrifice his life for the government, but he’s also had to do it with Forrest’s harassment. The fact that Casey, of all people, is the most sympathetic friend he has in the spy world speaks to how miserable his situation is. (Not that I don’t love Casey, but he’s no Sarah when it comes to caring for Chuck and all his “lady feelings.”) When he could be suing the government, going into a serious depressive state, or lashing out even more violently against his handlers, old and new, I think his reaction to Sarah is very restrained given the anger he has every right to feel.

Both Chuck and Sarah are in unfair circumstances, and they both handle the situation remarkably. Already their relationship is off on a better foot than it did in the show. Because of the two years in the spy life, he’s more mature, and because she doesn’t have anything to lose, she’s more willing to be open and honest with him. In the canon storyline, they have to break each other down a little bit before they start to help each other heal and grow. I’m glad that it appears that they’re already prepared to grow together, and they didn’t have to go through the pain of the first 2.5 seasons together. It can only get better from here.

Being the one to reveal what really happened to Bryce and allowing him to tell Ellie and Morgan the truth are two strong marks in her favor for Chuck. If I didn’t know better, I would have pegged it as an attempt on her part to manipulate him into allowing her into his good graces.

I don’t envy Sarah and her responsibility to break the news to Ellie, but hopefully, Ellie’s hatred of Forrest will be greater than her hatred for the messenger.
12/29/2020 c4 Dan Anderson
There are a few characters, like Forrest and Shaw, that I don’t mind remaining rather simple and two dimensional. Forrest doesn’t have to be deeper because she never saw her assignment as anything more than a job.

Here we go! Now the real fun begins.
12/29/2020 c3 Dan Anderson
It’s reassuring to see Casey following his conscience and standing up for what’s right. In the show, Sarah was always standing up for Chuck, so he didn’t have to as much. With Forrest, he was sort of (willingly) ‘forced’ into that role because no one else was there to fill it.

I shudder as I try to imagine Chuck and Forrest pretending to be in a relationship.
12/29/2020 c2 Dan Anderson
There are many stories in which Sarah starts falling for Chuck as soon as she reads his file. I find that to be very unrealistic, and so I appreciate what you had her do here. On paper, Chuck Bartowski is a loser. Everything that makes him special and attractive can’t be included in a file; it takes interacting with Chuck to fall for him. Even if she has a bit of respect for him, it’s after reading two year’s worth of detailed reports.
12/29/2020 c1 Dan Anderson
This is a fascinating premise, especially when the event that changes the storyline is a random accident. I’m fascinated to see if her two years off active duty has forced her to fester in her self hatred and deepen it or if the break from killing has allowed her to heal slowly.

Sarah’s initial belief that Agent Forrest wouldn’t be a good match for someone of Bartowski’s “disposition and personality” is curious, if only because it implies that Sarah believed she herself *would* be a good match. While they obviously end up being a good match, I wouldn’t expect the Ice Queen Enforcer to see herself as being particularly compatible with Chuck.

I’m excited to see that Casey has grown to care for Chuck and his “lady feelings” even under the command of Agent Forrest and without Sarah (or, at least, that’s what’s being implied.)

Finally, the conditions of her assignment are about as perfect as can be. The fact that she’s being retired after the conclusion of her time with Chuck removes so many of the barriers that the two of them faced in the show. She no longer has to choose between her career and a relationship with Chuck: her career is essentially over.
9/21/2020 c16 11sachaelle
beautiful story, an good exploration on a what might have been. Now am left asking about the coulpe of plot from canon that you left open. The 1 is Ricker dead? When you had Sarah telling the story i seem to remenber her telling Chuck he was, but in this chapter you said that its not safe enough to contact Emma. What about Frost & Orion? Did Chuck never found out about his dad, & mum? And now the end you got me wanting a series of 1 shot of the kids growing up & Chuck & Sarah parenting, the 1 boyfriend/girlfriend ...
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