A/N What'sso Important that Casey is willing to bother Chuck when he's in the Coding Zone. And why the hell did Alex run out of the office like that. What's so urgent? Would Boris really kill Chuck? Geez, this soexciting, I'm gonna need popcorn for this next bit. Have fun, and don't forget to write.

A Heart Torn

A Charah Tale

By Lord Rapier

Edited and guided by CliffM

Chapter 24:

Speak of the Devil,

and She Shall Appear

Sarah walks out of Chuck's office feeling exceptionally hopeful. I have an amazing husband. I'm starting to believe there's nothing he can't do. Hell, he made me fall in love, for real. That's his greatest feat of all. Sarah is deep in thought as she passes Mrs. Sawyer's desk.

"Ms. Walker are you okay?"

Sarah realizes that she walked right past the Office Manager... Snapping out of her reverie, "Oh, Mrs. Sawyer sorry, I was lost in thought."

Mrs. Sawyer seems concerned, "Are you okay Ms. Walker?"

Sarah smiles, "I am Mrs. Sawyer, I am very okay." She lowers her voice to a whisper, "I was just thinking how much I love my husband. He's quite remarkable you know. I'm an incredibly lucky woman." Mrs. Sawyer smiles.

Sarah takes a deep breath and lets it out, "Mr. Bartowski has gone down the computer rabbit hole. Perhaps it would be best not to let anyone disturb him. I'll be in my office. I have an important call to make. Would you mind contacting Mrs. Grimes and asking her to meet me there?"

Mrs. Sawyer picks up the phone, "I'd be happy to. However, you will be going right past her office on the way to yours."

Sarah nods, "Right, right, still figuring things out. Never mind then, I'll just stop in."

Sarah starts down the corridor, then suddenly turns back and approaches Mrs. Sawyer's desk. "Mrs. Sawyer, I never said thank you for taking my calls while I was gone. I mean other than hearing my sad story you didn't know who I was. More importantly, thank you for looking after my Chuck when I couldn't. He loves you a lot, did you know that?"

"What's wrong with you people? Are you having a contest to see who can make me cry the most? Mrs. Grimes filled me in, told me to expect and accept your calls." Mrs. Sawyer pulls out her hanky and dabs her eyes. "I love him too, how could I not. Go on, make your call, I have work to do."

Sarah smiles and resumes the walk to her office. She passes Morgan in the corridor. He has a big smile on his face. He sees Sarah, runs up, and gives her a big hug. Sarah is startled. "Hi Morgan… what's new?"

Morgan steps back, "What's new? What's new? Why Mrs. Bartowski, you're what's new. Since you've returned to us everything is better. Chuck is better, Dad is better, and let me tell you Alex is waaaay better. Whew! Seems to me, things are looking up."

Morgan walks away singing, "Grey skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face. Brush off the clouds and cheer up, put on a happy face…" Morgan is still singing when he gets out of eyesight. Sarah laughs as she stares after him.

Alex hears the commotion and sticks her head out of her door, "What's going on? I heard singing."

Sarah is still laughing, "It would appear that something made your husband very happy."

Alex gets red in the face, "Hmmm, I can't imagine what that could have been."

Sarah looks Alex in the face, there's a momentary freeze, then they both start laughing.

Sarah takes Alex by the hand, "Come on, we need to call Joyce."

Alex is pulled along, "Joyce, who the hell is Joyce?"

Sarah is coy when she answers, "Joyce is a friend of mine. She also happens to be married to the President."

Alex stops short, pulling Sarah back by her hand. "The First Lady, you call her Joyce?"

Sarah shrugs, "What else would I call her, that's her name? Come on, we have a wedding to plan. Didn't Morgan tell you?" Sarah starts toward her office again.

Alex stops and pulls her back again, "Tell me what? About my Dad?" Alex smiles, "Oh yeah we discussed that, at length."

Sarah laughs as she starts towards her office again. "No! That we're getting married at the White House."

Alex stops her again, "In Washington? That White House?"

Sarah looks at her exasperated, "Well not if you keep stopping me. Come on The First Lady is already pissed at me for not calling. At this rate I'll be a grandmother before I get to the phone."

Alex pulls her back one more time, "Let me get this straight. You want me, to help you plan your wedding at the White House, with the First Lady?"

Sarah gives up and turns to Alex, "Yes Alex, we told you all this. The wedding is right after your father's ceremony. Would it help if I told you in Italian or Polish?"

Alex stares at Sarah, "What ceremony?"

Sarah stares at Alex, "You just spent two hours with Morgan, didn't he tell you anything?"

Alex smiles and shrugs, "We didn't do much talking."

Sarah takes her hand again, "Come on, your Dad is getting the Medal of Honor. The wedding will be right after."

Alex smacks the side of her own head, "Oh yeah, Morgan did tell me, about the medal part."

Finally at Sarah's office, Alex looks around at the walls covered in all the pictures Sarah brought back from Italy. She whistles, "Do you think you have enough pictures of Chuck?"

Sarah smiles, "Never enough, those pictures have a special meaning to me. They used to make me cry, now they make me smile. Thanks to you, I'm okay with that. Now come on enough dawdling. One of the things you have to help me figure out is who's my Matron of honor, you, or Ellie, and how do I honor the other one. To be honest, I'd like it to be you, but I think you understand what's going on."

Alex nods, "I get it. With all the politics in play it's fitting you're getting married In Washington. It may actually take an act of congress to get Ellie to the wedding."

Sarah sits down, pulls out the card with Joyce's number on it and dials. "You haven't heard the best part. Tomorrow, we're going to tell Ellie that we're already married. Watch the news reports for volcanic eruptions in Chicago."

Alex's eyebrows go up, as the speaker on Sarah's desk comes alive. "This is the First Lady's private line. How can I help you?"

Sarah clears her throat, "Um, could you please tell The First Lady that Sarah is calling?"

The receptionist respond's, "One moment please, I'll see if she's available."

All of a sudden, the phone speaker erupts. "Sarah, well it's about damn time. Took a Presidential command to get you to call me," she laughs. "How are you, Honey? We miss you and Chuck. Don't tell my boys, but I think Frank wants to adopt you two."

Sarah laughs with her, "I'm fine Joyce, I'm sorry it took so long for me to call. I'd like to introduce you to my Sister-in-Law, Alex Grimes."

Joyce is jovial, "Sarah don't worry about it, I'm sure you and Chuck had to hit the ground running. I'm just glad to hear your voice. Grimes as in Morgan's wife? Frank was quite impressed with your husband. It's a pleasure to meet you, wish it could be in person."

Alex's voice is shaky, "It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance Madam First Lady."

Joyce's voice goes up, "Sarah, who the hell is she talking to? My name is Joyce, young lady and don't you forget it. That's quite an impressive family you have there. I'll bet you're enormously proud of your dad. I've been told just a few of the things he's done to help others. He's an incredibly good man. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I got to spend with him."

Alex wipes a tear from her eye, the tears apparent in her voice, "Yes Ma'am, I'm very proud of him. He's a wonderful man. You met my dad?"

Joyce sighs, "I did, and I can't wait to meet you in person. Now let's get down to business. Sarah any thoughts on the wedding? I'm sorry it can't be in the Rose Garden, but the White House Chapel is beautiful. Sweetheart, I'm going to make the State Dining Room look like a fairyland."

Sarah is excited, she finally gets to plan her wedding, "Joyce before anything else I have to tell you, your plan is brilliant. We can have all our friends and family there and still maintain cover. You, Madam First Lady, are a genius."

Joyce sighs, "Pshaw, when you've been married to a politician as long as I have, you learn to think on your feet. Now tell me, do you have a theme in mind?"

Sarah looks at Alex and takes a deep breath, "Yes Ma'am I do. Please don't laugh."

Chuck is finishing up a bit of coding when the intercom buzzes, "Yes Mrs. S."

Mrs. Sawyer responds, "Mr. Casey is here Boss, with a guest."

Chuck responds, "I hope this is important, I was in the zone. Let's have him."

Casey walks in, closes the door behind him, sits in a chair and puts his feet on Chuck's desk. "Hi Boss, you up for a surprise?"

Chuck closes his laptop, "John, haven't I had enough surprises recently?"

Casey smiles wide, "Oh! You're gonna like this one, Bartowski. We caught a trespasser trying to get in the building."

Chuck looks at him like he's crazy, "Why would you bother me with this? I'm in the middle of something important."

Casey leans over the desk and presses the intercom button, "Bring her in boys."

The door opens and two armed men walk a tall, redheaded woman into the office. She's dressed in black from neck to toe, her hands are cuffed behind her back.

Chuck looks up, "You have got to be shittin' me. Carina frickin' Miller. SERIOUSLY!"

Chuck falls back into his chair, "Speak of the devil and she shall appear." Casey is laughing his ass off.

Chuck looks up at Carina, "What the hell are you doing in my office?"

Carina turns her back to show her cuffed hands, "Well right now I'm feeling very uncomfortable. Johnny put these things on really tight."

Chuck nods, "I'm sorry for your discomfort. I'm sure the police will remove them before they put you in your cell." Chuck reaches for the phone.

Carina takes a step forward, the two men at her side yank her back, "Chuck come on, I'm just doing what Walker told me to do."

Chuck takes his hand off the phone. "Sarah told you to break into my offices. Excuse me a moment." Chuck picks up his cell phone and sends a text. "Okay go on I'm listening."

Sarah's phone chimes, "Oh darn, Joyce I'm sorry to cut this short, I just got a text from Chuck. He needs me right away. I promise I'll call you next week."

Joyce is alarmed, "I hope he's okay. I have enough to get started. When you get a chance E- Mail me a guest list, so I have a rough number. Alex nice to meet you. We'll talk again soon. Bye." The call ends.

Sarah gets up, "Come on Alex, Chuck wants us in his office, now. He said to bring Morgan. You know, what you heard in here is a secret. Chuck can't know. Which means Morgan can't know."

Alex pulls out her cell and texts Morgan as they run towards Chuck's office. "Finally, I get to be in on the secret and they're not. Yes!"

Chuck leans forward resting on his arms with a big smile on his face as Carina starts, "Any chance we can talk without these handcuffs?"

Chuck nods, "They'll come off soon enough. When, I'm sure that you're doing what Sarah told you to do. Please, fill us in."

Casey pulls out an unlit cigar and puts in in his mouth, he shakes his head and laughs. "This oughta be good."

Carina smiles, "Chuck I'm sorry. I know that you and Sarah are on the outs, and you can't confirm this. Sarah told me that if I make a bold gesture and break into your office, to show you what I'm capable of. You might give me a position."

Chuck nods, "Trust me Carina I know very well what you're capable of. Why would you need a job from me, you're DEA?"

Carina shuffles her feet, "I got tired of the bureaucracy, and I remembered how much fun we had working together."

There's a knock at the door, Chuck yells "Come in." The door opens behind Carina's back. She starts to turn, the guards holding her arms don't allow it. "Go on Carina you were explaining that Sarah told you to break in, and you're sorry I can't confirm it with her."

Sarah is standing behind Carina in the open doorway, her jaw drops.

Carina is feeling confident, "That's right I spoke with her not two days ago. She told me to fly here to Burbank and do something to impress you."

Chuck sighs, "I really miss Sarah, I wish there were some way, I could talk to her. I know! If I take the cuffs off, would you call her for me? Maybe you could convince her to take me back?"

Carina starts to get nervous, "Um, look Chuck, it would be wrong for me to get involved in your personal business. I'm just looking for a job."

Chuck nods, "That's very considerate of you Carina. Tell you what, let me call General Beckman and verify your clearance…"

Carina interrupts, "Come on Chuck, I never worked for Beckman, I'm DEA."

Chuck stands up and walks around to the front of his desk he leans against it and folds his arms in front of his chest. "Right, you're DEA. Tell you what, my other partners have arrived, let's see what they say."

Carina acts excited, "Is Martin here. Wow, I miss that little guy."

From behind her a female voice shouts out, "HIS NAME IS MORGAN, you ignorant ho."

Alex walks around to stand in front of Carina. She's breathing hard, "Boss let me hit her, just once."

Chuck laughs, "Alex, she's handcuffed, that wouldn't be sporting."

Carina stiffens when she hears a familiar voice from behind her, "Then take the cuffs off and let me hit her."

Sarah walks around and stands in front of Carina. She's clearly pissed. She points her finger in Carina's face, "I told you to stay the hell away from CI, and from Chuck."

Carina smiles and shrugs her shoulders, "Hi Sarah, nice to see you. Come on, you can't blame a girl for trying. Hey, you're the one who lied to me. You told me you weren't on speaking terms with your ex."

Everyone in the room laughs, except Carina. Chuck stands up, "Guys, uncuff her. Thanks for your help, you can go."

One of the guards uncuffs Carina, they leave the room as she rubs her wrists.

Chuck walks around behind his desk and sits in his chair. Sarah follows and sits on his lap. She leans down and kisses him, "That's right Carina, I'm a big fat liar."

Chuck points to the empty chair next to Casey, "Sit."

Carina slowly walks over and sits. Casey sits up, "Okay, enough with the games, what are we gonna do with her?"

Carina smiles, "Well Johnny…"

Chuck interrupts her, "CARINA, SHUT UP. The only reason you're not on your way to jail right now, is sitting on my lap. I have a strong suspicion, that obstacle is slowly fading. You'll speak when you're told to. You just sit and listen. If you say something I don't like, off to jail you go. If that doesn't get your attention, let me inform you we have government contracts. I'm willing to bet we could arrange a cozy cell in a federal facility.

Carina sits back in her chair, hands in her lap.

Chuck stares at her, his distaste apparent, "Okay folks this is your time to chime in, before I make my decision."

Everybody starts screaming at him at once, "Are you crazy? What are you thinking? She needs to be in jail. She's a liar."

Chuck waves his hands, "Enough, one at a time."

Casey jumps up, "Do you have any idea what kind of trouble she could cause? Need I mention, she would enjoy causing it? Boss you can't possibly be considering letting her go free, much less hiring her."

Alex leans over the desk and gets in Chuck's face, "You know damn well she'll try to get between me and Morgan, probably you and Sarah as well." Alex lets out a heavy sigh, "I know you Chuck, you're gonna do the right thing. No matter what I say. However, for the record, I don't much care for her."

Morgan is quiet. Chuck looks at him, "Morgan?"

Morgan takes a deep breath, he looks down for a moment, then at Chuck, "I trust you to make the right decision. You always do."

Chuck smiles, "Thanks Pal. Sarah?"

Sarah sighs, "Morgan is right, you haven't steered any of us wrong yet. Please be careful on this one."

Chuck smiles and leans over to kiss her, "Thanks Sweetheart."

Chuck sits for a moment and looks each person in the eye, "Is there anyone who wants to question my judgement? Including you, Carina."

Chuck sits back, the room remains quiet. Carina speaks up, "I don't seem to have a lot of choice. You're the Boss. I'll trust you too."

Chuck nods, "Carina I'm going to give you a fair shot. A trial by combat. You win you get a job. You lose I do whatever I want with you. And no Carina that is not sexual." Everyone laughs.

Carina considers his offer, "Whatever you want? Sexual or not, that's pretty broad."

Chuck nods, "It is. Take it or leave it."

Carina nods, "Sounds like I'm gonna take it. Who am I fighting?"

Chuck lifts Sarah up so he can stand, she takes his chair. He paces around the office in thought. "You pick. Me or Sarah."

Carina looks at him, "Come on Chuck, that's not fair. If I pick Sarah, I could lose. If I pick you, it's a sure win. But then I look bad, and I beat up the boss." Sarah gives Chuck a dirty look.

Chuck nods, "I hear you. Nevertheless, it's your choice."

Carina shrugs, "Fine. I pick you."

Sarah jumps up, "CHUCK, NO! She's not Zondra, she won't stop."

Casey stands up, "Sarah, you just told Chuck he knows what he's doing. Trust him."

Sarah looks Chuck in the eye. She walks over to him and puts her hand behind his head to pull him in for a kiss, "Please Baby, be careful."

Chuck smiles, "You know I will."

Chuck walks over to Alex, "Would you give me just one minute? We'll be right out."

Alex looks at him, "Excluding me again?"

Chuck opens the door, "I have to say something that might hurt you. I don't want to hurt you. It's your choice, you can stay if you want."

Alex hugs Chuck, "Thanks, I'll be right out here."

Chuck walks back in, "Carina, I'm giving you a shot. Mention one word of what happened between you and my partners, at any time going forward, and the offer is off the table. This is your chance to prove that Sarah was right, that you can learn to be a part of this team. Prove her wrong. Hurt someone I love. Sow any discord in my company. Violate my trust in you, in any way. I will make you disappear."

Carina is shocked, "Sarah who is this guy? This is not the screw up nerd I used to steal that diamond." Carina nods, "Okay, I hear you. However, don't think that just because you're back with Sarah I'm gonna to go easy on you."

Chuck offers his hand, "Deal." Carina shakes the offered hand. "John, show her to the gym. Help her get ready. We'll be down shortly."

Casey and Carina leave. "Morgan, how ya doin?"

Morgan shrugs, "I'm good Buddy. A little worried, but I trust you."

Chuck walks him to the door, "Thanks Buddy, you always have my back. Keep Alex company. We'll meet you all in the gym, shortly."

Morgan leaves and closes the door. Sarah immediately turns to Chuck, "Hon, she won't stop. You'll have to beat her down."

Chuck smiles sadly, "I know."

Sarah strokes his cheek, "Are you sure you'll be okay with that?"

Chuck takes her in his arms, "I'm sure I wouldn't be okay with turning my back on your friend. I wouldn't be okay with sending her to jail. She did stand with us against Decker. I'm hoping that if I can't earn her respect, that I can earn her fear."

Sarah hugs him tight, "Baby, she won't fight fair. I'm worried you'll get hurt."

Chuck looks into her eyes, "Sarah, the only thing that could hurt me, is thinking that I disappointed you, or God forbid if I lost you. I couldn't survive that. Everything else is no biggie. Trust me?"

Sarah smiles, "I do."

Chuck smiles and touches her nose with his finger, "Remember those words, you'll need them again, soon." Sarah smiles

Chuck and Sarah arrive at the gym, Carina is stretching. Chuck walks to the mat. Carina looks around at the equipment on the shelves, "I'll understand if you want to use the padding."

Chuck smiles, "That's very kind of you, but I think I'll be okay." He takes off his shoes and socks and does some stretching. He removes his shirt, walks to the center of the mat, and stands still.

Carina steps in front of him and starts bouncing, "I see you've been working out. I promise I'll make this quick and as painless as possible."

Chuck does a slight bow, keeping his eyes on Carina. He's baiting her. His gambit pays off when her foot comes straight up heading for his crotch. He quickly steps to the side. His hand comes out and pushes against the bottom of her ankle causing her foot to continue its upward motion.

Carina is lifted off the floor and lands on her back with a loud "OOF." Chuck steps away and lets her get back on her feet. She approaches him. Her leg swings around, her foot aimed at Chuck's head. He ducks and shoves against the back of her leg pushing her further than she wanted, causing her to come to rest, her back to him.

She's pissed as she turns to face Chuck, a puzzled look on her face. She steps in and starts throwing punches and kicks, Chuck blocks every single one. Chuck stays calm, letting her tire herself out, fighting herself for quite some time. She leaves an opening, and Chuck hits her forcefully in the solar plexus with an open palm. It knocks her back three feet.

Carina is confused, she's had the wind knocked out of her and is struggling to catch her breath. Thinking, how the hell is he doing this, he's a nerd. I thought he won't hit girls.

Chuck smiles, "Are you okay, do you need a moment?"

Carina shakes her head, and runs at Chuck, she leaps, aiming her right foot at his chest. Chuck deftly side steps and hits her inner thigh with his fingertips. Carina screams out as she lands. Reaching down she rubs her leg where she got hit. She can feel the charley horse settling in. She stands, favoring her injured leg. She slowly approaches Chuck. He looks sympathetic, off guard. She drops and brings her leg around to sweep his legs, trying to make him trip. He leaps up allowing her leg to pass underneath him. His bare foot comes down on her left ankle. She screams in pain.

Chuck steps back and stands quietly waiting. Sarah steps out onto the mat, "Carina, this has been going on for close to an hour. Please stop this. He doesn't want to hurt you." Chuck looks at Casey.

Casey steps out and pulls Sarah back, "Trust him, he knows what he's doing."

Carina is writhing on the floor, holding her ankle. She looks up to see Chuck staring at her. He's feeling her pain, she sees pity. Pulling herself to her feet, she limps over to Chuck and throws a punch. Its slow and weak. He knows she's beaten, she doesn't. He blocks the punch and steps back. Carina follows him, limping, grimacing in pain with every step. She throws another punch. This time Chuck blocks it and slaps her hard across the face. The sound of the slap echoes in the large room.

Sarah turns and buries her face in Casey's chest, crying. "He's going to hate himself for this."

Carina stares at him, her face bright red, stinging. Her green eyes, filled with tears, glowing with anger. She rushes at Chuck. He stands his ground and hits her in the nose with a left jab. Her head snaps back. Her body follows and she falls backwards on to the mat, blood gushing from her nose. Chuck looks down at her, "Are you done yet?" Carina shakes her head.

Chuck nods, "Morgan, Alex please help her up."

Morgan shakes his head, "Chuck, she's had enough."

Chuck looks at Morgan, "I know, but that needs to be her decision. Please help her up."

Morgan and Alex help her stand, she can barely put her left foot on the floor.

Chuck walks around her, making her limp, as she tries to keep him in front of her. She whimpers with every step. Chuck speaks softly, kindly, "These people can barely tolerate your presence. You've screwed over everyone in here. They want me to stop. For some reason you want me to keep going, Why?"

Carina looks at him and wipes the blood from her mouth, "I don't need your damn pity. Come on nerd boy, I can still kick your ass."

Chuck steps up to Carina, she can barely lift her arm. Chuck blocks her weak punch. Carina collapses against his chest. He caresses her head with his hand, her blood running down his chest. "Carina, what you're seeing isn't pity, it's kindness and compassion. None of us want to see you getting hurt. You're not a spy anymore. Would it be okay if we love you?"

Carina starts to cry and falls to her knees holding on to Chuck's legs to stay up.

Chuck looks at Sarah, "Hon, are you okay?"

Tears are running down her face, "I'm okay. I'm worried about you."

Chuck smiles, "I'm fine. Maybe you and Alex will help Carina into the shower and find her something clean to wear. I'll be in my office, after I clean up. If she needs medical attention let Mrs. Sawyer know, she'll call someone in. If not, I'll see all of you in my office, in say half an hour. Use the private elevator. Take more time if you need it, don't rush her."

Sarah comes over to hug Chuck. Then she and Alex help Carina stand and hobble to the locker room.

Casey looks at Chuck and shakes his head, "Do you still think I call you, Boss, just to piss you off? You okay, you need any help?"

Chuck smiles and picks up his clothes, "Not today, maybe next week. Morgan, how ya doin?"

Morgan just stares at Chuck, "Pal, I didn't know you could do that." He imitates the "flash face". "I mean without the you know what."

Chuck laughs, "What did you think I was doing down here with John for all those hours, playing Call of Duty?"

Casey laughs, "Yep, that's exactly what we were doing."

Morgan is sheepish when he asks, "Dad will you teach me? I'd really like to know how to protect my family."

Casey smiles, "Damn, it's about time. I like that you finally found the balls to tell me to shut up. But if you think I'm gonna train you enough, so you can beat me, guess again." The three of them laugh as they walk to the elevator.

Chuck goes up to his apartment, grabs a quick shower and changes his clothes. Walking towards the door to leave, he's surprised when it opens, and Sarah comes in. She rushes over to him and throws her arms around him. He holds her gently, "I'm okay, freaking out not required."

Sarah stretches her neck to kiss him. She nestles her face against his chest. "I didn't think it possible for anyone to be so kind, in such a brutal manner. You did it Hon, you did it. She couldn't say it, but she wants what you offered her. I could tell. She thanked me for standing up for her. She was beaten to a pulp, and she thanked me. She even thanked Alex for helping her in the shower."

Chuck rests his chin on Sarah's head. "She's lucky to have a friend like you. Is she okay?"

Sarah holds him tight, "She'll live. She's lucky to have friends like us. Sweetheart, are you going to be okay with what happened?"

Chuck sighs, "I guess we'll find out, to be honest, I hope not. At least I have you to hold me if I'm hurting. Now comes the fun part. Telling the others what I have in mind. They probably think I'm going to send her to jail."

Sarah picks her head up to look at him. "You aren't? What are you going to do?"

Chuck laughs, "Come, let's go to my office and you'll find out, I know you love surprises."

Sarah looks at him, "I hate… oh, you know that. Well come on don't keep me waiting."

They walk out the door and into the elevator.

When Chuck and Sarah arrive in his office, Casey, Morgan, Alex, and Carina are waiting for him. Carina is sitting in the chair directly opposite Chuck's, wearing sweats. The words Carmichael Industries imprinted over the left breast. Casey is sitting next to her. Alex and Morgan are on the couch to the right of Chuck's desk. Carina is holding a cold pack against her nose. Her face is black and blue, her nose swollen. She's sitting with her left foot up on a small table, it's swollen and black and blue as well. Sarah walks in and sits in Chuck's chair. Carina's chin is on her chest when he walks in. Chuck walks around to the front of his desk and gets on his knees. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I hope someday you'll forgive me."

Carina lifts her head, "Nothing to forgive Chuck, you beat me fair and square. Surprised the hell out of me, but you beat me. What I may not forgive is that you made me cry. In front of everyone, that…" She lets out a heavy sigh and tears start to roll down her cheeks "…pissed me off. But it felt surprisingly good. Things have been a little rough for me lately."

Chuck nods, stands up walks behind his desk, "Hon, would you mind if I have my chair?" Sarah stands up and Chuck sits, she starts to walk around to the other chair in front of the desk. Chuck grabs her wrist, "Could you stay here Hon? I may need a bodyguard." Sarah gives him a weird look, shrugs her shoulders, and stands at his side.

Carina pushes herself to stand, grimacing at the pain, "Okay, you won, when will the police be here?"

Chuck laughs, "I hope never."

Carina and everybody else stares at him in surprise. Carina sputters, "But you said if you beat me, I go to jail."

Chuck shakes his head, "No, I said if I beat you, I could do whatever I want with you. I'm giving you a job."

The room erupts in shouts, from everyone but Sarah. Chuck can't make out what anyone is saying, but he knows that they're pissed. He sits back and holds Sarah's hand while he waits for them to calm down. He looks up at Sarah, "Everybody is yelling at me Sweetheart. Do you think it's something I said?" Sarah laughs.

The room quiets, Chuck continues, "At least wait for this next part, then you can get all the yelling out of the way at once. Alex, I would appreciate if you would allow Carina to spend the weekend with you, Morgan, and the boys."

Alex jumps up, "Are you out of your frigging mind?"

Chuck stays calm, "Carina sit, relax, get that foot up." Carina sits back down. "Alex, she's hurt. She has no one. Sarah and I will be in Chicago for the weekend. When we get back, she'll stay with us while she heals. I thought it might be nice to give the boys a crack at her. Maybe let them work their magic."

Carina puts her palm up towards Alex, "You realize I'm in the room? I do have a say in what happens to me."

Sarah looks at her, "Do you?" Carina stares at her. Sarah continues, "Looking to improvise again. Go ahead, that always works out well for you. Not so much for the people around you. Keep in mind, this is it. Chuck is offering you a chance to be part of our team. Turn it down and I'm done with you."

Carina is deflated as she sits back in the chair, "Fine, I have no say."

Chuck turns towards Alex and Morgan, "I know I didn't discuss it with you. It is your home, your family. Would you like to step outside and talk it over?"

Morgan turns to look at Alex, he does a slight shrug with his shoulders. She looks in his eyes, then turns to Chuck. "Fine, but if she does anything, I don't like, to any of my boys. I'll kill the bitch, myself."

Chuck nods, "Alex, I have no doubt. Carina, do you have a doubt?" Carina shakes her head. Chuck claps his hands, "Good, then lodging is dealt with. Here comes the part where I piss off Sarah."

Sarah turns to look at him, "Excuse me."

Chuck smiles at her, and quietly (in his Russian accent), "Be nice to Boris, yes?" Sarah shakes her head and laughs.

Chuck leans forward and talks to Carina. "Carina, you'll be training my new operatives. You'll teach them to be assholes. How to improvise and how to stuff their feelings deep inside until it hurts. Alex will be working with you to create the curriculum. Her job will be to teach them how to balance what you teach them, with our company standards. I want them to learn how to mitigate what you teach them and be whole people.

Morgan will be screening and following up with the candidates. This will fall into Casey's department, and he'll oversee the whole shebang. That means you'll learn how to be part of the team, or you'll learn how to make sandwiches at Subway.

Sarah, I hope you won't mind helping Alex cover her department while she gets things up and running. She may also want your support in creating the training program. It's all part of rotating you through the departments. All the partners can fill in for each other. Except cyber, seems I'm the only one interested."

Oh, and one more thing. Any damage she causes or costs she incurs, including legal, will come out of your end. Your friend, your liability." Sarah's jaw drops.

Carina looks at Sarah, "What'd you do to him? He's become a real dick." Everyone laughs.

Sarah walks over and kneels near Carina, takes her hand. "What Boris…," Chuck laughs, Sarah gives him a dirty look, "…I mean Chuck, is trying to do, is save your life. Carina, he's doing this as much for me, as he is for you. He knows I love you. He wants you to succeed. He wants you to be in our family, to feel loved. Believe it or not, this is him improvising."

Carina shakes her head, "I don't know, this whole family thing is feeling a little cultish, but I'll give it a try." She turns to her right, "Casey you've been awful quiet, are you okay with this?"

Casey grunts, "There's a reason we call him Boss. Learn to respect him or I'll kick your ass."

Carina holds her hands up, "Whoa, my ass has been kicked quite enough for one day, maybe enough for a year. Chuck where did you learn those moves? I never laid a hand on you."

Chuck laughs, "Morgan and I have watched Karate Kid like a hundred times. Mr. Miyagi taught me everything I know. Carina there's still a couple of things you need to keep in mind. While you're healing, you'll be restricted to our residence. Once you start working, you'll have access to the gym, the locker room, the classroom, and the breakroom. If you need to go anywhere else, it will be with Alex, Casey, or Sarah. If you're caught anywhere alone, other than those areas, you will be immediately arrested and turned over to the FBI. I'm creating these boundaries, so you know where you stand. Any questions?" Carina shakes her head.

Chuck speaks like a TV pitchman, "But wait, there's more. If you hurt any of our operatives through negligence or meanness, you'll face me in the gym again. Carina listenclosely, if you hurt any of the people I love, in any way. What happened to you today, will feel like a walk in the park. That's assuming I get to you before Casey. Now, Carina Miller, you have a choice, you can accept these terms, or we'll call you a cab. I won't hurt Sarah by throwing you in jail, this time. Carina if you leave, don't come back, don't reach out. You're on your own."

Carina looks at Sarah still kneeling at her side. Sarah stands up and walks over to stand next to Chuck.

Carina nods her head, "I accept your terms." She takes a deep breath, "Okay, I'm not a spy anymore, so maybe you should know my name, it's Gretchen, Gretchen Fager."

Chuck smiles, "That's a good start, thank you Gretchen. Sarah, would you mind running Gretchen over to our Doctor's office. Take the Mustang. Mrs. Sawyer has the address. I'd like you to get that ankle X-rayed. Then get her over to the Grimes' home. That'll give you two a chance to catch up a little. Don't forget we have to pack to catch an early flight. Alex and Morgan, can you think of any reason you shouldn't have the rest of the day off? I know I'm exhausted."

Morgan offers, "Well Chuck there are those …"

Alex puts her hand on his arm, "Morgan, we have to get the guestroom ready for Carina, and there are those new clothes I bought."

Morgan jumps up, "My crew will keep working on that vetting. I authorized overtime. They'll stay on it till it's done. See you Monday Chuck. Sarah have a nice time in Chicago, we gotta go."

Chuck and Sarah laugh, Casey scowls and grunts.

Sarah walks them to the door, "Yeah, I'm sure I'll have a great time in Chicago. I'd rather face Chuck in the gym." Everyone laughs. Sarah hugs them, "Love you both, have a great weekend and kiss my boyfriends for me." Alex and Morgan head out.

Sarah walks back to Carina/Gretchen, "Come on Gretchen, let's get you looked at, you know he went easy on you, right?"

Gretchen limps to the door with Sarah's help, "That was easy? Holy shit, I'm going to be soooo good." Sarah laughs as they leave, closing the door behind them.

Chuck looks at Casey, cigar in his mouth. He pushes a button, and a ventilator fan begins to whirr. "Go on, but let's not make it a habit."

Casey lights his cigar and relishes his first puff. Chuck looks at him, "That's it, nothing to say?"

Casey exhales and lets out a big cloud of smoke, "What's to say, you already know you're fucking insane."

Chuck laughs, "Thanks General. I know. But it's always nice to get a professional opinion."

It's clear that Casey would rather smoke his cigar than talk, "I'm sure you figured out. This could affect our clearance."

Chuck puts his feet up on his desk, "Yeah, I considered that. One mission at a time. You knew what I was going to do before I said a word."

Casey nods, "Yep, doesn't mean it wasn't fucking insane."

Chuck laughs again, "I was kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. She's Sarah's friend."

Casey waves his cigar at Chuck, "I know, and you know if she does anything to hurt my kids, I'll end her."

Chuck sighs, "I know. She's on a short leash."

Casey stands up and heads for the door. He talks with his back to Chuck, "You're a good man Bartowski. I'm glad I know you."

Casey walks out and Chuck can hear Mrs. Sawyer through the closing door, "Mr. Casey get that disgusting thing away from me." The door swings shut, as Chuck laughs.

A/N Well,I hope this satisfies all you folks asking for a Carina story, oops I mean that she's part of the team, you may be seeing more of her. On the other hand, if she can't hack it as a member of Team Bartowski… Let's just say if you're in the Burbank area and stop into a Subway, don't be surprised if you see a tall redhead making sandwiches.

Ned, buddy, I know this isn't exactly what you wanted, but at least you got to see Chuck hug Carina.

Just a reminder, If you're on Facebook, checkout The Chuck Book Club: Lord Rapier. Chat with other readers and let's talk plot, I would love to discuss the deeper meanings of AHT. It's all free.