g0shawk: (Chuck)
[personal profile] g0shawk
Title: Five Times Chuck Hugged Casey, and One Time He Didn’t
Author: g0shawk
Fandom: Chuck
Pairing/s: Chuck/Casey, (a little Chuck/Sarah)
Rating: PG-13
Word count: 8,310
Warnings: Spoilers for seasons 1 & 2!
Disclaimers: I don't own Chuck or its characters, etc.
Summary: Like most things that seem like good ideas at the time, it started with a contest.
Notes: I’ve switched around the order of some events, and some things didn’t happen. Should be easy enough to figure out, though. Gets a bit AU at the end, I guess.

 




~***~***~***~


Like most things that seem like good ideas at the time, it started with a contest. As if working at the Buy More wasn’t strange enough already, Morgan decided that the employees needed to play games to keep up morale. Not normal games, though. No, they had to be unique. So, akin to Truth or Dare, without the option of Truth, the employees at the Buy More were now involved in a competitive hugging game. Yes, hugging. Chuck wouldn’t be surprised if people came to the Buy More instead of going to the zoo.

The rules of the game were that someone would point at a customer, or other employee, and then the others would pick who had to hug that person. Already there had been an extremely uncomfortable hug between Anna and Jeff, and a slightly terrifying experience involving Lester and a large woman with a very heavy purse.

At the moment, most of the green shirts and nerd-herders were standing around staring and pointing at the customers, trying to decide who would be the next unwitting participant. Chuck was reasonably sure the odd looks they were getting meant more than a few people wouldn’t be returning.

“Guys, this really isn’t good for business,” Chuck said.

They ignored him, and continued to whisper to each other.

Casey walked into the store. He stalked down the aisle, glaring at any customer who looked like they were going to approach him. One man ducked out of his way so fast that he tripped and fell into a CD display.

“Oh,” Morgan said, noticing Casey. “Now that guy seriously needs a hug.”

“Good one, Grimes,” Lester murmured, nodding. “Now…who should do the deed?” He stroked his chin thoughtfully.

Morgan looked over the group, and his eyes lit up as his gaze fell on Chuck. “Chuck, buddy, it’s got to be you. You’re the only one of us who might survive.”

“What?” Chuck said, caught off guard. “Me? No way, man. I never said I was going to be a part of this.”

The other employees frowned and muttered to each other. Morgan sidled up to Chuck. “Come on,” he whispered. “The other guys will think you’re trying to act better than us or something. Everyone else is participating.”

“Even if I did agree to play, there’s no way I’d hug Casey,” Chuck said. “And I’m not agreeing to play.”

“Do it, dude,” Jeff cut in. “You can’t turn it down. It’s your destiny.”

Chuck raised his eyebrows. “Oh really?”

“Yeah,” Lester said. “You’re supposed to be our fearless leader. What kind of example are you setting for us? How can we respect you unless you prove you should be respected?”

“You guys are taking this way too seriously,” Chuck said, shaking his head.

“Respect is a serious thing, my man,” Morgan said.

“Do it,” Lester said in a low voice.

“Do it,” Jeff repeated.

They started to chant together, and the other employees soon joined in. “Do it, do it, do it…”

“This is peer pressure,” Chuck informed them. They started to walk towards him as a group, forcing him in the direction Casey had gone. “Guys, come on. Guys?” They kept pushing him backwards until he finally threw up his arms. “Fine! I’ll do it! Geez! Crazies.”

Morgan clapped a hand on Chuck’s shoulder. “It was good knowing you,” he said solemnly.

Chuck was almost moved to return the sentiment. “Here goes,” he said with a deep breath. As he walked towards the storage room, the crowd behind him changed their chant.

“Chuck, Chuck, Chuck!”

Casey was stacking boxes in the back when Chuck sidled into the room. He accidentally tripped and knocked over some boxes near the doorway. Casey glanced around quickly, annoyance flitting across his face as he saw who it was. He put up a final box and then stepped down from the ladder he had been on. “What is it, Bartowski?” he grunted.

Chuck laughed nervously. “Oh hi Casey. I was just…walking around and, oh by the way you can just ignore that sound you hear coming from the store. It’s just the guys being, well, the guys. So anyway, I thought I’d come back here and get away from them because they’re really weird today. Weirder than usual, I mean.” He forced himself to walk forward. “And then I saw that you were here and I was like, oh hey it’s Casey, I wonder what he’s up to.”

Casey folded his arms and narrowed his eyes.

Chuck gulped and stepped closer. “So…uh, what are you up to?”

“At the moment? I’m trying to figure out what drugs you’re on.”

“Drugs? I’m not on any—why would you think—? Oh forget it.” Chuck quickly took the final steps and hugged Casey. The man stiffened for a few seconds, and the next thing Chuck knew, Casey’s hand was grabbing his crotch. Chuck sucked in a sharp breath.

“What did I say about hugs?” Casey whispered menacingly. His hand tightened. “Next time they come off. Capiche?”

“Yes,” Chuck squeaked.

Casey removed his hand and shoved Chuck away. He strode out the door, and Chuck heard Jeff ask, “Did he do it?”

Casey growled, and Chuck heard a crash. When he made his way out of the storage room, he saw both Jeff and Lester on the floor, tangled among DVDs and a broken display case. Ah, the signature Casey face-shove, Chuck thought dryly.

“Guess that’s a yes,” Morgan said. He held his hand up to Chuck. “High five, buddy!”

Chuck returned the gesture unenthusiastically.

Jeff elbowed Lester. “Hey, pick me and Anna again.”

Anna put her hands on her hips. “Morgan, if he touches me again, so help me god…”

Morgan laughed weakly. “Okay guys, I think that’s enough of the game for today.”

“How about for ever,” Chuck muttered. He glanced over at where Casey was organizing a shelf and felt his face heat up. He got the urge to keep his hands over his privates; the memory of Casey’s hand was so fresh he could swear he still felt it there. His stomach clenched as he thought about it. He had gotten the message loud and clear. No more hugs.


~***~***~***~


Two weeks later, it was a hot August night and Team Intersect was scouting a bar in Ojai. Chuck finished off a glass of wine and almost lost his balance as he leaned over to set it back on the bar counter. He steadied himself quickly. That was weird. He’d only had the one glass. No way was he that much of a lightweight. His head started to feel strange. Chuck stared at the black tiled floor and smiled. Wow, pretty sparkles. A pair of white shoes obstructed his view. Chuck looked up and flashed. Images flooded his mind. He fell off his chair, babbling, “Bad, bad, badbadbad.”

The bartender lifted him up, saying, “Looks like someone hit their limit.” Chuck struggled weakly, still muttering. The bartender dragged him out of the bar and leaned him against the outer brick wall of the building.

Chuck’s vision blurred into several puddles of color. “Wheeee,” he said.

The face in front of him said something.

“Huh?” Chuck said.

The face talked again. Chuck leaned forward until they were nose to nose, trying to make out the words.

“Bartowski? Bartowski!”

Chuck recognized the voice. “Casey? S’that you?” He tried harder to focus.

Casey shook him. “Bartowski? What did you see? What did you flash on?”

Chuck’s eyes widened. “Bad! Bad things! The white shoes! White hair! Big knives, lots of red! Casey!” He shuddered and then knit his eyebrows. “Oh, and women!” He giggled. “Naked…”

Casey frowned at him. “Walker, you go check it out, I’ll deal with him.”

“Walker?” Chuck slurred. “Sarah?” A blond head appeared from his left.

“Is he going to be okay?” she asked.

“Someone must have spiked his drink,” Casey grunted. “Just go, he’ll be fine.”

Chuck watched her disappear through the wall and then turned his attention back to Casey. A thought made its way through his drug-addled brain. He grinned widely. “Casey! You’re the bartender! You saved me!” Lunging forward, Chuck threw his arms around him. Without the support of the wall, his legs refused to hold him. For a moment, he was barely hanging from Casey’s neck, and then two strong arms wrapped around him.

“Come on, Bartowski,” Casey said roughly, maneuvering him along until they reached the car.

Chuck laid his head on Casey’s shoulder and closed his eyes. “Tired.”

When he woke up, he was back in his bed and it was morning. Chuck yawned and ran a hand through his hair before sitting up and looking around. “How did I--?” He tried to remember what had happened, but after getting to the bar for the mission, the rest of the night was a big blank. Chuck frowned. He pulled on a pair of jeans, wondering who had stripped him to his boxers. After putting on his shoes, he clambered through the window and headed over to Casey’s.

Casey answered the door after two knocks. He had one arm behind him, and Chuck knew he had a gun. He put his hands up. “Just me.”

“What?” Casey said.

“Uh…I was just wondering what happened…with the mission.”

“You don’t remember?” Casey didn’t look surprised.

“No,” Chuck said, drawing the word out.

Casey eyed the courtyard and beckoned him inside. They stood by the door; Casey didn’t invite him in further. “You were drugged,” he said.

“Drugged?” Chuck exclaimed. “Am I okay?”

“That’s a matter of opinion.”

“Ha ha. Seriously.”

“You’ll live,” Casey said. After a pause he added grudgingly, “You flashed before you passed out. We got the guy, completed the mission.”

“Oh.” Chuck rubbed at his neck. “I did? Good. I’m…glad.”

“You can go now,” Casey said.

“Right,” Chuck said, frowning. He wished he could remember. This was unsettling.

“Your memory will come back,” Casey told him. “Temporary side-effect.”

Chuck met his eyes, relieved. “Thanks.” He opened the door and stepped out, knowing Casey didn’t want him hanging around any longer.

“Oh and Bartowski,” Casey called after him.

Chuck turned.

“Next time I’m not letting you off so easy.” His mouth twitched in amusement at Chuck’s confused expression. “It’ll come to you,” Casey said, shutting the door.


~***~***~***~


The building was filled with odd bits of junk that had piled up over the years. They had gone there on a lead from one of Chuck’s flashes, and then gotten separated from Sarah when the shooting started. Casey and Chuck were pinned down behind several decaying couches and chairs with a matching floral pattern. Casey wrinkled his nose. “Disgusting.”

“Uh, Casey,” Chuck ventured. “Aren’t there more important things to be upset about right now? Like maybe being shot at?”

As if to confirm his statement, bullets started spraying the furniture in front of them again. Chuck yelped and covered his head with his arms, ducking down lower. Wood chips and fluff from the cushions exploded into the air around them.

Casey checked his gun. “Five rounds left,” he muttered. “Where are you, Walker?”

“Five?” Chuck hissed.

“Shut up,” Casey said, his voice missing its usual edge.

Chuck tried to shrink down even further. It had to be bad if Casey was nervous.

The gunfire stopped. And then started again, this time aimed somewhere else.

“Where are they--?” Chuck started.

Casey looked up. “Shit.”

Chuck followed his gaze and blanched. They hadn’t paid attention to the things hanging from the ceiling. Someone must have decided to save floor space. Sparks flew as bullets hit the chains holding up beds, tables, and desks. The wooden objects started to split apart and creak. A large table right above them groaned.

Casey cursed again. “We’re going to have to run for it,” he told Chuck.

Chuck looked at him, knowing his terror showed on his face.

They stared at each other for a moment. Casey had a strange expression on his face. He seemed to lack the anticipation he usually sported under similar circumstances. He reached a hand out, as if to reassure Chuck, but let it drop midway between them. The table groaned again and splintered at the legs.

Casey grabbed Chuck’s arm and pulled him up, charging for the other side of the room. The table hit the floor behind them with a resounding crash, sending rotting chunks flying everywhere. Casey and Chuck ran for the wall, bullets and pieces of wood raining down on them.

A few yards from their destination, Casey grunted in pain and fell, pulling Chuck down with him.

“Casey? Casey, are you okay?” Chuck scrambled to his knees. Casey was clutching his leg below the knee, red seeping around his fingers. “Oh my god, oh my god,” Chuck wavered over him, scared and with no idea what to do.

“I’m fine,” Casey gritted through clenched teeth. He looked around quickly and grabbed a blue curtain lying on the floor next to a dryer. Tearing off a strip, he tied it around the wound. “We have to make it to the wall,” he said between breaths. “So they can’t come up behind us.”

Chuck gulped.

“Give me a hand,” Casey said, reaching up. They grasped each other’s forearms and Chuck pulled him up. He put Casey’s arm around his shoulder and helped him limp to the wall. Casey slid into a seat next to a large piece of cardboard, grimacing as he put weight on his leg.

“Now what?” Chuck whispered.

Casey leaned his head back against the wall, but kept his eyes open. “Now we wait and hope Walker gets here soon.”

“That’s it?” Chuck said. “What if the bad guys come get us?”

Casey held up his gun. “That’s what this is for.”

Chuck nodded. “Right, okay. I hope there aren’t more than five bad guys.”

There was a moment of silence and then Casey said quietly, “I’ll protect you, Chuck.”

Chuck saw the pain he was trying to hide etched across his face. “I know.”

They sat there for a while, just waiting. Chuck kept glancing at his watch, forgetting that a stray bullet had broken it. He fingered the strap as he looked for signs of movement.

The men were on them before they could react. Somehow they had remained out of sight until they came around one of the junk piles right next to Chuck and Casey. Casey lifted his gun.

“Put it down,” said the tall man in front, aiming his much larger gun at him. The men with him pointed their guns at Casey as well. They obviously had his five rounds beat.

Casey stood, only wobbling a little. He didn’t put the gun down.

“Casey,” Chuck said through his teeth.

“Now, or he dies,” the tall man said to Casey, turning his gun towards Chuck.

Casey started to put the gun down, but before Chuck could sigh in relief, he leapt in front of Chuck, shooting at the leader. The first bullet went through the man’s forehead, spraying the men behind him with gore. He crumpled to the concrete floor as they shouted in disgust. Their shots went wild, but one of the men who had been standing next to the tall man shot point blank at Casey. The impact shoved him back against Chuck, causing Chuck to stumble back. Right before he fell he saw the man who had shot Casey jerk repeatedly as bullets riddled him from behind.

Sarah leaned over them a minute later. Casey’s considerable weight had trapped Chuck, and he wasn’t moving.

“Is he okay?” Chuck said wildly. “Is he okay?”

Sarah checked his pulse. “He’s alive, but we need to get him to the hospital right away.” She called to someone else. Several men in dark clothes and helmets hurried over and lifted Casey up.

“Careful!” she told them. She held a hand out to Chuck. He took it and let her pull him up. “Sorry for taking so long,” Sarah said. “I couldn’t get to you, so I had to call in backup. Are you all right?”

Dazed, Chuck nodded. “Casey saved my life.”

“He did his job well, then,” Sarah said, smiling at him. “Come on, we’d better go talk to Beckman, then we can go wait at the hospital to see how Casey’s doing.” She hesitated. “If you want.”

“Yeah,” Chuck said. “Let’s go.”

They were in the hospital for hours after the briefing before they were allowed to see Casey. The surgery had gone well, and he was expected to fully recover, but he would be out of action for a while. Chuck and Sarah tiptoed into the room after talking to the government-employed doctor. Casey’s eyes were closed, but he opened them when they got inside. Chuck decided his NSA training must have given Casey super-human hearing. He hung back as Sarah went up to Casey and talked to him softly for a few minutes. Chuck didn’t hear a word they said. He watched every move Casey made, which wasn’t much; it was strange to see his seemingly indestructible handler lying so still. Chuck winced at the bandages and IV lines. He felt a strange burning in his chest. It could have been him lying there, or worse.

Sarah stepped back from the bed. She and Chuck exchanged a look. She nodded and then left the room, shutting the door behind her. It took Chuck a few seconds to move. He walked forward slowly and pulled the cheap plastic chair by the wall over to the side of the bed. He sat quietly, watching the slight rise and fall of the sheets over Casey as he breathed.

Chuck glanced at Casey’s face and saw that he was staring at the ceiling. Why were they both having such trouble just talking? This was John Casey, the man he saw every single day. The man who saved his life on a weekly basis. The man who had taken a bullet for him. Chuck’s gaze fell down to Casey’s hand. He faltered and then reached out and took it, squeezing lightly. Their eyes finally met. Casey looked tired. Surprised and tired.

Chuck felt gratitude hit him again, hard. He kept looking straight at Casey. “Thank you,” he said, emotion filling his voice.

Casey studied him silently, and then said, “It’s my job.”

Chuck nodded, but he knew that didn’t explain why they kept holding hands until the doctors came back in.


~***~***~***~


Casey was out of commission until late November. Agent Alex Forrest, formerly a 49B, was sent to replace Casey temporarily as Chuck’s second handler. Over the nearly two-month period, Chuck was forced to work hard as the Intersect. The job lacked even the little bit of fun and excitement it had once held. Alex and Sarah argued constantly, and Alex always followed protocol. She made Casey seem as intimidating as a substitute teacher.

The three of them were sitting in the Castle, talking about a mission, when the door that led to the Orange Orange opened. They looked up, and Casey stepped through, wearing his Buy More uniform.

“Casey!” Sarah and Chuck cried simultaneously. They jumped up as Alex frowned and remained seated.

Casey made his way down the stairs, and Chuck could have sworn he saw a smile flit across his face. He nodded to Sarah and then turned to Chuck. His gaze lingered on him briefly and Chuck grinned, getting the feeling that for once, Casey was suppressing the urge to do the same.

“Welcome back, Major Casey,” Alex said unenthusiastically.

“Thank you, Agent Forrest,” he said. “I’ll take it from here.”

Chuck and Sarah smiled at each other. They had both missed Casey, though they’d never actually discussed it. Chuck had tried to bring it up a few times, but Sarah refused to dwell on something they could do nothing about.

Alex left after a brief conference with General Beckman. Sarah brought Casey up to speed on what had been happening, with Chuck cutting in every so often.

“It was horrible!” he said, as they talked about Alex. “Sarah and I couldn’t even go out on a fake date without her watching us.”

“It was annoying,” Sarah admitted.

“Annoying?” Chuck exclaimed. “It was like living in a freaking fish tank!”

Casey cleaned his gun as he listened to them. He nodded and asked a few questions, but didn’t comment on his replacement. Finally, Sarah headed back up to the yogurt store and Chuck and Casey left for the Buy More.

As they walked through the parking lot, Chuck barely kept himself from looking constantly at the man walking beside him; he had the strangest feeling that if he didn’t, Casey would leave again.

“Sorry I couldn’t visit more,” Chuck said. Casey hadn’t been allowed to stay at his apartment during his recovery, for security reasons. Chuck hadn’t been informed of his whereabouts after he was moved from the hospital.

“I didn’t ask you to,” Casey responded.

“I know,” Chuck said. “But I wanted to.”

Casey stopped walking and grabbed Chuck’s arm, turning him so that they were facing each other. “Listen Bartowski, you don’t owe me anything.” His voice was as cold as his expression. “Just forget it.”

“Forget it? What are you talking about?” Chuck stared at him.

“I’m your handler. I did my job, and I’ll keep doing it. There’s no need to get emotional.” Casey clenched his jaw, daring Chuck to disagree.

Chuck gaped at him a minute longer and then yanked his arm out of Casey’s grasp. “Fine.” He walked into the Buy More without another word. He had no idea why Casey was so upset, but if he didn’t want to discuss it, then Chuck wouldn’t. They avoided each other the rest of the day.

For two weeks, they remained indifferent around each other. Sarah tried talking to them each separately to find out what had happened, but neither of them told her anything. Chuck became moody even around his family and friends. He didn’t understand why it bothered him so much to be on the outs with Casey. It started to affect his missions. He and Casey didn’t work together well, and he wasn’t as thorough when he was supposed to be looking for things to flash on.

Finally, Casey got a moment alone with Chuck in the Castle. “Look, I’m sorry,” he said gruffly. “Can we just get back to normal?”

“What’s normal?” Chuck asked. “Is it forgetting that you saved my life? Because I can’t do that. Every day I think, I could be dead right now. But I’m not, because of you. Can’t you just let me be thankful? I don’t get why that’s such a problem.”

Casey glared at him. “Then you’re an idiot.” He stalked off without another word.

“Great!” Chuck called after him. “I’m glad we had this talk!” Man, he thought, spies are so confusing.

A few days later, they were on a reconnaissance mission in a Marriott hotel. Casey was leading them down a hallway, with Chuck in the middle and Sarah bringing up the rear. They rounded the corner and found three gunmen waiting for them. In the split second it took the men to react and pull their triggers, Casey dove sideways, tackling Chuck. They fell to the floor, and Chuck felt all the air leave his lungs. Casey covered Chuck’s body with his own as Sarah stood above them and fired at the other men with two guns.

As Chuck struggled to breathe, Casey glanced down at him and then back up at what was going on. Something passed between them in that one instant, and Casey slowly turned his gaze back to Chuck. They were pressed together, Casey using himself as a shield to protect the asset. Chuck’s arms were splayed out on the carpet; Casey’s forearms were on either side of Chuck’s head. One of Casey’s legs was between Chuck’s legs, and the two men were joined from crotch to collarbone. Their faces were inches apart. Casey’s breath mingled warmly with Chuck’s as they looked at each other. Before Chuck knew what he was doing, he brought a hand up and gripped Casey’s shirt at the collar. Casey’s eyes searched Chuck’s, and then moved downwards to look at his mouth. Chuck’s breath caught.

There was a final shot and then it was silent. “Okay, let’s go,” Sarah said, holstering her guns. “Guys?”

Casey pushed himself up quickly, leaving Chuck where he was. Chuck turned his head and saw the gunmen lying still on the floor. His heart was bouncing around like a ping-pong ball in his chest, and the feel of Casey on top of him lingered.

“Chuck?” Sarah asked, concern lacing her voice. “Can you get up?”

Chuck swallowed and forced himself to his knees and then to his feet. He had serious things to think about.

That night he knocked on Casey’s door. Casey opened it, his expression guarded.

“I just wanted to say thank you. Again,” Chuck said.

Casey hesitated in the doorway, and then said stiffly, “You’re welcome.” He shut the door in Chuck’s face.

Chuck stood there for a moment and then smiled. It was a start.

For Christmas Chuck gave Casey a toy car – a Crown Victoria. Casey took the gift slowly, turning it over in his hands. He hadn’t gotten Chuck anything, but when Chuck hugged him and wished him Merry Christmas he didn’t push him away.


~***~***~***~


Ellie decided to host a party on New Year’s Eve. Most of the Buy More staff showed up, scaring the few guests that weren’t used to their antics.

Devon tried to calm their elderly neighbor after a very drunk Jeff pounced on her, shouting, “Happy New Year!” four hours early.

“He nearly gave me a heart attack!” she screeched, clutching her chest.

“I’m sorry ma’am,” Devon said, putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. “That was not cool.”

“Is that all you have to say? For heaven’s sakes!” The woman tottered off, muttering about younger generations.

Devon shrugged at Ellie and turned his attention back to his college buddies.

The door opened and more people made their way inside.

“Oh look, Sarah and John are here,” Ellie said to Chuck, waving at them. They made their way over to where he and Ellie were standing.

“Sorry I’m late,” Sarah said, smiling apologetically. She handed Ellie a plate of brownies.

“Oh it’s fine,” Ellie responded, taking the brownies. “Thank you! I’m so glad you could make it. You too, John,” she said, smiling at him.

Casey nodded.

Ellie took the plate to the table, where all the other goodies were. Sarah hooked an arm around Chuck’s. “Want to sit?” She tilted her head towards the couch.

“Uh…sure,” Chuck said. His eyes flickered towards Casey before he let Sarah pull him away. Morgan and Anna joined them, and Sarah used the lack of space as an excuse to snuggle up closer to Chuck.

“You guys are so cute,” Anna gushed.

“Thanks,” Sarah said, smiling. “So are you two.”

Chuck forced a grin and agreed. Having Sarah so close used to give him a happy fluttery feeling. Now…he shifted closer to her. Nope, nothing. He wondered what had changed. Maybe after wishing for so long that their relationship could be remotely real and having his hopes crushed so often, he had just given up. Or maybe…maybe it had something to do with Casey. Chuck squirmed. It made him uncomfortable to even consider it. He and Casey were becoming friends, that was all. He trusted both his handlers equally now, so he didn’t have to depend solely on Sarah. Yeah, that made sense.

“Chuck? Chuck?” Sarah’s voice cut into his thoughts.

Chuck shook his head. “Sorry, what?”

“Dude, you were on a different planet or something,” Morgan said. “She asked if you want to dance. If I were you I’d--”

“Thank you, Morgan,” Sarah said pointedly.

Morgan put his hands up. “Sorry, just trying to help.”

Chuck looked around. Someone had turned the music up, and Devon was moving the table out of the way so that there was extra space. “Oh, uh…sure.” He stood up, bowing slightly to Sarah. “Milady?” He offered his hand.

Sarah smiled and took it. They moved out onto the makeshift dance floor with some of the other couples. After three songs, Chuck asked for a quick break. He grabbed two cups of punch and handed one to Sarah. They stood out of the way and watched the others. Sarah leaned to the side and bumped her shoulder against his. “Having fun?” she asked.

Chuck bumped her back. “Of course.” He was enjoying himself, despite the nagging thoughts that kept popping up.

Casey walked up to them and jerked his head towards the ceiling. “Mistletoe,” he grunted, his face unreadable.

They looked up and saw that someone had taped a bit of the plant above where they were standing. Sarah smiled at Chuck. “Might as well.”

Chuck hesitated, looking at Casey.

Ellie walked up. “Oh, mistletoe!” she said, clapping her hands together happily. “Wait, I’ll take a picture!” She ran over to the counter and grabbed her digital camera, then came back and held it up. “Okay, you two.”

Sarah laughed lightly and turned to face Chuck, tilting her chin up and closing her eyes. Chuck put his hands on either side of her face and kissed her.

“Hold it there a second!” Ellie called. The flash went off and Chuck pulled back. “So sweet!” Ellie said, looking at the small screen on the camera. She turned it so that Chuck and Sarah could see. “I’ll make a few copies,” she told them cheerfully.

“Great, thanks,” Sarah said, acting the perfect girlfriend.

Casey had moved to the snack table, and had his back to them. Chuck frowned. He started to walk towards him, but was intercepted by Lester and Jeff. For the next few hours, Chuck was unable to get near Casey. Sarah and his friends kept him close and distracted, and Casey moved to another part of the room whenever Chuck tried to approach him.

Finally, five minutes before midnight, Chuck saw Casey head for the bathroom. He untangled himself from Sarah and mumbled an excuse about needing something from his room. He caught the bathroom door right before Casey closed it, and forced his way inside. He leaned back against the door, blocking the handle.

“Bartowski,” Casey growled. “Do you mind?”

“Why did you point out the mistletoe?” Chuck asked.

“It helps your cover if you two kiss every once in a while,” Casey said. “Why do you care?”

“I don’t know,” Chuck said quietly. “Why do you?”

Casey glared at him. “I don’t.”

“Oh come on, Casey. I saw your face. And you’ve been avoiding me.”

Casey stepped forward and slammed his hand on the door above Chuck’s shoulder. Chuck flinched but faced him. He just wanted to know the truth.

“Listen Bartowski,” Casey started. “I don’t give a—”

He was cut off as Ellie’s voice came from the hallway. “Chuck? We’re starting the countdown soon. Chuck?”

“Just a sec!” Chuck called. “This isn’t over,” he told Casey, and then slipped out of the room.

Everyone stood by the TV in the living room, getting ready to watch the apple drop in New York. Chuck counted down with them and drank his champagne, but his mind was elsewhere. As the party died down and people started to leave, Chuck kept an eye on Casey. He wasn’t going to let him get away without talking to him. Sarah said goodnight and kissed him on the cheek. Casey walked out a few minutes after her. Chuck managed to sneak away unnoticed.

“Hey, Casey!” he called, hurrying up to him. He saw Casey’s shoulders get tense as he turned.

“What?”

“We need to talk,” Chuck said firmly.

Casey’s phone rang. He looked at it. “Beckman,” he muttered, looking relieved as he answered it. The call was short, and as soon as he hung up, he grabbed Chuck’s arm and started walking out of the courtyard. “We have to get to the Castle,” he said shortly, by way of explanation.

“What? Now? Why?” Chuck said.

“She didn’t say.”

Sarah met them in the Orange Orange. She had been called as well. They made their way through the back and down the stairs. Several men were standing in front of the screen, which General Beckman was looking out from. Two were armed and in dark uniforms. The third was in civilian clothes. He turned to face them as they arrived, and Chuck froze.

“Dad?”

Sarah and Casey looked at Chuck in confusion.

“Agent Walker, Major Casey,” the general said. “This is Mr. Bartowski, Chuck’s father.”

An hour later, Chuck sat in a chair with his head in his hands. His dad worked for the CIA. He had helped build the Intersect. He had been captured by Fulcrum and forced to build another Intersect. He could take the Intersect out of Chuck’s head. And he wasn’t crazy. Chuck felt as though his head was going to explode. Even with all the information already packed into his brain, somehow it wasn’t until now that there was really too much to handle. Someone put a hand on his shoulder.

“Chuck,” his dad said softly.

Chuck looked up. “Hey.”

“I’m going to fix this,” his dad told him. “I brought the new Intersect with me when I escaped. It’ll be done in a few days.”

“You’ll be free,” Sarah said, walking up.

Chuck looked at them and then put his head back in his hands. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I just…I need more time to process this.”

The rest of the week was chaos. Chuck saw his dad every day at work and at home. Ellie had been shocked when he showed up at her door with Chuck. She wanted the three of them to spend every possible minute together, and with her constant stream of questions both men had trouble keeping the details of his return to themselves.

Five days after his dad came back, the Intersect was removed from Chuck’s head. He faced a white screen, so terrified and excited that he was afraid he would pass out halfway through. Everyone else covered their eyes as the images flashed across the screen. When they stopped, he felt lightheaded and lost his balance. His dad caught him, saying, “It’s over, son. It’s over.”

Afterwards, he had his last briefing with General Beckman.

“What’s going to happen now?” Chuck asked.

“You get your normal life back, and you forget any of this ever happened,” the general said. “You can never tell anyone.”

Chuck nodded. “What about Sarah and Casey?”

“They’ll be reassigned. Agent Walker already has a position; she’ll be heading out in a day or so. Major Casey will stick around for another week to make sure everything goes smoothly. Someone will be assigned to watch you, but you will have no contact with that person.” The general reached for her keyboard and then paused. “Thank you for your service, Mr. Bartowski.” The screen went black.

Chuck swallowed and turned to his handlers. “Will I ever see you again?” Their looks said everything.

The next day, Sarah came by in the afternoon and she and Chuck drove to a nearby park. They sat on a metal bench painted a sickly green and held hands. “Don’t go,” Chuck finally said. He tightened his grip. “Don’t go, Sarah. Stay here.”

Sarah’s eyes filled. “Chuck, I can’t. I have orders.”

“Orders! Who cares about orders? Can’t you quit?” Chuck’s eyes stung too. He felt like he was being split in half. Having a normal life was supposed to be a good thing.

A tear coursed down Sarah’s cheek and she shook her head. “I’m sorry, Chuck.”

“Please,” Chuck begged. “You can’t just disappear from my life. This isn’t how it was supposed to happen.”

“I’m sorry,” Sarah repeated, standing up. “I’m sorry.” She wiped at her eyes. “I have to go.”

“No.” Chuck’s voice broke. “Sarah.”

Sarah hugged him, squeezing tightly, and then turned and ran.

“Sarah!” Chuck called after her. But she was gone. He fell back onto the bench and cried.

When he finally got back that night, Ellie saw immediately that something was wrong. “Chuck? What happened?”

“Not now, Ellie,” he said tightly, walking straight to his room. He lay on his bed and listened to Ellie and Devon talk about him. Suddenly, he couldn’t be there. He couldn’t be around people. People who had no idea what he was going through. No idea what had happened. He sat up. Casey.

Casey opened the door, took one look at Chuck, and pulled him inside. He steered him over to the couch and sat next to him.

“She’s gone,” Chuck said. He felt hollow. Everything was right, but it was all wrong.

“I know,” Casey said.

Chuck stared at his feet. “Can I stay here tonight?”

“Yeah.” Casey brought him a blanket and pillow and started to go upstairs.

“Where are you going?” Chuck asked, alarmed. “Don’t go.”

Casey paused and then nodded. “I’ll go get another pillow.” He settled himself in a chair near the sofa. Chuck closed his eyes.


When Chuck showed up for the third night in a row, Casey led him upstairs. “Gonna kill my back if I keep sleeping in that chair,” he muttered.

“Sorry,” Chuck said.

Casey grunted and pointed out his side of the bed.

On the fifth night, Chuck woke up screaming. He fought off the hands grabbing at him in the dark until he realized it was Casey.

“Chuck, calm down. Chuck.” Casey turned on the light and Chuck fell forward into his arms, shaking.

“Don’t,” he said over and over again. “Don’t.”

“Shh,” Casey said. He patted Chuck’s back awkwardly. “Shh, it’s okay.” He tried to lie back down, but Chuck clung to him.

In the morning, Chuck woke to find Casey still holding him. He brought his head up from Casey’s shoulder to look at his face. Casey woke at the movement and looked back at him. “Hi,” he said sleepily.

“Hi,” Chuck said, flushing. “Sorry about last night.”

“Don’t mention it,” Casey said. “Ever,” he added.

Chuck sat up, smiling a little. “Got it.”

The next few days went by too fast, the date of Casey’s departure getting closer. Chuck didn’t bring it up, but he found any excuse to be around his handler. Casey tolerated his constant presence as long as they didn’t have to talk about “lady feelings.” Chuck respected this rule. His thoughts were already filled with Sarah and the Intersect and a flood of memories. He didn’t need to put them to words too.

A week and a half after Sarah left, Casey started to pack up his things. When Chuck came to the apartment and found it half empty, he panicked. “Casey? Casey!”

Casey appeared holding two large briefcases. “Yeah?”

Chuck looked around wildly. “Are you…what…when…?”

Casey dropped the briefcases. He walked over to Chuck and took him by the shoulders, shaking him gently. “Chuck, look at me. Breathe.”

Chuck met Casey’s gaze and took a breath.

“Good,” Casey said. He looked guilty. “I didn’t want to tell you sooner because I thought you might react like this.”

“When?” Chuck asked, a chill running through him.

“Tonight,” Casey said.

Chuck stepped back, shrugging Casey’s hands off his shoulders. He stood there silently as the world crashed down around him. This was it. It was over. Numbly, he walked away. So this was what freedom felt like.

He locked himself in his room for the rest of the day and covered his window. Ellie knocked on his door around seven thirty.

“Chuck? John’s here.”

Chuck stared at his Tron poster and didn’t answer.

“Chuck?” Ellie called his name a few more times and then left. When she came back a minute later, Casey’s voice joined her. Chuck stayed quiet.

“Could I have a minute alone with him?” Casey asked her. They exchanged a few words and Ellie walked away.

“Chuck, let me in or I’m picking the lock,” Casey said. A moment later there was a metallic clicking and then Casey stepped into the room.

Chuck turned his face away. The bed sank as Casey sat down. A hand touched Chuck’s arm. Chuck bit his tongue. It hurt. Why hadn’t he known how much it would hurt?

He shut his eyes briefly and then forced himself to turn back around and sit up. Casey looked at him silently. Chuck didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to beg again; he knew it wouldn’t do any good. Instead, he reached over, clutched at Casey’s shirt. The cloth bunched in his fist. Casey slid a hand around Chuck’s waist, and Chuck knew it must have taken all his willpower when he pulled Chuck into a hug. Chuck buried his face against Casey’s chest. Casey lowered his head, still holding him tightly.

“Goodbye.”


~***~***~***~


The weeks passed slowly at first. Little things kept reminding Chuck of everything that had happened. Someone would mention Orange Orange, or hotdogs, and Chuck would freeze. He left the Buy More; too many reminders there. Plus, he was free now, he thought bitterly. He had to move on with his life.

One day he came home and told Ellie that he had been picked for a high position at a very successful computer company. Her face lit up.

“Chuck, that’s amazing! I’m so proud of you!” She threw her arms around him, jumping up and down at the same time.

Chuck laughed. It had been a while.

A month later, Morgan and Ellie conspired and set him up on a blind date. Chuck refused at first, but they insisted. His heart leapt for a minute when the knock came, but it fell dully as soon as the door opened.

“Hi, I’m Kara,” the girl--a brunette--said with a smile. Chuck shook her hand politely. They went to a restaurant that Chuck had never been to before. Chuck picked at his Mexican food and listened to her chat about subjects he had no interest in.

“Do you mind?” she said, finally.

“What?” Chuck looked up to find her watching him disdainfully.

“Sorry if I’m boring you,” she said, her eyes flashing.

“No, it’s not—” Chuck started. He sighed. “I’m sorry. It’s my fault. I don’t think I can do this.” He stood up, putting down enough bills to cover his side of the meal. “I’m really sorry,” he said as she gaped at him.

He walked around for a while before going home that night. No one tried setting him up on any more dates.

Chuck had the first dream three months after Casey left. He woke up with a hard-on, but didn’t remember the details of the dream until late that afternoon. He was staring blankly at his computer screen when a thought shifted in the back of his mind. He frowned. It was just out of reach. He concentrated for a few minutes and when it finally came to him, he pushed at his desk so hard that his chair tipped backwards, dumping him onto the floor. “What--?”

He was almost afraid to fall asleep that night. The dream came back again.

Chuck saw a green Buy More uniform and looked up. It was Casey, giving him a customary glare. Chuck grabbed his shirt, and they were back in the hallway of the Marriott. Casey was on top of him, but this time he shifted, grinding their hips together. Chuck gasped, and then Casey was throwing him up against a wall. His hand smacked the area above Chuck’s shoulder, and Chuck remembered the bathroom at New Year’s. Casey leaned in, his mouth a centimeter from Chuck’s. Chuck held very still. Casey moved to the side of Chuck’s face and then, suddenly, licked his ear.

Chuck sat up, breathing heavily, sheets tangled around his ankles. “Oh…this can’t be good.”

The dreams continued. The more Chuck tried not to think about them, the more they invaded his thoughts, typically at the most inopportune times. Cold showers at three in the morning became a habit. When Ellie started asking questions, he decided it was time to get his own place.

The apartment was nice--smaller than Ellie’s, but all his. Anna hadn’t agreed with Morgan’s suggestion that they be roommates. Not that it mattered; Morgan came over so often he practically lived there anyway. Chuck didn’t mind. He was used to having Morgan close.

Nine and a half months had passed since Chuck’s last day in the Castle. The day started like every other Saturday. Chuck woke up, took an icy shower, and was pulling on a shirt when someone rang the doorbell.

“Hey man!” Morgan said, loudly, when Chuck opened the door. He bounced into the apartment and looked around. “Anyone else here?”

“Who else would be here?” Chuck asked, watching him move around the room like a caffeinated kangaroo.

“Oh, right. No one, I guess. Of course. Forget it. Anna’s not here? Never mind.”

“What’s up?” Chuck said, not sure whether to be amused or concerned.

“You should sit,” Morgan said, pushing him into a chair. He held still for a second and then added, “I should sit too.” He sat in a chair next to Chuck and faced him, so close that their knees were touching. “Chuck,” he said seriously.

“Morgan,” Chuck said.

Morgan took a breath. “Willyoubemybestman?”

“Your best man? Wait, do you mean--?”

Morgan fidgeted. “Yep, Anna and I are getting married. Well, I hope we are. Technically I haven’t asked her yet…”

“Morgan, buddy!” Chuck said, grinning. “That’s awesome! Of course I’ll be your best man!”

“You will? Really?” Relieved, Morgan finally sat still.

“Did you think I’d say no?” Chuck asked.

“Well, I wasn’t sure,” Morgan admitted. “I mean, you haven’t really been into the whole dating thing lately, so…”

Chuck punched him in the arm. “You’re crazy! I wouldn’t miss your wedding for anything! You might want to get on that whole asking her thing first, though.”

Morgan nodded. “You’re probably right. I have the ring and everything. Hey, you want to come with me?”

“You want me to come with you when you propose to your girlfriend?”

“I guess that’d be weird, wouldn’t it?” Morgan said.

“Just a little.”

“Okay. I’m gonna go now.” Morgan got off the chair and headed for the door. “Wish me luck!”

“Good luck!” Chuck said. He started laughing as soon as Morgan shut the door. At least he could be sure that some things would never change.

He didn’t hear from his friend for the rest of the day. He was flipping channels when the doorbell rang again around ten p.m. “Coming!” he called, turning off the TV. He grinned as he walked towards the door. “Hey Morgan, what took you so--” he opened the door and the words died in his throat. He stumbled backwards.

Casey let himself in.

Chuck stared at him. “Are you real?” he finally whispered. The pain had returned with a vengeance.

Casey walked up to him and brought Chuck’s hand to his chest. Chuck rubbed the shirt material between his fingers. Crisp, real. “Why did you come back?” he said shakily.

“If you don’t know, then neither do I,” Casey said.

Chuck’s heart leapt at the sound of his voice. He looked into clear blue eyes and suddenly the dreams made sense. He hugged Casey like he had hugged no one since they parted. Casey’s arms went around him and Chuck nearly broke into sobs right then and there.

They pulled back at the same time, but kept their hands on each other. Chuck smoothed his hands over Casey’s biceps and met his gaze again. His breath caught at Casey’s expression. Casey ran a hand from Chuck’s shoulder to the back of his neck. Chuck shivered as fingers touched his hair, and then Casey was pressing his mouth to Chuck’s. He waited for Chuck to respond, and when he did, Casey grabbed at him, pulled closer. He kissed Chuck hard, showing him what he had wanted to do for so long. Chuck knew Casey could probably never put an apology into words, but he could feel it in the kiss, in the way he was gripping him so tightly. Chuck let Casey shove him up against the wall, let him kiss his eyes, his nose, his throat, let him grind against him.

He was his handler, after all.


~***~***~***~


EPILOGUE (Two months later)


Chuck let Casey push him into the apartment. “How long are you going to be away this time?” he complained. Casey grabbed him and crushed their lips together, slamming the door shut with a well-aimed kick. Chuck hooked his elbow around the back of Casey’s neck and hung on for dear life as he stumbled backwards. His legs hit the coffee table and their faces were temporarily disconnected. As Casey leaned in again, Chuck put a finger to his lips, stopping him. Casey growled.

“Easy, big guy,” Chuck grinned. “Answer the question first. You’re not going to miss the wedding, right?”

“Unfortunately…” Casey started.

Chuck’s face fell.

“…No,” Casey said. “Just two weeks. Beckman knows my limit.”

“Ha ha,” Chuck said, making a face. “Two weeks? You better call. A lot.”

“Yes Warden. Can we have sex now?” He licked at Chuck’s finger.

Chuck ran his finger along Casey’s lips and then replaced it with his tongue. They kissed frantically, moving towards the bedroom again. Chuck reached blindly for Casey’s belt, hooking his fingers through the belt loops and pulling their hips together. Casey smiled into the kiss. “Is that a gun, Agent Carmichael?”

Chuck laughed and shook his head at Casey. “I love you.”



THE END


~***~***~***~


A/N: Hi, I’m new! This is my first Chuck fanfic. I hope y’all liked it! I know some of the transitions weren’t great, and I had some summary scenes in there, but it would’ve been waaaay too long if I’d actually written everything that happened in between too. Heck, the story’s already longer than most of my others. Comments always appreciated – especially since I’m so nervous about posting this. Thanks for reading! :)

 



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