It had been exactly a week since everything in Charles Irving Bartowski's life had decided it wanted to go completely batshit crazy. Seven days ago, Charles who went by Chuck had gone to school and come home to find that his father had gone A.W.O.L. Chuck's Father's study had been cleared out and his clothes were all gone. It had taken another two days for Chuck and his sister Ellie to believe their father wasn't coming back. They had spent another day frantically trying to get hold of him, calling ever single place he could possibly be and then calling in a missing persons report. Then the day after that had come the social workers and the paperwork, and the worried neighbors. Morgan Grimes, Chuck's best friend had come over with his mother, and the dear Mrs. Grimes had been fending the other overly sympathetic mother off with her fiery latin temper all day. The day after that had been the lawyers and the banks. Ellie would be turning eighteen in only a couple months and was trying to convince them she was eighteen now. This wasn't terribly difficult as she had really been taking care of everything since their Mom left anyway.
Through that entire thing Chuck and Ellie had been sticking closer than glue, nearly clutching each other in desperation, and then the army had shown up. Well they weren't really the army, but they were something, something with sun glasses and guns and big stomping boots. They had come in this morning taking over everything, crashing in the door and past Mrs. Grimes with badges flashing towards their father's study, and now some how Chuck was sitting in a room some where in some federal building with beige walls, a plastic chair and a flat soda, with a backpack full of clothes at his feet and separate from his sister. Ellie was somewhere in some other beige room being talked to seriously about her future, yay, but most importantly she was not with Chuck. And fourteen year old Chuck Bartowski sat in his plastic chair with his flat soda and he cried, because his sister wasn't there to see him.
"Ah, geez kid. Waterworks really?" Chuck looked up at the gruff voice to see a man maybe a couple years younger than his Dad, about thirty of so, standing in the doorway. He was thick set, but not heavy, with a broad jaw, and light hair. Dressed in some kind of commando uniform with a big gun strapped across his chest. Chuck's brain vaguely recognized the gun from a video game, but it didn't really register.
"What do you want?" It came out whinier and meaner than Chuck would have liked, but he didn't really care anymore.
"Get up, I'm here to escort you." The man ordered, in his gruff voice, gesturing with the butt of his gun, pointed towards the floor.
"I guess someone had their testosterone for breakfast this morning." Chuck muttered under his breath, grabbing his bag and sliding carefully passed the man in the doorframe, only to get grabbed by his skinny upper arm and towed. Chuck tried struggling but it was no use. He was tall, but he was still skinny as a toothpick, and this man was built like a tree trunk.
Chuck ended up sitting next to his sister in a conference room again, so he supposed he didn't really mind getting towed around like a piece of luggage. Finally once everyone was settled at the table, mostly military men with a few scientists sprinkled in, and Mr. Tall, dark and tree like planted with his gun at the door the meeting began.
Turns out Chuck's Dad wasn't as paranoid as they thought. After all it's not really paranoia when people are actually out to get you. In fact he was so good at hiding it was a miracle they had found Chuck and Ellie somehow. They didn't tell Chuck much, but he got the impression they had told Ellie more earlier, especially when she started going along with all their decisions. Including the one where they were selling the house, and Chuck was moving in with a bodyguard.
"What! No I'm not! Ellie tell them." Chuck yelled, jumping from his chair and motioning frantically at his sister.
"I'm sorry Chuck, but I think it's for the best. What if someone looking for Dad comes looking at the house, and I was leaving in the fall for school anyway."
"Yeah, but that was when Dad was here, I thought, I thought we said yesterday that you were going to stay and commute or something, please Ellie we could find an apartment closer to UCLA. I, just, don't leave me alone Ellie." Ellie wavered for a moment, she didn't want to leave her brother either, but one of the heavily medaled men sitting around the table broke in.
"Ms. Bartowski, it would be better if we separated you and your brother. If someone comes looking for you, a teenage girl taking care of her teenage brother alone would raise a lot more attention, than a co-ed who occasionally visits her brother and her uncle. There is also the matter of your education. Managing a household would place a lot of undue stress on someone who wants to get into med-school."
"Ms. Bartowski, rest assured your brother would be fully taken care of and you could visit as much as you like."
"If you think it's for the best." Ellie nodded, twisting her fingers. Than turned to Chuck, "I'm sorry, Chuck, I know you don't want this, but they can take care of things, and I'm just not sure I'm ready for the responsibility yet." Chuck paused, and guilt overcame him. Ellie had been taking care of almost everything since their mom died, she was only seventeen and she wanted to be a doctor so badly, she shouldn't have to take care of him too. Reluctantly he nodded.
Chuck spent the rest of the meeting in a bit of a daze. Ellie taking the lead. They discussed a bunch of other stuff, mostly practical. He only perked up once his name and bodyguard were mentioned. Turns out Mr. Tall, dark and Tree Like with the gruff voice in the hall had a name. Captain Casey. And Captain Casey was to be his new bodyguard. Captain Casey moved him from the conference room as the meeting continued and he found himself in a beige room with a cot this time.
"Hey, Two bit." Chuck looked up when Mr. Tall, Dark-, Captain Casey spoke.
"Try and get some sleep. You're gonna need it."
"Thanks." Chuck replied sarcastically, but did as the man said anyway. Legs hanging off the cot, shoes still on.
Things moved fast after that. Chuck and Ellie only had about an hour in the house to pack up the things that they wanted and then the movers were coming in to pack up and store away the house in some remote facility somewhere. Chuck had really only stopped to grab a few things. His schoolbooks, his computer and despite the fact that he almost wanted to destroy it out of spite, his Tron poster. A few odds and ends were stuffed in there too, but that was really all he needed. Ellie brought a lot more, pretty much everything she would need for her dorm room, and her bicycle. And then that was it. They were on the 5 and Captain, as he insisted he be called, Casey was driving them to an old apartment building in Echo Park. It was a beautiful Spanish style building, but it could use a lot of work*. Ellie was only going to be staying for a day or two before moving into the dorms. The G-men had worked their magic and gotten her in early to take summer classes.
Which was why there was no one to hear two days latter, when Chuck screeched a rather girly scream at being woken up at five-thirty in the morning by a splash of water on his face.
"Get up, Numbnuts."
"What the hell! I only went to bed an hour ago!"
"Too bad. No punk I have to take care of isn't going to know how defend himself."
Chuck rolled over, "I don't need to defend myself, I have you." He muttered into his pillow. Dark hair, flopping over his eyes. "Go away"
"Yes but I'm not around all the time punk. Unless you want me following you to the bathroom. And I can barely stand the sight of your pasty white ass as it is. So up." And dragged Chuck up by his hair. Chuck flailed franticly. "This hair has got to go too."
"What!" Chuck squeaked again, socked feet sliding against the hardwood, like he was dancing a jig. "Can't we, like, talk about this or something."
"No. If I have to look at your ugly mug every day, I won't be looking at a scroungy one."
Three hours latter Chuck was puking in a trash can red as a beet, and sweat dripping from his brow. Head shaved to within an inch of its life.
"Common, wimp, that was only mile three."
"I can't. Please don't make me do this any more. Please."
"Alright on to pushups then." Chuck turned and puked again.
That night after a hearty dinner of protein shake and tofu, and a fascinating fifteen minutes of watching the Captain trim a bonsai tree, Chuck retreated to his room gave in and called Ellie. He wanted out.
"Chuck! I'm so glad you called. I had the best day. College is amazing!" Chuck's words died on his tongue.
"Oh, um, really?"
"Yeah, My roommates are great, and the foods not half bad! Oh sorry, I'm blithering on. Did you have something you wanted to talk about?"
"Hmm, me? Oh, nothing, nothing. Tell me more about school." And Chuck listened to his sister buzz, and did a very un-Chuck like thing. He buried his feelings deep deep in a tiny ball inside of himself.
And then Chuck woke up at 5:30 in the morning the next day and did it all over again. Except that night he called Morgan instead, and then he broke down. Well broke down, isn't really the right word. More like whined and complained to his hearts content. The second day hadn't been as bad as the first, he wasn't sleep deprived or starving for one, and for the other he had got his computer set up and spent the afternoon playing games. He wasn't going to truly complain either. He didn't want word getting back to Ellie when she was so happy. He didn't want to ruin things for her.
*Remember kids. It's the 90's, Hollywood, Echo park and everything over in that part of east-ish L.A. is pretty bad territory. Parts of still are. Definitely not as nice as in the show.
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