A/N#1: This plot bunny would not be denied until I fleshed it out.
Hope you guys enjoy it.
Under normal circumstances, there would have been no way John Casey would have given in to Chuck Bartowski. That just wasn't the way things went between them. However, Chuck had turned up on Casey's doorstep, holding his one-year old, with tired eyes, a defeated posture and morning stubble. Chuck hurriedly explained that Sarah had been at the mall when her doctor had called to reschedule her first pregnancy exam and he didn't want to miss anything. Chuck promised that he only needed a couple of hours. Casey felt like he really couldn't say no.
Sariah Ashley Bartowki looked up at Casey, with huge blue eyes, and Casey gave her the smallest of smiles. He really did have a soft spot for the baby, and the fact that Chuck and Sarah had bestowed him the title of godfather really warmed his heart. He'd only be watching her for a couple of hours, and any kid of Walker's couldn't be that bad, even if Bartowski was the father, so he agreed. Chuck passed Sariah off to Casey.
"I'll be right back." He jogged off to his car and started pulling various items from the backseat. A lot of items. In fact, it was downright phenomenal how much stuff Chuck had managed to cram into the car. A playpen came out first, followed by a diaper bag, and ...was that another diaper bag?! Then came a basket of plush toys and stuffed animals, and finally a fold-up stroller. Casey stood there, dumbfounded as he held Sariah. What the hell did he get himself in to? Casey was impressed that he was able to haul it all in one trip and he stepped to the side to allow Chuck to deposit all the stuff inside the apartment. Aside from the huff when he deposited everything, Chuck did not look inconvenienced in any way.
"What the hell is all that for?" He grunted.
"Don't swear in front of her." Chuck chastised, "You know she's like a sponge." Casey grunted again and looked down at the child in his hands, who was too busy staring around the apartment to pay attention to the conversation. "I think everything she will or might need is here." Chuck declared. "You two have fun." He kissed Sariah on her forehead and pivoted on his heel, jogging back to the car.
"What time are you gonna be back?" Casey yelled at his retreating form, but Chuck had already hopped into the car by then.
Sariah squealed and stretched her arms in the direction of her father. "Dada" she cried. Sariah tossed her head back, and flailed her limbs against Casey's body. The tears began to leak out her eyes, and as she screamed like a Banshee, her skin began to turn an alarming shade of purple. Casey moved to shut the door behind him, but a sudden gust of wind beat him to it and the door slammed. The loud noise startled the already restless child and she wailed louder. Casey looked at the framed picture of Reagan on the wall. "Oh Reagan help us all." He muttered before praying silently. Deciding that he needed to calm down the child before his neighbours called child protection or something, Casey sat down with her on the couch.
"Dada! Momma!" Sariah screeched.
"What's wrong Sariah? Don't you want to spend time with Uncle Casey?"
That question was followed by more screeching. Casey walked quickly over to the toy basket and took up the dog and pig. He handed the dog to her and she threw it on the floor petulantly. He then handed her the pig, which soon joined its fallen comrade on the floor. Casey picked up the dog again, but with an alarming strength for a fifteen month old; Sariah slapped it out of his hand.
"No woof-woof!" She wailed.
Hoping to have more success, Casey took her nursery rhyme book from her bag and began reading. The first page had Rock a Bye Baby. Casey had never understood the nursery rhyme. After all, it was about putting a baby in a cradle in a tree and have it come crashing down. Such wouldn't exactly make a baby want to close their eyes around you. He read the rhyme anyway, and managed to hold Sariah's attention for little more than a minute before she started crying for 'Dada' again.
Casey sighed. This was going to go on forever. She wasn't going to stop crying. He was going to be an old man and she'd still be sitting on his couch crying. Green snot was streaming out of her nose and Casey cringed at the sight before heading into the kitchen for a piece of tissue. He found that the tissue rack was empty and then had to search the cupboards for another pack when he realised his mistake. He had left her alone, and now he couldn't hear her anymore. This was bad. Casey hurriedly dropped the new pack of tissue and rushed into the living room. He had hoped that maybe she had fallen asleep from all that crying, but now, with no sign of the child, Casey saw his life flash before his eyes. He could imagine how neurotic Chuck would be. Then Walker would show up and slaughter him with her throwing knives...or maybe she'd be nice and end it with one bullet.
"Sariah?" Casey called out. Silence. This was very bad. And then he heard it! Was that giggling? And...squeaking? It was coming from upstairs, so Casey followed the noise, taking two steps at a time. As he neared his room, the squeaking and giggling got louder. Peering inside, he saw the fifteen month old jumping on the bed. He smiled, relieved and wondered just when she had learnt to climb stairs. Casey then remembered that a child jumping on a bed wasn't that safe. He had spent enough time around Sariah and her parents to hear that annoying song about monkeys jumping on the bed, falling down and bumping their heads. So, erring on the side of caution, he moved to the bed and used the pillows to box her in. Sitting on the edge of the bed just in case, Casey grunted when he saw her shoes. They were those squeaking shoes that lit up whenever the child walked. That was clever of them; it acted as a sort of tracking device. Though, after his brief scare downstairs, Casey was reconsidering his stance on the whole implanting a tracker in her arm idea that Sarah had. Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing after all. He watched her jump for a whole five minutes, waiting for her to drop like a fly, but she never did. She wasn't even showing any sign of exertion or tiredness. Must be Walker's genes Casey surmised. But wasn't she going to get tired? It went on for two more minutes, and Casey found himself getting tired just by watching her jump, so he intervened.
"Alright kiddo." He scooped her up into his arms. "I think that's enough." She babbled some sort of angry baby talk, which Casey grunted at as he made his way down the stairs. He sat her down on the couch and ordered her not to move. Searching her bags, he took out everything that needed to be refrigerated, and took them into the kitchen. He was happily surprised when he came back and she was still there. That pleasantness was fleeting though, when he saw that she was making his latest issues of 'Guns and Ammo' her newest chew toy. Casey quickly walked over to her and tried to gently unfold her fist from around the magazine. With what he considered to be too much effort, he was finally able to get the now spitty magazine from the girl. "Paper is not for little babies." Casey explained.
Sariah pouted and her blue eyes welled with tears. Casey groaned. Not another crying fest. He needed reinforcements. Morgan and Alex were away for their first anniversary, and Mary was in Washington. Ellie and Devon were at the hospital. There was only one person he could call now. Handing Sariah a pacifier, which he hoped would keep the floodgates closed, Casey pulled his phone from his pocket and dialled.
Thankfully, the reinforcement picked up on the second ring. "Hey John."
"Hi Gertrude. I need a bit of a favour."
"What kind of favour?" She replied with an air of seductiveness.
"Not a sexual favour." Casey clarified, hoping to drag her mind from whatever gutter it was in.
"Oh." She replied, sounding very disappointed. "Then what is it?"
"Well, I'm uh babysitting Sariah."
"And you need my help?" She laughed. "Sorry Johnny, babies aren't really my thing."
"Come on, two of us are better than one."
There was a silence on the other line as Gertrude considered her options. "Ok, fine."
"Thanks." Casey grunted.
"You owe me." Gertrude teased.
Gertrude Verbanski threw a worried look at the clock on her dashboard. It had been over an hour since Casey had called her, but something urgent had come up, which stopped her from getting to his apartment sooner. And now, she was stuck driving behind what she considered to be the worst driver in human history. She pressed on the pedal, but it seemed like every time she tried to overtake the bastard, he would accelerate a bit more so she couldn't. She cast a threatening look to the car in front of her and yelled at the driver. Asshole. Fucking fucker. He was doing this on purpose and her hand slipped to the glove compartment where her gun was hidden. Before she reached it, the lane to her left cleared and she switched over and accelerated, but not before throwing a deadly look to the man.
She had tried calling back Casey to let him know that she would be a bit late, but the calls would not go through. She briefly wondered if the child had driven poor Casey up a wall by now. She had never spent more than five minutes alone with the child, more so because of her own uncomfortableness than her parents' reluctance. But, even the mercenary had to admit that Sariah Bartowski was adorable. However, she was a bit of a handful; that much she vivdly remembered Sarah frequently saying.
Nearing the apartment, she slowed down and then slammed the breaks, her car landing somewhere between two car spots. When she neared the apartment, no sound was emanating from it and that spooked her even more. With Bartowski for a father, she thought the child would be a constant noise maker. Maybe she was asleep. Shrugging, she knocked on the door and called out his name. There was no answer, so, remembering that she had her own key, Gertrude unlocked the door for herself. Opening the door inch by inch, and ducked her head inside. As soon as she did, something soft and brown hit her on the forehead. Her hand immediately reached into her bag for her weapon.
"Sariah!" She heard Casey grunt and her hand released its hold from the gun. Gertrude blinked and rubbed her head. She stepped inside and closed the door behind her, noticing the stuffed dog at her feet. "Thank God you're here!" Casey got up from off the floor, very relieved. "What took you so long?"
Gertrude almost laughed at the sight. Casey was holding a doll and his apartment was filled with toys. Before she could answer Casey, little Sariah was tugging at her leg, beckoning to be lifted up. Gertrude obliged and bent to pick the baby and gave her a small kiss on the cheek. "Things got hectic at work. I tried to call you back, but you wouldn't answer."
Casey frowned. "She threw my phone in the toilet."
Gertrude's eyes bulged and this time, she was unable to keep the laughter at bay.
Casey glared at her. 'It's not funny."
Gertrude held up one hand to placate him. "I'm sorry."
"She has me tired. Gosh, who knew babies could be so much work." Casey slumped down onto the couch.
"How come Chuck and Sarah left her with you anyway?"
"No faith in my babysitting skills?"
Gertrude joined him on the couch, setting the girl down on her feet so she could go play with her toys. "Well, based on what I've seen here, it's kind of hard to."
"The usual babysitters are out of comission. Mary's in Washington, Devon and Ellie are at work, and the drive to Emma's would've been too long. Sarah has a doctor appointment. You know, she's pregnant again." Gertrude cocked her head to the side. She hadn't known that. Casey pursed his lips for a moment before speaking again. "I just hope the next one isn't as..demonic."
Gertrude slapped him on his arm. "That's not nice."
"You haven't had to deal with her for the past hour."
"Come on Casey, it really can't be that bad."
Casey grunted. Oh, you just wait.
Sariah would not sit still and it was driving Casey and Gertrude insane. "Come on Sariah, let's go watch princess now." Casey tried to coax her.
She shook her head defiantly, still running around the island in the kitchen.
"I don't understand why she can't keep still for five fucking seconds."
"Don't swear, she'll repeat it." Casey scolded just like Chuck had.
"Sorry, sorry." Gertrude mumbled.
"F- F- fuck" They heard a little voice say. Chuck and Gertrude looked at each other, wide-eyed and then turned to Sariah. "Fuck." She said a little louder, excited about learning a new word. "Fuck." She clapped her hands in glee.
Casey groaned. Walker was gonna kill them.
"No no, don't say that little soldier. Say duck." Gertrude offered.
"Say duck...cluck..Chuck." Casey said to Sariah. "D-duck."
Sariah shook her head no. "Fu-"
Casey quickly covered her mouth with his hand. "We are so dead."
Sariah bit down on Casey's fingers and he removed them just as she had wanted. Satisfied with herself, she scampered off into the living room again. Sighing, Casey and Gertrude followed her. To their surprise, she was sitting in front of the TV. They smiled at each other. Maybe she had gotten over her cussing session.
"Fuck. Fuck." Her voice sounded again, just as Casey reached for the remote.
Gertrude held her head in her hands and Casey groaned. "You know Walker is going to go bat sh-" he stopped himself just short. It was bad enough that the fifteen month old knew one curse word thanks to them, no need to add to the fire and make it two. Walker, in her mother hen mode would be sure to have their heads. "She's gonna go postal on us."
Gertrude nodded forlornly. "Maybe we should try to get her to say something else again." She suggested.
After fifteen minutes, and countless replays of ducks quaking on some YouTube video, which was annoying as hell and made Casey want to shoot something, the pair had succeeded in Sariah saying duck, instead of the offensive word. Gertrude smiled at the girl, who was enthralled by the YouTube video, but upon remembering the fate of Casey's phone, she gently took hers out of her grasp.
Before she could cry, Casey pressed play and the movie started. Sariah climbed on top of Casey and sat in his lap, draping her legs over Gertrude's. She then stuck her middle and ring fingers into her mouth and began playing with Gertrude's hair, her feet jittering slightly. Casey merely looked at the singing candlestick with hatred in his eyes and grunted when the plates started to sing.
As the song ended, Gertrude turned to him. "Beauty and the Beast? Really Casey? That's so 1994."
"Well forgive me if while I've been hunting warlords, arms dealers, Russians, and the scum of the earth, I've neglected my Disney movies." Casey snarled. "Besides, I took her to the video store and that's what she chose."
Gertrude guffawed at that. The image of John Casey holding little Sariah as they searched for a movie to watch was kind of weird to process. As hard as the mercenary tried to fight it, she couldn't help the small smile that tugged at her lips. Though he hated to admit it, and probably never would, even under torture, Casey did soften up considerably when Sariah was with him, as did she.
But, she had been right before about her not keeping quiet, and Sariah soon grew restless watching the movie. She soon removed her head from Casey's chest and began talking to Gertrude. Gertrude didn't understand much of the babble and she found herself saying yes and nodding to everything she said.
"Can we turn this off now?" Was John Casey whining?
"Come on Casey, don't you like it?"
"If I have to hear one more song..." He grumbled and put himself out of his own misery by pressing the stop button. "Do you think she's sleepy by now?"
Gertrude glanced down at the girl in question. Her eyes were still bright and filled with energy. "Doesn't look that way."
Casey threw his head back, staring up at the ceiling. "Can't we give her something?" He wasn't being serious.
"I read somewhere that some people rub a drop of rum on their baby's gums when they're teething. It soothes their gums and sends them to sleep. Sounded pretty win win to me."
"Orrrr, we could just tranq her. Using Morgan as a comparison for a small child, I'm thinking a 1mm dart would do the trick."
Walker would kill them.
"I guess we're stuck until she's ready."
Sariah rubbed her gums, and began crying. "Hungwy.'
"Have you fed her yet?"
"Casey! How long has she been here?"
He shrugged. It was kind of hard to tell. To him, she had been a ball of energy forever. "Maybe two hours give or take."
"And you haven't feed her yet?" Gertrude chastised.
Sighing, Casey placed the crying child on his hip and marched into the kitchen, Gertrude following behind. Casey handed her off to Gertrude and she sat with Sariah at the table. Popping his head in the fridge, he took the bottle of milk out. He remembered Devon had said something about heating up milk in the microwave not being healthy and decided to heat it in a saucepan of water instead. When her bottle was prepared, Sariah took it from Casey and drank it all in less than five minutes, burping loudly afterwards. She handed the empty bottle back to Casey, and pointed to the fridge, indicating that she wanted more.
"Milk!" She cried.
"Your numb nuts of a father didn't bring any more milk." Casey informed her. He had also checked her bags and hadn't found any formula, so he figured Chuck had forgotten it at home.
Sariah frowned at that new piece of information. No more milk? This certainly wouldn't do. Her face was set in a frown, and the tears began to pool in her eyes. Luckily, Casey had some milk in the fridge. He poured a quarter of it into her bottle and warmed it up,
Sariah looked at him wearily, but finally took the bottle when it was offered. She took a greedy gulp, but spat it out immediately, disgusted by the taste."Mama's milk." She whined. Casey groaned. It was hard to please this child.
"I don't know what she likes...Breast milk? And last time I checked, I wasn't lactating and I doubt you are either."
"Chuck must have packed something else for her to eat."
Casey rummaged through the bag again. "Look Sariah, he did bring your baby food, would you like some of that soldier?" Receiving no answer, and a shrug from Gertrude, Casey took one of the containers and her tiny plastic spoon from her diaper bag. Pulling a chair next to Gertrude, he scooped up a serving with the spoon. Sariah looked at the spoon strangely and wiggled in Gertrude's lap. "Look little soldier, yummy!" Casey coaxed. Sariah shut her mouth and set it in a frown. She shook her head stubbornly.
"You don't want it?" Gertrude asked gently.
Sariah shook her head again. "No!" She shoved Casey's hand away.
Casey tried making the spoon seem like an airplane. He even went to the extent of making the buzzing noise, but, the terminal was shut. Casey and Gertrude switched places, hoping she would have more success.
Gertrude waved the spoon in front of the little baby's face. "Look Sariah. It's yummy." Gertrude said and pretended to taste the food. She rested the spoon back in the container and patted her belly, pretending to be pleased. "Do you wanna try it?"
Sariah nodded and opened her mouth wide, allowing the spoon to finally enter her mouth. Gertrude smiled triumphantly at Casey, but then she noticed his smirk. Sariah's face had soured and she had spit it back up and it landed on the bib. Gertrude groaned. This was ridiculous! She looked at the name of the food. With a name like Garden Vegetables and Chicken in Chicken gravy- the ingredients being mashed peas, spinach and carrots which were then combined with chicken and chicken gravy, she wasn't sure it'd be too tasty anyway. It probably tasted like bones or something. Who seriously comes up with this stuff anyway? They were back and square one.
Gertrude looked down at the fretful child and turned to Casey. "Don't you have anything else?"
"She's fifteen months old. I'm sure she's eating solids by now." Gertrude commented. She sighed, stood up and stuck her head in the fridge. There were hot pockets, frozen steak, frozen beef, burgers and frozen peas but nothing she thought Sariah would enjoy. They might have to go to the store. Gertrude smiled when she found a bag of potatoes. Hoping to have more luck with the potatoes, she peeled one and put it on the stove to boil.
Casey had set Sariah down for the time being and she was crawling around the kitchen. When the potato was boiled, Gertrude mashed it then added milk and a little butter to keep it soft. This time, Sariah was much more receptive and ate every bite. Gertrude had also had to feed her stuffed dog, since the little girl clutched it tightly in her hand and motioned for it to be fed as well. Once they were finished, Casey washed and put away the dishes while Gertrude cleaned Sariah up.
"What now?" Gertrude asked him.
Casey shrugged. Sariah was now sitting in the living room floor, plating with a musical toy. "I'm not sure. Hopefully she just falls asleep." Gertrude nodded. One could always hope.
Casey and Gertrude were watching an action movie when the smell of a dirty diaper wafted through their nostrils. Gertrude nudged Casey in his ribs. "Looks like someone needs a diaper change." Casey grumbled as he walked over to the play mat and picked her up. He held her at an arm's length and scrunched his nose. Sariah smiled at him and blew spit bubbles.
"Whatever happened to Semper Fi?"
Gertrude snorted. "Sorry soldier, you're on your own with that one. Besides, I think you have your m's mixed up, I'm a mercenary, not a marine ergo it doesn't apply to me."
Casey grunted. "Well, I don't have a Hazmat suit here, so if I'm not back in five, check for me."
Gertrude saluted. "Sure thing Colonel."
Casey grunted again and swung the diaper bag over his shoulder, marching up the stairs with a purpose. Gertrude laughed when she was Casey coming downstairs with Sariah sans diaper.
She raised her eyebrow at him, "Why doesn't she have on a diaper?"
"She won't keep still." Casey said. He set Sariah down on her feet and she ran off.
"You might want to get her into a diaper before she goes potty on the carpet."
"With all that running around, she's gonna be sweaty. I doubt she'll ever fall asleep like that." Gertrude commented. "Maybe we should give her a bath."
Fifteen minutes later, they had managed to catch the child, get her out of her clothes and gotten her in the bathtub. Chuck hadn't packed any of her bath toys, so Sariah was busying herself with his soap dish. He was very amused by the way the little girl splash and splashed in the water, squealing occasionally. Maybe this one would grow up and be a swimmer, yea; he could teach her a thing or two. Maybe she could even go to the Olympics and win a medal. He'd be glad if she didn't follow in her parents footsteps.
And maybe sometime in the future, when he was well rested, and she wasn't well...acting like Morgan on a sugar high, he could take her to the beach or the community pool and teach her how to swim. He often regretted that he'd missed out on such things with Alex, and even though Sariah wasn't Alex, he did hope to be a major part of her life. His knowledge of children was basically non-existent, but he loved this little girl.
"Cay" Sariah said, looking up at him. Her voice pulled Casey from his musings. Realizing she had his attention, she repeated, "Cay"
Casey smiled at her. "That's right, I'm Uncle Casey. Can you say Casey?"
"Cay." She said again, splashing some water on him. Casey smiled again. It was a common occurrence to smile whenever he was with her.
"I guess that's good enough soldier."
Casey used the washcloth to clean her skin. A couple of minutes later, Gertrude walked in with a towel and scooped Sariah out of the tub, much to her delight. She set the baby down on the counter and began drying her off. Gertrude nearly jumped when Casey wrapped his arms around her and placed a kiss in her hair. She leant back a little into his embrace, noticing the way her spinal cord tingled and her stomach tightened at the physical contact. "Thank you so much for helping me out."
"You're welcome." Remembering that the child was in the room, Casey moved to unplug the tub, and Gertrude carried Sariah into the bedroom. When he walked into his bedroom, Gertrude was putting a new diaper on Sariah. He shuddered. Thank goodness he had gotten out of that one.
"Be right back." Gertrude said and left the room. Casey walked over to Sariah on the bed. She was now sitting up on the edge of the bed. She poked his nose and giggled, her blue eyes sparkling.
Casey couldn't help but chuckle. "Are you having a good time soldier?" She didn't reply, but poked him on his nose again, so Casey took that as a yes. "I'm having a good time with you too." Casey admitted, "Don't tell your Daddy that though." Casey whispered.
Gertrude fished a pink romper from Sariah's baby bag long with some baby powder. She went back to the room but stood at the door and watched Casey hugging the little girl. It was a peculiar sight, seeing the burly man who rarely showed his emotions interacting with the innocent child. He had changed a lot form the time they had been in Minsk, but Gertrude didn't mind this side of him. If anything, it made her love him even more. Casey was blowing a raspberry in her stomach, and Sariah laughing jovially when she decided to make her presence known.
"I'm starting to wonder if you need me here at all." Gertrude teased.
"Of course I need you."
"Look what I've got Sariah, jammies."
Sariah's eyes lit up at the article of clothing and allowed them to dress her without much of a fuss. However, as soon as the last snap had been done, Sariah scrambled to the middle of the bed and began jumping. Casey was unsure about what to do. On one hand, he figured the more she jumped, the more tired she would get and the sooner shed fall asleep. On the other hand, they had just bathed her because she had been running around too much and had gotten sweaty. Oh, and she could fall and hurt herself. Casey grunted he had an idea.
Turning to Gertrude, he mumbled that they should pretend to go to sleep.
"Pretend," Casey mumbled louder, "we're going to sleep."
They walked over to the bed and went on either side. Casey sat on the right, and patted the pillow. Sariah stopped her jumping and looked at him curiously. "Cay?"
"Look little soldier, the bed is very comfy." Casey proposed, lying down on the bed. Gertrude did the same. Sariah sat down between then and looked at both curiously.
"The bed is very comfy, but Sariah won't know that because she won't lie down." Gertrude teased. Sariah grabbed a lock of her hair and started babbling.
"Nothing's happening." Gertrude mumbled after two minutes when Sariah was still playing with her hair.
Casey sighed. "Ok, Sariah, Gertrude and I are going to bed now." He closed his eyes and Gertrude pretended to snore.
"No." Sariah pouted.
"Sleepy time." Casey informed her, with his eyes still closed.
Sariah frowned and slapped him lightly on the cheek. "Cay?" She questioned, now hitting him lightly on the chest with her little fists. Recieving no response, she turned her attention to Gertrude and poked her nose and stomach.
It wasn't difficult for them to fake sleep or to keep absolutely still, but Casey did wonder if the child would take the bait. Being Walker's kid, he thought she was very intelligent..maybe Bartowski should be given credit there as well. But being their offspring also meant that she had inherited their stubbornness. Casey cautiously popped one eye open to see what Sariah was up to. She was lying in her side, facing him. Noticing her blue eyes, staring at him, Casey immediately shut his.
"Cay?" He voice came again. Casey wondered if this was cruel, considering that the baby seemed so weepy and sad. He'd give it five more minutes and if she wasn't sleeping by then, he would end the charade. Eventually, Sariah put her ring and middle fingers in her mouth and sucked on them. She fell asleep on Casey's chest in a matter of seconds.
Casey felt the weight on his chest, and smiled to himself satisfied when he saw the sleeping child. He was about to nudge Gertrude and let her know they could stop pretending when he realised that she had actually fallen asleep. Deciding not to wake her, he gently eased Sariah off his chest and pulled the sheet over the three of them. Casey felt triumphant. Happy. Children had never been drawn to him, except Sariah. She was special. She cuddled back to him and the smile that graced his features remained even as he slept.
Someone was knocking at the door. Casey heard it just as his mind came out of the sleep. Sariah had gravitated towards Gertrude and her long limbs were flailed everywhere. Her foot was right on his neck. The knocking became more incessant and then his telephone rang. Removing Sariah's foot from on him, he slid out of bed and used the remaining pillows to box her in. Casey grabbed the phone from on the bedside table and answered it before the sleepyheads were disrupted.
"Hello." He grunted.
"Hurry up and open the door Casey." came Chuck's voice on the other line.
He grunted and headed downstairs after casting one final glance at the sleeping pair.
Casey jogged down the stairs and opened the front door, revealing an anxious Sarah and Chuck.
"I was just about to pick the lock." Sarah said before he could greet them. "What took you so long? We've been calling for a couple of minutes."
Casey stepped aside and allowed the two to enter. "I was upstairs." Casey replied. "And I hadn't heard the phone ring."
Chuck looked around the room, noting all the toys strewn everywhere. "Looks like Hurricane Sariah passed through here already." Chuck quipped.
"Where is she anyway?"
Sarah cast a glance to the corner where her playpen stood, still folded. "Asleep where?"
"In my room."
Sarah's eyebrow arched. "You left her upstairs? By herself? Casey, she could roll off the bed!" She was already on the first step.
Casey laid a hand on her arm, stopping her journey. "Christ Walker! Relax, I boxed her in with the pillows, and Gertrude's up there with her." Sarah visibly relaxed.
"Oh. I still wanna check on her." She ascended the stairs and was pleased to find Sariah cuddled up against Gertrude. Sarah leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. Her long blond hair fell onto Sariah's face and she scrunched it up in response. Sarah smiled again and ran her finger down her face. Kissing her precious baby girl one last time, Sarah rejoined the boys. Downstairs, she found Chuck helping Casey to pack all of Sariah's toys. "I see she's still alive." Sarah joked.
Casey grunted. "Next time you want me to watch her; I'll need at least six months' notice."
"Oh come on, she's not that bad." Chuck smiled.
"Whatever. As her father, you will say such things by default." He was actually willing to watch her anytime the need arose.
"What did you feed her?"
"Hot pockets." Casey shrugged nonchalantly.
Sarah's eyes darkened and she was ready to rip Casey a new one. He noticed the deadly look in her eyes and raised his hands in surrender. "Harness your fury Walker. I was joking. She had mashed potatoes. You really do need to lighten up. All that tension can't be good for the baby. How is the pregnancy progressing anyway?"
Sarah smiled then and patted her stomach lightly. "Everything's good. He or she should be here in another six months."
Chuck came up behind her and wrapped his arms around her, resting them just on her stomach. "I'm hoping it's a boy. At least that way, I'll have some extra muscle when it comes to chasing boys away from Sariah." He kissed her temple and Sarah leant back into his touch, a contented smile on her face. Always one to break up a sappy moment, Casey cleared his throat loudly and the two separated.
"Keep it in your pants Bartowski." He snarked.
Chuck, despite the small blush that had crept up his neck, took it in stride and stuck his tongue out. While Sarah and Casey sat down on the couch, the former inquiring about how Casey had managed, Chuck went into the kitchen and poured himself and Sarah a glass of juice. He handed it to her and she smiled her thanks. Casey didn't think of Chuck's actions as being rude or anything; in fact, it was a further testament to how comfortable they all were with each other.
"How long has she been sleeping?" Sarah asked Casey. She figured that they had already taken up a lot of Casey's time. She would weigh both options- stay until she woke up, or take her home. The latter she wasn't too sure about, as Sariah tended to awake whenever she was moved while sleeping. That had often proved to be a challenge some nights when she had fallen asleep in their bed, and had then needed to be taken to her room. Chuck and Sarah would then have to go through her routine again, either singing a lullaby to her or walking with her all over the house. Casey said that she'd been out for about an hour, and since Sariah's naps rarely went past that, Sarah and Chuck agreed to wait a while. To pass the time, Chuck began hauling Sariah's belongings into the car.
When Chuck saw Sarah slinging the diaper bag over her shoulder, he immediately rushed over to her and slid it off her arm. Sarah frowned at him, not amused. "You don't worry about that, I can manage it all."
"Chuck, I'm only just out of my first trimester."
He nodded his head vigorously. "I know, I know. But you know, you really shouldn't do any heavy lifting or anything strenuous."
Sarah rolled her eyes. "I don't think this baby bag constitutes heavy lifting Chuck."
Casey observed the interaction, amused. He remembered Walker's first pregnancy and Bartowski had been just as neurotic back then. Although, if he had been there when Kathleen was pregnant, he might have been the same way.
Sarah's hands were on her hips, and her eyes narrowed as she complained that Chuck was treating her like a little child. Chuck was about to respond when they heard footsteps on the stairs. Gertrude with Sariah on her hip came down stairs.
"I thought I heard your voices." Gertrude said and greeted the parents. "Chuck, Sarah, it's nice to see you." They returned the sentiments.
Sariah wiggled in Gertrude's arms and outstretched her arms in the direction of her mother. "Mama!"
Sarah immediately took her baby and smiled, kissing her chubby face all over. With a practiced ease, she held the child on her hip, before sitting with her on the couch. The other three adults looked at the scene. Sarah playing and cooing to Sariah was always a delightful sight. It was hard to believe that she had once been an emotionally detached spy.
"I see Casey needed to call in you as backup." Chuck joked with Gertrude.
Gertrude laughed. "Something like that."
"Chuck, I think we've imposed on Casey long enough, we can head home now."
Chuck agreed and he and Casey took the items to the car. When they were ready, Chuck held Sariah's hand and waved it for her. "Say bye bye to Uncle Casey and Auntie Gertrude Sariah."
"Cay!" Sariah giggled.
Chuck and Sarah smiled down at her and then back at Casey. "You didn't tell us she learnt your name Casey!" Chuck said excitedly.
Sariah looked at Casey and Gertrude with a look which Casey found hard to describe. It was almost diabolical Casey thought after a moment; it was like she was coming up with a plan to ruin their lives. She opened her mouth to speak again, and Casey's eyes went wide when she did speak. "Fuck." She told her parents, and clapped her hands, particularly satisfied with herself.
Casey couldn't be sure, but he was certain a cold breeze ran through the room at that moment. Chuck was looking at Sariah curiously and Walker had bristled beside him. Casey also thought that out of his peripheral vision, that he saw Gertrude backing away.
"What did she just say?" asked a flabbergasted Sarah. She wanted to make sure she had heard correctly. She turned to Casey, murder in her eyes. Casey stood still, waiting with baited breath and hoping the girl dared not say it again.
Sariah looked at the adults, confused as to why no one was paying her attention. She patted her father's cheek and tried again. "Duck." She said loudly.
Sarah relaxed then, maybe they had heard incorrectly. "Oh baby, you learnt two new words today?" Sarah gushed. Casey and Gertrude relaxed.
Sariah nodded, happy that she was again the focus of attention. Chuck tickled her and she giggled. "Well, aren't you the smartest baby in the whole world." Chuck complimented and kissed her on the cheek.
They bade each other goodbye after thanking the pair for watching Sariah and Casey closed the door behind him. That had been way too close.
"You know Walker was this close to killing us." Casey remarked.
Gertrude nodded, glad they had been spared her wrath. "Well Johnny," Gertrude smiled at him, "we have the whole house to ourselves now. How do you think we should pass the time?"
Casey grunted and snaked his arms around her waist, drawing her body closer to his. He was just about to lean in and kiss her when they heard Chuck banging on the door, yelling for them to open up. Casey groaned, this was probably payback for all those time he had interrupted Chuck and Sarah.
"What is it Bartowski?" Casey opened the door in a flourish.
"Sarah and I got you this." He said, holding up a bag. "It's sort of a thank you for today." Chuck explained. "I'll see you around partner."
Chuck turned on his heel and Casey looked in the bag, curious about what they had gotten him. He was pleased when he saw a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. He held it up to Gertrude and she smiled, offering to get the glasses from the kitchen. He noticed a purple squeaky toy of Sariah's on the floor and picked it up. He hoped the child wasn't too attached to it. He looked at both objects in his hand- the baby's toy and the liquor. Babysitting Sariah had not been a complete disaster, and the evening, in the presence of Gertrude, was certainly shaping up to be a great one.
A/N#2: Feel free to review (even if it's as a guest).
"Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different..." ― C.S. Lewis
It's still hard to believe CHUCK ended three years ago, but, let's keep it alive through fanfic...until we get that movie! *fingers crossed*
Until next time,