Chapter 7: Leaky Faucets
"Hey bro, pass me the grape soda…the cold one at the bottom." Morgan said, resting on a lounge chair by the fountain.
Chuck handed him the purple can. It was two weeks after the defeat of Krockov and Chuck must have recounted his 'Bubbles' escapade about ten times to Ellie and Morgan. Casey and Sarah had given him a fairly simple back-story and another Agent handled the cops and fire department.
Ellie couldn't stop laughing for days over Chuck flooding out the Laundromat. Ellie came by and fell into a giggling fit again.
"Wait, wait! Tell me one more time, where did you get the idea?"
Chuck grinned shyly, looking at Sarah. She nodded at him to continue with a sparkle in her eyes. This part was entirely true.
"Alright, alright…I was watching the Brady Bunch and Bobby Brady was doing the laundry. He put the entire box of soap in the machine and when he came back the laundry room was completely filled with…Oh will you stop laughing! It worked!" He playfully shoved his sister.
Morgan patted him on the back. "I told you watching Nick at Nite would come in handy someday!"
The group's joking subsided as they saw John Casey breeze out of his apartment. Chuck and Sarah gave each other an amused glance. The Agent handsomely dressed in a fitted pair of dark blue denims with a brown suede blazer and black button down shirt. He had a large suitcase on wheels and a leather carryall. He locked his door tight behind him and strutted over.
"Hey Casey, where you headed?" Chuck asked. He already had an idea.
Casey looked at them with a small grin that made Morgan nudge Chuck in wonder. He had always thought the man's mouth was wired permanently shut in a firm, thin line.
"Well, lets just say, I have some major repair work to do up North." He glanced at Sarah for a moment, then back at Chuck. "I should be back within a week, but I'll let you know." Casey patted Morgan hard on the back. "Big Mike already said you'd cover for me, right man?"
Morgan nodded fast, he was not about to complain and spoil the big guy's mood.
Ellie gave him a small wave. "Well, Mr. Casey, enjoy your trip."
"Thanks. See ya guys."
Casey headed to the cab waiting outside the entrance. Sarah put her arms around Chuck's shoulders and ruffled his curly hair.
"Don't worry, I got everything covered. You're in good hands." She whispered.
"I trust you, Sarah." Chuck said contemplative, watching the cab pull away. When he looked down, Sarah's hand was in his own.
Julia just finished bundling up Charlotte in her warm coat and scarf when her doorbell rang. She almost jumped and Charlotte grabbed her arm for protection. That was how the first nightmare started.
"It's okay honey. Stay right here, I'll get it."
She took a glance out the peephole and smiled in total surprise. It took her a minute to open the new locks she had recently installed. When she opened the door, Casey turned around, his cheeks reddened from the deep chill in the air. He stood at attention, but there was playful glint in his eyes.
"Hello miss, I heard that you were having trouble with some leaky faucets, I'd like to be of assistance."
Julia held the door open wider with a hand on her hip. She shook her head and laughed.
"I didn't know the Buy More did plumbing repair? There are two leaky faucets in this house. You think you can handle them both?"
"Well, I did install one of those faucets, didn't I?"
"Yes you did, and I haven't been able to get her to stop dripping since she left you. Woah, hold it." Julia stepped in front of Casey before he could come inside.
"Charlotte and I were just on our way out."
"Where you going?"
"Lake Louise, to see the Aurora Borealis, you remember?"
"Oh yeah, that was really something…mind if I join you?"
"Let's leave it up to her."
Julia stepped away and Casey dropped his bag from his shoulder. Charlotte had heard his voice and she made a running leap into his arms.
"Daddy! Daddy! I miss you! Come with us, daddy! We're gonna see the pretty lights in the sky, it's like this…big!" Charlotte gestured with her arms wide open to convey the size of the phenomenon and Casey laughed. He kissed her cheek and spun her around in a bear hug.
"Alright! I'm in!"
Julia picked up a cooler and Casey promptly took it from her. "Please tell me that's dinner, I hate plane food."
"Yeah…it's dinner and there's plenty of it. I just went on a cooking spree."
They walked silently to the car and after strapping Charlotte in, took off for the picturesque lake by the mountainside. Once there, Charlotte wanted to get out to play and explore before the sun set. Casey and Julia leaned against the car and watched her run around in the colorful leaves.
"Well, seeing you completely changed her mood." Julia noted in wonder.
"Hmm, I guess I have that effect on people."
Julia stared at him with a wry smile. "We both missed you. I got the check by the way, but nothing from the C.I.A."
Casey sighed; dealing with them was like pulling teeth. "You'll get one before I leave, I'll make sure of it."
"Good, because then I can actually start some remodeling…you know Charlotte's going to be in a little dance recital this weekend at the school. She had been practicing so hard; it helped take her mind off everything. Would you like to come?"
Casey kept his eyes on his daughter and nodded. "I wouldn't miss it while I'm here. So, how are you both otherwise?"
Julia rubbed her arms for warmth and pulled her white wool scarf tighter around her neck and chest. "Charlotte stopped having the bad dreams after you started calling her every day. Yesterday was the first night she slept in her own bed. I really appreciate the calls, John. It's odd I guess, but she has totally accepted that you are her father, no questions asked."
Casey moved closer to her. "Maybe because her mother never bad mouthed me or turned me into a villain."
Julia zipped his jacket higher and adjusted his scarf. "Not when her daddy is still my hero. The phone calls helped me too, it was very comforting to hear your voice. I have to be honest, John. Charlotte loves pictures and she stumbled across ours many times. I had to tell her that you existed, but that you were far away…helping people. She took it so well. I mean, you could see the pride in her eyes. I suppose because she was never around you to miss you. It's going to be different now."
"We'll work that out. Thanks for covering me. When she gets older she can ball me out with guilt trips and tell me what a crappy father I was, but right now…" Casey laughed as Charlotte tottered on her backside into a huge pile of leaves she had just built. "Right now, I want her to stay just the way she is." He put his arm around Julia. "I brought some equipment for you, a computer camera. You'll be able to talk to me and see me. I'll hook it up later, show you how it works. I also have an alarm system I want to set up."
The sun sank into the deep purple sky and a bright green radiance enveloped them. Charlotte ran to their side and Casey picked her up. After admiring it for a few minutes, Charlotte was cold. Casey put her in the warm car and gave her some food. He reached into his bag and pulled out Charlotte's teddy bear with his eyes bug free and repaired.
"Cocoa! I missed him! Hey, he looks different."
Casey laughed at her skeptical face. His little girl was very sharp. "Ahh, he's just happy to see you baby, see, he's smiling."
While Casey tucked her napkin in her collar, Charlotte gazed at him adoringly.
"I love you, daddy."
Casey was taken aback, it had been a very long time since he heard or used the word love, but tonight it rendered him helpless.
"I love you too, sweetheart." He choked out and kissed her nose.
He walked up to Julia. She stood near the lake with her head raised to the sky. He put his arms around her affectionately.
She glanced up at him. "John, have you ever seen anything more beautiful?"
Casey looked down on her with love rekindling in his heart.
"Yes I have, and her name is Julia. She glows even brighter than the Northern Lights."
Casey drew her face closer to his and kissed her. This week he was going to forget the spy stuff. For now was ready to tackle the biggest mission of his life. He was going to intersect his way back with the woman he always loved and be the best father he could to a daughter he now cherished.
Read Part 2-Chuck vs. The Florists!