Author's Note: this story marks my return to the "Bright Side" AU after nearly three months away from it. The events of this story take place beginning in April of 2038, approximately twenty-six years after the end of Chuck vs. the Ring of Fire.


Getting out of bed in the morning was always an agonizing experience. Chuck Bartowski slowly came to wakefulness, groaning as he did so.

Being fifty-seven years old really SUCKED sometimes. Oh God how he wished he was thirty years younger.

But no such luck. Every single joint in his body hurt when he woke up in the morning. And you didn't even want to get him STARTED on flashes. He had talked the CIA doctors into giving him metraquasil to take care of the headaches afterwards.

He was thankful that he didn't need any assistance in the sexual activity department yet. Sarah Elisabeth Bartowski was still damn hot, and not just for her age, either. Chuck would've never figured a fifty-five year old woman could still turn heads the way Sarah did – especially in Los Angeles.

But the thing that aggravated him most was the fact that right now, Sarah was out on a five mile run, still active as if she was still in her twenties or thirties. Chuck knew that he would have to be carted home in an ambulance if he tried something like that.

So it REALLY pissed him off to think of who she was out on that run with – sixty-five year old John Casey. The man was eight years older than Chuck, and yet, every morning at 6:00 AM, he was at the Bartowskis' front door in Studio City, ready to go for a run.

One of these days, Chuck was going to just get a little too aggravated and kick Casey in his bad knee. That would be the end of that.

And with Sarah out on her run, it was just Chuck in the house with Wolf, their Yorkshire terrier. They had gotten him as a puppy five years before, and Chuck had decided to name him Wolf because of the irony of the name.

Wolf apparently wanted attention, because he came scampering into the room, leapt up onto the bed, and started running around in circles, yelping, with the occasional pause to jump on Chuck's chest and lick his face.

"Alright, alright, I'm awake," Chuck grumbled. He pushed Wolf off of his chest, and then rolled out of bed.

The house was just too damn quiet these days. When they had originally bought it, it had three bedrooms – one of which became Chuck's Nerd Cave – and two bathrooms. As the kids grew, they had expanded it to five bedrooms and four bathrooms. Unfortunately, that put the house less than ten feet from the pool, and more than once when they were teenagers, Chuck had caught his children being less than brilliant and jumping from the roof into the pool.

But they were all gone, and the house was empty and cavernous. Their eldest (by four minutes), Lisa Erin Bartowski, was a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy. She was currently serving as the first officer onboard the USS Montana, an old Virginia-class attack submarine on its final patrol. She was slated to screen for command after the Montana was decommissioned. It gave Chuck an overwhelming sense of pride to know that there was a good possibility that his daughter could become one of the youngest submarine commanders in the history of the US Navy's silent service.

John Marcus Bartowski, their son and Lisa's twin, had gone to school in Arizona to study hotel management. When he came back, the Standard Downtown had hired him as their guest services manager. He was now the hotel manager, and was eying the general manager position when the current G.M. retired at the end of the year.

John was also dating somebody who could get him killed if he wasn't careful. That somebody was Rebecca Lynn Casey, the daughter of Brigadier General John Casey (USAF, ret.). They had gone on their first date back in high school, and when John walked into the Casey home, he had been greeted with a tableful of stripped down guns. Casey had looked up at John, grunted, and gone back to cleaning an M-16.

The two had dated on and off throughout high school and college, but when Becca moved back to Los Angeles two years prior after completing her master's in special education at Colorado State, things had really gotten serious. In fact, things were to the point where there were whispered reports from John's sisters that he had been visiting jewelry stores with Becca and looking at rings.

Finally, the Bartowskis' youngest, Alexandra Marie, was in Spain, working for the American Embassy. The Bartowskis had adopted her as an infant, after her father had tried to kill them both and ended up getting killed by Bryce Larkin. The President had personally had to intervene to get the children's court judge to allow the adoption, but in the end, Alex had grown up to be a well adjusted young woman. She got a degree in Anthropology from UCLA with a minor in Spanish, and the State Department had snapped her up almost immediately.

Devin and Ellie still lived in L.A. Their daughter, Katie, had grown up, gone to film school at USC, and met a young man named Tim Michaelson. Tim was now one of the biggest film stars in Hollywood, and Katie was now Katie Michaelson, living in the lap of luxury in Bel-Air.

Carina Hansen had died four years before. She was on a mission nearly twenty years ago in South Africa when she was shot and badly wounded. She had to receive several blood transfusions during the resultant surgery, and despite the rigorous safeguards and precautions in place, she still managed to receive blood contaminated with HIV. After finding out, she had left the DEA, and devoted the remaining fifteen years of her life to raising AIDS awareness worldwide.

Bryce Larkin was still alive and kicking. He and his Navy pilot girlfriend, Rachel Harrison, had never married. In fact, Bryce had once mentioned something to Chuck about how they had an "open" relationship. Chuck couldn't even begin to get his mind around having something like that with Sarah. There was nobody else that he wanted.

Chuck's businesses had remained successful. Nerd Cave Video Games, LLC, had gone public ten years before. Chuck became a billionaire overnight. He still lived a modest life, though, because that was what he knew, what he understood. Studio City Consulting Services still operated, under the leadership of John Casey.

And now, as Chuck stood in the kitchen, waiting for the coffee maker to spit out his coffee – "All the technology advances and I still have to wait five minutes for a decent cup of coffee," he had been heard to grumble – he heard voices approaching the front door. A moment later, the door opened, and in came Sarah and Casey, both clearly worn out from their run.

"Mornin', Bartowski," Casey grunted. "I smell coffee?"

"If you'd waited another ten minutes, you would've smelled bacon, too," Chuck replied.

"The hell he would've," Sarah said sharply. "I'm quite certain that Devin told you NO MORE BACON."

Chuck rolled his eyes. "My cholesterol's low. My blood pressure is fine. Devin's full of shit."

Casey smiled. "I am so not getting involved with this."

A trilling sound filled the kitchen. "And that would be me," Casey groaned. "Please, God, don't let it be the office." He looked at the ceiling, and then seemingly spoke into thin air. "Hello?"

He stood for a moment. Cell phones had turned into cochlear implants about five years before. Oh, sure there were still the application laden gadget-style cell phones for those who wanted them, but for those who were looking for simplicity in communication, you could have a device implanted in your ear that allowed you to speak and hear right inside your own head.

"Becca, slow down," Casey ordered his daughter. "The doctor told you what?"

As Chuck and Sarah watched, Casey's eyes widened. He gripped the back of a chair so tightly that they both thought it was going to break. "You're sure about this?" He paused again. "And John Bartowski is the responsible party?"

Chuck and Sarah's heads whipped around to look at each other. Oh, shit, Sarah mouthed to Chuck.

"Alright, honey, you do whatever the doctor told you," Casey said. "And tell John that if he likes his balls, he needs to run and hide." There was a moment's pause, and then Casey said, "I love you too, honey. Bye. End call."

He turned toward Chuck and Sarah. "Well, Bartowski, Walker, your son's a dead man."

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "What did John do?"

Casey just shook his head. "Let me put it to you this way, folks. In about seven months, we – all three of us – are gonna be grandparents."

Chuck sighed and wished he was still asleep.


Author's Note: metraquasil is not a real drug. It's a fictional painkiller that I just came up with. Hell, I don't even know what would be in it!