Duty. Honor. Country.

John Casey was a military man. He operated off of a strict code. Duty. Honor. Country. It was his duty to honor his country. So why was it so hard to pull the trigger?

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Rating: K+ for intense themes.

Timeline: The indefinite future post-2.02 Chuck vs. the Seduction.

Little Details You Might Want to Know:

- The title comes from the motto of the West Point Military Academy in West Point, New York. I thought it fit.

- The Beretta M9 is the pistol the US military adopted in the 80s. I think (I'm not sure) this is the type of gun Casey uses in the show. I'm not an expert, but it looks similar, if not identical.

- The University of Virginia actually does have an Air Force ROTC program.

- St. George is the patron saint of soldiers. He's the dragon slayer saint.

- The F-16 Flying Falcon is a fighter plane used by the Air Force from the 1970s to the present, also known as the Viper after the Battlestar Galactica ship.

Okay, so you know how I said that the premiere spawned quite a few plot bunnies? This is one of them. This is a Casey-centric fic and my first concerning this character. I know this has probably been done before, but I really like the indecision he had when it came to his kill order. So, here is a little ficlet, kinda shorter than usual, and I hope you enjoy!

There used to be a time when he would relish this situation: his target at the mercy of his gun, quivering with undisclosed fear, the barrel of his favorite piece - the gun he especially used for these types of jobs - a government-issue Beretta M9 - pressed right between the eyes. There used to be a time when he lived for this: the thrill of the kill, the satisfaction of a job well done, the sight of a body lying where a very bad man or woman once stood. There used to be a time when the sound of that Beretta chambering up the next round, the bullet settling in its resting place destined to erase the existence of his target gave him a sick glee. Those times weren't that long ago. But that was before.

John Casey was not a dishonorable man. Quite the contrary. He was actually a very principled man, a military man, and a good officer of the United States Air Force. He operated off a strict code, one that screamed of his military roots and one that he adhered to with the conviction of a seasoned armed forces veteran. Duty. Honor. Country. It was John Casey's duty to honor his country. He believed in the code. He served the code. He obeyed the code. So if that was the case, why was he finding it so hard to pull the trigger?

- - -

John Theodore Casey was a man of duty. He found a purpose in everything from his training in the University of Virginia's Air Force ROTC program, to his assignments for the Air Force. As his duties expanded to include dealings within the National Security Agency, John Casey found the ultimate calling fit for his - at times - fanatical mindset for that duty: protecting his country by directly eliminating the threats that an F-22 fighter just couldn't reach. Major John Casey became Agent John Casey. He became a killer, a mercenary for American justice, an enforcer of the peace, doing his part by honoring Toby Keith's immortal words and putting a boot up the ass of anyone who challenged or endangered the safety of the American people. Yep, it was the American way and it was the John Casey way. He did it with a Glock in his hand and a feral grin on his face. This was, after all, his government-sanctioned duty. He felt no remorse. He felt no condolence. Some might call it calloused, some might question his morality and the soul of a man who took life without qualms. Those were the people who weren't subject to the dealings of a corrupt dictator or the fear of being forced out of their homes by the ruling terrorist organization. Those were the people he fought for the hardest.

He remembered the day he was recruited into the NSA. He had never been an idealistic glory hound the way a few of his fellow airmen were. He didn't fly his plane for the excitement or the prospect that his daring heroics would be turned into the next great blockbuster and his name would be immortalized the way Tom Cruise's Maverick was in the eyes and minds of all movie buffs. He didn't have delusions of grandeur that he would be sent into the next big work and get some commendation for crashing into enemy territory and miraculously surviving capture only to destroy the enemy's main weapon's base and completely turning the tide of the war. No, John Casey was an airman for a simple reason: it was his duty as an American citizen to serve his country. That was the reason he told General Diane Beckman when she asked him. She had paused for a moment before posing one more question:

"Major Casey, how would you like to serve your country in a more significant capacity?"

For a man of duty like John Casey, that was like asking whether the Second Amendment was worded to his liking. It was his duty to rid the country of potential threats to its safety. He had the most prime of all examples at gunpoint. It was his duty to fire. It was his duty to eliminate the threat…

- - -

John Casey was a man of honor. Even back in the days of his childhood home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, sitting on his father's knee as the elder Casey bestowed words of wisdom to his young son, John Casey knew the value of honor. Franklin Roosevelt Casey was a retired colonel in the United States Army, a staunch Republican, despite bearing the name of one of the most celebrated Democrats, and a proud American. From the beginning, Franklin Casey had molded his son into the man he was today, but among all of his teachings, and underlying ideal remained prevalent in each and every one. It was the most prevalent memory in John Casey's mind: his seven year-old self perched on his father's lap, listening attentively as Franklin Roosevelt Casey's deep, rumbling voice recited a mantra that would stay with his young son long after he passed.

"Above everything else, Johnny, remember these three things. Abide by them, and I'll have done my job as your father: Honor your family, honor God, and honor your country. Do these things, and you'll be okay."

John Casey had lived upwards of four decades of life, and during that time, he believed that he had followed his credo well:

Honor family…he had brought tears of joy to Franklin Casey's eyes when he had enlisted into the Air Force. Granted, his son wouldn't be charging into battle with a spirited cry of "Hoo-ah!" but the point was there was yet another generation of Casey in the armed forces.

Honor God…Casey was a God-fearing man. Simple as that. He kissed the medallion of St. George, patron saint of soldiers, that hung with his dog tags before he flew into combat. He dutifully said his prayers, went to mass, and (mostly) honored the Ten Commandments - that "Thou shalt not kill" one was a bit of a doozy, but he supposed the Big Man upstairs would be willing to work with him - and after every NSA assignment, he went straight to Father Piers at St. Thomas of the Apostles church to confess his sins. Father Piers was non-judgmental, a good listener, and Agency-sanctioned so even without the whole confidentiality thing, Casey knew his indiscretions were confined to the confessional and NSA official reports.

Honor country…that part was easy. To John Theodore Casey, there was no better way to honor his country than by serving it. And serve it he did…very, very well. John Casey was a decorated officer of the United States Air Force, bearer of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star for his efforts in combat.

Casey knew the value of honor. His job was to honor the orders he was given. His job was to honor the mission. He had to do what he was told.

- - -

John Casey was a man of country, proud to be an American. From the beginning, dating back to the Mayflower, there was a Casey…okay, maybe not a "Casey" but first there was an O'Brien, then a McCleary, then a Callaghan, then a McEwan, and finally a Casey. Up and down the Casey lineage was the presence of the Star-Spangled Banner, a fact that the current Casey took special pride in. There had been multiple generations of Caseys in American history, and he was born into a family that served the country that had given them liberty and opportunity. Casey could claim that there was a Casey in every American War from Josiah O'Brien in the Revolutionary War to his younger brother Dwight David Casey serving in the Marines in the Iraq war. The Caseys were military men who prided themselves in the tenure of service for America in all branches of military organization.

Casey remembered the day he had told his father he was enlisting. He was a mere child of seventeen, all set to graduate with an Air Force ROTC scholarship to the University of Virginia. John Casey wanted nothing more than to cut through the clear blue skies on an F-16 Viper, his M61 Vulcan tearing through enemy machinery like paper. He remembered standing before the recruiter as the man questioned him.

"Why do you want to be in the Air Force, son?"

Seventeen year-old John Casey straightened, his posture perfect, hands at his sides, just as his father taught him. Cool blue eyes stared right into the pair across from him as he spoke with complete seriousness.

"Sir, ever since the creation of this country, there has been a member of my family serving it. I only wish to do the same."

The seasoned recruiter eyed him shrewdly. "Ah, so you're a patriot then, are you, boy?"

"Yes, sir!" Casey emphatically replied. "I'm an American and would be proud to die for this country."

The recruiter's eyes twinkled with a sheen that both thrilled and frightened Casey at the same time. "Would you kill for your country, son?"

"Would you kill for your country, son?" Back then, the question was easy. A year ago, the question was easy. Yes. Of course he would kill for his country. Of. Course.

- - -

There used to be a time when he would relish this situation: his target at the mercy of his gun, quivering with undisclosed fear, the barrel of his favorite piece - the gun he especially used for these types of jobs - a government-issue Beretta M9 pressed right between the eyes. There used to be a time when he lived for this: the thrill of the kill, the satisfaction of a job well done, the sight of a body lying where a very bad man or woman once stood. There used to be a time when the sound of that Beretta chambering up the next round, the bullet settling in its resting place destined to erase the existence of his target gave him a sick glee. Those times weren't that long ago. But that was before.

Ice blue eyes gazed into warm brown ones currently wide with fear. The brown eyes blinked, fear prevalent. This was his mark. This was his target. This was whom he was supposed to kill. The man he had spent over two years protecting. This was the man who he caught when he fell. This was the man who had pushed him to the one woman who had managed to steal his heart. This was the man who had opened his family and his life to the government. This was the man who had saved his life more than once. This was the man whose life he was supposed to end.

Duty. Honor. Country.

He stared into the eyes that had quivered each time the immense database in his head had triggered, leading them to a mission. His hand tightened around the handle of the government-issued Beretta. The weight of the piece, once comforting, now felt like a manacle in his palm. His finger hovered on the trigger. He used to be able to fire without hesitation.

Duty. Honor. Country.

There was no backing out of this. He had his orders. He'd had his orders since the beginning. There had been a few false alarms, ones that had thankfully been diverted by other crises. But this was the real thing. He had to do what he had been told.

Duty. Honor. Country.

He wasn't a machine. He was a man. He could deny the presence of emotion, but that would compromise his objectivity. Right now the man he readily called a friend was nothing more than a target. A mark. He was not friend, not coworker, not colleague, not partner. A mark. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Duty. Honor. Country.

Duty. Honor. Country.

Duty. Honor. Country.

Duty…

He had to do this. It was his duty. The man before him posed a serious threat to the government if he was allowed to walk freely.

His jaw set with determination.

Honor…

He must honor the wishes of his superiors. He had to obey his orders.

His fingers tightened on the handle.

Country…

This was for America. To keep it safe. To keep its secrets confined into an objective, emotionless machine. A machine couldn't be tortured. A machine wouldn't succumb to questioning. A machine was safe. The target before him wasn't.

His index finger curled around the trigger.

Duty. Honor. Country.

He lived for his country. He would probably die for his country. He had killed for his country. He readied himself for completion.

John Theodore Casey was a military man. He was a man of duty. He was a man of honor. He was a man of country. He knew what he was supposed to do. So, he did what he was supposed to do.

The clatter of the bullet hitting the floor was almost drowned out by the cry of relief.

And cut! Whew. A bit heavier than I've been writing, but I couldn't get this out of my head. I loved Casey in the premiere from admitting the sound of a cocking gun wasn't as appealing as it used to be to his plea to Beckman to spare Chuck, to his slight hesitation before shooting. I must say, Adam Baldwin is acting gold…Well, a bit of departure from fluff, but I hope you liked it. Next, is hopefully a chapter of Parenthood. Until then…

Roxy