Disclaimer: This is Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz's sandbox. I'm just playing.
Warning: Brief mention of events in the pilot; suggestion of Sarah/Chuck/Casey.
The morning after his life is turned upside down, Chuck wakes up sore. His neck aches from where the Nerd Herder rattled down those steps, and his legs burn from running. It could be worse, he reflects, letting the shower wash away the pain. He could be waking up locked in an underground bunker somewhere. He could be dead. He can live with sore.
Chuck doesn't deliberately get more exercise, but he gets used to running: for his life, after Sarah, to stop Casey from pounding another shoplifter into the gravel of the Buy More carpark. His legs no longer threaten to turn into cooked noodles, his lungs don't feel as though they're on fire.
He still wakes up sore, though. Usually it's from disobeying an order to stay in the car, but sometimes it's from staying in the car. Nowhere is safe, he thinks. Nowhere is private. But he thinks it in a detached way, because it's easier to push those things to the back of his mind than to hold them close. Before he learned how to do that, the anger and the hurt of constant casual violations and betrayals pushed him close to the edge. And having been shoved, thrown and dropped off too many edges, he's not keen on standing there any more.
There are mornings when the edge comes to him, though. Mornings when he has dreamed of picket fences and happily-ever-afters. Mornings when he has to face his sister's bewildered disappointment in him, when all the years of friendship with Morgan seem insubstantial. Mornings after he has let himself hope for something greater: sensed the possibilites of his own life.
And there are mornings when he wakes up sore and hurting, finds it difficult to keep from wincing as he raises his arms to take a bowl out of the cupboard for his cereal, but he knows it is all worthwhile because the world is still largely intact and after everything, the people he cares about, the people he loves, are still alive.
Then there is the morning that Chuck wakes slowly, sore, but happy. Sarah is in his arms, head tucked under his chin, one naked leg snaked between his. And at his back, reassuringly solid like the proverbial immovable object, Casey is lying, his chest against Chuck's shoulders and an arm over his waist. This kind of sore, he thinks, is the kind he could live with forever.